Posts Tagged "recovery"

We Do, You Will Recover

Early morning dew covers the windows, a sure sign of high humidity outside. My heart is heavy with mourning the news of devastation from coastal Texas. Rockport and Port A are destroyed, while 85 percent of Houston is underwater.
Hurricane Harvey is one of America’s greatest natural disasters and probably the most horrific to ever hit Texas.

The images are heartbreaking. Like a moth to a flame, I’m drawn to the news, to friends’ reports, even to the detriment of my heart. There’s no survivor’s guilt; we’re too far away for that. But for the first time since I’ve lived in this Big Red state, I feel a sense of pride as I watch my fellow Texans reach out and down and over to lift a neighbor or a stranger.

One of the photos I saw last week on Facebook was the entrance to River Oaks, one of, if not, THE, most affluent neighborhoods in Houston. Water was at least halfway up the massive stone entry, proving that natural disasters, like addiction, have no respect for how much money, property or prestige a person holds.

That’s why the outstretched hands I see of National Guardsman, rescue workers, regular people, means so much to my aching heart. They are hands of hope, not really so different from the hands of recovery. In each case, we must surrender to a power greater than ourselves, as well as to the helplessness we feel in whatever our current situation.

I suppose the thousands–tens of thousands, in all likelihood–displaced by Massive Storm Harvey will similarly feel all the disaster-related feelings of early sobriety, like anger, grief and intense sadness. I am so very sorry they must go through the gut-wrenching pain that comes with substantial loss.

And yet, they go on. Somehow, they live day-by-day. Thank God for the faith that so many have. They’ll need each other and will no doubt lean on the kindness and generosity of strangers.

As with early recovery, each 24-hour period is made easier when we choose to not go it alone. Talking, sharing our feelings and fears with others who know exactly what is on our hearts and minds builds a healing bridge, a bond that can last for a long time.

I hope and pray that folks in South Texas–Port Lavaca, Port Aransas, Rockport, Lagrange, Corpus Christi, Galveston, and Houston–will feel the love that their fellow Texans are sending their way. I know that my Dallas-area family is stretching it’s collective reach with money and time and heartfelt love.

Brothers and sisters to the south, know that our minds see you as healing from this unfathomable tragedy. We’re here for you, no matter how long it takes. Let us know what you need and it’s yours. Consider us your recovery sponsors, through the ups and downs of this early recovery road.

May God bless you and keep you warm and soothed–and dry.

And Still I Rise

“And still I rise,” Maya Angelou nearly cries out the refrain in her achingly beautiful poem that feels wholly comforting to souls that wake weary these mornings.

I wrote Angelou’s words in my journal on January 16th, the day we celebrated the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. On that day, so many gave pause to honor the man whose eloquent voice rang out, “I have a dream,” in what seems a lifetime ago when considering today’s tumultuous times.

On August 28, 1963, when King called for an end to racism and for civil and economic rights, I’m sure many dared to hope as they hadn’t for a very long time.

And now, here we are, perched hesitantly on thin branches as the new president threatens hopelessness again. Oh God, I pray it isn’t so.

Maybe this 10-day-old period of rushed presidential edicts will turn into an eventual time of quieter order and understanding–miracles do still occur. In the meantime, we cannot ignore the real civil uprising that is occurring in cities and towns across our still-great nation.

The people need to speak. They need to be seen. They need to raise their voices against what seems at the moment like abuse of power.

Now is a time for care and caution. As a person in long-term recovery, I am not immune from rapidly accelerating thoughts that can lead to wrong action. I urge all my brothers and sisters in recovery to stay vigilant on their respective recovery paths and to stay “prayed up.”

Remember too that no one can take your joy or change you without your permission. Hear the rest of Angelou’s words:

“You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.”

In the Daily Word  on January 16, the passage about the word Dream, read, “I must act, pursue, and above all else, live in faith-filled awareness.”

I must remember that my life is about action now, not passivity laced with complaint. The latter was a part of my old life.

Today, I have a dream. I have a purpose. I will rise.

From James 1:25: “But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act–they will be blessed in their doing.”

25 Years of One Day at a Time

Becky and Me Step-Repeat

Within 25 years, one generation begats the next. A child is born, grows up, graduates college and starts a career.

Twenty five years ago, Tim Berners-Lee introduced the web browser and the internet was made available for unrestricted commercial use. The U.S. was involved in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The 911 emergency system was tested in northwestern cities.

On May 20, 1991, in Independence, Mo, I admitted I was powerless over alcohol and made a decision to try to stay sober one day at a time. I was 30 years old and had no idea what was in store for me. All I knew was something had to change–if it didn’t I would probably kill myself.

