• Hazelden Renewal Center

My First Sober Holiday

How three leading women in the recovery community handled their first holiday season sober. Holidays aren’t always picture perfect, with families sitting around the dinner table, laughing and joyful. This is especially true of families in recovery, as the effects of addiction weave throughout the family unit: Dysfunction, codependency, stress, and burnout are common themes among recovering families. This scenario can be especially challenging for anyone in recovery to navigate, but particularly so for those in early recovery who are less practiced. It is possible, however, to get through a Holiday, maintain your recovery, and keep your sanity. Who knows … Continue reading

Getting to the Heart of Retreats

retreats

“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.”  Elizabeth Kübler-Ross When I think of retreats, I imagine practicing early-morning yoga, living virtuously on a plant-based diet for two weeks while detoxing my mind and body on a beach in Mexico. Even though my shoulders relax from up near my ears and my eyes widen at the prospect of such a retreat and some desperately needed time out, as I slowly exhale I … Continue reading

4 Powerful Stories of Transformation – From Addiction to Agents of Change

powerful stories of transformation

Recovery is one of the most painful yet transformative processes a person can go through. More often than not, the depths of despair is our catalyst for change: when the weight of being is more painful that the prospect of becoming. Like Rumi says, it is from the bough of our hearts that we find the joy of recovery. But that process requires shedding our rotten roots, learning how to live in our bodies and learning how to weather life’s storms, so that we can live fully. Recovery isn’t just about not using drugs and alcohol — it’s about learning … Continue reading

How to Keep Your Sanity During the Holidays

how to keep sanity during holidays

I hate the holidays. I know that seems like a strong statement, but — even at nearly six years sober — I still find the holidays incredibly challenging. It’s a time loaded with expectations, increased tensions in relationships, competing priorities, stress, and good old family dynamics. As if that isn’t enough, we can start to feel sensory overload in every direction: sounds, crowds of people, flashing lights, food everywhere. Conscious of my limitations and sensitive nature, I just want to crawl into a ball and hibernate at this time of year. That said — like anything in recovery — we … Continue reading

The Benefits of Giving Unconditionally

giving unconditionally

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill Some might say that giving unconditionally is the path of true abundance. Stepping beyond our self-interest and thinking of others is a gift in and of itself, especially for those in recovery. It is not only scientifically proven to make us happy, but it is also recommended by some of the world’s greatest leaders, spiritual and religious figures, and psychologists. I spoke to recovery scientist, researcher, and therapist Austin Brown about the benefits of giving unconditionally for people in recovery. By … Continue reading

What Does Nourishment Mean to You?

I have always associated the word nourishment with food—and eating. The word nourish actually means to provide food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition; to promote growth needed for nourishment (including spiritual nourishment); and to maintain/ support/strengthen. What is interesting about the definition is that it makes the distinction among the ways that we nourish ourselves, i.e. our whole selves — mind, body and spirit. Understanding this concept—of nourishing one’s whole self—is so important for people in recovery because the minute we put down drugs and alcohol, we pick up food. It is a rite of … Continue reading

Dating in Recovery: It’s Complicated

Dating in recovery is a complex subject. We come into recovery as broken people; detached from ourselves, and from our feelings. We’re told, ‘the good news that you get your feelings back.’ One of those feelings is our sexual instinct. We’ve all been there at a meeting when an attractive person walks in. Come on, we’ve all found someone attractive at some point or another! I recall an old sponsor who would take one look at the sparkle in my eyes, and would immediately tell me, ‘look at the floor, Olivia!’ Feeling berated, I often did what I was told. … 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