Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Affirmations and Goals

The start of a new year, means letting go of 2012 and remembering the positive. It's all a thought, you can control where these thoughts will take you for 2013. Work your program, don't get complacent, or over confident. The reward is being in control, and staying in the moment. Each day, say your affirmation, " I am a good person, I like my self when I'm in control and working through struggle in a positive way". Check in with your self daily, 1-10, where is your mood? Complete your hygiene, and take your medication with three healthy meals. Go to work, volunteer, or stay active during your day with trying new hobbies and new things. Make your meetings, and other mental health appointments. Exercise when you have some free time, or are working through a urge or craving. Journal your thoughts through out your day, letting the negative go. Communicate with others in that same day allowing self to vent, but listen at the same time. When it is fun time, take advantage of this time and enjoy your self while validating how important it is that you replace the negative using, purging, gambling, and unhealthy sexual behavior with something fun! At the end of the day reflect on what worked for you and where your challenges were. Take this personal time and feel good about your self, give your self the credit, for being in control. Understand that some days we all struggle but have the ability to work through any thought when we are in control. The reward is being able to run the healthy routine back, and live clean for another day! Goals through out this new year will be building healthy interpersonal relationships, understanding we can work through grief and loss and be able to be honest with our self while accepting validation and feedback from others in a positive way!  Let self make positive decisions, and learn to accept where you are now, not in the past or in the present. When you are balanced you win, and everyone around you will see the positive energy! Each thought, with  positive behavior will allow you to speak without words, and demonstrate your healthy behavior with honesty! Your higher power will guide you through anything, give it a chance, have faith! It's your higher power, use it for you. Learn to acknowledge your higher power every day, and feel the positive energy with it. Finally, let's have fun with our daily routine,  and experience new things which bring you joy! Fun is the key component into building your recovery. Remember addiction is a substitute satisfaction for an unmet need. You can create new, positive needs that bring you pleasure when you are in the moment. My goals for all of you, and self included this 2013 will be to recognize and understand you can like and love your self again. You have the strength to balance your life and thoughts for you, when you utilize common sense. Grow with your higher power, and be open to new things. Have fun each day in what you do. Stay in your health, stay in the moment!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Phone call

It was -7 below with wind chill, a balmy sun up above and this writer was ready for some "self" time on a Minnesotan lake Christmas day! There were a few other's taking part on this great ice fishing day spread across the bay. I pulled the sled, and found my spot- or hoped to find the fishing spot of the day. Set up my ice house, and began to enjoy the real treasures of mother nature as I feel the energy getting stronger as I come to drill my hole in the ice. Finally, I get the task done, I use a old school auger as true Minnesotans use. Out of breath, I scamper into my ice house, and begin to reflect on how important that this writer can enjoy a couple of hours of pure bliss! The phone rings, I do not recognize this area code, but feel it is important I answer it. A young man's voice fills the ice house, one of stress, and panic. I sit down in my chair, and begin to listen. He is struggling, and apparently has no where else to call. I briefly tell him what I do, and begin to listen. My pole is bending, I watch it then stop. The man quickly becomes silent, I begin to talk. We talk for 30 minuets, he appears stable, and we have a positive plan. I feel lucky to be his phone call on Christmas. We all need support, and for what ever reason, this phone call was another Christmas gift to this writer. I'm hoping he is following through with the plan. I believe that a phone call can make the world of difference, regardless of how dire the feeling is. Back to ice fishing, I did not catch anything on this trip, but I did have the opportunity to listen and provide feedback to someone who really needed it. Remember, a phone call can be the first step in getting help, don't let your pride get in the way, so you to can find your "self" time, and listen to someone when they reach out. Stay in your health, stay in the moment!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sick on Xmas

Things happen for a reason. This writer fervently believes this statement, preaching these exact words to the people I try and help or support. Well, unfortunately the germ bug has hit me hard as I try and get the strength to type this. Then I have to stop, and think. Wonder if I had to live with this feeling, weakness, symptoms every day, not just on Xmas? You know there all people all around the world that are sick, every day, every week, and continue to be sick. Sometimes that bug does not leave them, as I know mine will. My heart goes out to those families, elderly and children. Sick or not, I am blessed to be part of your reading today, and want you to give some positive energy to someone who needs it, deserves it, and maybe is not expecting it. This is a special time for addicts and families all over our earth. Recovery to some may be the greatest gift of all. I think we all know someone or have been linked to a family who is struggling with addiction. My Xmas wish for all of you, as I'm under the weather so to speak, is to find those thoughts, and let those thoughts become positive so you can share them with someone who really needs that positive energy! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Monday, December 10, 2012

How to change a thought?

Changing destructive, dysfunctional, unhealthy behavior is as simple as changing the thought into something positive. This writer is a big subscriber in understanding how self has the power to change the thought at the time of the negative. The power of thought is for self to pick and choose which thoughts are healthy and unhealthy. The brain is a powerful entity that you can control! Each craving or urge you have the power to let go, and change that thought to something positive. Unhealthy behavior prides itself on you making negative choices and taking destructive risks that enable you to be out of control. The impacts of negative behavior, lead back to the addiction cycle. Common sense is part of the process in the understanding how self can use the brain. Each negative thought you have the choice to make it bigger. When self cognitively makes the thought bigger, you become more anxious. This can lead to relapse for some addicts. Now let's use your common sense. If you already know that addiction is destructive, why allow the thoughts to get bigger? The risk is not worth the reward. If it were, then the reward would be one of the following while you were using: healthy interpersonal relationships, positive self-esteem, working through grief/loss and liking/loving self. Start changing the negative thoughts into positive thoughts when struggle is present. Learn to struggle in a healthy way when self can control their thoughts. Try this the next time you have a negative thought or strong urge/craving. The next thought needs to be positive. Make it positive, think of something that gives you validation, a warm feeling, inner strength or healthy fun! Now think about how much positive energy that you get when thinking about this thought. Play it forward in your head. This is where your common sense it pivotal. Trying to go back and rethink the negative thought won't give you positive anything! The positive thought will give you a reward. You are in control of your thoughts now. Know matter how compulsive they may be, you still can change it, and slow down the thinking process. Take a breath, after you begin to change the thought. Exercising is a perfect way to keep the positive thoughts going after you were thinking about something negative. Give yourself credit for changing that thought. Journal about your experience. Self has common sense, use it! It starts with self, then we have to balance are thoughts, letting go of the negative. Utilize your higher power for you! It can be anything you want. Finally, have fun being in control of your thoughts. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Isolation

Tis the season that brings unwanted isolation to people in and out of recovery. Many of our clients and referred patients from care providers seem to struggle with isolation. It is important for self to be able to recognize isolation behaviors, before they get out of control. Remember isolation behavior starts as a thought. Self can control the thought if aware of the pattern. When you become less interested in things that you normally do on your daily routine can be a warning sign. Slowly you may begin to sleep longer throughout the day and stop doing your daily hygiene is another early sign that isolation behavior is lingering. Self begins to break off all communication with others. Family is usually first, followed by friends, and then peers. Self stops going to meetings, and all other mental health appointments. Your daily routine becomes more of a isolation routine. Being by yourself is not healthy during this time of the year. Reach out when you begin to feel any of these warning signs, do not let yourself get back into this unhealthy cycle. Relapse is right around the corner when self is stuck isolating. Remember, it's ok to have a urge or craving, but it's how much energy you are going to put into that urge or craving. Let it go, it's just a thought. Isolating behavior will only make things worse, learn to recognize the warning signs and talk about it. If you keep to your healthy routine, isolation behavior is cut off. Use your common sense, be active, and willing to work through the behavior. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Look around

How many times does self get to absorbed of what is currently going on in their life? Life can be full-throttle at times. Throw in the holiday's expectations, events, and self can be totally enamored with things to do, right? When you are feeling rushed, this is the time to look around you. What do you see? Take that extra time and appreciate where you are right now. Enjoy the drive into work, back home, to the market, dropping off the kids at their events. Take that extra time and look around you, feel the energy, instead of missing all the wonderful things that you are taking for granted when you are focused on things that will get done one way or another. Practice looking around you in everything you do. My guess is that you will be shocked to see what you have been missing when your going full speed! You may recognize things that bring you peace, harmony, and positive energy. We stress ourselves on being the best we can be, which can be a positive goal. But, we need to be balanced to be our best and look around to see what is out there. Some of us follow our routine to the tee, which can be healthy, but forget that when we are on our routine, we need to look around and see what is happening in this world. Did you recognize the new building going up, or the new person who moved into your neighborhood? What about the new co-worker in your department, or a new painting in the cafeteria? Maybe a new family in your church or a new tree that has been planted in your favorite park where you walk your dog. All of these things are present, self has to look around to see them! Take the time to look around this holiday season, you have the ability to see, feel, and experience things that may give you positive energy. When self is present, thoughts become balanced, your higher power will guide you, and fun is around the corner if you are looking around! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Group with Senior's

