12 step

burn the witch

Posted on


i get knocked down

and i get up again…….


Failure is a universal human experience—it’s just part of life that things will happen that you don’t want to happen.

When her granddaughter was accepted to Naropa University, the celebrated author Pema Chödrön promised that she’d speak at the commencement ceremony.

Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better contains the wisdom shared on that day. “What do we do when life doesn’t go the way we hoped?” begins Pema. “We say ‘I’m a failure.’” But what if failing weren’t just “okay”… but a vital thread that can help connect us both personally and professionally to others. Here, Pema Chödrön offers us her heartfelt advice on facing the unknown. We can learn how our missteps can open our eyes to see new possibilities, purpose, and a new integrated approach to our lives.


7 Lessons To Turn Toward Failure And Move Forward – By Pema Chödrön


No one ever knows what is going to happen next.

But these transition times—between something being set and things being uncertain—are times of enormous potential.

Anything is possible.


There is a lot of emphasis on succeeding. And whether we buy the hype or not, we all want to succeed, especially if you consider success as “it works out the way I want it to.” You know it feels good in the gut and in the heart because it worked out. So failing by that definition is that it didn’t work out the way you wanted it to. And [failing] is what we don’t usually get a lot of preparation for.

So fail, fail again, fail better. It’s like how to get good at holding the rawness of vulnerability in your heart.


We can’t get in a good relationship or we are in a relationship that ends painfully or we can’t get a job. Or we are fired from the job we have.

There are usually two ways that we deal with that. We either blame it on somebody else or some other—the organization, our boss, or partner, whatever. We have this feeling that there is something fundamentally wrong with us.

One of the ways to sort of pull yourself up or help yourself to hold this is to begin to question what is really happening when there is a failure.


So someone gave me a quote, something from James Joyce’s Ulysses, where Joyce wrote about how failure can lead to discovery. And he actually didn’t use the word “failure”; he used the word “mistake,” as in making a mistake. He said, that mistakes can be “the portals of discovery.”

Sometimes you experience failed expectations as heartbreak and disappointment, and sometimes you feel rage. Failure or things not working out as you’d hoped doesn’t feel good; that’s for sure. But at that time, maybe instead of doing the habitual thing of labeling yourself a “failure” or a “loser” or thinking there is something wrong with you, you could get curious about what is going on. If you can just remember that you never know where something will lead.


Getting curious about outer circumstances and how they are impacting you, noticing what words come out and what your internal discussion is, this is the key.

“Fail better” means you begin to have the ability to hold the rawness of vulnerability in your heart, and see it as your connection with other human beings and as a part of your humanness. Failing better means when these things happen in your life, they become a source of growth, a source of forward, a source of out of that place of rawness you can really communicate genuinely with other people.

Your best qualities come out of that place because it’s unguarded and you’re not shielding yourself.


And so I can tell you that it is out of this same space that come our best human qualities of bravery, kindness, and the ability to really reach out to and care about each other. It’s where real communication with other people starts to happen, because it’s a very unguarded, wide-open space in which you can go beyond the blame.

The question is, are you going to grow or are you going to just stay as you are out of fear and waste your precious human life by status quo-ing instead of being willing to break the sound barrier? Break the glass ceiling, or whatever it is in your own life?


I suggest finding the willingness to go forward instead of staying still, which is essentially going backward, particularly when you have a calling in some direction. That calling needs to be answered. And it’s not necessarily going to work out the way you want it to work out, but it is taking you forward, and you are leaving the nest. And that never can be a mistake—to fly instead of staying in the nest….. reposted from yogadork.com



my brief history with CCAR

Posted on Updated on


we're off to see the wizard

“Auntie Em: Help us out today and find yourself a place where you won’t get into any trouble!
Dorothy: A place where there isn’t any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It’s not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. It’s far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain…

my brief history with recovery support began in 2005 when i took a position to co-facilitate a substance use treatment group. that position surprisingly lasted 1 1/2 years. the group was 6 persons when the therapist and i began and it was well over 20 when i left. i learned first hand how working with others strengthened my sense of recovery and i also learned how impactful relevant support could be to treatment engagement.

i volunteered for a recovery organization here in denver for a couple of years just after i was given an advocacy award by that same outfit (my grandfather’s term). i learned quite a bit, but its mission seemed shortsighted and self-serving. i then implemented a peer support element at a methadone clinic where i was employed. once again, the group attendance and engagement in activities as well as education and discussion of recovery increased exponentially. sadly the management transitioned after the 2nd year of implementation, and the idea that patients could and would recover took a back seat to managing bodies, billing, and behavior became the sole purpose. i felt very much like mary poppins then and realized that my work was done. i grabbed my umbrella and let the wind carry me onward.

