Recovery From Anything Equals a Healthier You

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I was in the Apple store earlier this week (and came out happy, but poor) and had a really cool conversation with Colten, my 20-something salesman, about the stigma of addiction recovery.  He was so surprised to learn that the woman standing before him was in recovery because, well, I wasn’t what he imagined a person in recovery would look like.

I think he thought I would be taller.

Actually, it was a terrific educational moment and after he loaded my new iMac in my car, Colten thanked me for sharing my story with him.  I said it was good of him to inquire about how I got into my line of work.

Then I asked Colten to tell a few of his friends that he’d talked to a woman in recovery that day.  Imagine how many conversations would start if those of us in recovery shared a bit of our story with one or two other people.

I know a person who . . .

Without fail, people tell me about someone they know who has addiction or is in recovery.  For Colten, it was a buddy who is sober and doing well.  But there for a while, it was ugly, he said, no doubt uglier because of shame or misinformation.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we talked about addiction and recovery without shame attached?

Truth is, everybody is recovering from something–that’s an ongoing conversation among some friends and me these days.  This kind of public dialog taking place on social media and face-to-face has great implications for the health of individuals, communities and society as a whole.

I started to insert a disclaimer here about the distinction between recovery from substance addiction, or drugs and alcohol, but decided not to.  That so-called distinction invites separation and degrees of recovery.  Any division is no good for the people trying to recover; in fact, it could end their desire for a more healthy lifestyle.

Stop with the comparisons and offer up inclusiveness

“I spilled more booze than you drank, kid.”  Sound familiar?  I heard that kind of backhanded support when I entered recovery.

What did I learn?  A couple of things:  1) There are people in recovery with enormous egos.  No shock there, right? 2) That it was up to me whether I wanted to lean on the distinction I’d been given–High Bottom Beth–or accept that just like the chronic whiskey spiller, I was addicted to alcohol but wanted recovery.

Twenty three years ago this month I chose the latter.  But here’s my point–in the long stretch of time since May of 1991 I’ve come to understand that there are other substances and behaviors to which I am addicted.  These things are unhealthy for me and I want to recover from being dependent on them.

I’ll not enumerate them here because I’d like for there to be no parameters around this particular conversation about recovery and health.

As a people, we’re competitive.  Who doesn’t like to think she’s more than you in some way?  I’m asking you to put competition aside and embrace a notion of global holistic health as a result of recovery from whatever you think causes dis-ease for you.

Can we do that?  Let’s grow in health together and accept each person’s desired recovery path.  What does a healthy recovery mean for you?

Photo courtesy of hotblack

Meet Recovery Carrier Cathy Taughinbaugh


Today’s post is the third in a series of interviews with folks across the nation (and maybe the world!) who live and breathe a life of recovery.  Please enjoy this chat with Recovery Coach Cathy Taughinbaugh.

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.” (, 2012)

When you hear the term “recovery carrier,” as it relates to addiction, what does that mean to you? Do you think you’re a recovery carrier?

For me the idea of being a recovery carrier means spreading the word about the benefits of recovery. I approach recovery as a family process and have experienced recovery from the standpoint of being a parent who has struggled with the substance use of my children. I see and hear about people everyday who are thriving and flourishing because they have made significant changes in their lives which affects everyone they love.CathyTree400

I carry the message of family recovery and my hope is that through my message and messages of others, more people can grow and thrive as they were meant to in a way that works for their particular situation.

How does being a recovery carrier affect your work as a coach for parents and vice versa?

My hope is to inspire the parents that I work with to find tools and strategies that will help them find recovery for themselves and in the process encourage their loved one who is struggling to find recovery as well. We all have our own path and while there are many solid strategies that family members can use, in the end we all make our own decisions about what path we chose to follow in life. The first step for many parents is to look at themselves and find ways that they can make their life better.

By being more at peace, parents are then more able to be of help to their children. Every parent I work with brings new ideas and energy to the conversation and that gives us both an opportunity to grow together.

From where you sit, what is the number one issue or challenge recovery carriers must address?

I talk to many parents who are overwhelmed with their child’s life choices to use substances and they are constantly torn between not letting their child take responsibility for their lives (enabling), or making the attempt to let go of their child’s situation. They hope that one of those two strategies will make a difference. There are many other things that parents can do, but many feel stuck in a situation that may have been going on for years.

