no no samo samo

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“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?


lose yourself to dance

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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 on your pure wisdom mind. Not on judgemental perceptions.
the end of summer brings with it again a shift in my computability and perception. my perception of my time and work feels as if it has shifted somehow from a gift i have been given into something much different and slightly dark. i remember quite vividly when the illumination of all this changed, but i don’t have much more insight than this. and the saying goes- “if you don’t know what to do, the best thing to do is nothing”. this describes my current environment. full of impulse and intuition tempered by caution and resistance.

the really numbing aspect to this is its familiarity. i am hardly an ingenue and yet i seem to do-si-do myself into the same position emotionally over and over like a choreographed bit on a network tv show blah-blah. it’s a little bit flashy and interesting to watch for a minute, but the experience becomes empty and flat after a short time. 

this routine is familiar to me now, like stubble on my chin and i keep shaving it off hoping to be rid of it for good. yet it keeps coming back without fail. it is often said that life spirals, and i will continue to find myself in this same position until i have learned what i need to learn. of course this is where maturity becomes annoying- when i can no longer blame anyone else for my own behavior. it gets complicated by the repeating questions in my head like “what if i never get insight into what is going on?”,  “what if nothing ever changes?”, what if this is my karma somehow?”

more importantly though, might be my knowledge (not yet synthesized as true ability) to zoom out of this repetitive situation to understand that it may just be my dance. my work may not to be to remove it, but to embrace it somehow. not be done with it, but learn to work with it and even have it work for me. 
“Everyone defends his treasure, and will do so automatically.The real questions are, what do you treasure, and how much do you treasure it? Once you have learned to consider these questions and to bring them into all your actions, you will have little difficulty in clarifying the means. The means are available whenever you ask. You can, however, save time if you do not protract this step unduly. The correct focus will shorten it immeasurably.” 
Helen Shucman A Course In Miracles

defense … not offense

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Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past. ~ Lily Tomlin

off balance
surprise attacks
mental health

” rod- although this isn’t usually the case, you actually look nice today. those pants really fit and make you look slim” he has been sidelining me every time he sees me in the last few weeks. in front of others, within ear shot, making sure he is loud. i listen without flinching or reacting, but it sickens me.  it reminds me of picking up dog doodoo in the park- it stinks but it is the right thing to do. i believe he is angry for several reasons. all of them have to do with him. i am resisting the urge to retaliate. i am pondering the concept of turning the tables. somewhere inside i believe that these are not appropriate responses. i am not sure if have grown to that level spiritually. i long for the fortitude it takes to turn the other cheek. i wish desperately to be strong enough to do nothing. this is just another test of my resolve to understand that the right action may be no action.
 i am flawed- but cleaning up so well. 


When we undertake the practice of forgiveness we find a portal to grace. A window to acceptance. We find at the core of every heartbreak, every betrayal, every event that we feel victimized by, every person we feel has harmed us, and every person we feel we may have harmed, that what we truly have been seeking is forgiveness of ourselves.

In times of sadness, deep grace, anger, happiness, gratitude and confusion it is helpful to incorporate forgiveness into our daily lives. This is the oil that runs the machine of our hearts. When the doors of the heart rage and threaten to close it is us who suffer and not who we feel is the justful target of whatever has happened. Forgiveness stokes the flames of beauty that live within our hearts. Saying this Forgiveness prayer in all situations can have beneficial healing effects. As Jack Kornfield says: “Forgiveness makes our hearts grow sweeter.”

A Buddhist Prayer of Forgiveness

If I have harmed anyone in any way either knowingly or unknowingly

through my own confusions I ask their forgiveness.

If anyone has harmed me in any way either knowingly or unknowingly
through their own confusions I forgive them.
And if there is a situation I am not yet ready to forgive
I forgive myself for that.
For all the ways that I harm myself, negate, doubt, belittle myself,
judge or be unkind to myself through my own confusions
I forgive myself….. reposted from The Alchemy of Healing

activate my heart

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“Not all addictions are rooted in abuse or trauma, but I do believe they can all be traced to painful experience. A hurt is at the centre of all addictive behaviours. It is present in the gambler, the Internet addict, the compulsive shopper and the workaholic. The wound may not be as deep and the ache not as excruciating, and it may even be entirely hidden—but it’s there. As we’ll see, the effects of early stress or adverse experiences directly shape both the psychology and the
neurobiology of addiction in the brain.” … Gabor Mate
i spent time with bill and his partner today at hunter’s celebration of life. my relationship with bill and patrick has been strained since just after i came back from san francisco. bill gave me some help when i got back and i stepped all over it while i struggled with that crazy bitch tina.

