Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, a 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992 when he had a year sober. He's in his 27th year of recovery.

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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Hurting Others

One of our halfway house clients told me a few days ago that when he was in his addiction he "never hurt anyone." Just himself.

And this is a statement I hear often. In fact, I said it more than once in the early days of my own recovery.

It was only later, when I became more seasoned in my recovery, that I recognized that I did I lot of damage to others when I was using.

To those of us with families and loved ones the damage is obvious. Even if we didn't steal material things from them, our addiction caused much pain.

Because we took something from them that was much more valuable. We let them down. We didn't live up to their hopes and dreams for us. We weren’t in their lives. We weren't present.  We didn't show love and kindness.

Instead, we were out hustling for drugs. Or, as in my case, we in prison for crimes we committed in pursuit of euphoria.

But who did we hurt if we had no family left? In that case we still did damage. We opted out of society. We weren't a contributor to the world at large.

Instead we were indulging in self-gratification that got us in trouble. The world spent money to process us through the court system. To feed and house us while we were in jail or prison. To supervise us while we were on probation.  Kind of like being on welfare.

None of us who pursue our addictions do so without harming someone. Whether it be someone close. Or the world at large.

Click here to email John

Friday, February 27, 2015

Key to Success

A key ingredient of success is being willing to fail. Being able to fall on our butts and get up and keep moving forward.

This came up today when I heard a man say he lacked the confidence to go out in the world on his own.

And I'm talking of basic things like getting a job. Finding an apartment. Buying a car.

I pointed out that we're surrounded by people doing that very thing here in our community. All around us. Even people from other countries who don't speak our language find success here.

Now I know it's easy for someone who's successful to give someone advice. But there's no other way to put it.

I can't remember how many times in my life I've had to start over. And I did. I'd build a business, or get a great job. I'd make money and own stuff. Only to end up giving it to the dope man. Then I'd start over.

My life's path is littered with bad ideas. Business failures. Personal failures. Divorces. Yet I kept trying until I got it right.

I hope this man can find it in himself to do the same thing.

Click here to email John

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Through the Fire

"There are some things you can't learn from others. You have to pass through the fire."  Norman Vincent Peale

I like the quote above. Because when I was young a lot of people tried to give me direction. They told me I should change my ways, else I'd end up in prison. Or worse.

Oh, I heard them. But my rebellious nature didn't let me use the information.

It was all good advice. Go to school. Join the military. Learn a trade. Do something.

But by the time I was in my teens, the years I'd spent with an alcoholic father had me traumatized. I was too pissed off to listen to anyone about anything.

Instead I covered my pain with drugs and alcohol to the extent that I was only out of jail 17 months between ages 16 to 26. And then I added several more years before I got sober.

As in the quote above, I had to "pass through the fire."

In dealing with our clients now I warn them of the slippery slope they're on. Those who've had enough pain pay attention.

But the ones who haven't suffered enough may have to learn painful lessons.  As did many of us.

Click here to email John

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Successful Graduates

I sometimes get heartwarming emails from former halfway house clients who used our program to help change their lives. Here's another one well worth reading.  (Names omitted to protect anonymity)

"Every morning before my kids wake up I sit down and read your blog. Each day I take something out of it and apply it to my day. It's a great reminder of why I came into the program and continue to stay sober.

As I like to say, I walked throuh the golden arch (carport) at Robson Street in June 2013. I said bye to my husband and off he went to the Southern house.

We made a commitment to each other and to our higher power that we were going to do whatever it takes to stay sober. Our lives were a mess. We were about to be homeless and we'd lost our kids to CPS for the third time. I was told I would never see my kids again.

After just a few days in your program I knew that this is where I needed to be. I was welcomed by your staff and other residents. I knew I wasn't alone anymore and I began to have hope again.

I wanted to send this email just to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts to you and to everyone who makes TLC what it is today.

Without this program and its "crazy" rules we'd still be lost. After my husband and I completed 6 months at the program we were able to move into your sober living apartments.

We continue to live here with our boys and we couldn't be happier. I spend my days helping other women stay clean and sober and help guide them on how to one day reunite with their children.

We will be forever grateful for your program and I hope my story will help others live a better life.  Thank you again.

A TLC graduate"


Click here to email John

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Good Results

A halfway house client spent 10 weeks in a mindfulness class and reports good results.

For years he'd been wrestling with anxiety and depression. Plus he had difficulty sleeping.

