mental health recovery

work for love

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“Before Enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water.” Zen proverb

there have been stressful weeks recently. i have found myself feeling as if i am swimming against the current. i may have lost sight of which direction i am swimming towards. a tidal wave of whelm has left me hurriedly paddling just to move some air.

what is remaining clear is that i am happiest when i am engaged in my work. my work is more enjoyable and the time i spend away from work is more focused as well. how do i do this every day- day after day?

i guess it’s just practice.

spiritual practice.

live. work. love.

work to live.

work for love

now that was another 80’s song cue…

the goddamn lady

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Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It's the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with. Adam Ant Read more at
Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It’s the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with.
Adam Ant 

i moved to the lakeview neighborhood in chicago in 1974. it became a learning experience that changed my world during the 12 years i was there. walking up and down clark, broadway, and halsted between addison and fullerton became a regular activity. it was easy to check out the in and out flow of boutique shops in the neighborhoods, take a look at the fashions of the moment, and to see how some other parts of the populations lived, breathed, and survived. that’s where i first encountered her- the “goddamn” lady. she was a caucasian woman in her 50’s who lived on the street (assumption) and would wander the streets mumbling to herself with the occasionally “GODDAMN” shared at full decibel. it startled me initially. i was in my late teens and had no first hand experience with homelessness or severe mental health. i had never even heard of tourette’s syndrome. quickly however, the goddamn lady became a part of my vernacular, my scenery and my neighborhood- especially once i realized she probably would most likely not harm me.  i was 17 years old then. leaving home, living a bohemian lifestyle in the urban setting of northside chicago, graced me with propensity for acceptance and diversity that continues to pay dividends in my life.

now if i could only start to find more compassion and understanding when i see or hear from the likes of sarah palin, ted cruz, or the teaparty crew- after all- there are significant visible evidence of mental health issues demonstrated.


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A Pile of Dry Shit

One day a famous government officer met a highly respected edlerly master. Being conceited, he wanted to prove that he was the superior person.As their conversation drew on, he asked the master, “Old monk, do you know what I think of you and the things you said?”
The master replied, “I don’t care what you think of me. You are entitled to have your own opinion.”The officer snorted, “Well, I will tell you what I think anyway. In my eyes, you are just like a pile of dry shit!”The master simply smiled and stayed quiet.
Seeing that his insult had fallen into deaf ears, he asked curiously, “And what do you think of me?”
The master said, “In my eyes, you are just like the Buddha.”Hearing this remark, the officer left happily and bragged to his wife about the incident.His wife said to him, “You conceited fool! When a person has a heart like a pile of dry shit, he sees everyone in that light. The elderly master has a heart like that of the Buddha, and that is why in his eyes, everyone, including you, is like the Buddha!”
i find myself in the planning stage of change as the days once again begin the trek to get longer. i have been considering some options for the next project to dive into. part of me wonders whether i should just take a break, but i am not sure that is how i roll anymore. i can take a break when i’m dead. i would like to fuel and flame some passion in my life. and i would love the opportunity to continue to have conversations about recovery. not my recovery any more, but recovery in general- and why it is that the concept of recovery is not the first thing or even the 100th thing that people expect when the topic of addiction or illness comes up. it seems to me that our collective perspective on addiction and mental illness could be characterized as a pile of dry shit. but i hope to remind us that there is a something just like a buddha among us- recovery.
A New Recovery Advocacy Movement 
William L. White & Pat Taylor 
People in recovery from addiction, their families, friends and allies are on the 
move. Some are calling on mayors, governors and legislators to change policies to make 
it possible for people to get needed treatment and recovery support services. Others are 
joining National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month celebrations that draw 
tens of thousands of people and extensive media coverage. 
Local communities of recovery are organizing and sharing ideas, resources and 
experiences. A grass roots media campaign (see is 
countering stigma and putting a positive face on recovery. A network of thousands of 
recovery homes is spreading rapidly to small towns and large cities. Recovery High 
Schools are flourishing, as are special programs for the growing number of recovering 
people entering or returning to college. Innovative peer-based recovery support services, 
ranging from Recovery Support Centers to growing networks of recovery coaches are 
testimony to new creative solutions to addiction. Something is happening in our 
communities — a renewed spirit of service and activism that has been christened the New 
Recovery Advocacy Movement. 
Faces & Voices of Recovery, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug 
Dependence, the Legal Action Center, the Johnson Institute, the Center for Substance 
Abuse Treatment’s Recovery Community Services Program grantees such as White 
Bison, Association of Persons Affected by Addiction (APAA) and Connecticut 
Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) and hundreds of new grassroots recovery 
community organizations are all part of this exciting movement. Recovering people are 
collaborating with visionary professionals to communicate to the world that addiction 
recovery is a reality for millions of people and their families. This movement is calling 
for a vanguard of recovering people….

the ride

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i remember going to the carnival in the small town where i lived when i was a little boy. the main square of town had been transformed into a gallimaufry of contraptions and structures which consisted of rides, games, and food purveyors, all of it was strange and exciting and new. adrenalin filled my veins like a mountain stream after a downpour of rain. i always eagerly anticipated attending and would make my way to try as much as possible as soon as possible. i would gorge on roasted corn on the cob, cotton candy, and pork tenderloin sandwiches- usually double up on the sugar- and swirl with a buzz. i treated the rides just like the candy- i was a glutton-almost pacman like.

