Thursday, May 21, 2009

John 16:33 - Not quoting the bible, however....

OK, I started out with this bible passage, not because I am becoming any sort of bible thumper, but because this particular passage is pretty cool in that it tells you, "Hey you're gonna have some problems in life, but be of good cheer," - in other words, everyone's got it rough, don't bitch about it, acknowledge and move on.

So its going well on the ranch, I began a sort of quasi addiction assessment and I found out a lot on how the treatment is going to go. Because I was not a daily drinker, but instead, a binge drinker, the program will not be geared to the daily mantras of "today I will not drink," but instead, "I am going to face obstacles and challenges, I don't want any of them to be the thing that may trigger me to drink on a binge." The challenges I face will be my teachers - kind of cool stuff. Basically, I'm realizing that the challenges I face are also blessings that are opening doors I would never have walked through on my own, normally. For instance, losing my job in December, breaking up a long term relationship, running out of money - all these things led me down a path to the ranch - and this is not a door I would have opened normally - that the universe set things in motion to put me on the path to recovery.

The ranch teaches you how to deal with obstacles in a lot of ways, but one way is to intentionally put obstacles in your way so that you can deal with the, learn to cope and not go on some binge. Sometimes its harsh. My friend Rob's father died last week. Rob asked if he could go to the funeral - he is in candidate phase like me, the case managers told him yes, he could go to the funeral but if he did when he returned he would have to start the whole program all over again. He didn't mind this until he realized that his sister is getting married on June 19 and he wants to go - but if he starts over now, he will still be in candidate phase in June and wont be able to attend the wedding. If he misses the funeral, he will be in phase 1 by the 19th and be able to get a day pass for the wedding.

Tough decision, and I am suprised that he didn't quit the program given that kind of a choice, he asked all the guys, casually, to give him our thoughts; ultimately he wants to get better - he has a 3 year old son and he wants to live with him and love him and grow old with him, so he is missing the funeral for the wedding, and continuing the program - his philosophy is that he would rather get off the ranch for a happy time with living people that for a sad time in a situation where he might be inclined to use drugs to over come the pain of losing his parent.

Really strong of him and its that kind of daily strength I get from living and knowing the guys. Its also the kind of complex obstacle the ranch gives us on our road to recovery. My mom said that when my dad was taking flying lessons on occasion the instructor would reach over and shut the plane off and my dad would have to recover. This part of the recovery therapy a lot like that. I am glad to say that Rob's plane didnt crash and will be landing smoothly on June 19th at his sister's wedding. Good for him.

I have a friend on the ranch, Lane, who, like me, believes in astrology and life force and chakras and karma and universal energies like me, so we talk about it and how we each see the bible fitting in to it. Its cool because I have never thought the bible was in conflict with my beliefs, nor do I think science is in conflict with my beliefs, and neither does he - so we have late night chats about this.

This is not really the jive of the Christian teachings at the ranch, as they tend to lean toward more deliberate interpretations of the bible and of God, but, its how I see things, and ultimately, I need to understand it and make sense of it in my own mind... and I choose to hang on to my belief that humans are connected to the greater universe through energies and power we dont understand.

We have something called devotion in the morning.... this is a real quick bible sermon right after breakfast, lasts about 15 minutes. We are asked to read a verse, fill out a form as to what we got out of it, then at breakfast one of the chaplains explains it briefly- today it was given by one of the chaplains who does the entire sermon while imitating George Bush Sr..... "Temptation....not gonna happen...gonna succeed...not gonna fail...." and while he is mildly entertaining, his message is usually pretty good. However, I may send him a list of pronouns and ask him to use one or two on occasion.

The guys found out about my hypocondria last night and are slowly teasing me on all sorts of diseases I may or may not get at the farm. But swine flu and bird flu are now terrifying me... Ha Ha - real frickin funny - they also told me of something called "fecal fungi aka the mission condition" (the ranch is a former mission) which is a disease that I supposedly can get by breathing in the smell of cow feces all night while I sleep and since my bed is next to the window, this was very alarming. I found out from my case manager that there is no such thing when I went to the office at the urging of the guys to get medication to prevent this and the chaplains all looked at me like I was on something. Not a good look to get in rehab.

