Monday, December 15, 2014

Skyping with A Veteran

Ok to share-

I am working with a Veteran via Skype. Our first session was early this morning. A 51 year old male. I met him at a group that I help out at once a month. He never said anything the first couple of times during group. Today, I was trying to give him some ideas on how to remain positive and motivated using our model. He listened as he listened during my group. I was about to draw a picture on the chalk board that I use when skyping when he asked me to draw him. I said ok. I'm not a handy with a marker, he abruptly said we know that, he continued, that is why we laugh when we see your stick figures. I started to make another stick figure, and added his face, shoes and hand. I drew one hand with five fingers the other with two. I then turned my chair and looked at him. He goes you drew it man! I go, yep. Then went back to my original thought in showing how to change a thought utilizing the mind. He abruptly again, stopped me in mid sentence. Tod, I am deformed, retarded, people look at me scared. I scooted my chair up, my face was right in the monitor. You are not mentally retarded, you are missing a thumb and two fingers, along with a shorter hand. You served our country, that is your job. You are a attractive 51 year old, who is very intelligent and needs to get back to work, and stop drinking your life away. Pause, pause, and pause. He started, then pause, then started, I know drinking wont bring back my hand. I waited, he then said, I'm not upset about my hand, I mean I am, but I'm upset that my other buddy lost his legs, and he is in a wheel chair, working, with two kids at home, and I am doing nothing with my life, except drinking. I looked at him, and said, brother you are alive, your buddy is alive, and it's ok to be scared but you still need to live each day, you know you can drink, but you can choose not to. I asked him to go to the group this week, and to start trying. He then said, does this mean you are going to call me every day to check up on me? I go, you already know the answer to that my friend. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Out of state today working with some kids at their school. I went to the office, sign in, and have each kid come down and talk with me. The Ast. Principal, gave me this weird look, or I sensed some negative energy. My first kid came down, talked and did our session. The kid went back to his class and gave me a high five as he left. He then turned at the Ast. Principal, and wished her a good day. The next kid came down, and we began our session. It appeared I was talking louder (imagine that) or the kid was laughing harder! The kid went back to class. The Ast. Principal then called me into the office. She looked at me for a few seconds, did not say a thing. Then she asked me if she could ask me a personal question? I said, sure. She then stood up and said, "how do you do it?" I was going to answer, then she continues, "I have never seen those kids laugh, they are talking to you, and one wished me a good day, after I had him in detention in October". I then slowly said, I try to build the relationship. She then said, "no, you don't understand, I personally found them a psychologist and a life skills person. It did not work, we tried everything, nothing worked". I then slowly said, every helper has something new to offer. She, then apologized for eavesdropping. She asked if I take referrals from challenging kids. I almost laughed out loud. Every person has challenges, self included I said. Parents can have challenges, I know I do. The trick is to meet each person where they are right now, and begin to build the relationship with positive energy. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


I was on a Skype with a new person. She asked me why I did not charge for phone calls. We talked on the phone for about 45 minuets. She then wanted to try a Skype session. Our program builds relationships I said. I am fully aware that other helpers, charge per phone call. Sometimes it can be $250.00 for one single call lasting an hour. I went on to explain that most of our clients and client's family members talk on the phone with me weekly, some daily. Every phone call is free. We did our Skype. At the end of session, I asked her how she felt. She replied with on word, meaning. Tod, I have talked with many therapists and counselors over the last few years. Each meeting with whomever, I felt like it was the biggest waste of time. They were all nice people and I'm sure they meant well, and I probably did not take in what I was suppose to. This Skype with you Tod, brought me a meaning of my life where it is today. It was my turn to talk. I looked at her through the monitor, and said that was a powerful message. Life is full of challenges, but I think there is a reason why self can work through the challenge and find the meaning of the challenge in the first place. She looked at me, and said, she was not one of those persons that wanted to figure out why she was experiencing the challenge at hand, but rather, focus on how awful her life was with one challenge after another. She vented more. I ended the session, by asking her one more question, what was the meaning of this Skype with me? She looked at me, and replied, I don't know yet, but that may be a positive thing, and I want to think about it more. It is strange she said, I am not upset about why I need to talk about my challenge, but I may be interested into finding the meaning. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Leaves falling

