create art! make music! explore!
It was the holiday season, my day off, and I was up to my eyeballs with things to do. So when my daughter phoned inviting me to make baked dough ornaments, I thought I just don’t have the time. But I really wanted to spend time with her so I happily put tasks on hold. I figured we’d hang out together, make a few ornaments and I’d get back to my to-do list. I arrived to a warm, sunny kitchen where she and a friend already had the first pan out of the oven displaying a few traditional cookie cutter shapes – stars, trees, angels – and some interesting one-of-a-kind creations. My daughter had inherited her father’s prodigious artistic talent so I was not surprised. My own drawing never got much beyond kindergarten mode — a cat made of circles, triangles and squiggly lines. Continue reading
“It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worthwhile? But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of harboring resentment is infinitely grave. For then we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the spirit”
—Bill W. in As Bill Sees It
I’m a person who is easily pissed off.
There . . . I said it. And it’s true. Let me give you an example . . .
Just yesterday, I got a call from a friend. He’s a guy I don’t see much, because he lives a couple hours north of me. He said, “Hey Dan! What are you doing tonight?”
I didn’t have anything planned, and his question piqued my interest: “Nuttin’ much. Why?”
“Wondered if you wanted to go catch a Timberwolves game with me.” Continue reading
Cheryl Strayed is a Minnesota native, and the author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Wild is the journey of Strayed’s 1,100 mile, three month solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail and the personal struggles that led to her hike, including the tragic loss of her beloved mother to lung cancer when Cheryl was 22-years-old. Oprah Winfrey selected Wild for her book club, which led to a spot on the New York Times best seller list, and Reese Witherspoon commissioned the rights to and starred in the movie Wild, now a major motion picture.
During a recent phone conversation from her current home in Portland, Oregon, Cheryl kicked off our interview by describing how the purchase of a shovel changed her life. While living in Minneapolis many years ago, Cheryl visited REI in Bloomington to buy a shovel to dig her truck out of the snow. She also purchased a book that caught her eye, about the Pacific Crest Trail. This book, plus her impulsive decision to hike the trail, would help her dig out from the overwhelming grief and despair she was experiencing since the death of her mother. Continue reading
In all of our lives there certainly are those times when it is very healthy to live only for ourselves. If we are just about to give birth to a child, if our recovery in a hospital from a lifethreatening illness like alcoholism is at stake, or if we are powerless over another family member’s out of control behaviors, it’s rather wise and necessary to focus only on ourselves and our well being. Detachment with love has an essential place in our lives.
However, what if we are just going about the business of living and only want to focus on our own needs to the real exclusion of care about others? We might say to ourselves, “I am not my brother’s keeper” or “Every man for himself.” Are we living a healthy life with such attitudes? Continue reading
I t was the fall our eldest started college. Once we had heard the parent pep talk and were summarily dismissed, I could hardly tear myself away – the excitement of choosing classes from endless possibilities, the beauty of the autumn campus, the opportunity to form fast friendships. I came right home and registered for The Artist’s Way, a class based on the book by the same title, authored by Julia Cameron.
I’d never considered myself an artist. I’m from a long line of non-artists. Julia Cameron says, “… creative recovery (or discovery) is a teachable, trackable spiritual practice.” I was willing to be taught. To participate in this adventure I committed to writing three journal pages each morning and going on a weekly artist date.
Creativity gurus claim we all carry within us an animating spark of creativity. It adds zest to life, draws us into play, piques our curiosity. I jumped in and started taking my inner artist (who is about age 5) out for weekly dates. We had a wonderful time!
A lot of people claim that they can’t sing. Maybe at some point in their life, someone told them they couldn’t carry a tune. Maybe they were told that they were being too loud or obnoxious. Maybe they started thinking that singing wasn’t cool, or that it was only acceptable in a karaoke bar under the influence of alcohol. At some point, they just decided to quit singing.
