Saturday, February 26, 2011

The 5th Step

My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

I'm meeting my sponsor in about 90 minutes to "admit to God, to myself and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs." Yes, friends, Charlie is taking the fifth step.

Say a prayer for me! I'm excited, but I'm a little nervous at the same time. There are no big skeletons in my closet to reveal (she already knows about all those), but I have a little bit of fear nonetheless.  Not surprising, since fear is one of my character defects. My fear? That my fourth step won't have been "good enough," that my sponsor will somehow think I didn't work it hard enough. Hmmm... There's another character defect rearing its ugly head: people-pleasing.

So glad I'm coming up on the sixth step, where I become "entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."

And since I have to leave in an hour, and I still haven't gotten ready or had breakfast, I'd better scoot. I'm revealing another character defect here: procrastination. :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What It Was Like, What Happened and What It's Like Now

My name is Charlie, and I’m a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

Tonight I have the privilege of speaking at an OA-HOW meeting up in Minnesota. I guess it's a really small meeting, and so every week they ask a guest to phone in and participate in the meeting via speakerphone. 

And I've been thinking it would give me the perfect opportunity to post my story here... It is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and I want to add my voice to the many others who are saying that recovery is possible! I am living proof... So grateful to all of you who are walking this road of recovery with me.

So here's what I'm planning to share tonight:

My name is ______, and I’m a compulsive overeater and OA-HOW sponsor.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my experience, strength and hope with you tonight. I’ve been praying that I will be of service, and that God will use my words however he sees fit.

I have been a compulsive overeater for as long as I can remember. I was born into a family of overeaters. Some of my earliest memories around food involve birthdays and special family times. My family loved to eat. Every Wednesday night we would stop at McDonald’s on the way to church, and it was something I looked forward to all week.

Every Thanksgiving, our family drove from our home in Indiana to Kentucky to visit family. I look back and it seems like those visits were all about the food. Lemon meringue pie, the table full of food, desserts, pop, cookies, candy. And all of us cousins could eat whenever we wanted to for the entire weekend.

Good times in my life were always associated with food. What were we going to eat? Could we get pizza? Family fun nights always revolved around my dad making popcorn. We were never very active as a family. We would never do sporting activities, for instance. We spent quality time together eating and sitting and talking. Watching slides, for instance, or movies.

My dad and mom are compulsive overeaters who had rituals around food. Dad with his cheese and crackers every night at the table. Mom with the candy bars hidden in her underwear drawer. And even when I was a very young boy, my parents were already struggling with their own obesity.

I’m not sure why we all felt constantly deprived, but I think we did somehow. We were forever dividing up the food on the table to make sure we all got equal portions, even though there really was plenty for all. For example, if there were dinner rolls, we counted them and announced how many each of us could have. I thought all families did this. It was my future wife that first pointed out to me how odd this behavior was.

I know my parents did the best they could in raising my sister and brother and me. As we grew up, in fact, we were all convinced that we were the greatest family on the planet! There was a lot of love and affection in the house. We laughed together a lot. But I can see now, a lot of that was to cover up deep insecurities and anxieties. I think perhaps as a child, I could sense these things, but I could never have explained it. We were happy on the surface, but there was a lot of trouble brewing underneath. And I think food was one of the major ways we all dealt with it.

I was aware of being overweight – even felt fat – as a middle school and high school student, although I look back and see pictures of myself and can’t believe how thin I was. I started dieting in high school, but was never very serious about it. I made myself start drinking Diet Coke instead of regular, for instance, but I would drink it with pizza and candy bars. I might occasionally try to go without some kind of food for a time.

I would come home after school and make an entire box of macaroni and cheese for myself. When my parents would go out and leave me in charge of my younger siblings, we would always have frozen pizza and popcorn, along with sweets and other things. Holidays were always all about the food. My family loved each other by cooking and baking for each other.

