• NUWAY Annual Picnic 2019Hazelden Renewal Center

The Art of the Urban Retreat

sauna towels

The sauna meister artfully swirled a white towel over his head, sending waves of eucalyptus scented steam to envelope us. “Try to hang in there and breathe it in,” he urged those of us remaining in the room. A couple of people from the group of 22 had slipped out the door already, opting instead to breathe in the urban air at the top of the Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis. I moved to a lower bench in the small wooden-walled sauna, and calculated in an utterly unscientific way that it was probably 10 degrees cooler on the bottom bench versus … Continue reading

Sounds of Silence

Tuscon, Arizona

“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.”  Chaim Potok, The Chosen I retreated to Tucson in January for my annual days of silence. It was luxurious to leave Minnesota in the depths of winter. The low desert sun warmed my stay. I had another engagement in Arizona, leading me to wander the web to see what might be available for retreat. There were several. I chose the Desert House of Prayer, which borders Saguaro National Park, providing access to acres of open land and miles of trails for exploration. Most importantly, it … Continue reading

Sometimes It’s Better to Be Sorry Than Safe

scared woman

At some point or another most of us have been told, “Play it safe” or “Better safe than sorry.” Perhaps it was wiser for us to not take a given risk and stay with familiar ways of doing things. The caution we felt from a loved one may have really saved us. However, what if we’re always playing it safe and hardly ever take risks? Is there such a thing as playing it too safe? Yes there is. Marie and I have a big decision to make. We can’t decide whether to get married or not. Marie and I are … Continue reading

Emotions Anonymous: Do You Have a Thinking Problem?

do you have a thinking problem

On July 25, it will be two years since I’ve kissed an old, old boyfriend. He is a modern man, with a hyphenated last name. His first name is Johnny and his last name is Walker-Red. I chose my sponsor because she was beautiful, poised, brilliant, a mother (a prerequisite as I have three children)and, most importantly, a “Country Club Drunk,” just like me. Mrs. Rum Pot…just put it on my tab….Everything tastes better in Waterford! The dear woman took on a hell of a lot more than guiding a dazed and confused Hazelden grad when I asked her if … Continue reading

Healing From the Inside Out: Blame, Shame and the Mind-body Connection

shame mind body connection

Q: I’ve read in books and heard from holistic practitioners that our state of mind contributes to our state of health. In dealing with my own health issues, this leaves me feeling like I just can’t win. When I feel the worst physically and out of control of my body, I have to also look at what I did wrong to cause my illness. It feels like a double burden, and shaming, like a kick when I’m already down. How can this be helpful? A: The idea that we are responsible for the state of our health and, as many … Continue reading

Adult Children of Sexual Dysfunction – Coping, Changing, Growing

ACSD

Adult Children of Sexual Dysfunction (ACSD) is a 12 Step group of women and men attempting to overcome the effects of growing up in a sexually dysfunctional family. Their common goal is to become sexually, spiritually and emotionally healthy. Below, two members of ACSD share their stories in the hope that others will read it and if they can relate, will know that there are other people out there working through similar, but different histories. Jolene’s story Could you describe the sexual dysfunction in your family growing up? My story is pretty atypical. I suffered extreme sexual abuse from virtually … Continue reading

Are Sports Conducive to Recovery? [Opinion]

competition and recovery

I am a big sports fan. I like to play sports, although I don’t do that as often as I used to, and I follow all of the major sports. I talk sports at work, and listen to sports talk radio and sports center on T.V. just about daily. I think that I am aware of the arguments in favor of sports for a variety of healthy lifestyle reasons. But recently I have given some deeper consideration to sports as it relates to recovery. Some weeks ago I went to watch a basketball tournament put on by a local radio … Continue reading

The Road to Resilience

tree in the desert

Our knee-jerk reaction to the idea of being depressed is that it is a terrible state in which to find ourselves: sad, discouraged, stressed out, fatigued, puzzled, hurting, lonely, afraid. It sounds pretty awful. So why is it that some doctors and philosophers put a positive spin on depression, saying that it can frequently be good for us? Why is it that most psychiatrists today would not regard the experience of depression as an illness in and of itself? Depression normal? That’s right, and often necessary. There are times when you and I should feel depressed, and there may be … Continue reading

Let’s Just Have Fun and Make Stuff Up

improv

“Some of the funniest people I’ve ever met have been at recovery meetings.” This high praise comes from someone who is in the business of being funny. John Gebretatose, who left alcohol behind 15 years ago, performs and teaches Improv theater. He also mentors others to do the same. At HUGE Theater in Minneapolis, a popular home and incubator for Improv, Gebretatose is the director of diversity and inclusion. He is also the co-founder of an African-American Improv comedy troupe called Blackout, which has performed internationally. What is Improv theater? Improv is a lot like when you were a kid … Continue reading

The Ability to Identify as an Artist First

artability people incorporated

How People Incorporated’s Artability Program Challenges Mental Health Stigma For people living with a persistent mental illness ­— stigma, debilitating symptoms and a lack of self-esteem — can create a misconception that they are unable to choose who they want to be in life. They may feel defined by their mental illness. Daily struggles, confusing emotions and fragmented thoughts, may also make it difficult to communicate how they feel, producing this overwhelming feeling of being misunderstood. There is no choice involved in this particular experience — their mental illness choses them. The good news, however, is that it does not … Continue reading