Anything is Possible!

With Faith, Hope and Perseverance


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Carrie Fisher is still teaching me to be brave.

carrie-fisher-quote

“If you pretend something long enough, it comes true.” Carrie Fisher

These quotes about confidence and pretending remind me of the expression, “Fake it til you make it.” When we do that, we’re pretending with a purpose. We’re being brave in spite of our fear.

Being brave is one thing Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia had in common.

In  Star Wars, Princess Leia battled the evil empire. In real life, Carrie Fisher battled insecurity, addiction, bipolar disorder, and of course the expectations of Hollywood. At the age of 19, she portrayed a strong, intelligent, no nonsense woman of power in the original Star Wars movie, “A New Hope.” I watched that movie in the theater at least ten times in the late 70s when I was about 21. I was one year older than Carrie who died on Tuesday, December 27th. Like many of my peers, (boomers/sci-fi fans) I thought of her almost like friend, especially after I started watching her interviews.

As she got older Carrie grew wiser. She wrote books which have been on my want-to-read-list for years. I still look forward to reading them. In her interviews, Carrie is hilarious in that feisty, authentic way smart women get when they no longer care so much what people think of them – something I aspire to. I love that she performed her autobiographical play, Wishful Drinking, barefoot.

As Princess Leia and as herself, Carrie Fisher influenced me in ways that I am not even aware of. I do know that she made me braver and still does. As I process my grief  (and consider my own mortality) I’m imagining her cracking jokes and exploring life in a galaxy far far away.

I wish her a good voyage.

In the following interview, Carrie started talking about recovery more in the second half if you want to skip the baring all part.

And in this next interview with Oprah, she talked about her family, electroshock therapy, and healing her relationship with her mother who she partially credited for teaching her to be strong.

After writing this, I read that Carrie’s mother, Debbie Reynolds, died the day after her daughter and that she said she wanted to be with Carrie. As a mother, I understand.  I understand about the worry, the tension, and the closeness of that complicated bond. I’m glad they were able to talk, to come to a better understanding of each other. Now, I hope they are at peace.


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A Gift You Can’t Buy in the Store, Part 1

wooden-balloon

Tuesday was my last full day at the job I worked for 30 years. In January, I’ll go back for a few hours to wrap up some paperwork and get the rest of my stuff, and there will be a “retirement” party. But these things will be on my terms and at my convenience.

My husband told me he was proud of me for retiring on my terms. But it was because of him that I was able to do it that way, cutting my hours back gradually, building my courage for the leap of faith, trusting that I would be taken care of. My husband, not wanting to contribute to the commercialization of Christmas, doesn’t like to buy presents from a store, but he loves to make things from wood like candle holders and Christmas ornaments like the balloon above. I tend to agree with him. He’s giving me the best gift of all the Christmas – the gift of retirement.

It was hard to say goodbye to my clients. But it was the right decision for me. Now, I get giggly inside, like a kid at Christmas, as I realize I don’t have to go back to the bureaucracy, to the demands to do more in less time – or bringing work home,  or to the witnessing of the wreckage of addiction.

I am forever grateful to have witnessed the triumphs over addiction and for the privilege to be able to help a little. I’m thankful for all that I’ve learned. But I believe I’ve paid my dues. Now, it’s my turn to follow my heart back to its creative home. I’ll probably do a stress management group somewhere, maybe a group with a creative twist! But it will be on my terms.

I will remember all those late nights I drove home exhausted, my hands aching from the keyboard, wondering if I would ever get caught up on the paperwork, wondering if I  could make it another 10 years until social security and medicare kicked in, wondering if those benefits would even be there for me in 10 years.

I will remember praying to God for deliverance, telling myself, God has a plan.

Little did I know how marvelous that plan would be. God was watching me, loving me, encouraging me, and doing the same for my soulmate 700 miles away. God waited for the perfect time, when my soulmate and I were ready to journey together. (And in case you didn’t know, I’m writing a book about that.)

Ten years ago, I asked God to take away the desire for a partner, or to send someone who is a good fit.

Today, I thank God for the gift of my husband who is a good fit. And I thank my husband for the gift of freedom to be me. On my terms. And on God’s terms.

doorway-apostle-island


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Contact Highs, Trauma, and Recovery: Addiction Conference Highlights

socsbadge2016-17

Can a person show up positive for marijuana on a drug screen just by being in the same room with people smoking the weed?

The opening speaker at Wednesday’s addiction professionals conference says no. But he wasn’t clear on the cutoff levels/sensitivity of the test used in the study. I believe it’s possible, though the smoke would have to be pretty darn thick. After all, people have been know to get a contact buzz from being in the same room with someone smoking, right? Of course, It’s been a very long time…..

