Monday, August 8, 2022

Extended Family

A client who has been with us for at least 15 years - who started out with us in Las Vegas - is in the hospital today with several serious medical issues.  There is some question as to whether he'll survive because of the health issues he's dealing with.

He's allowed to have visitors and some of our staff have been to visit him each day.  However, over the weekend his situation began to decline and he was moved back to the emergency room.  Where he remains.

I bring this up because TLC has a policy of caring for its residents, regardless of their condition as long as they have a desire to stay sober.  And Randy, who has spent most of his time with us serving as a manager, has worked a good program all during his time with us.

All we can do now is pray that he pulls through these physical challenges.

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Friday, August 5, 2022

Doing what I Like

A family member asked me last week what I was going to do with rest of my life. I mean, after all, here I am perching on the edge of my mid 80s and still showing up at the office every day. They asked me why I didn't just relax and enjoy life?

That would probably be a relevant question if I was unhappy with what I'm doing. However, for the past 31 years, I have been working one way or the other helping drug addicts and alcoholics rebuild their lives. And this is a job that's one of the most rewarding that I've ever done.

Now I'm not Mother Teresa. I get compensated well for what I do. I have a decent middle-class home that's paid for. I lease a new Tesla Plaid, which I rationalize by saying that it's a luxury that I can take off of my expenses each year when I do my income taxes. However, what senior citizen needs an electric vehicle That goes 0 to 60 in 2.9 seconds and tops out at 200 miles an hour?  Well I guess I do.  And why? I guess it's just because I can.

I'm not sure how successful our organization is in helping people stay sober. But every once in a while, I run across someone in the community who approaches me, sometimes hesitantly, and breathlessly tells me they have been sober now for one or two or three or four or maybe even more years. And you know, to me, that's a better feeling than when I was out there using drugs over 30 years ago and had just taken a good fix.  I mean there is no greater privilege than to be able to be a positive influence in someone's lives. Plus I even get paid for it. What more could one want out of life?

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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

More than Sobriety

I quit drinking alcohol and using heroin and other drugs because I wanted to have a better life.  And you know, that decision has given me a good 31 years.  

I didn't quit because I wanted more stuff, more things.  I quit because I knew that I need to craft a new way of living, a way of life that would be rewarding and give me a sense of accomplishment.  And that has happened for me.  I needed to learn that I didn't have to always feel wonderful.  To learn to accept that life sometimes can present us with problems.  Not to expect just because I got clean and sober that things would be wonderful.  Life happens to us as it does to everyone and recovery teaches us how to deal with obstacles.

I bring this topic up today because I see some who are new in recovery, who stop growing.  They do stay sober but beyond that they do little or nothing to rise above the ordinary.  They maybe still smoke cigarettes.  They may eat a crappy diet.  Maybe they don't exercise.  Or get more education.  It's enough for them to have simply gotten sober.

But I believe that life is more than that.  I think we can give back to the world many of the things we took when we were in our addictions.

If we have a mission in life every day can be more fulfilling.

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Saturday, July 30, 2022

Free at Last

Being out of quarantine is a good thing.  I'm back at the office.  I'm able to go shopping.  I'm no longer in a self-imposed limbo of trying to get things done and then never accomplishing what I set out to do.

The first time I had Covid-19 I did the same thing I did this time.  I tried to put a happy face on it.  I told myself that I was going to read a couple of books that I'd been meaning to finish.  I was going to go through my closet and sort some clothes I seldom or never wear and donate them to TLC.  But I never really accomplished anything.  Except to clean out a junk drawer I'd been planning to work on for the past year.

But, for some reason I wasn't able to accomplish much more than that.  The part of the Covid-19 protocol that I didn't pay attention to was the part about about fatigue, about being tired.  But, when I looked at the side effects on the CDC website, among them was tiredness and fatigue.

And I find that even now - after testing negative for two days in a row - I'm still not a ball of energy.  I talked to someone who's in the medical field and she said "pay attention" to your body. And she was right. Because I know it's going to take a few weeks to get my energy back and being able to resume my normal routine.