that wind blew me to connecticut for a recovery coach training. i had, by that time, become familiar with the concept and perhaps a little adept at working with other. i completed the training and the tot(train the trainer) so that i  would be able to train others to see the secrets that the magical organization in connecticut had summoned from our heavens.  the training was exemplary. it was like witnessing an all star game. the players were as varied as the types of tulips growing in the countryside of holland. but the work was the same. one person in recovery working with another and asking real questions and sharing real time life lessons and all that truth creating permission for realness to go deeper.

good coach trainings are full of laughter and tears which normalizes the process of change and even encourages it. learning boundaries, reminding each other that “no” is an appropriate answer are just part of the gift left behind. a bigger gift is the renewed understanding that lives and experiences are so different from our and with that difference comes empathy and wonder.

3 years later, i am still frolicking in empathy and wonder. and i’m feeling lucky to have found ccar- it is my own emerald city. the freshest news and the sincerest of stories. i continue to be enthralled with the storytelling ritual whose roots in our culture are justified and ancient. 

the historical timeline below is reposted from Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery’s website at www.ccar.us


CCAR was founded in 1998 when Bob Savage, a long-time state employee, set out to answer two questions:
Where are the people in recovery when policy decisions are made?
Can the recovery community be organized?
Many years later, thanks in large part to his early vision and dedication, the organized recovery community is at the table (locally and nationally) and our presence is growing. In the early years, CCAR focused solely on advocacy and because of the influence of the recovery community, then evolved into providing recovery support services. Seventeen years later, and its amazing to see how CCAR has come.
CCAR holds Connecticut’s first Recovering Community Organization meeting

Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery officially named

5 founding members spoke at statewide CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) conference, publicly for the first time putting a face on recovery, resulting in initial funding from DMHAS

Mailing list topped 100

Awarded an original CSAT Recovery Community Support Program (RCSP) grant

Awarded funding from DMHAS

60 members attended 1st Legislative Day at State Capitol

1st Board of Directors meeting held

15 members spoke at CSAT Public Hearing in Hartford “Changing the Conversation, A National Plan to Improve Substance Abuse Treatment”

140 attended CCAR Conference” In Celebration of Recovery!”

1st video “Putting a Face on Recovery” released

5 people in recovery selected to serve on DMHAS State Advisory Board, 2 appointed by Governor

Recovery Support Services Concept Paper submitted to CSAT for conference grant

Co-presented with Advocacy Unlimited, a mental health advocacy organization, on the “Recovery Basic Premises and Recovery Core Values” (Note: these values ultimately served as the basis for the DMHAS Recovery-Oriented System of Care)

Hosted 2nd Legislative Day, over 100 people attended

Started “Legacies” support group for parents who had lost children to addiction

Hosted training – Racism of the Well-Intended, Slaying the Dragon

700 attended first annual Recovery Walks! at Bushnell Park in Hartford

“Putting a Face on Recovery” video distributed to 700+

1st edition of The Recovery Herald newsletter published and distributed to 6500+

112 people attended 1st Annual Meeting & Awards Dinner

1st of 7 Chapters established giving CCAR local and regional presence

200+ people attended 3rd Legislative Day, 36 legislators sponsored the event with 3 talking about their own recovery

Non-profit 501(c)3 status granted

10,000+ Recovery Posters distributed nationwide

Website http://www.ccar-recovery.org goes live

“Putting a Face on Recovery” video updated; 2000+ distributed nationwide

Awarded CSAT Recovery Community Support Program (RCSP) Track II grant

2000+ participated in 2nd Recovery Walks! held 5 days after terrorist attack of 9/11

16 members testified at Informational Forum at the invitation by CT Legislature Judiciary Committee issues relating to felony conviction and sustained recovery

200+ people attended CCAR’s trauma/recovery forum “Recovery Speaks in the Shadow of 9/11” in New London

Membership topped 2000

3000+ participated in 3rd annual Recovery Walks! in Hartford

200+ attended 2nd trauma/recovery forum in Bridgeport

Code of Ethics established

Shifted successfully from Recovery Community Support Program to Recovery Community Services Program

