acceptance

chaos and the calm

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my professional life has felt like a cake baking in the oven. it seemed to have expanded its volume, but it is not clear whether the increase will remain or if it is all air and will fall when removed from the oven. i received some good (i think) news today, but remain apprehensive about the specific domino fall that may follow. i am nervous and excited. and i work to feel okay with not knowing. i hope and i refrain.

i remember a conversation i had with a lifelong friend the night that we met. it had to do with hope and demise and the symbiotic and yin-yang relationship they seem to have. a person’s demise is often connected to their hope. i have maintained this perspective since i claimed it in 1980 during a full moon lit walk along lake shore drive chicago.

so when i feel excitedly hopeful about the prospects of possible outcomes of this not unexpected news, i have found myself worried about the hope i muster. and if a hope become reality, what if what i hope becomes worse than what i have? or more strangely, what if it becomes better?

10 years in recovery

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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

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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

northern lights

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One great question underlies our experience, whether we think about it or not: what is the purpose of life? From the moment of birth every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering. Neither social conditioning nor education nor ideology affects this. From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment. Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness By Dalai Lama
One great question underlies our experience, whether we think about it or not: what is the purpose of life? From the moment of birth every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering. Neither social conditioning nor education nor ideology affects this. From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment. Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness
By Dalai Lama

there is a balance within my moods which is right-sizing and humbling. i have made many changes this last season and now i must settle in to those changes. sadly, i find myself struggling with the process of that settling. and with synchronicity a cold front moved through and brought snow to the mountains and chilly gray days to our usually sunny, warm, and blue days and so i am matching today on the inside and the outside- in a little shock.

my nest is all atwitter with belongings tossed everywhere without a care for finding their home. this too reflects the state of my mind. i am not in an organized space. i am in the process of changing, but that process is not complete. i am on the verge. it is the precipice. it is the edge of something next. and I do not know. I can only trust.

I have been visiting halfway houses and jails discussing hep-c, prevention, and treatment with the people involved in those programs. I am to increase this part of my job as I move forward. I contacted the public hospital to inquire about collaborating with hiv testing while I am doing my thing. we’ll see where that goes. I feel as if I am just at the beginning of actualizing my ability at this new gig.

I have become fascinated with the bastille cover version of an old tlc song “no scrubs”. it is such a strange and campy choice for a male band. it makes me smile. and  this particular meowsie remix with the audio clips from the original “psycho” take me on some strange sort of mental journey. it’s fun and a bit creepy. if you are familiar with my blog at all, you will know well how enamored I am with bastille and their covers.

I don’t want no scrub
A scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me
Hanging out the passenger side
Of his best friend’s ride
Trying to holler at me
I don’t want no scrub
A scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me
Hanging out the passenger side
Of his best friend’s ride
Trying to holler at me
But a scrub is checkin’ me
But his game is kinda weak
And I know that he cannot approach me
Cuz I’m lookin’ like class and he’s lookin’ like trash
Can’t get wit’ no deadbeat ass
So (no)
I don’t want your number (no)
I don’t want to give you mine and (no)
I don’t want to meet you nowhere (no)
I don’t want none of your time (no)

everyday i write

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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.
Buddha.

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

 

here’s to life

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No complaints and no regrets.
I still believe in chasing dreams and placing bets.
But i have learned that all you give is all you get, so give it all you got.
I had my share, i drank my fill, and even though i’m satisfied i’m hungry still
To see what’s down another road, beyond a hill and do it all again.
So here’s to life and all the joy it brings.
Here’s to life the dreamers and their dreams.
Funny how the time just flies.
How love can turn from warm hellos to sad goodbyes
And leave you with the memories you’ve memorized
To keep your winters warm.
There’s no yes in yesterday.
And who knows what tomorrow brings or takes away.
As long as i’m still in the game i want to play
For laughs, for life, for love.
So here’s to life and all the joy it brings.
Here’s to life, the dreamers and their dreams.
May all your storms be weathered,
And all that’s good get better.
Here’s to life, here’s to love, here’s to you.
May all your storms be weathered,
And all that’s good get better.
Here’s to life, here’s to love, here’s to you.

i wrote about an encounter with someone who was deeply lost in his drinking last week. 4 days later he had died. i was very saddened by it all. feeling quite helpless and ineffective is just a fraction of the things that i have tried on. it’s better today. i am accepting and letting go. it is a process though.

the flip side of course, is that the struggling soul- my friend- is struggling no more. he doesn’t have to hate his hiv and his hep-c any longer. he doesn’t have to deny that he doesn’t feel his best.any more. he doesn’t need to imbibe till the blackness rolls in any longer. and he doesn’t have to hide who he is and how he is. he is free.

this space i now find myself in is part of my reality. strangely, it has been for half my life-in one way or another. in the 80’s and 90’s it was the virus that was taking out many of my contemporaries. drugs and alcohol took out a few too, but it was mostly aids. now i find the opposite to be true. working within the hiv field, the virus takes out a few, but more than anything else, i see multiple earth departures fueled by substances.

i am practicing staying grounded as i continue to remember that people die. this death is not an isolated incident. thankfully, it is not a daily one, but it happens more than i would like. i am thankful i am able to available for others. the 80’s found me numbing out myself. today i am listening.  i honestly am changing. one day at a time.

