A Wellspring of Hope
Newsletter of The Recovery Group


March 2005
Volume 7, Issue 3


Please feel free to pass Serendipity on to others who are working a Twelve Step program of recovery.


ser*en*dip*i*ty ~ (noun) First appeared 1754:
the faculty or phenomenon of finding
valuable or agreeable things not sought for.


Serendipity CONTACTS:
SerendipityNewsletter@yahoo.com
The Serendipity Archives
www.TheRecoveryGroup.org/serendipity/index.html





THIS MONTH IN SERENDIPITY


REQUEST A SERENDIPITY SUBSCRIPTION



~ FROM THE SERENDIPITY TEAM ~

Dear Serendipity Readers,

"The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is."
- Jiddu Krishnamurti
I think the structure of the 12 steps gives all of us the freedom to awaken. To open our eyes and see through new eyes. We wake up on all different levels - mental, spiritual and physical. Through the 12 steps we learn about ourselves. The good, the bad, and yes, sometimes the ugly. As we work each step, our learning expands, and therein lies the freedom. We are free of our character defects, our burdens, and ultimately, our compulsion.

When I am dealing with too much - too much stress, duties, too much of "life", my first reaction is to go to the food. For an alcoholic, it's alcohol. I also tend to overspend, and shop to make myself feel better. But what happens when my stomach is full of food and my house is full of clutter from all of the things I've bought, is that I can't see.

When I am full, I have TOO MUCH. This is a crutch that has helped me get through hard times, but through the 12 steps and my Higher Power, I find I no longer need this crutch. When I am full, and have too much, I am not fully aware. If I was, perhaps I wouldn't take that next compulsive bite or purchase that fancy 20-piece makeup set.

When I am full, I don't see my lovely husband, my wonderful family or friends. I don't see WHAT I DO HAVE.

When I am filling myself up with things I don't need, I am closing the door on my life. I am not letting others in. When I am full, I am not the person I can be.

Sometimes when I'm not awake, I daydream. I pretend I am someone else, a dancer; younger; single. This is a protective barrier and keeps me away from my real self. It is denying who I really am. It is closing myself off.

The great thing about awareness is that you can be aware at any moment in time. All you have to do is believe. Open your eyes, right now. Look around you. What do you see? Who is there? Be aware. Know what you are worth, and what you have. Don't sell yourself short by taking that first compulsive bite.

When we are fully awake, we see things we might normally let gloss over our lives. We notice how bright the sun is, see how it relates to the clouds and the sky. We can appreciate things more, because we are fully present, and therefore, fully interacting with our family and friends.

Sure, being aware and living this way can be scary. We feel things that normally may be glazed over by excess food or drink. But it is worth it. So are all of the risks that make life worth living - falling in love, jumping out of an airplane, having the adventure of your life. But as someone once said, it's not the destination that counts it's the journey.

Many of us have wished for a sudden flash of illumination, the moment of instant revelation, rather than the slow plodding progress of daily practices. After all, most of us live in societies that encourage quick fixes and fast results, even when it comes to the process of becoming deeply conscious or enlightened.

In Stephen Levine's book, "Gradual Awakening", he incorporates an image useful to understand the process of awakening. That image is of fruit on a tree. It ripens ever so slowly, day by day, until at last it's fully ripe and falls from the tree.

Kathy and The Serendipity Team
SerendipityNewsletter@yahoo.com





~ QUOTATIONS OF THE MONTH ~



"The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time. " - Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

"What we are looking for is what is looking" - St. Francis of Assisi

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world" - Gandhi

"Man can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown" - Claude Bernard

"When you accept yourself, the whole world accepts you" - Lao Tse

"A man is rich in proportion to the things he can afford to let alone" - Thoreau

"This is all a dream we dreamed one afternoon, long ago" - Grateful Dead

"Things aren't the way they are, they're the way you are" - Anais Nin

"Namaste" (means: "God in me sees and honors God in you")

"You can be creative only when there is abandonment--which means, really, there is no sense of compulsion, no fear of not being, of not gaining, of not arriving. Then there is great austerity, simplicity, and with it there is love."

"Most people like to live in illusions." - Jiddu Krishnamurti (various writings)



~ RECOVERY MEDITATION ~ New Beginnings



"To dry my eyes and laugh at a fall, and baffled, get up and start again"
     ~Robert Browning

When things didn't go my way, I would stamp my feet, lose my temper, and walk away. I was the world's greatest quitter!

The Twelve Step program of recovery teaches me that when I trip over something, I can pick myself up, dust myself off, and start over at any time. I can turn whatever I stumble over into an opportunity for growing and learning.

One Day at a Time . . .

When confronted by roadblocks to my recovery, I can humble myself and ask my Higher Power, "What do YOU want for me to learn from this?" I can turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones and move on in my recovery journey.

~ Linda K. ~



~ FOUNDER'S CORNER ~ TRG'S MOVING DAY IS HERE!


Dear Recovery Friends,

I want to congratulate Kathy for bringing us this wonderful issue of Serendipity. I knew last month when I saw what a quick study she was in putting our newsletter together that it wouldn't take her very long to put forth her individual and delightful style. With the help of Marty, who is in charge of subscriptions and putting Serendipity on our website, and the wonderful Serendipity Staff and reporters, I believe you will have some exciting things in store for you in the future.

The theme for this issue is "Growth and Awakening." Nothing could be more appropriate than these words as The Recovery Group is put to the test of a cohesive and loving community of Twelve Step loving COEs all over the world. Do you remember when you last moved? You left one house full of precious things and one by one gave them their special place in another. In doing this, there was a period of time in which felt like pulling your hair out and wondered if it would ever all come together as you envisioned it to be! Try moving over 90 houses at one time ... because that's what has happened to us. Our loops are in the process of migrating from Yahoo to L-Soft and for every list we have, there are dozens of "parts" of that list ... and each part has to be just right before we will be satisfied.

