We need to be of service in recovery. Getting out of ourselves and helping others is a time-tested component in the recovery puzzle. When we suffer, helping someone else can be liberating. Being of service acts as an unexpected and welcome emotional salve. Being of service shows us that we are not alone in our suffering; it shows us that relief is available. Being of service provides support, and it encourages community. Service work is a wise requirement.
There is a shadow side to service work, though, and it rears its head when we don’t take care ourselves. Sans self-care, we risk being overwhelmed, stressed out, tired, and depleted. If you are a gardener, and you tend to everyone else’s garden before your own, your garden will wilt. The same thing applies to taking care of ourselves–Being of service is also an inside job.
Where are YOU on your list of priorities?
On an airplane, we are told to give ourselves the oxygen first in case of an emergency; Similarly, we must apply this same ideology in our day-to-day lives. If we are depleted, we cannot effectively be of service.
Is ensuring someone else’s happiness more important than safeguarding your own?
The feelings that emerge when we are of service can be profoundly positive. It feels good to help others. However, we cannot sacrifice our own needs in order to do so. It’s important not to lean toward people-pleasing behaviors — behaviors that inevitably feed resentment and drain our personal resources for self-care. When we people-please and neglect ourselves in the name of being of service, we risk resentment, which leaves us sitting miserably in silent rage and frustration.
Remember that sacrificing yourself is not tantamount to being of service. Pushing yourself to the point of emotional exhaustion will tap your nervous system and leave you overwhelmed, tired, depressed, and frustrated. We are no good to anyone when we are depleted.
Yes, you can take care of YOU and be of service!
1: Take care of your needs first: If that means taking a walk or going for a run or taking a nap BEFORE helping someone else, do it. Fill your well.
2:It’s okay to say NO: If you are exhausted, and tapped out, saying no is a way of being of service. You are no help to anyone if you are worn out.
3: Maintain healthy boundaries: If your go-t0 answer is always “yes,” then you are likely to end up overwhelmed. Are you overcommitted? Practice saying “No.” Practice taking care of YOUR needs before taking care of the needs of others. You are just as important.
I love this Buddhist quote and share it often. It’s definitely apropos here:
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”
Morgan Parker is one of our remarkable educators in our Residential program. She spends her time teaching the clients at our Latigo facility, providing them with a well-crafted through-line to their education in a supportive, clinical environment. Morgan determines the relevant educational needs for the clients, provides the appropriate support for those working with learning disabilities, and she maintains a high standard of education. Morgan Parker is a bright light in the Visions family: she is colorful, wise, kind, and dedicated. She is highly intelligent and not afraid to share her wisdom through humor and play. Morgan carries herself with confidence and compassion, adeptly caring for the clients and melding with the staff with grace. Morgan Parker is a true gift to Visions and we are honored that she’s been with us since 2009.
Read on for some kudos from the staff!
“Morgan is the Rock of Gibraltar. She is the backbone of Visions Latigo. When Morgan decided to take the job as teacher, she was a perfect fit. She had worked with our challenging population of kids as a Program Aide, and brought her experience and calm demeanor with her. Morgan’s attention to detail is impeccable. She notices glitches in the machine that help to prevent major hick-ups later on. She cares about the kids and her job, silently facing everyday frustrations with grace and dignity. I am proud to be her supervisor.” – Daniel Dewey
“One of the most reliable, insightful ladies out there.” — Roxie Fuller
Morgan is so multi talented I don’t even know where to begin. She effortlessly blends her educational expertise with a loving and fun demeanor and tackles anything that comes her way. Morgan insists on encouraging our kids to rise to the occasion academically, we couldn’t ask for a better teacher! — Patrick Schettler
“Working with Morgan has been a great experience. Not only is she super helpful and efficient with our students but she is also fun to be around. She has a great sense of humor and says some of the funniest and most random things. She is a great addition to the Visions family.” — Adriana Camarillo
“I’ve always thought of Morgan as the Rainbow Bright of Visions. The Visions family is always battling dark and complex issues, and its people like Morgan who show up with pink hair and the brightest clothing that remind us to never take life too seriously. No doubt the work she does with the VTeam is seriously exceptional!” — Christina Howard-Micklish
I love Morgan’s answers to our 10 questions — she has real wisdom and wit. Read on:
1: What do you miss from the 80s?
