Monthly Archives: December 2016

I get asked all the time:  what is God's will for me?

Indeed...this can be one of the most difficult questions to successfully answer, at least in the beginning of recovery.

On the surface, it would seem, from the traditional language, that we are asking to know the will of something outside of ourselves.  Something we can't understand, can't define and really have no clue about.  And yet, this Something, we are told, is what guides and shapes our lives.  If we let it.

It can all be very confusing.

I know for me, in the beginning of my recovery, I looked at the language:  "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God as I understood him, praying only for the knowledge of his will for me and the power to carry it out."   I looked at that and thought, "my god is not a him, and he isn't separate from me, and I've learned that I can pray for all sorts of stuff besides just will and power."  And I took it a step further, "I'm NEVER going to be able to stay sober!"  I did not have a traditional christian upbringing.  I was brought up being taught New Thought principles:  that god was within me, it was everywhere present.  I had just hidden it's presence by the use of drugs and alcohol.

Luckily, I had a sponsor who reassured me.  She asked me what I was doing every day.  I said, "I go to meetings, I call you, I'm working the steps, I read that daily meditation book."  She said, "honey, you are going to be just fine.  Don't worry about the language."

She was so wise!  What she told me, and what I heard over and over again, was that my understanding of the principles wasn't as important as my actions:  I needed to simply do the work.  And so I did.

Fast forward to now, 30 years into this deal I have a pretty deep understanding of the principles.  Today I know that my understanding of god is still not based in the traditional language.  Today I know that back then, they  had no other way to talk about spirituality other than traditional religion.  Today I am grateful for New Thought, that takes the traditional language and translates it into something I can understand, that bears the weight of deep spiritual truth.  Today, I know that through the process of introspection (steps 4 and 5), setting things right, communication and knowing my truth (steps 8 and 9), and prayer and meditation (steps 11), I KNOW god's will for me, because I can feel it.  God's will feels right, even if there is sometimes grief (for letting go of what no longer serves) involved.  Not doing god's will feels forced, like a battle, and sometimes manifests as a feeling of having a basketball in my stomach.

Would I ask someone new to recovery to automatically know that god's will is within them?  No.  Remember that the original textbook of AA was written for newcomers.  People who have been under the influence of a substance have no clue how to do an accurate introspection of themselves.  They rightly do not trust themselves or their thought processes.  I say rightly because that thought process has been altered by drugs and alcohol.  It takes time and work to set it right.  Doing the steps the first time around is really about making amends to ourselves.  There is a reason the god's will thing doesn't come up until the 11th step.

Fortunately, by then, self trust has begun to return, and the concept of an inner god that we are one with can then be considered.

So, if you are uncomfortable with the concept of god's will, consider that the solution is one of two things:  do the process of working the steps at a deeper level, or.....find a new god, like it encourages us to do in the 11th step.


It is the day after winter solstice.  Until summer solstice in June, each day will last a couple of minutes longer.  This planetary adjustment makes it seem like the days get brighter, and maybe they do.

It is also the end of the year, that time when many of us begin to review the year just past, and look forward to what is to come in the following year.

Twelve step folks generally like to say that we do the footwork and leave the results up to God, but I think we have more power than that.  Remember that power we gave up in the first step?  We get it back in the tenth step.  The original steps and the original process of working the steps as described in the Alcoholics Anonymous textbook were written for those folks who had no access to anyone who could teach them the process.  The book was intended to stand alone as a sufficient way to introduce people to the power and beauty of the program.  It was written for newcomers.  There is nothing in the literature that says steps 1, 2 and 3 are done over and over again everyday as a lifestyle.  That is an initial way into a new way of living.

There is, however, lots of advice about doing 10 and 11 every day. This is where we were meant to live:  in a place of power gleaned from a daily practice of introspection and connection with a god of our understanding.  It's pretty simple really:  go within....every day.  Get in touch with the fears that are activated and causing behavior that doesn't serve, and replace those fears with faith and change the behavior.  And meditate to connect with that Great Reality deep within.  Then affirm (pray).

This place, this place of living in 10 and 11, is what I call the place of beauty and joy.

It hurts my heart to see people who think that just stopping the addiction is recovery.  It isn't.  That's just the beginning.  It hurts to see people constantly fighting their addiction, always having to be on guard, always denying themselves what they really want, always saying to themselves, "I should not do that."  That isn't what this program is about.  It is about turning away from the addiction and into a new way of living, so that there is no more struggle.  The substance is not even an issue any longer.  It just goes away and there is no desire to consume it.   And that desire to consume a harmful substance is replaced with a desire to live a more satisfying life.

New Thought folks (and those who call themselves atheist and agnostic) like to protest against the christian language used in the program.  Consider this:  back when the steps were originally written, they really had no other way to speak of these things.  There was no such thing as "spiritual but not religious."  There was no language for that.  There was just religion.  This is not a christian program, and if the language bothers you, and you are having a tough time in recovery, you may want to consider that being bothered by the language is simply a barrier that your ego has put up to prevent you from changing.  That's the ego's job:  to prevent change, because change is scary.  And it does it's job very well.  But if you are living an unsatisfactory life, then perhaps some change is needed.  And such change always begins within, with our thoughts.