To those of you who are giving more to this effort than anyone could ever imagine, I watch you with awe. To Dodee and Nancy, two of our Administrators who have the patience of Job, you're the best. And to Cindy and Jasper, two technical angels who serendipitously dropped down from heaven, I express, on behalf of all our members, the deepest appreciation possible.

We're not finished! And in this period of growth and enlightenment of what we have here ... we have miles to go before we sleep.

@-}-}-}------
Happy March, Loopies!
Mari





~ LETTERS TO SERENDIPITY ~



Please feel free to write letters to us on any subject of interest to our readers. Send to:
SerendipityNewsletter@yahoo.com


~ THE RECOVERY GROUP ~
ADMINISTRATIVE HIGHLIGHTS

~ TRG ADMINISTRATION ~

The Recovery Group Administration has been busy assisting in the migration to our new home at L-Soft. Our messages will no longer have commercials, pop-up ads or spam slipping through. We are still the same safe, caring community the Recovery Group has been for the last 10 years. The only difference will be our address.

We would like to say a special thanks to Cindy and Jasper, who have joined the TRGAdm during this move. They have volunteered their valuable expertise and time in making this move easier and quicker for all of us, and have done a great job.

Also a special thank you to the Trusted Servants for your patience as we all learn new ways of doing things.

Cody has taken a well deserved leave of absence during this month and she is greatly missed.

We would like to welcome January, the new coordinator for the Telephone Angels. If you are interested in becoming an Angel, please contact her at:

TELEPHONEANLGELS@LISTS.THERECOVERYGROUP.ORG

We are starting over in a new home, but the reason for our loops remains ever the same: a place where anyone with the desire to stop eating compulsively will feel safe. You are not alone anymore.

Submitted by:
Dodee, Cody and Nancy,
TRG Administration

http://www.TheRecoveryGroup.org
Contact: TRGAdm@TheRecoveryGroup.org

~ RECOVERY LOOPS DIVISION ~

OUR GENERAL SHARING LOOPS

The Recovery Loops Division is made up of TRG's Twelve-step general sharing support groups. OA Friends, HOTJ, The Big Book, and foreign loops (French, German and Italian) are but some of the general sharing loops available to TRG members. The WTS loop, under the guidance of Bob W. is currently finishing a challenging 12-week study of OA's twelve steps, working on one step each week. A new study will be starting on April 1, 2005. Stay tuned for announcements in the upcoming month about how to sign up for the new study.

More details about these support groups can be found at:
http://www.theRecoveryGroup.org/trg.html
Contact: RecoveryLoopsAdm@lists.TheRecoveryGroup.org

~ DISCOVERY LOOPS DIVISION ~

Established to help anyone afflicted with an eating disorder, the Discovery Loops empower men, women and children to learn about OA and connect with others who share the same disease.

For some, isolation has been their way of life. When they join one or more of the Discovery Loops they can begin to see there is hope in Recovery.

The Discovery Division has five loops. Two of them were created for children and their parents: Kids & Discovery, and COKIDS. Kids & Discovery is a loop where only children can share. There is one adult moderator. CoKids is the loop for parents, grandparents, friends, and teachers; anyone who needs assistance helping a child with an eating disorder.

For those who like to cook and have some great recipes, Kitchen and Discovery is a great loop. Here we can share food plans, recipes and food ideas; food can be discussed freely.

Then we can swing on over to Exercise and Recovery. On this loop members can commit to some exercise goals along with others, and just hear what others are doing. This loop can function as a discussion group and services are available like all other loops; sponsors, meetings, Big Book Studies, etc.

The last loop -- The Yellow Brick Road -- offers a way to travel our journey of recovery and at the same time be able to go back to our childhood if we have left some unfinished business or wounds there. Yellow Brick Road has no Coordinators or guidelines. It is a spiritual loop, but not religious. Participants choose where to begin the journey -- childhood, teens, adult and on from there. The important thing is to DISCOVER who one really is and that we are not alone!

Athena
Division Leader

http://www.theRecoveryGroup.org/discovery/
Contact: DiscoveryAdm@lists.TheRecoveryGroup.org

~ ODAT LOOPS DIVISION ~

ODAT ~ OUR SPECIAL FOCUS LOOPS

As you know, the Recovery Group community is made up of Twelve Step support groups for compulsive eaters. A special division of our community is geared to those who, in addition to being compulsive eaters, have a special focus in their lives which they need to incorporate in their recovery program. The ODAT loops were designed specifically for that purpose.

Our lists range from loops for diabetics to compulsive spenders; support for HOW and Greysheet; safe places for the homebound, disabled and those in isolation; drug abuse, grief and sex and love addiction. We have three dozen of these lists and you will find them smaller than the general sharing lists, more intimate and maybe just what you're looking for to help round out your recovery program.

We invite you to visit our website at:
www.theRecoveryGroup.org/odat/

Donna
Chairman, The ODAT Division

~ THE RECOVERY OA ONLINE MEETINGS ~

On-Line Meeting Division

February was a busy month, with the majority of our meeting leaders completing their Meeting Leader training with Audrey. Existing leaders and new leaders have now learned how to use pop-ups, have been instructed on handling meeting intruders and various other aspects that are involved in leading meetings.

Cindy does a great job in managing our ever-changing meeting schedule and there are always vacancies to be filled!! Leaders are needed from outside the US; especially from Australia, New Zealand and the UK. If you are interested in taking on one of our regular meetings you can contact Cindy at: cindyc@covenant-isp.com for an up-to-date meeting schedule.

