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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Living in Reality

A somewhat familiar voice awakens me with an early morning call. Once the fog clears I recognize the voice. Then he tells me his name and I know who I'm talking to.

He sounds sober, maybe even lucid. But there's only one reason this guy will call me. And that has something to do with drinking or drugs.

Finally I flat out ask him has he been drinking and he says no. He hadn't drank or drugged in some time - according to him.

After a while we get down to what he really called about. Does he want to come back? Does he have something he wants to talk about? And he does. He's sober but not happy.

We start talking about his recovery and how he's not happy even though he's not using.

And I ask him what he expected when he got sober. For everything to be roses and wonderful? I said sobriety is about living in the real world. And that's when he hung up on me.

But what I was telling him about recovery is true. Sometime life sucks even when we think we’re doing everything by the book.

Ask anyone who's never drank or drugged. Life can be a bitch. But they've never used chemicals to block reality.

I only pray that this guy lives long enough to get the reality part of being sober.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

craziness

I think that we all have some  insanity about us. Or maybe insanity is too strong a word. How about just a little craziness? Yes, that will work.

For example I can be doing paperwork or something that requires focus and attention. And no one will call or visit my office all morning. I'll get a lot done until I get tired and need a break.

Then someone will rap on the door and I'll invite them in, glad for the break. And exactly at that moment two or three more knocks will come on the door. And at the same time two to three phone calls will follow, back-to-back. And, of course, I don't enjoy the break and end up clearing my office and going back to work.

This same thing also happens a lot when I'm out running errands for my wife. No one will call or text until exactly the wrong moment. Either it's when I'm leaving my car with arms full or else fumbling for the door keys.

At one time I thought it was a cosmic conspiracy. Like "Ah, now is the perfect time for someone to irritate someone who's cool and collected. Let's get him."  And they do.

Then I realize I should never think things like this, let along write them down. So I just keep them to myself. But still, just maybe, there may be a parallel universe that springs a leak once in a while and that's when all these crazy irritants interrupt our lives.

I'm still working on this idea.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Example

We can learn powerful lessons from our children and grandchildren.
I have a granddaughter, early teens, who has a birthday the 31st of this month.
But when I call to ask her what she wants she's too bashful to ask for anything. Finally we make a deal:
She'll send me a link to Amazon to make it easy for me to order what she wants.  So she did and it was that easy.  By the way what she wanted was a monkey swing - whatever that is.
What impressed me was that she doesn't have a sense of entitlement even though she knows we'd give her pretty much whatever she wants - within reason. 
Today I see a lot of children (and adults) who're demanding and have a sense of entitlement.
It's refreshing and exemplary to me when I encounter those who are not.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Choice

I'm not a Facebook person. I think it has to do with the time it takes to maintain a page. Plus there's a lot of things I'm way behind on as far as reading and studying.

But my wife showed me something today that she thought was interesting. So I read it and agreed with her.

It was the story of a young woman who had ALS - a terminal disease - and had a short time to live. But she lived her last days as she chose.

Since she was fortunate enough to live in California - where medically assisted suicide is now legal - she planned and carried out her own two day going away party.

There was only one rule - no crying.

She and her friends watched one of her favorite movies and did what most people did at parties - had a good time. After all, no one had any illusions about why they were there.

At the end of the party she had herself rolled to a viewpoint outside the house and and died as she had chosen at the time she chose.

I think this is a wonderful social trend. I've seen too may friends suffer  their last days in agonizing pain before succumbing. As a society we treat our animals better than we do ourselves; at least we can take a terminally ill pet and "put it to sleep." Why shouldn't we be able to do as much for ourselves?

There were comments at the end of the story - most of them laudatory. Most of them about how brave and realistically the woman dealt with her last days.

And while I'm a free speech person, I had a problem with a few of the negative comments that were critical of the fact that she didn't die "naturally."

Of course one day they'll have their turn to make their own choices.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Caring

I've spent the past two days at home, a rarity for me. No, I'm not sick. Nor am I loafing.

