Monday, August 31, 2009

Harry Pothead - The Sorcerer's Stoned....

So, after a while on the ranch, we of course are given a lot more freedoms, and I usually take Sundays to do ‘normal’ things off the ranch. This past Sunday I had an awesome day – after church, two of my best friends and I stayed in town and walked around.

The purpose was to volunteer at the church a little as well as get a good idea of places where we might be able to work once we get to the work phase of the program – and for the three of us who all entered around the same time, this period is fast approaching - Our adventures took us to small shops where we read used books, we tried on clothes we want, flirted with the waitresses at a brunch restaurant, we had lunch, ended up at the library where we caught up on news and gossip magazines – basically spent a long afternoon being regular people.

Its pretty easy to forget that the rest of the planet is moving while we aren’t part of it. Its sometimes a little shocking to step back into the groove of the real world and remember that everyday people do everyday things, every day. Brian and Marty each handled the situation differently. Brian was overwhelmed by being away from the ranch and had a tough time adjusting. He was almost panic stricken by the freedom of our Sunday afternoon, like a fish out of water. It was kind of unnerving after a while. Marty was the polar opposite and it almost appeared as though he completely forgot that we were just on pass from rehab, it was equally unnerving. But the pendulum swings to the extremes for everyone, I suppose. And I remember thinking, my GOD, these guys annoy me. Just kidding! Seriously, I am just kidding.

It was a nice afternoon with lots of activity. When we returned to the ranch the three of us decided to go on a bike ride – I have been logging 11-18 miles a day on my bike and they wanted to see my route. We went on the shorter 11 mile route. Stopped by a fishing pond in a nearby wilderness area and snapped some pictures of each other and of the scenery. These times are when we really talk and laugh at each other. There is a connection that the residents on the ranch develop because we are the only people on the planet that really understand what we’re going through. Struggles, humor, the sometimes ludicrous policies or administrative blunders – the food, the schedule, and the lives we put on hold in order to figure all this out.

But some of the best jokes come from this – its critical to my program that I maintain that humor. Between my addictions classes, the daily Christian devotions and bible study, the education classes on lifestyles and education training – the health classes, the classes on money and values, the therapy sessions, the Church services we have to go to, the small groups and support groups – I spend a crap load of my time hearing lectures and I have to be honest, it gets pretty freakin boring sometimes just being talked to non-stop.

So you can imagine that the times we get to spend together relaxing are cool. We’ve begun joking around that this must be what rehab on Harry Potter’s world would be like. But we call him ‘Harry Pothead’ – but the studies, the homework, the levels/phases we must get to, the different dorms, the gatherings in the dining room, the faculty, the strange animals, the festival – hell, even the distance we travel to get here, on the outskirts of civilization - all very Harry Potter-ish.

And when we returned to the dorms after our bike ride, Marty asked if I wanted to color – and strangely, I did – so we sat at a table and colored and listened to music and had a good time – again joking and laughing and then we each retired to our dorm assignments and went to bed.

And you might ask why this was important to note on this blog and the main reason is that many people have asked me about cravings. They say that they are getting a lot of information from this blog about the nature of addiction, but wonder if I, personally, am having cravings – if there are situations that I am having trouble managing that are leading me to consider drinking. I, too, have wondered when they might come, and have been a little alarmed that they aren’t hitting me.

I am also asked about the speed at which I am progressing through the program, and whether I am frightened that this is all going pretty quickly.

And I am not sure what I expected from all this rehab stuff either, but the truth of the matter is, I have not had any unmanageable cravings. I have not had any situation that has made me want to rush to the liquor store. Even when I first got here, my mom was alarmed to learn that I am away from the ranch and away from supervision even from the beginning.I really miss drinking sometimes, but dont feel inclined to rush back to it.
And the truth is, I have to make this work because I want it and not because I am being watched. I get a weekly gratuity from the ranch, and I am only a couple seconds away from a liquor store of I wanted to drink.

The other truth is that we are being given skills and ability to bypass the desire to give in to our addiction. And I must be employing these skills all the time without even thinking. They are becoming a part of my daily thinking – and I mentioned earlier that a change in my principles changes my results. The simple psychology of Stimulus then Response leaves out one very important factor.

While a psychologist may say that that is the foundation of human behavior – you are stimulated to get or do something then you respond to the stimulus, the most important part of that equation is absent – The Freedom To Choose. I can get a stimulus and I get to choose my response. It’s a great thing, choice. We’ve all got it.

And so from the beginning, I have been given freedom here and its been up to me to manage this – and this has to be a model for the rest of my life. Addiction tried to take away that choice, but I am getting it back and its cool.

And the reason I mentioned my Sunday afternoon to you is that I had a great sober Sunday with some really good friends. We did a lot of things. And successfully rehabilitating yourself requires that you fill in the gaps where you used to spend drunk, recovering, or preparing to drink with other things; mindless things sometimes. But these things are equally as rewarding to do. And that’s part of what I am doing by being here. I am getting back the time I lost by being drunk, I am filling in the gaps with other ideas and other activities.

My mom made an astute point about it. She said that an alcoholic loses so much so slowly most of the time and that’s why we don’t notice we are in a spiral of loss until its all gone – I suppose its like losing your hair. You don’t notice the individual strands that come out, but one day, you look in the mirror and WOW – you’re bald! That’s how it works with an alcoholic.

And then all of a sudden, you realize that living a life with a wig is no substitute for real hair and so you get checked into bald-head rehab, start going to bald-head anonymous, begin to understand the things that made you lose hair in the first place and many times, your hair begins to grow back – one strand at a time. And this is recovery. The funny thing about this is, you DO notice the hair as it comes back. I guarantee, any bald man who one day begins sprouting hair is damn-straight gonna notice it.

And rehab, and living a sober life SHOULD NOT be a struggle. It SHOULD NOT be hard. If it is hard, you probably aren’t ready to give it up. If you spend each day trying to convince yourself not to drink, then you probably aren’t really in the mindset that its over. Admittedly, I was alarmed at the ease that I am handling the program and handling sobriety as well, but it could be that I am just ready to be sober. This isn’t a struggle for me, a daily uphill battle, because that’s no way to live my life either.

The thought that I am gonna be fighting the urge to drink every single day is almost as scary as the idea that I am gonna be drunk every single day.

Life shouldn’t be hard when it comes to this. Life should be Sunday afternoons with friends, laughing at ourselves, it should be an evening of activity that is unusual and simple, it should be days spent NOT thinking about addiction. And so, I am not worried that I am not having cravings because I am employing many of the skills I’ve learned, and I am seeing that this is how my life should be, and the fact that it isn’t an awful struggle just means that its working.