In college, my eating began to take a turn for the worse. I had access to a cafeteria and a snack bar, and I could make my own choices, which never included healthy foods. I gained a lot of weight and began the cycle of trying to lose, gaining it back as soon as I would lose it.

I got married in 1993. I remember promising my wife that I would never get fat. I didn’t want to end up like my parents, but I soon began to gain weight. I worked as a traveling rep for a college for a while, and it was all about the food… driving through the McDonald’s in the morning, figuring out where and when I could eat lunch and dinner. Even the social aspect, which I loved, centered around food. Where should we eat? What are we getting? I ate massive amounts of food, and I was not very active. Soon I weighed around 220 pounds. At 5’9-1/2”, that was too heavy, and I was unhappy.

I remember talking to a doctor one time about weight loss. This was at least 15 years ago now. I was hoping maybe there was some radical thing he could do for me, maybe put me on a liquid diet or something. I remember him saying that I was not heavy enough for medical intervention of any kind, and that for people like me, overweight but not yet severely obese, it is a really hard road, and there’s not a lot of hope. He basically said “Good luck with that.”

My “history of compulsive eating” could fill a book, so here are some highlights:
  •  All the times I tried to "start over" tomorrow, or Sunday, or Monday, or the first of the month, or on my birthday, or on such-and-such a holiday, or on New Year's Day.
  • All the times I took out cash so my wife wouldn't know I was going to McDonald's or other drive-thrus on my way to or from work.
  •  All the times I ate fast food right before I got home, trying to cram it all in, and then hid the bag under the seat, went in, and ate dinner with my family. I could barely eat because I was so miserable. But that never stopped me. I did it again and again.
  • Staying up late to eat after everyone else is asleep. Eating 2-3 bowls of cereal, sometimes with sugar dumped on top of it. Eating until I felt like I would burst. Eating while a voice in my head kept saying, "Just stop, dammit!"
  • The insanity of having to eat another kind of food in order to make up for the food I just ate. Binge on ice cream, now I need something salty. Now something sweet again.
  • Fast food has been probably my #1 problem. I remember one specific time I started at McDonald's (my all-time drug of choice), got a big meal there, and then went right across the street to Burger King because I wanted a chicken sandwich with cheese and onion rings. I already had the Diet Coke from McDonald's (always a diet), so I got a shake at BK. I had a three-hour trip ahead of me, I reasoned. I could eat it all. And I did, but I was miserable.
  • At restaurants I often made sure my kids' plates were clean. By eating their food myself. Sometimes I even hung back as everyone was leaving to make sure I could grab a last fry or half a cheeseburger.

I’ve gained and lost hundreds of pounds over the years. I've tried Weight Watchers, the cabbage soup diet, the Atkins diet, the Master Cleanse, a personal trainer who made me a very specific food plan, fasting, and compulsive calorie-counting.

About 8 years ago now, I did the calorie-counting-along-with-exercise route and I lost a lot of weight and felt great about myself. Then I gained it all back. I was miserable.

I found OA in November of 2006. I was working another 12-step program at the time, and I realized that my compulsive behavior in that area of my life reminded me a lot of my compulsivity around food. I remember sitting on my couch, reading the “15 Questions” on the OA website. Tears streamed down my face as I realized that I had finally found the answer. I was a compulsive overeater. I knew it in my heart of hearts, and I had to surrender and get to a meeting.

Was I cured? Far from it. I still had a long journey to go… You see, my biggest mistake was not to fully embrace everything OA had to offer me. I went to meetings here and there, and I chose a food plan, but that’s it. I thought it was working for me, because I started to lose a lot of weight right away. I ended up doing what I called the “HOW plan,” even though I had no idea what OA-HOW was all about. I basically used a modified Greysheet diet as my food plan and hung on for dear life. I did lose over 60 pounds in seven months. What I didn’t do was get a sponsor or work the steps. In other words, I was on another diet with a nice support group that I occasionally visited.

