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The Guiding Light of Hope

By: Margi Taber

Margi Taber’s life work is about hope and healing. Her career path has focused on adolescent and family work in the field of addiction and social work. She is on the leadership committee of NAADAC's Adolescent Specialty Committee and is the vice president of programs and operations at RSSS.

A Guiding Light of Hope is inspired by the many people she has met who are on a mission to increase awareness, provide education, and promote health and healing regarding this ever-challenging disease called addiction that is destroying lives on a daily basis.

RecoveryATX

May 24, 2016

I first was introduced to Joseph Sanchez about three years ago when my work with ROCKSTAR SUPERSTAR PROJECT crossed paths with Sanchez’s recovery work in Texas. I immediately connected with his energetic personality. As our conversations continued, I was inspired by his passion to make a difference and his efforts to give back to the recovery community. Let me introduce you to Sanchez, president and co-founder of RecoveryATX.

“My name is Joseph Sanchez. I am a person in long-term recovery. What that means to me is that I haven’t had a drink or a drug in my body since Oct. 2, 2005.”

That’s how I introduce myself today. Not too many people know of my past, and they really can’t picture me in my darkest moments, restrained to a hospital bed, begging for the ventilator to be removed so that I could just speak.

I actually had a great upbringing and to others seemed to be a happy teenage boy. I started drinking and using drugs at a young age because it felt good. It was fun. After years of struggling with drugs and alcohol and my identity as a gay man, I found myself in a detox facility in El Paso, Texas. The 12-step fellowship brought meetings to the facility, and it was there that I heard my story from people who had found themselves in the position I was in and had gotten to the other side of the darkness. I am forever grateful for the opportunity I was given at Casa Vida. I later joined their team.

My mentors in this process have been great change leaders and strong role models. I have witnessed how to keep providing authentic services to the recovery community and assist in the growth of the community they serve. With this passion and my overwhelming need for growth, I moved to Austin, where I helped to start the RecoveryATX, gaining a greater understanding of giving back in order to keep what we have worked hard for.

My Personal Mission Statement
To internationally inspire positive thinking and forward movement through M.E.E.: motivation, education and empowerment. Through recovery, I have been given many opportunities to learn and grow, such as when I participated in a leadership institute provided by Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. That is where I learned to tap into my strengths and created a vision that brought my passion alive. I had already begun training peer recovery coaches and wanted to develop curriculum that would support people in recovery grow as leaders and advocates. At this institute, I realized I wanted to motivate people to reach for their best selves, educate people on how to best accomplish their goals, and empower them to take charge of their lives and become leaders.

A Defining Moment
Bruno’s death. I met Bruno in early recovery. We hit it off as friends, both on fire and excited about our newfound recovery. We made plans to volunteer, take road trips and travel from recovery convention to recovery convention. I had not had a friend like him for a long time. He taught me about faith and how to trust the process. We shared many side-splitting laughs until a diabetic coma took his life in 2005. It was the first time I had experienced death sober, the death of someone I was hoping to grow up in recovery with.

It was a very emotional time. I still miss his laugh. After a good while of mourning, and tons of prayer and meditation, I got to a place of peace. I remember sitting on my bed crying and then feeling a presence whip over my face from my head to my chin. I stopped crying and started laughing. I knew that Bruno hadn’t gone anywhere but was everywhere. I could feel his kindhearted spirit, sense of humor and passion for recovery. He wasn’t physically here anymore, but that wasn’t going to stop me from doing what we were going to do: to help people in recovery.

Advocacy and peer recovery can happen anywhere. I am open about my recovery, not discouraged to talk about the hard truths. When asked what I do, I like to leave the person with a little seed of understanding and curiosity. Recently, I found myself stranded at the post office at night. My car was acting up, and by chance, a tow truck pulled into the parking lot. The gentleman asked if I needed help. We struck up a conversation. I told him about my work. It just so happened that his mother-in-law was an alcoholic. That chance encounter led to a conversation that led to his family talking to her about their concerns and encouraging her to get help. Advocacy and peer recovery can happen anywhere.

