emotional sobriety

Somnambulist’s Blueprint

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Graphic - Peter Rothmeier Ravn
Graphic – Peter Rothmeier Ravn

I am not able to use my eye to hand ability as well as I would prefer so posting is brief. I am humbled again and again by the frailty of ability and the audacity of circumstance.  I am perplexed by purpose and significance. I find myself hopeful that desired change will somehow escalate and that the courage to withstand  the onset of that change that lies within.

here is a reprint from Pema Chodron who manages to speak to my situation with stealth and candor. I see I am in a very personal and very universal situation. The feelings are layered and entwined. Hope is the dream that drifts into sunrise.


“On a very basic level all beings think that they should be happy. When life becomes difficult or painful, we feel that something has gone wrong. This wouldn’t be a big problem except for the fact that when we feel something’s gone wrong, we’re willing to do anything to feel OK again. Even start a fight.

According to the Buddhist teachings, difficulty is inevitable in human life. For one thing, we cannot escape the reality of death. But there are also the realities of aging, of illness, of not getting what we want, and of getting what we don’t want. These kinds of difficulties are facts of life. Even if you were the Buddha himself, if you were a fully enlightened person, you would experience death, illness, aging, and sorrow at losing what you love. All of these things would happen to you. If you got burned or cut, it would hurt.

But the Buddhist teachings also say that this is not really what causes us misery in our lives. What causes misery is always trying to get away from the facts of life, always trying to avoid pain and seek happiness—this sense of ours that there could be lasting security and happiness available to us if we could only do the right thing.

Suffering can humble us. Even the most arrogant among us can be softened by the loss of someone dear.

In this very lifetime we can do ourselves and this planet a great favor and turn this very old way of thinking upside down. As Shantideva, author of Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, points out, suffering has a great deal to teach us. If we use the opportunity when it arises, suffering will motivate us to look for answers. Many people, including myself, came to the spiritual path because of deep unhappiness. Suffering can also teach us empathy for others who are in the same boat. Furthermore, suffering can humble us. Even the most arrogant among us can be softened by the loss of someone dear.

Yet it is so basic in us to feel that things should go well for us, and that if we start to feel depressed, lonely, or inadequate, there’s been some kind of mistake or we’ve lost it. In reality, when you feel depressed, lonely, betrayed, or any unwanted feelings, this is an important moment on the spiritual path. This is where real transformation can take place.

As long as we’re caught up in always looking for certainty and happiness, rather than honoring the taste and smell and quality of exactly what is happening, as long as we’re always running away from discomfort, we’re going to be caught in a cycle of unhappiness and disappointment, and we will feel weaker and weaker. This way of seeing helps us to develop inner strength.

And what’s especially encouraging is the view that inner strength is available to us at just the moment when we think we’ve hit the bottom, when things are at their worst. Instead of asking ourselves, “How can I find security and happiness?” we could ask ourselves, “Can I touch the center of my pain? Can I sit with suffering, both yours and mine, without trying to make it go away? Can I stay present to the ache of loss or disgrace—disappointment in all its many forms—and let it open me?” This is the trick.

There are various ways to view what happens when we feel threatened. In times of distress—of rage, of frustration, of failure—we can look at how we get hooked and how shenpa escalates. The usual translation of shenpa is “attachment,” but this doesn’t adequately express the full meaning. I think of shenpa as “getting hooked.” Another definition, used by Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, is the “charge”—the charge behind our thoughts and words and actions, the charge behind “like” and “don’t like.”

It can also be helpful to shift our focus and look at how we put up barriers. In these moments we can observe how we withdraw and become self-absorbed. We become dry, sour, afraid; we crumble, or harden out of fear that more pain is coming. In some old familiar way, we automatically erect a protective shield and our self-centeredness intensifies.

We can become intimate with just how we hide out, doze off, freeze up. And that intimacy, coming to know these barriers so well, is what begins to dismantle them.

But this is the very same moment when we could do something different. Right on the spot, through practice, we can get very familiar with the barriers that we put up around our hearts and around our whole being. We can become intimate with just how we hide out, doze off, freeze up. And that intimacy, coming to know these barriers so well, is what begins to dismantle them. Amazingly, when we give them our full attention they start to fall apart.