My childhood! And MTV when it actually played music videos.
2: If you could go anywhere in the world for free, where would you go, who would you take and what would you do?
This is an overwhelming question! My brain floods with possibilities and fantasies: Sweden, Scotland, Japan, Fiji, Iceland, Bali, New Zealand, the Isle of Man…but because I’d take my 3 kids, I may choose Italy to help make some historical sites of Western civilization come alive for them, and then still have access to the beach. Travel provides the best education, and we love the beach!
3: What is your favorite subject to teach?
I am a bibliophile and logophile, but surprisingly I have enjoyed working with students on algebra. It is reassuringly procedural to teach, but it’s also like solving puzzles, which is fun and interactive. I like to see students figure problems out, recognize patterns, and become less intimidated by math.
4: Which character in To Kill a Mockingbird are you?
My only solid response to this is that I think we can all aspire to be Atticus Finch: fair, decent, resilient, accountable, courageous, and truthful.
5: Coffee, Tea, Soda or Water?
I am notorious for my Diet Coke consumption. I am still trying to find an acceptable, healthier replacement beverage.
6: What was your most embarrassing hairstyle?
Bangs were never the most flattering look for me.
7: What is your grammatical pet peeve?
Dangling modifiers are never OK! I also find irksome the improper use or omission of the apostrophe. And I am always willing to explain the difference between “effect” and “affect.”
8: Would you rather be a wizard or a ninja? Explain…
Wizard! I gravitate toward the cerebral choice. I am not known for physical prowess. I’d rather be a magician than a fighter! A ninja needs smarts but a wizard has wisdom.
9: Favorite time of day?
After midnight, when the world gets quiet and my brain gets alert and creative. I have always been nocturnal.
10: Why do you choose to work for Visions?
Everyone needs community and purpose, and it is rare to find both in a workplace, but at Visions I have found where I belong and can contribute. There is a lot of love, support, humor, good work, and good deeds happening here, and I am proud to be a part. I have truly met some of the most incredible people at Visions, both clients and staff!
Koreema Walden is an MA, MFTi, CATC IV and has been part of the Visions treatment team since 2013. She is an active member of the treatment community and served as a therapist in the drug rehabilitation/homeless program at the Veteran’s Administration prior to coming to Visions. Additionally, Koreema is an education advisor at her alma mater, Antioch University. She runs groups and Visions and also sees clients individually using her honest and compassionate approach.
Koreema is seriously funny. She brings a sense of adventure, honesty, and joy into her work. She is relatable and compassionate toward the adolescents she works with and she is a wonderful addition to the outpatient team. Koreema she fits right in at Visions. She is a pleasure to work with and is someone who is respectable and forthright in her work. Koreema is a hard one NOT to adore.
The staff thinks highly of Koreema; check out what they had to say:
Koreema continuously has a high level of positive energy, and is fantastic at motivating just about anyone! – Ashley Shortridge
In the time I’ve know Koreema, I have felt nothing but love and support from her. She has an amazing energetic spirit that everyone can pull from and always brings strong, honest advice to the table. It has been a pleasure working alongside such an amazing person. – Nick Riefner
Koreema, our baby of the bunch. She has been a wonderful asset to our outpatient team. Koreema’s strengths lie not only in her ability to assimilate into a new, fast-paced environment but also a keen sense of how to connect with an adolescent milieu. We are lucky to have her and look forward to her continued growth at Visions. – Fiona Ray
Of course we asked Koreema 10 questions. Read on!
1: What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you come close?
There wasn’t a job that I wanted, but I had role models. My maternal grandmother was a business owner and a fierce one! She had her real-estate license and was trained to do income taxes. She owned a clothing store, was raising some of her daughter’s children and was fiercely independent. She was also kind and supportive (financially and emotionally) of others. I think I wanted to be like her: a woman who was independent, self reliant, self-assured, strong, and brave. I thought that’s what women did and how they were. Have I come close? I think I’ve learned over time that there was no reason for me to do everything on my own.
2: What are you most proud of?
I was the first person in my family to graduate with a BA and a Masters Degree. My mom drilled in my head that the way to a better life was through education. She always told me education would be bring me freedom and would be something that nobody could take from me. This is something a lot of women still don’t have in this day and age: The opportunity to attend school and be free.