My Five-year Vision
Married to the man I love; having coffee in the backyard with our dogs, Chula and Liza; listening to the wind blow and the birds singing; remaining true to my passion; inspiring people to grow, to learn and to live a full life. I hope that the work I do for my own recovery can spill on to others as a message of hope because whether one is in recovery or not, there is always room for spiritual growth and enlightenment. 

Sober in College

Feb 10, 2016

When we are aware of the magnificence of this world we live in, we become more exposed to some pretty amazing ways others shine a light of hope that leaves an imprint on our world. In 2014, I was introduced to Paula Heller Garland, who at the time was president of Texas Association of Addiction Professionals. Heller Garland has been an addiction professional for more than 20 years, and her work has focused on advocacy and bridging the gap between prevention, treatment and recovery. She is a lecturer at the University of North Texas in the Department of Disability and Addiction Rehabilitation where she values the opportunity to mentor future counselors. Since meeting Heller Garland, I have followed her work at the University of North Texas Collegiate Recovery Program (UNT CRP) and found myself inspired by the light UNT CRP is shining to support its students. I recently sat down with Heller Garland to talk about UNT CRP.

 

Q: What is UNT CRP?

A: The CRP is a safe place a student in or seeking recovery can belong. We offer structured and unstructured programming to help support the recovery effort. Many college students are faced with the pressure to engage in unhealthy behaviors that jeopardize mental and physical well-being. In an abstinence-hostile environment, such as a college campus, students in recovery have difficulty and often have to decide between college and recovery. The CRP brings balance to student life and allows a student to focus on continuing recovery while pursuing their education.

 

The goals of the program include:

  • Educating students, faculty and staff about substance use disorders, mental health illness and other quality-of-life concerns;
  • Improving students’ success rates as identified by retention, GPAs and graduation rates; and
  • Increasing opportunities for current and new students by promoting wellness and long-term recovery programming initiatives.

Q: How did UNT CRP come to light?
A: Robert Ashford, a student in recovery, came to me about three years ago with a desire to start a student organization to support students in recovery. The CRP started from that organization, Eagle Peer Recovery. It was something I had wanted to do for a while, but I found no student momentum behind the program when I initiated it. Having a student take the lead was key. I shepherded the initiative and provided guidance when necessary, but the boots-on-the-ground work was directly a result of student work, sacrifice, dedication and vision. Eventually, our department put its own resources and space behind it, and we all have worked to grow it into a full-fledged, supported by academic fees CRP.

Q: What makes UNT CRP unique?
A: We are the first fully integrated behavioral health CRP in the country. We have students in recovery from a broad spectrum of disorders, from mental health to substance use disorder. We have on-campus recovery housing and are in partnership with a collegiate-focused outpatient program opening on campus by spring. We don’t require a student be in recovery for a specified period of time before becoming involved. We believe in all paths to recovery.

Q: What is the dream moving forward?
A: We’d like to have a building dedicated specifically for collegiate recovery, a building that has all services under one roof: peer recovery programming, recovery housing, academicians and researchers, and an operating recovery-focused counseling center providing services where students can complete practicum and internships. What we have now is amazing and has happened in a much shorter period of time than imagined; however, it is time for society to recognize addiction and behavioral health for what it is— not a bad and chosen behavior but a public health crisis—and to step up to support the recovery community with all the resources we offer to those recovering from any other illness.

It is time to throw a benefit dinner for the parents who cannot afford to send their son to college after having spent their life savings on treatment because insurance got away without having to pay, to form a food tree for the wife who lost her husband due to an untreated disorder, or a three-day walk that raises money to further research of the biggest public health issue we are facing today. Beating people up would be unacceptable were they trying to recover from any other illness.

Here’s to more and more people coming together to support people living in or seeking recovery to find success in higher education! For more information, visit the UNT CRP program website.

