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Fill Your Jars - Enrich Your Life

September 14, 2018

“Fill Your Jars - Enrich Your Life”
TTN Newsletter – August 14, 2018
by Kathleen Vestal Logan, MS, MA

“Answer yourself these questions every day,” is what Leigh’s NA (Narcotic Anonymous) sponsor told her to do. She shared that with us in the class I was leading for women recovering from drug and alcohol abuse and their mentors. We asked, of course, “What are the questions?” She told us, then wrote them down so we could use them, too. They are:
  • One thing I did today that made me proud of myself
  • One thing I did today for someone else
  • One beautiful thing I saw
  • One thing that is bothering me
Everybody decided they liked the idea and wanted to do it, too, so before the next Tuesday, I put labels on 4 jars for our use. We adapted the idea to weekly use instead of daily. My current class is the fourth to do it. When I recently asked if it was still worthwhile, they all agreed it was.Some of the comments were: It makes me pay attention during the week so I’ll have something to write down; I’ve started looking for beautiful things instead of overlooking them; it gives me permission to feel proud of something I’ve done; I’m more likely to do something for someone else; I know we’ll discuss what’s bothering me and maybe I’ll get some good ideas on what to do. That discussion was reassuring!

I put the four jars and little slips of paper on the tables just before class starts so the women can reflect on their week. Keep in mind that the recovering women's children are mostly in foster care while they work on their program.

Here are some samples of what has gone in the jars:
One thing I did this week that made me proud of myself:
  • Getting up and taking a long walk with my kids and taking them to the park/getting exercise
  • Helping encourage women at Pathways
  • Getting my kids back and passing a drug test!
  • Realizing and getting on a path of growth
  • Staying sober 58 days!
  • Made a very important decision about my future
One thing I did this week for someone else:
  • I actually cooked
  • Visited a friend in hospital
  • Gave gas money without being asked
  • Picked up a shift so someone could have day off
  • Talked and talked with a friend who lost a year of sober time
  • Just listened
One beautiful thing I saw:
  • My children
  • Growing ducklings
  • Rainbow in the storm
  • The night sky, stars and planets
  • Butterfly flight and lighting on a flower
  • My daughter’s smile
One thing that is bothering me:
  • Missing my kids
  • I'm worried and I shouldn't be because it's a sin
  • Sobriety
  • What am I supposed to be doing in life?
  • Stressed about what my next career will be
  • Not making enough money
What do we do with the jars? I always go through them at home on Sunday or Monday, choosing a few to bring up at the beginning of the next session, saving the “bothering me” concerns for last for open discussion. The worrier, for example, was eventually reassured that it's not a sin to worry, that she is forgiven, and it's only a problem if she doesn't eventually take action. We agreed that, “What am I supposed to be doing in life?” is a question for everyone; some of us know early on, while most of us spend a lifetime refining our steps toward that elusive goal. For the woman wondering about her career, someone took notes as we assessed her skills, both technical and interpersonal, then made suggestions on jobs she might be suited for. She left with concrete ideas to pursue.

These open discussions have several benefits to everyone. It quickly becomes clear that we all have issues that bother us; our families matter more than anything; talking about concerns with a trusted, supportive group is very helpful; sharing builds trust, stronger relationships, and community; and everyone benefits from our shared wisdom.

Like Leigh and all of the other women, you, too, can answer these questions. Label four jars (or envelopes) for yourself, reflecting on them every night and writing down your thoughts. For your “bothering me” jar, you might decide who in your circle of family and friends could help you think through your issue. Reach out to them.

You, too, can fill your jars – and enrich your life.