Fall can be a positive time for everyone to reflect on their life at this very second. I was asked to talk to a jail deputy at her jail. Luckily, it was on my travel route, and I agreed. I was told she wanted to hear some information on how to run a jail group. We agreed to meet outside of the jail, there was a bench where we could talk. I got there early, I am always early, my clients say! It was windy, and the leaves were falling. The scene reminded me of my beloved snow flakes falling from the sky. I looked down and there was this older gentlemen looking at me. I said hello, and he just sat down. I then started to say something, and he cut me off so quick, that I think I looked at him with my mouth wide open, like a frog! I am the person you need to talk to Mr. I replied ok. What can I do for you sir? Well I think I have a problem. I began to listen to this person. Then his daughter came, and he left. Almost as quick as a fall leaf blowing from one side of the street to the next. She asked me how the talk went with her Dad? Again, I think my mouth was wide open, looking like a frog. This time it was her turn to talk. I listened and listened. Finally, I get to talk I thought. Then she thanked me, and went back to work, she was on her break. I got in my car and drove to the next town for my next session with a client. I got home that night, and started my evening notes from the work day. I had one last note to do, or did I? The discourse with the dad and his daughter. But, they did not want to see me for services, I think? Something did not appear the way it was suppose to appear. I revisited the conversations in my head. I understand the dad's challenge, and I think I understand the daughters words, but where was addiction services, mentoring, and life skills coming into this family? I decided not to post a note for now, and see if I get a return call or email. In my line of work, this can happen, but never like this I thought. The next day, I have to pass through town anyway to my other client. I stopped for some strange reason at the near by park, next to the jail, where the bench was. I even walked to the bench, and sat down, closed my eyes, feeling the fall leaves brush my face as they came down. I got up, and walked to my car. Then a police car approached me, and a familiar face rolled down his window. Hey Mr, I went to your website and read all of your blogs, everyone of them. I would like to talk to you again Mr. I know I am gay. I smiled at him, and replied, you don't have a problem you are a solution as the leaves were falling down. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Looking at a train engine

This weekend I was working with some families comparing their communication over the last year. A positive feeling to go around the room and hear about how each family member is experiencing change. Family communication is the pillar for working through struggle as a family unit, when dealing with addiction. This particular family has made vast improvement with their listening and communication styles. Family members working together as they help support each other. One of the family members would be graduating school soon, and be looking for his first career job. The conversation shifted quickly to a train, or working on train engines. Suddenly, Dad had gotten his laptop, while his son looked over and watched Dad find his train engine. Mom then, was watching eagerly on what the train engine would do, sound like, and perform. Dad was leading the discourse, while son was asking questions and Mom watching both of them. I looked at each family member, and smiled. They were working together on a goal. Everyone was taking turns talking, and listening. Sitting around the table watching a train engine, on a laptop never seemed so special. A year ago, there were tears, yelling, avoiding, and angry behavior around this same table. One family member was having difficulty getting off the train, if you know what I mean. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fortune Cookies

Out of town family visits seem to bring new experiences in each city that I visit when working with a family. For instance, the other day I had the privilege in having lunch with a family that I am working with. Eating together can be a huge positive when trying to learn how to keep the communication bridges open throughout the family. Many families forget that when they stop eating together, they can lose touch with each other. It is important to make time for each other. Why not start with eating meals together? A safe way to share with each other and listen. Sometimes a family breakfast, lunch, or dinner can be a bonding platform when negative energy arises. In this particular lunch that bond was needed. Often as parents we think we have the correct information and go with what we feel is really going on with our kid. This assumption can backfire if we process the information incorrectly. Been there, done it! In this case, the kid was able to shed light on the negative energy, and provide the factual information, it was not lying behavior. The parent then apologized, the kid felt relieved. A special bond was forming. Throughout the lunch, healthy communication ran it's course! All family members were enjoying their time with each other. Then came the fortune cookies. Everyone appeared to be excited with their fortune. Each person went around the table and opened their fortune reading it out loud- with a funny extension added to each fortune. This was brand new to this writer. I too was excited to hear how this would turn out. We all listened to each fortunes, and smiled after the read. Wow, this is cool I thought. Something that I would encourage in implementing groups, sharing with each other and having fun with creative insight. A fortune cookie brings positive energy! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Family Conference

