Are We All Addicts?

“She goes from one addiction to another. All are ways for her to not feel her feelings.
– Ellen Burstyn 

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Are we all addicts?  Well perhaps not all of us, but I’d put forth that there are lots and lots of us!

Life has become so stressful for most of us, that it is almost impossible not to become addicted to something. In the most of the world, much of society not only encourages addiction, but almost demands it. Some addictions, such as workaholism, are actually applauded in our culture – while others, such as nicotine, TV, internet porn, gambling, and sex addiction, are simply tolerated. And I believe that women are pressured hugely to drink wine in most social gatherings.  Wine has become a staple in the “Girls’ Night Out.”  As this article in The Huffington Post points out – Women Have a Complicated Love Affair With Wine.

Anne Wilson Schaef, author of When Society Becomes An Addict,  explains:

“Often unknowingly the vast majority of us collude in a system that encourages addiction and co-dependence – and sees these states as normal. Many of us are addicted to chemicals, not only to alcohol or drugs but nicotine, caffeine, chocolate and overeating in general. Even more of us are involved in addictive processes: workaholism, gambling, compulsive shopping, sex, and so on. The realization of the extent of our addictions, both individually and as a society, is shocking.”

And this book was written before the internet took over as our number one addiction.  If we are using anything to not feel our feelings, and we do it consistently, it is argued, that we are in an addiction process.

In another article in The Huffington Post:

Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, author of Start Where You Are, agrees with Anne Wilson Schaef – we all are addicted to something. But she doesn’t blame it on American culture; she says it’s simply part and parcel of our human nature. Chodron explains that we are restless, irritable, and discontent – we find it impossible to just sit still and BE. So we distract ourselves with activity and entertainment: cell phones, texting, video games, iPods, TV, movies, magazines, non-stop busyness to keep us looking everywhere but inside ourselves. We mood-alter with substances (sugar, alcohol, drugs, nicotine, caffeine, etc.) and activities (shopping, gambling, sex, work, viewing porn, etc.) Chodron says that we are unable to simply be awake and present to life – so we medicate our existential anxiety.

The article points out some sobering numbers regarding addiction in the US. But I’m sure many people will object to the use of the word addiction, but here is one way to decide for yourself (if you can get past the denial!)

 

Russell Brand describes the 12 steps of recovery from addiction in his book Recovery in a very in your face manner that may help some people see their own addiction.  Most people either love Brand or hate him, but I find this confronting, in your face description of addiction and the way out refreshing.

Here are Brand’s 12 Steps:

“Here is how I look at these steps now, and it’s how I invite you to look at them too. It certainly de-mystifies it. I’ve probably overcompensated with the ‘f ’ word, but my point is that this is a practical system that anyone can use.

1 Are you a bit fucked?

2 Could you not be fucked?

3 Are you, on your own, going to ‘unfuck’ yourself?

4 Write down all the things that are fucking you up or have ever fucked you up and don’t lie, or leave anything out.

5 Honestly tell someone trustworthy about how fucked you are.

6 Well that’s revealed a lot of fucked up patterns. Do you want to stop it? Seriously?

7 Are you willing to live in a new way that’s not all about you and your previous, fucked up stuff? You have to.

8 Prepare to apologize to everyone for everything affected by your being so fucked up.

9 Now apologize. Unless that would make things worse.

10 Watch out for fucked up thinking and behaviour and be honest when it happens.

11 Stay connected to your new perspective.

12 Look at life less selfishly, be nice to everyone, help people if you can.

 

For Step One, Are You A Bit Fucked?  Brand describes addiction simply and succinctly:

This is an invitation to change. This is complicated only in that most of us are quite divided, usually part of us wants to change a negative and punishing behaviour, whereas another part wants to hold on to it. For me Recovery is a journey from a lack of awareness to awareness.

A 5-point guide to the cycle of addiction:

1 Pain

2 Using an addictive agent, like alcohol, food, sex, work, dependent relationships to soothe and distract

3 Temporary anaesthesia or distraction

4 Consequences

5 Shame and guilt, leading to pain or low self-esteem . . . And off we go again.

 

I love the simplicity of that 5 point process.

If you can go through that 5 point process and honestly say nope not me, then consider yourself one of the lucky ones.  If not, there is hope in the steps mentioned above.

 

I’ll close this post appropriately with Brand’s own video of the 12 steps.  Enjoy!

I’d love to hear about your own recovery process, whatever that looks like.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

 

The Excitement of Possibilities!

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”
― Gloria Steinem

The excitement of possibilities.  What a wonderful turn of phrase. And so true!

The excitement of planning often creates more happiness than the event itself.  In a recent study in Applied Research in Quality of Life, it was discovered that people are usually happiest planning events, in anticipation. This particular study, quoted in The New York Times found that:

There is a definite connection between anticipation and happiness. The authors of the study, researchers from the Netherlands, interviewed more than 1,500 people, including 974 vacationers, and found that the vacationers felt most happy before their trips.