The other night was a special night. One of our group members decided he was going to share his road to recovery with our group. This particular member, (who suggested that I blog about his story) is a retired businessman who lost his wife a year ago to the day. He had used alcohol for 20 years of his life, and in his opinion, never had a drinking problem. He got his first drinking citation last summer. He was court ordered to classes, and the regular monitoring. The A.A. program did not meet his needs in his words, nor did inpt treatment. He actually told our group three months ago that he could quit on a drop of a dime. The story continues as this older man, was socializing with one of his drinking buddies, and was saying goodbye to the happy hour gang. His friend appeared to be struggling with some health issues, and as he left his bar chair, his friend fell out of his chair. A mild heart attack, quickly, our older gentlemen telling the story, tried to help his friend, but he was too intoxicated to meet the challenge. The bar was dead empty, at 9:30 am on a Tuesday. Finally after a couple of horrible minuets, a waitress appeared, and called 911. The man was taken to the hospital, and was listed in critical condition. This happened last Tuesday as the story goes. The group member telling the story, has been clean for 9 days. He reports the worst 9 days of his life, but at the same time, 9 days in which he is learning how to stay in his health, and stay in the moment. Yes he can drink at any second, but at this second he is choosing not to. After telling his story, our small group offered him support and thanked him for his words. I was waiting patiently to say something, biting my tongue, and then as he walked to his chair, he turned around, and said, "I was the man who fell out of the chair, and was taken to the hospital". Sometimes it takes inner strength to come clean with self, then others, or others then self! There is no time table for recovery, no certain age, there is only the opportunity for self to change at any time! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Probation and Supervision

Many of our clients are put on probation or supervision during their recovery time. Some are coming right from the half-way house, sober-house, or even jail and prison. In some cases some are still incarcerated, and take part in our addiction services groups at their facility. Other clients are given one more chance to glean and work our program who were court appointed. What ever the case, when it comes for self to work through their probation or supervision, depending on if it is a state probation or a federal government supervision, there are hurdles to jump. We teach our  clients not to make things bigger in their head. We try and emphasize this point first, when they are in custody, and teach them how self can stay in their health, balance their thoughts, utilize their own higher power (what ever that may be) and have fun know matter where they are in a healthy, appropriate way! The hardest thing for these clients is being able to continue a healthy routine which allows them to transition from a highly monitored situation, to back on the streets, learning how to balance their probation and supervision with their own freedom. I can't tell you how many times I have this very talk with each client who is waiting to discharge their probation or supervision, or just beginning their probation and supervision. The point being, do not deviate from your routine. Keep it real. Don't get overwhelmed with with a probation officer who does not see eye to eye with you or think you are not in control of your thoughts. Exercise is something that you implemented when you may have been incarcerated or you began to exercise when you got on probation or supervision, keep that healthy routine up.  One thought at a time, appreciate all of the hoops you continue to jump through, and give self credit for making it through, one thought at a time. Remember, you are not on probation or supervision for ever, but you are learning how to handle those urges and cravings, and not act upon them which did not help you in your past, sometimes may have even contributed to your breaking the law. Impulsive behavior did not help you! Use your probation and supervision to help self stay balanced, accountable, and begin to recognize that your old, dysfunctional, addictive behavior, is something that you are not doing. Recovery is the goal! It does not matter where you start to recover, locked up or not. Don't make your probation or supervision, as bad as it needs to be. You control those thoughts, the reward of being off probation and supervision is that you did it clean, and you will continue to be clean, when self makes positive decisions with positive energy. This positive energy for you can start when you are incarcerated or when you are on probation or supervision. Self can control these thoughts. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Counting and skipping

One of the things that I get frustrated with when dealing with other helpers is there lack of understanding when it comes to females who are diagnosed with a eating disorder. This particular addiction in this writer's opinion is all about control. Client's with anorexia suffer from this perceived notion that counting foods and skipping meals are healthy for them, and in the long run will help them address their unmet needs. This is completely false. When a client, male or female, is skipping a meal and then counting their snacks, or eating half of their portion, drinking half of their portion, they slowly think they are in control. What are they really controlling? They are only controlling a negative behavior, that will soon cycle into a eating disorder that will not help them solve any of their unmet needs. When self begins to count and skip meals the negative energy begins. Self begins to fool self, or trick self, into thinking that the shape they see in the mirror, is what will make them happy, and content. That body image will bring them their needs instantly. Well, that simply is not true. Self needs to learn how to feel good about what they eat, and how they can accept their own body, on their own terms. Purging meals is not the answer to get self validation. Self needs to learn how to eat things that bring positive energy. Keeping track of how many things we eat, and obsessing over how many of what self can eat will not work. Many clients with anorexia and who are bulimic are picky eaters, that is a fact. But, it does not need to be a reason to continue the path you may be on. It all starts with how you view your self. Don't make things bigger in your head. Learn to understand that your body and mind can work together in learning to like and love self again. Exercise is healthy, but we need to give the body food in order to keep exercising. Clients need to let the impulsive behavior go, and focus on the things they can control. Counting and skipping meals is not something we want to control. Your own body can be a beautiful thing, but you need to learn how to accept it, on your terms. When your body can eat healthy, positive energy comes from it. Give yourself credit when you are able to recognize that you are beginning to count and skip meals. Then, resist that urge, and find something positive in your life, you control that thought, and understand that eating a full meal, will only help you retain positive energy. Your body can be what you want if you are willing to learn to like who is in it! Self has the power to control healthy thoughts, and let the negative thoughts go before they turn into a impulsive behavior that does not help you with your unmet needs. One thought at a time, don't count your food, don't skip meals, learn to validate yourself with positive energy while eating all meals and feeling good about it. The reward is that is something you can control, and feel the positive energy! Don't beat yourself up from your last purge, recognize that behavior is not helping you, only draining your energy and how you view self. Focus on your next thought, when it is time to enjoy your meal, slow down, and think positive. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Understand

Over the years I have found the hardest thing to do sometimes is to teach others how to understand each other instead of judging each other first. This premise became evident in our small group intervention yesterday. All parties agreed to share this story in order to help others who may be facing the same challenges in their life today. I have been working with this family on and off over the last four years. The mother, has been in many groups of mine in treatment. She recently found her significant other, and is working through her recovery while raising a adopted child who is very precious. Her significant other was married before to a male, and just recently realized her own sexuality. Both women are now starting a life together, working through each other's past challenges and trying to raise their child in a healthy, open, loving way. The first challenge started with self, and for each person in this interpersonal relationship to understand that they need to be clean, in recovery to be the best parent and partner for each other. Both women have been sexually abused, one has been servery raped five years ago, by her husband. Fast forward to the present day, both women are in therapy, and attend support groups, while working on their self each day learning to balance their thoughts, utilizing their higher power for more support, and finding fun in their life again. The family decided to enrol their beautiful son, who is in pre-school now into a private school, hoping their kid can be transitioned into a supportive school system that accepts all kinds of people, regardless of the sexuality of the parents. Both parents of this child are highly educated and hold productive jobs in society. One is a social worker, the other a lawyer. I got the emergency call over this last weekend saying that the school administration was concerned about the families, "well being" and they were not a school that promoted drug use, especially with what they labeled as "troubled parents". As I got the collateral information over the phone, and in our small group intervention I began to understand the school's reaction. They did not understand that people who go through recovery, and people who finally find their own sexuality that makes them happy with them self was a appropriate balance for their families, teachers, and administration of the school. My job was to educate the school, and let them know, respectfully, how to understand each other, and understand that self is able to grow when self is faced with adversity, challenges, but more important, when self can face it's past, and move forward in life. I talked to the vice principal of the school for 45 minuets yesterday via phone. It was amazing to hear the disconnect in our community on what erroneous assumptions are made from being gay, and working through recovery. I then was able to speak, and slowly construct a time line for this vice principal, and begin to educate this person on how to understand instead of judge regardless of one's own lack of ignorance. Both parents have been clean of addiction for two plus years, and both parents are staying in their health. There are two things that I would like you to understand about this story as I delivered my message to the principal. One, building healthy  interpersonal relationships for kids at school has nothing to do with their parents sexuality, or their challenges. Two, schools become stronger as a whole, when their staff, and kids, and parents, are able to educate themselves on how important it is to understand each other, and not judge, regardless of one's own opinion. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wheel of Life

Many times during my groups through out the month, I will commence with drawing the customary circle, which is called the, "Wheel of Life".  I break it down into quadrants, labeling each section with life's components in which we all need to balance! Many of you are familiar with this exercise. For the one's that are not it is important to be honest with self's level of satisfaction. The wheel of life is something that we all can use to address where are energy is going, and what we value our current level of strength. The key is to understand that life is about putting positive energy into the things that give us balance, and in return we stay in the moment.  In this exercise, I use the following topics as are dividers: Health, Family and Friends, Career, Physical Environment, Money, Fun and Recreation, Significant Other, and Spirituality/Personal Growth. We go around the room and define each heading. Then I ask each person on a scale of 1-10, (for those who know me and get the opportunity to work with me, that 1-10 scale is evident in a array of things we do here at addiction services) to place their level of satisfaction on each of the topics. Remember after the circle is drawn, it is divided into 8 sections, like a pie! After each person ranks their levels of satisfaction, we then go around the room and have that person explain their wheel of life. Yesterday, during group, we had 14 people, complete this exercise. The last person, did something that I have never seen in all the years that I have been facilitating groups. This person, put all their numbers, (8 of them- 8 topics) into one piece of the pie! Any ideas of what that heading was? She put her numbers into the section called, Fun and Recreation. The class automatically said, "Tod, she can't do that, she is not following directions in the wheel of life". All of sudden, she walked up to the chalk board, and drew lines from all of the categories to the Fun and Recreation piece. She looked at the group and replied that her wheel of life is all about fun, and that when she stopped using drugs, her health, family and friends, career, physical environment, money, significant other, and spirituality with personal growth became fun again! We all clapped our hands, she has been clean for two years now, she is 38. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A feel good application