“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.” 

walking on water

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Waves are not measured in feet and inches, they are measured in increments of fear.

-Buzzy Trent.


SOUL SURFER is the inspiring true story of teen surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm
in a shark attack and courageously overcame all odds to become a champion again, through her
sheer determination and unwavering faith. The film features an all-star cast, including
AnnaSophia Robb and Helen Hunt, with Carrie Underwood in her film debut, and Dennis Quaid.
In the wake of this life-changing event that took her arm and nearly her life, Bethany’s feisty
determination and steadfast beliefs spur her toward an adventurous comeback that gives her
the grit to turn her loss into a gift for others…. Soul Surfer the film 
i watched the film “soul surfer” last weekend and have not been able to shake its message out of my mind. it is certainly an inspirational film based on the true story of aussie born surfer bethany hamilton who tragically lost an arm to a shark attack. with resilience she developed through her faith and honed by working with others, she returned to the sport (and lifestyle) that she loved- and returned with grace. 
yes i am almost embarrassed that i totally loved this teenager tale of recovery. yes i think it’s probably corny. and yes i have seen it more than once this week. for me, it is a quintessential tale of faith and redemption. and these are themes that i now believe in. 
at times in life, i have found myself devastated because my dreams and plans were shattered. it felt as if my life was obliterated, and i didn’t think i could or wanted to go on. but my plans are not the only blueprint at work in my life. i have a design, but not the design. this is pivotal. i have input, but am not in charge. 
what i love most about bethany’s story is the revelation that her life became so much larger when she began to accept her new situation and started working with her circumstances. just as she meets the surf where it is and finds the patience and skill to ride a wave back to shore, she shared her life’s joy and her experience with others in lieu of seeking pleasure for herself. this action opened a view of her life that was bigger than she could have guessed or imagined. and she triumphed and found peace.
on a more universal level, the scenes in the film of hawaii are breathtaking, the ocean shots, the surfing culture, the rocky pacific rim shores establish themselves as an integral part of the story. it is not a new story by any means. it is a yarn that has been spun and re-spun throughout the ages. it is, however, a real story. the fears that we encounter when our plans are trashed by life seem insurmountable at times. and this will continue to happen as long as we have dreams. and the grace that is bestowed when we let go of our plans and make room for another is life changing, right-sizing, and priceless. 
 i smiled, i cried,. and i liked it.

doing the work

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i shared in a meeting  today about something very personal. i have blogged about it before, but it was a very different experience to speak it out loud in front of people, some of whom i don’t even know and who are new to the recovery experience. part of my truth is that i rarely feel as if anything i do is appropriate. it’s a habit i have developed since i was young, and in my mind i first go to the belief that my truth is not a good truth, and i have stepped over a line somewhere and have really offended people.

when i was in the 5th grade or so, i had a sexual encounter with some older boys in my small town. i had thought that it was a private and personal experience, but the boys talked and laughed about it and i became a joke and it hurt a lot. it is a moment that defined me as a person. i couldn’t tell anyone because it was too disgusting and i couldn’t let them know that it bothered me. i just had to stuff it and do the best that i could. my behaviors replicated and getting high became an easy way to blot out any pain and focus on the pleasure.

when i was 3 or 4 years sober, i had a very similar experience with an employer. i had trusted him with some personal information, something private, and somehow it was used in an anonymous letter that was sent out to colleagues. again, i had trusted someone and they had spit out that trust like milk gone bad. and i found myself  as hurt and as angry as i had 35 years earlier in my life. i was stuck.

miraculously, i didn’t revert back to using. the only reason was that working the 12 steps had afforded me a process to deal with emotions that run over. it worked, too. it wasn’t perfect, but it did help me see my part in all this. and it did offer me sanctuary when i truly needed it most.

this is something i have lived with my whole life, although i never really took a look at it until these last few years. it takes some times for the blinders to really come off and to start to get a picture of how i actually am in the world. not just how i see myself, nor how i want to be, but how i am.

i say i have lived with this all my life because as i sit here at 4 in the morning blogging about a truth i spoke 16 hours earlier, i recognize very well the self-judgement imposed when i am honest. and in retrospect, i realize i won’t give myself a break and describe what i shared as appropriate. but i will acquiesce that it did no harm. that the world can stand that i didn’t do it perfectly. that i can be forgiven down the road for lack of forethought.

i believe that the emotional mask is starting to come off. i have been under enormous financial stress because i made some poor decisions over the last couple of years. mostly it was about deciding by impulse instead of thinking things through, and now i am required to live with those decisions. it has been uncomfortable and it has been an opportunity for me to do some very long overdue growing up.

but the stress of it has no doubt stolen some joy. and here is sit, tapping into some of the darker realities in my life. luckily, i have been here before, and i have been here sober, so i know i probably won’t crumble. i also know that i have to pull the shit out of the corners and shake it out. otherwise i run the risk of doing damage.

today i spent some time planting some new shrubs along the front walk. we have been working on this part of the yard for a couple of years now. i find i avoid getting started, but when i do get out there and start pulling weeds, or watering, i get caught up in the process and love doing the work. i equally appreciate the end result. the landscape has improved. it looks better. it feels cared for. and it is healthier. i usually get sweaty and dirty while i am working on it, but the payoff is real.