Do you remember the movie, "What about Bob"? Funny movie. The psychiatrist, will call a family conference throughout the movie, I still laugh at this great comedy. This writer calls many family conferences in his family. A time to sit down and communicate with current situations. But, it does not always have to be communication with families challenges. Family conferences can be about positive situations too! For example, the other day, I was working with a family bordering our state, Minnesota, and I asked the whole family on a Saturday to come to the kitchen table before I began my individual sessions with the brother and sister. Once the whole family had gathered, I looked at each face and could see anxiety driven facial expressions. I understand with this particular family, some of our family conferences covered the negative energy in the past. I stood up, not saying one word and began to articulate my actions through gestures. At first, the eyes of each person sitting around the table must of thought I was off my rocker, as I gleaned after the exercise! Then, mom, jumped in and shouted you are dancing? Truth be told, I need some work in the dancing department. I replied with shaking my head, nope! Then, my clients jumped in, and began shouting out what they thought I was trying to describe to them. It was a movie, and I was working up a sweat trying to mimic the scene where the psychiatrist (Richard Dryfuss) was laying on down and Bob, (Bill Murray) was jumping on his back! Finally, after exhaustion from this writer, Dad got the movie! The next thing you know, Dad jumps up, and begins his illustration of his movie. We played this for 45 minutes. A family conference on a Saturday morning. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A bus session

The other day, I had the unique opportunity to do a addiction education session on a bus. We were suppose to meet at a coffee shop, but the client was late for work, and the bus was the only feasible option at the time. This was first for this writer. I try to have a completely, confidential place for each client's needs. Being creative in our 1:1 sessions  in my experience is a positive! Sitting in the middle of the bus, next to each other while other people getting on and off the bus heading to the city. Voices of all of kinds, filled with all different kind of faces. This particular client, (I gleaned as we hit the stops) was very popular on this bus ride! We began reviewing the goals, doing our mood check in, when all of sudden a stranger, (I thought) began listening to our session. I realized this stranger was a peer, maybe even a close friend, ok, how about a girlfriend. Soon I had two voices going back and forth with our conversation. I decided to roll with it, what am I going to do? I never knew that this other person could help me elicit the responses that can help this writer be a better helper? At the end of bus ride, (I had to take it back to my car- and I was late for next session) a older gentlemen tapped me on the shoulder as my client and her girlfriend got off the bus. He replies that the person that I have been working with over the last 17 months is doing good things! I looked, smiled, and said that is a positive right? He said with a chuckle if you only knew. I thanked the man for his positive words. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

A car wash

Addiction Services had another opportunity to attend a college visit, out of town with a family. Once this summer ends for 2014, we will have completed eight college visits with clients and sometimes their families. The story begins working with a family on a college visit cleaning a car. Each family member working together as a unit, (writer included) accomplishing a goal with positive energy. I had to take a step back for a second, and view this positive moment where brothers and mom are working as a team, smiling, laughing, enjoying a moment on vacation while meeting their goals during a college visit. This was huge! Often families can forget how important it is to get along with each other through the tough times and negative energy can take over making things bigger. Each person had a task, but the funny thing, there was no delegation to what each person was suppose to do, right? We all know as parents we bark out, clean your room, take the garbage out, did you do the dishes? All normal tasks we ask our kids to do. But, sometimes they do not do them, and after awhile we need to get the kids on a task or goal schedule. Here is the interesting dynamic to this story, cleaning a car with a family. All parties did not need any prompts or directions from parent or writer- they all did the tasks on their own with self-autonomy. Wow, this was great. Watching a special family bond in a positive way is staying in our health and staying in the moment.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tent session in a sporting good store

Though out the years it amazes this writer where I get the opportunity to run sessions in the most unique locations. A week ago, I was working with a teenager and we decided to go check out a huge sporting goods store. We began the session by walking through the exhibits and talking about the goals on his treatment plan. Walking around the store and working on new goals. We then went upstairs and saw the camping gear. We ended up in sitting down in this huge tent, where there was a checker board. The salesmen told us to check it out. There were lawn chairs in the tent (that big of a tent) and we decided to play checkers. People walking around us, and appeared to enjoy our checker game. Writer did win the game! Building rapport with a client is crucial in trying to help with implementing wellness and teaching how to stay in the moment. You can use, but, you can choose not to. Our discourse at this particular session was powerful and I could see that some walls were coming down. Talking, laughing and working on some life skills in a tent, in a sporting goods store, playing a child hood game of checkers, was a first for this writer. Sometimes as helpers we forget how important it is to just go with the flow. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Opiate user