Yesterday I had the pleasure of helping one of our client's find housing. As some of you know this task can be filled with stress and anxiety if we do not let our negative thoughts go. One of the key components in recovery is finding suitable housing for the client. The place they call home can be a positive affirmation that resonates daily. Finding housing can be very challenging at times. There are absurd application fee's, back ground check fee's, double deposits, you all know the fee stuff! It can be very expensive and time consuming. Self really needs to stay in their health, and not make things bigger. The story continues as we found a potential housing community for this client, which appears to be a safe, relaxing, and affordable nest with beautiful views. We take the tour, the client appears to really being enjoying the opportunity to find her digs, and her own independence. We were fortunate to have a wonderful leasing representative who made the tour fun and enjoyable. Sitting down in her office we then get the numbers, ouch, there were added fee's that as the client looked at me, and I looked at her, we shared the same disbelief look! Our vivacious leasing representative, appeared to have this plan, or actually a game where we could lower the fee's. The unique game involved a bean bag, (three of them) and a wooden box 15 feet away in the galley office, where this special promotion suggested that the "lucky" contestant would and could for each bean bag thrown perfectly in the small hole, 15 feet away, could get their fee's waved with each bean bag going in the hole! My poor client, is looking at me, really Tod, how am I going to do this. Then it hit me! My addiction specialist powers were being called upon from up above, trying to remember desperately where I gleaned this skill in my clinical training, or intern, or shadowing, nope, that skill was never gleaned in my academic training. So I reached deep, down in my positive energy tool box. I respectfully walked over to the hole and dropped the bean bag first in it, to make sure it was not rigged. Come on now, I was a carny game player too in county fairs back in the day! It was all good. I looked at my client, she did not have the extra $ to be putting down on all these fees! First throw, boom baby, right in the hole. The leasing agent jumped up, and shouted no $40.00 application fee. The second throw boom baby, right in the center, pure swish. The leasing agent now kind of frowned, and said no $100.00 administration fee! The final throw, a "Dan Marino" throw I might add, boom, right in the middle. Our leasing agent, then goes wow, unbelievable, that has never been done! All fee's waved for your client. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

You don't need to be asked to help someone

This is a true story that happened yesterday in our addiction education group. I was contracting out in another helping community and was waiting for the group members to come into our room. Directly in front of me was a woman who was dropping off her son as it turns out. Her son was not to hip on going to the group it appeared from his body language. As I began to shut the door, I noticed the woman was writing down somethings on her pad, while taking quick breaks to look up into the ceiling, and then jot more things down. I'm facilitating our group, and it was time for a break. The group members scatter outside, and I see the woman that was once there in the chair outside of our meeting place was gone. I walked outside for some fresh air, and there she was again. This time sitting behind a tree and appeared to be writing things down again, but this time four of my group members were over there. Her son, was 5 feet in front of me, smoking a cigarette. I asked him what was going on over there by the tree? He replied, go find out dude! Well, my curiosity was a running. I walked over to the tree, quickly, we only had 5 minuets left before group started. I then witnessed the lady on the ground, drawing what looked like tiny faces, and as I looked closer, hey- one of those faces was mine. Then the other people I saw my group faces. The group members were telling the lady what they were feeling, and how the face she was drawing, appeared to be accurate with the person. I asked respectfully to the lady, what made you draw these wonderful faces. She looked at me, and wrote, you don't need to be asked to help someone. I was in awe, a smile came across my face, a energy that was so strong, I almost felt dizzy. She was deaf, but she was there to help others. Wow, what a moment. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Being bullied but listening first!

Yesterday we had the wonderful opportunity to revisit our friends on the reservation. We did our reflection walk, and enjoyed the chants as we talked about what we saw and heard during the journey. As a group we decided to draw our experiences in the sand with wood sticks! Then the strangest thing happened. One of our new group members, he is 17 began to tell us about what it is like to be bullied by others. I decided to let him play out his words, almost stopping him twice in mid sentence, but was using the spirits above to guide him. As he talked, and spoke with rage, I followed the other teens faces and their body language. It appeared to me then, that this was not a time to intervene, or give counsel, just listen. Then as he wrapped up, we heard a loud noise, a howling. I thought for sure it was a dog. There are a plethora of dogs running wild all over up here. Another girl in our group, she was 19, began to chant, then the members all began to chant. I listened, and heard the howling again, it was surreal. I wanted desperately to talk about what the boy had just told us, but I bit my tongue, so to speak. We then got up and began our walk back to the community center. As we were walking this time, we could talk. At that time, one of the new members began to give advice to the boy who was being bullied, then everyone soon began to give advice. I then stopped right there. In my tracks. That was it! I was able to break down barriers by listening, then allowing the teenagers to feel comfortable and not forced. You see in this population, we always, respectfully, this writer included, force them to talk, and tell. This time they talked and shared on their own ground, their own time. We went back to our group place where we meet, and then talked about what it is like to be bullied. The unfortunate thing was my time for group was over, and the kids were pouring out running back to their Sunday fun. I wanted to run with this topic, and hear, feel all that I could. But, in reality, I did. Just not on my time table, but theirs! We as helpers, parents, teachers, all need to understand that meeting kids, teenagers on their level is what it is all about! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Family Dynamics

Over the years I have found, like many helpers, that most people who suffer from addiction surround others with the affects and turmoil. When you are in a family where addiction is present, everyone needs help. Change in one person, will affect the whole family system. What happens is family member roles are re-defined. Each family member will have more to do and less to work on self. Marriage's sometimes become very strained when one partner is enabling the addict, or the other partner is trying to handle all the stress with the addicts behavior. Children of the addict or sibling's of the addict appear to change their role in the family system. When families contain more then one addict, usually there are layers of addiction in families. Often I find when clients are working their program, and remaining clean, that there biggest trigger or urge will come from their current family system. Family dynamics can be present in the addiction cycle and the recovery cycle. Members of the family who are not addicts will need support. One of the things that I see monthly with clients who are in recovery, and are staying in their health is the expectations of the client and family member are unrealistic. For example, addiction is not a primary need, it is secondary. Addiction is the substitute satisfaction of a unmet need. Meaning, the addicts flaws with the interpersonal relationships within the family are not going to go away instantly when the addict is in recovery, and staying in their health. The same goes for the dysfunctional family member who is not a addict, their behavior will not change if the addict is clean. Everything is a process in recovery. Family dynamics are important for the addict and the family to understand and identify. Behavior is the key here. Addicts and family members must learn how to balance their thoughts and control their behavior in a healthy way. The reality is some families will not be healthy all the time, and it is up to the addict, to be able to set healthy boundaries and understand that unrealistic expectations can be a gateway to relapse. As the family and it's core members will need to ascertain that the addict will not change overnight when he or she is clean, but may continue to struggle with their own mental health. Trying to fit back into the family will be a struggle but it does not need to be a unhealthy struggle if everyone is able to clearly define their roles in a positive approach. I tell all of my families of addicts and the addicts themselves, that time is on your side. Slow down, control your thoughts, work on self, balance your behaviors, use your higher power for guidance, and allow self to have fun in new and creative ways that validate you and your reconnection with your family! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wellness

The other day, I had this skype client who out of the blue asked me what is wellness? I thought  about it, and continued to think about it. I then asked the client what he thought? He said maintaining. Then I said that is a awesome answer.  Wellness is an ongoing process of maintaining physical, mental and emotional well being. With that said, wellness needs to start with self. Self needs to understand you take a pro-active approach to health. Learning to take care of yourself in a healthy way. When self is able to implement this approach, one can get a higher quality of life. A higher quality of life in this writers opinion will reflect the overall wellness of self. For instance, if you are taking care of your physical health by exercising, and eating healthy you will feel better. The mental side of this wellness suggests you can become more in tune to your own thoughts. Learning to control your thoughts and enjoying the moment. Being able to identify what your challenges are and working through them. This will be productive in your work and performance. The emotional well being of self is something that wellness helps create a positive energy force. You are able to use this force of energy in allowing positive things to happen while at the same you are letting the negative things go. Wellness is very important for self to engage, however; wellness will not work if your not having fun doing it. That is the key. Maintaining as my client suggested is half the battle, the other half is making your own wellness fun. When your life is at it's best, I guarantee your self is balanced, a higher power is present, and you are learning how to have fun in a healthy way. How is your wellness? Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Monday, August 20, 2012