3: Cats or dogs?
Neither. I’m not a pet person at all. I have a child and changing his diaper was bad enough!
4. Would you rather watch Sherlock or Doctor Who?
Who is Doctor Who anyway? Honestly, neither. Now if you ask me about music, I’m so in. Music cleanses my soul, my mind, and my heart and it tells me a story.
5: What is the best part of being a parent? The most challenging?
Best part of being a parent is seeing my son’s brain and his mind take off. Every day, something that is old to me is taken as new to him: Words, places, books, history, people, etc. I find such delight in seeing him experience the world. What is most challenging is that every day isn’t awesome; some days are better than others and some days we disagree on things. I have to remember he has a mind of his own, I can’t control it or him 24 hours a day.
6: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Both!! I get up around 6:30/7am, or I can stay awake till 12/1am.
7: What Muppet are you?
I’m a mixture of Scooter (he was behind the scenes conducting everything) and Animal (he was loud, crazy, out of control needs to be tamed). Good thing I’ve gotten a little older.
8: What makes you laugh?
Friends, Family and Comedy movies. I love to laugh.
9: If you could go back in time for a day, what and where would you go?
I would be a little girl at my grandmother’s house running around on her property and hanging out with no cares or worries in the world!
10: Why do you choose to work for Visions?
Because I like Visions’ philosophy and the work that we do. Working with teens is not easy (I was one). I get to come to work and be inspired, learn from fresh eyes, and be a part of an amazing integral hardworking team. I feel that Visions and its team work extremely hard at what they do. It’s enjoyable because everyone is supportive of one another and we work as a team.
Nick Riefner is one of our beloved Recovery Mentors. He has been with Visions since 2011. Nick spends his time at our Residential and Outpatient facilities, carrying with him a sincere, honest dedication to working with teens. Coupled with his passion for being of service, his genuine kindness and a commitment to quality care, Nick is someone to celebrate. He’s playful when he needs to be; he’s serious when he needs to be, and he has a keen ability to relate to the clients in a way that they can genuinely relate to. Working with teens is an adventure; Nick is skillful at navigating the terrain with a sense of humor and relatability. Nick not only cares for the teens he works with, he shows the same level of compassion for those he works with every day. For Nick Riefner, helping others is more than a job; it’s lifestyle.
Check out what some of the staff had to say when I asked them about Nick:
“It is an absolute honor working with Nick. I met him when I walked into Latigo for my first night shift and he immediately made me feel comfortable. There’s just something about him- everyone loves him. I’ve learned a lot from Nick and so have the clients. He’s a prime example of what recovery looks like.” Ashley Harris
Nick is an amazing recovery mentor because of his passion for his work and ability to relate to clients. He openly acknowledges that recovery is a day by day process, which helps clients see the silver lining of their storm cloud. – Corinn McWhinnie
The moment I met Nick I knew he was special. He is a calming, kind, and supportive soul. One of Nick’s best qualities is his ability to level a room with his passion and sincerity. Nick truly has what it takes to work with teens. Every day when I get to work, Nick is right there checking in to see if I need any help. I feel honored to work with such a great guy whom I trust and depend on. – Noelle Rodriguez, Psy.D
“Dude… that’s gnarly bro”!! When talking to the kids about an issue that they are having a rough time with in their lives. And that language the kids get, they 100% relate to what Nick is saying and he is being genuine and real. – Koreema J. Walden, MA., MFTI
And last, but certainly not least are Nick’s answers to Visions 10 questions:
1: Sand, Sea, or Surf?
2: What made you decide to work with adolescents?
I decided to work with adolescents because my journey and experience began when I was an adolescent.
3: Would you rather be Gonzo or the Cookie Monster?
Cookie Monster all the way.
4:What is your favorite way to give back?
My favorite way to give back is listening to someone who needs to be heard or who wants to be heard.
5:Who inspires you and how are you like them?
Who I am inspired by would definitely be my co-workers. I strive to carry out the same love and compassion given to both myself and the residents in my personal life on a daily basis.
6:Would you rather have Morgan Freeman narrate your life or have Chuck Norris narrate your life?
7:A nice cuppa tea or a locally sourced pour-over?
Locally sourced coffee for sure.
8: What superhero power do you have?