1st of 42 trainings in the “Recovery Training Series” delivered

New video “Healing Power of Recover” completed

3000+ participated in 4th annual Recovery Walks! in Hartford

Staff invited to “Innovator’s Meeting: Strategic Planning for Peer Recovery Support Services” SAMHSA/CSAT Access to Recovery (ATR) Program

First audit for year ending June 30, 2003 completed and earned a non-qualified opinion

CCAR involved in development of state ATR proposal

200+ people attended Grand Opening of Windham Recovery Community Center

First Family Support Group met in Windham Recovery Community Center

Transition of leadership to new Executive Director

Executive Director Co-chairs state team with DMHAS Commissioner at National Policy Academy on Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders

Formal Volunteer Management System implemented

Awarded CSAT Recovery Community Services Program (RCSP) Track III grant

3000+ participated in 5th annual Recovery Walks! in Hartford

New London Recovery Community Center opened

Recovery Housing Project developed state-of the-art internet database to include 100 independently owned, privately operated recovery houses covering 1069 beds

Recovery Housing Coalition of Connecticut (RHCC) established

RHCC established standards for independently owned, privately operated recovery housing

Recovery Housing Project training “So… You Want to Open a Recovery House” generated 7 new recovery houses totaling 70 new recovery beds

Prison Support Groups established in Enfield and Bridgeport

Comprehensive Volunteer Management System implemented

An article on Recovery Walks! appeared on the cover of the inaugural edition of Rising Recovery in Action, Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR)’s national magazine

Recovery Walks! model replicated in several other states

Recovery Walks! drew 2000+, Honor Guard established for first time

Executive Director served on CSAT Summit Planning Committee

Established Recovery Capital Tool and Recovery Friendly Tool for evaluation purposes

Hosts recognition dinner in honor of CCAR founder, Bob Savage

The WRCC attracted 10,000 visitors

More than 350 individuals attended Recovery Training Series

CCAR represented at historic Faces and Voices of Recovery summit in Washington, DC

Executive Director presented at CSAT Summit

Begin series of Oldtimer (20+ years of recovery) Retreats and Focus Groups

The 50th ‘Hooked on Recovery’ article penned

2006 – Annual_Report_2006
Core Elements of a Recovery Community Center written

Volunteer Coordinator hired

Telephone Recovery Support became CCAR’s first “fee-for-service”

Article published on Telephone Recovery Support in Addiction Professional magazine

New London Recovery Community Center held successful comedy night/pasta dinner event

Senior Peer Services Coordinator Diane Potvin received the Dr. Edward Brown Humanitarian Award for her work in support of recovery in Willimantic.

Executive Director traveled to AZ to serve as consultant to a sister Recovery Community Organization

Hosts 1st Annual Volunteer Recognition dinner with comedian Mark Lundholm, 144 registered CCAR volunteers invited, Keith Sawyer earns Presidential Award with over 1200 hours

Legacy of Hope: Recovery Elders Video Project launched

CCAR staff ran workshops, served on panels and introduced speakers in statewide DMHAS Recovery Conference: Vision to Outcomes

Bridgeport Recovery Community Center opened (#3)

Purchased a 3-story Victorian on 198 Wethersfield Avenue in Hartford to house the Hartford Recovery Community Center and the administrative offices

Individual Giving campaign launched

Recovery Walks! held for the 7th consecutive year, a lead event for Rally for Recovery, banner for 46 other events held nationally on same day

Executive Director Phillip Valentine received America Honors Recovery award from The Johnson Institute at the National Press Club, Washington DC

Executive Director presented on CCAR, recovery support services and promotes the RCSP at congressional briefing in Washington, DC

WRCC attracted more than 15,000 visitors

Hartford Recovery Community Center opened (#4)

Technology grant received from Hartford Foundation for Public Giving

2007 Annual_Report_2007
Hosted HBO “Addiction” premier at St. Francis Hospital Chawla Auditorium for 125 persons

Hosted 2nd Annual Volunteer Recognition dinner with comedian Mark Lundholm, more than 200 registered CCAR volunteers invited, 17 Presidential Awards given

The CCAR experience highlighted in interviews published on Faces &Voices of Recovery website, Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center (GLATTC) website, Recovery Solutions magazine

Hartford Recovery Community Center launched with Grand Opening for more than 200 people

CCAR leased space to Columbus House “Road to Recovery” program on 3rd floor of the HRCC

New author Richard Anthony (his pen name) began new recovery column that goes out on CCAR website and list serve, “Reflections of a 10th Leper”

Senior Peer Services Coordinator Diane Potvin celebrated 20 years of recovery

Legislative breakfasts held in each of the Recovery Community Centers

NLRCC held 2nd successful Comedy Night

CCAR presents at CCB conference on co-occurring disorders

Executive Director presents at NASADAD (National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors) on the CCAR experience in Burlington, VT

Senior Peer Services Coordinator Michael Askew retires and moves to North Carolina

Executive Director is lead author on a paper titled,” The Recovery Community Organization: Toward A Working Definition and Description” with Bill White and Pat Taylor

CCAR won $270,000 DMHAS grant to provide Telephone Recovery Support to 2500 recoverees

Staff expanded from 10 to 15.

