Categories
Communication Holidays

Valentine’s Day: Love and Kindness For All

Valentine’s day:

It’s the day to celebrate love and joy, and connectedness, not just a partnership with another human being.

Anthropomorphic Valentine, circa 1950–1960 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Maybe you’re single, or you just broke up with someone, or heck, you’ve been together with your Valentine for several months or years: can you honor your heart? Can you be of service to those around you, calling everyone your Valentine? Today, in Huffington Post’s “Good News” section I came across this post about students leaving random love notes around for people to find. I was inspired by their kindness and ability to care for others. It is a wonderful way to be of service and it got me thinking about all of the things we can do for each other, like:

  • Pay for the person’s lunch behind you in line.
  • Leave a kind note for a friend.
  • Pick a flower and hand it to the first person you see–just for the heck of it.
  • Compliment someone without expecting something in return.
  • Cook a meal for someone.
  • Write a card for no reason.

 

These are just a few ideas, with the through line being kindness, which means, “The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to express friendliness, generosity, and to be considerate. And perhaps it will inspire you to carry those actions throughout the rest of the year.  Here’s an inspiring quote from Mr. Rogers, a man whose kindness was a visceral part of who he was:

“When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.”

 

Oh and one more thing, as if Mr. Rogers wasn’t already inspiring. Check out this video of a 29-year-old woman who was born deaf but hears sound for the first time after receiving cochlear implants. Grab a tissue; Her joyful, awe-filled reaction is remarkable!! Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

 

 

 

Categories
Adolescence Holidays Prevention Recovery Safety

How To Have a Safe, Sober and Fun Halloween

Happy Halloween (Photo credit: Professor Bop)

Did you know that more people drink and drive on Halloween than many other holidays?
“Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that Halloween is among one of the most deadly holidays for drunk driving. For the holiday period — from October 30 through 5:59 a.m. on November 1, 2011 — 74 people died nationwide in a crash involving a drunk driver, a 21 percent increase over the average number of drunk driving deaths per day.” via MADD

We understand that Halloween can be a trigger for some people, particularly those who are newly in recovery, so it’s important to create some guidelines and parameters with which to navigate the holiday. If you were once an enthusiastic celebrant of Halloween, doing it sober may cause you panic and despair. Don’t worry, below are some safe, and fun suggestions. Remember, if this holiday is too triggering for you, you can make it a non-event: go to a meeting, hang out with friends, and keep it simple. If it creates stress, it’s not worth it.

  • Plan something with people who are committed to being sober
  • Surround yourself with people who can hold you accountable.
  • Be honest with yourself and with those around you: talk about your triggers if you have them!
  • Don’t go to a party where you know there will be drugs and/or alcohol.
  • Create a relapse prevention plan using tools you’ve learned at Visions to create a good exit strategy if you should need one.

There are an abundance of sober activities you can do on Halloween, especially as part of the young people’s fellowship. You can:

  • Be of service to your family: take your little brother or sister out to trick or treat.
  • Have a scary movie night
  • Have a monster themed dance party
  • You can go on the Haunted Hay Ride with sober friends
  • Some fellowships may have a Halloween themed dance or event.
  • Host a sober Halloween party with spooky treats and an eerie Halloween music mix
  • Make a creepy, crawly scavenger hunt

This list can go on. I trust that you can come up with a fun sober activity! The most important thing is that you enjoy yourself, stay accountable in your recovery, and endlessly tickle that funny bone.    Embrace this new side of yourself. Being present and aware is a wonderful thing to behold!

Categories
Mental Health Recovery

New Year Intentions

(Image by Christopher Chan via Flickr)

Round two of Holiday Madness is complete, and hopefully, we are on the other side in one piece. Now on the last stretch of the holiday road, we can now let go and get ready to celebrate the coming of the New Year.  For starters, many are ending this decade sober and stronger than they once were, optimistic in their desire for positive personal change in the year to come.  Some may be teetering on the edge of relapse, or may have already ventured down that path.  Hopefully, they make it back to the willing arms of recovery–remember, it just takes the willingness and desire to ask for help!

That said, all of us, sober or otherwise, look upon the burgeoning new year as a summons to better ourselves. We habitually make promises and set intentions to behave differently than we did the year before; we typically do pretty well in keeping those promises in the first month or so, and then, well, complacency begins to set in. The new membership to the gym starts to gather dust or we fall short in our attempts to deepen our spiritual practice, listening less to the call of our hearts and more to the chatter in our heads; at some point, we may even forget why we made these promises and intentions in the first place.

After countless years of failed “resolutions,” and a persistent sense of disappointment,  I decided to begin a new tradition, which is to no longer make promises I can’t keep, but rather, set intentions that allow me to get back up again if I should fall short. Intentions like being more committed to my life, my family, my sobriety, my spirituality. Or intentions to be kinder to myself and spend less time berating myself for things that are banal and insignificant, i.e., not making it to yoga one day or getting frustrated while I’m driving. In the grand scheme of things, one failed yoga class or a frustrated honk of the horn won’t eradicate the initial intentions that were set. Rather, those moments of forgetting allow me to ignite a practice of forgiveness, which allows me to forgive some of those shortcomings as I work so diligently to transform them.  Frankly, the real intention is our effort to change. “Progress not perfection,” right?

As long as we go forth one step, one breath, one day at a time, eventually, all the effort will pay off, leaving us with less dust, and more fervent joy.

Categories
Holidays

Surviving the Holidays

Wondering how you’re going to make it through a day of screwball family dynamics and holiday “cheer”?  You’re not alone. This time of year can bring up a flurry of emotions, some ecstatic and some reminiscent of Chernobyl.  Since the curve is broad, managing it all can be difficult. So, then how do we do this?

Taking an honest look at our expectations is a great start. We have them from our internal sources of desire as well as the implied expectations put upon us by the bottled cheer we see when we’re out in the world. It’s the holidays, we are supposed to be happy, right?  Perhaps, but it doesn’t always go that way. We may find ourselves stuck sitting next to our biggest button-pusher, or suddenly engaged in a conversation about “what it was like” with a well-meaning member of the family. What’s important, at least for me, is the way in which to respond. It’s a great opportunity to be gentle with yourself in the face of adversity and a wonderful reminder to hold up those boundaries you may have set.

Something else that can be helpful is staying in the present moment. It’s easy to get locked into the stories of our past and sometimes difficult not to react to those echos. For me, setting an intention for my day, either in a quiet moment of meditation or in my yoga practice, is key. Sometimes it can mean acknowledging there may be difficulty, but finding a way to approach it differently; it could mean setting an intention to be kind to yourself and to approach others with compassion; or it could mean setting the intention to be in gratitude.

This holiday season, we have a wonderful opportunity to take contrary action and meet our pain with compassion, and our frustration with gratitude. Remember to laugh, take breaks, and enjoy each moment–you are amazing!  As the Buddha said, “The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.”