Nate is a opiate user. He gave this writer permission to share in this blog. Nate does not want to be seen as hero, but a addict who is working a program, our program. I got the referral from a hospital up north, in Minnesota. A young man who was rushed to the emergency room, he stopped breathing. This is an every day occurrence with opiate users, trying to ride the train with heron. You stop breathing, which can be a fatal experience. Nate was a typical teenager he reports. Healthy family, and for the most part a positive childhood. Red flags were not prevalent from his teenage years. Nate, went to college, and graduated with a Art degree. One night after work, Nate was turned on to heron at a art show with other peers. That was 4 years ago. Today Nate went through several out patient programs and two rehabs. Nate still chose to ride the heron train. Four months ago, Nate's family had to make the toughest decision in their life. They stopped enabling him. I met Nate at his hospital room, with his probation officer. He was facing 3 years hard time, if he tested positive one more time for opiates. I fervently believe that Nate, at that time, wanted to go to prison. He did not want to die, in his words. Nate had his first family intervention two weeks ago. Nate had his second and third family session last week. Nate is clean. Going on four months and change. His probation officer is amazed at his dedication and work ethic. Nate's sister asked him during our last family session what is different about this program then the others? Nate replied, I am tired of covering up everything, lying, stealing, telling you what you want to hear. My body is aching, my mind is lost. Tod brings a unique approach to treatment. He does not judge me, make me feel like crap or tell me what I want to hear. He tells me the truth. I tried to spin things with him, and he saw right through me. But, he let me learn how to face my demons and not focus on my past. Tod says he knows I can buy the ticket for that train. I can also decide not to buy that ticket for the train for that moment. I then take my next thought and think of positive things in my life right now.... The family all broke down in tears after hearing Nates explanation. I looked at the Grandma, then the mom, dad, sister, brother in law and back at Nate. Healing takes time. I am not sure what will happen to Nate and his family. I do know we are at four months of clean time. Each thought, can be turned into a positive with Nate and his family. There are many hurdles this family will continue to go through. Nate takes his medication each day now and is learning how to work his day to day routine for him not his family. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Each day

Each day I try to find 15 minutes where I can calm my mind, find a quiet place, and relax all of my thoughts. Some days can be a challenge. There may be a awful lot of negative energy circling my brain. It can be difficult working with people who have many challenges at this stage in their life. They are choosing not to work on themselves in a healthy way. Families can be torn apart by this unhealthy dysfunction as some of you already understand this cycle. You do not have to have a addiction to calm your mind. Each day I make it a goal to find a secret spot. Be creative in finding your 15 minute respite. For this writer, it may be my car, or a quick stop at a rest stop. If time permits I will walk into the first church I see, and find a quiet corner. I can remember last week I found a old old, ice fishing house, and began my 15 minutes of healing my brain. Once you have found your spot, it can be anywhere, close your eyes, and think of all the negative thoughts that are on your mind this second. You need to spend some time on this. There my be some storms up there, right? Now, think of one positive thought this second. Think hard, and breathe. Smile. Laugh. Cry. Think positive. Let your mind drift with positive thoughts. Open your eyes. Feel the air, or what ever mother nature is bringing at this duration in time. Everything around you is secondary. You are in the moment. Balanced once again to start your next meeting, appointment, and task. Walk out of your destination with confidence. Each day make this your self time. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Building Self- Guest Blogger, Metairie C. Hecht

 Body image and self-esteem issue paradigms our kids and youth face today are by no means new. These concepts have been around since we humans started wearing clothes, however, body image and the surrounding issues are under an increasing media microscope and are becoming more of a hot topic. It has been well documented recently that increasing rates of young people are facing the perils of bullying, eating disorders, drastic measures to achieve perfection, and in extreme cases, suicides of their friends due to the abhorrent view some of our youth have of themselves. One does not have to look far to find stories in the media surrounding this topic; a simple search in any internet browser will turn up hundreds of articles. Rather than document those here, I would like to touch on the primary undercurrent in all body image and self-esteem issues which is a lack of self-confidence. What can we do as parents and adults to raise confident and self-appreciating girls and boys alike, verses continuing this epidemic of a society that promotes self-depreciation? I believe that teaching three main concepts to our kids will help: Celebrating what makes a kid unique, teaching proper nutrition and what it really means to be healthy, and showing them that you, as their parent or close adult, are the safest place to vent or discuss anything that may be bothering them.