Instead I was doing what I consider one of the more difficult jobs in the world: that of caretaker.

Thursday morning I took my wife to the hospital for surgery on her left knee. And because I had experience with the surgery on her right knee a few months ago I had the blessing of a little practice.

I'd learned to assemble a wheelchair and be available for the unanticipated simple things. A glass of water. Food. Moving furniture around so the wheelchair can get through. I learned to not run her into things.

But rather than writing about myself, I guess this is more an ode to those who take care of others day and night for years. They're to be commended for their lack of self-centeredness and their willingness to deal with those who can't do for themselves.

If one is learning compassion and mindfulness there is no better place to practice these things than in the role of caretaker.

I must admit that while this is painful for her - it's a chance for me to give back a little to someone I love. And that's good for someone like me - who sometimes lacks in patience and compassion.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Planting Seeds

We never know for sure if the seeds we plant will grow and bear fruit. We never know when our kindness and help will make a difference in the life of another. But I did get some good feedback today from a former client whose been sober some 18 plus years.

And you know it was just what I needed at the time. I was on my way to the hospital with my wife for surgery on her knee. So it cheered me up.

It seems that this client - a man I didn't even know personally - had spent the last several years in the state of Washington working in the recovery field. Prior to that he'd been an assistant manager at one of our Las Vegas facilities.

His call was to ask if we might be interested in expanding our services to Seattle because of the drug epidemic they're experiencing.

While I had to tell him his timing was bad, I am interested in helping them in some way. Maybe we can help train their staff in the way we help people get sober. Who knows?

But the point of this blog is to suggest you give kindness to others. You never know what kind of seeds you're planting.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Temper

I recently visited a property TLC had purchased and had just pulled into the driveway to show it to some guests.

As we parked, a large gentlemen stepped up to my side of the vehicle. He asked what what we were doing there and what I wanted.. It probably wouldn't have irritated me except for his aggressive posture. And tone of voice.

As I got of our truck he kept talking - being almost pushy. At one point he directed me where to stand so I wouldn't be in the way of the laborers.

That's when I finally had enough. I explained to him - calmly- that we now owned the property and I would go onto any part of it I cared to whenever I wanted.

At that point he changed his tune and quickly disappeared around the other side of the building.

No matter how long one is sober, or how long they meditate, anger can arise. It still has its own little corner in my head. The only difference today is that I'm able to stop and reflect. And that keeps me out of trouble.

Click here to email John

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Entitled

I don't rule the world, thank God. Well, maybe the three square feet I stand on. But no more than that.

But I have a difficult time understanding where people come from when they want help. And I just got off the phone with a guy I was trying to help. That' why I'm writing about this.

And his story was that he had been at TLC and that he'd had a heart attack. And because of that he couldn't do the hard labor we sometimes require. I asked him what kind of work he could do and he wasn't sure.

So I asked if he could answer a telephone. And he said he thought he could do that. So I was about to send a van to pick him up when he starts telling me that TLC is "all about the money."  I guess he didn't know whose number he'd reached.

Now anyone who's from this country and knows about money knows there are very few places where one can live for $110 a week. And that includes three meals. A bed. Utilities. Job assistance, and so forth. Yeah, we're nothing fancy, but we beat living in a dumpster behind Circle K or 7-11.

But anyway, you know that I didn't send a van to pick him up.

If the man had expressed an ounce of gratitude or humility I'd have been there quick. But I know that because of his ingratitude he wouldn't have lasted a minute or two anyway.

Oh, by the way I didn't say what I would do if I ruled the world. And what I would do is
remove the word "entitlement" from the dictionary.  It's a spreading disease and harms many addicts.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Dana Place

Right before we went on vacation last week we were in the middle of taking over a program formerly known as “Dana Place.” It was a popular halfway house – 17 units- because it was also co-ed. Meaning, for the uninitiated, that both men and women lived at the facility. Not a lot of recovery gets done in houses with both men and women – but at least they’re not boring.

