December 17, 2012

There Is No 12-Step Program for Coffee. ~ Edith Lazenby

Indulge my preamble as am I writing without coffee.

I tell myself certain things over and over.

I will walk every day. I will lose weight. I will eat fruit and vegetables. I will meditate. I will do those morning pages that were made famous in The Artists Way so many years ago. I will record myself teaching. I will do weights a few times a week. I will go to the yoga studio where I can take free classes since I teach there.

I will not drink coffee.

I gave it up November 23rd. I have not given up caffeine. And yogi that I am, I am a child of the ’70s and have an affection for drugs. I don’t “do drugs” anymore. I take ibuprofen as needed. I use over the counter drugs if required by my standards and take one pill once a day always, and usually twice a day if I am doing what I am supposed to do. My sanity pill, of sorts.

But I don’t walk. I have not lost the weight I put on two years ago. I don’t eat fruit often enough and have one serving of veggies a day, meaning I am far from the eight servings highly recommended.

 But I don’t drink coffee.

Well, I did have a decaf latte today. And a grande decaf as well. Last night I went to a party and ate and ate and ate;  nothing quite bores a hole in the fullness like coffee.

But I have not had that coffee jolt since November 23rd. I have had Red Bull a few times, just three to be exact. And I have imbibed extra strength 5-hour Energy three times. I drink black tea (my preference is Morning Thunder), as well as chamomile and mint.

I used to teach most classes with coffee.

I started every day with a cup and got a latte on my way to my client’s or to my class. I had coffee in the afternoon. I had it at night.

I am committed to coffee.

But I am changing how I am committed. I told myself I have to treat it like alcohol. I am fond of saying I did all my drinking in 15 years. Yes, I did a lot. Yes, I am an alcoholic. Yes I did the 12-step thing for a number of years and no, I am not “in recovery.”

Life demands healing.

I recovered from alcohol and have no desire to drink, ever again. Compared to my trials over 20 years ago with schizophrenia is was easy, kind of a no-brainer. Just don’t drink. Go to meetings. Take the medication. And the next year I had a full time job and was on my own soon after. Simple, yes. Easy? Not really.

But coffee….oh my, we started our affair in high school. My mom said I did not get in the car without a cup. As a college graduate, I worked as a donut dealer where coffee was abundant. Then was the first time I got off of coffee, say in my mid twenties. My head hurt. Now I know the herb Skullcap can help, if going off all caffeine, and if you’re curious.

But I started again obviously—probably just a few months later. Then a number of years ago, I had irritable bowl syndrome for a good 10 years or more. Try teaching yoga with that!

So I danced with coffee and was so proud of myself that I could drink it without irritating my bowels.

But then my stomach started talking back louder and more often. This was not IBS this was indigestion.

So I have been doing yoga since 1997. I meditate more often each year…though only been doing that for a few years. I started aerobics last winter. That is what I do. And it is easier without coffee.

I told myself years ago, after taking an Ayurvedic online course, I would walk every day. Well, I walk one day or maybe a few times in a week, every few months. I don’t walk every day. I am lucky if I do it once in a month.

I shun structure, which is what someone with my constitution needs the most.

And I will shy away from decaffeinated coffee because it is like near-beer….not quite what I need and the acid is the same in decaf or caffeinated. My stomach cannot handle it.

I am getting to the age where I see what age can take. But I am ready to take aging on and stay active and do what I must to keep my flexibility and strength on all levels.

There is no 12-step program for coffee but I bet it would have people who would go.

It might dull my edge, which coffee sharpens. I have my own. I don’t need it to be any sharper.

So I am committed to coffee—living without it, that is, one day at a time. Maybe next year I can give an update There are no AA chips for abstaining for coffee, but I feel better, my friends say I seem calmer, more grounded, and I sleep better.

I just might have to try the recipe Malin (elephant journal writer) offered here. There’s coffee in it, but also spinach and tofu and bananas….it’s not quite a latte and I’d get in a few servings of fruits and veggies. Is that cheating?

Try it and tell me what you think.


I am a full time yoga teacher, trained at City Fitness in Washington, DC and Willow Street Yoga Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. I have been writing poetry since I was 9 years old. Poetry is my first love and yoga continues to feed my heart. I write because I love it. I teach because I love it. I tell my students all the time: do it because you can. That works for me. I believe in creating opportunity. I believe in helping my self and others. I think faith is the most important gift of life, because when we lose everything else we still have that in our heart. I believe the natural state of being is happiness, or bliss, or Ananda. Life is a celebration. Poetry and yoga help me celebrate. Check out my blog and website here.

Editor: Brianna B.

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