It is an unfortunate fact that the vast majority of us suffer from unhealthy body image and low self-esteem at times. Adults have many tools to combat these bouts of negative views of ourselves, but most often, kids with these thoughts rarely make them known. It may be a fear that they will be further ridiculed or have their thoughts and views of themselves confirmed if they admit having them. Kids often internalize things they may have felt embarrassed by. It can be as simple as someone in their circle making a joke at another child’s expense to facilitate a pattern of unhealthy thoughts. This often results in paradoxical extremes taken by our kids to achieve a certain type of look, or to fit in. Eating disorders are a common resort many youth fall into, and without proper support at crucial times, can affect their life and health for many years to come.  

If we celebrate what makes our kids unique, and instill in them that it is perfectly fine to be explicitly them, we start to sow the seeds in our kid’s minds that it’s ok to not always “run with the crowd”. Most people, who are successful, find what makes them unique and continue to develop that uniqueness to stand out from the crowd. Standing out is what makes any celebrated personalities in our society noticed. We can help our kid’s develop whatever makes them shine and be the starting place of their own confident responses to any nay-sayers in their circles.

                Aside from a unique, confident kid, a truly nutritionally and health-aware kid will only help bolster the tool box you as a parent or adult can build. Eating disorders in youth are on the rise and are recognized by mental health professionals as one of the leading causes of young generation stress that leads to unhealthily behaviors. While complex, the true crux of an eating disorder is the desire for control of something when everything else feels out of control. Young teens are especially susceptible as their hormones change and they receive pressures to look a certain way from many sources. However, if a youth is aware how to control what they put in their body, by making healthy food choices through proper nutrition and having an active life style, they will soon learn that proper eating and healthy activity help them feel good. Finding a physical activity kids can be involved in on a routine basis and helping them to make good food choices will help their overall mental stability.

                It’s important that if you suspect that a child is experiencing unhealthy body image or self-esteem that you do not let what you notice go by in silence or hidden underneath an emotional wall. It may be easy to chalk up suspicious behavior or comments to a growing attitude or a passing phase, but when a child is allowed to let the unhealthy thoughts about themselves spiral in their own mind, with an endless potential to grow and metastasize to affect their self-image, that it is a fertile ground for things like eating disorders or other extreme measures start.  Trust your instincts and challenge that concept from growing into something more severe. If you can’t break through to your child, find someone or a health professional who can, but continue to reiterate that you will not judge them and you are a safe place for them to vent about anything that is bothering them. Even if you have to say the message a hundred times, or hundreds of times, it’s something your child will need to hear. A healthy support network around our kids will exponentially help them to develop a healthy self-esteem and a strong confidence in who they are.
                This writer does not have all the answers, but as an adult who has had to grow out of being a young person with many of the issues mentioned here, these things would be what I wish someone would have helped me with when I was young. Celebrating uniqueness, fostering healthy and active mindsets, and having a safe place  to let whatever is bothering a mind out, I feel is a good start to making a more self-confident youth. We all, myself included, absolutely can do a better job as parents and adults to let our children know they are only ever asked to be themselves and that is the best possible outcome to have. Being self-confident and healthy will help lead to a good mindset and body image throughout their and our lives.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Calm your mind through a crisis

One of the hardest things to do is learning how to stay calm during someone else's crisis. Especially if you are a parent. The first reaction can be filled with anger and maybe some unwanted discourse that is sent back to the crisis. I often hear parents tell me they wish their first reaction was more controlled and not delivered in the way that it came out. However, we are all human, right? This writer falls into that same category of other parents, at times, where my first reaction may not be as controlled as I would like. I am human too! However, if self does go too far, one can always make amends in a healthy way, while letting cooler heads prevail. For example, if you can see that you just exploded on an issue that is not your crisis, you still have the power to go back and talk to your child in a positive way. A calmer voice, a thought out discourse, and non-judgemental approach allows you to stay calm through the storm. The ultimate goal is not to explode through the crisis, but be able to stay in your moment, and still effectively work through the struggle with your kid. Some kids are waiting for you to explode so they can use that reaction as their own unhealthy validation for their behaviors. As parents we want to have our kids bring their crisis to us in a safe environment where we can help them find balance. The problem here is kids do not always come to the parents first with their problems before they manifest to a crisis. The parent will have to figure out the presenting behavior that their kid is showing, and sometimes the parents misinterpret that behavior. A calmer mind will help you navigate through your kid's problems and crisis. Yes, there still needs to be strict, rigid boundaries in order for your kid to understand when a rule is broken as well as ramifications for their behavior is needed. I encourage all my parents to keep an active journal and for our kids to keep a journal for their expression of thoughts. Get the negative energy out, and tell us about your positive energy. A calm mind can still be a angry mind, but you are in control of your thoughts and how you present them. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Skype education - Binge Eating Dx