I did get a natural high with my high school girlfriends during our reunion last month. I was the only one not drinking, but I laughed, giggled and almost choked on my own silliness, all drug and alcohol free, which was my goal. I also won the trivia game which I like to think I won because I remember stuff I studied in high school, and I am smart in some things, not just because I was the only one sober.

But back to the conference that finished up yesterday. Our closing speaker was Austin Eubanks, an injured survivor from the Columbine shooting. His story was moving and powerful. I even got teary-eyed when he told us about how his best friend was killed in the library. It turns out that Austin became addicted to pain pills which were easily accessible after the Columbine trauma because he was shot in the hand and the knee. But he got more pain meds than he needed and used them (without realizing it) to numb the emotional pain of the trauma.

Austin was clear that he does not want to prevent anyone from getting the medication they need, but he also said that it would have been better for his doctors to realize he was using pain pills to cover up the emotional trauma which took him years to process starting in a therapeutic community on his third treatment episode. One way to minimize that risk, is for doctors to screen people coming in for acute physical pain to find out if there is also emotional trauma they might be trying to avoid. Recovery is about learning how to cope with challenges with support but not with illicit drugs. It’s way complicated. But one of the best things is that Austin encouraged those in recovery to look closer at the issue of anonymity. A person should not publicly reveal membership in a specific 12 step program, but Austin said that if you’re in recovery, be “loud and proud” about it.

Kids and Adults need to know that it’s okay to choose not to drink or drug, and that there is support for working through trauma. Recovery is not easy, but worth it in the long run.

Today’s Stream of Consciousness Prompt was the word, “screen,” brought to you by Linda HIll at:

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Oct. 15/16

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!


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Time and the Toilet Paper Roll of Life

socsbadge2016-17

This is the busiest time. No, wait. It’s not that busy. Maybe this is the busiest time since I started semi-retirement in June. Was that this past June? No way. I have to check that. Time is so strange. I think this is the fastest time has ever moved. It moves faster and faster the older we get, and also the busier we get. Just like the toilet paper roll goes faster as you get closer to the end. But then someone will hopefully replace that toilet paper roll with a full one. Usually a mom type person does that. Does God replace our roll when we get to the end of our life? Do we get another assignment? I like the idea of taking a rest for a while, in my idea of heaven being a cabin in the woods, running around with all the dogs I’ve ever loved…and then getting an assignment, as an angel or whatever God wants me to do. I just really want a rest for a while and to see my dogs.

I had no idea I was going to go there. That’s what I love about the Stream of Consciousness.

Though theses are the busiest times lately, they are also the best times. So I want to stop complaining and have some gratitude already!  My busyness has been writing, a little art, feeding feral kittens, puttering around the house in the never-ending busyness of things like replacing toilet paper rolls and de-cluttering.

The best things about this busy weekend are:

This afternoon, I get to read one of my two stories which will be published in the public library’s e-book about our coastal county. I should say, I get to read it out loud, in front of people! I’ll send you a link to the e-book when it is unveiled.

Tomorrow afternoon, I get to lead a guided meditation at a coffee house celebration of Recovery Month. That’s right, September is RECOVERY MONTH. We need to celebrate recovery because so many people don’t get how much work it is. We need to applaud people in recovery from addiction and other illnesses.

Both of these events are related to my work. The first, reading my story, is about my new work and my new creative life. Sunday’s event is about my old work as a counselor, which I continue to do one day a week. So this weekend is sort of an affirmation, that for now, I can do both.

Next week could be even busier. It might be the busiest week!

Monday I need to go cut my father’s hedges. And visit him which is more important. And then I need to go the old job on Tuesday as I get ready for a reunion trip with my high school girlfriends in Mississippi!

One thing’s for sure, I’m not bored.

And I am grateful.

 

Linda’ prompt for today’s Stream of Consciousness post was, “-est” to be used as a suffix.

Read more SOC posts, and join in the fun at Linda’s blog:

https://lindaghill.com/2016/09/16/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-sept-1716/

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!


13 Comments

Thirty Years is Enough…Almost

bird coming out from pixabay

I was planning to write my mid-week post about the synchronicity of my first writer’s conference coming the week before my leap of faith into semi-retirement and how that reinforces my goal to spend more time in creative work.

But then I read this  NPR article about the hope and controversy of medication assisted treatment for opiate addiction, and I decided to share my experience on this topic. After working as a substance abuse counselor for roughly 30 years, about 20 of those years working with clients on Methadone or Suboxone, I’ve learned a few things.

The most important thing I want to pass on about Methadone and medication assisted treatment, is that the medication is only one piece of the recovery pie. I’ve seen clients who did not change their lifestyles and thinking, did not learn new coping skills, and were not successful on the program.

