work

better days

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image credit……ddmag.tumblr.com
It goes a little something like this
In my shoes my toes are busted,
My kitchen says my bread is molded,
Got a good job at the dollar store,
One foot in the hole, one foot gettin’ deeper,
with a broken mirror and a blown out speaker
And I ain’t got much else to lose.
I’m faded, flat busted; 
I’ve been jaded I’ve been dusted.
I know that I’ve seen better days.
One foot in the hole, one foot gettin’ deeper,
Crank it to eleven, blow another speaker and
I ain’t got, I ain’t got much to loose 
‘Cause
I’ve seen better days I’ve been star of many plays
I’ve seen better days and the bottom drops out.
I’ve seen better days I’ve been star of many plays
I’ve seen better days and the bottom drops out.
life has distinctly taken a turn. april 2013 seems to have raced by as it excruciatingly revealed that i am only a passenger on this ride-not at all the conductor (my illusion). so many changes since the spring equinox, i have new time to spare and have once again made friends with my kitchen.  my heart smiles now and again for no reason. i am content to spend time quietly alone while napping, munching, and futzing around. 
i have learned to let go of some ongoing worry. as is commonly known, worry changes nothing tangible so the letting go is a spiritual exercise in which i am hopeful when engaging. the meditative quality of letting go and returning to center has the value of basket weaving to my manic brain. the result is not a straw vessel for fruit and correspondence, but an invitation to serenity, even in the midst of a sci-fi. 
i sometimes forget that every action there is a inevitably a reaction.  and rarely are the reactions as clock able as a light turning on when a switch is flicked. connecting the reactions to my actions can often seem like a jengo game- especially when meandering in a maze of day mares. 
i sat today and chatted with someone who completely lied to me. it was glaringly evident that the truth hadn’t arrived, but the absence of truth seems to have become their prosthetic which supports everyday balance and movement. and as i sat with them today, i realized that this prosthetic was not unlike the emperor’s new clothes- completely see through- and i couldn’t find a good enough reason to share my epiphany. 
faces and voices of recovery released the results of a survey that they conducted earlier this year. i am going to share the basic results which are not at all surprising, but remarkable none-the-less.
recovery, recovery, recovery
advocate, advocate, advocate
ADDICTION RECOVERY IS ASSOCIATED WITH DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENTS IN ALL AREAS OF LIFE
  • Involvement in illegal acts and involvement with the criminal justice system (e.g., arrests, incarceration, DWIs) decreases by about ten-fold
  • Steady employment in addiction recovery increases by over 50% greater relative to active addiction
  • Frequent use of costly Emergency Room departments decreases ten-fold
  • Paying bills on time and paying back personal debt doubles
  • Planning for the future (e.g., saving for retirement) increases nearly three-fold
  • Involvement in domestic violence (as victim or perpetrator) decreases dramatically
  • Participation in family activities increases by 50%
  • Volunteering in the community increases nearly three-fold compared to in active addiction
  • Voting increases significantly
  • Reports of untreated emotional/mental health problems decrease over four-fold
  • Twice as many participants further their education or training than in active addiction
THE BENEFITS OF ADDICTION RECOVERY OVER TIME
  • The percentage of people owing back taxes decreases as recovery gets longer while a greater number of people in longer recovery report paying taxes, having good credit, making financial plans for the future and paying back debts
  • Civic involvement increases dramatically as recovery progresses in such areas as voting and volunteering in the community
  • People increasingly engage in healthy behaviors such as taking care of their health, having a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and dental checkups, as recovery progresses
  • As recovery duration increases, a greater number of people go back to school or get additional job training
  • Rates of steady employment increase gradually as recovery duration increases
  • More and more people start their own business as recovery duration increases
  • Participation in family activities increases from 68% to 95%
The complete survey results are available in pdf format here.
i am really happy to post this citizen king ditty. it seems so 90’s pop classic to me.. makes me smile…

when the levee breaks

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image credit …ozge gurer
                                                                 

Cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good, 

Now, cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good, 

When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move. 

lyrics memphis minnie and kansas joe mccoy

sometimes i am in uber-love with facebook. it offers me hit after hit of glimpses of thoughts and ideas outside my everyday. my haphazardly honed adhd loves this effect. this morning it was a recording of led zeppelin’s recording of “when the levee breaks” from their 1971 album “IV” the sight of that audio post gave me permission to zoom out of my life for a minute and put on a different pair of glasses.

continually saying yes has a price. i know this. i have seen this. i have lived this. but my innate desire to excel overrides any logic i might posses. my way is to take it on, take another on, and then say “sure” again mostly because nothing else ever comes to mind. i learned early on in life how to become teacher’s pet. i purred in the luxury of excelling in the classroom and being perceived in a positive light, while the i spent the rest of my small town existence of a sissy boy queer orbiting in an atmosphere of whispers and shame. as fate (my teacher) would have it, this obsession with feeling accepted and an impulsive need for validation like a bird of prey  flies close to the falconer.