How many times do we say things happen for a reason?  Responding to a crisis skype this early afternoon. Permission to share the content with our readers from Pam. Pam is like many mothers out there in our community. She is trying to find help and support for her teenage daughter who is struggling with a eating disorder. Pam's daughter appears to have a binge eating disorder. This is when the person will consume large amounts of food and can't control their eating. This is a serious eating disorder, and this writer has worked with many overweight males who struggle with this disorder. The latest research reports that 1/3 of people who are diagnosed with a binge eating disorder are males. I have worked with a few females who have this disorder. The mom reports that she can not get her daughter the help she needs and is exasperated. After 20 minutes of listening to her via skype she appeared to be less anxious. I began working our model with the mom, and tried to keep things positive. The mom was extremely knowledgeable of the binge eating disorder. Our time was coming to an end, when her daughter walked into her office. I heard the knock first then the voice. She introduced me to the daughter and we began to talk. As I could see the mom's expression, I felt a sense of positive relief from her body language. The daughter asked if I would like to talk to her soon. Then I heard a familiar buzz, a pager was going off from mom. She then needed to excuse herself and take the page. I knew then she was a physician. The daughter validated that point later in our skype. The mom came back and thanked me for my time. I asked both mom and daughter if they could do one thing for me, before we talked next time, if their would be a next time. They both said sure. I pushed my chair up closer to the monitor, and looked at each person. I then said, one thought at a time, don't make things bigger in your head, let the negative energy out, focus on now, right this second, let your thoughts be positive. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Skype Actor

Life is about choices, you can choose to live a life with positive energy, or you can choose to live a life where you are putting all your energy into negative energy! Working with actors can be a learning experience to anybody, regardless if you are a helper. Their particular skill to me is fascinating. Amazing how they can entertain us non-actors. I got the referral from a peer out of California. At first I thought I was just going to be consult for addiction and help with the next step for a intervention and treatment. The actor had 45 days to get into some program, or their would be some ramifications with the next job he was contracted to do. We did 6 skypes, (ok to share) he is doing some out patient work during the evenings. Last Friday, he was given the opportunity to start back at work and continue with his acting career. He skyped with me this last Saturday, and said he was not ready for the job and wanted to continue with his out patient group work. I asked how he was able to form this decision. He reports that he needs to take ownership of himself. He continues that he will be the actor of his own life (writer and actor set a goal to put positive energy into himself before he could go play another person) reading affirmations, setting affirmations, reflecting on self, and journaling the urges and cravings. The actor wrote a 9 page journal entry before skyping with me on Saturday. Each page was filled with several reasons why he deserved to go get high, or he could get high with using peer group. On the last page, (number 9) he wrote what would happen to his current life if he did go get high. He then reported that he would have the opportunity to play a high character in his mind or a clean character in his mind. He chose to play himself, and put all his energy into where he was at that moment, when he wanted to get high. Going on 21 days of clean time. One thought at a time. He knows he can get high, but is choosing not to. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.


The other day I was working with a young teenager now turned adult. She was telling this helper how it feels good to be 18 and in charge of her life. I asked her how things will change now that she indeed is 18. I almost fell out of the chair. Seriously, her discourse was flowing into sub life components with detailed goals and objectives. I thought she was reciting our treatment plan for a moment. Then I respectfully let her continue with these well thought out ideas. She was looking at me for feedback with eye contact, and patience. Calmly, ( I was very excited to respond) but I had to think carefully and absorb all this information she was presenting. I began my words, when suddenly she blurted out the word, perspective. I go perspective? Yes, she says. I'm 18, and I have a different mind set now. In the back of my brain, I am going, (I'm really good at what I do, or she is starting to form her own perspective) either way, this is positive stuff. This particular client, (ok to share) would say no more then two sentences at a time with me for the last two months. In her words she was being forced to see me or go back to treatment. Our conversation in this session was all about perspective, how you look at things from afar, and right this second. This helper is heavily engaged in the here/now component, and tried to help her navigate through some difficult behaviors over the last couple of months. She wanted to look into the future, and what goals she was going to try and accomplish instead of looking at where she was now. We talked more about how she could accomplish her long-term goals and began to frame the steps needed to make this work for her. I dropped her off, and headed to my next city where other client sessions were awaiting. The phone rang, and it was her father. I have talked to him twice, he is having a hard time with his daughters challenges at this time. He has chosen not to engage himself in our family sessions at this time. He begins with a voice that sounds positive, and recharged. I for the second time today, almost fell out of my chair. Again, there were non-stop words flowing, and I listened, and listened. Five minuets of a father sounding positive, and supportive, while he was sharing his perspective with me. I thanked him for his time and words. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

You know you can, but you are choosing not to this second.

