This fall the streets in my neighborhood were lined in gold. It was as if King Midas had strolled down our street, touching tree after tree. While red-leafed oaks and maples command the ovations and dazzle us through the much awaited “peak” of fall colors, it’s the golden leaves lingering well into late October that provide the base notes to autumn’s symphony.
Our street is edged in gingko trees. Gingkoes are living fossils, mostly unchanged for 270 million years. Their fan-like leaves turn a rich turmeric gold as the growing season ends. The leaves change in hue from lemony green to a buttery yellow and finally deep gold. Like a well-disciplined marching band the trees release their leaves together. The golden fans cling to their branch until it’s time, resisting winds even days before the appointed hour. It is as though they hear the signal that says, ok everybody, LET GO! When they do, they create pools of gold at their rooted feet, as if street lamps positioned nearby cast circles of creamy light along the sidewalk. Continue reading
When it comes to sober education I am of two minds, exactly the same way I am of two minds about schools focused around religion, ethnicity, or future avocation. Take for example, Julliard, the famous school for the performing arts. The people I met who went there were often exceptionally well trained, but not that well-rounded. I respected the level of proficiency displayed at their crafts — I often wish I had had some kind of similar apprenticeship in something. But outside of the performing arts culture and the worlds of their individual families, the students there seemed somewhat at a loss as to how to relate.
One girl I remember rooming with who had gone there for music didn’t know how to brush her hair or cut her nails — her mother had taken care of both, since her hair had to be long to be lovely and her nails had to be short to play the viola. On the other hand, she went on to have a career as a music instructor and I spent the next 10 years either high or trying to get that way. Continue reading
In 2014 we may have experienced more media awareness and education about addiction than in years past. The on-going publicity about the opioid prescription drug epidemic and the successful passage of the Minnesota Good Samaritan 911 + naloxone bill (Steve’s Law) educated many Minnesotans about the dangerous consequences of heroin and prescription drug opioid overdose and the need for intervention with naloxone.
Tragic as it was, the overdose death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the finest and most talented actors of our time, drove home to many that successful recovery is possible but the threat of relapse is ever present. I do hope that his 23 heroic, successful years of recovery from this illness did prove that addiction is not choice, nor a character defect or moral failing. Continue reading
Becoming a mom at age 17, and taking her daughter with her when she went off to college, shaped the professional woman Leah Hebert is today. “That experience of having and raising my daughter at an early age shaped my desire to do something in social service,” she says. “I’m passionate about making sure people have access to services they need in life, whether it’s food, healthcare, education or support.”
The image that most of us have of married men is that wives are generous to a fault and often play a martyr role while their lazy husbands may say they love their wives but in reality only think of themselves. TV ads are full of this theme. Culturally we make fun of men in marriage because they sometimes fit this stereotype and we commiserate plenty with their overworked wives. However, stereotypes are stereotypes.
The reality is that today’s modern men play an active emotional role in their families well beyond what used to be true in the past. Continue reading
— Dale Evans
“She’s back on the wagon, good for her!” “He fell off the wagon again, what a shame!?” These phrases are often heard in the meeting rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. What’s up with the wagon metaphor? The phrase falling off the wagon apparently dates back to the 1800’s when the U.S. set out to ban liquor sales, according to Ask.com. Stories abound about the origin of this phrase. One of the most common says it derives from prisoners who were being transported to prison on the back of a wagon. They were allowed one last drink in the local pub before they enforced temperance inside. Continue reading
I could hear my eyelashes! I blinked slowly several times. Yup, definitely my eyelashes. I was lying in a hammock under a spectacular night sky in the High Desert of the Southern Mojave in California. The 2,900 foot elevation and remote location far away from air and light pollution made the stars seem brighter and more vivid. My awareness, too, was sharper.
It was August 1986. I and 15 other men and women of various backgrounds from all over the United States had gathered for our first retreat with a spiritual teacher we had only read about or to whom we had been referred by earlier teachers. We had signed on for reasons as varied as we were.
By then, I’d been on a 10-year “quest” that had taken me to workshops, seminars, talks and retreats throughout the Twin Cities. I filled notebooks with truths and principles. I sought my own truths through daily journaling. I read whatever I could get my hands on, some material consciously chosen and some that showed up in that quirky way the universe has of giving us what it knows we need. I tried meditation, guided imagery and yoga. I learned intuitive reading, remote viewing and body scanning. I saw auras and felt energy fields. And I continued to search for . . . for what, exactly? I didn’t even know; I just kept searching. As it turned out, all this was preparation for the real work ahead. Continue reading
When you find yourself having bottomed out, dumped on your hindmost on some metaphysical street-corner examining the pieces of your life lying in useless grey shards around you like a chunk of concrete someone dropped off a roof, the first thing you should look for is shelter. The next thing you look for should not be a date. The sad fact is, though, that everything that got you to your particular and personal nadir is going to practically ensure that the first thing you look for —when the shakes stop, the sweat dries, and the permanent clammy ache finally evaporates — is some Good Old Fashioned Romance. That is because, no matter if the substance is alcohol, heroin or Pez dispensers, you are probably what’s termed — in every day parlance — an Addictive Personality. As I write this, all over the planet counselors are trying to convince clients not to sneak out back with the person who gave them the eye in the breakfast line. Sponsors are repeating to sponsees the One Year suggestion. Wait a year, focus on your recovery, focus on yourself. Excellent advice that you have a good chance of completely ignoring. Continue reading
When Marion found out that she had to have heart surgery for a rhythm problem, she felt anxious and concerned. This was uncomfortable and overwhelming. She wondered if she should call on some friends to help. What could she ask them to do to ease her fears? She started by calling her best friend, Gen, who started the wheels in motion to help Marion. Gen had many ideas but wanted to check first with Marion to see if her suggestions would be workable during her friend’s preparation for her upcoming medical procedure.
Brad awoke one night with severe pain. This pain had been building over the past few days to the point where it had become unbearable. In need of help he awoke his wife, Gina. They both dressed quickly. Gina grabbed the keys and they sped off to the nearby ER. The doctor did a comprehensive evaluation and concluded that surgery for the removal of Brad’s gall bladder was necessary and should be done as soon as possible. Continue reading
Recovery can be boring. You’re working the steps. You’re going to meetings. You have a sponsor. You’re doing all the right things. But the 12 Step program has become routine. Life feels flat. Your prayer life is languishing. The exhilaration of building a better you has faded like last month’s dream. Something is off.
That boredom and ennui may be your higher power nudging you onto the next level of recovery, says Joanne Campbell-Rice, PhD, a spiritual director at Loyola Spirituality Center in St. Paul. Continue reading
I’m L.B., a compulsive eater and an alcoholic….and a….and a…and a….and a….fill in the blank. I have an addictive body and brain. I don’t manufacture the typical number of feel-good chemicals. I feel all the same ways and same things as other people, just more intensely. Doesn’t sound too bad, eh? Hahaha. I pursued more than one addiction into the gates of insanity and pending doom/death trying to avoid painful feelings by reaching for euphoria.
I’ve heard many people in programs other than AA proclaim that their program is harder. After all, those AA’s can put the plug in the jug, but those OA’s have to take the tiger out of the cage at least three times a day. Frankly, I believe that to be a rationalization. Continue reading