Virtue Series

Kids at Ghana, Africa Recovery walk listening to Speakers

Kids at Ghana, Africa Recovery walk listening to Speakers

CHARITY – stresses brotherly love, clemency, leniency and an interest in the welfare of others to the extent of giving of oneself. It is a whole-hearted sympathy toward the suffering which man must endure until he begins conscious advancement. Charity precludes criticism of others.

My oldest friend drank himself to death recently and it has lead me to ponder and contemplate much. I have a sincere desire to meld them into one essay but am up to three different ones so far.

Oldest friend in that we were in the 1st grade together and knew each other ever since. Amazing person. No really. Loved by many people from numerous diverse circles. Intelligent, positive, witty, learned with many interests, one who helped connect people in ways that enriched their lives. I could go on.

He received the biggest award the state gave, Michiganian of the Year, praised by a Governor, Senators and Mayors.

A leader and activist, “he touched countless souls with his fierce intellect, abundant sense of humor and dedication to causes great and small.”

You would have loved him and knowing him would have given those who need it greater insight into the truth of the disease model of addiction.

He did enter recovery staying for almost two decades but returned to use and never stopped.

It made me think of this recent article from Robin William’s wife, Susan.

Robin, having remained drug-free for many years returned to use and then treatment. Not too long after that he was diagnosed with Parkinson Disease and then the little-known but deadly Lewy body disease (LBD). She-they actually-did much research and each revelation was direr. As she said, “LBD began sending a firestorm of symptoms our way.”

Some two years ago, Robin ultimately suicided and the pain of that is unimaginable for many of us and speaks volumes when you read this article she wrote for the Official Journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Susan Schneider Williams serves on the Board of Directors for the American Brain Foundation.

I’m of an age where I’m losing friends, especially those who did not get the full joy of recovery. Life is often about feeling and it leads me to remind us of solutions.

The world has problems, lots of problems but there are solutions for (almost) every one of those problems.

Here’s a few of my favorite solutions.

This superb analysis from surgeon and author Dr. Atul Gawande is about a New Jersey Doctor’s application of a model I have worked with myself that begins from the premise, “Can we lower medical costs by giving the neediest patients better care?” The answer is a resounding YES!

One of the many beauties of this model is its application to behavioral health needs. In fact, it’s success comes from it’s treatment of the whole person.

Next we move into a story, again from Dr. Gawande, I would say is parallel to the first. This one addresses real-time/real-world studies applying outcome-based payment streams to medical (and behavioral health) groups that lead to greater financial savings coupled with higher outcomes. Pockets of medical groups sign on, achieve greater outcomes and are awarded on the back end by the insurance companies. Lots of data for everyone to see.

This means we know what to do, we know it works and the first article means we know how to do it. And it actually “makes” communities money.
Then, for good measure, let’s include this story, that reminds us of another universe (parallel to the 1st article- Hot Spotters) that gives us another model that succeeds, both outcome-wise and financially. Bring homeless in from the cold and then you can engage them and lo and behold things get better AND YOU SAVE MONEY!

I’m sensing a theme here.  You know, I feel better already.

Btw, Longmire’s back, on Netflix, and it whips like a Wyoming dust devil painting a portrait of struggles characterizing Native vs Western culture. It’s a cop show but I say it’s a great cop show. I shall endeavor to speak as Henry Standing Bear for all my days. I won’t succeed.

Recovery Event Reminders

October 14-15 – Raleigh/NCSU Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Recovery Conference

October 31-November 2 – Morganton/Asheville Carolinas Conference on Addiction and Recovery

November 4 – Chapel Hill/Orange County Recovery Community Messaging Training Free/3 credit hours–Public Welcome

November 9-11 – Clemmons NC ONE Community in Recovery

November 18-20 – Winston-Salem National AA Tech Workshop

November 24 – USA Thanksgiving Take day off Please

December 7-9 – Pinehurst NC Council of Community Programs

December 19-24 – USA Begin Celebration

January 1, 2017 – Happy New Year -reminds us what’s important

Leadership From A Dancing Guy

Annual Rally for Recovery Kicks Off in Raleigh

From Governor Pat McCrory

September is Recovery Month


Follow all the events around the North Carolina!



“Spirituality is always eventually about what you
do with your pain.”
– Richard Rohr

I turned on the shower recently and an emotional memory came flooding back to me. I don’t remember when I first noticed it, but it probably started immediately after I left treatment. Every morning, I would turn on the shower and get a rush of emotion, which I soon recognized as gratitude. I was so grateful to have hot water.

