On Being Powerless


My name is Rebecca and I admit that I am powerless over anxiety.

My life has been ruled by it for as long as I can remember.  It has negatively affected my relationships, my schooling, my job performance, and, without question, my health.  There are times when I am paralyzed by it, unable to make decisions, be efficient or sometimes even to physically move. It can be a crippling dis-order, throwing all aspects of my life out of whack and into disarray. As I constantly remind myself, however, admitting that I am powerless is my first step toward recovery.

People who resist using the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to find sobriety often immediately reject the first step, “We admitted we were powerless over alcoholism and that our lives had become unmanageable.”

What do you mean “powerless?”  I’m not weak or helpless! That’s ridiculous. I just need a stronger will power to overcome my addiction. Admitting powerlessness is like surrendering to defeat. How am I supposed to create a sober life with that attitude?  To hell with being powerless!

Yea…I get that. Claiming to be powerless is intimidating…scary…humbling. It may even cause one to feel more vulnerable. I know because often I get anxious (but, of course!) when thinking that  anxiety could possibly disrupt and screw up my life forever.

But being “powerless” for me doesn’t imply I’m weak or helpless.  It doesn’t mean I’m dis-empowered either.  Claiming powerlessness means I’m admitting that I cannot rely solely on myself.  I’ve not surrendered to defeat. Nor am I leaving it up to my willpower to help me just “get over” being anxious. When I admit that I am powerless my focus shifts away from a narcissistic self-reliance.  I am forced instead to reach out beyond myself for help.

Comfort and support often comes in the form of turning to my Higher Power for guidance and strength.  Seeking help means remembering the relief I get when I actually take the herb that eases my stress.   In claiming powerlessness, I am confessing I need to reach out to friends, maintain my spiritual disciplines and experience, once again, the peace and hope in living by the Serenity Prayer.

In essence,

I am EMPOWERED by admitting I am powerless. 

In surrendering, I gain FREEDOM.

So… what’s causing your life to be unmanageable?  What behavior or addiction needs to be purged from your life?  Are you addicted to alcohol, food, drugs, or shopping? Are you addicted to being needed?  Is your life driven or controlled by a destructive emotion like mine is?

I challenge you today to admit you need help.  Stop thinking you can do it on your own.

Be open to admitting you are powerless

and let that confession lead you

to a life of freedom, peace and joy.




More stillness.

A Meditative Morsel to follow your Spiritual Prescription to Embrace Silence:

Sloooooowly read the scripture below from Psalm 46:10.

Allow the words to sink in.

Be open to the images or thoughts that come to mind with each line.

Do any feelings or questions arise?

Try emphasizing a different word with each line.

Pause…. before moving on to the next line.

Breathe deeply.

Repeat each line as you feel drawn, even speak them out loud if you wish.

Take… your… time…

Be still and know that I am God…

Be still and know that I am…

Be still and know…

Be still…


On your spiritual journey may you learn to slow down and to love stillness.   I pray you discover in the silence that which gives you strength and can illuminate your path.

Be still—listen to and observe the wonder, beauty and holiness all around us–-and know that you are not alone.


Let it Go

Today’s Spiritual Prescription:

dandilionFace it.

Whether you like it or not, there are things in your life (situations, circumstances, people, etc.) that you cannot change.  I know.  That is not what you want to hear but, take it from me—a woman who has hit her head on that idiomatic wall a few too many times—it’s true.

You cannot sanely or successfully control every aspect of your life.  And if you strongly disagree with me right about now, I challenge you to take an honest look at your life.  Look at your health, your relationships, lifestyle, and finances and I will guarantee you will see stress fractures in at least one area.

There comes a time when you have to LET IT GO.

But that’s no easy job, is it?

Even at the end of life it is hard to let go.  The new hospice patients I meet can’t always face their pending death.

Although I visit with individuals who are at ease and accept that they are dying, many of my patients are still in disbelief.  They are often angry ( at God, their doctors, life) and are grieving that life is ending sooner than they had hoped.

When this is the case I try my best to help each individual process this loss and transition into a place of peace and acceptance. I have seen people rest in sweet serenity with their new sense of freedom in welcoming their own approaching death.  They have accepted what they cannot not change.

So I’ll say it again and make it your Spiritual Prescription for today.

    Let.. it… go. 

Let go of the desire to control every aspect of your life (and everyone else’s life).  Let go of  the need to always be right.  Let go of the obsession that is  bringing you down more than building you up.

Learn to surrender these desires, needs and obsessions over to God.  Seek out the peace that will lead you to accepting that which you cannot change.

Life is too short to be stubborn. 

Accept what you truly cannot change and find the freedom therein.



When life gives you rotten green beans, compost!

In every place I’ve lived as an adult, I’ve dreamed of composting.

This desire would especially surge nearly every time I reached into the vegetable bin in my refrigerator.  There I would inevitably discover that my once beautiful green beans, zucchini, broccoli, lettuce or perhaps peppers were beyond the point of no return.