Ultimately all the practices I have mentioned are simply ways we can go about dissolving these barriers. Whether it’s learning to be present through sitting meditation, acknowledging shenpa, or practicing patience, these are methods for dissolving the protective walls that we automatically put up.

When we’re putting up the barriers and the sense of “me” as separate from “you” gets stronger, right there in the midst of difficulty and pain, the whole thing could turn around simply by not erecting barriers; simply by staying open to the difficulty, to the feelings that you’re going through; simply by not talking to ourselves about what’s happening. That is a revolutionary step. Becoming intimate with pain is the key to changing at the core of our being—staying open to everything we experience, letting the sharpness of difficult times pierce us to the heart, letting these times open us, humble us, and make us wiser and more brave.

Let difficulty transform you. And it will. In my experience, we just need help in learning how not to run away.

If we’re ready to try staying present with our pain, one of the greatest supports we could ever find is to cultivate the warmth and simplicity of bodhichitta. The word bodhichitta has many translations, but probably the most common one is “awakened heart.” The word refers to a longing to wake up from ignorance and delusion in order to help others do the same. Putting our personal awakening in a larger—even planetary—framework makes a significant difference. It gives us a vaster perspective on why we would do this often difficult work.

There are two kinds of bodhichitta: relative and absolute. Relative bodhichitta includes compassion and maitri. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche translated maitri as “unconditional friendliness with oneself.” This unconditional friendliness means having an unbiased relationship with all the parts of your being. So, in the context of working with pain, this means making an intimate, compassionate heart-relationship with all those parts of ourselves we generally don’t want to touch.

Some people find the teachings I offer helpful because I encourage them to be kind to themselves, but this does not mean pampering our neurosis. The kindness that I learned from my teachers, and that I wish so much to convey to other people, is kindness toward all qualities of our being. The qualities that are the toughest to be kind to are the painful parts, where we feel ashamed, as if we don’t belong, as if we’ve just blown it, when things are falling apart for us. Maitri means sticking with ourselves when we don’t have anything, when we feel like a loser. And it becomes the basis for extending the same unconditional friendliness to others.

If there are whole parts of yourself that you are always running from, that you even feel justified in running from, then you’re going to run from anything that brings you into contact with your feelings of insecurity.

I’m here to tell you that the path to peace is right there, when you want to get away.

And have you noticed how often these parts of ourselves get touched? The closer you get to a situation or a person, the more these feelings arise. Often when you’re in a relationship it starts off great, but when it gets intimate and begins to bring out your neurosis, you just want to get out of there.

So I’m here to tell you that the path to peace is right there, when you want to get away. You can cruise through life not letting anything touch you, but if you really want to live fully, if you want to enter into life, enter into genuine relationships with other people, with animals, with the world situation, you’re definitely going to have the experience of feeling provoked, of getting hooked, of shenpa. You’re not just going to feel bliss. The message is that when those feelings emerge, this is not a failure. This is the chance to cultivate maitri, unconditional friendliness toward your perfect and imperfect self.

Relative bodhichitta also includes awakening compassion. One of the meanings of compassion is “suffering with,” being willing to suffer with other people. This means that to the degree you can work with the wholeness of your being—your prejudices, your feelings of failure, your self-pity, your depression, your rage, your addictions—the more you will connect with other people out of that wholeness. And it will be a relationship between equals. You’ll be able to feel the pain of other people as your own pain. And you’ll be able to feel your own pain and know that it’s shared by millions.

Absolute bodhichitta, also known as shunyata, is the open dimension of our being, the completely wide-open heart and mind. Without labels of “you” and “me,” “enemy” and “friend,” absolute bodhichitta is always here. Cultivating absolute bodhichitta means having a relationship with the world that is nonconceptual, that is unprejudiced, having a direct, unedited relationship with reality.

That’s the value of sitting meditation practice. You train in coming back to the unadorned present moment again and again. Whatever thoughts arise in your mind, you regard them with equanimity and you learn to let them dissolve. There is no rejection of the thoughts and emotions that come up; rather, we begin to realize that thoughts and emotions are not as solid as we always take them to be.

