colorado recovery community

recovery management- fly robin fly

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flocking-to-recovery-management

the next wave in the continuum needed to address the aod epidemic may just be recovery management. so much emphasis has been placed on diagnosis and treatment over the last 30 years, but statistics reveal that those strategies do not eradicate the problem. Diagnosis and treatment work on a percentage of the afflicted. The do not reverse the stop or slow down the illness in a larger percentage. they only delay disease progression.

recovery has been named the goal for several decades, but access and wraparound recovery services have been lacking in the disbursement of services. providers have long seen themselves as treatment providers who provide access to recovery. this does not reflect the true picture of treatment services in the country. it reflects the picture that treatment providers prefer to see themselves, but until long term recovery is the focus of programs, clinics, hospitals, residential treatment services, this will remain only a picture.

recovery management is the next big thing. fueled by the recovery advocacy and activism of the last 5 years, so very many of the flock are setting their sites on sustainable recovery as the goal.

hallelujah!

here’s what’s hatching

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birds palo

 

there has been a buzz in my bonnet over this last week.  my training organization has hatched some plans for building a new nest to keep our family growing and to grow recovery within our community.

peer coach academy colorado is beginning a collaboration with agami health services. we will begin a recovery support group at their aurora location and facilitate a group for 2 hours a week. the group is being called “varsity” and is designed to be a team approach to recovery support. the roster will consist of team members, recovery coaches, and recovery alumni all providing playbooks, strategy, and experience to the rookies and interns.

the application for 501c3 status has actually begun. we have a brainstorm session scheduled which should help us distill the mission, the board, the initial budgeting, policies and procedures,  and business plan. we are resurrecting and blending another organization and it’s mission into ours which will add educating, raising awareness, and building capacity to the concept that  recovery is evidence-based and our community will be improved if it is integrated into our collective goals and treatment plans. we need treatment certainly, but we need more desperately recovery principles. this is the next big task and hold the promise of new life for pca.

to round out the new babies in the pca  flock, agami  and pca have submitted a response to a request for quote for a project with a legal arm of a county level colorado justice legal program which could provide a small revenue stream and a larger picture opportunity to develop relationship within the treatment/justice system to educate about recovery principles.

I am crowing a little here certainly. hopefully I am also releasing an affirmation into the universe and hopefully beginning construction on a new nest for pca. maybe-just maybe- for colorado too.  a guy can dream, can’t he

I love returning to a 90’s version of that nelly Furtado classic “i’m like a bird”. but I really really love the junior vasquez remix from twilo. I love the haunting slo-mo bassline and the tenderness of nelly’s vocals as they flit on and off that bassline like a bird on a wire.

You’re beautiful and that’s for sure
You’ll never ever fade
Your lovely, but it’s not for sure
And I won’t ever change
And though my love is rare
And though my love is true

 

 

 

 

 

 

welcome to the weekend

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i spoke with a friend yesterday about some ideas i have for developing a stronger sense of community among people in recovery. this guy is a networking nazi and very well known around town. he and i met after i had become a drug and alcohol counselor. he was a fairly high profile client. he had been instrumental in bringing crystal meth anonymous to denver and had been working as a peer navigator at denver’s drug court. additionally, i was walking and talking with him when he hatched the idea of “surrounded by recovery” which evolved into 2 years of recovery celebration at the capital which lead to a hand holding event each year around the gold dome with the intention of raising awareness that recovery works. when i met him, i had been clean only 2 years- he had been struggling for 5. i told him that i didn’t believe i could really be an effective counselor for him, but that it seemed he might need a good honest friend.

sadly all of his amazing and ground breaking efforts resulted in relapse for him. this humbled him and threw back each of the efforts he generated back several years. but this is life and this is how the brain operates. it likes dopamine. it bends and reshapes synapses to allow the dopamine release process to flourish and take over. if it were uncommon, our culture would not have many of the problems it does. he has again built time and has been dancing with humility which looks good on him.

as i spoke with him yesterday i ran down the basic concept of a recover resource and networking event in september and trying to market this. it includes using and developing a radio program- probably using blog talk radio. it’s a big task, but i think i am ready for a new project. and it would be beneficial to be able to reach more pockets of individuals.