Its weird, I used to imagine my life like this, but I never realized I would ever just do it and now that I am living it, I have to get out of the mindset that I haven’t worked for it and that I don’t deserve it. Its always seemed like a goal I was never going to fully reach that now that its kind of my routine, I just have to breath, relax, and live it. I shouldn't feel like a fish out of water, this should be my new normal.

So, you should stop worrying about it too. It’s not a constant struggle, and it shouldn’t be. I think I'd probably rather be drunk than stuggle with sobriety every single day. And, geeze, doesn’t my new head of hair look fantastic!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why Irish people drink and Freud's suggestive conception

OK, so I had planned to blog on the next addictions lesson – one on Proactivity, and I certainly plan on spending a lot of time on this, I want to back up for just a second to the blog I posted on Monday where I said that I may be suffering from Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome.

If you are familiar with Freud’s work, he went on and on and ON about the subconscious and the power of suggestive thinking. He is said to be the father of the subliminal psychology and representative symbology in the human psyche. So powerful was subconscious thought to Freud that I’m sure that when his own children were conceived, he probably wasn’t even in the room and instead just made several suggestions to Mrs. Freud about having kids for nine months until, POOF, out came a baby.

One day, allegedly, Freud was smoking a cigar (probably a congratulatory cigar after his wife birthed one of those ‘suggested’ babies, I dunno) – but anyway, he was smoking a cigar and someone asked him what he thought the cigar signified. Now – I am certain the student might have expected some long deeply thought out response that this cigar had some phallic significance, or that the particular hand he held it had some significance, but Freud simply responded, ‘Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.’

And this brings me to my analysis that I am suffering from Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. And while I am sure that this is a possibility, its also entirely possible that I am not suffering from ACUTE Withdrawal anything and instead suffering from CHRONIC hypochondria. That I am not suffering from any sort of physical withdrawal and instead, I just couldn't sleep one night, which made me tired, which made me cranky, which made me stressed out and not maintain peace of mind, which kept me up at night…. etc. And so you can see, maybe I am not suffering from any sort of fancy rehab diagnosis and instead just can’t sleep. Maybe the cigar is just a cigar.

But as I was thinking about this, I realized that alcohol or addiction is a form of self-medication and every good diagnosis has a really nice prescription, and alcohol is a way to self-medicate. And this is why, at least in my case, self-diagnosis is so dangerous, because this leads to self-medication.

And, so, although I am pretty excited most of the time about my progress through the program, addictive thinking can creep in where you least expect it – even when you are in the very process of avoiding addictive thinking. My God! This seems ludicrous. But, well, its all part of the self-awareness that we are trying to learn to develop here.

I will tell you that I did learn that it takes an average of 10 years from the time an alcoholic decides to get help to the time he can be considered successful in maintaining sobriety, and there are an average of 7 relapses. At first, this scared the crap out of me, but I realized that I’ve been trying to figure out this whole addiction malarky for about 4 or 5 years now on my own and have had some relapses, and so, I am not too worried about maintaining sobriety when I get out of here. I mean, Ozzy Osbourne has been trying to get sober for decades and since the 10 year marker is just an AVERAGE, then Ozzy really allows for some shortened recovery times on the flip side. Thanks Oz.

My point is that the process of recovery is intricate and not only one thing will work for me, especially when you consider there is about a decade that I may be working on this. One reason I didn’t drink during my weekend pass was because I am now in great shape and I was worried about the caloric intake and refined sugars in beer. That’s not the only reason, but it certainly crossed my mind and helped me to decide not to drink. And the thing about recovery is that there is no magic potion, no magic prescription. The ‘magic prescription’ I thought I discovered in alcohol is what brought me here to begin with, but the development of several layers of defense against the urges to partake in addiction all add up to a healthy armor. One night I was talking to my parents about relapse and I said that for some people, if they believe that magic green elves come out at night and sprinkle them with ferry dust to keep them from drinking, then that’s a solution. Whatever works.

And I’ve gotten some emails and some comments from people who are reading this blog and they have said that they have quit things like decade long drug habits and other addictions on their own, and I am sure that if I was to talk to them, they would each have a safeguard on how to buffer themselves from a relapse.

And this is awesome. You know, in Ireland, when you look at potato crops, you’ll notice the plots are surrounded by stone walls - this marks property as well as potato variations. And when there is a blight, the potatoes inside the walls often die and sometimes this forces a famine, the potatoes rot. Maybe after many centuries of this it explains why the Irish drink – (and hell if I am gonna let my life be dominated by the British!)

In Peru, the potato crops are surrounded or marked off by rows of bushes. In those bushes grow varieties of wild potatoes which are never picked or eaten. In fact, as individual potatoes go, they’re not really all that significant or important and could never amount to a meal. But they are there because if a blight occurs, the farmer goes into the bushes and finds the potato strains that survived the plague. Then he cross breeds the survivors with the old potato and a new potato is born resistant to the original blight. This is AWESOME! This is how a buffer zone to sobriety, to failure, to any part of your life works. You have many elements to survive the blight in your buffer – many insignificant, often unedible as they are- and you connect them with elements of your life (the crop) to become more resistant to blight.

And while all this is really cool, and I am glad that many people are getting something out of this, I am gonna end this blog entry with one thought. While all the connectedness is necessary, and its critical to think at all the intricacies of how sobriety or how avoiding ANY addiction or even a bad habit is going to work for each of us; in the maintenance of ANY goal we achieve, sometimes the answer is right in front of us and doesn’t require additional thought or deep analysis, and maybe over thinking a slight, a wrong, a failure helped feed the addiction or create the bad habit in the first place.

And its entirely OK that you don’t drink one time because of the calories in beer, and another time because beer makes you burp and another time because of the great destruction it leaves behind. And in my life I am going to have sleepless nights because I cant sleep or my neighbors car alarm is going off or because I drank too much Hawaiian Punch before bed. And in the grand scheme of things, I don’t have to over think my life every single second because sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And, what a relaxing thought…. One that will help me to sleep tonight.

Have a peaceful and SIMPLE day.

PS – to everyone who has been emailing and leaving me comments – WOW! Thanks, if you’d like me to write back to you, please leave me an email address. But, hearing all the stories of how you are managing your sobriety is SO good to hear and your kind words keep me really encouraged. As a side note, if anyone wants to know where you can get the world’s smallest fishing rod, I know a guy….

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pigs bite or dont poke a babys brain through the soft spot.

I really didn’t write too much last week, and its mostly because I was really tired. I am not sure if its because I have had such a busy couple of months and its catching up to me or if I messed up my sleeping schedule when I went on weekend pass a couple weeks ago and still haven’t really gotten it back on schedule. I thought that by being here I would be missing out on my life, but I would venture to say that I have done more in the past few months than I did the past three summers combined….