Things got so bad that he took medication to calm himself. And so he could sleep.

But now he's sleeping through the night and has much calmer days.

Also, he only takes one medication, that for bi-polar disorder. And he's thinking about quitting that too.

He says mindfulness training gave him the tools to help deal with his thoughts.

His head sometimes still races off into the future. Or mucks around in the past. But now he's able to recognize his thinking and not let it derail him.

Also, he still gets upset. But the outcome is different. When he starts going there his mindfulness practice helps him realize that his thoughts are just thoughts. And that he doesn't have to use drugs or alcohol over them.

Click here to learn more about mindfulness meditation.  The website has free mp3 meditation downloads.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Blessed Children

I was at a birthday party yesterday for a young child whose parents entered recovery before he was born.

Also at the gathering were several other children with parents in recovery. None had seen their parents use drugs or alcohol.

I reflected upon how blessed these children were. Had they been born while their parents were using they'd have had a different life.

They might not have know when, or if, mom - or dad - was coming home. And if they did return, what condition they'd be in.

These children have never seen drug dealers show up the door. They haven't found drug paraphernalia or empty beer cans around the house. The police haven't showed up with warrants. They have the security of two parents who are working and providing them with a secure life.

One of the blessings of being in the recovery field is to witness events like this. And to see what happens when addicts enter the mainstream of the community.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Communication Issues

A mother talks about an abusive adult daughter.

It seems that no matter how hard she tries to get along, communication eventually breaks down.

Then for a while there's a "honeymoon" period. They'll make up. And apologize. They'll spend time together. But eventually, it all unravels.

I suggest to the mother that she draw boundaries. Let the daughter know that she won't tolerate certain things.

After all, we teach others how to treat us. If our communication starts out clearly defined then there won't be as many issues.

The problem with these two, though, is that they have a 20+ year history. It's always been up and down for them. The daughter will be okay for awhile, then her sense of entitlement kicks in. After that things get bumpy.

And it started when the daughter was quite young. She cast herself in a victim role because her father was out of the picture. And she tried to make her mother the scapegoat - a role the mother accepted for a while.

While there's hope for these two, they must redefine their communication. What's in the past should remain in the past. If they still love each other they can make that the basis for a new beginning.

Life's too short to waste it fighting with our loved ones.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Burglarized

Early yesterday I get a text from one of our managers about a burglary that occurred during the night.

Someone had broken into our Glendale office. And a small safe with about $200 was missing. Also, the door frame had a few hundred dollars worth of damage.

Of course the suspect list is hundreds of names long. Anyone who's been a resident in the past year could be on the list. It had to have been a former client - or manager - who knew the office layout.

The police came. But this is such a small matter in the scheme of things that they'll likely file it and forget about it. That's understandable.

Later I was thinking about what's going on with the burglar.

What kind of life is he living? He's certainly desperate if he risks his freedom for such a small take.

Probably his only priority is feeding a drug habit. Finding something to keep him from being sick until he can score again. Until his luck eventually runs out. And it will.

After the text message I began my day with gratitude that I no longer have to do desperate things to support a habit.

I hope this man gets to recovery before his luck runs out.

Click here to email John

Friday, February 20, 2015

Hurting Loved Ones

A mother calls to tell me her son left prison that morning and is on his way to TLC.

She wondered if I could encourage him to stay sober. She was fearful that he might start drinking again.

I didn't feel good about telling her I couldn't meet him because we have some 700 clients. That makes it impossible for me to meet with more than a small percentage of them.

She seemed okay after I told her we have staff to help him. All in recovery. Plus they have years of experience helping newcomers.

Her call reminded me of the misery we addicts and alcoholics bring to our loved ones.

I often wish I could record my conversations with parents. It might help clients get sober if they could hear the pain they caused their loved ones.

When I hear these parents I'm reminded of how my own family suffered because of my addiction. Yet they too stood by me for years.

Click here to email John

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Here and Now

"I've lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” - Mark Twain.

I love this saying because it’s about how many of us spend our time. We fret. We worry. We wonder how things are going to turn out.  Anxiety rules our lives.

Studies show that about half the time our minds wander aimlessly, like homeless bums. And most of that wandering takes us out of the present - where we miss the precious moments of our lives.

“Am I going to get the job?”

“Will she or he like me?

“Am I getting fat?”

"Am I going bald?"

"Why did the boss look at me that way?"