1 year to "live" exercise

We use this one year to live exercise with all our clients. This exercise you may recognize from previous treatment settings or other mental health support systems. Reclaiming reality starts with a clear sense of our limitations as human beings. But we live in a culture that denies these limitations at times. We are constantly invited to overextend ourselves- for instance, to spend more then we earn, (ala gambling addiction) work more than we need to, (ala self-esteem issues) or eat more then we should (ala eating addictions). We live as if there is no end. Take some time right now, and see how you answer these questions. This powerful exercise can show you your own limitations by picturing your own death. Looking at death provides vital perspectives about what gives your life meaning! What priorities you are ignoring and who or what your higher power is? Ok, imagine you are in your physician's office. What does it look like, smell like, and feel like? Your doctor shares the results of the tests that are in. You have a year to live, reflect for a moment? As you start to adjust to dying, do you change your life? Stop working? Do something different? You begin to make changes for self. Do you travel, or wish to take a trip? Who do you take with you? Perhaps, you want to try something you have never done before. What are some of these activities? Self begins to look at all the "unfinished" things that we have not completed. Will you complete them? What unfinished projects do you need to do before your die? Could making amends to people be one of your unfinished projects? Self has the power to say, "I'm sorry, or I love you".  Picture yourself saying the things you need to say before your time is up. Now the time line is here. You have three months before you die, your health is going, while you can still function, what are you doing, who is with you? Take your time with these questions, it is important you are honest and being real with self. Now, it's a matter of weeks before you pass, where do you go? Do you want to die in your home, a lake, mountains, where do you spend the last days? As you think over the events of the last year of your life, what were the most significant for you? What did you make worth while? Now as you complete this exercise, think about this- your are ALIVE, very much ALIVE, and these events you can create for self! Self has the ability to share feelings, and get in touch with your own grief and losses in your life. Do not avoid the feeling, you have the power to work through it. Use this exercise to make changes in your life, some new things you would try, and how you complete the unfinished things in your life. Find your spiritual connection, your own higher power! Learn about your current interpersonal relationships, and work on re-building them! Thinking about death may help you find what is real in your life and what is important to self. Addicts need to understand how they can balance, focus, and acquire self-responsibility. Denial and delusion we want to work on. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Learning to say no means yes!

One of the hardest things in recovery that people seem to struggle with is being able to say no! Addicts like to be in control, my way or the high way, right? When you were in your addiction, there was no anything, you said yes to all types of addictive behavior. You thought you were unstoppable, and everything you wanted to do was never about saying no! That was then my friends, this is now. Every day you say no to unhealthy behavior, and are able resist the urges and cravings is a yes! When you let the negative thoughts go, and focus on the positive you are really saying no to impulsive behavior and yes to being in control. That is a feeling that you want to validate self with. I am strong enough to say no, and feel good about that decision. Life is about choices. You have the choice to say no to destructive behavior that does not, will not, and did not let you make positive choices. When you are in your health, and staying in the moment, you are able to say no to old behavior and yes to recognizing how strong self is when struggle is present. You will always struggle in life, but it can be healthy struggle. Remember, we all struggled when we were in our addiction cycle, but we were unable to struggle in a healthy way due to not being able to say no, right? Our thoughts at that time were based on not being able to slow down, and work through our unmet needs. We said yes to anything that could fuel our addiction. At that time, there were no consequences that we were able to surmise do to our fantasy thinking that everything would be ok if we could just continue our addiction cycle. The positive of being able to say no is the yes to our new recovery. Self is stronger, learning how to balance our thoughts and behaviors with positive energy. Our higher power is the yes in our life. Having fun means saying no to our urges and cravings! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Finding the positive

One of the most difficult things that new clients appear to struggle with is being able to find the positive in their life at this moment. Regardless of your situation, there is still positive energy to be found. Self does not benefit from holding on to negative energy from their past or keeping negative thoughts in their head on a daily basis. The negative can act as a spark to fuel your addiction cycle. Negative thinking, and thoughts do not help self. Positive energy is there, but, you have to search for it. Honesty and acceptance will help you uncover your positive energy know matter where your thoughts are at this second. Don't focus on how you messed up, or what you did not do, or what you lost. That is the past, it is what it is, right? Focus on how you want to get help, and how you are going to be honest with yourself, while accepting where you are at now! Making things bigger in your head do not allow self to stay in the moment. There are positives in every thought if you are willing to take the time and think about it. Many clients are what I call at the impulsive stage in their addiction. This is where any type of struggle is present, they become impulsive and look to continue their addiction cycle. Self needs to understand that impulsive behavior is risk behavior. You already took risks in the past, look where that got you. The positive is that you understand where that risk, impulsive behavior took you. It is not a surprise. Once you ascertain how your risk and impulsive behavior gets you into trouble, you can look to other positive thoughts that will encourage you to slow down your thoughts! Find the positive in what you know now! Use your brain to help you, instead of creating negative thoughts that lead you back to addiction without thinking things through. Positive energy is everywhere, you have the ability to find it. Learn to struggle in a healthy way where you are controling the thought, and allowing the positive energy to assist you through the urge or craving. You are intelligent, now use that knowledge to focus on the positive. Learn from your past mistakes, by allowing positive thoughts to keep you focused on what you can control. New clients need to slow down their thinking. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Second, third, and fourth chances

Year's ago I remember working in a hospital on a rotation gathering clinical hours to finish my course requirements. This particular group that I was shadowing the therapist and psychologist listening to how they ran their program with patients who were in a residential treatment setting. There were a few patients that appeared to be, "repeat customers" as the clinicians told myself and this other student who was shadowing to. I then observed the group format and listened to the repeat customers on how they shared their stories of relapse with the other addicts. Immediately they were pressed by the clinicians running the group that second, third and fourth chances in recovery were bad. I was shocked at the time, many years ago. As I continued with my academics, I began to see other forms of this second, third, and fourth, clients who were in some ways looked down upon and labeled  addicts that were always going to be out of control addicts. That my friends, is not healthy addiction treatment in any capacity. Respectfully, I was ashamed to learn how some clinicians viewed the addicts, or in my case myself. When addicts relapse, it is what it is. Self can learn how to let that thought go, and move on to the next thought. Self has the power, the will power, to make each chance the last chance in obtaining recovery. There is no time table. Obviously, we want all of our clients to achieve recovery, but we understand each chance is a new beginning at life. Here is the moral to this story. I had this client five years ago that would come to my group, in one of the treatment center's that I was contracting out in. He had been with me for four years, relapsing each time he left treatment. Prior to that, he had been in seven other treatment programs. Total treatment programs eleven. I received a text from him last week. The last time I talked with him was last May of 2011. Guess what, he is clean, and is staying in his health. 13 months of clean time. He called me for a reference. He is currently in school and studying to be a drug and alcohol counselor. As I tell you this story, with his permission, the lesson learned is that second, third, and fourth chances at recovery are obtainable. Self will get it! Balance your thoughts and life! Your higher power is not keeping track of how many chances you need at recovery! You can have fun again while being clean! Each day is a gift, each thought is a reward. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Don't rush things

Life is about enjoying the moment! Learning how to validate our self and receive validation from others. Self will need to understand how not to rush things. If it is meant to be it will happen. When you force things, it is not natural. Positive energy has the unique ability to bring self patience when you really need it! When we rush things we miss the true feelings, emotions, and experiences that are meant to be enjoyed with time. We all can be impulsive, and there is nothing wrong with getting excited about things that we want. However, Rome was not built in a day, right? Where ever you are in your life there is a reason, that is bigger then you. Taking risks can be positive things. The reward is the ability for self to take a risk on self's terms. Balance is needed in order not to rush things, but not miss things that may be worth the risk. Use your mind to control your thoughts while acting on the thoughts that bring you happiness. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to improve your moment- (right now this second)

When we stay in our health, and stay in the moment, we learn how to relax our thoughts letting go of the negative thoughts! Today, I would like you to practice some of these techniques. Imagine relaxing scenes, positive things, or things that give you comfort. Find some meaning or purpose in what you are feeling right now! Utilize prayer and worship, you can also chant if you like to. Relax your muscles, take deep breaths, self-soothe,  something that is soothing to you. Focus on one thing this second, give all your attention to this moment- keep self in the present. Take a brief vacation, a break from it all for a short period of time. Finally, encourage yourself, you can do this, and you will make it through this! When self is able to relax, and stay in the moment, you will be able to accept your current situation. You have the power to change it, with positive thoughts, and understand your emotions in a healthy way. Don't waste energy with negative thoughts. Self can create something helpful from stress, anger, loneliness, boredom, shame, sadness, if you understand how to create instead of react. Each moment we can improve with a positive thought! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Biking unity in a storm!

