3 Payoffs From Living Your Truth

stern2 e1411941676897 3 Payoffs From Living Your TruthI was struck by how perfect Unity’s Daily Word was for me yesterday morning.

“If I am ever afraid to follow my heart or speak my truth, I remember strength and courage come from within,” according to the daily reading, “Live My Truth.”

Our morning trek

Jaxson, our new greyhound, and I went for a walk yesterday on a glorious cool, fall morning. We’d gone about a block when we were hailed by a woman approaching from the other end of the street.

“What is that dog’s breed?” she asked. She stopped when she drew even with us.

“He’s a greyhound,” I responded. Jaxson’s brindle coat, graceful gait and easy nature seldom fail to draw attention.

We exchanged names and locations in the neighborhood. Turns out she lives one block over from ours; has lived there for 10 years.

We’re relatively new to our gated community that prides itself on being very “family oriented.” Indeed, the demographics of the neighborhood lean heavily toward young families but there are plenty of senior residents too and some, like my sweetie and I, who aren’t in either camp.

My new friend asked if I played games and if I’d like to join the “women over 40″ for game night at the clubhouse on the fourth Thursday of each month. I think she was going to say women over 50 but couldn’t readily decide which decade I fell into.

That was about the time I started to feel uncomfortable with where the conversation seemed headed. I dreaded the inevitable question about by marital status.

Not speaking my truth

I deeply believe in transparency and speaking one’s truth without shame, yet I still occasionally fall victim to my own homophobia.

Why? Because I still stutter-step around these fears: Not being accepted; not fitting in, and of being judged. These fears all point to my perception that I’m not good enough.

To thine own self be true is a phrase I preach but sometimes have trouble following.

Bottom line from the encounter with my neighbor? I was afraid of her reaction upon finding out that I share my home and my heart with a woman.

The deep-seated reason doesn’t matter as much as understanding that nobody should live with the fear of rejection because they have a non-traditional family, wear their hair dyed pink or live with the effects of mental illness or addiction.

Finally, the Pay-Offs to living your truth

Meeting Darlene yesterday morning caused me to really examine my fears. Then I turned them into I AM statements, like, I am a successful business woman (who happens to be gay and in recovery). I am a loving, giving and caring human being who practices tolerance and acceptance with others and myself.

Then, I thought of the three payoffs.

Pay-off #1: Understanding, again from yesterday’s Daily Word: “Each person is one-of-a-kind, and our lives, authentically lived, are our gift to the world.”

Pay-off #2: Grounding yourself in the wisdom of “what you think of me is none of my business.” The first time I heard those words from a therapist more than 20 years ago, I thought I’d won the lottery.

Pay-off #3: I often think about how my partner and I help educate neighborhood residents; how we put a face on “gay” for our friends and neighbors, just as we also put a face on addiction recovery.

Above all, to thine own self be true.

Photo courtesy of Efi21

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Meet the Recovery Carriers: All of Us!

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Here we are at the end of Recovery Month and try as I might, I can’t determine a single person for this month’s Recovery Carrier designee! I’ve met too many cool people, both online and in person, who are championing the cause of recovery to be able to name one. So, I’m breaking with tradition and bestowing Recovery Carrier status on anyone who keeps the torch of recovery burning.

Today’s post is the ninth in this Recovery Carrier series.

William White defines recovery carriers as “people, usually in recovery, who make recovery infectious to those around them by their openness about their recovery experiences, their quality of life and character, and the compassion they exhibit for those still suffering.” (www.williamwhitepapers.com, 2012)

Daunting but worthwhile task

If we apply Bill White’s definition of Recovery Carrier, then the simple act of reading this post and then talking about recovery to anyone (with infectious enthusiasm!), you are a Recovery Carrier. Congratulations! You now belong to a league of people who is clawing its way into the rational thinking of the general public, and by extension, elected officials.