This time of the year is very difficult for many addiction behaviors. The St. Patricks day seems to kick start the behaivor for some. Winter blues to spring sunshine, depending on where you live. Then we have the sports, sports and sports viewing on television and the countless media attention that seem to trigger the past urges/cravings. This is evident in our crisis, referral phone line where many addicts and family members reach out because of their loved ones are spiraling into addicton again. I'm sure you know somoene at this hour or second that is struggling with this addiction behavior where ever you are in this world. Addiction is the substitute satisfaction of an unmet need. The next sentence is one that you can deliver to that struggling addict right now, this second, professional or not. You know you can, but you are choosing not to this second. What does that mean? My friends this is how self starts to be honest for the first time, in a very long time with where they are at right now! Sure they want to use, drink, gamble, purge, and have unhealthy sexual experiences. But, if you say this to them, and have them say this with you, together, you are meeting them with a positive thought! You know you can, but you are choosing not to this second. Help them change their thought with positive behavior. You will be surprised that the addict or person struggling with the addiction is listening to your words right now, and more importantly, observing your behaivor. In the past, you may have called out the ugly addiction behaivor, and the addict feels guilt, shame, and will lie to you right to your face. Been there, done that. But, this time, your support is creating a healthy boundary, in trying to understand where that addict is right now. I tell people, respectfully, I don't care what you have done in the past, but right now you know you can use, but you are choosing not to. It is amazing how those words appear to linger in the addicts head. The addict is use to hearing, no, no, you can't do that, it is killing you, and us! Training the mind to be mindful of what unmet need is missing can be a powerful realization. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A kid to a parent, back to the kid.

Being a helper can be one of the most rewarding jobs that life can offer. It can also be one of the most emotional, exasperating, and stressful positions that life can offer. The trick is to find the balance! Sometimes you run into clients that just do not work the way you want them to work! Yes, some of this population may be classified as teenagers. I too was one of those kids who did not want to work with anyone! The story continues on as 18 months have passed. I began working with this troubled teenager, and for the life of me could not get the walls to come down. This particular kid, has been in and out of therapy, life skills, and medication management. The first five months were taxing to say the least, on him, me and his family. Then I did something that I have done in the past, on few occasions. I began to work exclusively with the parents. First the Dad rejected the idea. I began to work with the Mom first. We did some amazing work for two months, then the Dad came around, and we had a positive month with him. Nine months of working with the family for family sessions something changed. The kid began to sit in on the family sessions. Not once, not twice, but every Saturday, the kid would rearrange his work schedule, and fun schedule to take part. On the 11th month, I began seeing the kid again. This unique helping relationship has transpired over the last 6 months now. When I began working with this family, the kid was a D student, told many untruths, and got in trouble with the courts. The parents and kid did not have a healthy relationship at the time. If I remember correctly, the kid would not eat with his parents, or go anywhere with his parents. Yesterday, I got word from the family he was accepted to college. This kid is going on a family visit to his college with his Mom and Dad! His grade point average is 3.0! He has been clean for five months now. The tear jerk er in this whole story, the kid and family at their church are leading a christian group for families who need support. When we started this program, the parents and the kid did not believe in a higher power. Today they have found their higher power, and are helping other families find their higher power! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

What to do when self is out of balance?