The day started off with some positive energy, biking with a client, and working through some difficult thoughts that were being let go! Then as we are nearing our 3 mile mark, the clouds begin to shift, a cooling, wind is hitting our faces as we pedal on. One more mile to go. Biking is a wonderful tool for self to reflect on your ride and let those anxious thoughts out. All of a sudden we hear the mighty thunder, and can see lightening far away in the corn fields. Then,  came the down pour, I mean we look at each other, and have this "frog" like look- you know the one where you leave your mouth open, and don't know what to say?  The rain, is powerful, as we pedal faster, trying not to fall off our bikes. I look at my client, and begin to tell him that my Native American friends, embrace rain as powerful energy, and that the spirit will guide us through! He looked at me, and then looked up in the sky, as the rain is really coming down now, and says, "I'm not stopping Tod, the rain feels good, and I feel so alive!"  It was hard to talk, the rain coming down faster, and the wind really making sounds, while trucking through washed out roads. Finally, we could see our destination, I was relieved, did not want to get either of us zapped by lightening, but could feel the Native American spirit looking down on us, and guiding us to safety. My client who is older, began to laugh, I then, could not stop laughing, we laughed together as the rain kept coming. The day started off with positive energy, and then changed to powerful energy. Stay in your health, stay in the moment!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Find the right group

Society has this misconception that you have to have a addiction to go to a support group. Really? Since when is it not healthy to take care of yourself? Support groups are wonderful tools for people struggling with addiction, and working on their recovery. Support groups are also needed for people without addiction problems. Mental health is usually the primary reason for addiction. Mental health support groups are key, but, there are other support groups that have nothing to do with Mental health, or addiction. These support groups are for anyone looking to improve their self. They may be church groups, or book groups, exercise groups, friend groups, or positive energy groups where people learn about how to stay positive in their every day life! Groups are everywhere, find them. Age is not a problem. I find my senior citizen group one of the best groups that I attend to be therapeutic in a variety of ways for myself. You see we all have the opportunity to belong to some sort of group that gives us balance, where we can utilize our higher power and have some fun meeting new people. Support is paramount in every one's life. Try and find the right group that will fulfill your needs while listening to another. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Family Intervention

Addiction does not only affect the addict but the family to! Over the years I have experienced all kinds of family dynamics when facilitating addiction education in a family intervention. If I had to pick one component that appears to be the pillar of a families need it would be communication, and learning, respecting, how to hear each other's words. I find it fascinating that cultural considerations and customs, with families all around the world need that same pillar of communication to understand the person with the addiction. Each family member needs to be heard, regardless of their cultural routines and bylaws. Addiction can tear families apart, but, it also can bring them back together! Family members need to vent. The trick is to demonstrate healthy communication skills and healthy listening skills during the intervention. I'm a firm believer that one family intervention is not enough. The more time the family and the addict can come together in a respectful, helping, supportive way, allows each family member or extended family member the opportunity to build on a new healthy interpersonal relationship. I find when each family member is able to stay in their own health, and learn to stay in the moment, they begin to let the negative thoughts go. Over time, trust begins to help mend broken promises and hearts. Family intervention is a crucial step for the addict and family to develop a healthy plan that all parties share the same goal. I can't tell you how many times I have met families of addicts, that have wonderful ideas, resolutions, and are willing to work hard with open lines of communication, but forget, that the addict has to be on the same page! Balance is needed in healthy intervention. The family needs to understand how the addict feels, and is interpreting their words of concern, future challenges, and be willing to listen. The addict needs to be 100% honest with the family, and be able to receive constructive criticism when the time is right. Many people in family intervention, want to unload everything, right there, right now, and get it off their chest. This unloading component is important for the scorned family member, however, there needs to be patience for that family member and timing is everything! Each person will get their face time, honesty is imperative, but we need to be respectful, sensitive, and be in our health when we deliver our message. Remember, we want to let out our emotions, and our pain with the addict, but we need to do it in a constructive, non-judging form. Family intervention is tough! One thing to keep in mind is that everyone in the room cares, on some level, there is love and hope! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Adaptive Strategies

Helpers, clients, and friends we all need to learn new behaviors and skills. I have found that it is crucial to elicit our strengths, minor triumphs, and adaptive strategies no matter how small! We all need to recognize what is working for us. We do this when self is able to change our way of thinking. Self can utilize adaptive strategies which work for self. Self will need to understand that hard work, being accountable for self's decisions, and owning up to self's flaws are adaptive strategies that empower you! Sometimes we get caught up in the magical thinking and let our thoughts become unrealistic while trying to do something that is unhealthy, destructive, and get out of our health. Adaptive Strategies help us stay in the moment, by understanding our experiences. Many people undervalue their former experiences because of past mistakes, and failures that continue to haunt their thinking. Let go of those thoughts, adaptive strategies help us relinquish struggles over things we cannot change, and focus effort on which we can do something about. Self can glean new skills and new behaviors from poor, past decisions. Be adaptive in your understanding of your past! Create new adaptive strategies that will allow you to grow as a person, enhance your skills, and give self credit! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I'm not perfect and that is ok

In my former life, perfection, for all it's impossibility, was so often my number one goal! I gleaned progress not perfection was the road to recovery. When self can learn to yield a little here and there, self begins to grow. Break down large goals into smaller goals. You can actually accomplish more when self let's the bigger and what we assume better way of thinking go! Stop trying to be perfect. Strive to be you! Pick and choose what bridge you will cross, and what bridge you do not need to cross at that moment. Recovery is not about being superman but making progress for you. Trust me, you will fail at things, but you don't need to fail at recovery. Some clients will and do fail at recovery with a relapse. However, that is not a reason to label self as a failure. Self needs to get back up, and start again, letting the past mistakes go, and begin to focus on the positive energy. If self is going to judge itself on perfection, then we are all in trouble. That is not staying in our health, and trying to stay in the moment. We are letting things get bigger in our mind, and have yet to understand that being perfect is not reality. Self becomes frustrated and depressed when we can't meet impossible goals. We need to obtain balance, not perfection. When we control our thoughts, we learn to let the negative thoughts go, including urges and cravings, and are able to practice seeing the positive thoughts that can lead to our progress! When we fail, we can use that experience to enrich our lives instead of self-sabotaging our life. Balance is our perfection. Think about it like this. Self will work on self, not trying to be perfect but in control. When you are in control you are balanced. You learn to let the negative thoughts go, and focus on the positive. Your higher power will help guide you though each experience, positive or negative. When you realize you don't need to be perfect, and are able to like and love your self again, you will begin to have fun! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How many chances?

The other day, I was working with a old client who happened to be one of our residents in our treatment program that I use to facilitate. I have not seen this client in a few years. This particular client requested that I can share this story with others if I felt it would help. I ran into her, when I was taking another client to her psychiatrist appointment. She looked at me kind of funny. I did not recognize here at first, then as I got closer, could see that we knew each other. I remember that she attended all of my groups at the treatment center, but was very guarded and did not have a lot of feedback. She actually appeared more interested in the peer's then listening to one of my lectures on addiction. She did not graduate from the treatment's program. I believe this was her 12 th time at treatment. I walked over to her, and said hello, do you remember me? At that point, she looked at me and responds of course I remember you, you did all the talking. I smiled, and she continues on that her life is out of control, and she recently got out of relationship with one of the other clients she met in treatment. This co-dependence piece with addicts can happen very easily if proper boundaries are not in place. As I recall, she was kicked out of her last treatment facility for having a inappropriate interpersonal relationship with another peer before she came to our treatment program. We sat down at the coffee shop in the clinic. I asked her what was going on in her life. She then began to say that she does not deserve another chance, because she uses all of her chances up in treatment trying to hook up with people. I looked at her in disbelief, and said you get it, you understand your unmet need. She then looked at me, and began to describe all of her emotions from her previous treatment experiences. For the first time, it appeared she was being honest with her self and willing to accept feedback. I then looked at her and asked what she thought about the number 13? She goes, friday the 13th, oh, I get it, you want me to go back to inpatient treatment! I said you are ready, and need to give it another shot for you this time, and not anyone else. Regardless of how many treatments you have been to, or how many times you have relapsed, it really does not matter if you are willing to try again! I'm not sure why we bumped into each other that day, but I do know that a higher power is looking after her, and for the first time she realized that you can't live other people's lives, you have to live your own. Her addiction was meth and suffered from a sexual disorder. Her unmet need was her co-dependence and her past. Today she was able to recognize that her unmet need was not going to be the reason why she kept on using and self-sabotaging her interpersonal relationships. It does matter how many chances self gets, only that self keeps trying.  Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Monday, July 9, 2012

How it works?