I say “quit,” because anyone who has been around young children knows that they are not nearly as shy about sharing their voices with the world. At some point, though, it seems that a lot of people in our culture quit singing. We start to think that singing is for professionals, and we giggle at the people who show up for the “American Idol” auditions who obviously have no chance of making it in the competition. We become so shy of our own voices that we don’t allow anyone else to hear us, and we make fun of ourselves when they do. Continue reading
From an early age I had low self-esteem partly as a result of being criticized unrealistically by my mother. I was a perfectionist and struggled with anger, frustration and tension. Besides that I felt like my parents were smothering me with over protection. College graduation coincided with a break up with my boyfriend, dashing marriage plans and leaving me lost and dejected. Mom said, “I told you so.” That just made things hurt more.
I moved to a faraway state to try and escape my parents and the feelings of failure and guilt that I had, but things only got worse. I was painfully depressed, lonely, and practically anorexic when I moved back home a year later. Having me home again made my mom depressed, too. Too afraid and ashamed to ask for help, I was blessed to encounter people who encouraged and helped me along the way. It took years, but with determination my mood eventually improved.
I married in my late 20s thinking this would “solve all my problems” but the marriage ended up being a failure. Years later I understood that my controlling nature and lack of maturity had contributed to my part in the doomed relationship. In addition, the perfectionism I thought was such a great quality when I was younger turned out to have a negative effect on my attitude and relationships with others. Continue reading
I see myself on the high-speed motorbike
with skin-tight leather jeans
and long shiny hair
and the looks of an angel.
I see myself acting in a movie.
The movie wins an Oscar,
and I have all that I need
and cherish as an actor and author.
I see myself being a great leader
whose speech touches the hearts of millions,
who brings victory to mankind
and kills all ignorance.
I see myself writing books
and shifting the mass consciousness
and see the creativity inside me
to publish these best sellers.
—Vidya Gargote from MUTE: Poems That Saved My Life! Continue reading
With the weather finally heating up (goodbye snowpocalypse!) it’s that time of year again when we layer down and show some skin. For those of you who didn’t exactly get that body you’ve been hoping for during this year’s hellish winter… don’t stress.
From running to biking to cooking, here are some apps that will get you in tip-top shape in time for next winter:
1.MapMyRun – For all the runners out there, MapMyRun allows you to record your workout details including the time span, distance, pace, speed, elevation and calories burned. It uses the GPS in your mobile to see the exact route you’ve traveled on the map and lets you view your workout history. Available on iOS and Android (Free)
2. Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker – As the weather gets hotter, our lives get busier with a flurry of outdoor activities and adventures taking over our schedule. By counting calories for you and creating a personalized diet regime, this app saves you time and hassle allowing you to get on a regime in no time! Available on iOS and Android (Free) Continue reading
On the bus recently I overheard a woman on her cellphone. “I’m so depressed,” she told the person on the receiving end. Later that day, I was on the receiving end as I listened to a friend from across the country explain that it’s been hard to get out of bed in the mornings. I knew what she meant. I, too, had been having a hard time getting and staying motivated and upbeat.
While the term “depression” might commonly be used as a general descriptor to convey, I feel bad emotionally and I don’t know how to relieve it, depression itself is not an emotion. “Depression actually occurs when we become stuck in a painful or uncomfortable emotion and we don’t know how to step out of its grip,” believes Joey Klein, a meditation and personal growth expert. “In overcoming depression, we must begin to feel the emotion that we are stuck in.” Harvard University has determined that the neurological lifespan of an emotion is 90 seconds. An emotion can only survive longer than 90 seconds if it is fed. The food that feeds and sustains emotion is our thoughts. Therefore, it is the way that we think that keeps an emotion alive beyond 90 seconds and keeps us stuck in a painful state Continue reading
“Think you’re different”? read the tagline on the poster my first C.D. counselor would point to the second a new patient entered his office. The words, printed in a cheerfully comic balloon-lettered font scrolled over a depiction of thousands of densely massed European lady bugs, bright red with big black polka dots.
“I’d relate better” I said “if they were cockroaches” I said.
I understood it, though; I was already getting the idea: Find the common ground.