I get this question several times a week working with client sessions, family sessions, skype sessions, and group sessions. The other day I was talking to a crisis family where I go out of town and provide services. The family, like many families is working through some addiction behavior. Everyone appears to be out of balance. Remember, you do not have to struggle with addiction to be out of balance. Nor do you have to be in a family crisis dealing with addiction to be out of balance. We all can get out of balance with our negative thinking. Some of us may make poor decisions when we are out of balance. How do you recognize the signs or red flags when self is out of balance? The first thing I tell people is to put energy into the problem. Don't avoid the problem. When you are feeling out of balance, you become less focused on the core issue and can look for the easy way out, which can be not dealing with anything. I call this unmet need a pathway to negative energy that if not dealt with in a healthy behavior you become out of balance. Self is using all their energy on making impulsive, negative and sometimes addictive choices that do not solve the problem. You are out of balance. Then the lying behavior, takes over. This is a early stage when you need to identify that you are becoming out of balance. When you are lying the negative behavior continues day to day and hour to hour. This behavior causes stress, anxiety and slowly life becomes harder in everything. You stop taking care of self, and accomplishing your goals. Self-medicating behavior can be next. You are looking for a escape or trying to run away from your problems in your head. Everything appears to be out of balance in your life. You think you can achieve balance by using, drinking, gambling, purging and unhealthy sexual behavior. But as you know, that does not work either. Non-addicts begin to put all their energy into one thing, it may be a job, or relationship. The non-addict becomes out of balance when they stop doing the things that brought them fun and joy. They become obsessive or co-dependent with the one thing, job or relationship and stop working on them selves. They to are out of balance. I have found that both addicts and non-addicts are capable of getting out of balance. Self included. The formula for being in balance always starts with your line of thinking. Utilize your common sense. Self needs to let the negative thoughts go, and focus on the positive thoughts creating healthy balance. Then you are able to use the tools you have in understanding that your negative thinking can mess you up. Reflect on this negative thinking by journaling, exercising, talking with someone which allows self to balance their thoughts again. Once you begin to practice these simple skills, you will be able see how you can talk your self out of negative thinking and not making things bigger in your head. You are creating a healthy balance for you as you learn to stay present, in the moment! Slow your thoughts down, and understand that everything will be ok. You deserve balance, but you have to work your routine. It is amazing when one person in the family is balanced, that others begin to get balanced as positive energy appears. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Monday, January 6, 2014


When ever I do a new group, regardless of the classification of addiction or description of peoples in group. I outline the word shortcuts in big, long, letters, on the chalk board. I then peer into my audiences faces and watch their body language as I begin my opening day lecture. Now I'm not a gambling man anymore, I learned 15 years ago and change, that shortcuts were not going to enhance my own recovery. But, with that said- I observe 90% of my group participants do three things when I write the word shortcuts on my chalkboard. One, they shrug their shoulders, and their head nods down with a defeating look on their faces. Two, the eye contact from them to me quickly shifts to the floor, as I begin to describe the addicts behavior as a shortcut in life! Three, almost always there is someone in the group that is just itching to walk out of the room. My point is, shortcuts in our life do not help us balance our thoughts, achieve our goals, or improve are financial situation and lead us to healthy interpersonal relationships. Shortcuts are a waste of energy.They don't help us heal. We are leapfrogging important life skills and lessons when we skip steps. Each step, represents part of the journey you will need on your path to cross the next bridge in life. You will struggle in life, trust me, but it can be a healthy struggle where you are learning how to take each step, with each thought, one by one, making positive decisions with positive behavior. Self begins to feel positive! Self is creating balance in their life for the first time in a long time. A higher power is guiding you through struggle in a healthy way. The negative thoughts are not turning into negative behavior. You are changing the negative thought to a positive when you are not taking shortcuts. Life is becoming fun again! Self has created a healthy routine that does not take shortcuts anymore. You are slowing down your thinking and taking one thought at a time. It feels good! Journal, exercise, attend your support groups and participate in support groups. Positive energy appears within you. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


You can't change your past, predict the future, but you can control the thought now! I am now. That is the goal for 2014. Be comfortable with who you are now. It is a wonderful feeling to like your self again. Pick and choose the positives that you experienced from last year. Implement those positives to this year. Slow your thinking down when stressful situations appear. Self does not have to react with impulsive thoughts that can lead to being out of control behavior. Now is the time to utilize your common sense. One thought at a time. There is know reason to make things bigger in your head when you feel out of control. Self can control the thought, and focus on the positive energy. Balance your thoughts in your mind. Stay present in your thinking. Let the negative thinking out, and stay grounded. Why worry when you can't control the unexpected? Your higher power can help you stay in the now. Don't waste energy on things that may not go the way your assumed. Direct that energy into things you can control. In order to be in the now, self needs to exercise, and take care of your body which can be fun! When self is staying in their health, wellness begins to filter through your mind and you feel good about where you are now, at this moment. Racing thoughts seem to disappear, and you may feel an inner strength. That energy force is all about you. Your teaching your mind not to over react to things that cause you stress. Many clients share that they have a increased motivation as they glean how to stay in the moment. Think about the last time you were stressed or anxious about something? Now, put all of your energy into changing that negative thought to a positive thought. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.