And like most acquisitions of the that size it took us over a year to buy it. There’s always a lot of paperwork in a transaction of that size.

Many of those in Dana management objected to us taking over because they had their special way of doing things.

But we’re not going to do things much differently than we do at our normal houses. We run them tight. We have strict rules and guidelines and expect everyone to adhere to them. And we don’t allow romantic relationships between clients – they interfere with recovery. That’s why a lot of addicts don’t like to go to our program.

There will be extra work for awhile. We’ll have to educate the clients that decide to stay. We’ll need more staff members. But none of us worry about such things. Whenever we need help - whether it’s people or money – they always show up right on time.

And they have for the past 25 years.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Still go to Meetings?

On a recent Sunday morning I was on the phone with someone and told them I had to hang up. I was on my way to a meeting.

"You still go to meetings after all these years? the other person asked, sounding puzzled. Because they knew I'd been sober for over 25 years.

"Yep. 25 years I've never gone a week without a meeting, unless something else demanded my presence. Or unless I was sick.

The other person didn't understand the point. Isn't there a time when one knows the literature and the steps and guidelines? And the the answer is yes. Of course there is.

But, in my opinion there's nothing like sitting in a meeting and listening to a newcomer tells his or her story. Alcohol may have taken everything. Job. Home. Mate. Career. Health. All of it. Life is a mess.

While it might seem almost sadistic to benefit from another's misfortune, I look at it as a life lesson. No matter how hard an alcoholic tries to successfully drink, it usually doesn't work.

So even though my life is going smoothly right now, I never want to get into an emotional spot where I think I might find the answer in a bottle or can.

And that’s why I still go to meetings. I want to hear how it works - or doesn't - for another person.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Missed One

One thing I've taken pride in is showing up in this spot every day with some new material. That's why I call it "John's Daily Blog."

But I slipped up the other day and somehow missed. And I'm pretty sure it happened on the 5,000 mile overnight trip from Honolulu.

As I recall the plane didn't have wifi. And normally I do my writing the night before. Because during the day I look for different subjects to write about. And there's always something that comes up during a day that's worthy of learning from. Or at least commenting on.

But in the hustle and bustle of getting from one of the outer islands to the main airport this blog was the last thing on my mind.

I know there's a million excuses for failure. So I'm not going to even make one. After 2244 days I finally missed.

So much for self-discipline.

But I'm still going to call it by the same name. And if someone cares enough to challenge me I'll have to tell them the truth.

Click here to email John

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Bionic

Friday I had the privilege of going to the eye doctor, something I’ve been doing for seventy-five years. All because I didn’t receive proper medical treatment as a child. For a long time I was angry at the world and got my precious glasses broken in the process. And my ass kicked by my father because glasses weren’t cheap in those days,

Back in the day there used to be a a TV series called the “Bionic Man”. And sometimes that’s the way I felt because I couldn’t see very well.

Later on in life I developed other ailments that required medical intervention. For example about seven years ago I developed neuropathy in both feet. And now I wear braces which allow me to move around pretty well. But sometimes I feel sorry for myself because I at one time I could run for 15 miles.

Then my teeth got so bad that I had implants placed in my jaws. More artificial parts. I finally came to terms with a life of artificial parts. In fact I’m actually grateful because I realize how much better I have it than do so many others with similar conditions.  Gratitude carries us a long way.

Oh, yeah, by the way, I found out friday that my next stop is for cataract surgery.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Home Again

Back home again. And at the office after taking a day to rest up from an all night flight.

I don’t know why I spend head space thinking about work when I’m on vacation. When I get bacK it never fails that things are running smoothly. Everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing. No drama waiting for us.

Still, part of our evolutionary nature is for us to be looking ahead. To make sure there’s not a hungry tiger around the next corner waiting to eat us. Looking ahead always has always been a survival tactic for me.

But getting home and finding everything in order is nice.