 

Fighting Addiction With Sage's Army

Oct 07, 2015
This blog project, A Guiding Light of HOPE is inspired by the many people the author has met who are on a mission to increase awareness, provide education, and promote health and healing regarding this ever challenging disease called addiction that is destroying lives on a daily basis. 
 
My first contact with Carmen Capozzi was about three years ago when I came across a post on Facebook about Sage’s Army.  I followed up with a two hour phone call with Carmen because I wanted to know more of his story and vision for Sage’s Army, an organization he started that was motivated by the tragic loss of his son, Sage.
 
Carmen knows all too well the pain associated with losing a child to drugs and he has set out to be an instrument of hope for others. His idea is that if he spares even just one family from having to face the pain he lives with daily, he has made a difference. It truly does take a village and in southwestern Pennsylvania that’s what they are doing – planting seeds and creating a doorway of hope for others!
 
About Sage:
 
Sage was a young man who had dreams and aspirations. He loved his family and friends and was always willing to lend a hand to those in need. Sage enjoyed golfing and was a born musician, just like his father. Sage considered attending college while working for his father’s business yet also had a desire to be a Marine. Sage brought a smile to anyone he was around. 
 
Sage died on March 5, 2012, at the age of 20, from a heroin overdose.
 
What is Sage’s Army?
 
People ask what Sage’s Army is about. We are a Drug Awareness Coalition. I spent 2 days on the floor when Sage died and the only reason I got up was because I heard my son Sage say, “Dad get up they’re not bad kids - you have to help.”
 
Sage's Army is a 501c3 non-profit that I started March 15, 2012, ten days after I lost Sage. Sage’s Army is an amazing group of people from all over and we are taking action. 
We are dedicated to offering programs and services designed to raise awareness of substances use disorder and to compassionately support those seeking recovery. 
 
An international “army” of nearly 8,500 Facebook group members is at the heart of daily operations working to bring this epidemic to light through a variety of awareness programs including speaking at schools, performing puppet shows for younger children, public rallies, drug take back events, sober entertainment events, community meetings featuring experts as well as personal stories, and special events to encourage grassroots action and changes to the status quo.  We are also active on the local, county and state levels in advocating for political and human service changes that will benefit those we serve. 
 
Lisa, who is a member of Sage’s Army says, “the word that comes to mind for Sage’s Army is 'unfortunately necessary.' I am in awe of Sage’s dad. To the Capozzi family, THANK YOU for sharing your heart for the sake of helping other people.  In my eyes, they are the most unselfish family I know.”
 
Why did you choose to be visible and vocal?
 
My personal mission since losing my son is to create a world of change and healing and I do this by speaking and modeling to inspire the truth. Families and individuals that struggle with addiction often don't know where to turn. They often feel alone and helpless. I want them to know what avenues are available. I want them to know that they don't have to be silent and they are definitely not alone. The more I am visible and in the public eye, the more I can be the voice for people that struggle with this disease. I can connect them to the right resources. I can be their hope. 
Some might think we aren't doing enough. Well we are doing what we know how to do. One thing I have learned is nothing in this world happens overnight.  We have made a lot of noise and we will continue to make our presence known. We will not hide in fear or shame.
 
What are the current goals for Sage’s Army?
 
Our goals are to bring this epidemic to light by Awareness, Compassion and Action, continuing our focus to help educate parents, school educators, administrators and counselors and to advocate for the resources and treatments for those fighting this disease within our communities. Currently, Sage’s Army hosts a monthly community meeting to increase awareness in our community, speak at schools and other events to share our message, offer prep classes for Certified Recovery Specialists, an Expressive Arts Recovery program and more!  Our work is about getting out into our communities any way we can to let others know they are not alone.
 