I’ve also seen clients who followed recommendations and worked hard on their recovery, mentally, emotionally, physically, socially and spiritually. For those people, the medication combined with counseling and lifestyle changes, has worked amazingly well, and often better than other treatment modalities they had tried. These are the clients who have kept me working in the field for thirty years, along with the ones who I didn’t think were going to make it, but they surprised me and turned things around. God gets a lot of the credit, too. I couldn’t have hung in there this long without my H.P.

Now, it’s time for me to step back. Because I’m tired. Not so much tired of working with people who suffer from addiction. I can understand and accept that some people are not going to do the work, and that hurting people hurt people, including themselves. That’s part of the misery of addiction.  It’s the @#*!… paperwork that I can’t keep up with anymore if I want to have a healthy life. I’ve watched the amount of paperwork (now it’s computer work, but we still have to print a lot of it out and put it in a chart) grow and grow year after year. There have been times when I’ve felt emotionally buried by the paperwork.

I believe I’ve done my share. But I still don’t want to let go completely. Next week, I go to the writer’s conference, and the week after that, I’m cutting back to just one day a week at the job that paid my bills for 30 years. The other days will be for me – for writing, art, my home and my relationships. I think I’ve earned this time. I’m so grateful to have this chance, thanks to my partner who you can read about on my about page.

Perfect Timing strikes again!

(Thanks to Pixabay for the photo.)


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One More Hard Case

Rocks

So ready to be done

With the bad-ass resistance

and well-guarded denial,

But I glimpsed a chink in his armor.

Maybe I can get through.

Should I even bother?

I could pass him off to some one else.

Haven’t I paid my dues yet?

 

But he didn’t get this way

Picking daisies in a meadow.

His armor kept him alive

On heartless urban battle grounds.

 

You want me to do this, don’t you, God?

And you’ll back me up, right?

I knew the answer.

“That’s my girl,” said God.

I rolled my eyes

at the daddy’s girl

still living in that cozy nook,

the chink in my  armor.

Not just anyone gets in there.

 

 


16 Comments

Rx

IMG_1469

I recently accompanied my husband on his consult for unexpected outpatient surgery which is now scheduled for the middle of this busy month. When the doctor mentioned post-op pain meds, my dear husband shook his head. When questioned about this, he said he didn’t want any narcotics. The doctor said he’d prefer to write the script, just in case, since the pain meds can’t be called in. But he also indicated that it’s possible my husband will do okay with just over the counter pain meds. This led to a discussion about the whole dilemma of pain medication and my experience of being prescribed way more pain meds than needed for relatively minor surgeries or injuries. My experiences as an addictions counselor have likely added to my frustration.

During the consultation, I appreciated learning more about the prescriber’s perspective: doctors who prescribe less than the standard amount of pain meds, in this case, 30 pills (!), are more likely to be harassed, yelled at and even threatened by patients. They lose patients and can’t stay in business.

What’s a doctor to do?

After hearing this, I’m not as sure as I used to be. And I’m glad I don’t have to be the one between that rock and the hard place.

One solution would be to have more disposal options for unused medication. We’re learning that it’s bad for the environment to flush unused medications, and keeping leftovers around, “just in case”  increases the risk of addiction or pills falling into the wrong hands. Though Opiate/narcotic addiction is a particularly bad problem where I live, we only have two medication drop off events per year. Of course, there’s always the burial in a container of damp coffee grounds, which may be the best option we have right now.  Hill

I know this is a complicated issue. Some people legitimately need a lot of pain medication. But it’s a slippery slope for those with substance abuse and addiction problems.

 

 

Which reminds me, that recovery can be pretty good where I live, too. On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, there are all night  AA meetings, called Alcathons. These open meetings start at 6pm and run on the even hours until noon Christmas day and New Year’s Day ending in a shared meal. Narcotics Anonymous usually has Narcathons which are similar. I hope these are available where you live.

Here are some links that can help you find meetings:

http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/find-aa-resources

http://www.na.org/

http://www.celebraterecovery.com/

To all those who suffer from addiction, there is help. Recovery is possible. Find a program, then work the program, every day.  Life can get better. One day at a time. Like they often say after the Serenity Prayer:

” Keep coming back, It works if you work it, but you gotta work it every day…and night.”

To all those who do not suffer from addiction, be aware this can be a hard time for those who do. Have plenty of alcohol-free beverages at your social gatherings. Label food and drinks containing alcohol. Even a taste can be a trigger. Invite a recovering friend to go to an alcohol free/drug free event.

May your holidays be holy days, full of peace and joy.

Tree in Winter Sunset