On and on. The chatter is incessant. It never stops. Sometimes it's like living with a maniac. In fact meditation teachers refer to this as "monkey mind" because of the way our thoughts jump around.

But my experience is that most of the things I worry about never occur. Instead, much of the time they turned out better than I would have anticipated.

Today I do my best to stay in the here and now, where the good things happen.

Click here to email John

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Gratitude

Sometimes I get an email that says a lot about our program. Here are excerpts from one of them. I deleted his name to protect his anonymity.

"I first came to TLC in 2004. Graduated after a year then went back out. Needless to say it got worse. I had an option in 2004 after overdosing on vodka and Valium. Yes it was intentional. I came back to TLC after an eight or nine year run.

After the ER, detox, and counselors gave up on me I one day said I couldn't do this any more.

Went to the hospital said I was suicidal and needed help. That I wanted to go to rehab. They held me in ICU for three days and shipped me to detox for seven more. Then they put me on a bus from Grand Junction, Colorado.

I arrived at TLC September 5th, 2013, and did my intake.

I'm coming up on 18 months the 28th of February. I'm still a resident, due to God, A.A, C.M.A. and N.A. and T.L.C.

Also doing the suggested work. I'm glad to be a sober individual and I decided to express gratitude to everyone involved that got me here. So thank you."


There's not much I can add. This man used our program to change his life. And for us, that's what it's all about.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Coming Back

A young halfway house client becomes irritated with his house manager and decides to go elsewhere.

"I'm a grown ass man and I don't have to put up with anyone's shit," he says on his way out.

A few weeks later, though, he's back knocking on our door.

It seems like the other halfway house he went to didn't offer what we do.

For example, they didn't offer the three meals a day we give our clients.

Plus, they didn't have a curfew. No meeting requirements. No in-house meetings. All they offered was a place for him to flop. As long as he paid his rent.

TLC is successful for a reason. We make our clients do things to help them into recovery.

We make them go to 90 meetings in 90 days. They have a curfew. They work and pay service fees. They have a sponsor. They must submit to drug testing on demand.

Those who are unhappy with this program still want to do things their way. And we're okay with people doing things their way.

But if they want to get sober and change their lives we can help them. In fact, we promise that if they do exactly as we tell them they'll get clean and sober.

In fact, we guarantee it.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Extended Family

At the core of TLC is large group of employees who function like a healthy extended family.

When something happens to one, the rest step up to help. And it doesn't matter what it is. It could be financial issues, medical issues, housing or transportation problems. Whatever it is, the rest are there for them.

Many have been around for five to ten years. But some have been with us for even longer. A few15 and 20 years.

Where do they come from? All over. Many were homeless. Others in trouble with the law. Some after a divorce. From detox. Many were drifting aimlessly in dead end jobs.

Usually when they arrive their plan is to get their act together. Which is our mission and purpose - to help people deal with their addictions then move on.

But some have no where to move on to. Their families may have passed on. Or else want nothing more to do with them.

Because many have found a safe haven for the first time in their lives, they decide to stay and contribute to the community.

Sometimes they socialize and spend off time together. At other times they bicker like any family does.

But the real thing is that they belong to something larger than themselves.

And working at TLC gives them a mission in life.  It's the glue that holds them together.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Not Quitting

Success in recovery - and success in life - is about not quitting. Never giving up.

In my opinion, that's the most important factor in making it.

I bring this up because someone I've known since TLC started complimented our success.  He also said something about the intelligence behind it.

And I stopped him right there. I told him that we if we counted on our intelligence to make it we'd be in trouble.

Because we've made many costly mistakes in 23 years. We've started more than a dozen businesses. Today only four are still operating.

For example, we once had the great idea to start a Mexican restaurant featuring Santa Fe style food. (I think one of the guys involved was from New Mexico.)

Anyway, the first month we lost over $20,000. Our best month we lost something like $5,000. After dumping more than $100,000 into it in a year, we closed it. And we moved on.

Because we have around 800 beds we decided to open a mattress factory about 15 years ago. We thought we'd save by rebuilding donated mattresses. Turns out it cost us 50% more to rebuild them than we would pay at a used mattress store. We don't talk much about that one either.

We also refurbished computers. Ran a telemarketing room. Had an air-conditioning operation. Operated three markets. A landscaping service. And some other businesses.

The point is that we never let lack of experience - or skill - slow us down.

At TLC we have an interesting collection of long time addicts, ex-felons, and others with all kinds of challenges.

