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


Doorway to perception

doorway of perception


I’m enjoying the aftereffects of the coaching conference I attended this week.

It generated in me a mood of inquiry and curiosity. I’ve been noticing beliefs as they pop up and feeling happy to consider other interpretations.

Yesterday, I shared with a group of 12-step fellows my understanding that abstinence in our program is a tool. It’s not the end all and be all. It’s not the goal of our program. Our “liturgy”, the preamble to every meeting, even describes abstinence as a tool of recovery.

“ABSTINENCE: We obtain abstinence from addictive eating by weighing, measuring, and committing our food to a qualified sponsor. We have found that we must abstain completely from all flour and sugar.”

In my interpretation of our guidelines, the tool of abstinence is one of eight tools; but the big goal of program is “happy, joyous and free.”

Then I heard from another fellow who I love and respect. She said that, yes, abstinence is a tool, but it helps her to think of it on a much higher plane than the other seven tools. She spoke about the importance of meetings, writing, and literature, but that she’s not always able to keep up these practices perfectly. However, she protects and cherishes and prays for her continued abstinence every day.

Wow! My mind and heart opened. I reflected that my belief was OK as far as it went, but she presented another interpretation that offered a further way forward into recovery.

The story I’m telling myself is that it’s OK to have a thought that is absolute, for instance that abstinence is just another tool, as long as I notice that it’s a perception and not necessarily reality.

It’s an assessment on my part, a judgment, an interpretation, a way to think about something.

Noticing that I am perceiving my idea as absolutely true — that it’s a perception — gives me a chance to open my mind to other options, to consider other powerful questions, to notice that I could change my mind and think quite differently.

I can experiment with my thinking to see the effects of considering my idea one way or the other. What is the gift and what is the shadow of thinking I’m right? What is the gift and what is the shadow of thinking I’m wrong? What is the gift and what is the shadow of thinking I might be onto to something, but I’m not completely sure about it?

I can notice that my perception can shift 180 degrees with more information or with a change of mood.

Taking a look at how I look at things helps me to become a more powerful observer. I can flourish. My relationships become more creative and generative. I have permission to be a beginner.

Love & Light,


13 Comments to Doorway to perception

  1. nicola's Gravatar nicola
    June 7, 2014 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    and it takes a lot of courage and humbleness.
    I find it curious that in these insecure times the word ” absolutely” has become a word of fashion, used on the radio and by many people.
    congratulations, Valerie, i love when it happens that reality is nudging a shift in perception.

  2. June 7, 2014 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    and so the saying goes, “Begin again.”

  3. Deborah Kahn's Gravatar Deborah Kahn
    June 7, 2014 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    I liked this post a lot, especially the set of questions around what is the gift, what is the shadow. Made me think and is going to keep me thinking. Made me feel opened up and that there’s always something to catch me if my perceptions change; there is always learning and growing, deepening and widening.

    I’ve wanted to thank you, for a long time, for your kind offer to email you privately if if would help. I appreciated the offer so much and didn’t have the energy to respond but that offer was an ongoing support and I’m glad to tell you that David has taught all semester–a wonderful thing for him–and that his MRI on Thursday showed no change in the brian tumor and the doctor visit was good.

    Thank you for the post today–all posts and all kind offers!

  4. Em's Gravatar Em
    June 7, 2014 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Valerie –

    Interestingly, I had just been having an imaginary conversation with some of my friends who hold strong – one might say rigid – religious beliefs. They take comfort in the certainty of their answers, and cannot fathom the idea of embracing the mystery of things … that is, being okay with not having an explanation for the workings of the universe or even (or especially) of one’s own life. I think of what Gilda Radner referred to as “delicious ambiguity” :

    “Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”

    Abstinence. Wow, I hadn’t really thought of it in terms of being one of several tools … to me it has always been an absolute, like sobriety. Possibly because we impose some pretty big consequences on ourselves if we don’t practice that tool? So you have caused a bit of a shift in my own perception here. Thanks!

    – Em

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