funny- i feel a familiar sense of excitement in my gut. fear, hope, wonder usually accompany my muse. definitely excited to see how this unfolds. came across some web-based recovery support programs yesterday which i am hoping we can beta with some younger patients at my workplace-exciting. i have 2 interns starting on tuesday – this is my first mentoring gig as a counselor. i work 2 parties this week and hope to catch up on a couple of outstanding bills.

 i am planning to restart cardio classes this weekend and see the star trek -in 3d-. i am ready for some fun.

with fun in mind, i remember a time in the late 70’s that i could throw a b52’s vinyl album on the turntable and let the whole thing play through- all the while dancing, bopping, and having a blast. today i find the same joy with nicolas jaar. he is a composer, dj, producer that creates a rhythm pattern that makes my heart and soul smile.

the world goes round

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image credit… crriminallyinnocent.tumblr.com
Somebody loses and somebody wins
And one day it’s kicks, then it’s kicks in the shins
But the planet spins, and the world goes ’round-
But the world goes ’round
But the world goes ’round

Sometimes your dreams get broken in pieces
But that doesn’t matter at all
Take it from me, there’s still gonna be
A summer, a winter, a spring and a fall

And sometimes a friend starts treating you bad
But the world goes ’round….
And sometimes your heart breaks with a deafening sound…
Barry Manilow
life has been moving quite quickly as of late. i have more free time and i feel as if things are moving faster- no way to explain it and no way to see it without more distance. it’s mostly changing the workplace that has me in a tizzy. i have volunteers working 3 hours every morning greeting and giving referrals and resources. it’s a fairly easy intervention, but it required extra focus and answering a lot more questions. and then there is minimal push back from the other departments. it’s gonna take awhile for these others to realize the value. 
i have been working in building a peer support network at our little clinic. it is kinda magnificent watching it unfold. the enthusiasm, the volunteerism, the waft of hope and optimism that is smudging our corridors. bit by bit idea becomes integrated and hopefully second nature. i have emailed out a 2nd invitation to roughly 15 community organizations to join an advisory council with our peers. i also included a letter of explanation, a rough 3 year plan we drafted for the peer support efforts, some marketing outlines for a “recovery walk” and a toolkit for a “recovery idol” event put together so lovingly by Derrick Ford and the Phildadelphia Recovery Community.

please understand that this seems a grand sweeping gesture on my part. it is an affirmation in a very big way.  i am completely working with faith to create reality here. i feel the entire scope of hope that all of these  schemes and dreams will make it to this dimension. at the same time, my lifetime’s worth of less-than thoughts and not-worthy feelings which have pulled my proverbial wagon the majority of my life are rearing their heads, stomping their hooves, and whinnying and chortling syncopated in revolt to take the lead. 
in my recovery and in working with others, i have realized that my old beliefs and patterns will return. and return. and return again. the trick is to realize when this return happens, that i don’t have to continue to think and do the way i did before- that i have new ways to think and do- and then i have to connect to those. and i started this journey doing affirmations and following the lead of grand dame louise hay. either way, i’m affirming, and fighting, and continuing to breathe. and the world goes round.

                                     

aria ready

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maria callas image credit…. ddmag.tumblr.com

