Secret From The Masters On How To Thrive In Life

**Photo Credit: Laura Silverman

I just returned from New York City…as in, just walked in the door, unpacked all my stuff and headed to my office; my computer. My flight was delayed at LaGuardia on Sunday so I missed my connection from Toronto to Ottawa. The airline put me up in a hotel for the night before flying me out today (Monday). While this was not exactly the way I had planned things to go, I remained calm…and open to the possibilities.

I realized that the time would allow me a chance to reflect on the weekend and soak in what I had experienced in the last 72 hours or so.

The reason I was in New York was for a conference at the stunning Conrad Hotel called She Recovers in NYC, where a group of 500 women in recovery from everything from addiction to cancer to codependency, gathered together–under one roof–to listen to dynamic speakers, connect with one another in real life, and continue to forge bonds that can never be broken. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life so far and I am deeply grateful to all of the organizers for pulling it all together. They are pioneers and innovators…and they should be very, very proud of their accomplishment.


I was honoured to be asked to speak at the conference, delivering a workshop called Sugar Freedom. I was thrilled that so many women chose to spend their time learning about the addictive nature of sugar, how we transfer our addiction from other substances (like alcohol, cocaine, and other drugs) to sugar once we get sober, and to learn strategies that help in managing sugar cravings.

But perhaps what was most powerful for me over the weekend was the common thread that tied all of the messages together.

You see, until I got to the root of my pain, I was unable to truly begin to recover. I shared that until I could be honest with myself and others about my addiction, I was simply living sober--not living vibrantly in recovery. The exercise I had my attendees work through was this: I had them create 3 columns on a piece of paper and in the first column, I asked them to write down ALL the negative feelings they have around food, their weight, sugar, food addiction, why they use food to numb, body image, etc. I wanted them to get out all of their anger, guilt, frustration, pain, jealousy and everything else that made them feel out of control. I wanted them to acknowledge their feelings rather than push them down and ignore them. I wanted their feelings out in the open, for them to see, so that there was no more hiding the truth.

Why? Because negative emotions are a call to action. They require us to DO something. When we deny our emotions (by pushing them down with outside substances, shopping, sex or anything else that allows us to numb), we fail to grow; we can not change. We can not become all that we want to become. We can not get back to who we are.

In the second column, I had them write down strategies for managing sugar addiction and becoming their healthiest selves.

We talked about the importance of eating! When we eat food, (REAL FOOD), we are able to maintain stable blood sugar levels rather than spiking and crashing all day long. We talked about how eating protein at every meal staves off sugar cravings and keeps us feeling fuller for longer, plus it boosts metabolism and helps us build muscle. We talked about the role sleep plays in reducing sugar cravings (when we don't get enough sleep, our bodies crave carbohydrates to boost energy); we talked about reducing stress so that our adrenal glands can repair by not overproducing cortisol, which causes us to gain weight---mainly around our tummies; and we talked about the importance of drinking water--as thirst can mask itself for hunger--and it aids digestion, reduces brain fog, boosts metabolism and allows us to stop retaining water, among many other benefits.

In the third column, attendees got to decide which strategy they were going to put into practice THAT DAY so that they would begin to see some forward momentum and begin to make more positive changes in their lives...and become stronger for it.

And that was the entire point to my talk...to help people get stronger and find more freedom in their lives by kickstarting their journey towards creating a lifestyle they absolutely love.

All weekend, there was this shining, beautiful thread that tied each speaker's story together. Glennon Doyle Melton refers to it as, "First the pain, then the rising". We simply have to sit in our pain, simmer in it, truly feel it, ...and then come out on the other side stronger, wiser and able to share what we've learned with others so that they can say, "Me too."

Gabby Bernstein talked about only recently truly beginning her recovery journey as she finally went to the dark places she had been afraid to go...now that she has done that, she can truly heal her wounds of the past.

Nikki Myers talked about codependency being the root of all addiction--meaning, when we are dependent on anything outside of ourselves (drugs, alcohol, surfing the web, food, shopping, sex or anything else we use to numb), then we aren't facing our sh*t...and we stay stuck in our lives.

Elizabeth Vargas spoke about having to use tools other than alcohol to calm her anxiety and that since facing her demons, she has become far less anxious in the process.

And Marianne Williamson took us to church on Sunday! She preached that we simply can not escape suffering..."First the crucifixion, then the resurrection." She reminded us that it is normal to suffer! That a job loss or a death or a breakup is not a mental illness that needs to be medicated...it needs to be felt and cried through and yelled at...and healed from. "Let me not squander the hour of my pain." We must feel the pain before we can rejoice in the glory. We will stay stuck in addiction and a life we don't love if we continue to push away the negative feelings.

For so long, I pushed the pain aside and wanted it gone. I didn't realize that by using the pain, feeling it, moving through it, that I would become stronger for it.

Life is pain. There is no avoiding it and we shouldn't try.

This is what made this weekend so powerful. Being in a room full of sensitive women who have all had to feel their pain and who are saying, "Ok, I get it; let me go there. I want to experience it; not rush through, but truly feel it. Allow the pain to wash over me, almost drown me, allowing me to come up for just enough air so that I don't die from it...and then, finally, allow me to break through the surface and feel the sun my face, quietly floating on my back for a time so that I can understand what it was all for....just enough time to enjoy...before the next wave comes..."

Because life is pain.

There is no escaping it. And as addicts--as sensitive people--we spend far too long trying to escape it; using whatever we can to avoid it.

But no longer.

We all got the message this weekend. If not from Glennon, then from Elizabeth. If not from Elizabeth, then from Nikki. If not from Nikki, then from Gabby. And if not from all of them, then we definitely got it from Marianne. She wouldn't let us leave that room without getting it.

So, although you may not have been in that sacred space this past weekend, I hope this message resonates.

First the pain; then the rising.

First the crucifixion; then the resurrection.

Every night is followed by morning.

And this too shall pass.

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.

P.S. If YOU would like a digital ticket to the weekend we spent in NYC, the event was live streamed!!! Click here to get YOUR ticket!

For only $79 you will get live online access to these keynote speaker sessions:
o ABC 20/20's Elizabeth Vargas (who is very public about her recovery from anxiety-provoked alcoholism)
o Spiritual teacher and author Marianne Williamson
o A talk about codependency with Y12SR founder Nikki Myers

You will also be able to watch:

o A welcome address by Dawn Nickel.
o Two yoga classes, one led by She Recovers' own Taryn Strong and the other co-led by Taryn and the amazing Elena Brower
o A spoken word performance by Elena Brower called “The Ritual of Recovery”
o Two sessions on various other recovery topics
o Dinner program that includes a performance by singer/songwriter Elizabeth Edwards
o Behind the scenes activities brought to the LiveStream camera by members of the She Recovers in NYC Sober Blogger Team.

P.P.S. I felt incredibly blessed to take part in "Provoke your Potential", the yoga class co-led by Elena Brower and Taryn Strong. Elena delivered a spectacular spoken word piece that had her sharing about avoiding pain which kept her addicted and held her back in every single area of her life. I wanted to share a sample of her work so that you can get a sense of this amazing woman. I hope you enjoy!

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