My secret super power is I can instantly make roller skates appear on whomever I want.
9: What piece of advice would you offer someone scared and newly sober?
I would suggest they embrace the possibility that change might be a good thing and to learn how to start embracing love. Especially for themselves.
10:Why do you choose to work for Visions?
I choose to work at Visions because I feel the care given to clients and the dedication to seeing they are set up for a successful life are amazing. Most of all, the care for given to each other not only as coworkers but as family can’t be found anywhere else.
We are neck deep in last-minute holiday madness! Traffic is catawampus, and the stores
are loud and overly crowded. I am noticing and experiencing a real hustle and bustle to get things done for the upcoming Christmas holiday, but for many of us, holidays can represent added stress and perhaps anxiety.
How about flipping the holiday coin, so to speak, and leaning into the recovery work you’ve been doing around stress and anxiety? Try taking a look at this holiday as an opportune time to work with your discomfort and begin to hold some internal space for it. You may begin to notice some of the other amazing things that occur during this time of year: joy, friendship, abundance, and generosity, community and togetherness.
Here are some thoughts on how to do this while also taking care of yourself at the same time:
Self-care: You need to care for yourself first before you can care for others. You can’t do anything effectively if you are pulling from an empty well. So, what does that self-care look like for you?
Be of service: Do one random act of kindness every day (more if you are inspired).
1. Buy a coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks.
2. Buy a homeless person a meal.
3. Help someone with their groceries at the market.
4. Volunteer at an animal shelter.
5. Offer to help an elderly neighbor or with their groceries.
6. Take a commitment at a meeting. The greeter commitment is a favorite because you get to meet new people.
Be kind (to yourself and to others), even when you don’t want to.
Practice compassion. “Sympathetic concern for the sufferings and/or misfortunes of others.” There’s a difference between pity and concern: Compassion isn’t a way to feel sorry for someone. It’s an opportunity to show care and kindness to the suffering of others.
These small acts of kindness and service during the holidays may actually decrease our focus on stress and anxiety created around the holiday itself. Acts of kindness and compassion facilitate connection with others and allow us to let go of some of that stress and anxiety we are holding onto. Connected action allows us to reconnect with the roots of what the holiday is really about: community, love, and togetherness. Ironically, all that running around to get last-minute items actually makes us disconnected.
So, I leave you with this: a video of two 16-year-olds engaging in random acts of kindness. They dress up as superheroes, wearing tights and capes, and running around paying for people’s food, giving tips to waitresses without even ordering, helping people out when they see they’re struggling to pay for something, and feeding a homeless guy. What can you do this holiday season to practice random acts of kindness? You don’t need a cape and tights, just some willingness to be kind.
Activism is something that has informed my life since I was a teen. In recovery, activism has been something that has allowed me to soothe my soul and be of service on a deeper, more profound level. Activism has allowed me to step out of myself, opening my heart and invoking deep intentions and inspiration to work with not only my shadow side but also the shadow side of others. To truly be of service is to allow yourself to hold space for others regardless of the depth of their suffering, finding a way not to take things personally but to instead be a beacon of altruistic light.
At Visions, we have been encouraging our teens to take an activist stance as a way to be of service. For example, over the last year, we have sponsored dog adoptions for Mutt Match LA, a “non-specific breed rescue committed to Rescue, Rehabilitation and Re-homing of abandoned, homeless and unwanted dogs.” Jesse Engdahl has been a huge source of encouragement in this regard, showing up the first two Saturdays of every month on behalf of Visions with alumni and current outpatient clients alongside him. It has proven to be a wonderful way to give back to the community.
Animal rescue has been an activist cornerstone for the Visions kids. It’s something that’s always touched the hearts of our teens; in fact, my dog, Lulu, was a rescue from one of our alumni! There’s a visceral sense of being of service when you are active in the process. Suffice it to say, helping helpless animals feeds the soul. I asked Jesse about his experience in taking the kids to Mutt Match, and he said, “The kids stay really engaged caring for the dogs. Walking and feeding the puppies offers a really easy way to be responsible and be of service. They love it. They get to be at Visions with a bunch of puppies!” What’s not to love, right? Puppies and dogs love you regardless of your fashion sense, weight, or financial status. They just love you and want love in return. What a cool way to be of service!