In fact, what’s even nicer is getting home and finding that things are running better than when you’re on the property.

To me that shows that our staff is well-trained and responsible. And that we could probably spend a lot more time away if we really decided to do so.

In fact that last sounds like such a good idea I might spend more head-space there.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Not Like Today

One thing I’ve learned to never count on is that life  tomorrow will be  just like it is today     For example, we’re supposed to be at the airport early in the morning.  However that’s not the way it worked out.
Someone had misplaced the keys, they were not to be found anywhere. No problem; I’d walk a half a mile and pick up an extra pair
But what  I learned about rental places is that they have one set of keys – that’s it.  They said it was okay for me to hire my own locksmith and pay for it myself.  I never did figure out how they kept their cars secure.  Finally I just said that it was none of my business and got home two days later than I planned.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bad Idea

This summer my wife and I visited the town where I lived with my alcoholic father and his dumpy wife until I was 12 years old. My younger brother somehow survived

Because my father was a violent drunk there was a dread that seemed to permeate the area as soon as I drove into the town. Even though everything was green and fertile there seemed an undercurrent of old memories that might flood the town with stories that would best remain burried.

As I drove through the town there was little that I remembered. The white steeple of the First Christian Church dominated a hillside. A small grammar school still stood behind the church. A dead dog was decaying in the roots of a tree.

If this was a catharsis it was a bad  idea

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Blues

Since the early days 0f TLC we've offered a "Blue Shirt” program. Those wearing blue shirts are residents who have made at least a year commitment to stay and work for the program. Those who have made this commitment are willing to do whatever is asked of them for at least a year.

If a supervisor shows up in the middle of the night and asks a blue shirt to pack his or her bags they ask no questions - they just get busy and and do it. They may need to fill in for a manager who is sick or one who has just disappeared. Their help could be needed for any reason at all.

But, after 20 years of working as blue shirts many are getting too old to answer this spontaneous call for help. So what to do? So far no decisions have been made.

We're thinking of creating a new colored shirt that would indicate a resident was more of an honorary shirt because he could no longer fulfill the responsibilities of a blue shirt. But that he had served with honor for years.

We’ll figure it out; it’s just going to take a while.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Afraid of Change

Years ago, long before I got sober, I worried a lot about how I would live without drugs. What would I do without friends? What would I do for fun? What would I do with all the spare time I had on my hands; after all hustling drugs was a full time occupation.

Not that I had friends, just using and stealing buddies. As far as fun goes, I had none. All I did was live with anxiety and demoralization, wondering when I would get caught stealing something or buying drugs.

Boy was I wrong. I've never been busier in my life. And it's not busy things that I don't enjoy doing. I love getting up in the morning and going to the office. Looking forward to the challenges of the day.

As far as fun goes, I have a lovely wife who goes with me on four to six vacations a year. Our mission in life is to enjoy each other and the time we spend together.

For those of you who hesitate about getting sober, read this carefully. Living sober is far superior to what you have now. Don't let fear of change hold you back.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Self-Esteem

I think it's far better to tell your child that he can do something you know he can't accomplish than to discourage him from trying.

We have many addicts who don't feel they can do or complete anything. They have zero confidence. They've never tried to learn much because their parents told them repeatedly that they were too stupid.

And when someone is repeatedly told that they're incompetent they give up. So instead they fall in with companions who approve of whatever they do. Especially if it's something criminal or daring. That's why many youngsters fall in with bad companions.

There's nothing that will build our self-esteem like success - and then being recognized for we did.

As a child I wasn't given much encouragement. But somewhere deep inside I knew I could be successful. I worked at money making projects from my childhood. Some were unsuccessful, some made me a little money.

As I grew older I found it easier to earn money illegally. Since my road to self esteem was about how much money I could make, I didn't pay attention to whether it was illegal or legal. And of course you know where that took me.

Like many addicts I did whatever it took to make money and take care of my habit. And it didn't affect my self-esteem much until I started getting into serious trouble. When I realized how far behind I'd fallen from the rest of my peers, only then did my self-esteem take a real dive.