This New Year can be a time to change our thinking, especially if there are things in our lives we see as negative.  It all begins with our thoughts.  So....change your thinking, change your life!


I wrote my book because I have experienced the power of the 12 steps and I have witnessed too many people deny themselves that power.  And because I want everyone to experience the absolute freedom and happiness that can be experienced in recovery.  Recovery does not have to be a struggle.  In fact, I believe it should NOT be a struggle.  These steps are the way to move from struggle to rest.  From lack and limitation to prosperity.  From fear based lives to love based lives.

These simple tools have the power to turn fear based lives into love based lives full of joy and freedom.  And yet...I know so many people who live unsatisfactory lives because they refuse to employ this power.  They say things like, "I can't get past the religion."  Or, especially in New Thought circles, "I'm not powerlesss."

I think these are self imposed obstacles.  What if...just think about it...what if you thought of the obstacle as simply something that is getting in the way of what you want or need?  Instead of embracing the obstacle and saying, "no, I won't do these steps...they are not for me because....".  You could instead say, "I will give it a try.  It can't hurt."

So...let me just address the two most common arguments I hear.

Let's take the powerless one first.  Working these steps is a process.  You get your power back in the tenth step.  And, I submit that if you are drinking when you don't want to, or eating when you don't want to, or fighting the urge to consume that substance, whatever it is...isn't that a type of powerlessness?  If you are experiencing a life that is unsatisfactory in some way, isn't that a type of powerlessness?  What's so wrong about asking for help?  Especially if that help could facilitate a movement into a life greater than you ever dreamed of?  Especially if asking for help could move you into a state of power?

Declaring powerlessness isn't an obstacle, it is a doorway.

Now...let's take the religion piece.  It is written right into the literature of every 12 step program:  it is spiritual not religious.  And yet, it talks about God.  I know.  I had the same problem when I first entered recovery.  In fact, I crossed the word God out everywhere I encountered it and replaced it with a word of my choice.  I have news:  god isn't religious.  It's just a word.  There are as many words for god as there are for the color blue.  More in fact.  All are valid.  Perhaps you have been wounded by religion.  Many of us have.  This is where the struggle with the words come from, usually.  Wouldn't you like to be healed of that struggle?  This is where New Thought comes in.

New Thought recognizes that there is great wisdom in the ancient writings.  All of them.  Not just the Bible, but also the Torah, the Koran, the Bagavad Gita, the Buddhist writings.  All of them.  Unfortunately, the wisdom is hidden because of the way the people spoke when those things were written, and the way they taught back then.  The 12 step literature is the same.  The founders of AA, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, came from an era when religion was the only way to speak about spirituality, but they were beginning to realize that there were other ways to speak to this profound wisdom.  I have evidence that Bill Wilson and Ernest Holmes, the founder of one of the biggest New Thought organizations in the world, Centers for Spiritual Living, had conversations.  I have found similar or exact phrases in the writings of both of them.  In the original text book of AA, called the big book, written by Bill Wilson (with collaboration) there is a reference to "The Great Reality deep within us."  In a book written by Ernest Holmes called How to Use It, he has the phrase, "the Great Reality within."  This is not the only time I've found examples of this.

So.  If you are living an unsatisfactory life, try this path.  I don't care why the living is so unsatisfactory.  What I care about is that it becomes so much more.  What I care about is that you are empowered to live a life beyond your wildest dreams.

DSC_1009-EditI was chatting with someone about  humility the other day.  There is a rather common interpretation of humility floating around that I don't think serves anyone very well.  Most of these interpretations seem to center around not giving ourselves credit, or not claiming that we have some good stuff going on in our lives.

I happen to like this definition of humble, which I got from the dictionary:  "courteously respectful."

Being humble means I am courteously respectful, to myself, to others and to my recovery.  I am respectful of myself when thoughts come in that don't serve.  I don't belittle myself, nor sell myself short.  I take care of myself, physically as well as mentally and spirituality.  I respect others:  I respect their opinions and I respect that they know how to run their own lives, I don't try to control them or manipulate them.  And I respect my recovery.  I faithfully do steps 10 and 11 every day,  If you have been taught to do steps 1, 2 and 3 every day and you have more than two years of recovery, you may want to explore that living this way is rather limiting.  Check out this blog post for more: .  In my opinion, this way of living is not humble.  It is the other side of that coin of arrogance, the inferiority complex of the ego maniac.  Why do I say two years?  Because the text book of AA calls two years of sobriety "substantial sobriety time," and because the book was written for those who were seeking to get sober.  Steps 1, 2 and 3 are for beginners.  Steps 10 and 11 are for advanced recovery and it is there where the deep richness and the strength and power of the program happen.

Being humble means I claim my good.

I do not believe we can claim those things that don't serve us well, unless we also claim our good.  If we don't take credit for the good, how on earth can we claim responsibility and be empowered enough to change what isn't working....the so called bad?



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