We are proud and excited to say we have recently added Newcomer's Meetings to our meeting schedule! These meetings take place in our #TRGNewcomers room. These meetings are held conveniently, four times a week on Monday and Tuesday at 8PM, Thursday at 10PM, and Sunday at 2PM; all times are EST. All newcomers are welcome to attend.

Barry manages the technical aspects of IRC and is always ready to help leaders who might need computer support. Christine provides the instructions and meeting protocol information to help new leaders get started.

It is vital that our meetings continue to grow in the true spirit of the steps and traditions of OA. Any suggestions on how we can improve our service to meetings can be sent to Terri at: mtgadm@yahoogroups.com

In loving service,

Terri, Barry, Christine, Audrey and Cindy
On-Line Meeting Coordinators

Enquiries to: MtgAdm@lists.TheRecoveryGroup.org
www.TheRecoveryGroup.org/meetings/index.html



~ TRG SPONSOR PROGRAM ~

This month we want to share some helpful ways that will make it simpler for members who are seeking a sponsor.

It is important that a member seeking an online sponsor go to our website and read "How to Find a Sponsor", available at:
www.therecoverygroup.org/sponsors.html.

This way the member will know what information we need here in order to send them the bios or to post their request to the RecoverySponsors Loop.

We continue to get many requests for online sponsors, with more requests FOR sponsors than members offering TO sponsor. Just keeping the bios and directory up-to-date is a daily challenge.

We ask members NOT to send on to other members their copies of bios, because those are generally out-of-date; usually there is more current information with the Sponsor administrators.

If you are a loop coordinator reading this we need your help in encourging your members to become sponsors. What better way to continue working the steps!

NOTE:

We apologize to anyone who did not get a response this past month, due to the Cyber Winged-Migration that was taking place. Our mail did not come through and you may have had your post rejected. Please try again.
Everything is working fine now and we want to thank our new RecoveryTech, Cindy, for all her dedication and help.

With blessings of Love and much JOY,
       Patt and Cate
       TRG Sponsor Coordinators

www.TheRecoveryGroup.org/sponsors.html
Contact: TRGSponsorsAdm@lists.TheRecoveryGroup.org



~ THE RECOVERY TELEPHONE ANGELS ~

     (\0/) (\0/) (\0/)
     / \   / \   / \

TRG Adminstration is pleased to announce that January has become the new coordinator of the Recovery Group Telephone Angels. The Telephone Angels program provides a list of all those who are willing and able to accept phone calls. January will soon be sending out an email looking for new "Angels" and will then distribute the new list to all. January's email address is angelgolightly@aol.com.

Dodee (TRGAdm) for,
The Recovery Telephone Angels Program
TRGAdm@TheRecoveryGroup.org. Please put "Attention: Telephone Angels" on the subject line.



~ GENERAL ANNOUNCEMENTS ~



The Recovery Group has added Newcomers Meetings!

These are held at 8:00 PM EST Monday and Tuesday; 10:00 PM EST Thursdays and 2:00 PM EST Sunday.

If you are interested in attending a newcomers meeting, please visit
http://www.TheRecoveryGroup.org on the web, and click on the doorway to Newcomers Meetings.



~ LOOP SPOTLIGHT OF THE MONTH ~
NEWCOMERS AND RECOVERY LOOP



The Recovery Group has many support loops, online meetings and other services for the compulsive eater. We also have a Big Book Study, Twelve Step Study, a Sponsor Program and many other services. If you are a newcomer, you might find this a strange new world ... and the purpose of this loop is to help you adjust to your new surroundings ... to help you speak our language ... the language of recovery.

Whether you are brand new to OA and The Twelve Steps, or are returning to us, let us encourage you to join the Newcomers and Recovery Loop. This is a short term loop which will help you to learn about us and see which of our recovery loops is best suited to you.

To learn more please visit us at:
http://www.TheRecoveryGroup.org/special/newcomers.html



~ MESSAGE OF HOPE ~ Newcomers ~



"Newcomers are the most important people in OA meetings."

Without newcomers, the meetings would go stagnant. There would be no one to whom we can pass the message of Recovery. No one to remind us how terrible this disease is and can be. Newcomers add so much to the meetings, they bring life. They help us to remember how it was, what it could be like if we were not abstinent. They get us out of ourselves, so we can pass on our message of recovery and keep us abstinent for one more day. Helping Newcomers is what brings the light in recovery. Newcomers teach us love, patience, and tolerance for one of other. Newcomers teach us to be humble. Newcomers are the best message possible for OAers. Newcomers keep OA alive; thank HP for that!

LisaJean



~ FEATURE ARTICLE ~
Awakening



With all of our modern-day technology, we often get accustomed to the pace of the cyberworld. And, in the technological world, the key is speed. There is modem speed, printing speed, access speed and download speed. So many types; it is hard to knock this drive for speed. Therefore, it is easy to understand why we might expect the OA (or AA) Program to work for us, and quickly. Once we admit we are powerless over food, we want to run up, get our Abstinence Pill (take this with 8 cups of water a day; be sure to eat a balanced food plan and call your sponsor in the morning) and walk out of our first meeting, completely cured. Well, if you've been around any length of time, you already know it doesn't work like that.

I once read a passage in a 12-step book that compared being in Program to pickle-making. You don't get pickles by shaking salt on them, or by sprinkling them with salt, garlic and dill. They have to soak in the brine. And, to get anything valuable out of the Program, you have to "soak" in the process of the steps, the tools and the meetings. The truths slowly soak their way into your consciousness, just as the flavor soaks into cucumbers, and turns them into pickles. Over the months and years which you spend in the rooms and loops of OA, you slowly absorb things that you aren't aware of absorbing. And, one day, you become aware that you are a "pickle": a changed person, who has become awash with serenity, love, acceptance, humility and a new kind of openness to the things of our Higher Power.