I'm going to take the course of least resistance and not push my 80+ year old body.  It'll let me know when it's ready to work harder.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

R.I.P. Phyliss

One of my best friends called me two nights ago and told me he'd just arrived home to discover his mother dead on the floor.

I don't know what I expected, if anything.  But he was peaceful and clear as he told me the details of finding her body near the couch.  And he was clear and calm as he described the details.

It's no surprise that she'd passed away, regardless of the circumstances, because she'd been suffering from Parkinson's disease for at least five years.  Plus, she was nearing her mid-eighties.

He called 911 and the police and and others came in a short time. He provided them with paperwork they requested. They told him what he needed to do.  So he called a mortuary and made arrangements for them to pick up her body. 

Because he's been a friend for at least 15 years, he and I had more than one discussion about the reality that one day he'd lose his mother. And because of her health, he anticipated her passing and said he was prepared.  And he was.

But what impressed me about my friend was how he cared for his mother during her last years.  He was always there to clean her house, change her bedding, do her laundry, see that she ate, take her to medical appointments,  see that she had caretakers if he was unavailable.  He saw that she lacked nothing.  She even visited the casino with one of her daughters and won $900 the weekend before her death.

And he gave her tough love to force her to move her body.  Her doctors said she needed more exercise and when he had a chance he'd force her to get it.  He got her various exercise equipment, such as a treadmill, and equipment she could use while in bed.  When she'd ask him for a glass of water he'd insist she get it herself, because she still had the ability to walk.

Sometimes family members thought he was rough on her because they wanted to baby her. On some occasions he told them they were welcome to care for her if they chose. But for some reason they never took him up on the offer.

For me, he was a perfect example of love in action.  He always saw that she had care and everything she needed.  And the strong thing he did was to not baby her.  He showed his love by giving her the things that would keep her healthy - even when others might disapprove.

If I'm ever in his situation, I hope I can show half the dedication that he did when caring for his mother.  May she rest in peace.

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Saturday, July 23, 2022


I mostly view myself as independent.  But when I become ill I find how dependent upon others I can really be. And that's a lesson that was repeated when I came down with Covid for a second time this last Tuesday.

Many friends and business associates called to offer help. Mostly, they offered food.  And those are the offers that I took them up on. So at least once a day, meals would appear on my porch.

It's not like I can't cook for myself.  But for some reason this Covid makes me unmotivated. One of the symptoms of Covid is fatigue, something that I experience periodically. So if I do cook, it has to be something really simple.

I could do something like go to a local restaurant drive-thru and order something to go. But I do feel a sense of responsibility to the community.  And I don't want to be responsible for giving someone else Covid.

I am grateful to have people who want to make my life easier.  And one of these days I'm sure I'll have a chance to reciprocate.

Click here to email John

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Covid's Back

Ever since I returned from a California vacation, I've had a scratchy throat and a slight cough.  I didn't think that much about it because it didn't seem too bad. Yesterday I got worse, and someone suggested that I take a covid test.  And sure enough, I was positive for Covid.

So now I'm isolated in my house for the next five days, hanging out mostly in my bedroom catching up on my reading.  And once in awhile, I field a question from the office.

Yesterday I did put in a call to my doctor's office. He's a pretty straight-up guy and he told me that he could prescribe something for me but that he didn't think it would help very much. So I told him to not bother calling in a prescription to the drug store.

It must be human nature but it always amazes me that everyone asks the same question when I tell them I have Covid.  And the question is,"Where did you get it from?" And if they ask me that question, I always ask them "What difference does it make?"  Even if I do know where it comes from, what am I going to do with that information?  I don't know.  Call the health department? Beat up the person who gave it to me? Warn everyone to stay away from the person? The reality is that we don't know where we get Covid from. It might have blown-in during the monsoon. I might have picked it up on the beach in California. Nobody knows for sure.

The only thing I know to do about COVID is to get plenty of rest. Stay away from other people as much as possible.  And wear a mask when I'm around others.

Other than that, I'll see you in 5 days.

Click here to email John