This is the kitchen where we talk about food, life, and recovery—a spiritual path to healing and peace.

You are invited to keep coming back to A Cup of Kindness to share your experience, strength and hope; fears, doubts and insecurities; and to pick up information, inspiration … and have a little fun!

My story
In January 2007, at the age of 51, I joined a 12-step program and began my recovery from food addiction, losing 75 pounds in the process. Read more…

In January 2011, at the age of 55, I began my recovery from a multi-trauma accident, 36 fractures, damaged lungs, and post traumatic stress. Read more…

I am deeply grateful for all the kindnesses, large and small, offered to me in recovery. Here I am... alive… still making progress … still not perfect … finding a new way forward in a growing community of women and men who share a lot in common around food and life.

I hope you'll join me in this kitchen and let me know what's cooking with you.

A Cup of Kindness

Open Heart Project


By love alone


Emerge by Valerie Theberge


I keep learning! I have a lot to learn!

Sponsoring in my 12-step program for food addiction continues to unfold as a great learning experience.

Day after day, I’m learning from my sponsees, especially how to love the one I’m with.

Guilt trips, shaming, criticism, contempt, demeaning, dismissing, accusing, disrespect, and humiliation don’t work. I knew that! Whenever I’ve felt that coming towards me from another person, of course, I could tell that it didn’t work. Taking the wind out of my sails never helped me to see where I could grow in humility, with insight. It just left me confused, miserable, sad, angry and weak.

I just didn’t realize that I was doing those things… in subtle ways… to other people, especially those closest to me.

Most of the time, I hope, I’ve been careful with sponsees and others I’ve worked with in the past. It’s been very clear to me, that if I show contempt to a sponsee, a client or a coworker, it looks like disgust and it’s very hard to recover that person’s respect. And, as Seth Godin says, “Contempt is contagious.” Someone on the receiving end is more likely to turn around and show contempt to the next person.

Sometimes contempt towards a sponsee is subtle. It can sound like, “Why did you do that? Why aren’t you doing your tools? If you don’t do it my way then I can’t be your sponsor. Your food is up to me. I decide, not you. That’s a break!”

It’s good for me to remember that, if I have contempt, it is caused by my own fear, ignorance and delusion — not by the other person. One way for me to avoid showing contempt is to look for Love and Light… Recovery… to be love.

Love can sound like, “I’m interested. Would you like to tell me more about it? What’s been helping? What feels like it’s missing? That must be hard. I’m here for you. I really appreciate your honesty. No need to ask me for permission. Instead, you could let me know what you are considering and I could let you know what I’m hearing you say. I trust your inner wisdom. I’m happy to listen as you talk through what feels like wisdom and Recovery and what feels like our cunning, baffling disease. I can also share my own experience, just in case you might want to avoid making the mistakes that I made.”

In my home life, love can look like me calling for silence and stepping away, for the moment, from the conversation… until I can come back with kindness, holding up a mirror that reflects the positive aspects of the other person.

I’m very grateful to Program and to my sponsees for helping me to grow more loving. When I am more loving, I am more happy, joyous and free.

I need to keep listening to myself when I’m in a difficult conversation. What sounds like contempt? What sound like Recovery? What sounds like love?

By love alone our relationships grow richer and deeper, with peace and serenity.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of my fear, ignorance and delusion, I apologize. I’m making my best effort to notice the negative urge as it arises, to pause, and take a different course. When I repeat my mistake, as I most likely will I’m sorry to say, I’ll make my best effort to notice it, make amends, and try, try again to choose love.

Love & Light,


Image: Emerge II — mosaic by Valerie Theberge

10 Comments to By love alone

  1. nicola's Gravatar nicola
    September 4, 2015 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    your insights are helpful

  2. Bob's Gravatar Bob
    September 4, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Beautiful thoughts, Valerie. I bow to you in thanks.

    I will keep your advice in mind tomorrow as I facilitate my SMART Recovery group meeting. Everyday I am learning more that listening is probably our most important skill, and it never seems to be part of the official curriculum.

    There is no love without listening, is there? And probably no listening without love.

  3. Theolyn's Gravatar Theolyn
    September 4, 2015 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Another beautifully composed epistle!! Thank you for your thoughts and insights.

  4. Em's Gravatar Em
    September 7, 2015 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this. As you well know, it is a fertile seed that’s germinated and grown into much insightful discussion!

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