It takes bravery to train in unconditional friendliness, it takes bravery to train in “suffering with,” it takes bravery to stay with pain when it arises and not run or erect barriers. It takes bravery to not bite the hook and get swept away. But as we do, the absolute bodhichitta realization, the experience of how open and unfettered our minds really are, begins to dawn on us. As a result of becoming more comfortable with the ups and the downs of our ordinary human life, this realization grows stronger.

We may still get betrayed, may still be hated. We may still feel confused and sad. What we won’t do is bite the hook.

We start with taking a close look at our predictable tendency to get hooked, to separate ourselves, to withdraw into ourselves and put up walls. As we become intimate with these tendencies, they gradually become more transparent, and we see that there’s actually space, there is unlimited, accommodating space. This does not mean that then you live in lasting happiness and comfort. That spaciousness includes pain.

We may still get betrayed, may still be hated. We may still feel confused and sad. What we won’t do is bite the hook. Pleasant happens. Unpleasant happens. Neutral happens. What we gradually learn is to not move away from being fully present. We need to train at this very basic level because of the widespread suffering in the world. If we aren’t training inch by inch, one moment at a time, in overcoming our fear of pain, then we’ll be very limited in how much we can help. We’ll be limited in helping ourselves, and limited in helping anybody else. So let’s start with ourselves, just as we are, here and now.”

Excerpted from “Practicing Peace in Times of War,” by Pema Chödrön. © 2006 Pema Chödrön. Reprinted with permission of Shambhala Publications.


Measure Your Life in Love

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Art Gutierrez image credit

There is so much that has happened in this short holiday period in 2016. I had a successful season of parties. I was blessed with a bevy of unexpected bonuses which will carry me into the new year. I managed a sock and gloves giveaway for 100 persons that inspired not only myself, but many of my colleagues and friends. They seemed to revel in the opportunity to participate and had fun shopping and droppings items off to add to the bounty.

Holiday 2016 also brought my life to a screeching halt.i went to urgent care upon losing the sight in my left eye and was whisked to surgery 3 hours later to reverse a detached retina. After the 1st procedure proved ineffective, there was a pivot to a second strategy which totaled 6 hours in the OR. I am forced by circumstance to take time off and walking forward into an undetermined future.

An interesting side effect of a physical challenge are the psychological effects both immediate and delayed. What has been revealed are many desires as well as paranoias. This is the piece that inspires me to write today.
1) I have realized that my own nature is to procrastinate. I noticed floaters in my eye several months ago and kept putting off doing anything investigative about it. This lead directly to this emergency situation and my current predicament.
2) I am still only financially capable of handling what’s imperative today.i haven’t found the tenacity to be building a decent future for myself. I believe this is a by-product of self-esteem and shame-based trauma.
3) I have been working as a counselor with a homeless population and an opiate dependent culture for over 10 years.. It has been inspiring and exhausting. I want a change in my life.
4) I am in a situation currently that seems toxic to me. I seem to always be doing more and it’s never enough. I find myself torn between completing this cycle somehow, remaining fiscally fluid, and trusting the universe and making room for a larger shift in my world. I wonder ho all this may go.
As is my nature, my restless energy wants to figure all of it out now and not bother with patience or experience. I googled an older New Years message from Pema Chödrön which put some fears to rest:

December 31, 2014
Generosity. Giving as a path of learning to let go.
Discipline. Training in not causing harm in a way that is daring and flexible.
Patience. Training in abiding with the restlessness of our energy and letting things evolve at their own speed. If waking up takes forever, still we go moment by moment, giving up all hope of fruition and enjoying the process.
Joyful enthusiasm. Letting go of our perfectionism and connecting with the living quality of every moment.
Meditation. Training in coming back to being right here with gentleness and precision.
Prajna (or transcendent wisdom). Cultivating an open, inquiring mind.