i met bill when he first moved to denver from wisconsin. he joined the lgbt mixed chorus harmony of which i was also a member. he is a baritone, i a tenor, so we didn’t hang together very  much during rehearsals. but about 5 of us co-hosted the parties at the seasonal retreats. those parties were epic- at least for colorado. we were traveling on different tracks in different circles but still in the same orbit.  i had already begun my big spin.

in retrospect, i realize that the 1990’s were like a candle burning at both ends. i was running a travel company for an uncle and his college buddy. at the same time my immune system was disintegrating quickly from the stress of my working style and daily alcohol overuse. in 1996, i got my 2nd colorado dui, had a nervous breakdown, started on the new “hiv cocktail” and gotten frustrated with my work partners and decided to quit and move on.

after i started the protease inhibitor, i felt healthier and more energetic that i had in years. i had also spent most of 1997 completely sober due to my  court treatment. i remember being very angry and very confused. i had been pushing so hard for years to not let the onset of AIDS get me. now i found myself no longer in need of that motivation. i was lost and i felt empty. at a time in my life when i should have been rejoicing because i was no longer going to die, i felt lost and without direction. anger and denial had been my compass for so long.

in classic bi-polar mode, 1997 began the rhythmic and calculated deconstruction of a stable life, and the insidiously stealth overthrow of normalcy by my internal tendency to disconnect. in my zeal to run, san francisco became the aim for the desperate trauma-driven slingshot. and it was only a matter of time till the complete unravelling.

this is the benefit of hindsight. had i known any of this, my fate may have been different. but i did not. i played from my heart and ran for my life. and i spun myself into a darkly familiar hole. one just like the ones i had made for myself on several occasions before in my life. although it really felt so authentic and unique, i now realize that for all my intelligence and self seeking, i am, just like almost everyone else, a creature of habit. i play the same tunes over and over. my emotional memory may very well be just like a shakespeare plot- it gets re staged, reworked and replayed with almost every new company. and i have been preoccupied as a player mesmerized by the lighting and the audience and didn’t realize that the story lines have been parallel.

when i found myself in yet another hole i had crawled in while i was in california, i decided to return to colorado. my romance with homeless performance art grinded to a halt. i had also burned almost every west coast bridge i ever had. denver bound it was. upon my return, i hooked up with bill in my undulating journey to find solid ground. i stayed with him at his home in park hill while i rotated through jobs and relapses. my last hurrah was while he was on a cruise in canada and the northeast. i helped my self to some of his belongings and betrayed one of the few friends willing to help me. it severed our immediate relationship. i had to move immediately and find a way to make amends. even after so much deceit, he refused to throw me shade. he stood by me- from a distance- and gave me permission to heal.

i don’t remember my life changing direction so quickly as this encounter created. turned on a dime really. i found myself looking at my life and my behaviors in the light of day because of his kindness. i couldn’t become a victim. i couldn’t blame anyone. the only move i could make was change. spending time with bill brought all this back into view. he changed my life. with just one effort, he changed my world view.

and change i have. i hope. the dance i have been doing with substances to cope with my life has come to an end. i often use shopping and chocolate to buffer the sharp teeth of reality. i have realized that i am not in charge. and i understand as often as i can that i have to pay attention if i am not to make the same mistakes over and over. sometimes i get this and some times i don’t. know which it really is in order to get beyond it. or maybe just to make another choice.

hope there’s someone

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i hosted the 2nd advisory board meeting for C2R yesterday. none of the invitees outside my workplace that attended the 1st meeting returned for the 2nd, however 2 additional invitees made an appearance at this meeting. my hope is to set up a network of peers in recovery with the intention of providing additional support and extend tangible resources for newbies. i have asked several organizations to participate in order to widen our lens on how we grow our “peer services” so they are directed in a culturally competent direction.

my mother has been feeling poorly for roughly a month now. she is struggling with breathing and with ongoing   issues with celiac and with diabetes. my fears are many but in front is the worry that she may have to go on oxygen.  prayers.

a colleague asked what was going on between the director of a recovery organization and myself. i felt shame at the question. i certainly have not been as adult about the situation as i might. but i walked away feeling so burnt that i am giving myself time to rehydrate- both my psyche and my heart. i am very aware that forgiveness is the best thirst relief. i a hoping i can get there someday. i must admit that i am not actively working on that in my life today.  but i am actively working on things.