Whether in treatment, or in the “rooms,” addicts come together from wildly different backgrounds, cultures, levels of formal education and religious upbringing. If the poster struck me as kitsch, as a bromide, that was fine. A more nuanced relationship to aesthetics had kept me sober for not one nanosecond. Continue reading
The road to recovery is difficult for everyone whether you’re at the beginning or well into your journey. Incorporating wellness practices like good nutrition, exercise and improved sleep habits into your routine make your recovery easier and more successful.
Easier? You might think that sounds like extra effort when you’re already working so hard. Yet, for people in recovery, a healthy lifestyle is especially important for several major reasons. First, substance abuse causes damage to the body due to excessive stress. Second, alcohol and drug abuse can cause general malnutrition as well as specific nutrient deficiencies. Third, improved health increases your physical and mental strength which makes recovery more approachable and sustainable.
Letter to editor:
Mary Lou Logsdon’s reflection on the ginkgo trees that line her street (“Letting Go,” November/December, 2014) was a reminder that many meaningful life lessons are gleaned by observing nature. Her comments about “letting go,” based on the metaphor of trees losing their leaves in the fall, were not only thoughtful, but lyrical, as much akin to poetry as prose can get. I’m saving her piece, so that I can share sections of it as the opening words for a future service at our Unitarian Universalist church.
Though I regularly find useful and supportive advice and information in The Phoenix Spirit, I was shocked by the tone of John Driggs’ latest column, which, in defending parents, came across as very blaming and shaming of (adult) children.
Here are a couple quotes that were especially troubling: “… no matter how problematic our childrens’ childhoods were there is absolutely no justification for their rejecting us today from their lives. If they do so, they are doing so out of their own spite and cluelessness, not because they were harmed in childhood. ”
“All of us are obliged today to forgive our parents.”
I have never heard forgiveness characterized as an “obligation,” nor have I heard such blanket judgments about family circumstances, circumstances that John Driggs does Continue reading
Mahatma Gandhi said: “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” He was voicing ancient wisdom that goes as far back as the first century BC when the Roman poet, Virgil, wrote: “The greatest wealth is health.” Today we say, “If you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything.”
We seem to want good health. The majority of New Year’s resolutions center on the physical body: exercise more, quit smoking, eat better. Fitness clubs offer state-of-the-art equipment; Continue reading
You know, e v e r y holiday and birthday is like a dagger in my back. Sometimes I just lie on my bed and cry my eyes out. I adopted Maria when she was two-years-old as I couldn’t have children of my own and had no husband. Her mom died of a drug overdose. She was the cutest little girl and loved following me around. I became her everything. Every time I left the room without her she would scream for attention. It took a long time for her to be a relaxed, regular child. She was quite popular with the other kids at school who thought she was charming and smart. Continue reading
Finding balance in our daily lives can be difficult in today’s fast-paced, smartphone- driven society. Five days a week, my smartphone leaves me feeling as though I am a critical- care neurosurgeon; on-call and always accessible. Without real private time, or privacy. Whether it’s work or family needs, all too often we are encouraged to play the role of the First Responder; always standing ready. Reports tell me that approximately one in five American women are on antidepressants, that tens of millions of our fellow Americans find themselves relying on food stamps, that the most prescribed drug in America is an opiate (Hydrocodone). The yin and yang of modern American Life appears to be stress and self-medication. Continue reading
We seek to live whole lives in recovery and wellness, but it is so easy to find parts of our lives that get compartmentalized or ceded away from recovery principles. Personal finance is one of those areas where the wisdom and tools of recovery could help, but many people get overwhelmed, and doubly so when debts are part of the picture.
Debt has become a new norm in American life. Think about how credit cards have become a part of everyday life. Fewer than half of consumers pay their credit card balance off in full each month, and the average debt load that is carried month after month is over $15,000 (at the typical 18% interest rate, that’s over $200 of interest paid every month). Continue reading
Sidewalk-less suburban cul-de-sacs keep you from walking. If you do walk, you face having to cross a four-lane highway to get to a store. Once at that store you are presented with a mile long row of boxed options disappearing into the horizon, all of them packaged with bright, distracting colors and most of them containing a great deal of sugar and fat. If this becomes overwhelming, as it often does, you just scuttle home, get in your car, drive to a Mickey D’s or TGIF’s, Continue reading