Co-Occurance of Gambling and Substance Abuse Ups the Anty for Successful Recovery

“John” was doing well in his recovery from alcohol addiction. He hadn’t had a drink in eight months, was regularly attending AA and individual counseling, and was well supported in his recovery by family and friends. Several of John’s college buddies were planning a trip to Las Vegas and asked him if he wanted to join them. John was feeling good about life and the progress he’d made with his alcohol addiction, so he thought a first-ever trip to Las Vegas would be fun and well deserved. Once in Las Vegas, John visited the famous strip. He was mesmerized by … Continue reading

Creating Closeness with Compassionate Communication: A Nonviolent Approach

Personal communication too often fails us. A conversation can go south in a second when a nasty feeling erupts in our gut. The other person did something that strikes us as wrong, and they’re going to pay. Blame and vengeance hijack the conversation. Or we duck out of the conversation ASAP and let this feeling fester for days – or even years – in effect, sticking ourselves with the price tag of simmering victimhood. Passive- aggressive actions may follow. All these scenarios involve inflicting harm on someone, an everyday type of violence. A nonviolent approach Another option is Nonviolent Communication … Continue reading

Voyageur Outward Bound: Helping Students Find True Grit

With the best of intentions, many 21st century parents have worked hard to shield their children from pain, discomfort and struggle. In part, with the advent of 24/7 news programs like CNN, parents are bombarded by the risks and perils facing their precious offspring and have reacted by creating organized sports and group activities, filling downtime to ensure safety and security. The flipside of such structure is that many kids today have little opportunity to develop problem-solving skills, grit or perseverance, skills that are essential to coping with life. Sadly, when these kids encounter challenges with relationships, academics, drugs, or … Continue reading

When the Game is Up

Christine’s Story When I was asked to share my story, I didn’t hesitate. I think it’s so important for people to see that everyday, regular people can have a gambling addiction. And by telling my story I hope I can help others and reduce the shame of compulsive gambling. Looking back on it, I guess it’s not surprising that I developed a gambling problem. I had a risk-taking personality and was exposed to various forms of gambling as early as age 9. My father was a bookie and sold football tickets. I’d spend my allowance and purchase tickets from him. … Continue reading

Jim’s Story

I grew up in your average Minnesota small town. We were neither rich nor poor, just like most everyone growing up in that area. My father was sporadically employed as an accountant. However, he was also a big gambler and a big drinker. His addictions affected our family in ways that have taken me a lifetime to fully understand. My father’s gambling problem resulted in our losing our house twice – once when I was four and again when I was 12. We were lucky in that the mortgage company felt sorry for us and allowed us to keep the … Continue reading

Retreat into Deep and Meaningful Recovery

When I think of the word retreat, it conjures up an image of sitting a log cabin, dressed in a white robe, sipping a steaming mug of hot tea. My woes have melted away on the massage table and I’m transported into a state of bliss and contentment. I can see an expanse of water on the horizon, as I relax into an oversized chair and exhale any remaining tension. But it is so much more than just relaxation; retreats today have expanded to include workshops that help develop self-care rituals which nourish the body and soul. When I leave … Continue reading

The Healing and Spirituality of Tantra

The word Tantra is often misunderstood by Westerners, incorrectly ascribed to uninhibited or marathon sex. In fact, Tantra is a technique that originated in India to connect the physical body to another dimension and can be practiced alone or as a couple. In contrast to many other spiritual practices, Tantra regards the human body as the necessary means for enlightenment, as opposed to seeing it as something requiring purification. Just a small proportion of Tantric texts —less than 10 percent—deal with sexuality; well over half the texts focus on the use of mantras, while others focus on the worship of … Continue reading

A Homemade Retreat is Delicious

Some years ago, a friend offered me her cabin “up north” for a week and said I could include friends. Overjoyed, I quickly called the two women whom I met with weekly for mutual spiritual support. “How about creating a week of silent retreat together?” I suggested. Both responded with a rousing “Yes!” Quiet, undistracted time for reading, meditating, walking in the woods, floating on a lake – what a splendid contrast this would offer to our frenzied lives. But could we really spend a week together in silence? And also have fun? We were going to be at a … Continue reading

On Retreat: Waiting for the Summer Lightning

Whether you create your own mini-retreat or take part in a retreat gathering with several hundred people, the intent is to truly retreat – pull back, get away from the usual, disengage, create downtime for all levels of your being – mental, physical, spiritual, emotional. In today’s fast-paced, always on, tech-connected culture, idleness or downtime can be difficult to come by. But not impossible. Ferris Jabr, in an October 2013 article for Scientific American entitled Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime, quoted writer and meditation teacher, Michael Taft, who refers to cerebral congestion: “In a normal working day in modern … Continue reading

Happily Ever Now: Four Ways To Be In Love In The Present Moment

We all know that Happily Ever After doesn’t always pan out. Tinderella and Prince Match.com don’t always ride off into the sunset, and well, that doesn’t mean it was a complete failure after all. Many times people come into our lives for a moment of time to help us grow and expand; then their duty is done. Unfortunately we often get so caught up in obsessive future planning of the “what if’s” and the “might be’s”, that we miss the magic of the moment. Which essentially is all that really exists. What about this…Happily Ever Now. Being present with your … Continue reading

Take Good Care

According to the 2015 report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, nearly 44 million adults in this country provide personal assistance for family members with disabilities or other care needs. As Cynthia Orange points out in her latest book, Take Good Care: Finding Your Joy in Compassionate Caregiving, when you add to this statistic the number of family, friends, and others who are at the ready to lend support or extend a helping hand when it is needed, you might ask, “Who isn’t a caregiver?” Take Good Care is unique because it isn’t your typical self-help, memoir, resource, … Continue reading

Move to Change: Using Dance to Ease Conflict

Throughout our lives, we learn contextually appropriate ways to maneuver our bodies in relationship to the world. Children, for instance, are often given more social permission to move about, jump, and play with fervor. However, the body-politic does not offer equal access or freedom to move for all; in some cultures certain forms of movement may be against the law or push against the boundaries of cultural norms. Yet our bodies need to move to live, and to change. Dancers seem to understand this need to move on a cellular level. For them, dancing serves as a form of communication. … Continue reading

Creating Art Puts All the Pieces Together

Some of the most creative, resilient people in the Twin Cities live at Tower Apartments in South Minneapolis. In the spring of 2016, they spent many hours together in Tower’s lobby sharing their stories and shaping hundreds of ceramic and colored glass pieces into a stunning mosaic. The massive community creation now delights their eyes every time they step off the elevator near Tower’s entrance. With obvious pride, they tell visitors, “We made that.” Tower tenants are people with long lives. Most have faced more than their share of deep difficulties – having to leave beloved places, losing loved ones, … Continue reading