my cousin came by this evening and we watched “people like us”. the film still resonates with me- having lived a fatherless life. i know that it took me 45 years to really forgive my parents for anything and everything. i am also becoming more acutely aware that i have really been getting angry as a defense for most of my life, so the motion of getting angry to protect myself is justified and it’s ancient. and it is really in need of a makeover.

a colleague was let go late on friday afternoon. it was not a surprise, but it was sad none-the-less. i had a love-disdain relationship with this person as there was as much distraction as there was engagement from my perspective. i told this person- and whole-heartedly meant it-that the cliche about a window opening when a door closes is well-known for a very good reason. and in this case- i think it is mantra.

am planning to take  a couple of days and go to fairplay on 4 july. i need a getaway. and i want to go back to salida. salida is one of my funspots these days. there are some amazing organic farms happening there and i haven’t been in the summer. i would love to come back with a bushel of fava beans to make spread for everyone i know. and i want to spend some time in the pools at mt princeton as well. either  way, i am looking forward to a change of pace.

soul mining with an uncertain smile

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image credit…. ddmag

Peeling the skin back from my eyes, I felt surprised
that the time on the clock was the time I usually retired
to the place where I cleared my head of you;
but just for today, i think I’ll lie here and dream of you.
I’ve got you under my skin where the rain can’t get in,
but if the sweat pours out, just shout I’ll try to SWIM AND pull you out.
A howling wind blows the litter as the rain flows,
As street lamps pour orange coloured shapes through your window,
a broken soul stares from a pair of watering eyes,
uncertain emotions force in an uncertain smile…
.. matt johnson(the the)

i find myself entering a familiar yet precarious chapter in my life. my nature is very much geared towards program and process development. in my early 20’s, i found passion (and pain) in the collaborative creation and formation of an after-hours club in chicago. i certainly say collaborative here because i fully believe that nothing that is done is done alone and in no way did i participate in any of these things alone. the club became quite popular in chicago and lasted about 10 years, although my life and my nature didn’t allow me to be involved that long at all. disease, death (it was the 1980’s) and drug addiction kept me tied to a post like a sad and lonely pit bull, barking at almost every one who tried to get near.

i then found myself in colorado without much direction and consuming a lotta liquor. my uncle asked me to help him with a travel agency he started with his college roommate.  i knew absolutely nothing about travel (which was so like my uncle) but i took the gig and helped steer it from a 250,000 a year venue to an enterprise ringing in 17M annually.  my desire to continue and my instability due to alcohol consumption, the trauma and fatigue in 12 years of waiting ot die of aids, i let go of that project with no takeaway

the next offering to my appetite for creativity was a gay men’s meth treatment program during my 3rd year in recovery. i researched for a curriculum, advocated in hiv circles for grant approval, networked with recovery communities  to build some capacity and delivered. i realized once the program had launched that the MH needs  of the implementation were above my skill set. after discussing my concerns in-house, found my trust breached and i shut down from the onslaught of shame-based trauma triggers. 

i have embarked on the quiet development of a meth treatment program in a suburb. it is going smoothly, albeit a more quiet kick-off than i am accustomed. but it is having some impact on a few individuals. and it is having some calming effect on my obsession with creating. 

and now i stand before an opportunity that meets all the criteria. and in the back of my mind, i circle around disappointment and loss. let down. betrayal. disposal. failure. and as i write all of this down, it occurs to me that all these years and these events had led me to believe that actions (either mine or that of others’) had led me here, but i am now getting the sense that it is my own nature that is at the core of my situations. it is the palpable and ironic reality that what excites me just might hurt me as well. it might be that if i find myself in sweet spots in my life which include engaging in my passion that it might also be concluded that the likelihood of the other side of passion being involved is very high.  hopefully  i have begun to move beyond some intelligence and intuition towards a semblance of wisdom.