 
Related:

A Vet Rocks to Recovery

Aug 17, 2015
 
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Shannon Thomas, aka SGT SHREDDER, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii just “up the hill” from Pearl Harbor. In fact, you can see Pearl Harbor from the hospital he was born in. The first time he visited the site in 2003 he felt a strong connection. That is when he started to realize that many of the places he feels comfortable are places where there has been war, or where veterans have served. Thomas saw his military connections over his lifetime and believes it was all destined to be part of his story.    
 
His spiral into his own personal hell
Thomas signed up with the US Army on August 17, 1983 and spent a total of six years serving in the military, including time in Desert Shield/Storm. He first left the Army in 1987, and began drinking heavily “because civilian life wasn’t working for me”.  
 
So in 1989 he re-upped with the Army for 2 more years yet found his drinking didn’t decrease this time. He found himself still drinking to “cope” with his PTSD. He lost jobs, his drinking increased more and his depression intensified. He lost his health insurance and didn’t have access to medical. He started trading off music gear for prescription pills which he’d mix with alcohol as a means to self-medicate his untreated PTSD.  
 
The more depressed Thomas got, the more he relied on chemicals to get through. “Being a veteran I’m a master of camouflage and I knew how to mask the pain.” He stated “deep down inside my head, I saw nothing I wanted to live for and I hid that from a lot of people.”
 
Becoming open for help
Thomas was on the verge of suicide, when he realized that if he did anything reckless, it would also affect his family and friends. So when he moved home to Florida, he knew it was time to get help. "It was through the treatment at the V.A. that I started to see my own issues," he said. "I was learning a lot about myself and what was making me tick. I had asked for help in the past but never understood how much I needed the help until then.”
 
Inspired through music… 
Guitars are an outlet for Shannon. He loves music. On December 26, 2007 he attended his first Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert.He remembers the very first note played at that concert being so powerful: “It was a WOW moment definitely," he said.
 
The music was not aggressive and there was a message of good, positive hope. He found himself feeling inspired throughout the concert.Chris Caffery, a member of orchestra shared how the band donates proceeds from each ticket sale to local causes. Thomas said this was particularly inspiring to him as his past experience with “rock n roll” was sex and drugs. To see that music could be used for something inspiring was the fuel he needed to gain his own sense of purpose. Thomas thought “If the orchestra can inspire others through music so can I”.   
 
It’s time to give back to my community 
Thomas enjoys putting guitars together and had worked in the past building guitars for Paul Reed Smith. He ordered some guitar parts online and with some parts he had around the house, he put a guitar together, and then decided he was going to give that guitar away. Thomas found a veteran in his late 20’s being treated at the local VA hospital for a severe brain injury and who loved music. After giving the guitar to this young man and seeing his reaction, Thomas decided this was the project he was going to pursue -- giving guitars to veterans.  
 
Giving evolves … 
While this venture currently is “just Shannon Thomas making a difference,” Thomas has a vision to seek not-for profit status and has chosen the name “SGT SHREDDER Rockin’ to Heal Vets.” This would allow him to pursue his vision to help veterans heal through the power of music.  
 
Shannon plans to continue giving away guitars and other musical instruments that he’s refurbished or had donated. He also wants to host benefits where musicians come together to bring awareness to his message of hope for our veterans. He would like to build a team to bring the work of SGT SHREDDER across the United States because he believes “our veterans deserve to know they are cared about.” 
 
 
Gaining by Giving Back … 
Working on this project helps Thomas to keep his mind off negative things. He said “When I have flashbacks or have self-doubt or pity, I start focusing on the next project – the next veteran –  and that puts things in check for me. Today I don’t have to drink to hide things now.Helping someone else is what brings me passion.  It keeps me alive to help other people.”  
 
Find more information at SGT SHREDDER Rocking To Heal Vets Group on Facebook.

 
 
 
 
More Voices of Recovery: 
 
 
 

 

 

Finding Light in the Darkness

Jun 15, 2015

In search of interesting and fun facts for my 35th high school reunion, I came across this information about a journalism scandal that made top news in 1981. This excerpt was taken from Wikipedia:

Janet Cooke won a Pulitzer Prize in 1981 for an article written for The Washington Post, but the story was later discovered to have been fabricated.

