Addiction

White Heron or Range Rover?

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Over the weekend, I was leaving my neighborhood when a majestic white heron, like the one pictured here, flew low across the street in front of my car.

Seconds later, I turned left onto Village Boulevard (speed limit 30 mph, I believe) when a burnt orange Range Rover with out-of-state plates suddenly appeared behind me, swerved around me and zoomed toward the main entrance.

Definitely not neighborhood etiquette, not to mention downright rude! I quickly opened my iPhone camera and tried to snap a pic of the license plate but I was too late.

I was furious! Good thing I was on my way to my regular Saturday morning 12-step meeting.

Then it hit me

Suddenly I realized how the previous 30 seconds was a microcosm of my life.

Two quick moments: Close encounters with a beautiful white heron and a rude driver of an ugly Range Rover–each eliciting strong, instant emotions. Which do I focus on after the moment has passed?

I laughed out loud when I got a mental picture of Little Beth stomping her foot and muttering through clenched teeth, “Range Rover.” But the adult, more expansive me? White heron, of course.

Choosing where to place your focus

You’ve had similar experiences, right? A moment of awe or wonder or thrilling adrenaline? And a second moment–maybe within the “good” one, that is ugly or hurtful or just yucky.

It’s the Cherokee fable about which wolf do you feed?

Your decision is crucial because it sets the tone for what comes next–darkness or light? Kind-hearted or gritchy? Loving or hateful?

In the split second you’re given to make the decision, try to see past your self-focused vision to the people your decision impacts. Your family, children, neighbors, or in my case, the people with whom I shared the suburban streets. Our decisions always have consequences.

James Allen said, “Man is made or unmade by himself. By the right choice he ascends. As a being of power, intelligence, and love, and the lord of his own thoughts, he holds the key to every situation.”

My entire Saturday hinged on the decision I made in the 30-second flash of the white heron and the Range Rover. We make those choices multiple times each day.

Teach yourself to be present to those moments and then choose wisely. Your day, and the days of everyone you encounter hinges on your choice.

Peace to all!

P.S. A quick shameless plug for Facing Addiction and the team on the ground in Cleveland at the Caucus for Addiction Solutions during the Republican National Convention. Catch Facebook Live news coverage and interviews. Next week it’s on Philadelphia to host the Caucus during the Democratic National Convention.

Photo courtesy of AcrylicArtist

See Ya, 2015; Look Out, 2016!

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Are you ready to take the annual leap, the deep-dive plunge into 2016? Not that you have much choice, since the clock ticks the same for everyone, but are you ready?

It’s easy to shrug your shoulders and reply, “as ready as I’ll ever be,” and that’s fair. Maybe you’re the sort of person who likes to roll with the flow and see what happens next.

You’ll get no judgment from me. I say go with what feels best for you, but please, let that be a mindful decision.

Be mindful about your beginnings

The final days of 2015 give you a chance to frame how you want 2016 to begin.  You decide what you want to leave behind and what you take into the new year.

It’s kind of like moving from one place to the next. When you’re packing, you pile up things to toss, things to donate and things to move with you into your new space.

Again, let these be mindful decisions.

So, where’s your head these days? Are you rushing to complete an impossible task list? Are you trying to do everything just right so your boss, kids, best friend and significant other are happy with you? Does the word stressed describe you pretty well?

Please do yourself a favor and use today and tomorrow as Stop It days. What are Stop It days? These are times when you raise your right hand to whatever is stressing you, like you would raise your hand to stop traffic.

You are stopping traffic, the traffic thoughts in your head that not only drive you crazy, they eventually crash and burn, taking you down too.

Stop It time is a real solution to hammer home the notion that you have to quit doing some of the things you’re doing. Stop It time gives you a chance to surrender the thoughts, attitudes and behaviors that no longer serve you.

Surrender your mental debris by 11:59 pm on Dec. 31 so that Jan. 1 is a sparkling slate ready for… Click To Tweet

Go to your happy place

I’ve had a phenomenal 2015 filled with lots of adventures. Nothing impacted me more than UNITE to Face Addiction on October 4.

The memory of standing beneath the Washington Monument on the National Mall with 25,000 people passionate about addiction and recovery is seared into my soul. Knowing we made history with the formation of Facing Addiction, the nation’s first organization to comprehensively address America’s number one public health issue, still chokes me up.