And because many of us have failed over and over in our personal lives, a few business setbacks don't slow us down at all. In some respects, our rough experiences may have made us more resilient.

When life knocks on our butts we get up, dust off our pants, and keep going. That’s been our formula for success.  And recovery.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Optimizing Health

Since I entered recovery 24 years ago I've done my best to live a healthy life.

That means yoga, aerobics, or weights 45 minutes or more six days a week. No meat. No junk food. No sodas. Few sweets of any kind. No smoking. Mindfulness meditation.

And, it works for me. As I approach 76 I feel blessed to be able to go to the office six days a week and enjoy the quality of life that I do.

This came to mind today when I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in some time - someone I've know since my early days in recovery.

When we first met, he found my eating habits kind of strange. In fact my whole health regimen was a source of amusement.

But because he's facing health issues, he told me that today he eats better and exercises. As a result he's lost weight and is doing better.

I was happy to see him regaining his health and enjoying more energy.

I believe we got sober because we wanted a better life. And, in my opinion, living a better life means means enjoying optimal health.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Entitled Children

Parents usually don't read this blog until after their children get to TLC.

But if your children aren't addicts, and you don't want them to become one, read on.

As you're raising your children don't give them everything. Don't spoil them, thinking that you're being a good parent.

Instead, let them be responsible. If they want stuff, make them do something to get it.

Have them behave a certain way to earn what they want. For example, if they want a car, let them work part time. Maybe do chores. Keep a certain grade average. Something so they don't get the idea that they're entitled to whatever they want.

If they want an education, let them be responsible for part of the costs.

And I say this to make a point. Most of the addicts we treat have a sense of entitlement. Someone gave them everything.

They haven't been responsible. They haven't paid bills. They haven't worked.

They've just put their hand out and mommy or daddy puts something in it.

And then when they figure that out that the child is an addict they try to buy their way out of that too. They spend thousands on treatment. And often that doesn't work.

If you, as a parent, don't want to go down this road, teach your children responsibility. They may think you're a jerk, or unloving.

But later on they'll thank you for helping them to become self-sufficient.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Perfect Recovery?

A friend in recovery struggles. She hasn't relapsed. But she hasn't found the ongoing serenity the 12-steps offer us.

She seems to want a perfect recovery. But it's rarely that way. She wants to do everything right - but in her mind she's not there.

She vents her frustration on her boyfriend over minor things. Even though he's trying his best. Fortunately, he recognizes that her struggles aren't with him. But within her.

Those I know in successful recovery live in reality. We don't always enjoy peace and serenity. We're not always on an emotional high.

Dealing with our addict nature requires us to use the tools of the program.

We learn to love ourselves. To forgive ourselves. We learn that perfection is an illusion that we never achieve. And if we do, so what? Who cares?

But the biggest thing we learn is that acceptance trumps everything. When we're in acceptance life works out just fine.

Click here to email John

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Here and Now

"A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour."  Unknown

I like this saying because it's about living in the moment. Being here and now.

Too often we speed through our busy lives like rats on a treadmill. We're moving fast and going somewhere else - anywhere but the present moment.

And we just know that things'll be better when we get there. But when we get there we're already focusing on the horizon. To that next great place up the road or around the corner.

And by living this way we pass through life paying little attention to the beauty of the this moment. We miss the precious time that God gave us. We essentially waste our lives.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Asking for Help

The universe must have shifted. Because people were asking for help all day.

Parents. Twenty-somethings. Former clients. The emails and calls came from everywhere.

The ones from family members were coherent. Well-reasoned, balanced. Anyone could understand them.

The ones from those under the influence not so much. It was easy to tell the messages from addicts themselves. Most were hard to understand. Some sent different versions of the same message, trying to get it right.

Whatever the content, I answer whatever comes in. Either personally, or by forwarding it to a staff member. No matter who asks for help - or when - as soon as it hits my email or phone I move on it.

One reason I do that because we help addicts and alcoholics rebuild their lives. That's our mission.

The other reason is because when I finally asked for help someone was there. They reached out and lifted me. They gave directions. They shared their wisdom and resources until I could make it on my own.

The staff and I can do no less for those who need us.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Tough Love

I get an email this weekend from a mother who asks about her son.

Seems he's over 50 years old. Currently living with her. Drinking, doing drugs, and raising hell. Not helping her financially.

She wonders what to do. Should she use tough love and tell him to leave?