I can remember that my own first few years of being in OA were not very helpful to me. I wanted it to work... really I did. But I just didn't "get it." I saw varying degrees of Program effectiveness, and heard many success stories. But to me, the 12 steps were just words on a poster that hung on a wall in a church I normally would not attend. These steps weren't part of my life. It was almost as if it were another diet program, but without the cheery lady who stuck those pretty stars on my red ribbon.

I could readily accept that I was a food addict. Life had taught me that I used the food in ways which made me a Bigger Person (and I DON'T mean that in a good way). And I also saw truth in the stories that others in meetings shared. I knew I was the same as they. They said they found hope and help in OA. I just didn't see how it could help me. But I played along.

Then there was a day when everything changed for me. If I were a cartoon character, a large light bulb would have been visible above my head. I heard a share on "working the steps", and it was as if I were hearing about it for the first time. It wasn't the speaker's profound words, because they were simple. It wasn't their thin, average size body that I envied.

Rather, it was how the speaker spoke about actually WORKING the steps, applying OA's truths to everyday situations - that was what spoke to me. This person also spoke taking a specific problem and "12-stepping it". For example, if you had a problem with your friend Bobby, you could say, "I accept that I am powerless over Bobby's anger toward me. I believe that a Power Greater than myself can restore our relationship. I turn my will and my life over to my Higher Power."

I think that every time I go through the steps, whether it is online in the WTS study, or live at a face to face meeting, I learn more about myself. And it is in these lessons about myself that I learn more about my HP, and about what I am destined to be. The awakening that I experienced in that meeting was not about a specific food plan, or a special passage from the Big Book, or even about an inspired speaker. They are about being in the right place at the right time; for HP to speak the words which brought about my own awakening to the truths of the Program. Once I understood this, other Program truths became clearer. And I began to see that the Program is a way of self-discovery and self-growth. And that I could open my mind to hear and accept the truth that HP wanted me to hear.

Will I ever stop learning? I don't think so. Will I ever stop needing to go to meetings; use the tools and work the steps? I can't see that happening. Because, to me, the truths and the tools of the Program have become the tools and the truths of my life. They are as ingrained in me as the garlic in the pickles. And they flavor my life, in the same way. The Program has become a way for me to discover who I can become, with HP's help... and for that discovery, I need to connect with HP on a daily basis. Each day's physical awakening prompts my mind to recall that day of emotional awakening. And each day finds me seeking HP and the path of serenity, with a refreshed and wakened mind. And that, to me, is the essence of our Program.

Donna ~ ODAT Loops Division Leader



~ YOU CAN'T ESCAPE DEATH AND TAXES ~



Many TV game-show watchers scratched their heads in puzzlement when "Jeopardy!" whiz Ken Jennings missed a question about the IRS. Because, in retrospect, their effect on the lives of Americans during the months that are designated as "tax season" is all too well-known. Unless you are completely supported by another person, you are most likely either now preparing your taxes, spending your refund, worrying about where the funds are coming from to pay your taxes, or sticking the tax forms in a drawer until you are ready to deal with them. These reactions may be based on your income, your personality, your willingness to do paperwork (or computer work, if you file online).

It occurs to me that tax preparation may, in some ways, resemble our recovery journey. Now, go with me on this, and understand that this was written with "tongue in cheek". As we do with taxes, we all have to eventually have to accept the reality of our addiction. We can "stick it in a drawer" (be in denial) for a time, but just as the papers are always there, right under those hideous blue pants we got from Aunt Agatha, our need to move forward with our recovery journey is always there. You know you have to do it. You may dread it, but it has to be done.

Putting off our taxes can even increase our anxiety about the preparation process. Putting off action, in using the tools of recovery or working the steps of OA, can likewise increase our anxiety; about the effects of putting the principles of the Program into practice, in our daily lives.

Consider, if you will, some of the ways that people prepare their taxes. I know people who meticulously save every business receipt, and note every tax-exempt expense. They save their returns in a neat, well-ordered file. They are ready, as soon as their W2s come in. They tackle those formidable 1040 forms with gusto, and dive right into the numbers. Their returns are stamped and in the mail, before Valentine's Day. There are people who approach the Program like this. They enthusiastically embrace its principles, carefully study the Big Book, and write down all the sayings they hear in the rooms. They copy phone numbers, and check off their little lists as they call their 3 OA people each day. They are organized. (And I salute them, but am NOT in this category.)

Some people choose to have their taxes prepared for them. They make their appointments, and they come fearfully (or expectantly) to those bright green offices: tax papers and receipts in hand, and sit trustingly while somebody else does the hard work of "crunching" the numbers. And I don't knock them, because I did that for many years. It was a good system. And some people really need to use a professional tax preparer, so I am not saying it is wrong. But we can possibly compare this tax-preparer to the OA member who comes to the meeting, identifies with all the speaker says, but is reluctant to share "in case I do it wrong." This OA-er sometimes sits back while others give service, and does the minimum in terms of mental preparation. He comes to the meetings, and works his program, in a passive way... and though this gets the job done, it doesn't really get the person mentally involved in the recovery process.

Then there are the people who are not in either category, and I think this is where most of us fall. When going through our year, we keep receipts (when we remember); we note expenses (when it occurs to us) and save last year's return (in various places). And we bravely tackle the boxes and lines and questions on the 1040 ourselves, or with our mates. We do the best we can and send the letter out with a sigh or a cheer. Because that's what you do. You do your taxes because you have to.

And, in my opinion, that's a good metaphor for working the Program. I once had a teacher whose motto was "the best I can do is the best I can do."

The worst thing to do, in my opinion, is to put the tax prep process off. Whether because you don't want to deal with it, or because you are afraid (or know) that you will have to pay the IRS, the task won't get done by the socks in your drawer, and the money won't drop out of the sky. Somewhere in their heart, the procrastinator knows that their taxes need to be done, and that the sooner they are done, the sooner the answer to "how bad is it gonna be?" will be known.