As 2015 draws to a close and I ponder next year’s possibilities, I’m going to my happy place–the beach!

Yes, my sweetie and I will ring in the new year on the Emerald Coast of Florida. The forecast calls for daytime highs in the mid-50s to low-60s and rain. I’m packing sweats, a rain jacket and a stocking cap.

I don’t care because I’ll be in my happy place, the place where I find release and renewal. It’s a perfect combination to begin a new year.

My prayer for you is a happy place where you feel your own personal release and renewal. New beginnings are the best and I wish only the best for you, my valued readers. I appreciate you and can’t wait to see what 2016 holds for all of us!

Yoga is Not a Trend, It’s a Necessity

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Okay people, I’ve jumped on the yoga mat. While it’s not a pretty sight–my short limbs contorting over and around the extra pooches rounding my middle–I am, once again, right where I need to be.

God help me.

Some clarifying points, so my friends aren’t too startled: I’m enrolled in a beginner’s yoga class. The schedulers graciously avoided adding seniors to the class title although I am one of the youngest people in the class. Last week, I huffed and puffed next to an 85-year-old wispy woman with Parkinsons who was more limber than me.

Good for her, I silently moaned, as I realized I need the class as much as she does.

The ugly, unfortunate truth

My yoga teacher says the body remembers every single injury it’s received. This is not good news for a lifelong tomboy like me. I played hard as a kid–I could run circles around the neighborhood boys–and I played even harder as a young adult addicted to cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana.

My body took a ton of abuse; during college, I was in the ER at least once a semester for an “accident” (like falling down stairs) or symptoms brought on by the physical stress of the ism’s of addiction, like heart palpitations and shortness of breath.

Now, I’m 54 years old, 24 years into remission from addiction, and feeling physically old.

I have degenerative disc disease in my neck and lower back. Most days, I have a band of pain around my upper right thigh. I’m overweight from my love affair with sugar and carbs. I’m on medication for blood pressure and high cholesterol and my family has a history of heart disease.

Again, God help me.

The easier, softer way

Let’s face it. My body took a lot of abuse when my alcoholism was active. I’ve often wondered how that abuse would manifest as I age.

Turns out aging is not my friend, not in my current condition at least. Finally, I’ve cried uncle. I’ve surrendered. I’ve said, “I’m sick and tired and being sick and tired.”

This time, I mean it.

The second yoga class was a tiny bit easier than the first. I went in the evening, worked hard for an hour, got home about 8:30 and collapsed into bed. I slept like people are supposed to sleep.

Wherever did I get the idea that anything good has to be hard or requires great sacrifice? Puh-lease . . .

When you think about it, a gentle yoga practice–mine is called Kripalu Yoga–really is the easier, softer approach not only to good physical body care, but also a mindful approach to overall living. The Kripalu tradition calls this approach taking yoga “off the mat.”

A good practice for living

My spiritual sister, Annie Scholl, writes that getting in better shape is not about the number on the scale. It’s about health and feeling good in our 50s so that we’re setting a good benchmark for our 60s and beyond. I hope to practice yoga into my 80s and 90s (How’s that for optimism?)

Aging is inevitable. I’m good with that.

But I’m not good with repeating the embarrassing incidence in California that happened a few weeks ago. My sweetie and I slid down an incline to the beach on our butts because we didn’t have the stability (or faith in our joints) to hike down.

Two young men jumped up from their beach perch and ran over to collect our grandmotherly selves. Ugh.

Next time? I’ll manuever that path on my own. Aging may be inevitable, but misery, pain and old-lady rescues are not acceptable.

I am a yogi after all. God help me (third time for emphasis)!

Membership Program Answers “What’s Next?”

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After we threw a big party–the UNITE to Face Addiction Rally–for 25,000 at the base of the Washington Monument on October 4, people asked, “What’s next?”

Yesterday, Facing Addiction answered the question in a big way: What’s next is a national membership program that challenges how Americans deal with addiction.

I can say we because I write a lot of digital content for Facing Addiction. I can say deal with because the work will be comprehensive when it comes to shifting prevailing attitudes and beliefs around each and every aspect of our nation’s #1 health crisis. You can read more in co-founder Jim Hood’s article here.

