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


The rough places smooth

Searching For Mr. Fox - Signed Art Print


My unconscious was waving at me in recent weeks… through my dreams and other signs. Something hidden in the dark wanted to be revealed. Love was looking for a way. I did what I could to ignore the messages.

One by one, I drifted from the daily habits that give me clarity. Quiet Time one day and not the next. Forgetting to read the 24 Hour a Day book. Making calls to 12-step fellows haphazardly. Mostly praying, but without acts.

Gradually, almost imperceptibly, I devolved into fragments of myself. Fear and inner conflict crept in. Negative thoughts and catastrophizing were up, up, up. I kept trying to control one side of me with the other side of me.

You can imagine what happened. Over the holiday, I leapt into the food.

The first twenty minutes of my break were thrilling! I was in the kitchen with my sister. I said, “Here’s my happy dance!” Of course, with my bum leg and a little alcohol on board, I’m sure my happy dance looked more like a drunken pirate dance.

It didn’t take very long for clarity to go and the obsession to kick in. I was swirling in and out of having a great time with the family and feeling bad about myself.  I was feeling cut off from my strength and hope, and unwilling to accept my vulnerability and remorse. The idea of making calls to my 12-step fellows came to me and went. I couldn’t look at the situation and meet the challenge directly as a whole human being.

What helped? I spoke to my sponsor and told the truth. She loved me anyway and asked me about my goal. My goal? To do the tools of the program? She reminded me that my goal is to be “happy, joyous and free.” Oh yes. What a relief.

I know what it feels like to be happy, joyous and free. It’s not inebriation. It can happen in the worst of times. It happens when I face the uncomfortable realities in the real world; when I understand what life and health are asking of me now; when I face challenges, and take the necessary steps, and accept myself unconditionally, without judgment, even when I fail.

I am not perfect. I am strong, beautiful, hopeful and kind. I am broken, fragile, resentful and guilty. These are all parts of me. I don’t need to stamp out any of these parts. I can stand among all of these parts in awe and tenderness. I am not overcome by my imperfection. I can be safe and loved as a whole person.

I’m not a food addict above all else. It’s not my calling. It’s a part of who I am. Sometimes I let myself and others down. That’s what I call a mistake. Sometimes I’m foolish. Sometimes life happens. And, continuous recovery, abstinence and peace are still possible… even likely!

I’m learning about the places that are rough… learning how to make them smooth… taking the steps back to center. Thanks to my Higher Power. Thanks to the love and wisdom of my family, friends, fellows, sponsor, and therapist. Thanks to the beauty in Nature.

Love & Light,


Illustration: Searching for Mr. Fox. See http://kristianaparn.com

18 Comments to The rough places smooth

  1. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    December 30, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    love this honesty and love you, my dear girlfriend! <3

  2. Catherine B's Gravatar Catherine B
    December 30, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Imperfection can ROCK!! I couldn’t recognize perfection without it. I don’t believe that any of us are ever perfect — that’s not a goal that I can strive for. Happy, joyous and free — that I can endorse. The hard part is for each of us to find the right combination of ingredients to make that happen and sustain it. Thank you for sharing your journey!

  3. December 30, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Dearest Valerie,
    You are courageous beyond measure, stronger than moi, beautiful, bright, and a shining beacon of light. The path we walk is slippery … for all of us. Certainly is for me. We do the best we can. And when we fail, because we will occasionally fail, we pick ourselves back up, dust off the tears and embrace a new day.
    May our failures show us our humanity and send gentle tsunamis of love out into the Universe. We are full and expanding beings of light experiencing and expressing our desire to just feel good.

  4. Katie Green's Gravatar Katie Green
    December 31, 2012 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    Dearest Valerie,
    You are the sweetest and dearest for sharing so honestly about this damn addiction. Your vulnerability gives me courage for some reason I can’t quite explain. I have been where you are and I know exactly how it feels. I am with you!

  5. Bob's Gravatar Bob
    December 31, 2012 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    It so beautiful when there is a way to be vulnerable without being judged…to be guilty without feeling shame, and to have a problem without being the problem. Thanks.

  6. December 31, 2012 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    your art work displayed is always breathtakingly beautiful and says a lot about who you are and we, that you are talking to. Thank you. Tender filing down the rough edges, I will hold on to that as well.

  7. Bob's Gravatar Bob
    December 31, 2012 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    I recently read a great book on the topic of vulnerability and how our efforts to avoid being vulnerable can lead to, among other things, addictions. The courage to be vulnerable can transform us. It is Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Google her name for her TED talk too, which is marvelous and will give you the flavor of the book.
    Happy New Year,

  8. Myra TAte's Gravatar Myra TAte
    December 31, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    so now you are back, making “the crooked straight, and the rough places plain! you are on a heroic journey as are all our fellow-FA’ers. be of good cheer! many hugs, mom

  9. Rachel's Gravatar Rachel
    December 31, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful and introspective words. All of your posts give me the chizuk (strength) to solider on. I’m not quite at the place you are, but one day hope to be. Thank you for everything you put out into the world.
    Happy New Year,
    Rachel (Melanie & Barry’s friend)

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