It took years for me to dig myself out of the hole I'd gotten myself into. I started doing positive things to change. And it wasn't an overnight process.

Today I enjoy success and feel good about what I do. But it took self-determinatiion and a desire to change.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Getting Away

The great thing about having a dependable staff is that once in a while we get to leave for a week or two on vacation.

At one point - 23 years ago - it used to be tough to get away. And when I did leave there was a certain amount of anxiety involved. Did the bills get paid? Was the money getting put in the bank?

And that was back in the day when we used pagers. And the internet wasn't quite as advanced as it is today. But now I can go to my office computer online and work just as if I were at the office.

Aside from the technology, we have a staff of over a hundred people who keep things functioning. They keep new clients coming in and take care of those who are serious about recovery. And those who aren't serious, either get serious - or move on to another program where they can do what they want.

One area where we are especially blessed is that most of our staff has come up through the ranks. As they start assuming more responsibility they’re given more to do. We actually have managers who've been with us longer than 20 years.

And for most of them we've become an extended family. Though we also have those whose families have followed them to Arizona and into sobriety because they've noticed the positive changes in their lives.

The only place we use professionals in the program is with those who work in the counseling program and some who come in to help us keep the accounting straight.

This makes me really proud of our addicts and what they're capable of doing when they set they minds to it.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Grandchildren

One of the benefits of recovery is that my grandchildren have never seen me under the influence. Nor have they had to go to jail to visit me .

And I attribute this good fortune to the fact that I got sober over 25 years ago. Long before many of them were born.

This feels good because we have so many people in our program who share my fortune. They've been sober so long that their children have children who never knew them when they were in the life.

There's an old saying, "apples don't fall far from the tree." And of course it's obvious what it means. Good people raise good progeny.

Today I have a chance to be an example for my grand children. I can help them through college. I can teach them to be a success no matter what their background. My story, which they have heard before can offer proof, no matter what the challenges they face.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Do Nothing

I get an email this evening from a woman from Kansas City who's been writing me for nearly a year about her grown son.

I've given her some advice over the past year about how to deal with his drinking. I've told her to do nothing for him.

Because when she does she's giving him money to drink. If he had to feed himself, do his own laundry, pay his own storage fees, that would be that much less money he'd have for booze. And I think that she sees that if he had to pay his own way he'd hit the bottom faster. In her case I know she really is at a loss for what to do.

And in many cases the best thing we can do for an alcoholic who refuses help is nothing at all.

Once we realize people are through with us then we might change. I know that it worked for me.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Amends

God has a way of reminding that I'm an alcoholic and how I used to behave. And he does it at the strangest times and places.
This tme it happened at Sky Harbor Airport at around four in the morning.  My wife and I were taking a few needed days off.  She was told if we arrived early enough we'd have a chance to get first class seats.  So we made a point of getting there an hour early. And were lucky enough to get first class seats with hers being across the aisle from mine..
But while I have my suitcase on the scale some older gentlemen tells me he's really in a hurry to get to his plane.  So would I mind letting him weigh his suitcase first.  Even though he was a little pushy about it, I told him to go ahead.
Later, when we board the plane guess who's sitting in the seat next to me.  Yep, you guessed it, the guy who was needed to weigh his luggage right away so he wouldn't be late.  And he's drinking champagne non - stop for the whole trip.
I'm not sure he was sober enough to remember me.  But during the entire trip he kept telling me the same stories over and over. Once in a while he'd doze off.  But when he'd wake up again he'd tell me about the house he was building on the beach in Hilo.  And about the Corvette he was customizing.  And all his many other projects.
Mercifully, he'd drift off once in a while and I'd put my earphones on and doze off myself.
But, eventually we'd wake up and he’d start his narratives over again.  It didn't bother him at all when I'd remind him that he'd just told me that same story about an hour ago. And once in a while he'd pull out his Iphone and show me pictures to back up his story.
At this point I'd like to close this tale by offering amends to all the sober
 people I must have bored to death by telling the same story over and over again.