Looking back on my life, I really can’t remember a time when I wasn’t at least a little bit tired, and this is compounded by the fact that its daylight savings time and I am always an hour tired from Spring until October. I think there were a couple days somewhere back in February 2001 when I was on a three day train ride to Atlanta and all I had to do was sleep, and I think I beat fatigue for just a little bit during that trip. But other than that, my whole life has been marked by degrees of tiredness, not the lack of it.

The other option is that I have begun the PAWS stage in recovery, which you may recall from a few weeks back, stands for Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. The key word here is acute, as in not chronic – so even if it is that, it won’t last for long. I have been having more dreams that I am drunk and have woken up relieved to notice that I am here, and sober, and not drunk. That’s a weird feeling. I am not irritable, but I have been having messed up sleep and, so, I am tired.
I have to tell you, I am a little bit glad about this, however. I hadn’t had any real cravings or anything here and I was worried that I would make it through the program avoiding cravings and not dealing with them, and that would suck. It doesn’t do me any good to have all these skills at avoiding relapse if I never get to try them out in a safe setting like the ranch.

This past week, we have lost another round of guys. Guys drop out of the program for many reasons, and I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that it is always hard to see this because we become friends with these guys. Treatment can be sabotaged if you’re not careful, but we are being given tools to avoid sabotaging treatment – but like everything, you gotta be aware of the kinds of things that are going to mess you up from attaining your goal – whether it is to finish rehab, or to quit smoking, or to lose 10 lbs, these sabotages can occur, and you should be aware of them. Which brings me to addictions lesson number 12 – sabotages to treatment and recovery.

I will tell you, when it comes to life, rehab ranch is a great test run on how to behave. It’s a microcosm of situations that you can apply to real life. In fact, I think everyone should do a stint at rehab. No, I am kidding. But seriously, the first thing that may sabotage you from reaching a good goal is to jump ship too soon, to leave early, to stop before you’ve gotten there. This is pretty freakin obvious, but it needs to be noted. Making commitments and following through is the foundation of self control. This is not only committing to finish a program like this, but, even something as small as being on time when you agree on a time to do something. Chemically, your brain does not tell the difference between a small break in commitment or a large one, and each one stimulates the reward centers that lead to other ‘lack of self control’ type habits.

Not having a plan to maintain your goal. This is where you map out your life and see how the achievement of this goal must be maintained. So, when you do the metaphoric mapquest of your life, make sure you click on ‘avoid relapse’ as your routing option. You just have to have a plan.

Most of the time, no, ALL of the time, you can’t really maintain your goals without other people involved. You can’t do this on your own – whether it is maintaining sobriety or it is keeping those last 5 lbs off – it requires that you have safe people to go to when you start to feel a little bit weak – and as pack animals, human beings are meant to be with and support other people. Its one of the benchmarks of our species. I think this is probably why God invented fitted sheets. I mean, think about a fitted sheet, it’s a real pain to try to use it alone. You certainly can’t fold a fitted sheet alone, and it’s a real bitch to try to put on one a bed alone, and if you think of your life like a good Egyptian cotton fitted sheet, you’re gonna find that it just makes things a whole hell of a lot easier when you submit to the fact that we need each other.

You have got to release the idea that you can do anything or maintain anything on will power alone. Its great and I am sure theres a million dollars made every year from every single “will power is the key” poster designed, but it’s a lie. Its lower than a lie, it’s the lie that comes from the pit of lies where lies are made. You MUST have some safeguards. Many of these are practical. Distraction with activity is a good one, a plan is a good one, other people are good ones, priorities are good ones, carrying around a photo of me on a fat drunk day is one I keep with me. I pull it out and look at it often when I think about having a drink. I have a really good perspective on this photo because I can fully understand what that guy was thinking at the time that photo was taken. But the point is, it’s not will power alone that is gonna prevent me from relapse.

You can not fool yourself into thinking that, after some time, you are ’normal’ and you no longer need to think about maintaining your goal. You are NOT ‘normal’, and being an addict is NOT ‘normal’. Normal people do not end relationships or jobs or opportunities because of alcohol or drugs. Normal 30 something men do not spend a year of their lives in rehab. This is not normal. It doesn’t mean its wrong, but it sure as hell isn’t normal. Don’t kid yourself. This goes for any goal. Think about what you had to do to achieve it. What you did probably isn’t normal. This is hard to hear and harder to comprehend, but apply it to your life. My sister is about to get a chemistry degree after a decade in college – after having two kids. That is not normal. Her route isn’t normal. The degree may be normal, but how she got it isn’t.

I mentioned earlier that forgetting priorities is also a way to sabotage your goals – you need to keep reminding yourself of them. Whether its to keep a job, live a long life, make your kids or spouse happy, whatever…. Keep the priority in your mind every single day. Hell, write it down and put it on your bathroom mirror and glance at it every morning.

If you make plans and do not follow through or you follow through half assed, you’re beginning to sabotage your goal. I don’t know when its going to strike, or how, or for how long, but every single one of us has had a day where we have just decided, “I am done working for the day,” and you kind of mess around until its time to go home. It feels good, doesn’t it. But its not a good way to maintain your goals.

One thing many people do is substitute their addictions with other addictions. ‘I can’t drink, but hell yea, I’m gonna smoke some pot,’ ‘I cant gamble, but I can shop,’ this is just transference of the behaviors that got you here. Like Obama said “You can put lipstick on a pig, but its still a pig”…. OK not quite the best example, perhaps, “You can put lipstick on a pig OR a cow, but they’re still a pig OR a cow”…. Or more accurately, “You can’t put lipstick on a pig, they will bite you.”

But I digress. The point is, no matter what you put the lipstick on, its still lipstick…. Oh, wait, that’s what I was going for. Yes, addictive behavior is like lipstick, no matter what its on, its still lipstick.

And you can not expect other people to ‘fix you’. You also can’t expect to be able to hang on to old resentments and old wounds and make it through. These things will always rise to the surface. You just have to deal with them. Remember I said procrastination is the root of all addiction. Here’s what I mean. Stop putting it off – deal with it and put it away. No matter how painful. If you think its just goes away, you’re sabotaging your maintenance of your goal.

But, the thing is – and here’s the most important thing I am going to tell you, so slow down your eye balls and read super slowly- RESULTS TAKE TIME TO MEASURE. Good or bad, don’t expect to have evidence that you are doing the right thing right off the bat- You must have patience and FAITH. Its like parenting I’d imagine – you just can’t be sure you’re doing the right thing immediately because results take time to measure. So, really, all you can do is hope that every day you don’t somehow drop your baby or accidentally poke your finger through the soft spot or cause any really irreparable damage emotionally and hope for the best, that these babies will turn out to be fairly decent people. You gotta have some faith that you’re doing it right.

