Virtue Series – Part 8

PATIENCE – is the willingness to await the outworking of natural processes. Patience stresses calmness or composure under suffering or provocation or in performing a demanding task. Impatience with another person arises from lack of tolerance and a selfish peevishness to have one’s own way. To fail to take the time to explain to a child or employee what is to be done and then jump down his throat because the task was not performed as desired is a typical example of impatience. Impatience is a major source of irritability in our world, and much of this is due to the desires which cannot be realized realistically.

Here are year-end summaries from the “Central Hub of the Recovery Movement”, and their collaborative sister organization, painting a picture of national advocacy recovery successes that propel us into and through 2017. Tomorrow I will forward facesandvoices detailed email of resources for your use.

  • Recovery advocates across the nation joined in our campaigns to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century CURES Act, which will bring millions of dollars to states to fight the opioid epidemic. Over 6,000 actions were taken by individuals through our action alerts.
  • Our Association of Recovery Community Organizations (ARCO) has grown significantly with 20 new member organizations in 2016, each providing advocacy and recovery support services in their local regions.
  • We trained over 100 Recovery Ambassadors to lead efforts in their communities to speak out about recovery, eliminate stigma and advocate for policies that support recovery.
  • This year, four outstanding organizations received accreditation status by CAPRSS, the only national accreditation for organizations providing peer recovery support services.  CAPRSS LLC is a social enterprise of Faces & Voices of Recovery.
  • Our Everyday Recovery social media campaign shared powerful recovery stories every day throughout Recovery Month in September.

Thousands of individuals and families came out for our national hub event- the Big Texas Rally for Recovery in Dallas, to put a face and voice on recovery and celebrate with honored guests.


  • On October 5th, 2015 organized 400+ advocates on Capitol Hill to meet with their elected representatives. As a result of those meetings there was a dramatic increase in co-sponsors for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which President Obama signed into law in July 2016.
  • Formed the Facing Addiction Action Committee with leaders from across the addiction spectrum who helped develop the comprehensive Action Agenda.
  • Brought together more than 400 organizations, representing 28+ million people, to endorse Facing Addiction’s Action Agenda.
  • Hosted wellness rooms and the first-ever Educational Caucuses for Addiction Solutions at both the RNC and DNC.
  • Launched The Addiction Recovery Appointments Project- to place people in long term recovery into Presidential Appointee positions.
  • Launched The Pilot Community Project which will choose 15 communities for a targeted grassroots approach toward changing the public response to substance use disorders.
  • Produced (with WETA), a one-hour special, The Concert to Face Addiction, commemorating the UNITE to Face Addiction rally on the National Mall, which aired 325 times across 70+% of US households.
  • On November 17, we partnered with the U.S. Surgeon General and Viacom to launch the Surgeon Generals watershed report, Facing Addiction in America: Alcohol, Drugs, and Health – seen 2+ million people with 18 million online impressions.

Virtue Series – Part 7

Humility – connotes the absence of arrogance, snobbishness, selfishness, pride, boastfulness and self-satisfaction. Humility does not imply weakness; rather is the result of strength, power and true personal completeness so that one need not feel he must contend for a place in the sun. Similarly, meekness is the absence of wrath, and it stems from a sense of complete control over one’s environment. Humility is the awareness of one’s shortcomings in view of the knowledge that Virtue always recedes from one’s present standing and that one has far to go to achieve Mastery.

Virtue Series – Part 6

FORBEARANCE – is self-possession and serenity of mind under any provocation and conveys the patient lack of a desire for retaliation. It is the overcoming of revengeful reaction to personal affronts and injuries. The nursing of grudges only breeds bitterness and psychosomatic illnesses. Forbearance is an attitude of non-resistance and a bending with the situation. Knowledge of karmic law provides the comfort that one’s desires for retaliation against an offender is pointless in light of the natural law of action and reaction. The offender will suffer karmically without our engaging in destructive thoughts; thus forbearance breaks the circle of repercussions typical of feuds. Forbearance becomes an exercise in humility; for personal pride and the need to uphold self are common causes of reactionary instincts.

A long time ago I read that our purpose here is to grow, and in that growth we increase our overall Mastery of Life and that resonated for me. To grow toward Mastership. The mundane aspects, the standard challenges, the stressors that can beset me, I am to grow in mastering.