Recovery Walks! held for the 8th consecutive year, Songwriter/vocalist Paul Williams keynotes, first time weather bad, yet sun breaks out during Honor Guard

Senior Peer Services Coordinator Kim Haugabook represented CCAR at a Whitehouse Roundtable in Washington, DC

Senior Peer Services Coordinator Diane Potvin presented at New England Association of Drug Court Professionals in Boston, MA

Executive Director represented CCAR at CSAT Regional Recovery Summit state planning meeting

Executive Director served on a consensus panel for a Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) TIP (Treatment Improvement Protocol) on Relapse Prevention

Volunteer Manager Normajean Cefarelli presented on the CCAR Volunteer Management System in Kentucky

Long time Office Manager Pat Howard retires

CCAR completed a strategic planning process

Executive Director Phillip Valentine celebrated 20 years of recovery

Volunteer hours served topped 10,000

2008 Annual_Report_2008
CCAR formed the Recovery Technical Assistance Group (RTAG) to provide consulting, technical assistance to recovery community organizations and other entities

Held the 3rd annual Volunteer Recognition and Celebration dinner with Mark Lundholm. 221 people attended, 123 of them volunteers and 21 Presidential awards were given. The CT Attorney General also signed certificates for each of the Presidential Award recipients

CCAR won 4 DMHAS Innovative Recovery Initiative one-time grants totaling $139,000 – Oldtimers Conference, Legacy of Hope 2, Women In Recovery through Enhanced Designed (WIRED) and Recovery Coaching

DMHAS Commissioner Thomas Kirk attended a CCAR Board meeting and the discussion focused on sustainability

CCAR collaborated with a treatment provider, ADRC (Alcohol & Drug Recovery Center) and won a state grant to provide Recovery Oriented Employment Services (ROES)

With the CT Certification Board (CCB), CCAR assisted with the Recovery Support Services Conference: Promoting Recovery with Recovery Support Services. Several CCAR volunteers and staff presented.

Diane Potvin WRCC Manager was voted in as a co-chair of the DMHAS State Advisory Board

United Way contributions to CCAR topped $1,000

The 1st Recovery Coach Academy was held, a 7-day training that drew 30 participants in a “learning laboratory” model

The number of recoverees reached through Telephone Recovery Support tops 1,000

2009 Annual_Report_2009
Held the 4th annual Volunteer Recognition and Celebration dinner with Mark Lundholm. 209 people attended, 108 of them volunteers and 27 Presidential awards were given. The CT Attorney General also signed certificates for each of the Presidential Award recipients.

CCAR earned a $100,000 contract form the CT Department of Correction for the Re-Entry & Recovery Project for people in the Hartford parole district.

Michael Askew returned from North Carolina to serve once again as the Manager of the Bridgeport Recovery Community Center.

DMHAS Commissioner Thomas Kirk retired. The CCAR Executive Director served on the committee to interview candidates for the position. Pat Rehmer appointed new Commissioner.

The Recovery Coach Academy was held 4 times, a 5-day training that drew participants from 13 different states.

The Recovery Technical Assistant Group expands – a recovery community organization development contract in Sioux Falls, SD; a Recovery Coach Academy in Des Moines, IA; Telephone Recovery Support TA in VA, TX; numerous speaking engagements (MN, VT, ME, NH)

CCAR had visits from several states interested in our model – Texas, New Jersey, South Dakota, Massachusetts and Vermont. Also, a gentleman from England visited the HRCC.

The number of recoverees reached through Telephone Recovery Support tops 2,000.

Recovery Walks! celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Hartford Business Journal selects CCAR Executive Director Phillip Valentine as Non-Profit Executive of the Year.

Findrecoveryhousing.com became an official e-commerce site.

2010 Annual Report 2010
CCAR Recovery Community Centers welcomes over 15,000 visits.

New London Recovery Community Center closes, leaving 3 Recovery Community Centers in operation.