And, for me, I also think that it’s possible to maintain the achievement of your goal just because it feels good. It’s like waking up, having a good hair day, wearing good clothes, and feeling confident and secure and not running in to a single person of any importance the whole day. Its still cool…. Just to feel that way even though no one in particular except yourself really knows how exceptional you look and feel that day. But it sure as hell is awesome when you see your reflection in the mirrored glass outside the Wal-Mart and think, ‘Damn, I look SHARP!”

And all this seems like a bunch of limits, but you need to have limits. An addict often has a lifetime of no limits or the avoidance of limits, but we all must understand that limits give us freedom. The lack of limits provided by addiction really prevented us from doing much of anything, we had no freedom from the confines and chains of our addiction.

I need to clearly map out what I can and can’t do in all of my life. Marriage or a romantic relationship are full of limits, but a partnership affords you freedoms that being alone and single doesn’t, freedoms to grow, express, and safety of security – and maintaining sobriety has limits. Certain behaviors are OK and certain ones are not because of limits, but your life is opened up to the freedoms you’ve earned and continue to earn once you work within those limits. Sundays used to be a good limit because liquor stores were closed, so I had the freedom to get tore up on Saturday because I couldn’t drink on Sunday. But I always made it to work on Monday. A red light is a limit, but damn, it’s a good limit when I am trying to finish a text message!

And as far as goals go, I can’t express it enough, we all have to be clear about what we want. Write it down. A goal is just a wish, but a written goal or one that’s been clearly spelled out is a dream with a deadline. You’re accountable to it. I believe there is power in our words, and when we make them tangible, they become real. Maybe thats why I maintain this blog.

About achieving a goal, Grenville Kleiser wrote: “Deep down, in every human heart is a hidden longing impulse, an ambition to DO something fine and enduring.”

The trick, I think, is to make it last.

Peace all


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Seasons of the Ranch

Well, technically, fall doesn’t begin for another month, but mornings here on the ranch are met with the steamy breath of cattle as they chill in the morning air, and sweaters, fleece vests, and cargo shorts! Colorado is unique in being one of the few places where a sweater and pair of shorts is considered acceptable ensemble – even in a business meeting.

The ranch hosts a Fall Festival which begins in about a week. All over the farm portion of the ranch, bright orange fencing is being put up to direct motorists as to where to park. Its kind of strange living on a property where 25% of the year we are preparing for a festival, 25% of the year we are hosting a festival. I feel somewhat like a carnie. Very little of this year is typical, however, so this comes as no big surprise – but the point is, its almost fall.

In my life some of the most interesting developments happen in the fall. I used to hang around with some people right after high school, we called ourselves, ‘The Deadbeat Club,’ and it was so memorable. I LOVED that part of my life. Fall always signified the beginning of school, it was usually when I would find a new job, and all of my longest relationships either began or ended in the fall – sometimes both. I nearly died in the fall or became very ill; more than once in my life in the fall. If I am looking for a job, it usually comes around in the fall. I am not sure if it’s a result of the momentum of the summer, or the urgency to make things happen as I face the desolation and loneliness and stagnation of the winter but for whatever reason, this cycle is the part of the year that kind of sets the tone for how I remember the year. And, so I am excited about what will happen this fall.

I came to the ranch in the spring, the snow hadn’t even melted in parts of the campground. On a farm, spring time is obviously a time of planting, planning, it is a time to reawaken the land and rework the soil. It’s a time when animals give birth to new animals. Its iconic that I came in the spring – having survived a desolate winter, that I would come here in the spring – ready to plant new ideas and behaviors and do some work.

Over the summer, I worked, and I learned and I began to blossom- again, on the farm, summertime is awesome. In June, for the picnic, the corn fields hadn’t even been planted and now the corn is almost 9 feet tall. Quick! I also began my addictions classes, I started therapy, I started education, I began to advance through the program, it was great getting to know myself again – it was great to feel the glow, the joy, the LIGHT that I was feeling.

And now in the fall, harvest time on a farm, I am beginning to see the fruits of my labor start to come about. Some of the things I have been cultivating all summer are now being used in a practical sense and are actually working. And this is the cool part.

I saw my family this past weekend and I noticed that my ability to internally adapt to them was greatly improved. The normal family bickering, or off the cuff comments that may have stung before were shrugged off, and I was able to see my family’s motivations much more clearly through a new fresh perspective.

Its strange because old resentments, hurts or wounds did not re-open. It was weird because my new attitude about life in general, and about my priorities and about my goals helped me to see my family in a much more comfortable way. I certainly don’t think now, nor have I ever thought that my family intentionally ever tries to hurt each other, but, as in any family, hurt feelings often happen.

But in changing my belief window and reexamining my principles, I began to see old things in new ways. I am telling you, the exercises I have been telling you about really become instinctual once you map them out on paper. Here’s an exercise. Make a mental note for just one day on all the limiting things you say through the day – a limiting statement is one with a quantifier because when you quantify something, you limit it - Things like, “I always think….”, “You always say…..”, “ If only I could…” “Sometimes you make me so….,” etc. Or its conditional, “If only I could do meet the right person…” “I wish….,”

Make a mental note of which quantifier or conditioners you use most, this statement becomes your limiting statement. These statements are reactive, not proactive. They are in response to things you are not active about. I caught myself using one of these limiting statements on Sunday when my dad and I were discussing some mundane conversation about air conditioning vs gas mileage and I said, ‘You immediately say I am wrong, and you never listen,” – and that was a very limiting statement. I boxed him in the conversation and that set the framework for the discussion – it could have gone down an old path with old scripts.

But this kind of limiting statement is the kind that springboards into a reactive role for the two of us. Reactions are based on instincts, impulse, and old scripts. PROACTIVE thinking required that I change that way to address his disagreement based on my values, my beliefs and my principles. In other words, my principle or my goal wasn’t to be right, to prove I was right, or to prove that he was wrong. My ultimate goal was to convince my sister that she could afford to use her air conditioning regardless of the cost because it was nominal. And that changed the dynamic of the conversation. Where once I would have brewed on it because he ‘always’ thinks I am wrong, this time, I shrugged it off. My belief window had changed. And while this is hardly the only new skill I employed over the weekend, its certainly one of the many I have been harvesting.

