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.

Click here to email John

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

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Home Again

Yesterday I arrived home from my annual week long vacation with the family in Imperial Beach, California, directly South of San Diego.  I do this every year, during the month of July.

The temperature was about 64 degrees when we left the beach. When we got out of the van at a restaurant in Yuma, Arizona we were greeted with a blast of hot air that was about 111 Degrees.  It seemed like what one might imagine to be hell.

"Ahh.." I thought, "Welcome to Arizona."

Actually the heat doesn't bother me that much.  Of course, That's because I don't work outside and when it gets too warm I just go inside an air-conditioned room.  In any event, after 40 years my body has become accustomed to the Arizona climate.  In fact, I like the heat much better than I do the cold.

The other good thing about being home is that I can get back into my business life.  I have good people taking care of things all the time.  But being close to home works better for me.

So, tomorrow, it's back to the office for a while, until my next trip which I assure you isn't far off.

Click here to email John

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Blessings of Sobriety

When I got sober over 31 years ago I never even dreamed about being able to take my family on a summer vacation for a week in San Diego. And this year there are about 26 people here that I'm related to one way or another. Quite a crowd. 

But as time passes, and one stays sober and works a program, good things begin to happen. Your family starts talking to you again. You might open a bank account and buy a house. Maybe you go back to school and get a good career job. Once one gets sober, the possibilities in life are endless.

In my 31 years of running a recovery program, I've seen many former homeless addicts succeed beyond their wildest dreams.Nothing makes me happier than seeing a former client tell us their life has turned around and that they're happier than they've ever been. And while they give us a lot of credit, I always tell them that they're the ones that did the work and used the program the way it was designed.

And today my sobriety allows me to sit in my condo living room and watch the waves break on the shore while I eat breakfast.

Click here to email John

Monday, July 11, 2022

From the Beach

 Each year for the past 25 years I've been taking my family on a vacation to Imperial Beach in California.  

And it's very rewarding in so many ways. For one thing, it's a chance to get out of the Arizona desert for a week. And for another thing it's a chance to catch up with family members face-to-face, instead of on the telephone.  And it's good for me to be far away from business because I sometimes can get a different perspective on it when I look at it from a distance.

Also, because I bring family members with me who also work at TLC, it's a chance for us to talk about different ideas to improve the quality of the program.  In fact, our treatment program was born in Las Vegas when we all were at a restaurant talking about what it would take to start a State licensed treatment program. 

As it turned out, I had the building and office space. Another person had insurance experience and knew all about billing insurance companies for treating clients. And yet another person had lengthy experience in creating and operating treatment programs. There's something about being away from your normal environment that helps stimulate a person's creative juices.

In any case by January 2012 we had taken our first patient into the treatment program and it has been successful ever since.

We haven't come up with any new plans so far this week. And maybe we won't. But the one thing we have accomplished is getting plenty of rest and recreation.

Just enjoying the fruits of our labors and the benefits of sobriety.

Click here to email John

Friday, July 8, 2022

Vacation Time

Each year, usually in July, our whole family gathers in Imperial Beach, California for a week's vacation. The exception was 2020, when the place we normally stay was closed down due to Covid 19.

This year we're renting six condominiums and will have around 30 family members coming from different states to enjoy a week at the beach.  I can already feel the 65° temperatures that greet us when we wake up in the morning.

And I'm sure we will follow our usual rituals.  The first night we normally go across the street to Aroma, a Vietnamese restaurant.  It has a wonderful selection of food, something for everyone.

During the rest of the week the routine is time at the beach, visits to a local fitness center, or one of the many shopping malls in the area. The closest one is the International Mall on the border of the United States and Mexico, about ten miles to the south.

I always keep in mind that none of this would have happened had I not gotten sober 31 years ago. When we first started about 25 years ago, we only rented one condominium.  But, as the family grew we kept having  to rent more space.

While there's a lot more to sobriety than great vacations or material things, it's nice to be able to join the rest of society and enjoy the benefits of living a productive life.

Click here to email John

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Coming Back

We once did a study to see how long clients would stay once they were accepted into the program. It was no surprise to find out 50% of them left within 10 days.

Many people come into the program with the wrong motivation.  What do I mean by that? Well, many come in because they're hungry and just want to get a couple of meals under their belt.  And maybe a little sleep.

And of course, a few of them come in because their probation officer sends them. Those clients stay a little longer because they're afraid of going back to jail or prison.

Other clients who leave early soon learn that the streets are not very friendly. We welcome them back and they stick around for a while, especially if they're motivated to stay sober. 

Then there's another category of client that comes here because their families sent them. They stick around for a while because they realize they're not going to get back home until they change.  

Yet another client might come to TLC they have no other place to go. They don't have a family any longer because they lost track of them. And many of them stay for years. Some as long as 10 or 12 years.

There are no bad reasons to get sober.  And we continue to welcome people back in the hope that they will figure out how to stay clean and sober.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Drinking increases during Pandemic

While on my way to the office this morning I heard a radio discussion about how the intake of alcohol has gone up across the country some 14%.  They were quoting statistics produced by the U.S. Department of Health so their information seemed pretty reliable.

Neither the program host nor the guest were alcoholics, though the host was on some sort of medication for depression - and had been for about ten years.

They said drinking increased about the time people started working from home because they were quarantined.  They reported that some of them said they were drinking out of boredom.  Others reported that because they were without supervision that they took advantage of the lack of supervision they would have normally had while at work.  The interesting thing is that the rate of drinking has decreased little since workers returned to the workplace, though most reportedly weren't drinking on the job.

Another interesting statistic was that 12-step meeting attendance had also decreased during the pandemic.  That's something that's easy to understand because many people were staying at home and observing social distancing and mask guidelines. While the hosts didn't identify as alcoholics, they seemed to have done their research, as I've seen other studies that corroborate their reporting.

As a recovering person myself, sober for 31 years, I wasn't tempted to relapse nor even think about it.  I was one of those abusers who didn't need an excuse to drink or use drugs. If the sun came up that was reason enough for me. But I can certainly understand those who grasp any reason at all to lower their anxiety level, having spent so many years as a practicing addict.

I wonder what the statistics would look like if we had a more serious plague or even a civil uprising?

Click here to email John