Click here to email John

Monday, August 8, 2016

Helping Mom?

How do I answer an email like this one from a mother who loves her son?

"Hello I am afraid I'm beginning to believe there is no hope in finding help for my son .

He is an adult but he is my son and he needs help no insurance and at this time homeless with some definite mental health issues along with self medicating and substance abuse .

He cannot keep a job nor even function normally at this point . No place so far has been able to help me help him and he of course is reluctant to ask or find help .

I am at my wits end and honestly am probably doing more harm then good because it's not something I know how to fix or handle please help if u can."

And of course my answer is that of course we can help him if he's willing to follow a few simple directions.

When I open the email I note that the mother is the one asking for help. Rarely does the addict write or call for help. It's usually mom, who, of course, has been running interference for him for much of his life. Including calling for help that he probably doesn't want anyway.

Addicts call us for help when there's no where else to turn. When they're homeless and sick and have run out of options other than maybe another trip to jail or the mental ward. That's when they call.

So he probably won't call or show up. We have a bad reputation among those who want to keep getting drunk or high.

Those who want to get their lives back do well at TLC. If they put a year in our program they won't recognize themselves. But they must do a little work to get there.

I feel for this mother because she lost herself in her son’s problem.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Out of Synch

I know I'm out of sync with the rest of the planet. And that's because I don't have a Face Book or Linked In account. And I don't tweet and do any of that other social network stuff.

Someone set me up with one time. But I closed it within a day. I started getting all kinds of messages from people I barely knew. Somehow my computer found my contact list and started sending them invitations. I realized right away that spending an extra half hour a day writing to people I barely knew wasn't for me.

Plus, I don't care what other people have for lunch or what wonderful gadget they just purchased.

I heard a guy talking on the radio about how many followers he had - somewhere in the thousands. How does he keep track of all that? And who cares how many names you collect? You'e still the same likeable or unlikable person you were before.  The digital world can even be dangerous; I read about a tourist who fell into the Grand Canyon while take a "selfie" last week.

Many years ago - long before the digital revolution – an author wrote that computers would create a new world. No one would know what to do with their time because computers would be doing everything.

However, today, most of us are busier than we ever were. We're unable to take a real vacation because we're always in touch with the office.  And we barely have time to talk because we're not present; we're on our phones.

That's why I want nothing that takes more of my time. It’s hard enough to keep up with the life I have now.

Click here to email John

Saturday, August 6, 2016

No Anger

A benefit of recovery is that I rarely become angry. And if I do, it quickly leaves. But it wasn't always that way. I could get upset about most any little thing. And carry it along with me all day.

For example, I wrote a few days back about getting up in the morning and finding one of dogs eating a rotten bird in the middle of the living room. It stunk so bad I almost threw up. It was that disgusting.

Instead of getting angry I got busy getting the mess out of the house. I spent half an hour cleaning everything up, mopped and sprayed and then went about my morning. But luckily for the dog, anger wasn't part of the equation.

And then when I got home this evening, the same thing. The dog had drug another dead bird in the house. But this one didn't stink and all that remained were a few feathers. No anger. I just got busy cleaning and then went about my evening.

What I've learned in 25 years of recovery is that there's no payoff in anger. I decided a long time ago that if I get angry that sooner or later I'd have to get happy again.

Instead of blowing up I take a different perspective. In the case of the dog I figured that it was a part of its DNA. It had nothing to do with me. That's how all his ancestors survived. They ate whatever they could find - rotten or not - just to stay alive.

And usually when someone's short tempered with me I decide it doesn't have a lot to do with me. Maybe that's how he or she was raised. Or maybe they have a sick relative at home. Maybe they just lost a job.

Whatever it is, I have a choice today about whether I want to join in or just stay happy.