If you are an alumni and interested in getting involved with the next Mutt Match LA adoption event, you can email Jesse. The next Mutt Match event is THIS Saturday, 10/12,
This is the first of many blogs inspired by activism. The possibilities are endless! If you are interested in sharing your experiences with activism or want to share some ideas with me, please email me directly at email@example.com. Your stories and experiences bring hope and inspiration and I would love to share them.
Bradley Allenstein joined the Visions family in 2012 as an MFT Intern. He recently completed his MFT hours under the supervision of the wonderful Heather Colligan. Brad brings incredible passion and enthusiasm to his work with families, adeptly applying a family systems approach to treatment, facilitating the processes of reconnection and healing. He is kind, approachable and earnest in his desire to help others. Brad is able to relate to the clients on a visceral level, sharing his love and excitement about sobriety and recovery, inviting others to embrace the full life that sobriety provides. He fits in perfectly with the Visions family, seamlessly balancing the need for brevity and jocularity. I forgot to mention his remarkable sweet tooth and penchant for hats. Thanks for everything you do, Brad, we are grateful to have you in our midst.
More love from the staff:
“Brad is an amazingly passionate and inspirational person. He loves helping others and using his personal growth experiences as a springboard. He also happens to be most entertaining as well and is able to laugh at himself, which is an important attribute in our line of work. And don’t even get him started on the topic of cupcakes…!” – Heather Colligan
“From day one Bradley jumped in with both feet. He’s a true Vision’s team player, with a good mixture of humor, passion, and therapeutic skills. He’s a great role-model for recovery, and a good listener (yes, you read that right, he can listen too!).” – Katie Mason
“Brad is an abundance of energy and great at verbally wearing kids down when needed.” Bill Hoban
“I really think Visions should pay for genetic testing…Brad has to have lineage to the Keebler Elves…I’m not sure anyone loves sweets more than him. Brad’s passion for the work he does at Visions oozes out of him without any effort. His enthusiasm for recovery is linked to every thought he shares. He is a perfect fit in the Visions family.” – Christina Howard-Micklish
“Bradley joined us last year and seamlessly worked his way into our hearts…and stomachs! (His sweet tooth matches my own) His compassion, dedication to our families and good humor makes him an integral part of our Visions family. Brad can reach clients and share not only his experience, strength and hope, but his professional point of view as well. Our families, and our program are better with Brad on the team!” – Amanda and Chris Shumow
And what would a staff blog be without 10 questions? Read on:
1: Three words to describe yourself, go:
Talkative, verbose, and chatty.
2: If you had to lose one of your 5 senses, which would you give up?
Hearing. See #1
3: If you could spend the day with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
Katie Mason, because she is constantly reminding me of what I need to work on as a therapist /human being/man.
4: What inspired you to work with teens?
When I was 17 years old, a substance abuse counselor helped me turn my life around. He became my hero and inspiration ever since.
5: Sand or Snow?
6: What is your favorite hat style?
7: Favorite restaurant in Los Angeles?
My mother’s house. Her cooking can’t be beat.
8: One thing you can’t live without?
The sound of my own voice.
9: What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you come close?
A mime, but I couldn’t stay quiet long enough so I decided to become a therapist.
10: Why do you choose to work at Visions?
To carry the message and help kids realize that sobriety is not a death sentence. Being sober is not the end of the party. It’s just the beginning.
It’s hard not to get excited about Visions when you talk to Amanda Shumow. She is passionate, dedicated and inspired by the Visions’ staff, the clients, and the work as a whole. Amanda Shumow is the co-founder of Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers. She holds a Master’s Degree in psychology, a CDAAC, and she is currently working toward her Doctorate in Psychology (PsyD). Her dedication to furthering her own education is matched with her encouragement of others to do the same. Everything Amanda does is in the best interest of helping teens.
Amanda initially worked with adults in treatment at Promises, but she quickly realized she wanted to direct her energies toward working with kids. It became clear to her that what she had to offer adults was much different than what she could offer kids. Amanda said, “When I was a teen, if someone had asked me ‘Do you have a problem with drugs,’ I would have said, ‘yes.’ I wish there was something like Visions when I was young.” It was this realization and awareness that drew her to work with teens and start building Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers with her husband, Chris Shumow.