But if you apply that skill to addiction, then you begin to see that changing beliefs and principles, that remembering your priorities, you ultimately change your results. And so when you want to drink or smoke or eat or gamble or do whatever you do that you won’t stop - think for a minute about what you’re really trying to accomplish. Is your motivation to have fun? To feel less bored? To get rid of stress? Because if those things are your true motivations then, then you need to change your beliefs on how to accomplish these things – beliefs that do not include getting drunk or high, and suddenly the possibilities of how to avoid these feelings or get these feelings becomes a long list of ‘to do’s’.

I also noticed that the behaviors of my family changed; towards me and towards each other. Now, in reality, its entirely possible that the behaviors haven’t changed at all and that I am noticing things through a new reality model, but I see my family differently. I notice a lot less motivation based on personal agendas and lifetime suspicions. I noticed more of a precarious connection and realized there are no negative motives and the often clumsy exchanges we have (that every family has, yes even yours), are have no mal-intent, the comments are not meant to be malicious, and frankly, I noticed that we are mostly just a group of people that really want to be together and even though its sometimes awkward and tough, we’d have it no other way.
And on Sunday, we all got together and met for breakfast. Just us (minus one), and I remember looking around and seeing everyone – we spoke with a comfort and interest that you can only get when you love someone or feel loved by someone. I felt relaxed and I got the sense that, I really do like these people; they were all relaxed too. And this was evidence of the fulfillment of a promise that was made to me.

And I’ll tell you what struck me is the fact that a LOT of promises were made to me when I entered rehab. I was promised that if I could deal with drinking too much that life would get better. I was promised that if I took time to examine myself through a very honest microscope that I would find that I am not a bad person and I do not have a lot of bad things in my life and that I am fixable. I was promised that if I could see the same situations through a series of different lenses then I could manage my life without the assistance of a bottle of booze. I was promised that the things I was put here on this earth to do could be done if I wasn’t detoured and got back on course – not only professionally, but also spiritually and in my contact with the rest of the planet.

And I have to be honest here, I didn’t buy any of this. I didn’t think these promises were possible. I thought that MY way was better. I believed that only I could provide my life’s successes. But somewhere I started submitting to the harmony of my purpose (whether to pull weeds or something deeper) for every minute of my day, the clarity of the spectrum of possibilities began to stretch well past ultra violet and infrared. I mean, these were big promises I was being told – by many sources, but it was the universe, maybe God, maybe just the karmic vibration that guides mankind – call it what you will, but I was promised things that I seriously doubted. But, the promises are being fulfilled and it feels so good to know its happening to me.

And so the more I resisted getting this kind of help, more was taken. Until I had no place to hide, no where to go. Something came after me and grabbed me and put me here at this point in my life. In that weed garden, in this rehab, at that breakfast table, on this computer. And I think that it works like that. I think that’s how God works, I think He gives you a while to try it YOUR way, and eventually he says, “Here’s an idea, how about you try it MY way,” and by doing so, by submitting to what you are intended to do, joy just kind of finds you (notice, I said ‘joy’ and not ‘happiness’). I think we create happiness, I think we discover joy. And things you create can be destroyed, things that are discovered are known forever.

Or you can fight it and fight it and go through the same cycles again and again until you learn your lesson and move on or you die. I’ve grown and harvested a LOT this year. Two months ago I was mortified by the idea that a former co worker saw me on the ranch, but this past weekend, I joked with my cousin Marnie about the blog and the dream I had that she had no hands, I discussed some of the details of the program with an aunt of mine, a friend of a friend who recently started reading the blog told me that he loved what I wrote about addiction. None of these things bothered me. I am not ashamed I am doing this. This is hard to do, and although I make it sound like a real picnic, its not. Its painful to look at who you are, to really see the bad and its hard to be away from people and to leave my life behind. Its really hard to do a rehab – It took my mom only nine months to create me, its taking me thirteen months!

But good things take time. Plants, trees, painting a work of art, your education, raising kids, learning to play the guitar – if its good, it takes time. I think its so you can really make sure you want it.

So, this is my fall. And winter you ask? Well, as winter advances it may appear that what we plant dies. Remember I described winter as lonely and desolate and stagnant at the top of this blog? This would lead you to believe that all this wonderful growth has an expiration date.

But, you see, my new reality model encompasses so many things. Even this. In the winter resources return in the form of snow. Old plants die because they have served their purpose and to make room for new plants. A rose will only grow if its had time to sleep off all the hard work of blooming for the summer. And winter is a time when people have to work together to survive and more important, it’s the time of Holidays, time to spend WITH family, nice sweaters, hot soup, and feeling ‘cozy’. Who the hell feels ‘cozy’ in the middle of July? You see, all if this is a result in a change in beliefs. You can see the same things in a different way and I think this will be one of the hardest winters I’ve spent in a while, but it will also bring the best bounty, the greatest rewards, and I am gonna really enjoy it. Its one I will remember for my whole life, I can almost guarantee that much.

If you think of winter as dark, dead, and ugly, you’ve forgotten the blinding light of the midday sun reflecting off fresh snow; you’ve forgotten that winter is marked by evergreen trees, holly, and other hearty plants and animals that continue to live; you have forgotten the beauty of a snowflake or the icicles on a tree – and you’re probably forgotten the Eddie Bauer winter collection! BEAUTIFUL!

And so this blog isn’t much more than a reminder to myself that change isn’t scary and a change in perspective is absolutely awesome. It’s a reminder that everything in life has a season, and ultimately, its all about growth. It’s a reminder that when the universe promises you something, you are wise to listen because it delivers. And its better than you can imagine.

And the reward for all this could be a simple magnificent moment like spending a Sunday morning breakfast with people you know that you really do like to be with, and embracing the relaxed feeling of just being together.

Oh yea, and this season, I feel good that I am me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

August 13, 2009

Days Sober: 100

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The 100 day letter.

Dear R/ [Drover]:

My friend! Where have you been? It seems like so long since I last got a chance to speak to you. The cozy nights I would keep you company seem like ages ago and its becoming a little bit scary what’s becoming of our relationship.

I mean, although I have been flirting with you since high school, we didn’t become really close until about 10 years ago. But I’ve been there for you for years and I’m feeling like that means nothing to you. When you went through that bad break-up, it was me that came to your rescue – we spent an awesome summer together – sure your parents got kinda mad, but it was worth it! Together we made a LOT of friends, we owned that town. And, eventually when everyone stopped speaking to you, it was only me that hung around. Remember? You believed that I loved you.

I know that your job was totally getting in the way of all of our fun so when I suggested that you just stopped going, it worked out well. Somehow, we made it through the lean times – with no money, no food, nothing at all – but I stuck by you because you proved to me that you would give up everything to have me, to keep me. You had that job on TV, people watched you - you were going places, you had a real future. Now, how could I let you have a different passion, a different love? You picked me. You loved me.