I believe that that is because of the excitement of possibilities.  And I agree with Gloria Steinem (or course I do!) that dreaming is absolutely a form of planning! And at the moment I am awash in this excitement.  I am planning and dreaming and planning some more.  I am in the process of planning the roll out of my national book tour here in NZ.  It’s very exciting.  Working closely with my brilliant publicist, Sarah Sparks of Markom PR. We have dates set for several venues in Thames and around the Coromandel Peninsula, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, and many points between. Such an exciting time doing all this planning and anticipating . . . once I’m on the road and going full steam ahead some of that excitement may wane, but for now, the dreaming and planning is joyful!

 

For those of you interested in receiving updates via newsletter, please visit my website: thiswayupbook.com and sign up!

I’d love to hear about your experience around the excitement of possibilities. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

Quick Scan on Health

“Our bodies communicate to us clearly and specifically, if we are willing to listen”
― Shakti Gawain

Do you listen to your body?  Most of us don’t, I know I often don’t.  I push myself to do one more thing when my body is sagging or to run one more errand before I stop to eat.  But more importantly, do you listen and work on healing at a deep level.

Science has proven time and again that we can heal ourselves, but sometimes it takes focus and effort. For the most part, the body naturally heals itself. Dr. Lorraine Day wrote an excellent article about our body’s amazing ability to heal itself.

Deepak Chopra has a wonderful article about self-healing on Oprah.com.  Deepak Chopra has been a great proponent of self-healing for decades.  In the article Chopra advises:

Is there a way for each person to influence his body consciously? We do this all the time, of course. You can’t lift a finger, throw a baseball or drive a car without translating a mental intention into a physical response. But when it comes to disease symptoms, the mind-body connection feels weak or nonexistent. Every sick person wants to get well. How can the mind help?

There are four conditions that would insure a stronger mind-body connection during illness, and all are inter-connected:

  • The mind contributes to getting well.
  • The mind doesn’t contribute to getting sick.
  • The body is in constant communication with the mind.
  • This communication benefits both the physical and mental aspects of being well.

I believe there is a way to stay in a healthier state by using what I call The Quick Scan for Health.  I discuss this in my book:  This Way Up:  Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life.  I have also made a video modeling this exercise.  To be honest, I feel very vulnerable and exposed putting this on video, it is something I use daily, but only when I’m alone!  So putting it out there in such a public way is rather intimidating.  But I believe in it, and people have asked for help doing the exercises in the book, so here it is.

 

 

I would really love to hear how this was for you and if you have any comments about it.  And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

It’s here at last – Publication Day!

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”
– Anne Lamott

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope …

My book is published today, April 26th 2016!  My book, This Way Up: Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life, my very own book!  This Way Up took ten years to write, 10 years.  There were plenty of times when I was in the dark and all I had left of this dream of publication was stubborn hope.  It was not an easy journey.  I began the book because my son Lukas, at age 12 challenged me to.  I felt backed into a corner, I knew I had to put my money where my mouth was or I would feel like everything I had been saying to my sons for years was a lie.  So I started writing.

I started writing and deleting; and feeling not good enough to write a book and feeling like a fraud.  When I finally finished my first draft about 5 years later, I started looking for an agent.  Oh my God – talk about sitting in the dark with nothing but hope! I had months and months of rejection letters, too many to count, the darkness got darker, the hope fainter.

Then finally I found an agent in London, I signed a contract and I was over the moon!  Now, I thought, now the hard work is over, I have someone else to do my work and get my book out there. It took over a year, lots of frustration and more darkness, but finally my agent was able to land a publication deal with a small publisher in London.  I was thrilled. I celebrated and believed the time had come.

About a year later, after jumping through hoops, working with an editor and inching closer, my agent decided he didn’t want to be an agent anymore, that the publishing landscape had changed too much and was not working for him anymore, so I lost my agent and lost the deal with the publishing company that he had handled.  I was back to square one, and decided I couldn’t do it anymore.

Then about two weeks later I heard a small, still voice in my head while I was meditating; the voice instructed me to ask an old college friend who lived in LA for help.  I wasn’t that close to her, and had not been in close contact with her for years.  But we were friends on Facebook, and I have learned to trust that small voice, it rarely leads me astray.  So I messaged her and she messaged back the next day.  She recommended She Writes Press.  I had never heard of them, but when I read about them, my pulse quickened.  They sounded perfect –  the website describes SWP as: A publisher of books – for, by and about women!  I contacted Brooke Warner, one of the founders of SWP, and we scheduled a Skype.  She said my book sounded like a good fit for SWP.  I signed a contract and I started working with the amazing women at She Writes.

I still had a steep climb though, luckily the climb was accompanied by some truly magnificent women:  Brooke Warner, a power house and visionary; Annie Tucker, editor extraordinaire; and a host of truly talented authors.  The fellowship of authors at SWP is fantastic, they are generous of spirit, freely give advice and tips and we cheer each other on every step of the way.  I am grateful beyond measure that I ended up with such a wonderful publishing house.