Cooke wrote about an 8-year old heroin addict named Jimmy who lived in Washington, D.C.. After D.C. officials organized a full police search for him because of concerns for his safety, it was discovered that Jimmy never existed. The story was apparently a lie.   While there are more details to this story, what struck me in reading this was the hype 35 years ago over the idea of there being an eight year old heroin addict. Is that so unfathomable today? 

While I have not professionally come across an eight year old using heroin, I have spoken to people in two states in the past year who were inquiring about a presentation with Super Star because of heroin in their middle schools, reporting there were 12 year olds using heroin in their communities. Thirty-five years ago there was tremendous response to over allegations of an eight year old using heroin, while here we are today with concerns that we have a “heroin epidemic” flooding the country  and reports of young kids using.

For a moment my heart became heavy and I thought, “have we even moved forward” in this quest to bring awareness to the disease of substance use disorder? I believe our society has made strides in decreasing the stigma associated with addiction and promoting treatment for those with the addiction and family members/loved ones. Yet there is still so much more work to do. Too many people are in too much pain at this very moment over a loved one’s addiction. And at this moment another person has most likely died from their addiction.

I have personally met many people over my career that are on a mission to increase awareness, provide education, and promote that treatment works regarding this ever challenging disease that is destroying lives on a daily basis. These people are professionals in the treatment and prevention arenas, law enforcement, social work, medical, advocacy and even government as well as parents and concerned citizens who have seen firsthand the devastation from substance use disorder. There is a lot of amazing work being done across our country and I am proud to say I know some that are doing this work; especially those who are walking through their own pain creating opportunities for another family to never have to experience what they face every day with the loss of their loved one. Those people taking their message to the streets are my heroes!  

In an attempt to shine a light on the good things being done in the name of addiction/recovery I have a vision to share with you in future blogs some of the awe-inspiring people I have met and the great things they are doing. So stay tuned! There is more to come!!!!

More Voices of Recovery:

Finding Joe

Dream a Little Dream of Weed

Sobriety Junkie: My hope for Her

Support for the whole family

May 19, 2015

Recently I attended a community forum hosted by the New York State Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction. A group of Senators in New York have made a commitment to address this issue and are traveling to various communities speaking with those in the trenches – people in recovery, family members, treatment and prevention providers, police and other first responders. Their intention is to hear firsthand from people who are up against the addiction about how the Senators can better address this crisis. 

One of the pleas made to the Senators was to assist in improving ways for family members to be wrapped into the treatment process. Parents speaking shared how they had struggled to get quality care for the family because there were no provisions with their insurance to cover it. One parent spoke about going out of state to obtain long term treatment for her young adult child, and encountering her first exposure to family therapy. She shared about her family’s experience participating in a week long program to address the issues impacting family members and said that the work was instrumental in bringing the family into the recovery process.

The obstacles and benefits of including family in the treatment process is not a new topic of conversation. I recall about 15 years ago while I was facilitating an outpatient adolescent parent group a similar plea from a mother became the topic of our group.  Her adolescent daughter had recently returned from inpatient treatment at Caron Foundation in Pennsylvania and during her daughter’s treatment experience, the mother had attended a week long family program at the facility. The shift in perspective with this mother was visible. She was now viewing her daughter and addiction in a different light. No longer was she voicing that her daughter “should just stop using” or shaming her for being “weak”. While what she wanted more than anything was for her daughter to live a life of recovery, she had a better sense of what she and her daughter were up against.  

She identified a slogan that she heard during the program that brought her a huge “aha” moment, “a sickie + a sickie does not = a wellie.”  Upon hearing this and truly embracing what the words meant to her, this mother began to see more clearly her dance with the addiction. She shared that she had been responding to her daughter’s drug use with what she believed was loving action, yet had come to realize she was reacting out of fear and engaging with her daughter in ways that did not support moving towards recovery for either.  This mother was then able to see that just as much as her daughter needed support so did she. This is the same concept as when flight attendants instruct those caring for another to first put on their own mask. Otherwise, they risk not being able to be present for the one they are responsible for. 