Telephone Recovery Support enrolled more than 1,218 new recoverees. Our volunteers had more than 6,800 conversations about recovery.

Findrecoveryhousing.com lists over 150 houses from seven states.

The Recovery Coach Academy was held 5 times and trained 62 coaches representing 18 states.

CCAR volunteers continue to be the backbone of the organization; 319 volunteers served over 14,426 hours in 2010.

CCAR honored our volunteers at the 5th Annual Recognition dinner. 34 volunteers were presented with Presented with Presidential awards and one volunteer received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Shaded Soul wowed us at the 11th annual Recovery Walks.

CCAR staff provided RTAG Recovery Works training for folks in a recovery community organization in Maryland.

Men’s Wearhouse supports CCAR and our recoverees by donating professional attire on a regular basis.

2011 Annual_Report_2011
Executive Director, Phillip Valentine, traveled to Wales and the United Kingdom to speak on the power of recovery and the recovery community organization model. Phil attended the grand opening of the Newcastle Gateshead Recovery Centre, a recovery center modeled after CCAR.

CCAR wide strategic plan was conducted outlining agency priorities for upcoming years.

Yoly Lebron was promoted to Director of Administrator/Human Resource Officer role

Recovery Works hires new Coordinator; 203 individuals referred to program, 54 completed it and 56 gained employment.

Ken Aligata, CCAR volunteer and supporter, hired as Community Educator to conduct outreach to providers and individuals in treatment programs. 16 trainings conducted reached 226 participants.

The number of recoverees that received Telephone Recovery Support calls tripled, with volunteers calling nearly 650 people each week.

BRCC supported Keytrain, an initiative that prepared people to become more employable.

CCAR Recovery Community Centers saw more than 35,000 visitors, hosted 38 different trainings, and held 375 other events.

CCAR’s Telephone Recovery Support model expanded to Minnesota, South Dakota, Rhode Island, and the United Kingdom.

The Recovery Coach Academy was held 4 times and trained 124 coaches representing 28 states; 32 scholarships were provided to CCAR volunteers.

Recovery Coach Academy model trained total of 958 coaches nationwide.

317 CCAR volunteers contributed over 20,438 hours of service.

2012 Annual Report 2012
Maine RCO Leader, Deb Dettor, hired as Director of Operations to implement program development based on strategic plan.

Volunteer workforce number lessens slightly, but 291 individuals serve even more hours than previous years, contributing 23,264 hours.

TRS volunteer callers make 34,230 total calls and engage in 12,765 conversations.

CCAR’s Recovery Community Centers saw even more visitors, nearly 50,000 people.

Windham and Bridgeport Recovery Community Centers each doubled their space.

Community Educator expanded outreach to promote recovery posting YouTube Recovery Minute videos and daily Twitter Affirmations.

CCAR Recovery Coach Academy© ran 117 times across the country and trained 2,038 new coaches.

Recovery Walks! celebrated simultaneously with Recovery Walk in Manchester, England with live-feed broadcast.

CCAR technology upgraded thanks to grant from Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

2013 Annual Report 2013
CCAR hired first Recovery Coach Academy Coordinator, Stacy Rosay.

Bob Savage Recovery Advocate of the Year Award given to Greg Williams, producer of The Anonymous People.

CCAR Recovery Coach Academy© conducted 121 times across the country and trained 1,741 new coaches.

A new Recovery Coach Ethics training was developed.

Performance Support Learning Communities implemented by consultant/trainer Art Woodard with Recovery Coaches in CCAR Recovery Community Centers.

CCAR sponsored the April sneak preview of the groundbreaking documentary, The Anonymous People.

Volunteer service rose again, with 293 individuals providing 28,427 total hours, averaging 97 hours per volunteer.

CCAR Executive Director teamed with local media celebrity in recovery to host a weekly radio show, Voices of Recovery, on CT’s largest AM radio station.

Executive Director Phil Valentine awarded with thanks for 14 years of Annual Recovery Walks! leadership.

Recovery Walks! celebrated first ever Friday, drawing 1,000 people. CT Governor Dannel Malloy spoke, as first active Governor keynote at a Recovery Walk event.

Rebecca Allen promoted to new Telephone Recovery Support (TRS) Manager position.

Significant rise in CCAR’s Recovery Community Centers activities; 300 trainings ran with 2,438 participants and 1,131 other events drew 24,336 attendees.

CCAR piloted weekly Artists in Recovery; and sponsored first artwork exhibition at Annual Recovery Walks!