Those who read this blog know what I wrote back. Yes, throw his ass out. At least she might have peace in her life. Even if he doesn't want to change.

The advice I gave her is the same I give to anyone. If you're supporting someone who doesn't want to change - send them on their way.

And the reason I'm so strong on this issue is that it worked for me. And it's worked for many of those who've been through our program.

When my family told me they'd no longer help me I couldn't believe it. No money. No sofa. No food. No loaning me a car.

At first I thought they were incredibly cruel. Was I even related to these people? Didn't they know I had a substance abuse problem? But they stayed with their decision.

And it was the best thing that ever happened. Because suddenly I had to look at myself - the source of the problem.

Once I started looking at myself as the author of my misery, life changed. And today I'm grateful to them for sending me on my way.

Because that's when my life changed and I found help.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Bizarre Happens

Sometimes we're cruising through life minding our own business. And then the bizarre happens.

It happened while my wife and I were visiting San Diego this weekend. As we sometimes do, we decided to go down to Tijuana to fill prescriptions. Because over there they're 60-70% cheaper. So we usually pick up a six month supply.

Rather than take our car or the trolley, we decide to take a taxi from the hotel to the border. However, the driver missed the last exit and ended up driving us into Mexico - something he hadn't planned on. Nor had we.

Once there, we told him he might as well take us to the pharmacy. And when we finished he could take us back across the border and to the hotel.

But when we returned to the border things got strange. It seems the driver didn't have his passport. And that's a requirement to get back into the U.S.

On top of that he's from Somalia. His name is Mohammed. And he speaks broken English. Now you get the picture.

Right away a customs agent directed him to a large inspection shed full of cars. In the shed were a   few dozen other agents - some with dogs. Every once in a while they'd lead someone away in handcuffs. It didn't look good.

Because there are thousands of Africans named Mohammed with the same last name as the driver they weren't sure who he was. And we weren't going anywhere til they found out.

When we told the agents we were only passengers and didn't know this guy, they didn't seem to care. They were polite. But they acted like we might be his friends. We weren't allowed to leave the cab except to use the restroom.

Four hours late later - after running security checks on the driver, they searched the car. Then they questioned him. Then they questioned my wife. I felt rejected because they didn't bother with me. After that they let us go.

When we got back to the hotel the driver told us we didn't owe him for the trip. We paid him anyway. I figured he needed all the help he could get.

The day was a lesson in tolerance and acceptance.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

My Attitude

"Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens."  - Khalil Gibran - 1883-1931, Artist, Poet, and Writer

Applying this saying to our lives will change our viewpoint.

Many of us addicts think we must always feel good. No pain. No discomfort. No displeasure. No opposition.

Before my addiction brought me crashing down I knew how to feel wonderful. Another bottle. Another shot of heroin. Another line. Instant feel good.

But then life presented me with reality in the form of jail, hospital, divorce and other unhappiness.

And now that I've reached this point I must accept that I'm not always going to have it my way. Challenges show up.

Maybe they're financial. Maybe health issues. No matter what, my attitude determines the outcome.

If I look at what goes on in my life as part of the normal cycle of living then I do well. But if I go into baby mode and start whining who knows what I'll do to feel good?

It's all about my attitude.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Acceptance

A woman wonders what to do about a relative who's never on time.

And I shared something simple that works for me. Get into acceptance.

In other words, if you know this person is always late accept it. Or else stop doing things with her.

My wisdom comes from 12 step literature - and acceptance is one of the most useful messages to embrace.

For once I accept whatever it is, then I can do something about it. That is, if something needs doing.

For years I found myself disappointed about what others did or didn't do. Once I got into the program I discovered the power of acceptance. And when I use it I immediately find peace.

I can move forward with my day without wrestling in my head about people not living up to my expectations.

Try it the next time you're frustrated about anything.

Click here to email John

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Small Steps

Much of my job as a counselor is to help people see the good in themselves.

Clients come into our program physically or emotionally beat up. Dissipation and self-indulgence have cost them everything. 95% are homeless.

They haven't succeeded at much. They've spent time on prison yards. Maybe in tent city. Perhaps homeless. Or else their spouse left them. They might suffer from health conditions. Maybe hepatitis C.

They might be in bad health. Or they can't hold a job.

In other words, there's little to feel good about. They have limited self-discipline or impulse control.

Yet, if they want a chance a recovery, they need to improve self-worth.

And that can start by looking at the progress they're making in their recovery. At the baby steps they're taking.

