Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Friday, December 27, 2013


Now that 2013 is winding down it’s a good time to take inventory. Are we grateful for what we've been through over the past year? For both our blessings and the challenges we've faced.

The challenges? I understand why I would be grateful for my blessings. But why would I be grateful for challenges? After all, haven't I faced enough in my life?

But if we're honest we admit that we learned a lot more from the challenges than we did from the blessings we received.

An example is that for the past four years, up to the beginning of 2013, TLC faced dramatic challenges while trying to pay the bills, to meet our financial obligations. For 40 months in a row we lost $9000 a month. So how did we keep the doors open? During those trying times my staff and I were forced to be creative.

We asked key employees to take a 10% pay cut. Some of us went without a paycheck. We also asked our landlords to reduce rent if they wanted us to continue as tenants – and many did.

We learned to cut energy costs by using efficient thermostats and lighting. We made managers more accountable about how they spent their house budgets. We cut our fleet from 42 to less than 30 vehicles.

I could go on with these examples, but you get the point. Challenges make us stronger and help us grow.

And these challenges don't have to be financial. In fact most of them aren't. The challenge for us in recovery is the temptation to pick up a drink, a pipe, or a needle when things get rough. We may have lost a loved one, a job, our home, or a relationship. The challenge is to stay sober when were going through these emotional ups and down.

But if we persist through these trying emotional times we become stronger and put together years of recovery.

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