Similarly, when we are contemplating putting the tools of the Program into practice in our lives, some of us balk. Some of us repeatedly try out those old "half measures"; even though we know from experience they don't "avail us" anything. We tell ourselves "tomorrow I'll be abstinent. Tomorrow I'll make my phone calls, go to meetings and even journal." But today is here... we can put the tools into practice now... and it won't be even half as complicated or costly as doing our taxes!

Don't keep your Program "in your drawer." If you are the organized type, you don't need me to tell you what to do. If you are among those who need help, ask HP for the courage to ask for it. If you are the type who goes with the flow and does the best the can, with each day, then keep it up. The promises of the Program include the old saying "it works if you work it." And THAT's as sure as death and taxes.

Donna
ODAT Loops Division Leader



~ From our Members ~



Each month, Serendipity readers are asked to send their recovery stories. If you would like to contribute your story, please send to:
SerendipityNewsletter@yahoo.com. Please try to make it about 500 words.

~ Perceptions ~ A Recovery Story by Lisa ~

Hello. My name is Lisa and I began OA around April or May of 2003. I live in the Atlanta, Georgia metro area and have maintained a healthy size for over a year, losing around 30 lbs by December of 2003. I have had much abstinence in program. While my back to back abstinence had been only for a few weeks at a time, since the beginning, I have maintained solid non-white knuckling for a few months with few slips in between. I am still far from perfect, but I am working the program solidly and consistently by using ALL the tools including prayer, meditation, sponsoring, having a sponsor, reading OA literature, reaching out for help, giving help when asked,writing, sharing, meetings online and face to face, and a food plan and regular moderate exercise.

When I woke this morning, the word "perception" was in my mind. I mean, here I am, a single mother, 39 years old, self employed, living in a great neighborhood with my awesome 15-year old son. Most of the families around here are dual income, highly educated, upper middle class....probably earning much more than I earn.

My son and I may live on much less income than most around here, but we do pretty well. I actually qualified for my son to get free health care and free lunches at school. We drive a Honda that is 10 yrs old, and have a very modest (like almost nothing) savings. I have liver disease (Hepatitis C), and my son's father was a drug addict and died about 8 yrs ago, earning too little for our son to receive a dime of social security benefits.

Oh yeah, and I am a COE. Did I mention that? I have so many blessings, and so many setbacks. Some days, my biggest "problem" is just remember that I am a COE. I am not rich in materialistic things, but I am rich with a large, albeit dysfunctional, family. I doubt that I will ever suffer from hunger, homelessness, or be without friends or family. "Poor" for me means my car is over five years old and I can only eat out once every week or two.

In the aftermath of the tragic tsunami in Asia and the inconceivable devastation and pain being experienced by so many people, I find myself realizing that so many of my feelings that I have had, and occasionally still have, are based on man-made perceptions. Whether it is the size of my home, the perfection of my body, the size of my bank account, quality of my health, or my educational level, I realize that so often in my past, I have allowed myself to feel badly by comparing with others by what I DON'T have. I found myself feeling sorry for myself, thinking about all that I don't have. For example, I clean a yoga studio every week in exchange for the privilege to take unlimited classes. In the past I'd have been resentful that I had to do menial labor, scrubbing toilets in exchange for yoga! (where's the rich doctor/husband that I was supposed to marry that would pay for these luxuries?) Today, I am grateful that I CAN do it; that the owner has given me an opportunity to be part of her community, and I actually ENJOY my cleaning gig. I am also grateful for the energy I have, and for all I have gotten spiritually, emotionally, and physically from my yoga practice.

There is turmoil all around: war, natural disasters, high crime rates, to name a few. I go to sleep in a comfortable bed every night. I never hear gunshots outside of our home. I can work whatever hours I choose. I take long bubble baths in a wonderful whirlpool bath most days. No one cleans my home for me, but I have the energy to keep ours up fairly well. I have a mother who lives nearby and has been supportive of me in many ways. I have a child who is very bright and will probably receive scholarships to go to college. And if not, he will still go, thanks to us having resources like a home to refinance or family to help. He is drug free and physically and emotionally well balanced. How much more blessed can I be?

I guess I am just thinking about the reality of things and how I believe we create these realities based on our own perceptions. When I think that my most pressing issues in my life are to work my steps surrounding my COE disease, I realize that I am indeed a very blessed person. While it IS something that could kill me if I let it, ultimately, it is a BREEZE in my life compared to other obstacles I have overcome (and possibly have still yet to overcome) and will never even need to consider. Rather than feeling helpless, I feel empowered by my own willingness to take action in my life to progress and work my own program to grow and progress.

Today, I have made a decision - to recover. To try. To surrender. To pray. To not wallow in self pity. To not compare with anyone else. To not engage in negative behaviors that may lead to my loss of abstinence - and that includes physical and mental abstinence. To be positive. To be helpful. To be humble and teachable. To take action when I should and can. To search for my truths. To evolve and grow in my life. To have faith (and not fear) that the universe will provide for me exactly what I need. To focus on the positive. To live in the moment. To let go and let God. To release the past, to not worry about the future. To take action. To be a good mother, sister, daughter and friend. To love myself and to have TOTAL acceptance of what IS right now. Today I have decided to have a good day, plain and simple.

What are YOUR perceptions today?

With love and light,

Lisa

~ CREATING A FOOD PLAN ~

One of the things I like best about OA is the freedom for each individual to create his/her own food plan. However, I know this can be confusing for some newcomers. In my years in OA, I have sponsored people with different aspects of our food allergy. Some overeat bread. Some overeat pasta. Some can't have any white flour or sugar.

