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Promises- My Mother’s Perspective


I’m content, even happy with my life.

I give my relationship with my husband of over 40 years a 9+, my relationship with my kids, kids-in-law and grandkids, 9+, job of 24 years, 9+. I’ve got a few good friends whom I value deeply and scores of others: extended family and warm acquaintances for whom I care. I’ve lived in the same apartment for 36 years (ok, it could use a little updating). I have a nice mix of adventure, travel and creativity thrown in. I don’t want for anything and I certainly don’t need any coaching. Right?

One afternoon, about six weeks ago, I found myself, as I often did, walking around the floor at work on the very good chance that I would find some leftover birthday cake, a muffin from a breakfast meeting or chocolate in the candy jar on Sue’s desk. Sugar was all I wanted and I felt needy and entirely dependent. During the preceding weeks and months, years maybe, it wasn’t uncommon for me to work my way up a particular street buying a variety of chocolate chip cookies, comparing and contrasting them as I walked. Taking a bite, putting it back in the bag, taking another bite and putting it back. And well, you know, I’m the gal who breaks off just a piece of every sweet at the buffet.

That particular afternoon, I found two tasteless chocolate cookies, and I devoured them. I guess I bit off more than I could chew, because I called my daughter, Laurie Gerber and told her point blank, “I’m desperate for coaching.” I’d always resisted doing this because I thought the remedy she’d inflict would be far beyond my means to deliver, or I should say my desire to deliver. I was wrong.

I told her that I was out of control with my sugar craving and it didn’t feel good. Then she asked me, “What do you want, Mom?” It didn’t take me long to say: “I only want to eat sweets once a day and in moderate proportion.”

“And what will you do if you eat sweets more than once and day?” she asked. In other words: what would be my consequence for eating more than one sweet per day or eating more than felt good?

“What do you suggest?” I asked, fearing that she might say that I’d have to throw money out the window or worse, support the election bids of candidates whose values differed from my own. But the consequence that she suggested fit the commitment like icing on a cake: I’d have to give up sweets for a week.

Doesn’t sound very profound, does it? And yet, I can tell you right now that this brief coaching has been a game changer for me, and I discovered something else, too. In Junior High school, I was voted “Most Dependable” by my classmates, and indeed, I’ve always been called upon by others who want assurances that “the deed” will be done. My word is my bond, but I’d never actually thought of applying this same fidelity to a promise to myself. This was a first. And it worked. I am dependable. What’s more, now that I’ve made a commitment to myself, I don’t need to think about sweets all day. I know that I’d prefer my “sweet” after dinner, so there’s no midday treasure hunt.

Okay, it’s true that four times I did take a bite of something and decide, through the gift of consciousness, to spit it out. In addition, I see the possibility of making promises and bringing increased consciousness to other areas of my life. For example, I’m now meditating in a group, once a week, for an hour. One sweet a day, one sweet meditation a week. Although they seem to be minor beginnings, they serve as major reminders of the power of promises and dependability to create change. Thank you, Laurie.

Love, Mom