Real change that encompasses a unified voice of recovery, one that speaks the language of hope and possibilities, is our goal. We strive to share our positive voices–all of us who say, “I am a person in long-term recovery,” and then share what recovery means for us–with all who care to listen. One day we will be looked upon with the same compassion as are those who deal with diseases like cancer, COPD, diabetes and ALS.

There is always hope.

A collection of Recovery Carriers

Following, in no particular order of importance, are the people and groups who embody the heart and soul of the New Recovery Advocacy Movement. They, along with previous month’s Recovery Carriers, forge a solid girder for recovery.

I’ve forgotten someone, I’m sure, so please include your additions in the comments section below.

1. Tom Coderre and his appointment as senior advisor to the administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

2. The announced intent to merge by Faces & Voices of Recovery and Young People in Recovery–can you imagine how cool that organization will be?

3. Recovery high schools like Archway Academy in Houston and the brand new University High School in Austin

4. Greg Williams’ (The Anonymous Peoplenew project, Generation Found

5. Michael Botticelli, a person in long-term recovery has been nominated by the White House to serve as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)

6. The second edition, released this summer, of William L. White’s Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America

7. Anybody who participated in a recovery walk/rally (There were almost 1,000 across the nation this year.)

8. The National Alliance for Recovery Residences and the standards it sets for sober living homes

9. Therapists and counselors who strive to find unique ways to work with their patients and families, like Stephanie Coker and Lane Ingram, who incorporate laughter and improv comedy into their practices

10. My recovery writer colleagues who regular spotlight the phenomenon we call addiction recovery (See Recovery Carriers tab for individual contributions.)

11. Collegiate recovery groups like Eagle Peer Recovery at the University of North Texas

12. Mindfulness in recovery with the encouragement of yoga, breath work and other tools to engage a holistic approach to recovery

13. Peer-led recovery service organizations and nonprofits like SoberHood, which was recently awarded a multi-year SAMHSA grant to facilitate peer recovery services in Texas.

There you have it, my Lucky 13 List of Recovery Carriers. Please add your own to the list and help make Recovery Month 2014 a sturdy platform on which to build our recovery future.

Photo courtesy of o0o0xmods0o0o

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Book Review: Coyote Spirit

1 IMG 4193 1024x682 Book Review: Coyote Spirit

I have to say that I was intrigued by the email a few months back asking me to review Dave Mampel’s book Coyote Spirit: The Improbable Transformation from Minister to Clown.

Reviews take time; I don’t speed-read and my skimming skills are not very good because I get drawn into good stories. Plus, I figure anyone who pours his or her heart into writing a book, not to mention dealing with the technical details in today’s online publishing world, deserves my full attention.

So I don’t do many reviews, but as I said, this pitch intrigued me. I’m a sucker for a story about finding one’s passion because implicit in that story are the gritty details of shedding the skin of a former life. I know a little bit about doing just that five years ago.

An improbable transformation

I wanted to review Coyote Spirit during National Recovery Month because Dave is a person in long-term recovery, a fact that is only one of many similarities we share. Recovery is an uCoyote Spirit cover 200x300 Book Review: Coyote Spiritnderlying theme in Coyote Spirit; recovery from addiction as well as recovery from living life for someone else.

Dave’s story of discovering the reasons why he followed his father into the ministry caused me to ache with understanding. For those of us who grew up with dreams of being artists, musicians (Dave wanted to be a rock star.) or writers, when the cold reality of a childhood event or trauma occurs, we are forever changed and those dreams seem to die a little more each day.

When eight-year-old Dave’s father nearly died after an accident in 1969, Dave writes, “The silly, whimsical kid I once had been descended like Persephone into the underworld and gave way to a child who was serious, even brooding.”

At 14, when Dave started using drugs, he began a decades-long swivel between responsible caretaker and creative rebel. Oh how I relate to feeling like two different people living in the same body!