“Seasons Of Love” by Donny Osmond

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure-measure a year

In daylights- in sunsets
In midnights- in cups of coffee
In inches- in miles
In laughter- in strife

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life

How about love
How about love
How about love
Measure in love
Seasons of love
Seasons of love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Journeys to plan
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life
Of a woman or a man

In truth that she learns
Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned
Or the way that she dies

Its time now to sing out
Though the story never ends
Lets celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends

Remember the love
Remember the love
Remember the love
Measure in love
Seasons of love
Seasons of love

A blessed new year to you.




Calling All Angels

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For this human being, I cannot remember a year that delivered so many many gifts braided in uncertainty. I have welcomed innumerable friendships and opportunities into my realm. PCA has made a splash and many many friends. This has been both unexpected and validating. All the while, I have left unsavory workplaces because the cacaphony of client disdain and disrespect  was clattering so loudly it sounded like the ghost of Marley rattling the sins and guilts of Christmas past with the fervor of a very last chance to be heard. I felt no other option than to listen and speak out. Sadly it has been to no avail thus far. I have few regrets other than not sounding an alarm loudly enough. There are many more wrongs to right.

I have said so many goodbyes this year, I am numbed from letting go. Both my contemporaries as well as touchstones have lifted off as in spaceships setting sites for the next assignment. I have felt melancholy and sadness anticipating my own orders to follow suit. I remain however connected to my work. And though  I waiver between thinking I’m failing and believing I’m in step, I have the fortune to receive a succession of gifts – some Are given and some I merely stumble upon. I have bonded with a new colleague this year who has bathed my soul in light. Add this to the other warriors in my circle, I have learned that it’s really their journey and I am allowed to participate . I’m completely content with this arrangement. It’s like watching a sunrise again and again.

I also have received feedback that is like fertilizing my garden. This is a most unexpected surprise from the universe….

” Hi Rod! I didn’t get to see you again before you left first steps, but I wanted to thank you for everything. You really helped me in ways and I often think about things you said and realize how much deeper you pushed me to look. Yes, life fell apart, and you helped me understand that I’m not a horrible person and helped me see things a LOT differently, even with my students and their parents. You’re an amazing human and soul, and a gifted recovery coach/counselor. You have helped, I’m guessing, beyond thousands of troubled people feel okay about struggling, and I’m sure thousands of people think of you, or something you helped them to overcome or realize or learn. Whether they reach out to you and say it or not, I’m sure every day you run across all those minds and change all the lives you touch. Your work is amazing. I appreciate you. THANK YOU

you don’t have to, I just think that it’s important to let others know how you changed their life. I became a teacher because I tried to kill myself in 7th grade and my 7th grade teacher reported me. I wrote him a suicide note. I want to be the difference the same he was for me, and that you were for me. that’s why I’m a teacher”

This of course is not about me- it’s about being brave enough to look when your life beckons.. this is no small feat and this spiritual warrior has begun a new adventure. It’s a gift none-the-less.

This new year inaugurates a new call for wisdom that stretches far beyond “now” calling all angels… save us from ourselves..  and thank you universe for the opportunity to grow in my life.



big thanks from a smalltown boy

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I have been blogging since 2006. I started about 2 years after I found recovery. I was often over run with anxiety and uncomfortable feelings and I had no idea how to process them. Blogging seemed a ready-made answer to help me manage my weirdness.  I began smoking pot and drinking at age 11 or so. I was already a misfit as I grew up a queer boy in rural Illinois and was a natural sissy and the butt of many jokes in the small town where I grew up.

I left home (ran away) at age sixteen and was a homeless gay youth for 1 or 2 years in Chicago circa 1974 and 1975. I managed to get work as a dancer which led to bartending and restaurant jobs. I tore through as many boyfriends, roommates,  circles of friends, and workplaces as there are headlines of the weekly world news.

By 1980 I met a circle of friends through working at George Badonsky’s “Brewery” restaurant. It was friend love at first sight and we became inseparable. I have posted a couple of pics from those days. We giggled and danced and learned about our own shortcomings. it felt like love to me.

Paul Pfohl had moved to NYC to go to Columbia and contracted AIDS while there. He became so thin, gaunt, and weak that he moved back to Chicago but wasn’t ready to be living at home. He and I decided to get an apartment together. We spent so many months searching and settled on a rare gem in Logan Square.  What followed only added to the shitpile of shame and trauma that I continued to carry until after I got sober in 2004.