She is the mother of four amazing children, wife to Chris Shumow, and deeply involved with all aspects of what makes Visions tick. When I asked Amanda about the Visions culture, she said, “We are humble about a lot of things we do, but we are not humble about the staff. We have the best team. The Visions culture is like nothing else. If people love what they do, they do whatever it takes to make things work. Everyone here has deep dedication.”
When I interviewed Amanda for this piece, the conversation we had was rich with passion and love for what everyone on this team does. She said, “We provide a high level of mental health care: for example, we’ve recently integrated DBT training for all staff. Don’t underestimate someone’s magic.” She’s right. Yes, we encourage fun, and revel in team building activities, but we are deeply serious about the level of care we provide our clients. We understand the need for jocularity, because nothing opens the heart like a healthy belly laugh, but our foundation is built on recognizing the intrinsic value and need for deep work.
I asked Amanda to name some of the things she really loves about the Visions culture and the team she’s help build. She said, “Having things like Glamping – that’s bonding. I have found a place where people fall in love with the work they do. It’s also where the ‘least likely to succeed’ come back to work, and that’s inspiring!” She shared this quote from a client, and frankly, I think it sums up the magic that Visions holds, “This is the first group of people who loved me because they want to, not because they have to.” Amanda, you are the matriarch of a magnificent program, providing a gift of hope, healing, and love.
Read on for some quotes for the staff.
“It’s hard to be in a bad mood around Amanda. Her energy is contagious in every way. She’s one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, I can only hope to a little bit like her. She’s taught me so much about working in this industry and more importantly how to maintain a sense of humor and not lose yourself. She’s our fearless leader and we wouldn’t change it for anything!” – Ashley Harris
“There are so many great things to say about Amanda but I guess to keep it short and sweet and not go on and on and on I would have to go with this…. From what I have been blessed to experience with Amanda is that she is a very kind and generous soul. Always willing to help out and do what she can for others even with a full plate of her own. She is truly the best boss I have had the pleasure of working for. She’s always there to support all the staff in crises mode or silly mode. She keeps the work environment safe but most importantly fun!! She is an inspiration and a role model.” Jennifer Garrett
“Amanda is a rockstar!! She has such a wonderful personality that draws you in. She knows how to talk to the residents in a relaxed manner while still holding boundaries and keeping them in line. She has been a wonderful and understanding employer and to me that is so important!! How she balances running Visions and raising her 4 children I will never know.” Amy Lawhorn
“I think Amanda’s greatest gift to Visions families and staff is her realness. She has the unique ability to turn a serious work related question into a “your mom” joke, and it never gets old.” Patrick Schettler
“I love this woman for so many different reasons. She is a genius to start. Her brilliant ideas start out as giant dreams that come true because of who she is a human being. Amanda’s core beliefs in hard work, family and fun are just a few building blocks she has implemented into Visions’ moral code. As a woman who gets to work for a spectacular woman I am grateful for her leadership inside and outside the office. Her passion for impromptu dance parties reminds me of the meaning of life. Amanda is all business with a gigantic heart that will never grow up!” Christina Howard
Amanda may be the most intelligent person I know. Being around her quick wit, incredible memory, sincerity, fun and compassion makes everyone want to be the best they can. A constant reminder that there are authentic, good people in the world. – Mie Kaneda
It has been my pleasure to have worked with Amanda for almost twelve years. She is always an abundance of energy and highly unpredictable but consistently keeps the best interest of our kids in mind. – Bill Hoban
1: Roller skates or blades?
2: In three words, describe your passion for kids:
Love, laughter, hope
3: If you were in the circus, what would your specialty be?
4: Favorite song…ever.
Could not even begin to list them, I have one for every genre in every decade…seriously.
5: What do you do for self-care?
Watch really, really bad reality TV and go to Vegas as much as possible.
6: What is your greatest accomplishment thus far?
My family and my relationship with my husband.
7: What makes your heart sing?
My kids, slot machines.
8: If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
9: What makes you laugh?
My kids, and everyone at work. I have a pretty adolescent sense of humor and so does everyone we work with, so it gets loud and crazy sometimes.
10: How does Visions Inspire you?
Everyday in every way. From kids to staff, we have daily moments that connect us and drive me to do better and do more. Almost every decision we (I) have made in the past 11 years has been inspired by Visions!