“Human life is a most difficult classroom until you learn the simple fact that your truth is your power, your salvation, your fulfillment, your purpose and your way. Once you can truly believe that, life becomes the joyous and abundant garden that it was meant to be..” 
~ from Emmanuel’s Book
i probably am jinxing our opportunity tomorrow by writing about it here, but i am excited enough to try to make it more real. as i’ve mentioned, we are moving forward with implementing a peer-to-peer network at my workplace. a grant has been written and within that process a framework was created for roll out. we are approaching another funding stream tomorrow and i have been asked to go along to discuss the concept, the framework, and the nuts and bolts. 
this represents a step in a direction i have at once coveted and doubted. this could very well mean that the mania-driven dreamstorming i have been doing this last year within the parameters of several organizations might stand a chance to have some life breathed into them. and beyond my own process and aspirations, it means that this idea of “recovery community” might actually become part of the architecture of public health substance treatment in colorado. ergo- our citizens with no resources might have more support when trying to put their lives back together- and that would be supplied very often by people just like them. this is like a multi-layer ganache cake to me.
the photograph of maria callas  is posted today because whenever i think of arias, i first think of her. she just might always represent the premier diva to me. she captivated a planet when she put her mind to it and she literally breathed life into an art form that had nearly become a museum exhibit. she was bright, talented, inspired. she was difficult, provocative, and a classic. she made no apologies. 
i googled aria as audition and came across a site named ariaready.net and found that there were 5 tips offered as follows.
1) Know your voice and your range and stick to them.
2) Select a diverse group of arias within your range.
3) Always start your auditions with the aria that is most solid in your voice and your heart.
4) Knowing the whole role is not necessary for your audition.
5) Always represent and present your personal brand.
so i will head to the meeting tomorrow with these tips in mind and some blueprints i have been working on. i am sharing them here to review the offerings. first there is the submitted grant- 18 pages of an outline. then there are some window dressings- 
1) A plan to implement and develop a coaching academy for our part of the country.
2) A plan to implement a volunteer workforce and addition to our campus.
3) Creating a value system from our peers to infiltrate our processes and help shift from a medical model.
4) Invite and support a multi-cultural peer network with the resilience necessary to speak to our population.
5) Create positive events for our recovering community to participate in with the intention of creating a recovery community.

a pair of wings with a ball and chain

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image credit… wayfair.com
O Tell Me The Truth About Love by W H Auden

Some say love’s a little boy, 
And some say it’s a bird, 
Some say it makes the world go around,
Some say that’s absurd,
And when I asked the man next-door, 
Who looked as if he knew, 
His wife got very cross indeed, 
And said it wouldn’t do.

Does it look like a pair of pyjamas.
Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
Does its odour remind one of llamas,
Or has it a comforting smell? 
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is?
Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love. 
Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes, 
It’s quite a common topic on 
The Transatlantic boats;
I’ve found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides, 
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway guides.
Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
Or boom like a military band?
Could one give a first-rate imitation 
On a saw or a Steinway Grand?
Is its singing at parties a riot? 
Does it only like Classical stuff? 
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet? 
O tell me the truth about love.

I looked inside the summer-house;
It wasn’t over there; 
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,
And Brighton’s bracing air
I don’t know what the blackbird sang, 
Or what the tulip said;
But it wasn’t in the chicken-run, 
Or underneath the bed.

Can it pull extraordinary faces?
Is it usually sick on a swing? 
Does it spend all its time at the races,
or fiddling with pieces of string?
Has it views of its own about money? 
Does it think Patriotism enough?
re its stories vulgar but funny?
O tell me the truth about love.
When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I’m picking my nose? 
Will it knock on my door in the morning,
Or tread in the bus on my toes?
Will it come like a change in the weather? 
Will its greeting be courteous or rough? 
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.
there is something i am learning about myself and my nature that seems new. funny, because i am sure it has been the same all along- i suspect i am just waking to it. in the beginning stages of taking an idea and running it up a flagpole and letting the winds of processing stretch it into a life size float. this part of the creative process is the intoxicating part for me. 
unsure as to whether to be validated or not, i feel vindicated to understand finally that it is the kinetics involved in ideas which propel me forward. i get high on ideas. gosh- i feel a little naked admitting this. it’s almost as if i feel a little ashamed because i find enjoyment. hmm- gotta find a way to let that bit go. 
i have been told that i am driving the bus on this new idea. i might as well have been given a pair of wings and a ball and chaing at the same time. it’s so dizzying and quite daunting. none the less, i am in my cups these days. spinning ideas on creating a vision, a mission, core values, developing and implementing a volunteer workforce, educating, training, and funding all have me believing i might be on a tilt-a-whirl. it’s certainly an amusement ride. 
thank you, thank you, thank you universe for opening my world to this opportunity. i have to admit here that some of my judgement will be clouded by my own desires and prejudices. i am swimming a resentment now that i perhaps clouding my judgement somewhat. i am willing to let it go, but i haven’t been willing enough to forget it. i pledge to make an effort to get to that place. 
the name of our new venture is slated to be named.
“Back To Life”. 
Peer Recovery Services 
What We Teach We Learn
the logo ideas are being bandied about and the next brainstorming event should happen this month. i am scheduling an impromptu thank you lunch for all the volunteers that have participated since the onset. and we will hopefully will start to work on our mission statement.
i don’t think i know more than anyone nor do i feel more special. i believe that the ideals of recovery and inclusion that i spout so often about here have been carved into the landscape well before i was aware they existed. i embrace those ideals however, and i work to live by them. and something tells me i will post more about the project as it rolls out.
Recovery Premise 1: All individuals are unique and have specific needs, goals, health attitudes and behaviors, and expectations for recovery.
Recovery Premise 2: Persons in recovery with mental illness, alcohol or drug addiction, or both, share some similarities, however, management of their own lives and mastery of their own futures will require different pathways at times.
Recovery Premise 3: All persons shall be offered equal access to treatment and have the opportunity to participate in their recovery process.