Urges and cravings are something you will learn to live with. How do you control them? Whether its a addiction, or something else that is unhealthy for you this is how it works. When you start thinking about your addiction or some other unhealthy behavior, you begin to make it bigger! Meaning, that current thought is looking for the old, dysfunctional behavior that you create when acting upon this thought of a urge or craving. That thought gets bigger, and bigger, and soon you become impulsive, and bring the urge/craving or unhealthy behavior to life. Self has the ability with it's clear mind to let those addiction thoughts go, before they can manifest into unhealthy behavior or addictive behavior. Self can slow down the urge and craving or unhealthy behavior by thinking it through. Think about what that craving or unhealthy behavior will bring you? Play it back in your head, each time, if you are honest, you will see that the current thought of gambling, using, drinking, purging, unhealthy sexual behavior, and unhealthy behavior will not solve anything! You already understand this, but are looking for this fantasy thinking that will "fix" all your problems. I like to call problems with my clients as unmet needs. These unmet needs are really why you are chasing your addiction or unhealthy behavior. Once you play it back in your head, and realize that acting out a urge or craving will not solve anything, you begin to let that negative thought go. Then you need to exercise, just like that. Go for a walk, a reflection walk. A bike ride, or a jog. Maybe you have time to hit the gym. Be creative in where ever you are at that moment, if that urge/craving or unhealthy behavior needs to be worked out, you need to exercise! After the exercise, self begins to reward self with positive thoughts of how you battled the urge/craving, or unhealthy behavior into letting that thought go! It is all in your mind. Give self credit for letting go of urges and cravings. Back in the day, you would of acted upon each urge and craving, and been right back at the addiction cycle. Each client that I work with I tell them you know you can use, gamble, drink, purge, or have unhealthy sexual behavior any time you want, but, at this second you are choosing not to! Every urge/craving, or unhealthy behavior you can control in your head. You have the power and mindfulness to let those thoughts go. Hey, you already know where those negative thoughts bring you, it is nothing new. Use your mind. Self can figure out those unmet needs knowing self is worth something, and self does not have to take things personally. Don't let your own negative thinking mess you up! Balance your emotions, and understand you have the wisdom and common sense. Use your higher power, you always have a choice. It is not what happens to me, but how I think about what happens to me that matters. Self learns to have fun when urges and cravings or unhealthy behavior are not the fun anymore! Each day when you have a thought that may be leading you into a urge, craving, or unhealthy behavior, slow down, and think it through. Let that negative thought out, exercise, then journal and talk about it with your support. Bring it up in your meeting, let people know how you are able to let the negative thoughts go, and utilize positive thoughts in your recovery! Don't make thoughts bigger you have the power to stay in your health, and stay in the moment!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 4th story

As a helper, we treasure our holidays when we get to unplug for some precious time with our loved ones! I was doing my duty as a proud parent, and husband early July 4th morning. Off to get a breakfast surprise order for the family who were still tucked away in bed, enjoying the sleep of the holiday! As I sat in line with many hungry customers I began to reflect how my Higher Power has blessed me. Searching through my thoughts, and sending prayers to all my clients and groups that can use some positive, healthy fun this holiday. All of a sudden this man appears in our lobby, with no shirt, and this hyper discourse coming from his mouth. The manager of the restaurant was swamped with customers. The man then, put on his t-shirt- and shouted to the manager he needed a job application, at 6:30 am. The manager shouted back at the man, (as he was waiting on me and taking money for the bill) saying, this is not a good way to get a job. I got my breakfast orders, and began to depart, when I heard the manager shout again at the man, that he was calling the police, and did not have time for this man. Right there, boom, it hit me. Do I leave, or do I do my calling? I turned around, put my breakfast on hold, and headed to the man who was shouting, there are not 80,000 people in here that need service, as the manager had told him. Actually this man was counting out loud, very loud, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,... and so on to how many people were in the line waiting to check out. I approached the man, his eyes already gave it away, then there was his speech, and finally his hyper activity. I walked over, and gently began to talk to him. He looked at me, then began to let me know by accident that he has been up for days, obviously in a impaired state, my guess was meth. I introduced myself, and the manager gave me space. I got him a job application, and then walked him out of the restaurant, across the street, to a shaded picnic table. This man and I talked for a few minuets, he decided that he could go home and fill out the job application, then take a shower, get something to eat, and then tomorrow morning, after 9am, come back to the restaurant, be appropriately dressed and turn in his job application. I walked back across the street, went into the restaurant, to get our food. As I walked in, I heard this clapping, and customers were coming up to me and thanking me. They were not thanking me because this man was a disturbance to their breakfast on July 4th, they were thanking me because many of the customers knew this man, and after some gleaned feedback from the customers, I to understood where this man was at. The moral to the story, as a helper, there is not a right or wrong time to unplug, but there is always a time to help someone when the opportunity comes. A Higher Power is here 24/7, self has the power to use it!  Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Resentments

Resentments appear to change people. Resentments seem to distance people from who they can become. We all get jealous, sometimes act foolish. If this is all true, then how are we embracing each other when the negative energy appears to be the common link? Take some time to think about resentment and how it may decieve you. We need to harness our negative energy, and let it go. The more we keep it, the less we can do. Be happy for other's. Good fortune comes in all forms. However, if we are living in the resentment world, we are missing our own good fortune. It starts with self. You have to forgive your self. Then you need to stop with this negative resentments for self. Now you are ready to appreciate other's accomplishments. Don't waste negative energy and time stressing about unhealthy people in your life, or measuring your life to someone else. When someone does something that really get's under your skin, you got to let that negative thought go. Sure, you can be frustrated, hurt, and even mad, but you can work through it! It's not worth the energy to keep resenting something that you can't control. Self controls self's thoughts. Boundaries are a postive way for self to not get involved in unhealthy resentments. Sometimes the things we are resenting, are things that we are making bigger in our own heads. Try not to measure your self  or compare your self with others. Work on you. When we compare or make list's of things that we do not have, and seem to think others have our list qualites, we begin to resent and get our of our health. Stay in the moment. That moment is not about resentments, but letting go of thoughts that appear to get us out of our health. Resentment thoughts are just that, thoughts. Don't act upon them, and fuel their negative energy. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Education

This topic is very important to the work I do for others. I'm constantly preaching to my clients and others who may be struggling, that one of the best routines for people who are in recovery is going back to school. When self is balanced, school can be part of the balance, self is working their routine in a positive way. Self needs to learn how to kill their day, meaning, stay busy, and achieve self-esteem for accomplishing goals. Furthering your education is a positive affirmation that can bring positive rewards. Some of our clients are working on their GED, others are finishing up their high school classes or starting a community college. We have clients going back to trade school to master their skill and receive new certifications and licenses. Currently we have one client finishing her doctorate. The point being, education is needed for self to work their program. It may be taking a class here and there to learn new skills or finding a new hobby while back in the academic class room. I'm bias here, but it is amazing how intelligent addicts are. When the addict can focus on their goal, instead of their past using, drinking, purging, gambling, and sexual behavior, the addict in my experience is a sponge to learn new things. Self has the ability to use their brain for healthy validation and experience new things that they never thought to try do to the addiction behavior. Education can bring new interpersonal relationships with others. If you are stuck, think about going back to school of any kind or improve your current position by taking some new classes and certifications. Remember, when self is working on self, balancing their needs and challenges, your higher power will assist you on your journey while learning to have clean fun! School may be just the ticket! Challenge your self, take a healthy risk and enjoy the rewards. It does not matter your age, stay in your health, stay in the moment!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Space


One of the things that I observe know matter where I am, is how people, addicts, other peers appear not to have adequate space in their lives or actually thoughts. What is space in this sense? Well, space is important for self to define when they are feeling trapped, isolated, or not in a healthy situation with their thoughts. Each person needs to have boundaries, your therapist, counselor, or any other helper will tell you this. However, before you can have boundaries, you need to determine what space is needed for you to be able to make healthy boundaries. This writer views space as that creative, safe, comfort zone that self is able to recognize and implement when negative energy arises. If you are going to make a boundary, you better make sure you know what type of space is needed to insert. For example, if you are struggling with your addiction, and you know that a certain environment or activity will lead you to relapse, you need to have space in your mind that will allow you to think things through, and be able to set a clear boundary that will assist you in your recovery. Space can be defined in your mind, as when you have a thought, and that thought becomes an urge or craving, you need to create a space between the thought and reaction, and let that thought go! When you get into an argument with your significant other, what do you do? React, and let that negative energy manifest? Think about what you were going to say in the heat of the battle, then, take a breath, and slowly develop a space for you, and begin to let the thought go. When you are able to let spaces in your thoughts, you will be able to react in a controlled, healthy, and non-impulsive manner. Remember, when we let our impulses dictate our decision making, we are not staying in our health, or in the moment. The space that we need is currently being absorbed with negative energy, and our positive energy is not being used. Sometimes space can be that distance between a negative thought and a positive thought. The trick is to create space into your negative thinking, and allow the space to give you a respite. You will channel the negativity in a positive thought, while setting appropriate boundaries that will allow you to stay in your health. Your mind can control anything you want it to; use it to your advantage. Addiction, conflict, arguments are only thoughts that get bigger, and lead to unhealthy behavior that become an unmet need. Just think, if you can figure out how to give self space in your mind, you will be able to control that urge, craving, or impulsive behavior by letting that negative thought go, and move onto a positive thought which allows you to stay in the moment! Give self space, it will give you confidence and assist you in your battle with addiction and help you with your interpersonal relationships. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Guilt

One feeling that appears to be a constant with people, is guilt. Self seems to hold on to guilt like it were a favorite pair of blue jeans. Those blue jeans were always worth the energy to keep, regardless of the condition. The problem is that guilt is something that you are not proud of, and does not carry the same validation of those cool jeans. The association with guilt, usually brings on negative feelings and thoughts that self is struggling with. Self needs to work through guilt, and let guilt go, not hold onto like your jeans. The past is what it is, we cannot change it. But, we can identify with our guilt, and learn to accept our feelings connected with guilt in a healthy way. Interpersonal relationships that went sour seem to be a spot where guilt lingers with one's thoughts. It is important that self can resolve their guilt with a past relationship that did not work out for what ever reason. Each person will hold onto feelings of guilt, but for how long? Learning to let thoughts of guilt go, can be a emotional and healthy cycle at the same time. The positive thought comes back to your favorite blue jeans. You will meet new people, and will be able to wear your jeans when you are able to let the guilt thoughts go, and you may even buy another pair of jeans! Don't beat your self up over guilt, work through it, and then let it go! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Labels