The courage to change

It’s one thing to hope and wish and long for your life to change. It’s quite another thing to make the change happen. In my case, I had to face the hurt feelings and anger around my decision to radically change my life. I had a lot of accusations thrown at me about my selfishness, how I was only thinking of myself.

I believe we’re given many opportunities in life to shift to an unexpected path, and yes, the shift can mean heartache to others. But we can’t possibly see the bigger picture; all we can do is trust that GUS (God-Universe-Spirit) intends happiness and blessings for all of us. What if my hurtful decision today opens a door to your future happiness?

We simply cannot live our lives for other people. Reverend Dave took a huge leap of faith with his transition to a 20-plus-year career as Daffy Dave the clown. His is a beautiful and tender story of what so many of us in recovery strive for: to thine own self be true.

As Dave writes, “All I had to do was made the fundamental decision inside myself to begin the journey, to pay attention to my best lights, ideas and hunches and to be fully aware of the blessings that came to me from heeding this authentic vocational path.”

To all the seekers out there, have fun with Dave’s book. For all those who enjoy a coming to life story, no matter your age, enjoy!

You can find Coyote Spirit: The Improbable Transformation from Minister to Clown on Amazon.com or Smashwords.com.

P.S. Dave has agreed to give away two copies of Coyote Spirit. To qualify to win, leave a comment on this page or on the B Here Today pinned Facebook post. The contest will remain open through the end of Recovery Month.

Photo courtesy of Sgarton

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5 Messages to Take You From Victim to Victory

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I have to be honest. I don’t take criticism well.

It’s been a problem all my life. My second grade teacher once sent a note home to my parents that read, “Beth is a joy to be around. But she becomes withdrawn and quiet whenever she’s criticized or if I suggest she could do better. She takes criticism very personally.”

Huh.

Then there was the time my boyfriend broke up with me. His mother told me years later that when he came home and she asked how our talk went, he said, “I don’t know, Mom.  She never said a word, just kept looking at the ground.”

Now, as an adult in my sixth decade of living, I’m much better at constructive criticism when it comes to my work. Even my writing, which, along with air and water, sustains me, is open for discussion and dissection. (Just be gentle, please!)

Why are we so hard on ourselves?

There are tons of reasons why we women–particularly women with addiction–beat ourselves up. Some of us pack around the effects of abuse suffered for years or decades. We may have been victims once, but as a therapist said to me a long time ago, by staying hooked into those abusive patterns, we are no longer victims, but rather, we’re hostages held by our own thoughts, beliefs and attitudes.

Occasionally, when an overly full suitcase of stresses is dropped, those self-destructive thoughts, beliefs and attitudes spill out, like dirty underwear all over the ground.

And just like that, I feel insignificant and worthless again.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Listening to new messages, developing new beliefs

No one but you is responsible for your thoughts, which can be both a blessing and a curse. I am the product of what I tell myself, of the messages I tell the world about me. What are those messages?

If you asked me yesterday–the day I was the only invited guest to my pity party–I would have told you that I couldn’t do anything right. I would have explained in great detail why I was selfish and seldom thought of anyone else’s needs before my own.

Yesterday was a victim day.

Today is a victory day. No matter what dropped in front of you yesterday, stirring up your guts like a greasy, inedible stew, it need not affect today.

Say it with me: I alone am responsible for my feelings, thoughts and attitudes.

Tweet: You can choose to drag yesterday into today, but for the love of all that’s holy, why would you want to? @bheretoday

Instead, let’s work on those messages.

Here are five to get you started (Note: please read these as “I” statements.).

1. You are loved and lovable, just as you are in this GUS-inspired moment (that’s God-Universe-Spirit).

2.  Your worth is not tied to what other people think of you; in fact, their thoughts are none of your business.

3.  You are a radiant child of something much bigger than you. You have no reason to belief that GUS is going to drop you on your proverbial arse.