That always resonated for me and I believe that is actual truth. Universal Law if you will. I want to be clear, a long time ago I did not apply that to my life. It was only an abstract thought. It took recovery for me to start down the road of application.

Recently I was driving at night and a bit lost and late and that lead me to ….gnash my teeth, you might say, and I began to laugh at my feeling of lack of mastery.
This article, Researchers say the average American suffers 40,000 bouts of ‘tech rage’ over their lifetime, really triggered my laughter and thoughts of this. When the computer “eats” something I have worked on I lose all sense of spirituality.

The thing is, it’s not the mundane aspects of contemporary life that truly beset, it’s the internal emotional. Here’s a succinct review, of a book, ‘Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman’that I believe is accurate and helpful.

A quote states, “The ability for an individual to have a healthy focus on a specific task in the middle of distractions is one of the most important predictors of success and excellence in a career. The key ongoing nemesis of focus is not noise and activity, but emotional distress.”

“Since focus demands we tune out our emotional distractions, our neural wiring for selective attention includes that for inhibiting emotion. That means those who focus best are relatively immune to emotional turbulence, more able to stay unflappable in a crisis and to keep on an even keel despite life’s emotional waves”

Which sends me to a quote from a loved one, “You can’t be totally free until you forgive everybody.”

Such a statuesque truth.

Easier said than done, hard to accomplish nevertheless I like having goals and visions and that’s a penultimate one. Forgiveness grows personal power that aids in “for the greatest good of all”.

This reminds me of my core take away from the AA Big book. To me the book can be distilled down to; once you’re past the booze (and rest assured you can get past the booze, though maybe what I mean is a topic for another time), it’s all about resentments.

From the Big Book:

“It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. …..with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. If we were to live we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcoholics these things are poison.” {emphasis mine}

This is a window into a core fact. Hanging on to a past pain only keeps my energies out of the present. “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies”, said Nelson Mandela. The more I heal the past, the more I can be present in the moment, the more I focus, the greater success I have in anything I do. The path to achievement and success is that simple and that hard.
Healing is not stuffing it down to forget but truly making that epic o-so-lengthy journey from the head to the heart in acceptance and surrender.

I know the Big Book can get flack for its quaint if not antiquated writing. It was written in the later 1930’s during a crushing depression when numerous Americans were in danger of starving and we dug our way out partially by entering WW2, the most destructive war in human history. It introduced key spiritual principles into a world feeling bereft.

I believe this is not “a luxury of normal men” but a core truth from my experience, true for all humans. We are at a crossroads where this is essential.

To forgive all is to be free. Recovery is all about leaving enslavement (of any kind including mental) behind and growing freedom.

A short answer, from much study which has inexorably led me to the conclusion that; for those of us who have suffered from addiction, no matter what we think, for so many of us, the hardest most foundational forgiveness is to ourselves.

Really it’s like a loop.

We need to forgive ourselves and others and ourselves and others round and round. This issue often begins in childhood.

Which somehow manages to bring me to a comedy I want to recommend. An alternately tender, sweet, sometimes sad yet triumphant movie, ‘Ghost Town’.

I want you all to have a wonderful holiday and this little gem is my attempt to add to your winter joys. I myself will be headed to a bit of a vacation and need to pick a past newsletter to send when I’m gone. A golden-oldie if you will. So, hey like you I’m busy. So I’m going to skip the search for smashing adjectives and just tell you to see this movie. Ok?

Wait, I take it back. Let me try.

A lovely cast beginning with the oft times hilarious Brit import Ricky Gervais and the talented Tea Leoni. The movie ad says, “Bertram Pincus is a man whose people skills leave much to be desired. When Pincus dies unexpectedly, but is miraculously revived after seven minutes, he wakes up to discover that he now has the annoying ability to see ghosts. Even worse, they all want something from him, particularly Frank Herlihy, who pesters him into breaking up the impending marriage of his widow Gwen.”

By the way, while we are at it; Are you looking for a reliable Santa? Try LinkedIn.

Cool now we can get back to the next task at hand which for me is to;

Keep forgiving out there and have a fun holiday!

