19, Jul, 2011

Stress Management Reduces Relapse Risk

img0292For individuals in recovery, relapse is recognized as something to be prevented as all costs. Stress management and stress reduction will reduce the risk of relapse. Conversely, when stress increases, so does relapse risk. Stress management skills are relatively simple and to learn easy to put into practice. Renowned research psychologist Terry Gorski, in his book, Learning to Live Again, writes, “People who have addictive disease are stress sensitive.” He goes on to explain that for some, the stress sensitivity is a preexisting condition which causes them to be more susceptible to addiction, for others the stress sensitivity is a result of damage from addiction. Either way, it’s essential for recovering persons to learn all that we can about stress management and to take special measures to reduce stress in our lives.

Stressors present themselves in our lives each day. Some we can avoid, others we have no power to control. Whenever possible, remove yourself from stressful situations or eliminate the stressor. When confronted with a challenge you cannot eliminate or avoid, you can still reduce stress by changing your perception of what is happening. You can also reduce stress by relaxing in spite of the stressful situation.

Relaxation techniques include breathing exercises, muscle tension / relaxation, exercise, laughter, meditation, prayer, and visualization.

A simple de-stressing breathing exercise is as follows:

Inhale slowly through your nose, saying to yourself, ” I am,” then exhale slowly through your mouth and say, “…relaxed.”

Try tensing different muscle groups for a few seconds, then release and relax. Take a walk, a run, a bike ride. Go to a movie, a park, a dance. Listen to your favorite music or read an inspirational book. Having fun and laughing are terrific stress reducers. Remember, it is your reaction to the stressor that determines the degree of stress you will experience in a given situation. And you can use stress management techniques to help relax in spite of a stressful situation.

Stress management is an essential part of your kickass recovery program!

18, Jul, 2011

Faith is More than Belief

img0710_0Faith is more than belief in something as yet unseen. It’s a fierce, tenacious trust in intuition; a knowing, an assurance of things not yet manifested.

When I act as if, I exercise trust and practice knowing that my hopes and dreams will materialize if I work for them. I may doubt from time to time, but that’s okay — doubts are checkpoints on the road of faith. I question, adjust my course, and strengthen my resolve.

Courage reinforces my faith in myself, what I believe in and what I am working toward. When I live in faith and courage, I live triumphantly and realize my dreams.

“A man of courage is also a man of faith.” — Cicero

16, Jul, 2011

Kickass Personal Transformation — Day by Day!

img1013Kickass personal transformation is possible — one day at a time! Any personal goal, dream or vision eventually materializes when you apply yourself daily, using transformative principles. Here are three examples of transformative principles which in turn unleash powerful forces in your life that turbo-charge your efforts:

1. Honesty is essential. When you’re honest with yourself about what you want to change or accomplish, you set more doable, measurable goals. Sit down with a pen and paper and jot down where you want to be in your life, for instance, you want better physical fitness and a leaner, more muscular body. Honesty applied here helps you to look carefully at your eating habits, how much exercise you’re getting daily, and helps you to realize you need to consult a professional trainer, join a gym, or see a doctor before building your plan. After you get rolling, be honest about whether or not you are applying yourself day by day. If you slip, apply the concept of daily renewal, and get back on the program.

2. Gratitude kicks butt in every way imaginable when striving for personal transformation. A gratitude list, done in your head in a given moment, will uplift you and give you the power to meet the demands of your program. Recovering alcoholics and addicts know that gratitude is the kickass attitude that can change your mental, emotional, and even physical state in moments. When maintained throughout the day, it’s like a massive power generator, churning out consciousness of more and more things to be grateful for. Expressing gratitude is contagious — it instills with the desire to ‘pay it forward’. So if you’re trying to get in shape and eat better, gratitude can get you there.