4.  It’s okay to not like yourself sometimes because of something you’ve said or done so long as you always love yourself. Tweet: Remember, you’re a human being hanging out on the E-planet, not Jack and the Beanstalk rising in the sky. @bheretoday

5.  Love is a great equalizer so make sure you’re giving and receiving the elixir of life.

My feeling of insignificance? Oh yeah–it’s gone. Miraculously, once I began to feed myself the right stuff again, the feeling went away. Since, there is no order of difficulty with miracles (A Course in Miracles) that means I’m back to feeling good about me.

What messages do you tell yourself? When you fall off the beam, how do you get back on? What messages resonate with you as true “shifters?”

Please let me know in the comments section below.

Photo courtesy of pippalou

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Recovery Movement Needs a HUGE Megaphone!

file0001719225336 e1410742069167 Recovery Movement Needs a HUGE Megaphone!My sweetie and I are just back from Austin, Texas, site of the Big Texas Rally for Recovery on Saturday preceded by a showing of The Anonymous People at the University of Texas School of Social Work on Friday night.

While chatting with TAP’s filmmaker, Greg Williams, and several other people in recovery, we heard there might be 500 people on the south side of the Capitol building Saturday afternoon. Cool, we thought, the rain will clear out by then and we will rock this place!

Well, the rain didn’t clear and to say there were a few hundred people huddled under umbrellas would be generous. But, as more than one person said, “The rain didn’t stop us when our addictions were active so why would the rain stop us now that we’re in recovery?”

Speaking out for recovery

Standing in the rain, watching the crowd, seeing some celebrities (Yes, I did get a hug from former Miss USA and recovery advocate Tara Conner!), I felt affirmed one more time that I’m in the right place at the right time.

Every time I get a chance to tell someone I’m in long-term recovery from addiction, that I haven’t had any alcohol or marijuana since May of 1991, and then explain specifically why my life in recovery is so good, I’m speaking out for the whole of recovery.

In fact, my sweetie and I had a nice explanatory chat with a photographer from The Austin American Statesman. A nice guy who may think just a bit BsCelebrateRecoveryinTX2014 300x159 Recovery Movement Needs a HUGE Megaphone!differently about addiction and recovery, and who might even pass along a slice of what he learned to his circle of friends.

Speaking out for recovery is everything from our chat with the photog (or with your doctor, insurance agent or neighbor) to Tara’s interview Saturday morning on Austin’s KXAN TV.

Speaking out for recovery means telling your state and federal legislators how addiction deserves the same treatment opportunities as any other disease. It means letting them know that jailing someone with addiction isn’t the answer to helping him or her get well but that a recovery oriented system of care is the most critical option for success.

We honor ourselves when we speak out for recovery. We show the world that recovery matters because it brings hope and peace into the lives of individuals and their loved ones.

The missing megaphone

The rain doused the ability for speakers to use a microphone at Saturday’s rally. Instead, they did their best to shout at the crowd. Sadly, much of the effect was lost except for those standing nearest the steps.

I was struck by the symbolism of standing on the Capitol steps–where laws affecting addiction recovery in Texas are debated–yelling to be heard. In the 15 or so years since the New Recovery Advocacy Movement began, many, many advocates have felt the frustration of not being heard.

We need a megaphone, folks, both literally and figuratively. Too many people–elected and others–don’t hear us. Our messages are not resonating deeply enough to make an overhauling change in the system.

Yes, we’re making progress, but the movement is too slow. One hundred Americans dies of a drug overdose every day, more than double the number in 1999. “Overdosing  is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, accounting for more deaths than traffic fatalities or gun homicides and suicides,” the Washington Post reported shortly after Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death earlier this year.

I don’t know what it will take for the Recovery Movement to get the attention it deserves, attention that AIDs/HIV, cancer and other causes get. But I do know we have to keep shouting. We have to use our personal megaphones whenever possible.

September is National Recovery Month. Are you using your megaphone?

Photos courtesy of xenia and Jay Janner of The Austin American Statesman

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