Getting to work

Following the Rally in DC, we–or speaking for myself, I–sat in this space of feeling blown away by the event we pulled off. I mean, seriously, who does a first-time, national event in the non-profit world with Joe Walsh, Steven Tyler, Sheryl Crow, The Fray, and a bunch of actors and politicians?

Here’s the video recap (by the way, the guy in the military suit is the US surgeon general!):

Here’s the thing: people are paying attention. The ears of big-time influencers are perked up, intrigue is at an all-time high and Facing Addiction’s co-founders are meeting daily with people whose names would blow your mind. Mine gets blown on a regular basis and I’ve been involved for nearly a year!

Then there’s the work. We’re not slouching in the ambition department, folks. If you’re plugged into B Here Today socially, you’ll see references to the different target areas of Facing Addiction’s work throughout the remainder of the year. For a more detailed list of those areas, click here.

By the way, that link will also introduce you to the Become a Member page.

Membership in Facing Addiction

The comprehensive approach that Facing Addiction is taking to building programs and solutions to the addiction crisis will take an unfathomable amount of money. So, yes, your money is needed. But more than that, you are needed.

Your voice is needed. Your heart is needed. Your belief that we can become a branded organization that stands with the likes of the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association is needed.

Membership in Facing Addiction provides an opportunity that is rare in today’s “take your money and run” national non-profit world.  Parts of this membership package allow you access to unprecedented moments in history.

Don’t you want to own a part of the mission that completely reshapes how addiction and recovery are perceived? That shifts the problem from the halls of criminal justice to the hallways of healthcare facilities?Membership in Facing Addiction is all this and more!

Plus you get a t-shirt.

When my mom died of cancer more than five years ago, my family knew where to go for answers to impossible questions.

When it comes to addiction, the questions also seem impossible to answer. Facing Addiction is primed for the mission. We still need you! Sign up for membership today!

How to Be Mindful With Your Small Screens

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I read recently that awareness is a vast reservoir that holds each idea that stems from our outer selves–what we see, hear, taste, smell and touch–and from our inner selves–all things we feel and believe.

Because awareness is the big vat that holds it all, everything swirls together so that all awareness is equal. In other words, you can be aware that you’re seeing a beautiful sunset and be aware that you’re feeling peaceful and happy about seeing a beautiful sunset.

I’ve been wondering lately about whether compulsive social media use–Facebook, Twitter, Instagram–can filter awareness, or worse, block mindfulness.

Looking through a camera lens

My sweetie and I took a few days off last week and traveled to the Pacific coastal village of La Jolla, Calif. It’s one of our favorite places, probably because we met there 10 years ago. The seals and sea lions, massive cliffs with walk-through caves and the magenta sunsets hold a special place in our hearts.

I love watching the intense power of the sea as it crashes against the cliffs. The swirling white foam reminds of La Jolla foammarshmallow Fluff oozing over chocolate ice cream–my favorite sundae!

Of course I took lots of pictures with my iPhone. At some point, though, I became aware that by watching the phone’s screen to time a perfect picture, I missed watching the perfect timing on nature’s big screen.

By watching your phone's screen to time a perfect picture, you can miss the perfect timing on nature's big screen.… Click To Tweet

I had a similar experience last month at the UNITE to Face Addiction Rally in Washington, DC. Part of my job was to live-Tweet and Facebook the event–an incredible experience that I loved! But busily typing tweets (again, on a small screen) took my focus off the immediacy of the event.

I’m not complaining, but–here’s the awareness thing–I feel a smidge less mindful.

How do we find balance?

The Catch-22 for me, when it comes to social media, is that much of the work that I do in the addiction recovery and advocacy space involves being present to online activity and then responding. Nothing wrong with that.

I know I’m off-kilter and over-consuming when I find myself mindlessly cruising social feeds while waiting at an appointment, in line at the grocery-store, or (gasp!) stopped in traffic. No, I’m definitely not present in those moments.

I also know I’m overly focused on the small screen when I’m supposed to do something else, like a writing project, or journaling or some recovery work, and instead, I’m scrolling through Facebook.

Ah yes, we’re all guilty from time to time, and this post isn’t about shaming anybody, not even myself. What I do want to suggest is that you become more aware of how you may be putting filters between you and whatever your big screen happens to be.

There is a way for mindfulness and social media to coexist. The key word is awareness. Being aware and feeling aware keeps you conscious, mindful and connected to Life’s Big Screen. Here’s to beautiful scenery!