Family treatment is critical to the recovery process especially if one is planning on returning to the family system for support. I’ve seen too many times, people in recovery returning to the same unhealthy environment attempting to get well. It just doesn’t work because if nothing changes, nothing changes. It’s important to convey a message to the family members of empowerment and education instead of shame. I have seen family members believe that they were responsible or they could’ve “fixed” their loved one. There is healing in helping a family member realize that their presence in the therapy process is not about shame, it’s to bring to light an understanding that when we are used to dancing a certain way and we aren’t achieving the outcome we desire, maybe it’s time to change up the dance steps.  

Addiction has a ripple effect, just like throwing a stone into the water. Layers and layers of people are impacted by addiction and everyone deserves to experience the “wellie” within.   Here’s to creating more conversations about the importance of each person impacted by the addiction turning inward to embrace self-love realizing that we are responsible first to ourselves and then we will be in a better place to give back to others – in a meaningful and healthy way.

More from voices of recovery:

Dream a little dream of weed

Sobriety Junkie: My hope for her

Confronting cross addiction

Tools for moving through the fear

Apr 21, 2015

As I continue to walk through one of the most significant career changes in my life, I am faced with the opportunity for some even deeper work on myself.  While life is again providing experiences that let me see how much I’ve grown in my life, I’m also reminded that this onion still has layers to be peeled.

Here I’m specifically speaking of F.E.A.R, which some people refer to as “false expectations appearing real”. For me, fear is that voice that creeps into my head bringing with it negative chatter and trying to put me on a path toward sabotaging my goals. What is the real fear behind allowing me to create the career I am desiring? What am I afraid to let go of?

Growing up in a family system of generational alcoholism did not teach me to embrace the unknown or to trust in any power greater than myself. If I couldn’t see it, I couldn’t trust it.   This led me to take on those characteristics that shout “control” and are often embedded in the nasty dance with oneself and the addiction.

Surprisingly, however, through this career transition, I have been in awe of how natural it’s been for me turn my life situation over to a power greater than myself and to BELIEVE that God’s got this. Experiencing this sense of faith and trust has been nothing short of a miracle.

Yet I am aware of these moments that bring back those negative words that used to be so ingrained in me, eating away at my self-esteem: “You’re not good enough.”  “You don’t deserve that.”   Many of us have our key phrases we’ve had to battle or maybe still fight against.    

Today it is so refreshing to catch myself before those words influence me. While there are moments where I find myself feeling fear, I have more moments where I know that I am exactly where I’m meant to be. The fear subsides and I realize I have nothing to be afraid of.

I’m grateful for having learned tools that have helped me to find this space of faith and hope in what potentially could’ve been a storm:

1. Living with gratitude: Each day I find myself grateful and thankful for where I am in my life – really taking time to feel grateful and thankful. In my experience, there is such a positive energy shift in the body when we are living with gratitude.       

2. Meditating. My soul craves this time to quiet the mind and go within. I have my favorite music or guided imageries that I use for my quiet time and currently my go to meditation music is Lazarus Remembers Lemuria by Steven Boone.

3. Addressing physical needs. I’ve recently met with my doctor and tests done to ensure that my physical body is not responding negatively to this major transition in my life. I utilize massage therapy with essential oils, and visit my chiropractor to help keep my body in alignment. Soon I'll be adding exercise and yoga into the mix!

4. Finding Inspiration. There are a variety of ways I connect with inspiration. It may be in sharing a conversation with someone, reading a book that speaks to my heart, watching a video that fuels my spirituality, or taking a walk and connecting with nature. 