And seven months into it, in a Baskin-Robbins in Redwood City, California, I thought to myself, “Surely I can have just one milkshake. I’ve been so good.” And so I did. I remember looking in the mirror and thinking that I didn’t look any different. “See, that wasn’t so bad!” And that was the beginning of four years of terrible relapse.

Up and down and up and down, abstinent and binging, fasting and giving up. It was all the more terrible because I had had a taste of what recovery could be like. And my weight fluctuated from a low of 191 to a high of 240 with all kinds of ups and downs in between.

In 1998, my family and I began a very intense season of our lives. I had a series of job changes that really shook us up. First we moved in with my in-laws in LA for six weeks, then I took a temporary job in Seattle for three months. Next we moved to Houston, where I took a job that I thought was going to be perfect. It wasn’t the right fit, and after nine months, we ended up back in LA with my in-laws. Finally, after a long summer spent wondering if I would ever find work again, I got a job in Tulsa, Oklahoma and moved the family here in the summer of 2009. Five moves in 18 months were challenging to us on many levels, but they were really hard on my compulsive overeating. Although I found OA meetings in all of the cities I lived in, I could never find any long-term abstinence.

In Tulsa, I started attending regular OA meetings again. I committed myself to abstinence, and I even got a sponsor. But there was no structure, no path for me to follow. I couldn’t define abstinence, and I didn’t work the steps. I remember one day feeling particularly hopeless. I had re-defined my abstinence once again: three meals a day… It didn’t matter what those meals consisted of. I could even binge three times a day. But no eating in between meals.

I think I reached my bottom when I realized I couldn’t even stick to that plan of eating. I realized I was completely powerless over food and compulsive overeating. My life had become unmanageable. I was 232 pounds, and I was so unhappy.

And then the miracles began to happen. A blogger friend of mine reached out to me through email and really encouraged and challenged me to get and stay abstinent. Then I got a call from a woman from my meeting, just saying she missed me and inviting me back. That Saturday I went to the meeting, and this woman came to the door to let me in. As I sat through the meeting I realized that she had what I wanted… She was at a normal weight, but more than that, she was calm, peaceful, wise. I wanted that kind of recovery. (It wasn’t until later that I discovered she has lost over 200 pounds!) After the meeting, I approached her nervously, hoping to ask her to sponsor me. Before I could ask, she offered. So we sat for an hour while she explained OA-HOW to me. She explained that she could only pass on what she herself had been given, and that I would be expected to work the program like she works it.

How could I, a husband and father of four with a fast-paced, full-time job ever do all these things she said I had to do… every day?! But in a way it felt like a lifeline. The only way out. I was terrified and relieved all at the same time.

That Tuesday, August 10, I started calling my sponsor and committing my food. I got abstinent that day, and 199 days later, here I am.

As of my last weigh-in on the 19th, I weighed 171 pounds. I have lost 61 pounds from my most recent high of 232 and 69 pounds from my all-time high of 240. For the first time in my adult life, I am a “normal” weight and BMI. But this time there’s something different. I know I’m not “cured.” I am still a compulsive overeater who is being given a daily reprieve from my disease by working this program.

And it’s really important for me to say that I know this program is not all about weight loss. Yes, my weight loss is an obvious and somewhat dramatic result of my recovery, but the spiritual and emotional recovery have been amazing too. I feel like I’m really experiencing the 9th step promises in my life already…

The Big Book says: "If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them."

Notice that says nothing about weight. And everything about peace of mind. I think it’s so cool that the first thing that drew me to my sponsor was the serenity that she radiated, not her 200-pound weight loss. And, as she reminds me almost daily, this program is all about conscious contact with my Higher Power.

AND IF THERE'S TIME... I'll share some stories about life in recovery and how things are really good right now! 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Normal? Not So Fast...