My whole life I tended to hit the ground running when I woke up, which meant I immediately jumped in the shower. I love my shower.
As I stumbled down the road toward actual addiction, eventually homeless, living out of a car, that luxury of modern living, hot water, became scarcer and scarcer. (It sounds funny to call it a luxury but billions live without it.)

My brain had lost all capability of removing me from this crazy train, but with hindsight, I remembered having some occasional “sane” thoughts.

One was something along the lines of, “Could I accept being filthy most of the time?” It was obvious if I kept going I would have to and that became one of my biggest concerns. Strange how the brain can work. I knew I was crossing a line where I was going to become permanently homeless, permanently addicted, I was on my way to accepting a different over-all lifestyle than ever before. And the part that bugged me was the no shower part. Strange how the brain can work.

Accepting something into our lives does not mean we necessarily like it. Many of our re-offending prison population have accepted the underclass label

society has put on them, accepted cycling through prisons and jails, but that does not mean they “like” it. I knew I was on my way to having to accept both no showers or imprisonment and my brain dispassionately looked at it wondering if I could.

I couldn’t.

Which is to say some drop of Grace interceded and plucked me from the maelstrom. Leaving me here, with that grand luxury afforded us (by the supposed illusion of Time), Hindsight.

I was so grateful, to be able to shower (and all that meant-to be FREE!) that I repeatedly, for years, had a rush of feeling & emotion the instant I turned on the shower, every time, every morning! It warmed and excited my heart and got me going in the best way.

I’m reminded of this and that gratitude is the attitude, the answer, when I hear how a political candidate’s followers are “angry”, as if it’s some kind of revelation.

Everybody’s angry. We all are.

You may feel anger after reading those two lines.

It seems that violence is ramping up here and abroad. I’m reminded to heal my own “violence” within. A list of all I am grateful for is a handy tool for just such work. The key is to say it, know it, accept it, own it on the way to healing.

Now, before you say you or someone you know isn’t angry, remember; there’s always an exception to the rule. If a great majority are something than the rule

applies. Nothing, no general rule, is absolutely 100%. But the vast majority of us have some repressed anger within our central nervous system/tissues. So this current ground-swell politically should not be a “surprise.”

We can’t help our anger: whatever we come into this life with (genetics, if you will) plus outright abuse or neglect, our needs denied as babies, unmet emotional needs during childhood, the cultural horrors the disenfranchised live with; assault/abuse/economic deprivation/soldiers in war/racism, you name it. In my adult life I added more, with addiction, through the pain I caused myself and others, which amounts to self-loathing. All this stress adds up to fear and the logical defense for the organism, particularly males, is to layer some anger over it to cope. Otherwise we’d be grieving and going around crying and that would make everybody nervous. Lord knows we can’t have that.
The gratitude gifted me washed away about half my anger. It was hard to remain deeply cynical with my newly found freedom (though in this world it’s hard not to retain a bit of cynicism). Marc Maron’s line; cynicism is “Self-pity amplified.” 

Gratitude is the tool that transmutes, yet tends to only come through pain.

Gratitude is something that can be cultivated.
I got busy studying, applying myself to get with and heal the other half and am still working on it. That’s tied to the tool available for all issues; getting conscious with the intention to grow and heal.

Which is not to say anger is bad/wrong/a sin. Anger is similar to something like fire; it’s all in how we use it. I’m reminded of anger’s value when I hear Stacia Murphy, past-president of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), say “Folks…..angry, because Advocacy is about anger.” in ‘The Anonymous People’.

What’s needed is a healthy response to and with our anger. It’s about; am I unconscious of it, is it in charge and I don’t know it, or am I in charge; is it doing me and, of course others, damage”?

How do I transmute my pain rather than transmit my pain?

HALT is something I have to look out for. Probably everybody knows H-A-L-T?

Hungry – Angry – Lonely – Tired

The last one, fatigue, is where I lose my balance, my spirituality. I have to not over-work and make sure I look after myself or it starts to wear me down easier than in my younger days.

water-crystalsSpeaking of water and gratitude; there is a guy, Masaru Emoto, a Japanese author,  researcher and entrepreneur, who claimed that human consciousness has an effect on the molecular structure of water. He took photos of water crystals with negative and positive words imprinted behind the water and got very interesting crystal images. That’s what the image here is-a molecule of water with the word gratitude shined through it.

I have to throw in some Richard Rohr at this time, who wrote:

“The thing is emotional issues are not only the province of biology and cognitive programming but also the Heart. Distress is related to the loss of meaning in our lives. Labeling is useful but not healing. Awe at the mystery of life is essential.”

Here’s a philosophical approach to anger from Nelson Mandela’s life.