Thanksgiving since 04 has been a far different experience than it had been for years. The stinging shards of memory have softened and shapeshifted into something much much softer. I have posted my first Thanksgiving blog post of 2006 on and off over the life of my blogs. It is melancholy and sad, but has also forged some of the empathy I have when working with others.

Gratitude continues to be the dominant feeling when I look back upon this part of my life. It was the hardest part of my life, but it was the most expansive part at the same time. Wishing all of you a wonderful and renewing holiday season.

Here is my post from 11/06- The Day I Stopped Dancing

i am working on my thanksgiving post a bit early as i have a full day on thursday. i am supposed to jog with my buddy first thing in that morning, but it is also supposed to be very, very cold and i don’t know if i will make it. i am cooking a turkey for the rocky mountain roundup speaker/dinner, dropping it off, and going to my cousin and his partner’s home for my actual meal. my mom, aunt and uncle are going and they haven’t done a home dinner in the last few years. they have eaten out because they don’t have to cook or clean up after which makes some very good sense to me.

i am looking forward to the whole day, and i’m spending tomorrow night at my cousin’s house. i’m sure we’ll hear some of the same old stories that usually get told at family functions. we were a pretty close knit crew in illinois and that has carried over to most of us here. it’s not the same, but it’s very familiar and that is a blessing.

one of the stories i will not hear this year is my last thanksgiving in chicago. i am going to write about it here and hopefully the tale will unravel itself a bit differently than it has in the past. i have spun this yarn on a few occasions, but i have always kept the focus the part where i am the victim. and honestly, thanksgiving still is a challenging emotional trek because of the drama on this day. it really is the day i stopped dancing. the last day that is until i started channeling velvet- but that’s a tale for another day.

in 1985, i had gotten an apartment with my best friend paul the previous year. we had shopped and hunted for 3 months for that beautiful soon-to-be condo on logan blvd. 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, full kitchen, dr, front and back balcony. it truly was stunning. but on the day we were moving in, paul was completely tuckered. i remember him sitting on the back of the rental truck, saying he just couldn’t move any boxes. He was exhausted. and before we finished, he insisted he go to the hospital. we complied, and he was admitted and was in the hospital for about a month.

i went to visit him in that place every day. the first couple of days, i donned a hospital gown, mask, and gloves, but soon decided to put them aside after that. i wasn’t going to be looking at him dressed like an alien, or like i was afraid to be near him. i wasn’t. i loved him. still do. and i wasn’t going to cause him any extra anxiety. i would bring him meals from some of our favorite restaurants. the hospital food sucked, of course, and i knew he needed to eat. we had a very pleasant time being food snobs in there and would laugh together and became closer, without ever really discussing the elephant in the room. i couldn’t go there emotionally. i now know it’s called denial, but then i thought of it as survival. i remember one day going to visit him, and finding him in his room alone, with a fever so high that his body was convulsing, jumping up and down on the bed with no assistance. it scared the shit out of me, watching him jerking up and down like darryl hannah losing life in blade runner. i left in horror and came back a couple of hours later, never speaking a word to him about what i had seen.

my drug use started to escalate after this. the cocaine use was incessant and i drank vodka to counteract the effects of the cocaine. numbing became my priority. this actually caused paul to move back in with his parents, and my friend robbie (foxy)moved in. poor fox- he had no clue as to the mess he was entering. but that’s another story.