My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

Apparently I'm also "normal," at least according to the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator:

This morning was my monthly weigh-in, and I weigh 171 pounds, the lowest in my adult life. I'm down 61.2 pounds from my most recent high of 232.2, and I'm down 69 pounds from my all-time high of 240.

What a long, strange trip it's been:

And it's not over. Last night I was at a dinner party. Two friend were commenting on the fact that I had brought my dinner in a brown paper bag instead of eating the lasagna they had. As I munched on cold carrots and chicken, one of the women said, "But surely you don't have to do this the rest of your life! You look great! You shouldn't lose any more weight, right?" It was another opportunity to simply tell them that I am working with a doctor and a nutritionist to put the right foods and the right amounts of food into my body, and that I don't know how long I'll do this, but it's working today, so I'm gonna do it tomorrow too...

I remember in the first incarnation of this blog, I finally reached "goal weight," I posted a picture of my feet on the scale showing the number 172. I was so proud. I had arrived. Of course, I wasn't working the steps. I didn't have a sponsor. I didn't even really have a food plan. And later that month... I downed a milkshake from Baskin Robbins. I looked in the mirror. I looked the same. Everything was fine. I was cured. So, later that week, I had another. And then another.

The rest is history, of course, as I plunged into relapse and began a slow-but sure return of every single pound I had lost.

So... Back to normal. I think it's pretty obvious that I'm not normal. I'm gonna stick with this thing, because if I don't, I'll be right back where I was in the worst of my disease. I'll gain it all back... and maybe worse, I'll lose the discipline, the clear thinking, the freedom, the spiritual health, the fulfillment, the (9th step) promises that I'm enjoying now. God, never let me forget that.

My name is Charlie. I am *not* normal. I am a compulsive overeater.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

I have to be up in 5-1/2 hours, so I need to get to bed, but I just wanted to mention this. Tomorrow night I'm going to be singing at this jazz club downtown. It's a pretty big deal for me, and I'm excited. I also wanted to get something new to wear, because most of my dressy clothes are way too big for me now.

I bought a black suit jacket tonight. 42R. "Slim" cut.

It works if you work it. And that, my friends, is all I have to say.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Celebrating Six Months of Abstinence with a Long, Meandering Post on Body Image

My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

I just re-read this post. It's long and wordy and meandering. And it's probably more for me than for you. Consider yourself warned.

Six months today, people. I am so grateful for my abstinence. Through the ups and downs, I have chronicled it all on this blog, and you, my faithful readers, have supported and encouraged me all the way. Thank you.

I didn't think I could do it. I didn't think I could get through Thanksgiving and Christmas. I didn't think I could get through BBQs and parties and dinners out with friends and traveling on airplanes. I didn't think I could get through my annual conference in Chicago. Hell, at the beginning, I didn't think I could do this for 24 hours.

And here I am. One day at a time, I'm here. I'm taking the 5th step tomorrow, by the grace of God, and I will be here after that too. I'm living this program, and it's blessing me beyond what I thought possible.

Oh yeah, and I have a new body too. As of January 19, I had released 55.2 pounds. I imagine I've lost more since then. And that's what I want to talk about tonight. Maybe this will be a rant, I don't know. I just want to process, and I do that best out loud. I'm definitely an external processor. Sometimes I don't know what I feel about something until I hear myself talking about it.

First off, I have always been self-conscious of my weight. I don't know why it matters so much to me, but it does. I have always wanted to be thin. I honestly don't care to be a muscled, chiseled guy. Just thin. Maybe it's the rock star wanna-be in me. I dream of wearing skinny jeans and a tight t-shirt and actually looking good in it. And I've always had to wear big, baggy clothes that hide my body. I love to swim, but I avoided it because I didn't want to take off my shirt and show my big, fat upper body and man-boobs. I was always shaped oddly, at least I thought so. Somewhat thin/skinny legs and butt and then big fat rolls on the side, barrel chest, boobs... and then kind of skinny arms... It's just my trunk, my torso that I hated. And I think hated isn't too strong a word.