i don’t remember those carnival days as the happiest in my youth by any means, but i remember them vividly.. they seem pagan and pre-radical faerie at best. what i also remember succinctly is the kind of vertigo that would follow this ritual and roll in like a fog after the convergence of sucrose and kinetics. i would get somewhat numbed, disoriented, a bit detached, just as i do at the end of the manic phase. the energy of those outdoor festivals felt just like mania to me. and for this bi-polar mania may just be like a broadway show overture, comprised of a whirlwind of curious and enticing soundbites strung together in an upbeat tapestry. this vertigo, or motion sickness, that i would feel has always felt intrinsically connected to me, just like the mania that preceded it.

i bring this up because i am in the circuit that is described above in my daily life. there is so much newness going on that i have spied my reflection spinning in circles to keep up with all the changes. interwoven with this activity is that ancient sense of disambiguation which ebbs in and out like a marine layer and fills my soul with intoxicating feelings of engagement and disconnection that can be dizzying. the strangeness of it all is the topside and the underside is the familiarity of the dance.

moving through and living with a chemical imbalance is both the carnival i remember and at the same time it is like the funhouse there. it is an revolving and everhshifting maze that recites “the more things change, the more they remain the same” each time the labyrinth is walked. my life has traditionally felt tumultuous. it was before i began using substances, it continued in the 33 years of consistent self-medicating, and it remains in tact after 9 years of sobriety. it has become less of a star player in my drama and phased into the greek chorus. medication reels in the circumference, but the ride motion remains.

no matter how unflattering, now matter how inconvenient, how unsettling- this is part of the  truth of who i am. i often spout to those that i work with that emotional sobriety really involves looking at, understanding, and accepting how we really are in the world. omg- that is so much easier said than done. and it is definitely a ride.

the tide is high

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image credit… dmitri theocharis

i had a long day at work catching up on paperwork and trying to regain my emotional balance somehow. i just feel wonky. change has moved into our department like the santa ana winds, and i am stirred deeply by the gales.

i volunteered for the foundation at a fundraiser for the adolescent psychiatric program. a young black woman named madeline spoke about her experiences with mental health issues in her own neighborhood. the simplicity of her stories of her neighbors and friends, gutted by mental health issues, just like hooks thrown by invisible fishing lines had me teary. i remembered my own adolescence usurped by imbalance which set a course of living on the edge which lasted decades more than appropriate. mental illness is very real and very closeted. i need to work more to illuminate this.

today i spoke with my friend. he spent his final day at work and was cagey and passive aggressive as he talked around it. he talked about hooking up with home health care with hospice to follow. it was matter of fact and chilled both of us as it was discussed. months pass very quickly while time can move slowly in the same life. i wonder if that will be the case here.

i couldn’t sleep this morning. longtime companion was running on cable, so i watched it again. the film still moves\ me deeply, but the effects are not as acute at all. i have moved past the pain and fear of that time, but find i continue to deal with loss and the inability to change life and death. luckily, i have become adept at learning not to run.

this seems to be rambling. it is very late and i should sleep.


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image credit… HIV+ Babylon Chaos

Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.

sometimes it just all seems to go to shit. all the planning, all the meditation, all the affirmations, all the steps i take to stay grounded just fade instantly into black. i am left with darkness, unknowing, and chaos. it doesn’t last long, but it is certainly a black hole. today was a feast of this chaos for me. it was huge, without flavor, yet hard to forget.

insanity and sanity may just be the same feeling- one perhaps being the negative of the other. or maybe a 2 sided kandinsky is what this resembles. or maybe i have seen a replication of the big bang theory. how did i live before faith?

Our universe began with a hot big bang 13.7 billion years ago and has expanded and cooled ever since. It has evolved from a formless soup of elementary particles into the richly structured cosmos of today.
The first microsecond was the formative period when matter came to dominate over 
antimatter, the seeds for galaxies and other structures were planted, and dark matter (the unidentified material that holds those structures together) was created.
The future of the universe lies in the hands of dark energy, an unknown form of energy that caused cosmic expansion to begin accelerating a few billion years ago….reprinted from scientific american

camera obscura… through a glass darkly

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It doesn’t hurt me. 
Do you want to feel how it feels? 
Do you want to know, know that it doesn’t hurt me? 
Do you want to hear about the deal that I’m making? 
You, It’s you and me. 

And if I only could, 
I’d make a deal with God, 
And I’d get him to swap our places, 
Be running up that road, 
Be running up that hill, 
Be running up that building. 
Say, If I only could, oh… 

You don’t want to hurt me, 
But see how deep the bullet lies. 
Unaware, I’m tearing you asunder. 
Ooh, There is thunder in our hearts…. kate bush

the darkness that seems to have settled upon my life at the beginning of this year seems a bit less stifling today. although continuing to be out of sorts, i sense some hope- with regard to specifically what i am not so sure. there is a recurrence of old feelings that i haven’t yet pinpointed.

perhaps there is an innate sense of self-destruction that permeates my foundation. i know that i can’t sense directly what is not right, but with time, i can rewind until i forage the rough steps and the missteps until perhaps motivation emerged.

i now realize (after only 1 week this time) that some ancient feelings got triggered somehow. i reacted as i have trained myself to. i then paused, looked around, and remembered that my emotional responses are not my desired ones. the recoiling of  the released ball of emotional yarn needs to happen. it is happening. staying in the moment is the last instinct.

meanwhile- the image i captured, although based in reality, is not at all a true image nor is the response a real response, but more i have just experienced a reflection of an old reaction.

it’s a lotta friggin work to heal sometimes..

“Please forgive me. This post strains two metaphors and doesn’t do it very artfully. One, the camera obscura, represents, literally, the “dark room” in which many developers find themselves when working with a non-standards-based SOA development platform. The second, “through a glass darkly” represents the transition, indeed, the revolution, that developers need to accept in order to get SOA applications widely deployed”…. an idea lifted from another blogger