Then you moved away to another city. I know it was in part to try to end things between the two of us. You must have thought that a change of geography would change our relationship, you were so cute and silly the way you thought you could end it. I know that was really scary, but eventually, you called, and I came to join you. That was a blast! All those nights we spent in night clubs, they were a blast. I am glad you eventually came to your senses and stopped going out all together, though. That gave us more time to hang out, to have alone time…. And, another great job - a real future in an East Coast ad agency - well - who the hell needed all that when we had each other? I know you loved me.

And when you moved back to Colorado, it was one crazy time. Your family welcomed you back, but they hated me by that point. They all said I changed you. Families always say stuff like that. They were so damn jealous that I took you from them. Little do they know, you were mine for years before.

Then there was the relationship. It was a pleasant little relationship and in the beginning, I was perfectly happy with the fact that you had someone else in your life, someone to love you. But it started to really hurt things between the two of us and I made you chose. I was so happy that you chose me. Hell, I was so happy that I almost took you away completely and forever one night to keep you all to myself. Maybe I was sick of sharing, maybe we were having WAY too much fun. But that meddlesome person had to come along and mess it all up that night. But, eventually, I would win and you two would go your separate ways – you would keep only me.

I tried really hard that time, but I didn’t get you all to myself. I think that was when things started to go south for us. I mean, I think that logically you knew you wanted to leave me, but your heart was still in it. I still had your heart. I had to keep you from your family, friends, eventually, we would spend the whole day in bed together – not even working, and you didn’t even seem to care. It was really sweet how you stopped taking care of your self, how your health suffered, how you got rid of that damn relationship so I could share your bed with you - how the only thing you even cared about by that point was me. Wasn’t it fun?! Just you and me. I know, I know, I drove you crazy on occasion, and there were times you didn’t want me around, but, somehow, I was always able to find just the right time to call you and find you in the mood to spend time together.

And I thought we would spend the rest of your life with me. Just us, alone. I thought you said we didn’t need anyone. When you were lonely, I was there, when you were sad, I was there, when you were happy, I celebrated with you, when you were mad, I calmed you down, and you may think that together we made a mess of things, but c’mon, you loved me. Didn’t you?

I know we haven’t been together for a while. I’m trying to find you, looking everywhere we used to be together and when I find you what are you going to have to say to me? We should hang out again soon. I can hardly remember you.


Your addiction
Dear Addiction:

Its been 100 days to be exact, and please don’t call me "friend" ever again. The cozy nights we spent together, unfortunately, aren’t ages ago, they are merely months ago - but I hope someday they will be ages in my past. What’s becoming of our relationship you ask? Hmmm, to put it simply, I am leaving you.

Yes, you were there to help me through my first real heart break, but you forgot to mention, you caused it! My parents weren’t ‘kinda’ mad at me that summer, they felt the need to abandon me, and I will never forgive you for forcing me to put them in that situation. The ‘friends’ we had weren’t friends, they were people that you managed to convince the same lies that you convinced me. We all believed it together. I didn’t love you, but I did depend on you.

You know, I had a really nice life when I moved away. It could have been the beginning of a really great life for me. I didn’t call you, you called me. I can’t believe I took the call. But, I suppose you caught me at a low point – at a vulnerable point. Good timing. You always have really good timing, I'll give you that. But, I can guarantee you, my vulnerability to your charms is slowing going away. I’m beginning to see how you really treated me, that you used me. I am beginning to see that I am not vulnerable to you – and that makes YOU vulnerable to me. I didn’t love you, you just caught me at time when I needed some comfort.

It was pretty clever how you stepped back when I first met someone. It was great that you gave me time to really invest in a relationship. I remember that at first you would only to come to visit for short times. And when I was told that that your visits had to stop, you seemed to show up even more. Yes, that person did manage to rescue me from spending eternity with you, and thank God for that. You told me that I needed to end things with them, but I think they really ended it with us.

I almost died that night in November because I thought I loved you. My mom and sister still break down and nearly cry at the trauma of watching me slip away as I succumbed to you that night in the hospital. Together, you and I would have taken someone very important to many people - we hurt people together. But never again. The person that we almost murdered that night is still alive, and is waking up from the haze; Growing stronger, growing better, and that person is gonna come kick your ass. You didn’t get me that night and I have to thank other people for knowing better than to leave us alone.

You promised me that if I stayed with you, we would have a good life together, but it was all lies. When I was lonely, you didn’t keep me company – you kept me lonely. When I was sad, you didn’t give me joy, you made more sad. When I was happy, you celebrated with me but the celebration was always forgotten by the humiliating consequences. You just couldn’t let me enjoy myself could you? When I was mad, you convinced me you could calm me down, but you didn’t – you just gave me time to get madder or the bravado to say hurtful things. Together, we made a mess of things, that’s about all you got right on your letter.

I know you’re going to come looking for me, but I am going to hopefully be able to ignore you these days. See, all those years weren’t years of happiness with a trusted friend, they were really hard and really lonely years. They were years of missed opportunities and years of embarassment, of humiliating things I said or did because I thought I loved you. You aren’t good company – in fact as far as friends go, you’re about the worst companion a guy could have.

See, now I remember that I love myself, and I find real things that make me happy. More than that, I have joy to fill me in the vacuums we created, the places that you tried to keep me empty. You gave me confidence, but I look back at how foolish I must have seemed to people. You nearly succeeded at making me a different person, but I’ll tell you, you’re failing now.

My spirit is winning me again, I am a new creation, I am becoming the man, alone, I could never be with you.

I am learning how to handle situations without you. I am seeing all the lies you told me. I have pictures in my head of times we spent together, I have real photos of how I looked with you by my side. Those were ugly days, those were ugly pictures. I hurt people because of you, I lost people because of you, I nearly killed myself and my spirit; and for what? You didn’t give me anything! I supported you and all you did was hurt me. Really uncool. I did not get any benefit from knowing you. You have plenty of other friends, so please, just turn around and leave me alone.

If you do come looking for me, I am going to try hard to remember what my life was like when I thought I loved you. You may hardly remember me, but, I on the other hand, remember you all too well.

And….. It’s over.

The Drover

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Road to Damascus

Its Friday Baby!

And my day started in a great way. Today we had a graduation celebration – and although I have been to three graduations since I have been here, this one was really nice for me to see.

Each Friday, during our morning devotions, the ranch celebrates advancements and promotions – Its kind of a nice opportunity to see individual progress and lets the whole group share in the successes of our fellow residents; candidate to Phase I, Phase I to Phase II, Phase II to Phase III, etc. Unfortunately, graduations are rare…

This morning, we graduated Robert. Each Thursday night before a graduation we have cake and ice cream in the West dorm – the dorms where the higher phase guys live – I got a chance to talk to Robert for the first time – I rarely get to speak to the higher phase guys mainly because by the time they reach that dorm, they have jobs, they are working, they are transitioning into their ‘post-ranch’ lives.