if i try to recap the events of this past week, my first emotional response is shame. and i don’t have the clarity today to understand whether this shame is appropriate or if it is primal. (i hate this not knowing btw). i ran an emotional marathon this week-

 i sat through what seemed like endless arbitrary meetings
 i waded through some large marshes of co-workers discontent,
 i called off a mini-vacation in my old hometown 
i juggled finances and made some hard but necessary choices,
 i took some more ownership of a grant application,
 i wrote a bio-sketch of my peer support experience,
 i became hyper-sensitive mid week and walked through the rest of days,
 my car stopped working,
 i asked for help and got it,
 i received a note from a colleague expressing concern about the work project not being truly
 peer-driven,
  encountered some passive aggression from a person whom i recommended be re-assigned,
 said goodbye and good-luck to a favorite work mate who transferred to another department.

i am really gobsmacked just writing all this out. these last days i have felt like a gymnast on a balance beam. it’s been daunting and precarious and felt competitive. and i have danced like a cobra for the snake charmer. i don’t know if the dam will hold. but i do believe the ride is far from over. 

consideration

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lincoln- image credit-vanity fair

in my activity filled weekend, i made plans to go with my mother to see “lincoln” at the theater we both like. it’s suburban with large seating, ample parking, and located just off the freeway so we can meet in the middle with ease. the film is big, full of wonder, and made me really think much more deeply about that specific time frame and the sheer mass and volume involved in passing both the emancipation proclamation and the 13th amendment. i am well aware of the vitriolic nature of our last election in this country. it has become almost accepted that each side of our current issues attack the other in a personal way- as if we don’t have the right to disagree on points. 

having not really ever been a historian, i guess i never contemplated what a massive undertaking and construction the war between the states was, nor did i ever once consider how it must have been to try to address and mend what was broken at that time. i will let this film simmer for awhile and may even see it again to review what i have taken in. it overwhelmed me!
mom on left- image credit linda carpenter
sadly for my mom though, i was pooped. i had worked a party the evening before and really hadn’t eaten, so the only thing i wanted to do was sleep when i got out of the theater. i barely had the where-with-all to say goodbye. i wanted to head home and shut my head down for a bit. i am afraid i hurt her feelings in all this. she is headed to arizona for thanksgiving to be with her siblings and i won’t see her. i regret this possibility. i guess the reason i write this is to purge a bit as her phone is turned off and i may not get the opportunity to do this.
it is a requirement that i look at how i behave. this would certainly fall into the category of character defects. i  cram too much into my calendar and then i am not available to those who need my attention because i am managing my time. when i think about a solution for this, i understand well it is about slowing down. my own nature creates this need to work 3 jobs. i like to spend money and i like to have money in order to do this. in each of these jobs, i find satisfaction. however as i “zoom out” a little, i see that the sum of them might create a shadow that actual light has difficulties getting in and around. 
i have some things to consider here. i hope i will. i also have the busiest month of the year for catering coinciding with all this. maybe things will change. maybe i’ll find a softer way to live my life. maybe i will assess my priorities and do some re-arranging. maybe. it’s definitely worth considering.

remain in light

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image credit … pascal meunier

Week 4: Smart Things 10 12 and A vision for you 

  • When you are hurt or upset, what do you do to comfort yourself?
  • How has your recovery helped you develop a personal compass in your life?
  • The Ninth Step promises in Alcoholics Anonymous, page 84, indicate that “we will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us.” How has this manifested itself in your life?
  • How do you respond to conflict or tension in your relationship?
  • What perspective would you need to take in order to see the tension in your relationship as an opportunity for you to work on your emotional sobriety?
  • What would it mean to you if you started to look at the real problem as how you cope with a situation rather than the problem being the problem?
  • Emotional sobriety creates emotional resilience. This means that we can stay clean and sober regardless of a difficult situation or circumstance, regardless of health or illness, regardless of success or failure. Is your recovery this stable? Do you have this kind of faith in yourself? What idea would you need to give up to have this kind of faith in your recovery?

from “12 smart things to do when the booze and drugs are gone” by allen berger

with the continuing change going on in my daily work life, i find myself perpetually moving or shifting or adjusting or waiting for any or all of those. the clients i work with have expanded to well beyond hiv. i am working with opioid replacement clients, with hep-c positive patients, and with dually diagnosed patients- all of which i certainly worked before, however the challenges and the life experiences are more diverse.

adding to this, i have been asked to chair a board for a recovery advocacy organization. this is a request which i am not quite ready to provide an answer at this time. i am waiting to hear a response from the lender who holds the note on my townhouse, because that transition will affect my life the most primarily. and to add to the shake-ups, i have applied for an additional counseling position to replace the 12K that i dropped this last year- which set some of this current richter scale action in motion and i continue to wait to discover if this is a good fit.

i am in awe of the confidence i have rendered in all this chaos. and i feel comforted by the lack of panic. i don’t know what is next, but i am moving forward with faith and trust in my relationship with the world. wow- did i even write that? but it’s true. i feel connected and i welcome tomorrow.

