JANUARY 27: Open Your Heart As Often As You Need

Opening our hearts is not something we do once or twice. It is a way of life. How quickly life does things that make us want to close off, wall off, shut down, go away. But our commitment to staying open has little to do with what life does to us. It has to do with how we decide we want to live. Open. Loving. Safe. We’re safe because we know our ability and our willingness to love comes from within us. It is the ultimate form of learning to embrace our power.

A long time ago when you were young, you may have told yourself it was risky to love, to trust, to feel. You told yourself that everyone you trusted would in the end betray your trust. Your belief has many times been proven true. But it’s time now to believe something else. It’s time to believe that the opposite is true. It is risky to not love, not trust, not feel.

Your security doesn’t come from trusting
others. Your security comes from trusting
and cherishing your own heart. Don’t let
life shut you down. Open your heart as
often as you need.

January 26: Be a thermostat

There’s a thermometer on my back porch. It tells me when it’s hot enough to go for a swim.

Inside the house, there’s a thermostat. The thermostat not only tells us how hot or cold it is, but will actually do something about it as well. If the temperature gets too warm, the thermostat tells the air conditioner to cool off the house. If it gets too cool, the thermostat tells the heater to warm things up a bit.

Which are you? Are you a thermometer—only reflecting the attitudes of those around you? Or are you a thermostat— determining your own course of action and following through with it? Thermometer people often know where they are; they just don’t do anything about it. I’m stuck in this relationship. I’m really angry, resentful, and upset. Thermostat people are aware of where they are, too. They just choose to do something about it, as well. I’m in this relationship, and I will do everything that I can to improve it. But if necessary, I will walk away from it.

Being a thermostat means we take appropriate action to take care of ourselves.

God, help me learn to respond to whatever environment I’m in by taking the appropriate actions to take care of myself.

Step One: January 25

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
—Step One of Al-Anon

There are many different versions of the First Step for recovering codependents. Some of us admit powerlessness over alcohol or another’s alcoholism. Some of us admit powerlessness over people; some over the impact of growing up in an alcoholic family.

One of the most significant words in the First Step is the word we. We come together because of a common problem, and, in the coming together, we find a common solution.

Through the fellowship of Twelve Step programs, many of us discover that although we may have felt alone in our pain, others have experienced a similar suffering. And now many are joining hands in a similar recovery.

We.  A significant part of recovery. A shared experience. A shared strength, stronger for the sharing. A shared hope—for better lives and relationships.

Today, I will be grateful for the many people across the world who call themselves “recovering codependents.” Help me know that each time one of us takes a step forward, we pull the entire group forward.

January 24

Most of us have heard the phrase “Stick with the winners.” Who we associate with can directly influence our thoughts, attitudes, emotions, and behaviors. Why not spend a few minutes a day consciously connecting with God?

Application: Prayer is a good thing to wrap around us every day. Whenever we get in a jam, get confused, need help, or don’t know what to do next, taking a minute to talk to God and asking for guidance is a good call.

JANUARY 23: Honor the Needs of Your Body

Take time to rest and regroup as often as you need. At the beginning of the journey and along the way, take time to honor your body. When you honor your body, you honor your soul.

You have been working hard on yourself, on your spiritual growth. You are moving forward, evolving at a rapid pace. Give your body time to catch up. Your body isn’t a bother; it’s an ally. Your body knows what it needs, and what your soul needs, too.

Tune in to your body. Listen. On those days when your body is adjusting, regrouping, shifting because you’re growing and healing emotionally and spiritually, let it do that. Don’t ignore it. Don’t force it. Be gentle. Recognize its nuances. Ask it what it needs. Juice? Vitamins? Rest? Exercise? Let it tell you. Then go easy. Do tasks that are easier, that seem to fit what you can handle that day.

After a spiritual growth spurt, our body works diligently to flush the toxins released when emotions are cleansed and healed. After a day, week, or month of intense spiritual growth, our body is tired from flushing through so many emotions, going through so many changes. To deny the body’s connection to our growth, to push it when it needs to rest, is denying the importance and impact of the spiritual work we’re doing.

By taking time to honor the body, to honor its shifts and needs, it will be there for you in a way that it has never been before. Rest and care will help it come back to center quickly. You will have the benefit of a healed spirit and a body that was allowed to adjust and adapt to that healing process. You will be honoring the oneness of body, mind, and soul. You will be honoring your newfound connection.

Taking time to honor the needs of your body
is taking time to respect the needs of your soul.

Wants and Needs: January 21

Part of taking responsibility for ourselves means taking responsibility for what we want and need, and knowing that’s okay to do.

Learning to tune-in to ourselves, learning to listen to ourselves, is an art. It takes practice. We can use our ability to guess what others want and need, and apply that skill to ourselves.

What does it sound like we might want and need? What would we guess would help us feel better? What are our feelings telling us? Our body? Our mind? Our intuition?

If we ask, then listen closely; we’ll hear the answer.

We are wiser than we think, and we can be trusted.

What we want and need counts. It’s important, and it’s valid. It’s okay to learn to participate in meeting our own needs.

We can learn to identify what we want and need and be patient with ourselves while we’re learning.

Today, I will pay attention to what I want and need. I will not discount myself.

January 20

Did you ever call someone on the phone, thinking they weren’t home and expecting to get their answering machine instead? That’s how it was the first time I called God.

I was in treatment for chemical dependency. I had been there almost three months, and I still couldn’t stop using drugs. I didn’t know how. I was ingesting anything I could get my hands on, from an industrial-sized can of nutmeg (I’d heard you can hallucinate with it), to marijuana (not my drug of choice, but it did in a pinch), to the old-fashioned inhaler decongestants (they can be like cheap speed).

I was out of my mind. I had a serious prison sentence hanging over my head for possession of narcotics and some drugstore burglaries. A lot was riding on this treatment. And a dilemma had presented itself. An acquaintance from the streets had just entered the program. He had given me a handful of methamphetamine—my best score yet during treatment. But my probation officer was scheduled to visit me the following morning. I thought I’d just take a little.

I ended up staying up all night, bug-eyed and paranoid from the speed, wondering if I’d get caught. I made it through the visit with my probation officer the next day without attracting his attention. Even though I escaped getting detected by him, I couldn’t run from myself anymore.

After he left, I sat down on my bed. “God, I don’t know if you’re real or not,” I said. “But if you are, and there’s a program here that will help me stop using, please help me get it,” I said.

Two days later, I was sitting on the lawn smoking a joint. I took a hit, then laid back to stare at the clouds. In that moment, the sky seemed to turn purplish. I knew that I knew—that deepest kind of knowing—that God was real, and I had no right to keep using alcohol and other drugs anymore. “If I put just half as much energy into doing the right thing as I’ve put into doing the wrong thing, there isn’t anything I can’t do,” I thought. I took one more hit of the joint. Then I went into the treatment center building and threw myself into recovery with all my heart and soul.

Two days later, another acquaintance came through the treatment center. He had some good dope. Did I want some? “No thanks,” I said. “I don’t get high anymore.” I surprised my friend. I surprised myself even more.

I live in California, where celebrities can be seen often. People, including myself, will flock around celebrities, hoping to have just a few words with someone we consider powerful and important. It’s fun, but my life has never been improved by getting an autograph or meeting somebody famous. Talking to God has changed my life.

Value: Prayer is the value this week.

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