Robert got to the ranch in a really difficult way. I am sharing this story because it might shed some light on the tragedy of addiction. He had been having some troubles and started to drink. By no means was his intention to kill himself by starting this particular binge, but the hold of alcohol addiction is so great that he just couldn’t stop drinking that time. He drank, alone, for nearly 30 days. Every day, every morning, every night, he drank. He hadn’t planned on this binge lasting as long as it did, but it had a grip on him that he couldn’t shake this time.

Robert realized that he was probably going to die and at some point, he had the mental clarity to seek some help. So he found an envelope and on the back he scrawled ‘Please Help Me” and slid it under the apartment door and went back to drinking. I asked him why he did this, and he doesn’t even remember doing it, but at some point, he did it. The paramedic saved the envelope and Robert has it to this day.

His land lord happened to come by a couple days later, saw the envelope, and called police and paramedics and he was taken to the hospital – the doctors said his level of malnutrition was so great and his system was so toxic that he may not have lasted another morning. If you don’t believe in God, then I don’t know how to explain a miracle to you. I, too, was the recipient of a God-given miracle the night I over dosed on alcohol and nearly died – and minutes from death I, too, was saved. And sometimes, you can’t explain something like this away with ‘coincidence’.

When he arrived at the hospital, the boots he was wearing had to be surgically removed from his feet. He had not taken them off in over a month. I am telling you this because I need you to understand that when alcohol gets a grip on you, and it wont let go – something as simple as taking off your shoes seems secondary to being and getting drunk.

His feet had rotted into his socks, and the resulting infection was so severe they thought he may lose his feet completely. But he didn’t. He decided to find some help here on the ranch.

So, Robert got on the list, and he patiently waited in the hospital until he made it to the top of the list and he arrived at the ranch 14 months ago. The other guys who were here retold the stories of how he couldn’t really walk. As a group, they would help him the half mile every morning to devotions. As a group, they would clean his wounds every night. One of the guys in maintenance eventually fashioned a cart that they could pull with their bikes and they would carry him down there and back. One rule of the ranch is that you need to be physically able to work on a ranch, so people like Robert usually don’t last. Like a herd, its survival of the fittest.

They guys would have to lift him up into the shuttles in the morning before church and many times he would listen to the service from the van on the radio because he couldn’t go in.

He said that when he arrived he was given a top bunk and it used to take him nearly 20 minutes to get up or down. That he would shuffle to the phone when he would get a call and many times, by the time he got there, the person on the line would have hung up. “Oh Shit!” usually followed this.

But he hung in there, he did it, and by the grace of God and the help of some really understanding friends, he made it through the program. And today, for graduation, he walks normally, he can run and jump, and the guys who helped him in the early days all pitched in and bought him a new pair of running shoes.

The road between the housing square and the mess hall is about a half mile. This is like the road to Damascus for many guys – we use to to pray, to reflect, a lot of crying or thinking is done on that road. But, its also a nice road this time of year, lined with tall corn, and live crops – off to the side, the farm is a buzz with activity. We have a Festival every year with a 20 acre corn maze (which is fashioned into a picture that you can only see from the sky), we have kids activities like a pig race course, a rabbit town (see photos), a squash smash (where kids get to hit squash like baseballs and get gooey – its shaped like a baseball stadium), there is roping, we have a goat city, several different play grounds, of course a petting zoo, farm fresh concessions – all kinds of stuff. When you have 70 guys as working labor, you can really put on a good festival.

This road is also the road into or out of the ranch. And, upon completion of the program (we must have a job and a demonstrated ability to keep it), we are given $2000 in housing assistance; free furniture; we are given clothes, shoes, some guys get a laptop. We are also given a car if we have a license and insurance (if not, we get a year to claim the car). And graduation is always neat because the graduate gets to climb in to his car and drive that road he’s walked or ridden on his bike for 14 months.

So Robert got into his late model Jeep Cherokee and rode away. And that’s how life on the farm is completed.

Neat, isn’t it.

I hang around with a really great group of guys. We are all about the same age, we all came in within 3 weeks of each other, and we all laugh a LOT. It makes it so much more bearable to be here. One of the chaplains commented that he’s been here for 8 years and he’s been waiting and praying a group like mine would get here because we bring an energy and life to the program and it helps other residents see this place as doable. We decided a few weeks ago that our goal, as a group, is to hold each other accountable because we want to graduate all together. That has never been done. That’s a lot of cars!

So we meet each week and discuss many things, but we hold each other accountable to the program and to sobriety, and to walking the walk of being better men. The motto for many guys on the ranch is ‘Work your own program,” but we decided that was not an acceptable mantra for us. That, like an army platoon, ‘No Man Left Behind’ was more fitting.

But we laugh and laugh – mostly at ourselves. I hope that once I leave here I will continue to find the lunacy in my own behavior. There is something so good about laughing at yourself – and not taking yourself too seriously. I have four nephews who ALWAYS laugh at themselves. Sometimes I write this blog in the cabin alone and I think of silly things they do and how they crack themselves up. I hope someday they realize that they have taught me almost as much as I hope to teach them. In fact, my whole family and circle of friends should.

But, that’s my day, that’s how many of my days go, in fact. And I hadn’t planned on blogging, but I think someone had to tell this graduation story because its an important one – and, not uncommon. And so if you ever have moments when you just cant understand someone who is suffering from an addiction, remember, there are times we don’t understand it either and all you can hope for is that, at some point, there is enough clarity and an envelope to scrawl ‘Please Help Me’ on because most of the time that’s what we want, too.

And, I also want you to understand the power and dedication it takes to over come addiction. The struggle of getting in and out of bed or walking to morning devotions didn’t stop him from keeping with the program. And if he can do it, so the hell can I - and if you are struggling with anything at all, so can you.

Its poignant because the desire to get cleaned up for an addict can be like that road- Its is long, its rocky, and even when your feet have rotted and you feel like you cant walk, many times people will come along and fashion you a cart to help you along. I said it before in an earlier blog – I don’t believe you can get through this program or life alone – People are successful only because many many people want them to be successful.

And on my road, every morning, I do thank God for each person in my life who is helping me – and I thank each of you by name. You are my cart, you helped me clean my wounds, and in a few months, I’ll be driving out of here and I promise, I’ll give you all ride too.

So, with that, have a great weekend! (the photos are of me in a row boat a few weeks ago, I am including it so you can share the experience of solitude, that being alone doesn't have to be lonely).