And now, today April 26, 2016, my book is here.  It is truly a labor of love; and an extreme act of faith that kept me going.  I believed that if I just kept showing up and kept moving in the direction of my dream that the dawn would come. And it did. So I am here to tell all of you – Don’t give up!  Keep moving in the direction of your dreams, whatever they are.

I’d like to close with a video that is very close to my heart. My very first video that I’ve ever uploaded on to You Tube.  It continues to be a steep learning curve!

 

I’d love to hear about your dreams and what helps you to keep moving forward.  And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

Holy Curiosity!

“Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth. Have holy curiosity. Make your life worth living.”
– Albert Einstein

Have holy curiosity!  What a wonderful way to express it – holy curiosity to make your life worth living.

Liz Gilbert describes curiosity:

“Curiosity is a tiny tap on the shoulder — a little whisper in the ear that says, “Hey, that’s kind of interesting…”  The trick is to just follow your small moments of curiosity. It doesn’t take a massive effort. Just turn your head an inch. Pause for a instant. Respond to what has caught your attention. Look into it a bit. Is there something there for you? A piece of information? For me, a lifetime devoted to creativity is nothing but a scavenger hunt — where each successive clue is another tiny little hit of curiosity. Pick each one up, unfold it, see where it leads you next. Small steps . . .”

I love that. Have holy curiosity; follow those small moments of curiosity; listen to that quiet little whisper in the ear; turn your head just a little bit to see what caught your attention out of the corner of your eye. Pay Attention!

I have been talking a lot about paying attention lately, about following that little whisper.  I’ve been having to practice what I preach as I put myself out there in the world.

Last week my book, This Way Up: Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life,  became available early on Amazon!  Publishing date is April 26th, but Amazon released it early.  This is very exciting on the one hand, but I wasn’t quite ready, I felt cheated somehow; I went to Amazon to check on something unrelated to my publishing date, and there on the page it said: “In stock and ready to ship!”  Suddenly I felt like I was on the back foot and needed to do more and move faster.

So I have been actively promoting my book and researching with holy curiosity different places for interviews and promotion.  It is not for the faint of heart, I assure you.

Today I had a wonderful interview on Artist First Radio with host Tony Kay, President of the ArtistFirst Radio Network.  It was such fun to be interviewed and to talk about my book for a whole hour.

I’ll close today with the interview.  It is an hour, so it does take a bit of a commitment to listen to the whole thing.  But if you can please do take the time to listen.

 

I’d love any feedback you have, and as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

Creativity isn’t always easy

Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it’s produced the most extraordinary results in human culture.

– Sir Ken Robinson

Some people claim that they have to create – that painting or writing or making music is as essential to them as breathing.  That is not the case for me.  I usually feel like I have to force myself to take the time to be creative. I set time aside to journal or write or just doodle because I know that that is the time when I can really connect with the source, with the truest part of me.

Other people are the oposite; instead of feeling like they have to create, they feel like they absolutely cannot create. Those people feel that creativity is only found in the chosen few.

Creativity is not found just in the chosen few who exhibit artistic talent. It is a force that flows through every single one of us, allowing us to dream things up and make them happen.

–Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy

In a wonderful article on Greater Good Website, Ten Things Creative People Know,  Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy explain that Creative expression opens the door to the inner world of our imaginations. It is here that we make meaning of our lives. It is here that motivation takes root. The more creative we are, the more capacity we have to imagine what’s possible and make those visions real.

But it’s important for me to explain, that for me anyway, it isn’t always easy.  It takes effort and determination and tenacity.  I force myself to journal every morning before I get up because I know that that is the time that I sometimes get glimpses of what is possible and ideas about how to make them real.  I sometimes get flashes of insight that lead to amazing things. And sometimes I even get lost in doodling or drawing and just love what emerges. It’s glorious to get lost in that flow.  Not that it’s anything I’d ever sell as ‘fine art’ – it’s just amazingly cool to get lost in, and to connect with that deep sense of self in the process.

In their article, Taylor and Murphy explore ten ideas about creativity and creative people:

1. Our lives have meaning.

2. We are all creative.

3. Creative expression empowers us.

4. We are good at heart.

5. Life is an adventure to be lived, not a problem to be solved.

6. Change is an inside job.

7. Diversity is a resource.

8. We thrive when we feel supported.

9. We each have the power to make change.

10. The challenges of our time require intergenerational collaboration.

 

We all have this potential and this gift.  It’s just that it isn’t always easy and often requires effort and determination to focus on our creativity – even if it’s only for 5 minutes before we get out of bed.

I’d like to close with a video clip with the wonderful Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. The clip is aptly called – ‘The Power of Persevance’

 

I’d love to hear about how you feel about your creativity. And as always, thanks for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.