3. Forgiveness is an often overlooked and dynamic process. When you apply forgiveness both to yourself and others, you enter into a sphere of light, release, and happiness. So often we accumulate and carry a heavy burden made up of thousands of little everyday grudges, resentments, and perceived slights. It may be something as tiny as someone taking “your” parking spot, and if it’s not cleared away, it takes on an energy and attitude all its own. Soon you find you are piling other grievances on top of that one, and maybe even get angry with yourself for your bad mood. Apply forgiveness daily, in all situations, and you’ll see your stress level drop, your heart open up, and your life become more serene.

These are only three of many different forces which empower a person to a real change and progress. Applied daily, layer upon layer, they build a strong foundation for total kickass, badass personal transfomation. Why delay? Get out there and kick some ass today!

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11, Feb, 2011

Persistence is the Cornerstone of Character

img0733“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” — Japanese proverb

“Just don’t give up trying to do what you want to do. Where there’s love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” — Ella Fitzgerald

Life can be regarded as a series of choices. Each day’s journey presents challenges, obstacles, and opposition. As each challenge presents itself, so does an opportunity — to persist, reaching toward your goals and dreams; or to give up, allowing discouragement to take you down. Persistence is an exercise in character-building. The act of engaging in persistence creates courage, resilience, and personal power. As you persevere in the face of obstacles and adversity, you learn how to strengthen resolve and muster enthusiasm.

If you stick with anything long enough, you will have a breakthrough. There are no “born winners” or “born losers” in life. The real comparison is between those who persist, who never give up or give in, who stay the course…and those who succumb to disappointment and cease to push forward toward the goal. Persistence differs from stubborness in that it is flexible. Those who are stubborn are rigid and close-minded, while those who persist are open and honest, open to new ideas and inspiration along the way to accomplishing the objective. Stay loose, and hang in there.

As you practice persistence, you will discover new reservoirs of talent, creativity, and the discipline to complete the many small tasks which pave the way to the greatest gains and accomplishments. Practice the application of perseverance as a process, and love and inspiration will appear to cheer you on. Engage in the conscious act of Knowing — explore and increase your self-knowledge, learn to recognize where you come from and where you are headed on life’s highway. As you stay the path, your self-confidence, poise, and inner resolve will increase exponentially — you will discover new purpose and meaning in your life. Allow these discoveries to act as a spiritual GPS, helping you navigate through life’s twists and turns.

Amazing things happen when you persist in believing in yourself, your goals and dreams. The situation in Egypt is a terrific example of persistence paying off. Peaceful protesters took to the streets for 18 days, and they persisted in the face of overwhelming opposition, violence, and and media naysayers. Persistent citizens brought down a stubborn dictator, and now they have a chance at freedom from oppression. If they had given up on day 16, or day 17 of their struggle, history would be different. Instead, they persisted till day 18 and won out. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Foreign-Policy/2011/0211/Hosni-Mubarak-steps-down.-How-will-transition-begin

No matter how many mistakes you have made, opposition you face, or obstacles you must overcome, persist! Your breakthrough lies ahead — it may be only a few small tasks beyond the next big obstacle.

11, Dec, 2010

5-Star Review of “Never Give in to Fear”

c2688-macgibboncover-finalNever Give in to Fear, a memoir by Marti MacGibbon, received a 5-star (out of 5) review from Foreword Clarion Reviews on Sept.10, 2010:

ForeWord Clarion Reviews


Never Give in to Fear
Marti MacGibbon
Five Stars (out of Five)

Ever conscious that the past makes us who we are, Marti MacGibbon, a recovering alcoholic and addict, not only leaves open the door to her past?she goes in, turns the lights on, makes herself a cup of coffee, and gets comfortable on the couch. Her memoir of recovery is an unflinching examination of her choices and what they cost her?as well as how she was pulled out of her personal hell into a saner way of life.