 2014 Annual Report 2014
2015 Annual Report 2015


easter sunday kind of love…. nicolas jaar

Posted on Updated on


Buddhism and Christianity would appear to have little in common. One is non-theistic for instance, the other, theistic. But the sayings of Jesus and the Buddha, whose teachings gave rise to the two religions are another matter. They have much in common in the realms of ethical behavior, discipleship, compassion, materialism and the inner life. The following are some examples.
Reprinted from “Jesus and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings” edited by Marcus Borg, published by Ulysses Press

Jesus: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31
Buddha: “Consider others as yourself.” Dhammapada 10:1
Jesus: “If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.” Luke 6:29
Buddha: “If anyone should give you a blow with his hand, with a stick, or with a knife, you should abandon any desires and utter no evil words.” Majjhima Nikaya 21:6
Jesus: “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” Matthew 25:45
Buddha: “If you do not tend to one another, then who is there to tend you? Whoever would tend me, he should tend the sick.” Vinaya, Mahavagga 8:26.3

Nicolas Jaar is a Chilean-American composer and recording artist based in New York. Notable works include Space Is Only Noise (2011) and Pomegranates (2015). He is known in the club world for his various dance 12″ EPs he put out from 2008 to 2011. Since his first album, he has embarked on more explorative directions, performing a 5 hour improvisational concert at PS1,[1] releasing a large volume of experimental recordings through his label ‘Other People’ (Including works by like minded artists Lydia Lunch, William Basinski, and Lucretia Dalt). In 2015, Jaar scored Dheepan by director Jacques Audiard (winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2015).[2] Jaar is also half of the band Darkside (Psychic 2013). have a listen and hopefully you’ll become a fan too!


some thoughts on acceptance and change

Posted on


i reached a plateau awhile back and didn’t quite know. frankly it has been a hella winter for me. i have been confronted by my shortcomings and realized it’s more than being stuck- it’s a goddamn quagmire. coming into contact with my own fear of success/failure has numbed my abilities like a tranquilizer dart they use to capture bears before they take them back to the wild.

my hope was to start a consulting service, develop clients, sharpen my process, move away from working for a single organization, and create impact in changing the treatment “system”. that is still my hope. i hadn’t estimated the where-with-all that is needed to actually step away from a regular pay check, self- motivate, and generate my own income. i don’t mean to imply that a regular pay check is not self-generated because we do work for the pay. maybe i mean that the leads for the work are not generated by us.

i fear falling apart. i fear being laughed at. i fear being told no. so naturally, the last few months, i have been telling myself no in order to spare myself humiliation.i had taken a job to keep the revenue coming in while i worked on other goals. what i did not consider was how the constrictions of that job would effect the other parts of my life.

this winter has torn away any facade i may have had about my courage. so often i talk a good game. but this winter, at the crest of these 2 years, i have unveiled a few of my glaring weaknesses. and i haven’t known what to do once they were revealed.

it is said in the recovery circles in which i travel, that accepting myself as i am is part of the work.  hella work order if you ask me. it sounds so poetic- to accept all one’s shortcomings and love yourself as you ask for them to be removed. and for some mebbe it is. for this human being though, it seems like sun to a vampire. not the accepting part- but the loving part. i want nothing more than to hate this part of me.

i know what i need to do. i know what i want to do. and i know what i have been doing. hopefully i can find a way to bridge all three of these.

10 years in recovery

Posted on Updated on

The Four Reliances First, rely on the spirit and meaning of the teachings,  not on the words;  Second, rely on the teachings,  not on the personality of the teacher;  Third, rely on real wisdom,  not superficial interpretation;  And fourth, rely on the essence of your pure Wisdom Mind,  not on judgmental perceptions.
The Four Reliances
First, rely on the spirit and meaning of the teachings,
not on the words;
Second, rely on the teachings,
not on the personality of the teacher;
Third, rely on real wisdom,
not superficial interpretation;
And fourth, rely on the essence of your pure Wisdom Mind,
not on judgmental perceptions.

i pulled the following from my profile on LinkedIn. it summarizes some of the things i have been privileged to do within the grace of sobriety these last 10 years. needless to say, recovery as changed my life and it completely changed the direction in which i traversed. there are so many unexplained circumstances along my journey that i am certainly at a loss to explain how i have survived so many treacherous and dangerous situations, yet here i find myself with an almost higher-powered directive to give back.

