Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 Focus: I open myself to the potential of the moment.

Treat time as a resource – don’t waste it feeling sorry for yourself. Each moment of time approaches us with infinite possibility, summoning us to compassion, understanding and well-being. Can you – will you – open yourself to the potential of the moment?

Time, after all, is the only resource you have to expend against adversity. (Even if you throw money at a problem, for instance, all you’re really doing is buying yourself time saved by having others tackle whatever it is that’s troubling you.)

I implore you not to miss the show that time is putting on for you. Don’t let problems pollute your every twenty-four hour cup of life. To trot out the cliché, money can’t buy happiness may seem trite, but the fact remains that there really are only three things you can do with money: spend it, give it away, or pay taxes.

Excerpted from the article:
Never Enough Time? Each Moment Brings Infinite Possibility
Written by Al Weatherhead.

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The Power of Adversity: Tough Times Can Make You Stronger, Wiser, and Better
by Al Weatherhead with Fred Feldman.

With insight and compassion, Al Weatherhead helps us understand that the question we must ask ourselves when bowled over by life’s troubles is not “Why me?” but instead, “Why not me?” In the process, this pragmatic and profound book reveals the secret to achieving a greater understanding and mastery of life by harnessing the Power of Adversity.

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This week’s blogs is the third of a continuing meditation on stigma, recovery concealment/disclosure, and its personal and social effects. Here are some random thoughts we would like to share for your reflection.
Social Effects of Concealment Recovery concealment (“passing”) offers some level of protection to the individual, but buttresses the social conditions (e.g., public misperceptions, prejudices, policies, and overt acts of discrimination) that make concealment a necessary option. To be silent about one’s recovery status is at the social/political level an act of conscious or unconscious complicity in addiction/recovery-related stigma. What is unsettling about the agitation of advocacy movements within stigmatized communities is that they bring past and present acts of such complicity into full awareness.
Process versus Event Disclosure of recovery status is not a one-time decision, but a lifelong series of decisions that evolve in tandem with changes in personal, family, and cultural circumstances. Coming out is a continual process requiring sustained commitment.
Simultaneous, Serial, or Selective Disclosure People who share multiple socially stigmatized traits face decisions on which aspects of their life to reveal or continue to conceal and the best timing and contexts of such revelations. Such revelations may occur in a simultaneous, serial (time-spaced decisions–like peeling layers of an onion), or selective (disclosing one dimension while continuing to conceal one or more other dimensions) fashion.
Intimacy/Safety Continuum Recovery disclosure is not an all or none proposition; it often unfolds incrementally based on levels of intimacy and safety and may vary from no disclosure (complete concealment) to minimal disclosure (status of recovery) to maximum disclosure (details of recovery story).
Disclosure Testing Recovery disclosure in interpersonal encounters is best done in stages, with safety and comfort evaluated at each stage.
Disclosure and Recovery Identity Recovery identity is fluid over time, and degrees of disclosure often evolve across the personal/recovery life cycle.
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Disclosure and Personal Privacy Disclosure of a socially stigmatized condition does not imply abandonment of rights to privacy. Each person has the right to disclose or not disclose and to define the boundaries of such disclosure. The decision to share one’s recovery status and the decision to share the details of one’s recovery story are quite different decisions as they represent far different levels of intimacy and vulnerability and require attention to the way in which these different levels of disclosure serve different purposes.
Recovery Storytelling The structure and details of one’s recovery story may change over time as one grows (again, an onion-like peeling of the addiction/recovery experience) and through exposure to the stories of others in recovery.
In-Group Disclosure “A very widely employed strategy of the discreditable person is to handle his risks by dividing the world into a large group to whom he tells nothing, and a small group to whom he tells all and upon whose support he relies on…” (Goffman, Stigma, 1963, p. 95).
Language of Disclosure Recovery disclosure requires a language of disclosure, which one can acquire from others in recovery or from the larger culture when recovery has penetrated cultural consciousness. The in-group jargon of a recovery fellowship may have limited utility for out-group communications to persons without personal/family recovery experience. Such in-group and out-group language–disclosures to people with and without personal recovery experience–often evolve across the stages of recovery, as recovery communities mature, and as social attitudes toward recovery progress or regress. Collective coming out of people across different pathways of recovery requires a new generic language through which the recovery experience can be expressed to the larger public.
Paradox of In-Group Language It is ironic that the majority of people experiencing active addiction shun the “alcoholic or “addict” identity, while hundreds of thousands of people no longer actively addicted regularly introduce themselves as an “alcoholic” or “addict” in meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
In-Group versus Out-Group Communication During the early stages of their cultural/political mobilization, discredited groups may embrace terms of castigation thrust on them by the dominant culture and recast such words as symbols of in-group identification. Historically pejorative language could thus be used for in-group communications at the same time use of this language is being challenged by recovery advocates within the larger culture. Terms like “alcoholic” and “addict” may have great psychological and community-building value within cultures of recovery even as recovery advocates allege that these terms constitute a language of objectification and advocate a preference for person first language at the level of public discourse (e.g., “person with a substance use disorder” versus “substance abuser,” “alcoholic,” or “addict”).
Disclosure and Retraction Sometimes recovery status is later retracted as one reframes his or her personal story, deleting addiction and recovery as meaningful categories within the story. Addiction recovery, like recovery from other life-threatening conditions, can constitute a transitory or enduring identity, as a recovery is integrated into a person’s overall sense of self.
Disclosure as Social Advancement Recovery disclosure can be a way of asserting a new identity for social/occupational advancement–what Goffman refers to as “making a profession of their stigma” (p. 27). A recovery identity may also be falsely embraced and visibly worn as a means of transcending an otherwise stained identity (e.g., explanation for criminal or immoral behavior) or for social advancement (e.g., exaggeration/fabrication of addiction/recovery story when new opportunities are linked to that status).
Collective Disclosure Recovery disclosure can occur as a personal act, but it can also occur as a collective act, as happens each year in public recovery celebration events in the U.S. and in other countries. Rituals of collective disclosure can exert a profound influence on recovery identity and embolden social disclosure of recovery status outside of such events.
Survival of Stigma Surviving a discredited condition/status can be a meaningful source of strength, potentially allowing one a depth of experience, character, and quality of life that might otherwise not have been possible without such challenges. Lecturing at the 1945 Yale School of Alcohol Studies, AA co-founder Bill Wilson referred to this as “the sublime paradox of strength coming out of weakness.”