Because our bodies react differently to different food substances, we need to find what best fits our needs. This is frequently a trial and error process. After several months of abstinence, I went to my sister's wedding in her back yard. I was alone in the living room with a bowl of mixed nuts. I decided I could eat one cashew. Then I ate two. In a few minutes of digging through the bowl, I had eaten every cashew in the mixture. Needless to say, cashews are NOT on my food plan.

OA recommends a visit to a doctor or a nutritionist if you are not sure what kind of foods you should be avoiding. My history is that I have to avoid foods that I eat strictly for recreational value. These can include chips, sugar and fat combinations like donuts, all candy that includes sugar and fat, etc. These are my red light foods.

Then, I have my yellow light foods. I can eat these foods without triggering the compulsion, but they definitely are not taking me where I want to be with my physical recovery. These include things like real butter, fried foods, fast food burgers, etc.

When it comes down to it, I need to remember that, as my sponsor has reminded me, food is fuel. I have developed a food plan that I hope fuels my body in a healthy way including foods from the food groups that are on the food pyramid.

Because there many ways to develop a food plan, it is wise to find a food sponsor and work with that person to find your own. I have found that one of the things on my plan is that I don't take any money to work with me; that way I can't be tempted to visit the candy machine in the staff lounge. This was a suggestion of a sponsor.

Reading the new OA pamphlet that includes several suggested food plans is a good idea, too. There are several plans and perhaps one will meet your needs.

Whatever the food plan, it's been my experience that I need to be willing to adapt it and change it as the need arises. Some foods that start out to be on my green light list may become red light foods if I find that I am cleaning up my plan.

Good luck in developing a plan that will bring you the physical recovery that you want and need.

Submitted by:
Jeanne Lerner



~ Chains of Obsession - A Poem ~

I slip away
They keep on talking
Fight the fear
keep on walking

Let it out
Release my soul
I see the contents
In the bowl

I wash my hands
My face I clean
Go to the table
Feeling lean

Will someone notice?
Well, so far no
For now I am
Just like a pro

Return with a smile
No more pain
With all I ate
No weight I'll gain

Is it normal
To eat till I'm sick
Just to stay
As thin as a stick?

The world can't tell
How crazy I am
Once drawn in
Stuck in a jam

I want to stop
I tried long ago
Destroying my life
Yes, I know

Tell me how
To take control
To see my value
And save my soul

For when this day
Appears to me
The chains will break
I'll be set free

- Anonymous




~ THE STORY OF THE PHOENIX ~



The Phoenix is symbolic of rebirth, hope, purity, chastity, marriage, faith, constancy, summer, eternity, immortality, and light.

There is a bird that lays no eggs and has no young. It was here when the world began and is still living today, in a hidden, faraway desert spot. It is the phoenix, the bird of fire.

One day in the beginning times, the sun looked down and saw a large bird with shimmering feathers. They were red and gold -- bright and dazzling like the sun itself. The sun called out, "Glorious Phoenix, you shall be my bird and live forever!" Live forever!

The Phoenix was overjoyed to hear these words. It lifted its head and sang, "Sun glorious sun, I shall sing my songs for you alone!"

But the Phoenix was not happy for long. Poor bird. Its feathers were far too beautiful. Men, women, and children were always chasing it and trying to trap it. They wanted to have some of those beautiful, shiny feathers for themselves.

"I cannot live here," thought the phoenix. And it flew off toward the east, where the sun rises in the morning.

The Phoenix flew for a long time, and then came to a far away, hidden desert where no humans lived. And there the phoenix remained in peace, flying freely and singing its songs of praise to the sun above.

Almost five hundred years passed. The Phoenix was still alive, but it had grown old. It was often tired, and it had lost much of its strength. It couldn't soar as high in the sky, nor fly as fast or as far as it could when young.

"I don't want to live like this," thought the Phoenix. "I want to be young and strong."

So the Phoenix lifted its head and sang, "Sun, glorious sun, make me young and strong again!" But the sun didn't answer. Day after day the Phoenix sang. When the sun still didn't answer, the Phoenix decided to return to the place where it had lived in the beginning, and ask the sun one more time.

It flew across the desert, over hills, green valleys, and high mountains. The journey was long, and because the Phoenix was old and weak, it had to rest along the way. Now, the Phoenix has a keen sense of smell and is particularly fond of herbs and spices. So each time it landed, it collected pieces of cinnamon bark and all kinds of fragrant leaves. It tucked some in among its feathers and carried the rest in its claws.

When at last the bird came to the place that had once been its home, it landed on a tall palm tree growing high on a mountainside. Right at the top of the tree, the Phoenix built a nest with the cinnamon bark and lined it with the fragrant leaves. Then the Phoenix flew off and collected some sharp-scented gum called myrrh, which it had seen oozing out of a nearby tree. The Phoenix made an egg from the myrrh and carried the egg back to the nest.

Now everything was ready. The Phoenix sat down in its nest, lifted its head, and sang, "Sun, glorious sun, make me young and strong again!"

This time the sun heard the song. Swiftly it chased the clouds from the sky and stilled the winds and shone down on the mountainside with all its power.

The animals, the snakes, the lizards, and every other bird hid from the sun's fierce rays -- in caves and holes, under shady rocks and trees. Only the Phoenix sat upon its nest and let the suns rays beat down upon it beautiful, shiny feathers.

Suddenly there was a flash of light, flames leaped out of the nest, and the Phoenix became a big round blaze of fire.

After a while the flames died down. The tree was not burnt, nor was the nest. But the Phoenix was gone. In the nest was a heap of silvery-gray ash.