MacGibbon, as a certified addiction treatment professional, clearly understands the value of honesty. The bald truth can make us laugh, or it can be a punch in the gut. MacGibbon?s voice in Never Give in to Fear is wholly her own. Her narration is funny? she can laugh at her old self, even as she shows the reader the terror and loss she felt in the past. When she goes to buy drugs from a madwoman dealer near Guerneville, MacGibbon says, ?My skin crawled at the thought of visiting this madhouse, but I knew the lunatic woman kept a stash of pain pills around her place. She was the ideal person to seek out as a de facto pharmacist. Besides, Firebird?s leg couldn?t wait while I shopped around the River for opiates in the wee hours of a stormy night.? Though the situation is dire, MacGibbon is self-aware, and is able to show the humor of the moment without losing the tense pacing of her story. The memoir whips along, hardly taking a breath.

Never Give in to Fear earns its place among other recent sobriety memoirs. Comparable to Mary Karr?s Lit, and Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp, Never Give in to Fear is an excellent story, both inspiring and entertaining. MacGibbon has a natural gift for storytelling?no surprise, considering her background as a standup comic and motivational speaker. What makes Never Give in to Fear shine is MacGibbon?s ease with her story. She doesn?t apologize for who she is, and she doesn?t try to win over the reader. It?s just the facts, ma?am, and by the time the first chapter is over she?s already on a roll. Honest to a fault, in ruthless pursuit of the story, MacGibbon?s memoir is captivating from the very first sentence.

MacGibbon has written?and lived?her way through a forbidding place. It?s wonderful to not only read her story, but to know that she has flourished in her years of recovery. A memoir that offers hope, even in the worst of times, Never Give in to Fear is a terrific read. It?s the perfect book for a reader in recovery, though MacGibbon?s real-life adventures will be equally appealing to anyone who needs a little more adrenaline in their reading list.

Claire Foster

28, Oct, 2010

The Power of Listening

img4564Listening is power. It is an activity which brings the listener into the present moment. Active listening — being present for the person listened to — provides immediate benefit and strength to both speaker and listener. Listening is a powerful activity in our society today because it is so rare. Often, people are completely absorbed in phoning, texting, channel surfing, etc., that the opportunity to listen is ignored.

The opportunity to listen presents itself constantly, even / especially when you are alone. Try listening to some of your favorite music, for instance, but consciously listen to the music as if you were hearing it for the first time — be actively present in the moment. Now click off the music and listen to the silence — or noise — that fills the space, depending on where you are. Allow the sounds — or the lack of sound — to wash over you, and pay attention to every little detail that presents itself to your ears.

Observe how this process affects your physical state — are your muscles tensed, or relaxed? How is your breathing? Is it shallow or deep? Try performing this exercise once or twice a day, and see how refreshing it is to rediscover your innate listening power. Allow this process to become meditative, as it draws you inward and keeps you in the present moment. The power of living is in the moment. We access, share, and multiply that power when we are present, listening actively to another human being.

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24, Oct, 2010


img0728Meditation can be practiced in a number of ways and it need not be complicated. Many people find that daily meditation is a powerful means of achieving a state of inner well-being, since it aids in grounding the practitioner in the moment and can enable the mind and senses to experience life fully. For those in recovery from addiction, daily meditation helps to maintain serenity and connection to a higher power.

Mindfulness meditation is described as a calm, non-judgmental awareness of consciousness — mind, body, emotions, and even consciousness itself. Mindfulness is particularly effective in restoring peace of mind in times of emotional stress or when experiencing anxiety. One quick way to engage in mindfulness meditation is to sit with feet planted on the floor and simply observe the body, the level of tension and relaxation in different muscle groups, for instance — to observe the thoughts as they pass through, like clouds across the sky, and to observe different emotions that may present; either in response to a thought or for no reason at all. The idea is to simply be in the moment, observing without attaching any particular emphasis or judgment to any thought or feeling, for a period of time, say, 5 minutes. The time spent in the exercise can be adjusted, but the goal is to be able to lengthen the time spent each day. Some advocates recommend at least 20 min. a day, some insist is should be an hour, but the beauty of mindfulness is it is up to the individual.