Labels can be destructive words that hurt others. Is it necessary that we label people in our own confusion of what we do not understand? Does a label bring self some sort of power, no it does not. It only makes self ignorant in this writer's opinion. I often speak to my client's and groups how important it is to understand each other's beliefs. Labeling can sometimes be a form of not understanding someone else. If you do not understand someone, then why do you pretend to know what is right or wrong for them? Mental illness is a perfect example of labeling. When we know someone who is struggling with their mental health, do we try and understand them or judge and label them in a negative stigma. Mental illness is something we need to educate ourselves with, and our children. Addictions is another case where we need to educate and learn about people who are struggling with addiction and be supportive instead of labeling them as hopeless. When I go into schools and present addiction education, self-esteem, or different techniques used in anger management I see labeling all over. Kids being mean and destructive with their labels. Some of the kids I believe really are not aware of their discourse that may damage another. Labeling can be talked about and self has the ability to learn that being different or having a mental illness and addiction is not a deal breaker. Challenges can be turned into triumphs. I hear, see, and witness this every day of my life as a helper. Talk with your family at the dinner table. Educate your kid's and help yourself with understanding how labeling can be hurtful if done in a negative manner. Talk with your peers and learn new ways to work with people who are being labeled in a unhealthy way. Labeling starts with adults and then we pass it to our kids. Pick and choose the appropriate term's when identifying with people who may be different from your own understanding, coming from a different race, having their own sexual preference, or are challenged by their own mental health. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Jealously

This writer comes across this topic on a daily fashion with clients, parent's of clients, individual parents and individuals. Respectfully, I often believe that denial is some how linked to jealous behavior. What is the real reason why you are jealous? Sometimes it really has nothing to do with your perceived reason of why you are experiencing jealous behavior, but it may be tied to your own self. For example, many parents appear to be jealous of other people's kids. In reality, they may be uncomfortable or in denial of their own expectations. This happens all the time in my line of work. Client's get jealous of each other when when they are in group settings, residential treatment, and experience family jealously with siblings or parents. One of the tools that I use with people who are experiencing jealously tendencies is to define the thought of why they are jealous. Identify the core. That core appears to be a negative thought that self is having a difficult time letting go. Once the core is examined, then it is important for that person to see the positive. This is where some people really do not want to admit the positive. Think about it. If you are going to be jealous over something, that really after looking at it and identifying that it is really your own thought, and not someone's triumph, you have the power to recognize the positive. Give that person credit for accomplishing their goal, be happy for them. Self then will feel good about validating the other person, you may even receive feedback and that person will validate you! The negative thought you had just turned into something positive. We all want to acquire other peoples positive skills, but we need to look at our own strengths, and be able to accept our own challenges while letting the negative, jealous, thoughts go. Is it really worth the energy to be upset over something that in reality may be a positive for someone else? Don't deny your honesty. Clients need to work their own recovery for self, not try and duplicate other's recovery routine. As a parent be proud of your own child, and other child's successes. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The "Big Win" fallacy

For every thought I had, that was going to bring me this, "Big Win", I would have a million thoughts of power, success, and money, right? The big win is a pure fallacy in the gamblers eyes. Sure, you may win a few, but what about the one's that you did not. What happens is self becomes absorbed with the big win thinking. It could be scratch off, slot, poker, or bet! Self already has began the chase, (the constant urge to gamble) and hope for the big win. The behavior that commences when this cycle is present is one of distortion, delusion, panic, and destruction. Every gambler who becomes addicted begins to disassociate with what was real at one time, to fantasy thinking. Ironically, when the compulsive gambler or pathological gambler does win, and has the opportunity to pay some of the debit they are so buried in, that notion quickly dissolves with another gamble. The big win, is really a high, rush, narcissistic thought, power booster that does nothing for the gamblers state of mind, mental health, and over all problem solving skills. Gambling addiction for the compulsive gambler and pathological gambler is really one big unmet need. The validation that the gambler worked so hard to get, is lost in the chase and pursuit of the big win. Unfortunately, that is not the only thing that gets lost. Self has lost it's self in this insidious addiction. There are no morals, values, codes, or escape plan. The gambling behavior begins to destroy self's life. As I educate clients on gambling behavior, communities of gambling outlets, (casinos, horse and dog tracks, and river casino boats) the destruction always wins out! The big win concept is just that for a compulsive and pathological gambler, fallacy. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Skype connect

I'm thrilled to be able to share this skype story with you. This writer has received approval to disclose this wonderful, emotional, and heart felt journey. The other day, I received the referral, and had the opportunity to skype with a individual from Russia. This individual was struggling with her eating disorder, and was in the process of being admitted to a local hospital. Her journey thus far at the tender age of 23 has been filled with all kinds of abuse. I clicked on the skype, and at first I could only see a figure of something laying in bed, looking pale as the color white. I said hello, and she signaled me with her foot. The first 30 minuets I did all the talking, or in her opinion, pulling teeth! Then she sat up, and I could see her pain. I looked right at her, she looked back at me, an awkward three minuets had passed, and she finally said, are you going to say any more? I said, I see a fresh plate of fruit over on the night table. She goes, do you want it?  I said, hold on. I ran up stairs grabbed a banana, some strawberries, and ran back down stairs. I then looked at her, and said, let's eat together. She looked at me, and began to cry. After a few more minuets, I grabbed my banana, and began to eat. She goes, slow down, you need to enjoy the fruit. All of sudden she reached over, and began to peal the banana. Slowly she took small bites, and began to eat. I then said, is this not better then eating hospital food. She laughed, so hard, that I laughed harder. We talked for the next 5 minutes, she ate all her fruit. The first food in three days. I talked to her once more a day after, and she was slowly eating and keeping things down. This skype connection allowed me to see her in her eyes. We all need someone to talk to and learn about each other. Stay in your health, stay in the moment!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Learning from our elders

The other day I was up on a Native American Reservation, and I met a lady who was getting up there in age, the century mark. She told me one thing, one thing only. She said what ever path you take, remember that path can change any time- but can you? Well I thought about that for awhile. Today, I was giving a group for a senior citizen outfit, I started the group off with that very statement, what I learned from the lady at the reservation. As I was just getting ready to switch topics, a burst of conversation filled our tiny room with all these grey haired people. I kept hearing, path, 1929, 1938, and a litany of other dates, and events. I tried to raise my voice and get the attention back on me, the speaker. All that did, was make the voices louder. So I sat down, and I listened. Soon, everybody was listening to one person, she was 101. She talked very slow, and very quiet. We all had to scoot in to listen to her every breath. Then it hit, me. My group today was about me learning from them, not the other way around. Truth be told, in this group, the more I think about it, and write about it, was a learning tool for this writer. So I got out my pen, and began to write. Listening to every member, as we went around the room. The topic was path/change, and what I think to be true, hearing about how younger people waste their time trying to get things they don't need. Wow. I can still see the lady up at the reservation, talking to me like she knew I would be talking about this at a different time. Learning from our elders can be a wonderful thing! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Organize your thoughts first, then your life

It seems that daily life is all about organization. We plan our schedule, work, kids, family, support, but do we organize our thoughts? During the day, I'm sure you have a thought here and there, and it may be a thought that seems to bring you down, or you tend to hold on to that thought through out your day. That thought, may be one of anxiety, depression, urge, craving or something that is really bothering you. If you adhere to your daily organization skills, what would you do? You would prioritize, think it through, and move on to the next task, right? Well, it's that easy. You control the pen that writes, or fingers that type, now control the thought. Decide what type of energy is needed to organize self's thoughts. Do you need to write about what is on your mind, or can you talk to someone about it? These vary questions, start off as thoughts, organize them just like you do your schedule, kids activities, family events, and your support meetings. Some of us need work on organizing our daily affairs, and our thoughts. When things are cluttered we panic, or become depressed. Work through your thoughts and start getting organized for self. I can tell you respectfully, that the clients and peers who are organizing their thoughts and organizing their daily affairs are the one's that accomplish goals. Positive energy appears to work hand in hand with organization. Once self is organizing it's thoughts, all the other tasks seem to fall into place on your own timeline.  It feels good to be in control of what is going on in your life! Some helpful hints that may work for you in organizing your thoughts and daily affairs. Get into a routine where you are able to make a list, and stick to it. Check off each thought and task once they are let go, or accomplished, or need more attention. Sometimes you may not accomplish your task, or goal. Can you let that thought go, and move on to the next task. Be creative in your thinking, and how you give yourself credit for being organized! Don't over organize, we all need to have free thinking and be spontaneous. All are brains are highly organized, now we need to use the thoughts that help us stay organized. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sweat because you can!