The ash began to tremble and slowly heave itself upward. From under the ash there rose up a young Phoenix. It was small and looked sort of crumpled, but it stretched its neck and lifted its wings and flapped them. Moment by moment it grew, until it was the same size as the old Phoenix. It looked around, found the egg made of myrrh, and hollowed it out. Then it placed the ashes inside and finally closed up the egg. The young Phoenix lifted its head and sang, "Sun, glorious sun, I shall sing my songs for you alone! Forever and ever!"

When the song ended, the wind began to blow, the clouds came scudding across the sky, and the other living creatures crept out of their hiding places.

Then the Phoenix, with the egg in its claws, flew up and away. At the same time, a cloud of birds of all shapes and sizes rose up from the earth and flew behind the Phoenix, singing together, "You are the greatest of birds! You are our king!"

The birds flew with the Phoenix to the temple of the sun that the Egyptians had built at Heliopolis, city of the sun. Then the Phoenix placed the egg with the ashes inside on the sun's altar.

"Now," said the Phoenix, "I must fly on alone." And while the other birds watched, it flew off toward the faraway desert.

The Phoenix lives there still. But every five hundred years, when it begins to feel weak and old, it flies west to the same mountain. There it builds a fragrant nest on top of a palm tree, and there the sun once again burns it to ashes. But each time, the Phoenix rises up from those ashes, fresh and new and young again.



~ OVEREATERS ANONYMOUS CONTACTS ~

Overeaters Anonymous
World Service Office (WSO)
PO Box 44020
Rio Rancho, NM 87124 USA

Telephone 505-891-2664
Fax: 505-891-4320
http://www.overeatersanonymous.org/index.html
E-Mail Address ~ info@overeatersanonymous.org

"I put my hand in yours ...
and together we can do what we could never do alone."
~ Rozanne, OA CoFounder ~



~ WRITERS' SERIES ~ The Awakening ~

A time comes in your life when you finally get it ... when in the midst of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks, and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out - ENOUGH!

You realize that it's time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that he is not Prince Charming and you are not Cinderella and that in the real world there aren't always fairy tale endings (or beginnings for that matter), and that any guarantee of "happily ever after" must begin with you; and in the process, a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect, and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who, or what, you are ... and that's OK. (They are entitled to their own views and opinions.) And you learn the importance of loving and championing yourself; and in the process a sense of newfound confidence is born of self-approval.

You stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you (or didn't do for you) and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected. You learn that people don't always say what they mean or mean what they say, and that not everyone will always be there for you; and that it's not always about you. So, you learn to stand on your own, and to take care of yourself; and in the process, a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.

You stop judging and pointing fingers ... and you begin to accept people as they are, and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties; and in the process, a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.

You realize that much of the way you view yourself and the world around you is as a result of all the messages and opinions that have been ingrained into your psyche. And you begin to sift through all that you've been fed about how you should behave, how you should look, and how much you should weigh; what you should wear and where you should shop, and what you should drive; how and where you should live, and what you should do for a living; who you should sleep with, who you should marry, and what you should expect of a marriage; the importance of having and raising children, or what you owe your parents.

You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view and you begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for. You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you've outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with; and in the process you learn to go with your instincts.

You learn that it is truly in giving that we receive. And that there is power and glory in creating and contributing; and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a "consumer" looking for your next fix.

You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life.

You learn that you don't know everything, it's not your job to save the world ... and that you can't teach a pig to sing.

You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.

You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry, and that martyrs get burned at the stake.

Then you learn about love, romantic love and familial love. How to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving, and when to walk away.

You learn not to project your needs or your feelings onto a relationship. You learn that you will not be more beautiful, more intelligent, more lovable or important because of the man on your arm or the child that bears your name. You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be.

You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn that just as people grow and change, so it is with love ... and you learn that you don't have the right to demand love on your terms ... just to make you happy.

And, you learn that alone does not mean lonely. And you look in the mirror and come to terms with the fact that you will never be a size 5, 6 ft. tall, or a perfect 10, and you stop trying to compete with the image inside your head and agonizing over how you "stack up."

You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs. You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK ... and that it is your right to want things and to ask for the things that you want ... and that sometimes it is necessary to make demands.

You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity and respect; and you won't settle for less. You allow only the hands of a lover who cherishes you to glorify you with his/her touch ... and in the process you internalize the meaning of self-respect.

And you learn that your body really is your temple, and you begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin eating a balanced diet, drinking more water and taking more time to exercise.

You learn that fatigue diminishes the spirit and can create doubt and fear. So you take more time to rest. And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play.

You learn that for the most part, in life you get what you believe you deserve ... and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for, and that wishing for something to happen is different from working toward making it happen. More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You also learn that no one can do it all alone and that it's OK to risk asking for help.

You learn that the only thing you must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time, fear itself.

You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens, you can handle it, and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your terms. And you learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom.

You learn that life isn't always fair, you don't always get what you think you deserve; and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people. On these occasions you learn not to personalize things.

You learn that God isn't punishing you or failing to answer your prayers. It's just life happening. And you learn to deal with evil in its most primal state -- the ego. You learn those negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you, and poison the universe that surrounds you.

You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls. You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower.

Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself; and to make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever, settle for less than your heart's desire. And you hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind. And you make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

Finally, with courage in your heart and with God by your side you take a stand; you take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life that you want to live as best as you can.

. . . . . . . Virginia Marie Swift



~ The Promises ~ Promise Three ~



Dear Friends in Recovery ~

This is Dawn's series on the Promises. This month we explore the Third Promise. The soothing words of the second Promise are: Serenity. What a beautiful word. What a beautiful third Promise.

"We will comprehend the word serenity."

The word, serenity, itself means serene ... and to be serene means that one is untroubled and in a state of tranquility.