Thursday, August 6, 2009

My new address.... a New Dorm.

When I went in to Jim’s office Monday morning to request that he print August through October blank calendars for me, I got to thinking. It was August 3 and I had used the May, June and July calendars he printed for me the first week I got here.

I’ve always considered myself an organizer, or at least someone who has an indescribable need to document everything that goes on in my life. I said many blogs ago that I keep a couple different kinds of journals – and I needed three new calendars.

Jim laughed and said that he remembers the first week I was on the farm and asked him to print these calendars for me, I said that I would only need three months of calendars, and that it would be a long time before I needed another set. WOW! Was I wrong. Those first few days, rehab seemed like an impossible chore and in the limiting confines of being away and so isolated , August seemed like decades away. I explained earlier that to an alcoholic, time is always a little bit skewed – and many times its entirely wrong.

But August is here, and I need three new blank calendars.

Reaching this small goal of filling up the past three months of calendars is one that may have gone unnoticed had I not glanced at the previous calendars – and on them I noticed all the numbers and codes.

I watched the days of sobriety (and no Bonnie Hunt Show) increase. Every Tuesday I have a number which indicates the time which has passed since I decided to get drunk – May 5th.

May 20 – 14 days sober, 5 days without Bonnie Hunt.
August 4 – 91 days sober, 82 days since Bonnie Hunt.

I will quietly celebrate 100 days of sobriety next Thursday. Nice goal to reach.

Every Monday since I started since (my first Monday – May 18) I also have a number. This is my weight, I started working out and trying to keep track of the physical part of my new creation – read the blog description at the top of this web page – I say I am trying to CREATE myself…. This requires a completely new person - physical, emotional, spiritual, and therapeutic. So, I look at the numbers in weight go down….

May 19 – I was 182lbs.
August 3 – I am 156lbs.

This week, I also was able to finally do 3 sets of a 110 lb bench press. I had given myself until Christmas to reach 150lbs and 5 sets of a bench press over 100lbs. I am ahead of the game. New Goal: 5 pull ups by Christmas!

I am packing tonight because I am moving to a new dorm, another sign of my progress. I am moving to a dorm with 4 guys in it. When I started I slept in a room with 24. Seemed like forever before I got here. I didn’t think this day would ever come.

I am training horses in my spare time, and can bridle a mare in about a minute. This week marks the first week I have ended every single ride without falling, woken up without soreness, and have managed to get the horse back in to the stable by calling her and not using a lead. In horseman terms, this is real progress to get a salty old mare to trust you.

It was my goal to learn how to be alone and not feel lonely – and last Sunday night I was walking the mile to the dorms from the gym, in the dark (its damn dark on a farm), and although I was physically alone, I was hardly lonely.

In addictions class all last week we worked on something called a reality model. This is an exercise whereby we start with where we are now and work out way backwards on how we got here – we connect the dots to see at what point out path lead us to the farm, to being single, to being estranged, whatever place you decide you are.

Basically, we have needs – this leads to beliefs on how to get those needs met, this leads to rules on how to execute the beliefs, then we develop a behavior, and this leads to results. In this model, the further you work back, the earlier you change your pattern, the more likely you are to change the result.

In other words – You may feel that you need love and affection. Your belief is that you must get love from another person and that this is your priority. Your rule is that you will date or sleep with just about anyone because you think that this is feeling love and affection. Your behavior is to become a tramp – to abuse drugs or alcohol to appear popular, or to put yourself in positions where you will meet people who you just settle for – the result is that you feel like you have reached love and affection.

But then one day you look around and see that you’re not happy. You’re with the wrong person, you have a venereal disease, you cant maintain a real relationship, you are unfulfilled. If the results of your behavior do not meet your needs over time, there is an incorrect principle way back in your belief window.

You can try to change the behavior, but it wont really work. You can try to change the rule, but it wont really last. You have to move all the way back to your belief on your need. Results take time to measure, but true growing is the process of changing the principle in your belief window. Addiction is the result of deep unmet needs, and where people have problems is that they begin to believe that their needs are being met through superficial things and then they’re in big trouble.

But when you get your belief into order – when there is harmony in this, your rule changes, this forces your behavior to change and the result becomes awesome! This is inner peace, I believe.

If you really want to change the quality of your life tangibly, you MUST change the quality of your thinking, your principles - go as far back as you need to in order to see where its going wrong.

Your mind and heart naturally seek harmony when presented with two opposing principles.
Psychologists call this cognitive dissonance, your brain can NOT maintain two conflicting ideas, and the stronger set of principles will eventually rule to roost.

So – lets apply this to me. One need I have had is to escape boredom. I believed that I could do this through drinking copious amounts of booze. My rule was that I would do this in front of the TV or locked away at home. My behavior was to rent movies, and plant myself on the couch with a bottle of gin. The result is that I was lonely, and often left MORE bored.

These days, I still have a need to try to escape boredom. I believe I can do this through activity with people or even alone. My rule is to always have a couple things I want to accomplish (ride my bike, run, work out, write this blog). My behavior is to do these things all the time. My result is that I have lost 25 lbs., have great friends, and feel great – and I am no longer lonely or bored.

This is a real simple example, and my true reality model was more complex than this – and – like so many of the things that I explain to you about these exercises that we do in addictions class, these things seem real simple until your try them and until you can see them spread out on paper and you can reflect on them.

True changes are taking place.

But if you are not getting what you want from a relationship or a situation or a job or even life in general – start with where you are now, and work backwards – and WOW!! It suddenly becomes real clear where you need to change what you are doing.

This has been a really great week, and I am very happy to report that many of the goals I set for myself before I got here are goals which I am beginning to reach. I spend a lot of my time noticing the places that I am failing, or have failed in the past and, as the universe would have it, success has come to me in a series of events which are bolstering my confidence that what I am doing is working.

We've also started a really fascinating portion of the program that deals with an alcohol addiction in a biochemical way - and that reconnecting dopamine receptors and pleasure centers can be achieved through proper nurtition - that there is a component to alcohol addiction that is biochemical - hormonal and chemical. There are people who have predisposed propensities towards drinking based on natural tolerances or deficiencies in their nutrition.

I will report more on this next week once I learn more, but so far.... ITS AWESOME to learn about this stuff. Thank God I have a year for this program - they're throwing a lot at me.

Its also been a week of laughter. For some reason, I have been laughing out loud more, I have been smiling more – I rode my bike about 10 miles last night to the top of a plateau north of the ranch. I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – Dave Matthews on the .mp3 player and my thoughts. I watched the sunset the way God intended it to be seen and I rode home.

Satisfied that this was a good week, and I’ve accomplished a lot. Hope you have too.