i don’t always satisfy the expectations of those around me. i still often judge my actions very harshly at first. i stumble in new situations and misspeak and misstep as often as i get it right. but what really keeps me going is my fairly newly acquired sense that i am okay. nothing great certainly, but nothing broken. for all my life, i felt-no believed- that i was flawed- twisted and warped. this is a belief that has had a metamorphosis into something else and been carried away with the winds. this is definitely an easier way to live.

image credit- bob jagendorf
i have recently heard some sets played by this dj named nick warren. i like him very much. it sounds so contemporary to me. i hope you like it, too.

a ride…

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It’s rather splendid to think of all those great men and women who appear to have presented symptoms that allow us to describe them as bipolar. Whether it’s Hemingway, Van Gogh… Robert Schumann has been mentioned… Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath… some of them with rather grim ends… Stephen Fry

today i found myself trudging as i always do, but with a strange and renewed skip in my step. i’m not sure how long it will last, or if it will wane as quickly as it appeared. either way, it feels pretty damn good. there is a fresh inovigorated zest with regard to some changes at one of my workplaces. i have been looking at assisting with editing, enhancing, and modifying services. this process of creation has become like a drug for me. it definitely stimulates my brain and stirs my soul.

if there were a thing i could categorize as “what i do”, i think that the process of creation and re-creation would be at the top of the list. i have been involved in this process in almost all of the jobs that created spiritual growth in my life- starting at the age of 25. so here i find myself once again, contemplating getting on the rollercoaster that is this my work and experiencing the ride.

more details will follow, certainly, but i wanted to affirm that a new phase in being ushered in. i know that when my brain is tickled,  i am happier and more productive. it feels as if i am doing what i am supposed to be doing. and i am very happy and grateful that i may be going for a ride…

best of you

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totally inspired by a song today. best of you by the  foo fighters. absolute nirvanha for me. love love love this band. and dave grohl.

this song has carried me through some challenging times this last decade. both the full boar band rendition and this pared down version they did on the skin and bones tour/album.

are they getting the best of you.. double entendre most definitely. are they getting the best of you? am i giving the best of me? asking these questions can easily put me back on track when i feel stalled. (and that is often enough that i have some bailout plans.)

in this stage of the journey, the unfinished business of growing up continues to rear its head. the oh-so-many things i never wanted to deal with have not disappeared as i had hoped with all those years neglect. no, they have secretly laid in wait until an opportune moment and then appeared again as if a shadow next to me in the mirror when there seems to be no source.

a friend is in hospital in a coma and it is not looking good. he was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer 4 years ago, but with chemo and prayer had pulled through to step into the sunlight of spirit a while longer. subsequently, his wife had died, his  father has passed, and he has remained strong, postively focused, and frankly, an inspiration.

working for the next four days, including xmas eve and xmas. made plans with the intention of not being available. may be poor judgement, may be flawed judgement, but here is where i am- at the confessional. truth though is that people depend on me and it’s a good thing. and i need to be there.. as in there..

can’t say that i give my best every moment of every day. definitely working on that one. times do come that i forget about “the best”. too busy stuck in the drama of the moment. the magic of music is the transcendence it can bring. just one listen to this and i can so easily be back on track, almost seamlessly…

I’ve got another confession to make
I’m your fool
Everyone’s got their chains to break
Holdin’ you
Were you born to resist or be abused
Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you
Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you
Are you gone and onto someone new
I needed somewhere to hang my head
Without your noose
You gave me something that I didn’t have
But had no use
I was too weak to give in
Too strong to lose
My heart is under arrest again
But I break loose
My head is giving me life or death
But I can’t choose
I swear I’ll never give in
I refuse…… Foo Fighters..

remix

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 i received word today that my department transfer would go through. i will be at a new desk in a new office on monday- at least for half the day. the other half will remain the same. now as change draws near, the butterflies begin. not because i don’t want to move on.. i have to for sanity’s sake. no causes me a little shakiness is the uncertainty ahead. i have interviewed with my supervisors, but i really don’t know what to truly expect day to day. i know i will be all right, but i want more than all right. i want happy. i want joy. i want symbiosis. time will tell. and don’t be fooled. i don’t think i’m living in a fantasy. i found out another patient has terminal liver cancer and probably won’t live thru the year.

i have posted pics of the landscaping changes we made to our building. i had been going slowly crazy looking at some old junipers that were overgrown and swimming in dead underneath. they would cackle at me every time i would go in and out of my little place. i forget how persuasive i can be, but after a few months of campaigning with the other owners, we spent a weekend (18 hours) pulling out all the dead and putting in new plantings. this included moving rock from the right of way, removing old fabric that had been sadly compromised by a flood 2 years ago, replacing the fabric, and putting the rock back. it was all impressive and exhausting. But $1100 and 90 man hours later, we have a whole new vibe there.
the music today is definitely a “sound” from my 80’s. you could hear it in most of the big boy clubs in 81. that clapping sound was everywhere. even al jourgensen from ministry did a cover of this song for his 1st song in chicago.