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 Focus: I say yes to taking charge and making healthy decisions for my body, my life, myself.

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“A Long Time Comin”

We constantly make choices. Will we have that next cigarette, or next whatever? Will we say no, or simply let our habits and addictions rule our lives? Are we the boss of our lives? Can we say no to external forces?

We can, but it’s up to us to constantly make the choices that support our well-being, our health, our peace of mind. The thing to remember is that there is always a next time. Even if we don’t say no one time doesn’t mean that we can’t choose differently another time.

You always have another opportunity (and another and another) to just say yes to taking charge and making healthy decisions for your body, your life, yourself.

Excerpted from the article:
Just Say No! Just Say Yes! The Power of the Word
Written by Marie T. Russell.

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A Book of Miracles: Inspiring True Stories of Healing, Gratitude, and Love
by Dr. Bernie S. Siegel.

Bernie Siegel first wrote about miracles when he was a practicing surgeon. Compiled during his more than thirty years of practice, speaking, and teaching, the stories in these pages are riveting, warm, and belief expanding. Without diminishing the reality of pain and hardship, the stories show real people turning crisis into blessing by responding to adversity in ways that empower and heal. They demonstrate what we are capable of and show us that we can achieve miracles as we confront life’s difficulties.

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Sunday, October 19th, 2014 Focus: I recognize that we are all in this together.