Certified Trainer of Peer Recovery Coaches using CCAR curriculum and philosophy.
Developed peer-to-peer quarterly newsletter “On The TEN” for HIV Community 2008-present
Established Peer Advocacy 501C3 organization named TEN – Treatment Education Network in 2009
Recognized as Advocate of the Year 2010 by Advocates For Recovery Colorado
Implemented Meth Treatment and Recovery Program for Englewood Agency 2012
Created and maintained recovery oriented blog “The Climb” for AFR Colorado 2011-2012
Served as Recovery Rally Chair for AFR Rally For Recovery 2011 and 2012.
Co-Facilitated HIV+ Recovery Support Group as peer in tandem with LPC at A.R.T.S. 2005-2006
Implemented a peer support group for LGBT seeking recovery from methamphetamine 2006
Co Chair Denver Office of HIV Resources Planning Council 2006-2010.
Strength In Numbers Colorado Moderator 2007-2009
Managed Cicatelli & Associates training for Peer Mentoring and HIV One on One Colorado in 2009

i certainly don’t begin to represent that i have created and completed all these on my own, but i was able to participate to the level that i feel some stewardship and some accomplishment. without the input of a community of recovery, i would doubtfully have found my way to 6 months recovery let alone 10 years. the above definitely represents input that can easily be compared against the years of my life before recovery. i spent the life i was given taking and taking and complicating.

i submit a very humble and very heartfelt “thank you” to all the beautiful and the impossible individuals i have met along the journey thus far. you have given me a feast.

life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.


hey now

Posted on

What is like a smelly fart, that, although invisible is obvious? One's own faults, that are precisely As obvious as the effort made to hide them." His Holiness the 7th Dalai Lama in 'Songs of spiritual change'
What is like a smelly fart,
that, although invisible is obvious?
One’s own faults, that are precisely
As obvious as the effort made to hide them.”
His Holiness the 7th Dalai Lama in ‘Songs of spiritual change’

there are times that a guy just needs to let go of his conscious self and act on instinct. i believe i am at one of those personal milestones. no guarantees. no safety net. just fear. and faith. no doubts. and no regrets.

hey now. hey now. it’s gotta be now. it’s gotta be soon. it better be now.

Hey now, letters burning by my bed for you
Hey now, I can feel my instincts here for you, hey now
By my bed for you, hey now, hey now

Uhu, you know it is frightening
Uhu, uhu, you know its like lightning
Hey now, now,

Hey now, letters burning by my bed for you
Hey now, leave it to the wayside like you do, for you
Imagination calling mirrors for you
Hey now, hey now

Read more: London Grammar – Hey Now Lyrics | MetroLyrics

no no samo samo

Posted on


“Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns...We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.”  ― Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha
“Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns…We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.”
― Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha


one thing i have come to know closely this last onth is that when i make efforts to change and the universe responds, well then thing are going to be different. damn! it is not easy to be different. it is easier to grow into being different. and of course that’s what happens when we change. we grow. and there is a death. and a dirge. and a birth.

tara branch’s quote is precisely reflecting my conundrum du jour. if i am to change, how best can i do this with true healthy change in view? how can i not make emotional decisions?


everyday i write

Posted on Updated on

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him. Buddha.
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.

sometimes i wonder if living with a virus is really like being branded. or it might be like testing just how much endurance one has. so many people haven’t survived. yet so many people have. certainly some will insist that there is not a spiritual component to life. my experience however has convinced me that the only sense to be made from the randomness and the madness is the spiritual aspect. i am not imparting dogma here. i am sharing personal experience. the connecting thread to all the craziness and to the amazing streaks of good luck has been exposed as a raison d’etre or reason to be. i am connected to the rest of the world not by intention but by design without my consult. i give thanks today in being connected an in feeling that connection. i didn’t have that for much of my life- or actually i wasn’t aware of it.

early in recovery i used a mantra i found in “a course in miracles” which goes like this..

i am not a body

i am free

for i am still

as god created me

it brought me comfort and relieved much much early recovery anxiety and uber emotionality. developing daily spiritual practices to use as centering tools helped ground me and paved the way to understand that primal connection to earth was visibly absent from my world. life hazed me for 40 years until i was willing to let the truth be revealed. and wow. double wow. wow to the 10th power.

i began a new gig this week. i have a large office. i have what might be called hands-off supervision but evidently wonderful support. i had felt placated by management for so long, i had almost forgotten what it is like to be involved in a thoughtful work relationship. i am anxiously anticipating growing this feeling. my duties have expanded but not compounded. i am in a completely new part of town that promises adventure. every day i may get to write the book.