Wisdom is the judicious application of knowledge. It is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgments and actions in keeping with this understanding. It often requires control of one’s emotional reactions (the “passions“) so that universal principles, reason and knowledge prevail to determine one’s actions. Wisdom is also the comprehension of what is true coupled with optimum judgment as to action

i have been swimming in 80’s reflection these last months. matt johnson and the the are a shining beacon from those days. their sound was a jazz/rock/electronica crossover to say the least, with  lyrics that  feel like poetry, and i love them sitll. as i write i sit here on this snowy snowy sunday morning doing some soul mining with an uncertain smile- but certainly a smile none-the-less.

amazing grace

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image credit… adri berger

i worked a small party for new clients tonight. it was for around 70 people and it was held to celebrate the installation of a new priest at one of the large episcopal churches in town. i saw several people from my past and i was reminded that i am part of a larger community as well as the communities i claim membership.
the most astounding thing for me was running into a former co-worker who had been present when i was creating the mile high meth project. the grant funding had come through and a mysterious anonymous letter had been circulated about me. i became convinced that it was the handy work of my supervisor and that he was fucking with me. i get triggered with ptsd with the whole scenario and ended up getting fired-(best thing and worst thing that has happened to me in recovery). anyway- this guy david and i talked last night for the 1st time since 2008. he validated my experience and my perception and i was able to make further peace with the whole situation. i cried this morning as i recalled the peace that touched me.

the ghost in you

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The Ghost In You lyrics

A man in my shoes runs a light
and all the papers lied tonight
but falling over you
is the news of the day
Angels fall like rain
And love – is all of heaven away
Inside you the times moves
and she don’t fade
The ghost in you
She don’t fade
Inside you the time moves
and she don’t fade
A race is on
I’m on your side
And here in you
my engines die
I’m in a mood for you
Or running away
Stars come down in you
and love – you can’t give it away

on september 11 in 2001, i was living in a small apartment in san francisco. i had lost my corporate travel job and had found work in los angeles so was commuting back and forth to la 2x week and staying with a relative in manhattan beach. it was not an optimum situation, but it kept the revenue floating. i also had a job waiting tables in san francisco at an italian restaurant at fisherman’s wharf, which kept a few hundred a week in my pocket.
it was a maddening pace and it seemed a little glamorous, but it started out taking a toll on my sanity. on the 11th, i was sleeping in the guest room and the tv had been left on. i woke up and saw some footage on the tube that showed a plane flying into the towers. i remember thinking to myself- “what movie is this” and then as the minutes dissipated a second plane hit the towers and well and it began to sink in that this was no movie at all.
i ran to wake the other family that was home and we sat mesmerized at the footage and kept wiping disbelief from our consciousness like a wiper swashing water from a windshield, only to be overrun with the same thing moments later.
the next days was a pastiche of sensations. fear, anger, horror, confusion, but there was focus in the house where i was staying because a family member had planned a wedding for the 14th in las vegas. it seemed absurd to go ahead, but the plans had been made, family and friends all needed to have a purpose, so the wedding was on. as i was readying for the trip, my la supervisor, also a friend, informed me that because of the projected travel freeze, my job would be nullified and i would lose that income, effective immediately. it was sour news and i was numb. i rode with an acquaintance to las vegas and during the first hour of the drive i got a call from the owner of the restaurant and was informed that staff was being cut there as well and i would not be working for an indefinite period of time.
the rest of the weekend is really a blur. it was a fijian themed wedding and i remember checking out early on. it was september 14 2011 and i had no concept of what was in store for the next day- let alone the next year. this massive event on that clear east coast morning, set into place a series of events that caused me to completely lose myself and the skin and bones of my life to addiction. it was a 3 year unhinging of the shipwreck i had called my life.

today as look back to this globally infamous event and consider the changes that have taken place, i feel detached. i am not angry about all the loss, because i have mourned it. i have made peace with it. i have accepted our part in it. even so, i don’t think i ever want to do a dance that is even somewhat reminiscent of the “irish jig” that passenger bombs created in me.
10 years is a solid block of time and 20 percent of my life. it has certainly been the most challenging 20 percent thus far because i have worked to become present and available. compromise and loss, reliving trauma and forgiveness, and discovery and exploration have cut a wide and visible path in the backwood overgrowth of my emotional landscape. the journey still goes on and it is with much less fear and far more humility that i take each new step.
if i have learned anything these last 10 years, it is that all is not as it initially seems, that i am much stronger than i ever knew, and that fear and unknowing do not necessarily lead to a dark place, they may just be the dark before a brighter day.
i will observe some silence this september 11 2011, out of respect for all those that lost their lives, and all those who were affected because they were left behind to feel the pain. and i will observe some silence too, because in some eerie fashion, i started a journey that day to rediscover and reconstruct my own life.

this is a remake of the classic psychedelic furs from bt and last year’s double “these hopeful machines” cd. the mood and the message somehow still tug at my psyche.