I went through a good season of acceptance a while back, understanding that God made me this way... That under my fat, I have a somewhat large frame. I have a barrel chest. I will not have a tiny little chest anytime soon, and that's actually just fine. My big chest houses my powerful lungs, which enable me to sing the way I do... I can be grateful. And I am.

But now that I'm losing all this weight, I'm finding that I actually am starting to be what you might call skinny. I'm wearing jeans and t-shirts that I never dreamed I'd fit into, and I look pretty good in them. I don't want to be vain, but I look pretty good! And this makes me feel great. I love it. Do you blame me? Is that wrong of me?

And I want you to keep in mind that I have been consulting with a friend who is a doctor,  my sponsor, and my personal physician to determine my ideal weight. We have determined (In OA-HOW, we do not come up with our "goal weight" or "maintenance weight" on our own. That's dangerous. I realize that.) that my ideal weight is somewhere around 162. I actually have in my possession a printout from the doctor's office telling me that is what I should weigh. So, by that standard, I can still lose 15 pounds and not be at all in danger of being underweight.

OK, now. People's reactions. I am a people pleaser, and I allow their comments to get under my skin far more than I should. I'm a very public person. Every Sunday I stand and lead 600-700 people in worship. I can't hide. And I have been very visibly shrinking. At first, the comments were positive, encouraging. In fact, most of them still are. People always want to know what I'm doing. I rarely tell them I'm in OA unless they really push it. And I've never found anyone who thought they should do what I'm doing. 12-Step recovery, in my church, is still a little "out there," I'm afraid.

Then people started telling me I needed to stop. They asked me if I was still dieting. They asked me when I was going to stop dieting. They told me I looked fine and that I didn't want to get too skinny. They told me what I could and couldn't eat. They tried to get me to eat food I had politely refused. They said that I had been doing so well, I deserved a donut or a dessert or a bite of this or that. They said there has to be room to splurge sometimes.

I talked to my sponsor about it the day after a woman at my church said I looked "gaunt," and actually gave me some multi-vitamins she had brought for me. She said she was concerned about me and thought I needed to stop losing weight. Ugh. This really bothered me, and that conversation with the woman from church and the subsequent converation with my sponsor is what prompted me to go to the doc and get a physical and find my ideal weight. Now I had ammo. I could tell people my doctor and I were working on this together and that my weight loss was appropriate and I was perfectly healthy. As if it were any of their business.

I've noticed that no one tells you they're worried about your weight when you're fat or chubby. That's not polite.

When I was home in Indiana last weekend, I was watching slides with my mom and dad, both of whom are obese. (My mom has even admitted to me that she knows she's a food addict.) I saw a photo from 2006, when I was at my highest weight. I remember being so uncomfortable, so unhappy with myself. It was shortly after that, that I got in OA for the first time and lost 68 pounds. I mentioned something about that to them, and  then, kind of out of nowhere, my dad started saying how I looked better back then, healthier, more robust. He said I was a "good-lookin' guy." Now, he said, I look so thin... I look like I have cancer. Nice.

Today I walked into the business office at church to ask someone a question. From across the room, another woman yelled, for all to hear, "You need to stop losing weight! Are you done with your diet? When are you going to stop?" And she wanted an answer. I kind of laughed awkwardly and said, "I never was dieting. I am just eating in a much more balanced and healthy way." Then she wanted to know how much more I wanted to lose. I hate that question. But I always answer the same: "That's up to God. I'm really just trying to be healthy."

So those are my examples. A few isolated examples in what is becoming an increasing frustration. Why is it that people feel like they can comment on my body and my weight? Why is it that the thing I love so much (attention and affirmation) can so quickly turn into something I dread?

Now, some related thoughts and possible answers.

