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


More on loving kindness

Miranda and Valerie


Last night, sitting with a group of sweet friends, my meditation touched on loving kindness. Since it is almost always a challenge for me to direct loving kindness towards my self, this time I started with the being for which I feel unconditional, uninterrupted love — our canine companion Miranda-the-labradoodle.

Tapping into this easy heart-opening love turned out to be a good entree into a meditation on loving kindness towards my self and then to ever-expanding circles of others.

In Kate Lila Wheeler’s talk via Susan Piver‘s Daily Dharma Gathering she suggested following loving kindness to one’s self with loving kindness towards anything that opens our heart, even a plant… or the planet.

My dear friend Jill reminded me of another encouraging message from this talk. Kate said that, even if I’m not feeling particularly loving and kind, at every moment there are  meditators out in the world sending loving kindness to all beings, including me. Perhaps I am receiving loving kindness on some level at all times. Perhaps there are practices that would help me to more consciously and gratefully receive it.

Thanks to a comment from my wonderful friend, Emilia… here’s more on the meditation practice of loving kindness.

Em suggests the chapter on loving kindness and compassion in Phillip Moffitt’s book, “From Emotional Chaos to Clarity: Move from the Chaos of the Reactive Mind to the Clarity of the Responsive Mind.”

Specifically, he describes (at pp. 127-128) certain phrases he developed for a loving kindness meditation, and suggests that you repeat them first for yourself, then for your loved ones and friends, then for teachers, strangers, and enemies, and finally for all sentient beings:

“May I be safe from internal and external harm.

May I have a calm, clear mind and a peaceful, loving heart.

May I be physically strong, healthy, and vital.

May I experience love, joy, wonder, and wisdom in this life, just as it is.”

Nice, yes?

Love & Light,


In Recovery and Loving Kindness




I’m reminded that “in Recovery” is a tender place. It’s a softening. It’s heart opening. It makes me vulnerable… in a good way.

Something I heard at my 12-step meeting for food addicts that got me thinking about this. Our fellow said that when we are in Recovery we should consider that a place of intensive care. I heard this more as a recommendation to pay attention to the focused healing part of intensive care, rather than absorption with the injury or wounds that have taken us there.

Having just listened to Susan Piver‘s Daily Dharma Gathering taught today by  Kate Lila Wheeler, I’m noticing that the meditation practice of loving kindness feels closely aligned with being in Recovery.

In Recovery we work the tools that help us to stay safe and free from harm, inwardly and outwardly. The practice of loving kindness does the same.

We become happier in mind and heart when we are in Recovery. This happens, too, with the practice of loving kindness.

Our bodies are a vehicle for liberation and become healthier and stronger both in Recovery and on the path of loving kindness.

Being in Recovery teaches us we have enough, we do enough, we are enough. Loving kindness practice helps us to live with ease, knowing that we have what we need to support ourselves.

Thanks so much to those lineages of family, loving kindness practitioners, and Recovery fellows who have brought us to life and offered us tools to help us align with our own goodness; and to help us develop a friendly, respectful and mindful relationship with what is arising for us.

May you be safe and protected, inwardly and outwardly.

May you be happy in your mind and heart.

May your body be healthy and strong. And when it’s not healthy and strong, may you be at ease with it, and may it be a vehicle for your liberation.

May you live with ease. May you have what you truly need to support you so that your heart can open.

Love & Light,


Photo: Justine Hand http://www.gardenista.com/posts/diy-ode-to-spring-bouquet





Me: What about G-d?

My beloved sponsor: Could it be about the surrendering, not who or what is on the other end?

Love & Light,


I’ve got this! —> Cue fail.

Lord Hanuman Reciting the Ramayana


“I’ve got this!” That’s my cue for… FAILURE!

I’m a slow learner and a fast forgetter. Of all the practices that are essential to my life, good health and happiness, there are only a few that have become a solid habit. Brushing my teeth is one. The rest I have to work on maintaining every single day.

As soon as I hear myself say, “I’ve got this. I’m going to do this from now on. No problem,” I can be assured that, either that day or the next, I will have lost it completely. I will almost immediately go from, “I’ve got this,” to “I’ll just change it a little,” to “I can do it my way,” to “I’ll do it tomorrow for sure,” to “I’m probably fine. I don’t need this anymore.” Much later — days, weeks or months later — I wake up saying, “I lost it. Oh, no.”

It’s much, much harder for me to get back to success from failure, than to keep success going. Here are some of the areas I can run into trouble, even when the risk of damage is extraordinarily high.

I have a weak left hip. My weak left hip is a permanent result of nerve damage and muscle atrophy. Unless I practice clam shells and leg lifts, and engage the hip with every step I take, keeping my left leg in its own lane, I run the risk of falls. I literally trip myself up. So, you would think that I would do those exercises religiously, without any outside help. I can do it on my own… for a day or two. Then I feel better and I forget that this is a permanent condition. Until I cue success.

I am prone to incontinence. Incontinence is a permanent result of my spinal cord injury. I know that I must go to the bathroom when I can, and not wait until I have to go; otherwise I run the risk of not making it to the bathroom in time. So, you would think that, as soon as I notice the call of nature, I would scoot off immediately. I can do it on my own… for a few weeks following an incident. And then I forget that this is a permanent condition. Until I cue success.

I have sleep apnea. It’s not going away. I should automatically place those “nasal pillows” on my face every time I may fall asleep, whether it’s for a nap or a long night. Sleep apnea is life threatening. Complications of sleep apnea are high blood pressure, stroke, atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure and sudden death from a cardiac event. Woo-hoo!! So, you would think… You know the rest of this story.

I am a food addict. Food addiction can’t be cured, but it can be arrested a day at a time by the action of weighing and measuring our food and abstaining completely from all flour and sugar. Food addiction for me manifested as 90 pounds over my current weight; fear, doubt, and insecurity; high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiac asthma; a mental obsession with food; and an inability to stop eating flour and sugar and drinking alcohol. I found Recovery through the tools of a 12-step program. So, you would think that I would practice the tools of my program faithfully on my own, without help. In fact, I’m only able to do my small part to cue up success.

To cue success in all of these areas, I’m learning to surrender to a path of Recovery, one day at a time, in everything I do.

On a successful day I make an honest commitment to G-d, to myself and to another person to do the work. I create an environment that supports doing the work. I set a daily rhythm in motion according to the clock. I ask G-d and others for help. I listen to others who have also struggled and see myself in them. If I find myself thinking, “I’ve got this,” I recognize it as delusion. At the end of the day I thank G-d for another day of progress… even when I haven’t been perfect.

I know for sure that the fewer program tools I practice, the more I’m at risk for all sorts of  mental, physical and spiritual ailments. Self-knowledge avails me nothing. The only thing that protects me is practice, practice, practice.

Yesterday, I asked G-d for help, did 30 minutes of Quiet Time, read 12-step literature, prayed, took sponsee calls, and weighed and measured my food. I didn’t do my clam shells or leg lifts. I did engage my hip with walking and kept my leg in its own lane. I went to the bathroom on time. I didn’t put on my nasal pillows for sleep apnea. I didn’t thank G-d for the progress I am making.

I also lived life. I enjoyed a full, rich day.

I did well enough. And I can do better.

It’s true. I have a daily reprieve and I receive many blessings as long as I do the work… one day at a time. There’s no easier or softer way. The only way that works for me takes work.

I am grateful to be living in the solution, not perfect, but making progress.

Love & Light,


Image: Lord Hanuman Reciting the Ramayana