“Everyday I Write The Book”

Don’t tell me you don’t know what love is
When you’re old enough to know better
When you find strange hands in your sweater
When your dreamboat turns out to be a footnote
I’m a man with a mission in two or three editions
And I’m giving you a longing look
Everyday, everyday, everyday I write the book


unwind, unbind, rewind, remind

Image Posted on Updated on

last friday i flew to chicago and promptly drove to union pier michigan with a couple of friends to spend time in a cottage here that they have adopted as their home away. i spent the 1st 36 hours unwinding, rewinding, unbinding, and unbending all the knots and twists and broken places that i have barely noticed have taken place since this part of my journey began nearly 10 years ago.

it seems so simple now with hindsight to see that most of what i have experienced may well have been about patching holes i had in my life rather than creating new space and adventures. it seems funny and almost bittersweet to think that i have been refinishing and re-upholstering these last 10 years to try to bring my being to reflect the empirical value of my experiences and my life to be emblematic of a metaphor with the value of all the experiences, tragedies, and triumphs that any life may hold.

these next years just may be about seeing what this old but polished up vessel may still have left in her with regard to sea-worthiness. i can’t guarantee she will sail around the world, but i am confident there will be new ports of call. this is cause for hope.

i plan on connecting with a former neighbor who has relocated to a town about 10 minutes from here. it seems strange that life can be so connected that my past can intersect with my present in such a randomly concise way. but that is life as i know it.

i typed out a post which seemed perfect earlier here. then with one random stroke trying to properly place my little pic of the beach stairs, i erased those 8 paragraphs. i don’t have it in me to recreate them. i know better than to be angry about it. i can only move forward in the here and now. letting go of what could have been and what i intended. what i am left with is what actually from 1 perspective. no doubt it is as good as it gets. loving this rewind.



soul meets body

Posted on Updated on

image credit…. jumping pages

“There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly. Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.” 

i have managed to become involved in some cultural changes happening at my workplace. we are working to create a recovery oriented system of care (rosc) where there has been little visibility of recovery before. i know it sounds simple, but i refuse to be that naive. if it were easy, it would already be in place. there are some barriers to this that exist and i am not even sure i am familiar with most of them. there is much to do.  i was chatting with some co-workers about it yesterday and i was intimating that part of i am energized by the idea of change and had been involved in creating business and redirecting it for as long as i could remember.

in 1982, i started working for a friend who had spent years developing an after hours club in chicago. i had the opportunity to contribute ideas, concepts, and labor which helped create a fairly well-known night spot that was around for 10 years.

in 1987 i started working for an uncle and his friend for a very small travel agency that was basically a bucket shop- reselling international airline tickets to customers that were issued by wholesalers at highly discounted prices. i was fortunate enough to contribute ideas, concepts, and labor which helped steer this company into a 17 million dollar business over the course of 10 years. a definite bonus was my ability to travel all over the globe and widen my world-view.

interspersed throughout my life, i have worked at the openings of at least 12 restaurants, each time afforded the opportunity to offer ideas, concepts, and labor that would result in the creation of something new. there has mostly  been a source of creation and excitement as i showed up for work on a daily basis.

historically, the sad and painful truth is that mental health and substance abuse have accompanied me on my journey. as i review all these fantastic opportunities, i realize that these issues were the david to my goliath.  i can now see that the gifts of imagination and inspiration are accompanied by self-doubt and a drive to self-destruct. these thrill killers are an integral part of my psychological make-up and have demonically fueled by drugs and alcohol over the years.

since getting sober, i have had the fortune of helping to start a counseling program directly followed by a resurgence of ptsd which became emotionally global. i have developed an hiv community newsletter that has been publishing for 5 years now. i have helped a friend create a not  for profit organization so he could develop his  philanthropic efforts and get funding. most of these things were simple ideas that became inspiration which led to action and creation.

currently, along with the culture change i am involved in, is an acute awareness of my vulnerabilities. they are definitely with me still. i am much more aware now, and have become skilled at maneuvering them without numbing them out. it is very exciting for me to be part of this  change, especially because i don’t know where they will lead.

i am following my heart and my instinct here. it is challenging. it engages me. my hopes are ignited- both selfish and philanthropic. i want to succeed and i want to do well. i was reporting to a co-worker that i always find myself in a position to ask questions about making things better. she replied that i put myself in that position. her acumen startled me. i guess it’s true. this must be part of my skill set. i hope it is the work i am here to do. it sure feels right.