First, I think this is helping me see that my craving for people to notice and affirm my weight loss was never healthy or good in the first place. Even last week, when I was seeing people I hadn't seen in a year, I reveled in the attention and positive comments I received about my weight loss. "You look great!" "Wow... What have you been doing?!" But I have to let that go. I see now that I cannot rely on others to give me feelings of self-worth or affirmation. This is a God and me thing. I must find my value, my identity in God. I must feel good about myself whether or not people affirm me for it. And this is true no matter my weight. Fat or thin or anything in between. I am loved and precious. I am perfect the way I am. I am where I'm supposed to be.

Second, I'm learning that my sponsor is right... What people say is 90% about them. Honestly, I think it's interesting that most of the people telling me to stop losing weight are overweight themselves. What does that say about them? Misery loves company? And I have to remember that most people have really good intentions. Or they're just awkward and don't know what to say. I don't have to worry about it.

Another comment is just about our society at large (pun not intended, I swear). My sponsor and I were talking about this whole topic yesterday, and she mentioned that she has always sewn clothes for herself... It's a hobby and a thrift thing for her. Now that she's "normal" sized, though, she occasionally buys clothes, and she's amazed to fit into a size 12. This is a woman, remember, who has lost over 200 pounds. (I love my sponsor. She's amazing, and I'm blessed.) Anyway, her point was that when she sews, when she buys a pattern and makes clothes, she cannot fit into a size 12. She wonders - and so do I - whether sizes have slowly, subtly gotten larger in retail stores. Society is growing fatter by the minute, or so it seems, and retailers want to continue to meet the needs of their growing clientele. Could it be? I don't know.

In the case of my dad... The conversation continued, with my mom chiming in in my defense (Thanks, mom!). I think we all came to this point: I don't look sick. I don't look gaunt. I look like me. I look like I've always looked underneath 60-65 pounds of fat. We in our society, and from our own sick points of view really don't know what people are supposed to look like. I'm actually becoming who I'm supposed to be. I'm looking more and more like the real me.

I remember once thinking that I was like a sculpture hidden inside marble... Once Michaelangelo said (if you can believe the urban legend) that he was not creating, he was merely discovering what already existed in the marble... I'm kind of like that sculpture. Already here. Waiting for the Sculptor to find me, to release and reveal me. No one quite knows yet, truly, what I will look like when I'm complete.

And a final word. People can be too thin. People can suffer from eating disorders on the other end of the continuum from mine. But I don't. I am not anorexic or bulemic, and I never have been. To this day, I weigh and measure my food to avoid eating too much. But it also keeps me from eating too little, and I am grateful. Who knows how this disease will rear its ugly head? It's being beaten down pretty badly these days, and it's bound not to like that too much.

OK, I'm done.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Charlie Takes a Trip

My name is Charlie, and I’m a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

I’m in a small Midwestern airport typing on my laptop while the rest of the world (or so it seems) is watching the Super Bowl. And you know what? I’m cool with it. I’ve never been much of a sports guy anyway.  I actually had to ask my sister who was playing.

The Super Bowl for me has always been about three things: commercials, friends and food. Not necessarily in that order. So I’m incredibly gift of OA-HOW and the willingness to stay abstinent today. In fact, this whole last week has been a gift. I have a lot to write about, and I have a lot of time to write it. I’ll have a lot more time if they cancel my flight, which was supposed to have taken off one minute ago but which has not even arrived yet. God, grant me the serenity…

So, as my faithful readers will recall, I have been at a conference in Chicago all week. It was actually my eleventh time at this particular conference, and I have many good friends and memories of this one particular hotel/conference center where we all stayed together. It’s a good thing we like each other, because we were literally snowbound. I arrived Monday afternoon, and Tuesday evening ushered in the third largest blizzard in Chicago history. Flights were canceled, planned outings into the city never materialized, workshops and seminars were canceled because their leaders couldn’t get there.