Virtue Series – Part 5

DEVOTION – is the consecration of oneself to an ideal or a cause such as to the service of the Highest Good for All. Devotion implies singleness of purpose which supplies an interest so great that serving the object of one’s devotion is a joyful, untiring experience. The finer emotions of allegiance, faithfulness, loyalty, steadfastness and reverence are involved in devotion, but to this is added the zeal in service due to love of and personal attachment to the object of devotion.

During this entrée into the Season of giving I’ve been thinking about the lessons learned from doing service. The theory and practice of service. It has been a source of egoic growth for me, a nice way of saying it shoves my “stuff” in my face. The saying goes, “Do the right thing, for the right reason. What I saw and felt over the years of service, was my own stuff underneath my desire to make a difference and working through that actually changed my relationship to service. It’s hard to explain, words here for me are imperfect. A talk I heard from a woman in recovery once ended with a great truth about this. She said that her lesson ultimately was, “She did not need to fix anything. Everything was already ok”. She realized she was always trying to fix stuff and that was about her stuff. My own desire to help, to make a difference still had to grow through my own unmet emotional needs to see what my truest motivations were. The right reason.

Speaking of service, Warriors in the Triangle brought the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery’s (CCAR) Recovery Coach Academy training here. CCAR are leaders, with a respected training and Betty Currier, who moved here in 2013 comes with vast experience in all that and offered to do trainings.  Here’s an RCNC podcast with Betty on this history and more.

“Recovery Coaching is a peer-based addiction recovery support service that is non-clinical and designed to engage others beyond recovery initiation through stabilization and into recovery maintenance.”

My mild impulse/thought when I first heard of this was it’s not time yet. That was motivated by the fact that Coaching is not yet a paid service within the public monies world of behavioral health here in NC. We have been chugging along striving to grow Peer Support as a paid service and I guess I didn’t want anything to conflict with that.

I was wrong.

The first trainings were here, at Governor’s Institute, in our conference room which means I got to get a sense of it and once I witnessed it I realized what a wise idea Betty (and her training partner Brenda Monforti) had. The trainings have since moved over to the RCNC location.

There are a number of takeaways but a key one is;

Coaching training helps those who wish to grow their Ally status, giving them the support needed to become effective volunteers. It grounds them in the multiple tools and principles that create and make effective coaches. To be an ally and wish to volunteer is to have an effective pathway into greater work. Volunteers are the pool by which organizations, say Recovery Community Centers get to see and evaluate appropriate new hires. Many organizations such as hospitals and hospice centers, etc. use this tool to hire.
When I, over time, get to grow my understanding of charitable, non-profit organizations what I often see is what those of us on the outside often don’t see. That the organization has done stupendous work developing policies, platforms, literature, data, experience and more and all that’s missing is more people to carry the message and enact the changes. The template is there, in place. Watching from the outside we will judge when all they need is more man-hours/help/service workers.

So the question of how do we grow our volunteer base becomes crucial. Central. That leads us back full circle to the wisdom of Recovery Coaching Training, which I have witnessed, grows volunteer bases. Win-win solutions.

My deadline looms and I am not truly connecting to the words I want for this but I can accept that today.
So I shall close with something I recently came upon and want to share with you. A tool that aids in my overall acceptance level.
Trolling the radio dial as I drive can lead to dismay-so in an inspired moment I switched to the AM dial and came upon AM Funny 570 – a full-time all comedy radio station. Some great bits from giants of comedy to unknowns. Give it a listen sometime and give yourself a lift.

Recovery Community Messaging Training Coming to Asheville

Way back I became attached to the idea of bringing Recovery Messaging to Asheville. It just took a while to find a place. Thanks to the efforts of @RCNC_RCO‘s Doc Holiday, all rested up from his Ok Corral adventure and Vaya Health’s own UN Ambassador to All Things Recovery (and Peer Support Training) Richie Tannerhill, we finally have a location. Richie’s been doing Messaging in the outlying areas for quite a while but I had me a hankering to come to Asheville so all three of us could come together to give our spins on Messaging and the Recovery Movement. It’s Friday the 13th of January 2017.

The Chinese tell us that Friday/13 is a lucky number perceived as a harbinger of change. Change is the one-word answer I give to the question, “What is recovery?” So I’m feeling particularly spiritual when I ponder the great tale of Messaging and the Recovery Movement coming to the great spiritual center of the Smoky mountains – Asheville – as a welcome to the great new Sunrise Community for Recovery and Wellness – on a day of change!! Don’t forget to register!