Even with refrigerator sludge on my hands, I always managed to come up with excuses as to why I couldn’t compost.  The weather, I would decide, was the problem.  It was either too damp (as in Vermont) or too dry (as in our current location in the desert).

Or the glitch, I would convince myself, was that I didn’t have the money for a fancy compost bin or lacked the time to make my own.

But food kept going bad in my fridge. Grieving the loss of more and more once-tasty-now-rotten veggies (I’m from an incredibly frugal family), I had to finally admit that something had to change.  So this winter I began composting on my deck in my flower pots, void of plants, but full of dirt.  Change the things you can! If my grandmother and father could bury their kitchen scraps in their gardens, why couldn’t I do the same in my pots?

I was finally composting.

It has been several months now and it is going fairly well.  The dogs have only gotten into it a couple times, the odor has been minimal, and my buried treasures are decaying beautifully.  My husband wasn’t crazy about my recent idea of moving the bins under our patio furniture for the summer (I found the idea to be quite practical!) so I’ll have to rethink a permanent spot for my project.   I believe, however, I am finally on my way to becoming a full time composter!

We can spend our whole lives angry and frustrated with all of the rotten things life brings us or…we can be courageous, spontaneous or determined and do what we can to make a difference in our lives. So I say to you, my friends: Be Courageous. Be Spontaneous. Be Determined.  Change the things you can.

Here is the most famous prayer I know on this subject (a longer version than most are familiar with):

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,                                                                      courage to change the things that should be changed,                                                                                                              and wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.                                                                                                                  Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time,
accepting hardship as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
and supremely happy with Him forever
in the next.

The Serenity Prayer attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr (1943)

Be at peace.

The White Flag of Surrender. It’s a good thing.

 It would seem that I have an issue with surrender. 

It is no secret that I am a miserable desert dweller.  I struggle every day to find things I enjoy about the Sonoran Desert and there are many, many moments when I absolutely hate it here. 

It isn’t that I can’t appreciate the complex and diverse ecosystem.  I marvel at how plants and animals survive in this harsh, dry environment.   And I joyfully absorb every breath-taking sunset that accents the sky, smile with each spring’s beautiful display of wild flowers and blooming cacti,  and eagerly anticipate each monsoon season.

But I have flat-out refused to accept that I will be living here much longer.  I have constantly rejected the idea that I will have to endure yet one more dreadful, hot summer.  I have become obsessed with scanning the internet on a daily basis for jobs in cooler climes.  In short, I am unwilling to raise that white flag of surrender. 

But let’s get real. 

I’ve been fighting my reality for the last 5 years and this stubborn disposition has turned out to be spiritually unhealthy for me.

You see, I have intentionally kept myself in a temporary state of mind.  In my longing to establish roots where the sky is grayer, the air cooler, and the grass truly greener, I have created a constant state of spiritual and emotional restlessness within me.  This is only temporary, I tell myself.  From out of this exile I will return to a more promised land.

But I cannot over simplify my situation either. 

There are reasons for my stubborn attitude.  The heat is an overwhelming rationale.  When exposed to temperatures over 75 degrees—which is the weather trend much of the year—I often experience physical and mental exhaustion and at times pain.  A couple hours of working in the yard (raking rocks!) just a few weeks ago, for instance, left me resting in bed a good part of the next afternoon.  It was depressing.  I can’t just suck it up and adapt to the climate.

That said, let me return to the negative impact of my “It’s only temporary” approach to life in the desert.  In holding fast to my desperate need to leave, I refuse to just BE and reject the concept of living in the moment.  

In my stubbornness, I cannot fully surrender over to God my suffering or my longing to escape.  I want total control of my future and struggle to deeply trust that everything, eventually, is going to be okay.  (Hmmmm… Note to self: Spiritual prescription for today—Read your last entry, A Different Kind of Occupation. You’ve been allowing the wrong kind of things to occupy your heart, Silly.)

For a couple months I have been meditating on scripture aptly taken from Jeremiah 29: 11-14. Here the Israelites are reassured that they will not remain in exile forever and that someday they will return home. I know what I am doing,” God promises them.  “I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not to abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.  When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.  When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.  Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed (from the Biblical paraphrased version, The Message).

Here’s the message of hope I receive from this scripture. 

I must remain in the moment.  Just for today, I cannot change the fact that I live in the desert.  What I can change, however, is where I choose to direct my attention.  I could focus only on tomorrow, dreaming of better days when I will escape this hot, arid place.  Such beliefs have after all helped me in the past endure the hardest of days. 

Or…I can practice what I preach and get serious about finding God in my desert dwelling life.  I must desire that sacredness more than anything else—more than control, more than gray skies, cool weather and green grass, more than my own well-being. 

Because when I all out surrender, when I wave that white flag and give my whole being (health, future, serenity) over to God’s care, I won’t be disappointed.