As I was flying out of Tulsa, an epic snowstorm (for Oklahoma) was rolling in. I just made it out in time. Mrs. Charlie and the kids were housebound until Saturday. No school, no work. To be honest, I was a little jealous. It sounded so good be all together with nowhere to go. Although I would have been stir-crazy after a day or two, I’m sure.

Monday was an odd day. I got into my room, got all set up with my refrigerator and delivered groceries (Thank you,!), and then wandered to the lobby. I had forgotten that lonely feeling. Who will I see first? Who will I hang out with? Are others as excited to see me as I am to see them? All my insecurities came out to play, and I hoped and prayed that someone would call or text ME… “Hey, you here yet? Let’s hang…” Eventually I ran into an old friend and we sat in a bar for a couple hours. It was good. That first awkward afternoon was over, and I could get on with what I came to do.

I have to admit that I loved all the attention I got over my weight loss. I have lost at least 55 pounds since most of these people had seen me. It was nice to wear my skinny shirts and look good in them! No more straining buttons, no more saggy pants. I know it’s not about the weight. I really do. And man, do I love being at a normal weight.

I led a workshop on Wednesday. I was given a very large budget from our denomination for this workshop, and there were a lot of expectations. I had to deliver. We had about 40 participants, and I had to keep them engaged for 3-1/2 hours. So, being the people-pleaser that I am, I was already worried about making everyone happy. I couldn’t imagine having enough material to fill the time. And then there was the weather. Five of the eight people who were scheduled to help me present the material ended up unable to be with us due to the weather. One guy had flown in from Denver and was in Chicago but couldn’t make it up to our hotel because it was so bad! I stayed up so late the night before. Only got about 3-1/2 hours of sleep. But I prayed about it, talked to my sponsor in the morning, talked to G. Rabanon and a few other program friends… and then turned it over to God and trusted that it would all work out exactly the way it was supposed to work out.

It did! It did! The workshop far exceeded my wildest dreams. Rather than having too little material, I had too much! People were totally engaged and responding enthusiastically. I was able to find suitable fill-ins for the people who couldn’t be there, and, who knows? They may have even been better than the people I had planned to have there. The reviews were uniformly positive. And I was able to see more clearly than I ever have before that I really am gifted in moderating and facilitating discussion. Thank God for a wonderful day.

And then I could just rest and enjoy the rest of conference! I talked for hours and hours with good friends, I prayed and sang, I watched a movie, I slept a lot. It was good.

And I worked the program. Every day. I made my three hookup calls. I talked to my sponsor. I planned and committed my food every morning. I did my stepwork. And I ate my abstinent meals. Thanks be to God.

A touchdown just occurred on the TV in the bar behind me. I don’t know which team, but good for them.

Friday I took a bus from Chicago to the small town in northern Indiana where my parents live. I relaxed and read the whole way. Have you read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides? I love this novel. Anyway, I arrived at my parents’ house, and my brother and sister and their families came over, and we all had dinner together. I made my own. I spend yesterday and today with my family, and then dad brought me over to the airport a little bit ago. And here I wait.

I can’t wait to see how this story ends tonight! Does Charlie make it to Chicago? Does Charlie make it to Tulsa or have to spend the night in the airport or get re-routed to Denver? What does Charlie do for food? (Charlie stupidly packed his scale and measuring cups/spoons in his checked luggage.) Will Charlie get in his last hook-up call as he calls people during the Superbowl. Only God knows as this continuing saga unfolds.


But wait! There’s more! So I was sitting in Indiana, writing that post, when G. called. We were chatting happily when I realized there was an eerie silence all around me. My plan was boarding! And I was all spread out all over… computer open, food out… I had to run for it. They were literally yelling at me that they were shutting the door in 40 seconds. OMG.

And now I’m sitting on the ground near a power outlet in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. It’s looking good. The flight to Tulsa is delayed, but I’m gonna get home tonight. Thank you, God.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll write about body image. I’ve been threatening to for some time now. It all culminated last night when my dad told me I look like a cancer patient. Nice.