To say that we hate people because they are different than we are is like saying, ‘I like lung cells, but I hate stomach cells and heart cells.’ The lungs cannot survive without the stomach and the heart. They need to function in harmony with each other in order for the whole body to be vibrant and healthy. All cells are important! Their diversity is vital and necessary.

Our physical body is merely the ‘car’ we drive to navigate around in the physical plane. We have all probably been every race, religion, nationality and gender. To say we hate someone because of the color of their skin is like saying, ‘I like people who drive blue cars, but I hate everyone who drives a green car.’ That sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it.

We as Human Beings need each other to survive on this Planet. We must recognize that we are all in this together. Instead of functioning out of fear and hatred we need to learn about each other and revel in the wonder and beauty of our unique diversities.

Excerpted from the article:
A Profound Truth: We Are All In This Together
Written by Patricia Diane Cota-Robles.

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What On Earth Is Going On?
by Patricia Diane Cota-Robles.

This book reveals the incredible Divine Intervention and activities of light that have taken place over the past several decades to bring us the cosmic moment of Earth’s rebirth and her ascension into the light. Most of this sacred knowledge has never before been revealed the humanity’s conscious minds.

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Friday, October 17th, 2014 Focus: I choose to be true to my inner guidance, and trust that it will always lead me to greater good.

If everyone was being true to Self, there would be no war, no hatred, no problems on Earth. Now that may sound like a pretty far-fetched statement, yet stop for a minute and think about it. Would there be wars and killings if the people involved were true to their Higher Self — their own ‘higher’ nature? Of course not!

Even on a smaller scale — such as ‘warring’ with the people around you — following your Truth is always the path of growth, harmony, and inner peace. On those occasions where you have followed your truth, even when it seemed like it would hurt someone or disappoint them, did it not, in the long run, turn out for the best for both you and the other person involved?

There are times when we thought we ‘should’ choose a particular course of action in order to avoid hurting someone. Yet, how do we know what the “greater scheme of things” needs for its accomplishment? The only thing we can do is be true to our inner guidance, and trust that it will always lead us to greater good.

Excerpted from the article:
Being True to Your Self: The Path to Happiness and Joy
Written by Marie T. Russell.

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Radical Honesty: How to Transform Your Life by Telling the Truth
by Brad Blanton.

Radical Honesty is not a kinder, gentler self-help book. In it Dr. Brad Blanton shows us how stress comes not from the environment, but from the self-built jail of the mind. What keeps us in our self-built jails is lying. “We all lie like hell,” Dr. Blanton says. “It wears us out…it is the major source of all human stress. It kills us.” Not telling our friends, lovers, spouses, or bosses about what we do, feel, or think keeps us locked in that jail. The way out is to get good at telling the truth. Dr. Blanton provides the tools we can use to escape the jail of the mind. This book is the cake with the file in it.