heaven

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image credit.. criminallyinnocent.tumblr.com
love the moss on stone above- it seems a metaphor for the work i am engaging in right now.

Heaven, is the whole of our hearts
And Heaven don’t tear you apart
Yeah, Heaven, is the whole of our hearts
And Heaven don’t tear you apart

There’s too many kings 
Wanna hold you down
And a world at the window
 Gone underground

There’s a hole in the sky
 Where the sun don’t shine
And a clock on the wall
 And it counts my time
… Psychedelic Furs
forgive me if i repeat myself, but i am a little agog with all the change in my work life. i can’t say they are happening because of anything i have done, but i can not say that my efforts have had nothing to do with this evolution as well. 
during the majority of last spring and summer, i had some goals aroung bringing some change to the culture at my workplace and i was independently taking some actions to develop a peer support culture within our treatment home with the intention of moving it in the direction of becoming a recovery oriented system of care (rosc). the process seemed to get stalled in late fall and i found myself feeling some disappointment and some frustration with the lack of progress. 
but recently i have been officially asked to pick up the reins of that had been laid down and infuse some life and nourishment once again into that direction. plus, our team has decided to work towards a grant to support this work and i am putting energy towards helping to design a framework for peer support services to sprout as organically as we are able to envision. 
i remember sharing with friends last year that somehow i had stumbled into what i might call a dream job. being able to envision, create, and infuse culture change and recovery into a largely dinosaured organization is something that represents the 4th dimension mentioned on pg 25 of the AA book- “We have found much of heaven and have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.”

i offer this today as an exercise in gratitude. the tests that will follow- including my ability to follow through, to perform to expectation, and to support recovery and the people i am working leave room for concentrated effort. indeed, i am offered opportunities daily to review my past interactions and re-evaluate some relationships, responsibilities, and acquaintances i had thought i’d left behind. none-the-less, i am so very grateful to have my heart and my mind engaged like this right now. 

celebrating 8 years

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“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”

september 28 2004 was the day my heart gave out. i found myself in a position in my life in which i no longer recognized myself and i felt trapped by my behaviors. 
opportunity seemed to have vanished, and i was living in a life that i felt no love or compassion for. i had blasted all the meaning and intention from life with disregard and irreverence, and had been running for so many years i no longer was clear on what i was running from nor what i might be running to. i guess it had been endless running.
september 28 2004 was the day i surrendered. that was 8 years ago today. i went back to the treatment program and started participating in 12 step meetings. of course, those meetings were the last place i wanted to be. they seemed so lame. people i never would have partied with were talking about issues in their lives i had no concern nor care for. it came to unnerve me often, but i continued because i had no where else to really go and because here were the only sober people i could find. 
i really have to say here that i do feel honestly blessed. in that 1st year, there is no way i could have comprehended the path i now follow. i probably would not have been interested in it to be truthful. but this is the biggest blessing in surrender for me- the promises as laid out in that famous book “the big book”