(To read more of Cathy’s interview, click Cathy Taughinbaugh 4-14)

Photo courtesy of Natureworks

4 Mindful Women Share Secrets to Living Well

Success Starts Here Freeway Style Desert LandscapeOne of the benefits of living a life on purpose is that you get to meet other people doing the same.  And when like-minded, heart-connected seekers find each other, whoa, look out!  Great creative things are bound to happen.

I’ve seen so much good writing lately about presence, simplicity and deliberate thinking.  Today, I’d like to share blog posts from four friends of mine who walk their talk.  These gals are super-charged when it comes to mindfulness and they’re living with passion and integrity.

Positive Provocations

First up is Zeenat Merchant-Syal who writes a blog called Positive Provocations, a guide for healing with positivity, love and happiness.  Zeenat lives in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.  She is a practicing counseling psychologist, spiritual counselor and motivational speaker (plus a whole bunch of other things!).Zeenat Merchant Syal cropped 1-1

Zeenat wrote a sweet post earlier this month about realizing the sacredness of everyday moments, reveling in the moments when you love what you’re doing and letting yourself become absorbed by the simplicity of those moments.  Can you feel how alive you are in those moments?

Zeenat writes, “The true magic of being alive comes alive in these small but precious moments, which happen to us every single day and many times a day too.”  Read her post,”The Magic of Being Truly ALIVE.”

Jody Lamb

Jody is an author of a children’s book called Easter Ann Peters’ Operation Cool and a constant writer, especially through her work at a PR firm in Detroit.  She is also an advocate for kids and families that struggle with alcoholism.

Her writing is sometimes raw with emotion, sometimes funny and always passionate because Jody, like Zeenat, lives a full-on, all-in life.  She says we can’t feel fully alive without proper self-care. When jody lamb author photo headshot LOW RES-1we don’t mindfully take good care of ourselves, we’re vulnerable to attack, usually by our own thoughts.

Her recent post, “8 Ways to Deal With Anxiety” is a personal account of her very real experiences with anxiety attacks.  She happily reports that she is doing great today, but “anxiety is still around like a jerky former boyfriend who waits for an opp to show up on my doorstep at a vulnerable moment, knowing exactly what to say to make me instantly feel like crap about myself and the world.”

Be sure to check out her 8 tips and the rest of her work at

Always Well Within

Despite our best efforts to stay positive, practice mindfulness and be consciously in the moment, life has a way of reaching up and biting us on the butt.  Sandra Pawula, who writes the blog Always Well Within blog from her home in Hawaii, has done her share of fighting back against the well-armed butt-biters.

A self-proclaimed fix-it person, when Sandra was diagnosed with a debilitating, chronic disease 10 years ago, she became obsessed with finding a solution.

And she did find a solution, after years of struggle:  Accept the unacceptable. Sandra realized Sandra_PawulaOutside-300x225-1that though her illness defined her at that time, it didn’t have to forever.  And that meant letting go of why-me’s and other negative dominating thoughts, instead focusing on the things she could do.

Sandra let some thoughts die away so new, healthy thoughts could grow.  Mindful focus is really no different from nature’s changing seasons or relationships dying so others can birth.

“Proactively coming to peace with impermanence can help you accept the unwanted with greater equanimity,” she writes in this wonderful post “How to Accept the Unacceptable.”

The Bold Life

“Too many of us have accepted fear, doubt, routine and mediocrity as common ways of being,” writes Courage Coach and all-around cool gal Tess Marshall.

Tess reiterates the attitudes that Zeenat, Jody and Sandra embrace–keep your focus on what you can do, celebrate all victories and remain steadfast on positivity.  All these things require taking Tess Marshallbaby steps toward exchanging limiting thoughts for positive right now thoughts.

Nothing stays the same; we are in constant motion.  Impermanence is beautifully permanent and to keep up with perpetual change in our lives, we can’t simply think about change.  We have to do something different.

Read more in Tess’ post “What You Need to Know to Become Fully Alive.”

Sit for a moment with this wrap-up mindful question from Tess:

“What would your world look and feel like if you courageously committed to choosing the thoughts and taking the actions that manifested in more energy, vitality and aliveness?”

The world awaits you, my friends.  Go in peace, go in love, go in mindfulness.

Many thanks to Zeenat, Jody, Sandra and Tess for inspiring this post!

Photo courtesy of FlashBuddy

Meet Recovery Carrier Kim Manlove


Today post is the second in a series of interviews with folks across the nation (and maybe the world!) who live and breathe a life of recovery.  Please enjoy this chat with Kim Manlove, director of the Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition (IAIC)

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.” (, 2012)

When you hear the term “recovery carrier,” as it relates to addiction, what does that mean to you?  Do you think of yourself as a recovery carrier?