fast forward to thanksgiving 1986. paul had been living with his family for a few months now. he had been in and out of the hospital. i had invited about 8 friend over for a holiday feast. i spent all day preparing the food. turkey rubbed with butter and tamari, baked with apples, onions, and cranberries, stuffing, brussel sprouts, home-made cobbler, etc. as the day progressed, the weather took a turn for the worse. a thunderstorm took hold. one-by-one calls with cancellations started to come in. it had become dark outside, and the last call came from my friend blue. i think he really had waited until he absolutely knew he couldn’t get there. no cabs were running etc. i remember sitting at the head of the table, looking at the fitz and floyd and the crystal candle holders and feeling stunned. the phone then rang again, and it was paul’s brother on the phone. he wanted to let me know that paul had passed a few hours earlier that day. he had gone peacefully and was no longer suffering. i returned back to my seat and looking over the empty but well laid table, clutched my wine glass and took a big swig. a huge lightning bolt back lit the entire sky, was followed by an earsplitting crack of thunder, and the power in my apartment was knocked out. there i sat in the dark, and found myself feeling more alone and more confused than i could remember. and i was a victim. and i had imprinted that pained mask onto myself and held it there for a good 20 years.

i have managed to let go of that branding i did. i honestly loved paul, and was completely a mess having lost him. i laughed so freely with him, and he understood so many things about me that i always felt shame around, and never did anything but expect me to succeed. we dined a lot, and we read a lot of books- mostly the classics, and the “gay” authors. we participated in salons of a sort with a few other friends, and would drink wine and read aloud from books like “To The Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf, “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac, and my favorite “Orlando” by Woolf as well. We talked about Vita Sackville West and Virginia, about Paul Bowles and his entourage, Kerouac and his mary-men lol, Stein, Toklas, and the ex-pats….

today, i am thankful i have let go of that old albatross that was choking me through the years. i have moved on to another perception of that time and that day. i am not frozen, i am living and participating again. i am again among the living, and am not in the throes of the walking wounded. i can celebrate today without anesthetizing. i can struggle and maintain. i can look forward and think of a future in practical terms, in lieu of living in a fantasy and only seeing the future as a sparkling illusion. i am so very glad paul was in my life. i am so blessed that he saw me


Cracked Veneer

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Each day, we’re given many opportunities to open up or shut down. The most precious opportunity presents itself when we come to the place where we think we can’t handle whatever is happening. It’s too much. It’s gone too far. We feel bad about ourselves. There’s no way we can manipulate the situation to make ourselves come out looking good. No matter how hard we try, it just won’t work. Basically, life has just nailed us.
It’s as if you just looked at yourself in the mirror, and you saw a gorilla. The mirror’s there; it’s showing “you”, and what you see looks bad. You try to angle the mirror so you will look a little better, but no matter what you do, you still look like a gorilla. That’s being nailed by life, the place where you have no choice except to embrace what’s happening or push it away.
Most of us do not take these situations as teachings. We automatically hate them. We run like crazy. We use all kinds of ways to escape — all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can’t stand it. We feel we have to soften it, pad it with something, and we become addicted to whatever it is that seems to ease the pain. In fact, the rampant materialism that we see in the world stems from this moment. There are so many ways that have been dreamt up to entertain us away from the moment, soften its hard edge, deaden it, so we don’t have to feel the full impact of the pain that arises when we cannot manipulate the situation to make us come out looking fine….pema chodron

i have been wrestling with guerrillas in the mirror, morals and ethical questions for a couple of months. There is a trail of crumbs that keep leading me down a path to a destination not known. As is often the case, I follow my instincts and encounter both comfort and the opposite. I then need to discern the temporary from the true. Once the veneer cracks. Perhaps that image, with the cracked facade, is the actual picture.

Everybody loves the things you do
From the way you talk
To the way you move
Everybody here is watching you
‘Cause you feel like home
You’re like a dream come true
But if by chance you’re here alone
Can I have a moment
Before I go?
‘Cause I’ve been by myself all night long
Hoping you’re someone I used to know
You look like a movie
You sound like a song
My God, this reminds me
Of when we were young
Let me photograph you in this light
In case it is the last time
That we might be exactly like we were
Before we realized
We were sad of getting old
It made us restless
It was just like a movie
It was just like a song
I was so scared to face my fears
Nobody told me that you’d be here
And I swore you moved overseas
That’s what you said, when you left me


Is CARA merely a thought balloon?

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This is a Call-Up to wake the frock up. We’ve been living in a dream world for too long.