Click here to email John

Friday, August 5, 2016

New Challenge

After 25 years of running halfway houses and recovery programs with 700-1000 residents we have a pretty good idea of how to operate them.

We have guidelines for the residents. We have guidelines for managers. We have certain ways of collecting and handling service fees. We use generally accepted accounting procedures (GAAP) when handling our funds.

We have groups clients must attend, both in the house and outside the house.

We have standards for cleanliness; everyone has a chore to perform each day.

So when we took over another program this week we were a little shocked at the operation. It seemed like no one was accountable for anything.

We thought we were buying a recovery program. But there didn't seem to be much recovery going on. Managers were lying about how many residents were in the program. For example, they would tell their bosses there were only 10 people in the program. But in reality there would be 30 to 50. And of course we could only imagine where the extra money was going.

It took us around a year to purchase this property. And it'll probably take us another year to get it into the condition and operating the way we want.

One thing I know, it'll be an entirely different operation in a year than it was when we took it over this week.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Gratitude

A young client I hadn't met before stops by my office yesterday morning. We didn't have an appointment, but I tell him to come in anyway and we spend time chatting.

He wanted to introduce himself and thank me for the care he'd received during his time with us.

When I questioned him he told me he'd been to six or seven other treatment centers before he came to us. I asked what the difference was and he wasn't sure. Maybe he was just ready to change this time.

Whatever the difference was, I appreciated his gratitude. My experience is that those who have gratitude seem to have a better chance of staying sober.

For gratitude has a way of putting us in an emotional state where we're thankful for what life has given us.

We recognize that others spent time in classrooms to learn to help those with addictions. We realize that others put a lot of effort into developing programs like TLC.

Gratitude is sometimes what keeps us strong when our addictions put temptation before us.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

New Property

Last night at 5:00 pm we took possession of our latest facility, 19 apartment units near Dana & Extension in Mesa.

We had been in negotiation with the owners for nearly a year. And for a while it looked like it might not happen at all. Then a breakthrough. And now a month later we have the keys.

When the owners finally realized that they were having management issues they couldn't resolve they became more willing to negotiate.

Now comes the work. Many of the units have fallen into disrepair from lack of maintenance. We figure it will take us several months to get the buildings completely repaired and occupied.

By Christmas we expect to have another 100 residents at the property.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Rehab Romance

There are always risks when employing addicts to help us run our program.

They sometimes interpret the rules their way. They may steal from us. Or they may give us a departure date that's several months off. Then suddenly leave the same day without notice. There are several ways they go from doing well to doing whatever they feel like at the moment.

They may break our rules about dating. Or set a bad example for the clients we're supposed to be setting examples for. We have strict guidelines for managers in the areas of dating and showing affection while on property. Yet some pay no regard.

Yesterday we had an example of this. Two managers who had been with us for a few years got into a relationship. They were cautioned about the guidelines. And after a few infractions began to follow the rules. They told us they eventually planned to leave and live together.

But, they would give us plenty of notice so we could find replacements for them. And they gave us plenty of notice alright. They told the manager they were leaving the next day - as soon as they picked up the Uhaul they'd rented.

Of course we weren't happy about them leaving without notice so told them to leave right then - as we do with any client or manager who says they're leaving the next day.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Accepting a Dream.

The things that happen to us when we're very young childen sometimes stay with us for life. At least that's my theory. Especially if we're quite sensitive.

This comes up for me today because I had another of those dreams last night. And I mention them once in a while in this blog.

And the dream always seems to follow the same general format. I'm lost. I'm homeless. No job. No assets any kind. No hope for the future. I sometimes wake up bathed in sweat.

As soon as I'm awake I realize it was that same dream that I've had over and over for years. And it must be so deeply implanted in my subconscious that I'll never get rid of it.

And on the other hand, maybe on one level I don't want to get rid of it. Maybe the dream is made up of strands of old memories that provide a force that drives me to succeed at most of my endeavors.

Whatever brings them on I accept them as part of God's Plan for my life.