Fast forward 25 years

Anyone who invests in his or her recovery eventually stumbles upon a milestone. Gosh, I sure didn’t know one would arrive so quickly!

Early on, there were things I had to do to stay sober. I worked with a sponsor, went to a ton of 12-step meetings, read literature and got involved in service work. Generally, I did what I was told because that’s how it worked for millions before me.

As a few years piled up, life got better and I grew more comfortable living life without alcohol. I found out that people who drink socially didn’t really understand alcoholism or its basis in medical conditions. Friends and people close to me fell away, or at a minimum held me at arm’s length, never quite sure what to make of me.

People didn’t talk about addiction back then, not outside of church basements and smoky meeting rooms. No, 25 years ago, the public talked about “those people who could quit if they really wanted to.”

Today, thankfully, we’ve made much progress when it comes to seeing addiction as a treatable health condition. The world of recovery has changed a bit for the better, although we have a long, long way to go in ridding the collective public mind of reasons to shame “those people.”

The next 25 years and beyond

There is still so much to be done because only one out of 10 people who needs treatment for addiction gets it. Someone dies every four minutes in this country.

Think about that for a second–every four minutes. That’s about 350 people each day. Then think of a fully-loaded airplane falling from the sky every day in America. Every single day.

On October 4, 2015, more than 25,000 of us staked a claim in the soggy ground around the Washington Monument in our nation’s capital. We were UNITE to Face Addiction and on that day, we ended the silence around how we treat addiction in this country.

I’m privileged to work with Facing Addiction, the national non-profit birthed on that muddy day in DC. We want to reduce the human and social costs of addiction year-by-year until this devastating public health crisis ends.

You see, I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve spent the last 20 years working in the field of prevention, treatment and recovery and I’ve always been pretty open about my recovery. Now, at 25 years of sober time and 55 years on the planet, I’m through hiding anything about who I am.

Now it’s time to figure out how I can really be of service. I’m talking big picture, as in, what’s my purpose, why am I here and how can I best be of service? Not small questions, to be sure, but I think I’m up to the task of finding the answers.

One day at a time that is.

The Year of Yes!

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January 2016 is nearly old news–wait, WHAT? I haven’t yet written about my word for the year and now you’re telling me the year is 1/12th finished?

My word for the year, by the way, is joy. Seems a little anti-climatic to announce it now, though.

Sigh. I can’t keep up.

Hold on–there will be no sighing or whining. This is 2016, my friends, my year, your year (if you’d like to make it so!)!

This is the year of the double-nickel anniversary of my birth. This is the year of my 25th recovery anniversary. Oh man, and I just heard today that the National Recovery Month BIG rally will be in Dallas this year! My metro!

So what should I do to celebrate? Joy as my word is big, but clearly, I need to go bigger. I know just the ticket–let’s make 2016 the Year of Yes!

The year of what?

Let me explain. A few weeks back, while strolling through Barnes & Noble doing one of my favorite activities, I happened upon a book called Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes.

Rhimes, writer and producer of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and other dynamite television shows, was an introverted, workaholic, homebody, single mother of three who really just wanted to write her shows and be with her daughters.

During Thanksgiving, 2014, Rhimes’ oldest sister accused, in a concerned, big-sister way, “you never say yes to anything.”

It was Game On for Rhimes.  What follows is a memoir that relates her encounters with saying yes to party invitations, delivering speeches, more play and less work, speaking her whole truth, her body (She lost more than 100 pounds.), letting go of toxic people and the list goes on. Rhimes writes:

Say yes to everything for a year.

This is it. It’s happening. And now that it is here, saying yes stops being just a vague idea. Now the reality of what I am embarking upon sends my brain thundering around inside of my skull.

Say yes?

There’s no way to plan. There’s no way to hide. There’s no way to control this. Not if I am saying yes to everything.

Yes to everything scary.

So it’s game on

2016 is my Year of Yes. Want to join me? Yes to everything scary?

I am the introverted writer who shies away from social commitments and just wants to homebody with the dogs and my sweetie.

Time to stretch. You only turn 55 once.

I’m keeping a weekly list–here’s the simple criteria for making the list (although I’ll say yes to much more): Does the object of the yes create an opportunity for me to mindfully connect with others or will it further my spiritual walk?

It’s going to be fun to look back on this list a year from now in January, 2017. Where will my yeses take me? Who will I meet? Will old relationships become new again? What new relationships will gel? Where will I go and what new opportunities will arise?

I’ve already said yes to more fun, to recovery, to my health and to lowering my defenses and realizing that I need a tribe. More to come on that piece.

Rhimes writes, “This Yes is about giving yourself the permission to shift the focus of what is a priority from what’s good for you over to what makes you feel good.”

Oh that feels good. Are you saying yes? What are you saying yes to? 

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!