The big news in treatment  and recovery world this month is the passage of CARA -which is the first response to the bloating prescription drug epidemic that has been the root of the 130-something opiate overdoses completely ignored (until now) by our quagmired puppeteer-driven DC leadership. 130-something Americans dying every day while our elected officials squabble about providing funding to address the epidemic. Their  solution  is to bare bones the effort, manage some photo-ops, then make a direct line to dive into the longest summer break in this century’s history. Meanwhile, the 130-something daily American overdose fatalities continue to pile up like floating refuse at a clogged street drain.

although CARA could be an affective first step in rerouting this insanity, it needs to be more than an image of a response to be effective. We need education and reframing on a systemic level if things are to change. This current thought bubble of an effort hardly stands a chance.

Fellow Americans- we need to take a long hard look at what our priorities and values are as a nation. It’s a great time to work for change. Stop calling ourselves Christian and while we ignore our neighbors dying.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) establishes a comprehensive, coordinated, balanced strategy through enhanced grant programs that would expand prevention and education efforts while also promoting treatment and recovery.

The bill passed the U.S. Senate on March 10, 2016, by a vote of 94-1.

Brief Summary of Provisions of CARA

Expand prevention and educational efforts—particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations—to prevent the abuse of methamphetamines, opioids and heroin, and to promote treatment and recovery.
Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives.
Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment.
Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of our children and adolescents.
Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program to expand best practices throughout the country.
Launch a medication assisted treatment and intervention demonstration program.
Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.


Ring, ring, it’s 7:00 A.M.
Move yourself to go again
Cold water in the face
Brings you back to this awful place
Knuckle merchants and your bankers too
Must get up and learn those rules
Weather man and the crazy chief
One says sun and one says sleet
A.M., the F.M. the P.M. too
Churnin’ out that boogaloo
Gets you up and it gets you out
But how long can you keep it up?
Gimme Honda, gimme Sony
So cheap and real phony
Hong Kong dollar, Indian cents
English pounds and Eskimo pence
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, give it all you got
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, yeah
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, give it all you got
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, yeah
Working for a rise, better my station
Take my baby to sophistication
Seen the ads, she thinks it’s nice
Better work…


sunday kind of love…….. todd rundgren

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i  have been posting music for as long as I’ve been blogging. 2006 was the year of my first post. I was really just investigating the medium. i was 2 years into my recovery and needed something more. In the process I met a circle of like minded individuals across the continent and further who enhanced my support network and helped alleviate greatly the anxiety that my early recovery heralded.

Along with the beautiful addition of online support, the evolution of my 10 year journey with blogging has cemented my lifelong love and reliance upon music. This continues to this day. Today’s offering….. Todd Rundgren. His name music will speak for itself.-




I feel the earth move

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I feel the earth move Under my feet I feel my heart start to tremblin' Whenever you're around.
I feel the earth move
Under my feet
I feel my heart start to tremblin’
Whenever you’re around.

as my 58th birthday rounds I have noticed a distinct shift in my focus and my intention. Until recently, I have been taking direction from my muse and my instinct. I’m not sure if it’s general fatigue or perhaps a shift in direction, but I am becoming acutely aware of a change ahead.

the last two years I have worked as a substance use counselor while I have advocated for more focus on recovery in my community. I have increasingly become more conflicted as I work for organizations whose implied interest in leading clients to recovery is overshadowed by behavior management, compliance, and billing and collections. Although I have a soft spot for helping people who are enmeshed in struggle, I do understand financial realities of doing business. I simply am not convinced that recovery oriented treatment services and financial stability are not mutually exclusive. I certainly hope I can experience that theory before I retire.

this tremor beneath my feet which is making itself known is connected to a deeper allegiance to merging the ideas of recovery oriented services being both fiscally and morally prioritized. The karmic aspects of accepting less than those ideals is beckoning me to reflect here.

the interesting caveat here is a newly detected laissez-faire with regard to fitting a square peg in a round hole here.

although I covet a shift in the focus of treatment to actually focus on the client, the older I become the more satisfied I can be cooking great food, growing and pruning, telling stories and teaching. The latter have much less heartache.




almost blue

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a little bit blue

one of my family members has developed lung cancer and it is no longer treatable. it is no longer a matter of what, it is more a matter of when. how soon might even be a more accurate question.

