Love, Joy, Peace and Hope – Give it Away

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” ~ Kahlil Gibran It is better to give than receive. We hear it all the time—especially this time of year. But sometimes I wonder if we really believe it. We say the phrase as if the generalization is a forgone conclusion. We print it on bumper stickers and billboards. We teach it to our children. And we mutter it under our breath when circumstances don’t go as expected. But in reality, the axiom is difficult to live out. We … Continue reading

Gratitude: Focusing on the Bright Side

If you count all your assets, you always show a profit. ~Robert Quillen I can get so frustrated with my life some days that I allow my thoughts to make me feel as though nothing is going my way and nothing ever will. While I was doing the dishes this afternoon I made a mental list of all the things going wrong. My daughter is getting ready to move into first apartment while attending the college and the change-related stress due is causing tension between us. My grown son has been especially busy lately and doesn’t seem to ever return … Continue reading

The Next Step — Rediscovering the Whole Person

The landscape for alcohol and substance abuse recovery has been dominated for 80 years by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and its guiding principles The Twelve Steps which became the gold standard for recovery. While the program is credited with helping millions of people around the world, the gold is losing some of its luster. The National Academy of Sciences in a 1990 report to Congress noted AA’s “lack of well-designed and well-executed studies that can be cited to support or negate the validity” of its claim to be “the most successful treatment for persons with alcohol problems.” To date, that scientific … Continue reading

Staying Sharp: Q&A with Doctors Henry Emmons & David Alter

By Women in Recovery In their new book Staying Sharp, doctors Henry Emmons and David Alter have combined the latest neuroscience research with ageold wisdom about resilience, mindfulness, and stress reduction to show that vibrant aging is within reach. Together they demonstrate how to blend the best of modern science and Eastern holistic medicine to form a powerful drug-free program that will maintain a youthful mind and a happy life. We posed some questions to the doctors on how to live more joyfully, age more gracefully, and build intimacy in our relationships, no matter what our age. Q. What happens … Continue reading

Sometimes, Ya Just Gotta Laugh

I’ve come to the conclusion that God put me on this planet to make people in sobriety and recovery laugh. This is the story of my journey to sobriety/ recovery. I was the attention-starved middle child of a typical middle-class family. Dad was in sales so we moved a lot. I learned how to make friends quickly by being the class clown. As an adult, I started using drugs so I could drink more. I never thought I had a problem. My Dad, having been an alcoholic, was in the program later in life. I remember my dad taking a … Continue reading

What’s the Trick to Fulfillment?

By William Schiemann, Ph.D Are there real tricks to becoming fulfilled in life? You bet. Research suggests that there are key streetsmart actions that those who are most fulfilled use every day in their professional and personal lives. I interviewed over 100 successful people — some who were fulfilled and others who were not — to understand why success does not always bring about fulfillment. There was amazing convergence around several things that fulfilled people do at work and home. Here are the top five: 1. Have strong values — and stick with them. Does your work environment, family and … Continue reading

Slogans: YOU’RE LOOKING AT THE PROBLEM (To be placed on mirror)

There’s no doubt in my mind that the numerous slogans I’ve heard repeatedly over the years in the rooms of A.A. have impacted my psyche one degree to another. Perhaps the most familiar commonsense catchphrase “One day at a Time” has definitely helped carry me through countless rough and tumble days in my sobriety. The famous A.A. saying “First things First” has often come in handy as a gentle reminder to slow down when I’ve felt overwhelmed by a bombardment of thoughts rushing into my head too quickly. The frequently heard tried and true line “Easy does It” has rarely … Continue reading

Learning Spaces

“The roots of education are bitter, the fruit is sweet.” – Aristotle How could a 15-year-old girl be considered a threat to the Taliban? On October 9, 2012, in the Swat valley of northwestern Pakistan, a gunman stepped onto a bus in which Malala Yousafzai was returning home from school and shot her in the head. Not because of religious, ethnic or social differences; but because she was an outspoken advocate for education. At just 11 years of age she had spoken out against the Taliban edict forbidding girls to be educated. She gave a talk entitled, “How dare the … Continue reading

Reader’s Write: Dealing with Depression in Recovery

The worst part of having clinical depression is the crash that generally occurs after experiencing a ray of hope. Or, if I dare admit, after feeling “happy” for the better part of a day or two. However, there are times when I feel so low, that it takes unimaginable effort just to get out bed. These are times when simply eating or showering require too much energy. It only serves to crush my spirit even lower when a friend or perhaps an acquaintance in recovery offers comments such as, “You know of course, this is your choice to be depressed,” … Continue reading

I’d Give Anything

It was many years ago, but I have never forgotten what my friend Al said to me on a warm summer evening in June. Jan and the kids were out of town one night in the summer of 1990, and my friend Al Kirsh and I spent an evening together as I played my tenor recorder and Al played our family piano. Al is an accomplished pianist. He’s one of those guys who sits down to play and in no time, a crowd gathers round to listen. He can play nearly anything and he does it with an ease and … Continue reading

Our Environment: The Beauty of Bees

According to Becky Masterman, director of the Bee Squad Association Program at the University of Minnesota, there is both good and bad news when it comes to bees. “The good news is the media has done such a good job of letting the public know the bees are in trouble,” Becky says. The bad news — of course— is that the bees are in trouble. The Bee Squad at the University of Minnesota is the outreach arm for the University of Minnesota Bee Lab, under the guidance of nationally known and respected Dr. Marla Spivak. During beekeeping time (spring, summer … Continue reading

Healing From Abuse: Light Encourages Recovery

In 2015 as the Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) in Minneapolis was hosting festive events to celebrate its 50th anniversary, a smaller, quieter happening began to ripple through the CTC alumni community. No fanfare, no hype, but to those involved, of greater celebratory significance. Thirty-one years had passed since the 1984 arrest of John Clark Donahue, the theater’s co-founder, and several other staff members on child sexual abuse charges. Donahue spent ten months in the Hennepin County workhouse; the other cases were dismissed or settled out-of-court. In May 1991 the Minneapolis Star Tribune ran a thoroughly-researched twopart feature by reporter Kay … Continue reading

Food for Early Recovery

Introducing the concept of nutrition into a treatment program is not an easy task. Many addicts in early recovery are not ready for health behavioral change, since most are simply trying to get past the immediate crisis of addiction and the associated life adjustments of abstinence. In fact, sobriety can magnify pre-existing dysfunctional eating behavior. Many addicts began using drugs and alcohol in their early teens and never developed a healthy relationship to food. Many people in early recovery crave sweets and simple carbohydrates such as candy, juice, cereal, grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly, or ice cream. In addition … Continue reading

Your Darkest Moment Could be the Beginning of Change

Crash. Bang. Reality. As I woke up, a dark misty haze was swirling around my mind. The moment that I recognized that I was in a hospital bed, the events of the past 24 hours came flooding through my mind. I had tried to take my own life. At the age of 26 years old, my marriage had ended, and along with it, the non- profit organization that I had worked so passionately to grow, was pulled from under me. At that moment in time, living ceased to be an option. After a seven-year relationship, my wife had walked out … Continue reading