For me it harkens back to my early days in 12 step fellowships when I first heard the phrase Carrying the Message. Obviously the expression at that time was primarily designed to carry the message of the Kim for Bethparticular fellowship I was attending.  Yet almost from the beginning it held a broader connotation for me.

Like many today who suffer from the disease of addiction, I was a poly-substance abuser and found myself, in the beginning, forced to choose between fellowships.  I was discouraged to talk about or name my other allegiances in some meetings and frequently chafed at this bit of admonition.   That’s why in the first few years after entering treatment for addiction I began to introduce my myself in all my 12 step fellowship meetings by saying “my name is Kim and I am in recovery from addiction.”

So today, and for many years now, instead of my “carrying the message” of a particular 12 step fellowship, I carry the message of recovery and am a very proud carrier of recovery!

You work in the field (please give your title and where you work) but obviously do so much more for the cause.  Can you describe your other activities and tell me why you do them?

I am Director of the Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition.  IAIC is the only statewide recovery advocacy organization in Indiana with its primary mission to advocate for those in the substance disorder recovery community.  We are engaged in a variety of recovery support activities as well as the establishment of a statewide recovery advocacy organization involved in training and educating people in recovery about the mental health/behavioral health care system, the process of policy and systems change, and advocacy for recovery.

(To read the rest of Kim’s interview, click Kim Manlove 3-14).

Photo courtesy of quicksandala

3 Dog Stories to Warm Your Heart

SusieI am a sucker for dogs, all animals really, but put a canine in front of me–pictures, video, Facebook, or nose-to-nose–and I melt.

Since my childhood was dog-less, I’m making up for lost time.

Two weeks ago, on World News with Diane Sawyer 3/4/14, there was a story about Susie, a rescued senior dog (The link shows an adorable video!) that became wildly popular after a blog video of her went viral.  Her adopted parents even started a Facebook page–Susie’s Senior Dogs–that creates families from senior dogs in shelters and people from all over the country.

Dogs are considered seniors when they are eight to 10, depending on their size, genetics and care they’ve received.  Susie is 13.  Since most adopting families go for puppies or young dogs, choosing a senior dog takes, well, a special breed of person.

The senior dog adopters have to be willing to be mindful of their sweet baby’s needs–lots of love, affection and attention.  Yes, you’ll be setting yourself up for heartbreak sooner rather than later, but think of how you’ll create a gentle haven for a dog’s final years.

Go to

Canine Companions for Independence

A dear friend of mine volunteers for the Kansas City chapter of CCI, so I’m forever “liking” her Facebook posts.  These dogs, as the CCI tagline reads, are “exceptional dogs for exceptional people,” and after thorough training, are paired with children, adults and veterans with disabilities who need assistance.  CCI’s site explains there are teams:

  • Service Teams – assist adults with physical disabilities by performing daily tasks.
  • Hearing Teams – alert the deaf and hard of hearing to important sounds.
  • Skilled Companion Teams – enhance independence for children and adults with physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities.
  • Facility Teams – work with a professional in a visitation, education or healthcare setting

There are CCI chapters all over the country and many ways to volunteer.  The Facebook page has fabulous pictures:

Best Friends Animal Society

Tucked away in Angel Canyon in Kanab, Utah, is the Best Friends Sanctuary, home to some 1,700 dogs, cats, bunnies, horses and birds in various stages of rehab and care.  Best Friends owns about 3,700 acres, leases another 17,000 acres of state and federal land and relies on the help of some 30,000 volunteers who visit the sanctuary annually.

Best Friends is the largest no-kill facility for companion pets in the country.  It’s motto is Save Them All.

My sweetie and I are going there someday to volunteer.  We can rent a cabin right in the canyon and even have a sleepover with one of the adoptable dogs.

Beyond the sanctuary, a legion of staff and volunteers advocate tirelessly on behalf of the animals, whether it be puppy mill initiatives, pit bull initiatives or one of several other programs.  Click here for more information.

Loving a dog–whether for a few days or throughout her or his lifetime–is a spiritual and mindful quest.  I believe that loving is what we’re here to do and loving a dog is guaranteed extra points when our scorecard is tallied at the end.  After all, what happens when you spell D-O-G backward?

Photo courtesy of Susie’s Senior Dogs Facebook page (Susie herself!).  For information about how you can adopt a senior dog in your area, email  And you have to love this from the page:  “Age is a privilege.”