Maybe see you there.

Virtue Series – Part 4

KINDLINESS – is the sincere desire never to bring hurt to another. It is the consideration of the feelings of others as well as gentleness, sensitive benevolence and sympathy expressed in word and deed.

A couple of buzzwords I hear repeatedly out-and-about in my work and from this field are trauma and adversity.

I hope it’s clear from my writing that it is a great thing we are dialoguing about trauma. I was abused as a kid, it deeply shaped my outlook and approach to life and the great blessing recovery gave me is the stability to go ahead and work to heal the past. How successful I am in all that is debatable but at least I got a chance!

So I love these topics, but I need to be clear: Often, often, often when we use words like trauma and adversity; those are proxy terms for poverty. The engines of power that are driving that poverty are benefited when we refuse to look at that.

These thoughts came out of a talk with a friend about the election, who said, “I’m just not as good as you, I’m concerned about the cost of my insurance, you’re concerned about everybody.”

I am definitely not better than anyone else and certainly have the same sort-of financial concerns but; I am concerned with “everybody”.
Why? Because:

  • I was low and someone helped me up and I am grateful.
  • Going down the road of my petty concerns over the greater good is a troubled losers path. My understanding is “as one goes so we all go”. There are systemic issues that hold people down or at least are inefficient and as we address them we shall lift many others up.
  • Karma. Our misunderstandings of this concept are legion but the basic idea that what goes around comes around everyone has some recognition of. So, again, as the systems grow equitable the circle can begin to stop rotating back to the problems and start becoming solutions.
  • I’m repeating myself here but in no way is this about “free stuff for lazy people”. Hands-up not hand-outs. AND! All people deserve a chance (or two or three).

This does become demanding as it “requires some vigilance and active engagement with who we are as people and how we engage with others.”

Here’s a lovely example of a way to apply new thinking to ongoing problems. A St. Louis school district realized there was an unusual reason for low attendance and set about to fix it.

Back at the ranch, the 8th Annual NC ONE Community in Recovery Conference felt like a great event, a success, a fun-filled work-week. A couple hundred Recovery Warriors exchanging ideas, it was lovely talking recovery with friends and informative seeing Keynote Larry Fricke talk about the history and origins of Mental Health Peer Support and where we are headed. Larry was Georgia’s Director of the Office of Consumer relations and Recovery in the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases and wears many hats today including Director of the Appalachian Consulting Group. It was innervating to see the questions (and answers) David Whitesock’s talk–his model of building Recovery Community Organizations with attendant Centers–generated.

Ellen Kesler and the whole NWAHEC team are to be thanked for their continued support of All Things Recovery.

Next, here’s early notice of a worthy topic – a May Women’s Recovery Conference in Asheville.

Next, ATTENTION Western NC-FIRST at Blue Ridge is selling affordable Christmas Trees fundraising to continue bringing low-cost treatment for SUD and mental health support, and here is the flyer link.

While we’re on the subject of Western NC–recently re-located RCNC ATR Wizard Doc (Ralph) Holiday is wrangling a Messaging Training in Asheville for Friday January 13th—details forthcoming. Look for me, Doc and Richie Tannerhill to have a ball.

Keep growing kindness out there, and Happy Thanksgiving,

Virtue Series – Part 3

COURAGE – is quite distinct from bravery, which is usually an instinctual response to a perilous situation and implies lack of fear and bold recklessness. Courage, on the other hand, carefully takes into account the dangers of a situation in advance of action and is the product of reason sustained by marshalling one’s powers of moral determination in the face of personal fear. Resolution, tenacity and determined morale are associated with courage; and it is the noble quality of character which enables one to stand firmly for his convictions in spite of persecution.

I was talking with some peers and friends in this field, about our culture and its creation of a mind/body split in us humans and how that is a primary source of
dis-ease; mental/emotional/physical. It got me thinking.

Much of our dependence/addiction, depression, suicide and violence can be laid at the feet of this mind/body split leading and allowing us to go to war. Lack of connection to our own emotional body causes us dis-connect from ourselves, triggering us to destroy each other and the planet.