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Addiction counseling has rich historical roots–spanning early Native American recovery advocacy leaders, 19th century temperance missionaries, reformed men working within early inebriate homes and asylums, lay alcoholism therapists, the “paraprofessional” counsels of the mid-twentieth century–all contributing to the birth and evolution of modern addiction counseling as a specialized profession. It was the dream of Mel Schulstad and other modern pioneers of addiction counseling that a book would one day be written detailing the history of addiction counseling. To that end, NAADAC: The Association of Addiction Professionals established a NAADAC archives committee in the mid-1990s whose members began conducting oral history interviews with people who had played prominent roles in the professionalization of addiction counseling. Now, nearly 20 years later, that dreamed of book has rolled off the presses and was placed in the hands of more than 700 addiction professionals at NAADAC’s 40th anniversary conference in Seattle, Washington. It was my great honor to be selected to author this book, which also contains the voices of more than 90 leading addiction professionals.
The History of Addiction Counseling in the United States (521 pages, $10 plus shipping) contains five chapters on the birth and evolution of addiction counseling in the U.S.; three chapters on the history, core functions, and contributions of NAADAC; and a concluding chapter on lessons learned from addiction counseling pioneers, including reflections on the distinguishing characteristics of addiction counseling. Below are some of my own thoughts on this latter question.
There are four defining premises of addiction counseling that historically separate the addiction counselor from other helping roles. These premises are that: 1) severe and persistent alcohol and other drug problems constitute a primary disorder rather than a superficial symptom of underlying problems, 2) the multiple life problems experienced by AOD-impacted individuals can be resolved only within the framework of recovery initiation and long-term maintenance, 3) many individuals with high problem complexity (biological vulnerability, high severity, co-morbidity) and low “recovery capital” (diminished internal assets, family and social support) are unable to achieve stable recovery without professional assistance, and 4) professional assistance is best provided by individuals with special knowledge and expertise in facilitating the physical, psychological, sociocultural and often spiritual journey from addiction to recovery.
The defining essence of a profession is a distinctive body of knowledge and techniques developed through education, training and supervised experience and not available within other service settings. Such knowledge and service technologies have evolved over the past five decades and now constitute the core functions of addiction counseling as practiced in the United States and around the world….What the addiction counselor, at his or her best, contributes that is lacking in other human service disciplines is a detailed knowledge of local cultures of addiction and cultures of recovery. That knowledge is crucial in facilitating clients’ journeys between two psychological and social worlds.
What the addiction counselor knows that other service professionals do not is the very soul of the addicted–their terrifying fear of insanity, the shame of their wretchedness, their guilt over drug-induced sins of omission and commission, their desperate struggle to sustain their personhood, their need to avoid the psychological and social taint of addiction, and their hypervigilant search for the slightest trace of condescension, contempt or hostility in the posture, eyes or voice of the professed helper….If there is a therapeutic stance most unique to addiction counseling, it is perhaps the virtue of humility. While seasoned addiction counselors muster the best science-based interventions, they do so with an awareness that recovery often comes from forces and relationships outside the client and outside the therapeutic relationship. It is in this perspective that the addiction counselor sees himself or herself as much a witness of this recovery process as its facilitator. In the end, the job of the addictions counselor is to find resources within and beyond the client (and the counselor) that can tip the scales from addiction to recovery. To witness (and be present within) that process of transformation is the most sacred thing in the field.
Addiction counseling is coming of age as legions of men and women extend themselves each day to heal individuals, families, and communities. To those who have labored in this special ministry, we offer you your history. Those interested in obtaining a copy of The History of Addiction Counseling in the United States may contact NAADAC at 1-800-548-0497 or click here to order the book online.
Happy Birthday, NAADAC. We could not have journeyed this far without you.

Thursday, October 16th, 2014 Focus: I bless my body and all of my experiences with love.

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I meditate each morning — that is to say, I sit quietly and give myself time to connect with the inner wisdom that is within all of us. I express gratitude for all the good I have in my life. I affirm that I deserve to have a great day and that I am open and receptive to only good experiences. I declare that my health is excellent, and I send love to every part of my life.

If a problem comes up during the day, I stop and say to myself, “All is well. Everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation, only good will come.” This statement keeps me from getting into negative thinking.

In the evening before I go to sleep, I express gratitude for everything that happened that day, including any lessons or challenges that came my way. I bless my body with love, and thank it for being with me for another day. Then I bless all my experiences with love and drift off to sleep peacefully.

Excerpted from the article:
Affirmative Aging: What Can I Do Today To Make Me Happy?
Written by Louise Hay.

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Menopause Made Easy: How To Make The Right Decisions For The Rest Of Your Life
by Carolle Jean-Murat.

This book will address the current needs and concerns of midlife women, empowering you to make the right decisions. Using questionnaires and simple flow charts, you will circumvent the confusion surrounding menopause and HRT. With humour, candor and plain non-technical language, Dr Jean-Murat addresses many concerns of women today. It includes a chapter on ‘healthy aging’ by Louise L. Hay.

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