 

 

Related:

Dream a little dream of weed

My hope for her

Creating a life on purpose

Creating a life on purpose

Jan 14, 2015

Today I was reminded about turning our perspective into our reality. I had been reading a few Facebook postings from others, noting that they did not want to return to work following their long holiday break.  I remember those days so well; being unenthusiastic to embrace the reality of returning to work after a few days off – that is, until I didn’t have a job to return to. 

The insight and perspective I am gaining being in this career transition is priceless.  I had become accustomed to thinking of work as just my job.  I didn’t really feel much passion, if any, to the job that occupied so many of my work hours.  The reality was that I had become bored and felt stuck.  I had talked about wanting to expand my horizons but I never seemed to take that next step to look for a more permanent career change. 

So I ignored the inner callings of my heart to expand my horizons and BAM!   Wouldn’t you know it?  The program was shut down at the close of 2014 due to budget cuts, forcing me to finally look elsewhere for my next career stop.  Now I’m not so arrogant to think the program closing was all transpired for my Higher Power to wake me up, but I do think that was the lesson for me to see through this experience.

The perspective I had adopted that allowed me to stay stuck was telling myself that I did meaningful work and it was a tough job market out there; that I had perks that were “good enough” so I should stay.  And besides, how did I know that the desire to do something else with my career was my truth? 

Self-doubt – it gets me every time!  It was my own fears building walls so I would tune out the true calling within to expand my horizons. My fears were disguised as excuses that I used to justify my lack of taking action.  I wasn’t really afraid of failing because I have failed before; I know what that feels like.  That’s not scary.  Maybe I was really afraid of succeeding to the calling of my heart because that feels like a HUGE responsibility. 

I wonder how many others hold back for fear of realizing that which we truly desire. After feeling like I’ve been hit with a 2x4, I can say my Higher Power now has my attention! I am now open to seeing those signs that I have ignored by allowing the excuses to be louder than the calling of my heart.  I see “my job” now is to just remain open; open to life open to my next step, just to be open.  Maybe that is all “my job” ever was meant to be for me to life my life on purpose.

So here I am starting 2015 with an opportunity to create something I desire by listening more intently to the inner callings of my heart and to silence the chatter that leads to self-doubt.   And to do this, I’ve realized I needed to strengthen my resources.  I’m meditating, journaling, starting an exercise program, and connecting with those who provide fuel for my inspiration tank.  

I also have a mantra I use daily now -- “I am here”.  Whether I’m experiencing fear or fearlessness, “I am here” reminds me to live in the present moment.  You see, our perspective drives our reality.  And today I am focusing on my perspective being in tune with the inner callings of my heart and remaining open to the signs that will guide me along my path as I create my life on purpose.

 

Other articles you might be interested in... 

Ready, set, jump

Journey to recovery: steps four and five 

Debunking the addiction story 

Ready, set, jump!

Dec 17, 2014

I spent time recently reflecting on a quote I saw posted on social media: Some days you just need to jump into the vortex and let the universe do its job!  I wish I knew who the author was to give him or her credit for such a profound thought!  

In the next month, I will find my career at a major turning point because of recent budget cut ,and I am eagerly anticipating this as an opportunity knocking at my door. That was the gist of my first thought when I read this quote: “Yes!  I’m jumping!  It’s exciting to see where the vortex will lead me to!”  

Yet I quickly became aware of the nonsense chatter that started to surface in my thoughts.  You know those thoughts; the ones that originate from growing up in a family system where I am the oldest child, the only girl and where there is a history of generational untreated alcoholism in the family.   That very programming was ingrained in me from early childhood.  Messages that reinforced that I am to be the “responsible one”, the one who had been silently assigned the unofficial “charge” to take care of others no matter what the cost.   The nonsense chatter that generated thoughts like:

  • “It’s not NORMAL if you jump into the unknown.  So don’t do it!”
  • “You have responsibilities to tend to and the vortex might take you to a place where you won’t be able to fulfill those responsibilities!”
  • “What if it’s a ‘bad decision’?  Others might judge you and think you’re foolish.”
  • “You should be afraid of that which you cannot see.”