Do you remember all the excuses self would use not to go out and exercise? Honesty was something that self was unable to come to grips with. There may have been some days where all of your energy was being preoccupied by your addiction, stress, or lack of caring for your own mental health. Things have changed for you now. You have the ability to go out there and sweat it out! Excuses are no longer a threat for you. You are in control of your addiction, taking the steps necessary to manage your mental health. Stress is something that you are learning to let go, and not make that thought bigger. Self is making choices for self, and their positive ones! When you control your thoughts, you can decide what you need to do for you. As you are working out today, sweat those negative thoughts out, and let the positive thoughts come in. Look at you, not bad at all! Feel the sensation of being in control. Run faster, walk harder, bike with more energy, swim more laps, sweat because you can. Keep this healthy routine up. Abolish the excuses, and welcome the challenge of physical activity. Those cravings and urges begin to minimize with the more sweat you sweat. Your body is loving this workout, as your mind stays clear. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Holiday Weekend

How many of you back in the day could not remember your holiday weekend do to being impaired in some fashion? Some of you may have started your binge two or three days in before the actual holiday weekend commenced. Take some time today and reflect back on where you were and what you were doing while you were self-medicating, gambling, purging, or unhealthy sexual behavior. Now fast forward today, and look how you are in control of your thoughts, working through the urges and cravings and doing something positive this holiday weekend. You could be spending some quality time with your family, friends, or using a support group to share with others. This holiday weekend let us reward self with positive energy, and experience joy with new "clean" memories. It feels good to be balanced and slowing down your once roller coaster of a life. Clients tell me all the time that they look forward to a controlled holiday, where they have no expectations and are staying in their health. Waking up on self's own schedule, having healthy meals, and exercising with friends are positive ways that you may enjoy the holiday weekend. Back in the day, you probably did not go to sleep, eat any meals, and would be on your drug of choice, chase for gambling, or bender, 24/7! It is important that self recognize the changes you have made, and the positive decisions you are making this holiday weekend. You deserve some credit. Find some time this holiday weekend, and journal your thoughts for fun, explore where your are now, and what it feels like to be clean and sober, eating your meals and keeping them down, not gambling your life away or living with unhealthy sexual behavior. Your going to struggle, but it is healthy struggle, you are in control of your thoughts, not making things bigger! Keep up the positive energy, and smile, you deserve it! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

13 beautiful voices

Coming fresh off our Tuesday night group. This group is where individuals are struggling with their sexuality and working on their addiction. Tonight was a special night. I feel fortunate that I am able to share with you, with the groups consent. Sometimes we feel we don't like our body, or our gender, and want to be different. Society appears to have strict guidelines on what is acceptable and what is not. Therefore, some hide their aspirations of wanting to be who they really think they are. Addiction for this population serves as a coping mechanism. Many of our group members have been using drugs and alcohol over the years to deny who and what they really want to be. For what ever reason, tonight we broke individual barriers and began to examine self's real identity. It was amazing to hear the courage of each member tell their story and be honest with their feelings. The amount of energy that was used in the past to pretend they were something that they did not want to be became disheartening. Half of our group has tried at one time to end their life, some of the group members tried multiple times. Tonight's topic was self acceptance for self. Accepting who we are at this moment, and who we aspire to be when our body fits what we want to accept. I think the lesson learned tonight was not about what horrible things happened to some of these members in the past, nor what  addiction they latched onto to hide themselves from society, but how self has the power to accept self on self's terms.  Does it really matter if you like men, women, and want to be a man or a woman, or share the body of both? What really matters is that you can accept yourself for who you are, and what you want to do with your life without using addiction to cope. 13 voices were heard tonight. 13 voices began to accept their path on their terms. 13 voices decided for this group tonight that making things bigger does not work. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Adolescent drug use

Many parents wonder why their kids turn to drug use. This writer believes that a kid first starts experimenting with drugs to achieve the following: euphoria, boredom, rebellion, entertainment, curiosity, peer pressure and stress reduction. Now, the kid will continue this behavior if it minimizes or maximizes pleasure and satisfaction. What happens next is something all of you parents probably see first hand in your child's behavior. The child will begin to substitute their drug use for other healthy activities or hobbies they once did. In essence the unmet need becomes the drug use, which spirals to drug abuse which can end up as drug dependence. Yes your kid may abuse drugs do to a biochemical predisposition, but in this writer's experience, more kids seem to abuse drugs do to poor self-image, escape, impulsivity, and suffering from a family dysfunction or some type of physical/sexual abuse. The child sees few perceived options to deal with their current self, and look to find comfort with using peers. Respectfully, these using peers can share the same addictive personality trait as your child or are struggling with their own self image to. When your child is self-medicating daily, they increase antisocial behavior, block completion of normal developmental tasks, and sometimes lead to the development of a deviant lifestyle. The child begins to take risks, which may include stealing things around your home, stealing from others or stealing from the community. Frequent adolescent drug abusers often appear as withdrawn, alienated, and generally unhappy. The kid is unable to invest energy into developing healthy interpersonal relationships, completing school or work, and generally set positive future goals. If this is going on in your household, it is important to seek intervention, and begin to understand your child's needs. It is important to be sensitive and educational for your child. The prevention program should include the child's school, and any other collaboration with mental health services that is needed, including the family support. Positive prevention plans are one's that are designed to build skills, mentor, and allow your child to be a active participant in addiction education. The child has the capacity to work on their self, learn how to balance their feelings and goals, while finding their higher power. The child can learn to have fun again, before the drug induced behavior took over their lives. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Passion

Find something that you are really passionate about and do it. That is a order. Put your energy into something that you may have always wanted to do, and today is the day that you are going to do it. No excuses, everyone has something in their life that they are passionate about. Being passionate about something will help self focus and get you through the negative, destructive thoughts that sometimes you hold onto longer. Once you are able to enjoy what ever gives you passion, you will become stronger, balanced, and will begin to have fun again. This writer identifies passion outlets as certain times of the day, week, or month that self can take that opportunity and enjoy something that you love to do. Make this part of your routine when you are organizing your day. This could be your reward for the week if you accomplish your goals. Clients and peers often tell me that once they get to experience their passion outlet, they are so excited to do it again. They create a healthy need with their passion outlet. Sometimes that outlet is a stepping stone to build new interpersonal relationships with new people. When you are passionate about something, you wear it on your face, and everyone around you can notice! The energy you give off is vibrant and intoxicating. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Diet this

If there is one thing that this writer does get annoyed about, it is when society adds this tremendous pressure to create this absurd world of suggesting that you need to diet to be acceptable to your self. Really? Diet this world, if you know I mean. It is one thing to watch what you eat, and be conscious of your calories, but the notion if you diet, you will be happy, and more importantly, your now accepted by society. Every one of my eating disorder clients, I encourage to halt this ridiculous attempt to diet. Male or female. If you are trying to lose weight, try exercising, and work on finding that unmet need that causes you to binge eat. Get to know your self, and understand why you feel the need to diet. Lets focus on self, then we will work on how to feel good about who you are and what you need to do. Learn how to enjoy your food and be comfortable with eating one portion at a time. Set goals for self that are based on not what society wants to label as attractive, or your girl friend or boy friend wants, spouse feels is important,  but what your current body will look good in. I can't tell you how important it is to exercise out these thoughts of dieting and start eating, yes eating healthier. Skipping meals and purging meals is not even dieting, only adding more stress to your life and lowering your self esteem. All shapes and sizes have benefits, you decide what your benefit it is for you. Body image is something you can control, with your thoughts, positive energy, and be disciplined. People who over come their eating disorders and lose weight the healthy way are one's that work on their self, and begin to feel positive about their body image regardless of society's erroneous expectations. Let the diet thoughts go, and start implementing the exercise thoughts, with positive energy that allows you to eat healthy, find balance with your own mental health and feel good about what you are eating. Find your higher power. Self can have fun with the body you created.  Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Expectations

What happens when things do not go the way you expected? A project at work gets delayed for what ever reason. Your child acts up in school and you can't believe the reason. Your relationship is not what you thought it would be. The person you confide in is not taking your side. The therapist does not understand you the way you want to be understood. When you think about it, expectations can take all of your energy just like that. Or do we have the power to modify our expectations? Sure you do. Self can adapt to any situation, if you set your mind to it. Things sometimes do not work the way we envisioned or planned. That is a fact. Instead of stressing why your expectation of something did not work or someone did not act the way you wanted, it is not a deal breaker. You can control how you want to react to the expectation that did not meet your needs. First, you need to acknowledge to your self that it is not worth the negative energy to get upset. Second, revise your expectation while understanding that it still may not work the way you want it, but you are trying regardless. Third, focus on how you are handling the expectation process in a positive manner which should boost your self esteem. Respectfully, it is ok to be frustrated when our expectations do not get met. But, it does not need to control our mood for the rest of the day. My clients tell me daily that their expectations of their family never are going the way they thought. Right there you can see the problem. Do not assume you can control your families thoughts or reactions. You control your own. This way you are able to be prepared for what ever. Interpersonal relationships with the people we love is another expectation that often gets us out of our health. Why try to control someone that you know will not work. A healthy expectation is one that can be modified at any time, and you still are able to stay in your health, not making things bigger. Expect what you can handle at this very moment. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.