But, like some sort of frat house, or anytime you get guys together, pranks are common. In fact, one of the guys here, Marty, read an article on Eastern medicine and it detailed how an ounce of your own urine first thing in the morning from your first pee was packed full of nutrients and you should drink it. In fact, Ghandi is said to have done this to help cleanse his body. So he and another guy, Brian, convinced one of the new guys a couple weeks ago that they had each been doing this for several days and encouraged him to do it. Well, he nearly did it and they couldn't take it anymore and let him in on the secret. I think he's still kinda mad and I believe is plotting to exact his revenge! Luckily, I am smarter than this and I came armed with my own One-A-Day vitamins so I didn't fall victim to this initiation.

I also worked with my work therapy boss in the kitchen for the first time today (he was on vacation until now) - he looks amazingly like Walter Brimley, he's super cool, LOVES cooking, takes food very serious and at any minute I expect him to grumpily tell me that I can get my diabetes medical testing supplies for free.... But I love being in the kitchen with him and he lets me eat some good stuff that is not part of the menu. We can only keep food for two days before we throw it out, so I can munch on the foods I like. Today I had fresh turkey and a bunch of sauteed squash and a baked sweet potato. The ranch was given fried chicken, macaroni salad and a really good vegetable fry I made. My boss grew up on cattle ranches and farms, so he believes that the guys deserve to eat well, and he feeds us really well and takes great care in food prep - hardly anything is instant or canned, almost everything is made from scratch.

I told some of the guys who are trying to bulk up or get stronger that they should eat protein because this would help them maintain strength while they work on the farm - so last night - at my suggestion, we made a white bean, kidney bean soup with fresh ham, lots of vegetables, cabbage and a LOT of yummy spice. The soup was delicious and I left the kitchen in the afternoon with a smug happiness that I was helping the guys become more healthy. This smugness lasted only until I got to the dorm last night and realized that there are serious disadvantages to serving a farm full of guys bean soup and having to sleep in a dormitory with 24 of them - Geezus, if you lit a match the ranch would have exploded like Hiroshima. Today I asked to take the beans and cabbage right off the menu. The other guys in the kitchen agreed.

But I have been trying to get healthy and eat healthy. And continue to run and I feel good. I am going to join the track team when I get the Phase 1 and can leave the farm to go running with the guys, until then I run on my own to build some endurance. Not smoking has really helped a LOT, but I still miss the cigarette after a nice big meal - that'll go away soon as I didnt smoke that much to begin with. But, without a ton to do, I can focus on my health and on getting in better shape - in fact, during devotions this morning, we were asked to think throughout the day on how we would like to be like Jesus and all I can think is, "I really want those abs!" - I mean come on - look at any crucifix, Jesus has got great abs.

We had a new guy enter the dorm last night - his name is Davvie (not his real name) - he came from jail straight here. He's a typical mexican gangster with the tatoos all over his neck and head and face - in fact he has two devil horns tatooed to his forehead - so I am not sure how that is gonna fly on the ranch where I was recently asked to remove my t-shirt because it said, "Want a Quickie? Quickie car wash" - [I suppose I wont wear the one that says, "Welcome to the Loose Lady Saloon, liquor in the front, poker in the back..."] I thought it would be a fun ranch shirt, but.... 'not gonna risk it.' - (George Bush impression)

Anyway, this new guy has been to like 6 prisons and jails, he verbally listed them like a laundry list and several of the guys had a good time with him exchanging stories about the jails they served in that he did also - he's only 27.... amazing. Its wierd because I am sure that before he came here he seemed very tough, but once he arrived on the ranch, he seemed very vulnerable and almost scared - I think the guys sensed this and everyone made him feel very comfortable. Because he was in jail, and his family wouldn't have anything to do with him, he didnt have anything. So many guys gave him snacks, clothes, I gave him like 4 pairs of socks and a can of beef jerkey. You know, even though right now, most of our lives can fit in 3 feet of closet space, a night stand and three dresser drawers, it was real cool to see everyone share what little they have - very humbling.

Today, I am heading over to the small animal enclosure, we have a new goat and three baby cows - each is like a day old, so I want to go get some pictures. You know, if you know of anyone who may want to read this blog, feel free to start giving it out. I suppose I dont mind....

Its a beautiful day, I am gonna go try to walk off some of this lunch. Peace out.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed meeting the guys - and the baby animals were the cutest things I think I've seen in a long time (grandkids excepted of course). The strength and the beauty of this program seems to be the way you all "have each others' backs" - it's an amazing place.