Maybe they're going to meetings. Perhaps they found a sponsor. They're performing their responsibilities around TLC. They've found work and are paying service fees. Maybe the family's taking their calls.

These aren't big deals for a non-addict. But for those of us in recovery it's the beginning of changing our lives. It's something to feel good about.

These simple things can be the start of a lifetime of recovery.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Up in Smoke

Just when I think I’ve heard it all a woman calls with a request I hadn’t heard before.

She told me she'd been looking all over the country for a halfway house. She said that none would take her because of her prescription medications.

I told her that we'd take her - as long as the prescriptions weren't for opiates or benzos. But I spoke too soon.

Because the next thing she said was that she wasn't taking any of those. The prescription she was having a problem with was for medical marijuana.

That was a new one for me. So I patiently explained that because people are with us to get sober, pot smoking is unacceptable.

She said it helped with her various ailments. And I told her that I was sure it worked. But that our other clients might want to smoke along with her.

She finally asked for referrals to a halfway house that might help. I couldn't think of any.

I did suggest she look in Colorado or Washington, where attitudes toward marijuana might be different.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Living Healthy

Many in recovery substitute food for drugs or alcohol.

We often see our halfway house clients gain 50 or 60 pounds within a year of their arrival. Now they have something new to stress about.

And it also happens with some who quit smoking.

Because I've been vegan for 20 years I often get questions about weight loss and nutrition.

Some ask what I do for protein, for example. And the answer is: nothing. There's nothing to do. If one eats across the food spectrum plants combine to provide more protein than a vegan requires.

But what do you eat? This is a frequent question.

The answer? I eat everything but animal products. That means I have a choice of about 185 kinds of plants.

There are myriad fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, almond milk, and so on. Many delicious choices.

I know what they eat. Beef, pork, chicken, or fish. That's about it. Unless they throw in a lettuce salad and french fries. Or some milk and sugary flakes for breakfast.

Now I'm not a crusader. I actually have little interest in what others eat. That's their business. And it's their life to live as they choose.

But if they ask me, I point out that they become what they eat. Within minutes, what they put in their mouth becomes - on a microscopic level - who they are.

If one lives on cheeseburgers and fries and sweets, then they start to resemble those things.

To build the best health we must consume food that's healthy. Greasy, fried, fattening, sweet and processed stuff may taste wonderful. But there's a price attached.

And that price is that we undermine the basis of our life: the healthy body that God gave us when we were born.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Finding Gratitude

Did I awaken this morning with a spirit of gratitude?

Or did I wonder what I have to be grateful for?

If it's the latter, let me help you out.

If we have trouble finding reasons for gratitude we can simply look around our world.

When I do that I can find hundreds of examples of why I should be grateful.

If I''m healthy – or reasonably so - then that's something to be grateful for. For there are many who are suffering from physical or mental challenges.

Do I have a job? Because there are many who are not blessed with employment and don't have an adequate income.

You see where this is going. We can look around the rest of the world and realize that our circumstances are pretty good. That's gratitude.

If we have difficulty finding something to be grateful for I believe we're comparing ourselves to those who have much more.

But we can find gratitude even in that. We can look at those who have more and see that we live in a land of opportunity. We can have the same success if we use our creativity and work hard.

It's a matter of perspective. And we stay in gratitude.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Slow Change

Looked at the calendar this morning. It's February. Really? Already? But Christmas was last week. Or so it seems.

One twelfth of the year gone already. 31 days. Quick.

For those who made resolutions where are you at with them? Still hitting the gym? Eating right? Lost weight? Give up smoking? Hmmm...

Or have you started to say "manana." I'll do it tomorrow. Maybe thinking you took on too much.

I understand. Abrupt change is difficult. I've been there. It's easier to stay with a known misery than take a chance on an unknown joy.

If you want effective change, start slow. Do it in increments. Tiny steps. Gradual changes work.

Because it's not painful.

It's not a big deal to smoke one less cigarette a day. Quit one bad food at a time. Maybe start with no added sugar. Or else no fast food. Nothing out of a package. Or maybe don't eat food with your fingers; use a fork. Don't eat while watching TV.

Changing slowly is not a shock to our psyche, to our bodies. As we flow along with slow change one day we realize we're at our goal. We like the way we look and feel.

A final aspect of this is to not beat ourselves down if we backslide and eat some crappy food. Or smoke an extra frajo. Instead, we keep our eye on the goal and keep our incremental change going.

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