There is a short saying by David Grayson that I like. "Back of tranquility lies conquered unhappiness." I had never thought about conquering unhappiness but I am absolutely convinced now it can be done because I've done it. Unhappiness is the state of not being serene ... and in many cases it is a matter of different perceptions for the same events. The program given to us by Overeaters Anonymous offers so many ways for us to reach a state of serenity ... so many ways we can begin to conquer our unhappiness.

"God grant us the 'serenity' to accept the things we cannot change." As Dawn shares with us her views of the Third Promise as found in the AABB, I hope we can think about why that word is in this beautiful prayer.

THE PROMISES ~ PART THREE

Dear Friends,

The third promise is: "We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace." Before I came to OA, I thought that a serene life had to be the most boring thing there was. I couldn't comprehend of life without continual problems and emergencies. If there was no crisis going on, I would create one. That way I didn't have to live in myself. I could ignore the mess inside my head and my problems with relationships.

Now, having been working the steps, and maintaining abstinence, I have reached a state of serenity that I never thought possible. It isn't boring at all! I have more time to work on the inner me. I have more time to focus on relationships. These are now the truly exciting things in my life.

I have found an inner being who is a rather interesting person. This inner person is far from being perfect, but what is perfection anyway?

Life is a journey, and accepting myself as I am has been a milestone for me. I can now accept my imperfections without thinking that they spoil all that is good within me. I no longer have to constantly work to try to keep others noticing my real or perceived imperfections. I can admit them to others and work on improving them. I have discovered that others share the same shortcomings I have, and life has not always been easy for them, either.

This has taken a lot of worry and anxiousness out of my life. I can now relax and be myself. I am no more and no less than any other person in this world. I am not perfect, and neither is anyone else, no matter how perfect they appear to be on the surface. Somehow, that awareness of this fact has helped me find serenity.

The serenity is not perfect. Sometimes problems can interfere, but if I keep my head together and listen to my inner voice, which has become much stronger, I am able to deal with them without panicking. Serenity has opened up a whole new frontier for me. That frontier is within myself. Every day I discover new strengths and new ways to improve upon the weaknesses I find there. I am able to resist the forces which I used to allow to rule my life - panic, anxiety, and fear.

Love,
Dawn



~ FROM THE TWELVE-STEP LITERATURE ~




~~ FROM THE BIG BOOK ~~

"The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us. But that in itself would never have held us together as we are now joined. The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action."
c. 2001, Alcoholics Anonymous, page 17




MY SHARE...

The feeling of having shared in a common peril is the inescapable truth of all of us who are COE's. But the powerful cement that has held us all together is the Recovery Group!! We have finally discovered a common solution after years of despair, frustration, and lack of hope to ever quit overeating! All of us have tried every diet plan known to man and had them proven worthless. Oh, maybe they would work temporarily, but we would always return to our addictive ways. We were still trying to solve our problems with our "Will Power". Our willpower only works for a short while and then we needed something "far greater than". We needed constant guidance and surrender to a Higher Power!! Our next task was to take the daily Steps to stay on the right path. With this new plan we could join together as an even stronger and harmonious group, helping each other and all those who came after to join us , at last, in a Plan that is Victorious!! One Day at a Time is all we can handle!! Together we can do what we could never do alone!!

I am grateful I finally found the Recovery Group and the lessons I've learned in the Big Book and the 12 Steps!!

    Myrlene (Big Book and Recovery Group)



~ Closing Recovery Meditation ~ A New World ~

"A new world is not made simply by trying to forget the old.
A new world is made with a new spirit, with new values."
   -Henry Miller

When I was four or five years old, I was falling off a cliff and I grabbed a piece of rope called food. I held on to it for the longest time; it didn't fray. It was my strength, my comforter, and it kept me from falling down into the abyss below. My health was the price, but without the rope I was dead. In program, they ask us to let go of that rope that we've been holding on to for decades! They give us a few thin, weak-looking ropes called the Steps, Traditions, slogans and tools. Surely they won't hold me! I'll fall into the abyss! Others had taken the smaller ropes and were doing fine. It didn't seem they were having to hold on as hard as I did to the food rope. I decided to try. Keeping a toehold on the food rope, I tested the strength of the other ropes...first the slogans rope, then the tools rope, eventually the Steps rope and Traditions rope. I saw the food rope nearby, and I have reached out to it from time to time, but I let it go again. These other ropes are supporting me just fine without burning my hand or cutting my fingers or killing me slowly. The program ropes are more comfortable.

I can swing from the program ropes, climb them, have fun, laugh. I can weave them together into a nice hammock where I can rest and relax. I can look up and focus on the new day instead of having to constantly worry about the abyss below.

One day at a time ...

I will remember to turn to the program to help maintain my peace and serenity, especially through the bad times.

~ Rhonda ~


~ RECOVERY MEDITATIONS ~

~ Visit our beautiful scene for March ~
(http://www.therecoverygroup.org/meditations/march.html)

To receive the daily meditations by email, send a blank email to:
recoverymeditations-subscribe-request@lists.therecoverygroup.org



~ THE RECOVERY GROUP CONTACTS ~

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TRG Webmaster ~ Mari@TheRecoveryGroup.org
Recovery Group Founder ~ Mari@TheRecoveryGroup.org




"In the deepest part of a compulsive eater's soul . . .
Is the realization that recovery begins when we find one another."

Disclaimer


The Recovery Group and our newsletter has as its mission and purpose that of carrying the message of recovery to those who suffer from the disease of compulsive eating. We are an anonymous organization and follow the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous; however, we are not affiliated with that group. Your articles, announcements and information are welcome. All opinions in this newsletter represent only the opinions of the writers and not necessarily that of The Recovery Group or OA, Inc.

The Trusted Servants of Recovery

Volume 7 Issue 3 © Copyright 2005 THE RECOVERY GROUP All rights reserved.