This is not normal behavior; this is not “human nature”. This is a learned behavior. Racism, for example, is learned behavior.  Racism-and other discriminations-are a pernicious evil that need to be actively confronted. NC’s history as a leader in the Civil Rights movement shows us that. Racism is a tool of powerful forces, used to maintain and grow our division with each other. Seeing the true, underlying issues show us it’s not about race, ethnicity, color; it’s about privilege, it’s about class.

The truth is we can model/teach/create Love as we now teach violence.  Have no doubt, we do teach violence.

At the same time, I want to balance this with the facts, (from Richard Rohr’s newsletter), “Even though we continue to see war, racism, classism, genocide, and ignorance, violence is actually declining. We may be more aware of the world’s suffering now than ever before, but as compared with previous periods in history, we are living in a relatively peaceful time.”

This dis-connect creates a vulnerability for whole groups of people to be manipulated by effective tools, empowered by television and all media. You can see symptoms of this manipulation in everything from our purchases to our military/industrial/intelligence complex.

Throughout time, for the known written history of humankind, many nations have avoided dealing with profound issues of injustice and mistreatment, while thronging opportunistic egomaniacs who blame it all on “immigrants”.   Like the opioid “epidemic”, none of this is new. It is all related though. There is nothing new under the Sun including the solutions to all this.

My desire for health and healing led me to various bodywork systems, teachers who showed me that the key is to pay attention to the body and work with held-in somatic energy.  Scientist/Philosophers like Wilhelm Reich showed us that “You cannot change your thoughts at a basic level without change in your body, in what you do”.

My own work showed me that (re)integration of the emotional body can be painful & hard and, despite my pro-active intentions, slow going. The more you feel the more you feel. Coming out of a lifetime of avoidance through drugs means feeling was not my actual “natural” state. This is a core window into the issues of resistance to recovery; the lack of training or even awareness/understanding of how to live in and deal with uncomfortable feelings.  As we shine the light and shrink stigma, I believe a side-effect will be reduced stigma toward feeling in general.  Then we’ll see less and less of media stooges parading themselves as macho, all puffed-up as if they are tough guys, as if that’s an answer. As if!

The goal is a fuller-body emotional response to life. We cover ourselves and armor up to deaden pain but then rob ourselves of the true joy of living. Inhibition of an emotional impulse creates tension, which can become permanent. This full-body emotional response is about allowing full feeling response not inappropriate behavior as a reaction to life. We are not talking about an external show of emotionality; we are talking about internal emotional growth and capacity. Maturation.

Wilhelm Reich (24 March 1897 – 3 November 1957), unfairly maligned leader in energy flow studies and student and eventual peer of Freud’s; discovered key energy flows and responses for human growth, such as the core “instroke and outstroke” of energy, like a wave, that animates us alive. His work developed the first systems that release armor and create greater emotional response.

Mark Twain visiting Tesla’s Laboratory

Though he did work with clients, his passion was as a scientist. In that realm, he delved into areas that included free energy motors, free electric power from a global grid and weather control (we’ve know how to bring rain for decades). Lest you shrink from these topics, know that Tesla (the man who taught Edison to wire the nation with AC instead of his planned DC) and others have done fascinating work in this area. There are loads of books out now with schematics, etc. For related information try Jim Oschman’s ‘Energy Medicine’.

These areas make for interesting study when you follow just what happened to Reich and what the FDA did to him.  He was brought up on charges related to someone involved with Reich supposedly making claims that an invention of his, the Orgone Box, could cure cancer. It is doubtful he ever said that and it was never proven that anyone made those claims, nor was he charged with anything else. Painted as a kook (though far from it) he did appear to be losing steam during his trial and by all accounts the lawyer for the case was inappropriate. (Personally, the world is so goofy and at times painful, a little kooky seems appropriate). Found guilty, he died in prison after doing 2.5 years of  a four year sentence. As he languished in prison the FBI began what has been called the most thorough book burning ever accomplished in America, to the point that they were almost wiped out. Makes me wonder what they were afraid of. An ignominious end for a man searching for the truth.

We live in different days. Various factors have led to a flood of new information available to everyone. Whole new syntheses of outlooks are forming due to this outpouring of information. I have faith we will not shrink from our search for the truth. The Native Elders of this land would remind us that none of this is “new” information.

Allow me to end with a circle back to a bit more historical perspective, here’s a link to a review of a book, Haunted by Leo Brandy. “…some social scientists believe fear is seven times more likely to spread than any other social attitude.”