“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”

i never knew until this recovery journey began, that my compassionate side had a birthplace and a reason. i didn’t believe that the agonizing experiences i had growing up gay in small town middle america would be transformed into stockpiles of strength and understanding that i could offer to others in similar predicaments in their lives. and more importantly, i had no clue that i didn’t have to run away whenever situations became so difficult-which they occasionally still do. but these are just a few insights i have gained over the last 8 years.
although today is a milestone, it is thoroughly bittersweet. my mentor of 7 years passed away 7 days ago and this would have been my 7th celebration with him by my side. certainly he resides in my heart and my mind. i have merely lost the luxury of hearing the words-“happy birthday cosmo” in the reassuring voice that has helped tame my heart and mold my intention. i really want to resent (but can’t) the words i share often about the work in this life being really about “letting go”. i have had so many wonderful things in my life, but i haven’t been able to keep any of them. i have always had to let go. and it’s the acceptance of that which causes me the most pain. letting go of my friend paul 27 years ago and letting go of my sponsor paul now are some of the most heart wrenching treks i have endured. 
i have made  great friends and reconnected with family, but these relationships have a very different rhythm without the partying. they seem quieter and they seem to run deeper. i have to say “thank you” to all my friends including my online life- without you and your support, my life would be so much smaller.   however, the most changed relationship is the one i have developed with the world in which i live. i used to take for granted the people, places, and things. i was always taking what i wanted or snatching what i needed, almost feeling like a visitor or even a trespasser. but now i do feel a bit more like a citizen. today i will work (2 jobs) and go to a meeting this evening. i already feel peace and gratitude. i hope to grow those feelings. i’m definitely glad i have something to work on.
i am sharing a vid that opens my heart for some reason. i have become enthralled with the xfactor uk this year. the auditions were amazing and this young girl’s audition was no exception. but there was something even more compelling about her boot camp solo which is here. i hope you agree.
Do you believe in life after love 
I can feel something inside me say 
I really don’t think you’re strong enough, 
Now
Do you believe in life after love 
I can feel something inside me say 
I really don’t think you’re strong enough, 
Now 
What am I supposed to do 
Sit around and wait for you 
And I can’t do that 
There’s no turning back 
I need time to move on 
I need love to feel strong 
‘Cause I’ve had time to think it through 
And maybe I’m too good for you Ohh Oh 


















we rallied

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i spent 4 months married to the production of a 4 hour event (pics from recovery rally above) and i am completely pooped. i still have other commitments and things to do. but life and melancholy have slowed me down. 

i am still in shock over the passing of my friend. without realizing it, i find myself overwhelmed and reactive with an emphasis of trying to cut my self free of my life. i have dropped this service commitment and that commitment until i found myself ready to set free some resources for others because i don’t feel i can handle them right now. but a friend reminded me to just chill and  stop making decisions right now. i just need to be for a bit and i guess that’s what i’ll do.

until then, please consider watching the 1st rough clip of footage. big kudos and thanks to tim ryerson of tnt productions for the work.

living the promises

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If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and selfpity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

throwing a party- or more accurately – a rally, takes some patience. it takes help, it takes attention, it takes money, and it takes time. i must say i have had quite a ride working on this event- 2012 Recovery Rally Colorado.
there have been so many steps- securing the venue, lining up speakers, recruiting volunteers, keeping volunteers busy, finding the right sound person, securing sponsors, engaging resource vendors, supporting the volunteers, securing funding streams, networking, and the one that probably makes my heart sing the most- marketing.

i have learned that i am enamored with helping develop a “look’ for these things and working to get the word out. now that the festival is tomorrow, all of this particular heart-engaging work has come to a close. i will get to share stories, test my courage by speaking to our participants (easy because i have a purpose- introducing  others). i hope and pray that i will not make an ass of myself- although i do realize that if i do make an ass of myself i will still survive somehow.

but the opportunity i have had to give a face and an image to this festival is one of the promises coming true for me in my life. i get to be useful and in the process, my heart gets involved. i don’t have to yearn for the approval that i used to need almost as much as i needed air to breathe.

so there are many last minute details to finish to ready for the party. pick up a guest from the airport, pick up the programs, finalize the water situation, answer a multitude of emails, find a balloon arch, find weights for the tents, troubleshoot a few last minute snafus.

it seems moot at this point to hope for a successful rally. it is already in motion. and i feel like i have already been part of a success. it feels fantastic. and i am completely grateful. many thanks to jena at rockethouse designs. and thanks also to afr for the opportunity to dance to my own music.

Colorado Recovery Rally 2012 program

Honor Guard

Advocates For Recovery Brochure