loss of friends and families to nature continues to befuddle me. i lost my very best friend when i was 27 with quite a few following him. i lost my grandmother and grandfather shortly thereafter. all during that time i was expecting to walk the plank myself.  now i am not quite so  traumatized by the cycle of life, but i am sad.

my relative used to live in idaho springs and i would visit he and his wife with some regularity. i always cooked decadent meals for them because i liked the practice and i loved spoiling them. selfishly i liked to practice the dishes too. over the last 15 years we became quite connected. we even watched the south park movie and i lovingly have referred to him as uncle fucker ever since.

they moved away last year so he could be closer to a treatment option. i don’t know that i will see him again before he goes. somehow being aware that he knows how i feel and i know how he feels does not dilute the sadness very much.

a bonus here is finding comfort in sorrow. i mean in feeling. my life and my heart did not have room nor time to notice or experience true feelings such as this. there is definitely some grace in not running. emotional sobriey- i don’t know. but emotion ? certainly.


as the smoke clears

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Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth...buddha
Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth…buddha


2016 might just be an adventure. it’s onset finds me steeping in the results. it aint easy to see my own reflection in the light of day. what i see is (when i let go of the auto-criticizing) i see those damn shortcomings and i see my own thought patterns that create barriers to moving forward.

it seems so simple to conceptualize seeing a problem, neutralizing it, and then removing it. yeah right. what that sentence represents is perhaps the paradox of my personal recovery journey.

certainly, all people have limitations. the only ones i see are my own. and feel the trappings of my own blind spots. but seeing, recognizing, and categorizing really fall short if i am to be able to approach the next round of my dreams. it is imperative for me to rise above them. or work with them. or find a way through.

prayer is definitely a part my routine. once in awhile i pray for something 3-dimensional, but the rule is seeking perspective or space or even relief. perhaps this post is really a prayer for permission to change.

my fears, my second nature, and my blind spots continue to bring me to the same cliffs, crevasses, and quagmires in my life. there are definitely times that i feel i am living my own version of that well-known recovery metaphor film “groundhog day”.  i repost a quote about that film from www.overthinkingit.com:

The plot, in brief: Phil Connors finds himself in a small town, reliving the exact same day, over and over. He always wakes up in the same position, the same physical condition. Thoughout his day, everyone else behaves exactly the same as long as he does. If he acts differently, they will too. Over time, he gathers memories of the previous days. Whatever he does, even if he kills himself, he still wakes up fine the next day.

this synopsis mirrors the state of my life often.  i am in the same place emotionally over and over again. it’s not about the other players. it’s about me and my own game plan. repeatedly i position my emotional armor to replicate the armor i grew up wearing. repeatedly i try to rise about and systematically i am standing again in what seems to be square one.

the work for me- the prayer i offer is to find the strength to allow permission to not act on instinct but pause before acting to give room for a different outcome.

a series of mixtapes were recorded in the 90’s and 00’s under the name of “back to mine” which referred to the selections of dj’s and musicians favorite chill ditty’s they played if listener’s were invited back to their respective homes- “back to mine”

here is the tracklist and selections for “back to mine” by everything but the girl

  1. Friends and Enemies – DJ Cam  – DJ Cam
  2. All Alone (No One to be With) – Slick Rick  – Slick Rick
  3. The Bayou – Deadly Avenger  – Deadly Avenger
  4. Stars All Seem to Weep – Beth Orton  – Beth Orton
  5. The Flow (G-Funk Mix) – Model 500  – Model 500
  6. Cascades of Colour (Wamdue Black Mix) – The Ananda Project feat. Gaelle Addison  – Ananda Project
  7. Do It Now – Dubtribe Sound System  –  Dubtribe Sound System
  8. A Wonderful Life – Carl Craig  – Carl Craig
  9. To Cry About – Mary Margaret O’Hara  – Mary Margaret O’Hara
  10. Silent Treatment – The Roots  –  Roots
  11. Funky for You (Spacehopper Mix) – Deadbeats  –  Deadbeats
  12. Someday We’ll All Be Free – Donny Hathaway  – Donny Hathaway