Another way of experiencing mindfulness meditation is to take a walk outside, consciously experiencing the world through all the senses. Sometimes it’s good to add the repetition of a mantra, for instance, “I’m healing,” or, “I’m happy in the moment” — anything that will encourage and establish positive self-talk and enable the brain to establish new neural pathways so that the level of “feel-good” chemicals in brain increases. When using a mantra, daily application for at least 3 wks. is required before the results kick in, but they always kick in if we work it daily and consistently.

Some who practice mindfulness report they do their meditation while / by watching a sunset or sunrise, lighting a candle and watching the flame, or during any quiet moment in a given day. Mindfulness meditation has been found to empower those who practice it daily with ability to stay present in each moment and to enjoy life with serenity and a positive attitude. Like exercise, meditation is a daily program which rewards the mind and body both immediate and long-term benefits when consistently practiced.

22, Oct, 2010

The Value of Being Willing

img0901Living in a state of willingness opens doors to healing and recovery. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines “willing” as, “…(1.) inclined or favorably disposed in mind, (2.) prompt to act or respond, (3.) done, borne, or accepted by choice or without reluctance, and (4.) of or relating to the will or power of choice.”

Being willing is part of recovery’s (healing’s) plan of action, along with being open and honest. You arm yourself with optimism (favorably disposed in mind), accept life’s challenges and lessons without reluctance, and respond promptly to those challenges, knowing that the process results from your own choices. The action of becoming willing instantly propels a person forward toward the ultimate goal. Once willing to change, grow, and progress, the state of willingness can be maintained with serenity — using meditation, relaxation techniques, positive self-talk, and mantras.

Recovery and healing demand a conscious daily application of positive actions such as the ones listed above. Daily exercise, adequate rest, and a healthy diet are essential. A program of self-care, applied daily, produces steady, solid results. And it all begins with making the choice to be willing.

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6, Sep, 2010

Living in the Moment

img0914When we live in the moment, not regretting the past or fearing the future, we are set free to accomplish the absolute best we can in the now. Fear is always forward — we fear the unknown, the myriad “what ifs” that multiply our anxieties about what is to come. When we let go of everything but the present moment, our creativity and joy are released so we can accomplish our goals and dreams. Despair flourishes in looking backward with regret. We choose not to look back to the past, except to celebrate how far we’ve come, and get a fresh sight on where we are headed. When we understand that experiencing regrets and beating ourselves up for past missteps drains our energy, we begin to bring only the lessons we’ve learned from the past with us into the present. We realize that we are the sum of all our experiences to date, and we choose to love who we are today. Armed with this attitude, it’s exciting to build a bright tomorrow — by taking steps in the present moment.

31, Aug, 2010

Love and Courage


“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
— Lao Tzu, Taoist Philosopher

Love crushes fear! When we allow ourselves to experience altruistic love, or passion for a cause, we’re empowered to overcome tremendous obstacles in pursuit of that cause. Likewise, when we transfer our focus from our own solitary ambition to thinking about and appreciating family, friends, etc., we find we can achieve much, much more. Try this exercise, either upon waking or just before going to sleep at night: Think, “Who do I love?” Let your mind relax and visualize each person’s face or some aspect of their personality, a cherished memory. You may want to include yourself in this list. Learning to love ourselves is empowering and healing to self-esteem. Concentrate on the positive feelings — love and courage — called up by this process, and make a mental prayer or wish for your loved ones’ well-being. Next, think, “Who loves me?” Now relax and visualize each person as they come to mind. Again, including yourself on the list can be beneficial. Allow yourself to experience all of the positive feelings — love and courage — that are being released as you engage in this exercise. Say a mental “thank you,” for all the love and support you’ve received, and allow yourself to experience the desire to reciprocate. If you apply yourself to this process for a period of days or weeks, you’re sure to benefit.

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