And on and on and on …

Who the hell was I kidding?  I wasn’t jumping eagerly into the vortex by listening to that programming!   Yet that was the very programming that defined so many of my choices for a long time until I started to learn about what it means to grow up living in a family system where alcoholism has run rampant and most times without even being acknowledged that the disease existed.   Those were the things you “just don’t talk about.”   Or so I thought.  

Those nonsense thoughts are just lies that produce guilt, low self-esteem, insecurities, fears and more; nonsense thoughts that we end up believing to be truth.  They are nothing that fuels one to reach for their dreams or even believe they can have dreams.   It definitely took some work for me to be able to see through those lies.  I was blessed with things like therapy that I didn’t run away from, supportive friends, family doing their own healing, and 12-step groups which have helped me to break down that “nonsense chatter” in my head and gain better insight into the real truth of my life, my history and especially who I am.  

Don’t get me wrong, just because I’ve done this work, doesn’t mean I’m “cured”.   My current work situation is reinforcing that now in my world.  Stressful or traumatic situations can be the very thing that challenges us to put our learning into action.   I am aware more through this time, how the stinking thinking can rear its ugly head in an attempt to infect the healthy sense of self I spent all these years building.  

Having a tool box is pertinent to fight back against those negative energies that want to break us down.  To be truthful it’s more than having a tool box, it’s really about having the willingness to open up that box and use the tools to keep pressing forward in order to live the life we truly desire.  

So just for today, one thing I’m embracing that was not always easy for me to do is to reach out and let in those people in my life who are comfortable enough with their own stuff to walk through this emotional roller coaster I am on as I search to maintain my light.  Today am I ever so grateful that I have people who are willing to walk this journey with me while encouraging me to know that one of the best things I can do is to jump into the vortex and let the universe do its thing!

 

Other articles you might be interested in... 

Journey to recovery, steps 4 and 5 

Giving thought to the power of the mind 

Debunking the addiction story 

Giving thought to the power of the mind

Dec 08, 2014

The laboratory of Neuro Imaging at the University of Southern California has concluded that the average person has approximately 48.6 thoughts per minute, which adds up to around 70,000 thoughts per day.

That’s a lot of thoughts flowing through one’s brain in any given day.  And if you’re like me, too many of those thoughts have spiraled into negative thinking that does not support your best interest.

As I have done my own personal work over the years, I have become increasingly aware of the thoughts that circulate in my own brain. Some are random thoughts that come and go; some are curious thoughts that have led to deeper reflection; others I have identified as “nonsense chatter” that over time has transformed into irrational beliefs I have had about myself or the world around me. And what about those thoughts that we just don’t acknowledge, yet that may influence our lives?

Thinking about this takes me back to first hearing that a craving is initially just a thought. When given energy, that thought can transform into actions that only fuel the addiction.

Oh, the power that can come from just one thought!

So what happens when we become more aware of the thoughts that pass through our head?  

Currently, I am experiencing some personal life changes: life on life’s terms as they say. This has led me to become more aware of the thoughts that I allow to rent space in my head.

It’s fascinating to me to realize that I have “owned” negative beliefs about myself that were not driven by reality, but driven more by my perception of a thought or a pattern of thoughts. It is such relevant information to be able to observe how a thought or a thread of thoughts can move me from feeling grounded within, to feeling like I have nothing grounding me to reality.  

Some questions I ask myself are: am I attaching any significance to the thought? Does it illicit a specific emotion or feeling in my body? Does that thought remind me of an experience from my past? What energy is the thought creating within my body?

These are questions I ask myself to better identify if there is any relevance to the thought and what, if anything it might tell me. It’s amazing to me that when I pay attention I am more apt to not give credibility to those thoughts that have led me to stinking thinking.  

And that for me is another place I find my own personal power!

 

Other articles you might be interested in...

Debunking the addiction story 

Turning inward to get through 

Continuing the cycle – of recovery 

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