We all have had our share of bad luck, but for some of us, we need to really take a look at whether or not this is bad luck at all or if our drinking and using is getting in the way.
Let’s break it down:
1. You seem to have a lot of bad luck involving the law.
You are chronically pulled over for traffic infractions or for looking suspicious; your parking tickets are piling up in your glove box, or every time you walk into a store, you are shadowed by security. Police officers always have it out for you, right? No. Typically speaking, our questionable actions draw negative attention. As we come into recovery and start looking at these actions of ours, we will often find that the “bad luck” around the law dissipates. When we start doing the recovery work set out for us by our sponsors, mentors, counselors, and therapists, our outlook changes and so does our luck!
2. Relationships never work out.
You fight with your parents, your teachers, your friends and it starts to feel like no one likes you. Sound familiar? Everyone around you is annoying, or maybe they “just don’t understand.” When we are in our disease, we are prone to pushing those who are close to us away. Resistance to change or hearing the truth prevents us from having solid relationships. I have worked with women whose go-to is to do everything in their power to push me away: yelling, defiance, and insults. As a sponsor/mentor, I have learned to maintain strong boundaries while remaining unwavering in my support. Often times, the desire is to push people away because letting them get too close is terrifying. Fear of abandonment or of commitment is a powerful tool of resistance. There is a fear of vulnerability, but vulnerability is what allows us to work through that fear. This is a good place to take contrary action.
3. There is always something that causes you to be late or not show up at all.
There was traffic or you woke up late or “something came up.” There is ALWAYS something that prevents you from being on time, or you change plans at the last minute, or you simply don’t show up at all. A lot of the times, this self-sabotaging behavior is precluded by a fear of commitment or a desire to go where you think the “party” will be (again, fear of commitment). Have you ever accumulated a series of “maybes” so you could see which invite was the most fun? Making a commitment and being responsible sometimes means missing out on something that is interesting to you. In recovery, we learn to do what we say we will do, even when something better comes along. Taking a commitment at a meeting teaches this really well!
4. You have a hard time keeping a job, or maintaining commitments at school.
You got fired again? Glee club has had it and finally kicked you out? Coach has benched you for the rest of the season this time? Time to look at your actions to see where you are falling short. The truth is people aren’t out to get you; self-sabotage is the culprit here. We have to begin the process of looking within in order to figure out what drives our negative actions. Addiction and untreated mental health is often times fodder for the persistent sense of ill-will and inconsistency.
5. Your teachers seem to be out to get you, conversely, so do your parents.
No one is really out to get you. Addiction likes to pin us in victim mode, telling us time and time again, “the world is out to get us,” “if only people understood me,” et cetera, et cetera. Take your power back and get to work so you can take responsibility for your actions! The 12 steps, a meditation practice, yoga, therapy, being of service: all of these things teach you to identify the truth within, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. Your parents and teachers have your best interests in mind, eventually you will too.
6. Car trouble is your middle name.
Does this sound familiar: It’s always breaking down, or you never have gas, or the tire is flat, or there’s a boot on it because you forgot to pay all of your parking tickets (see #1). When we stop taking responsibility for our actions, and rely on fate or magical thinking to make things better, things inevitably get worse. We can’t think our way out of difficulties; we have to take the appropriate actions to climb out on our own. So, start paying the parking tickets when you get them (I still have trouble doing this!), fill up your tank when it’s half full, check your tires and service your car.
I’ve learned that the most difficult part of putting on your big-girl panties is…putting on your big-girl panties. The rest is pretty easy. You know what? Taking responsibility and doing the work actually feels good. So does dropping the weight of chronic having bad luck.
Something to ponder: When we do esteemable acts, we garner self-esteem; when we take responsibility for our actions, we lower our stress and garner respect from those around us; when we ask for help, we find solace in community. No one said recovery and change would be easy, but fear and resistance generate the difficulties you most often have. You can do this, one breath, one step, one positive act at a time.
The Visions Alumni weekend is fast approaching and we are really looking forward to three days of sober fun! Each year, alumni get a chance to reconnect with their fellow alumni, challenge the staff to a softball game, and engage in team building activities that are chock full of laughter and joy. For us, it’s a pleasure to see the evolution of our alumni as they gotten more rooted in their recovery.
This Alumni Weekend is going to be stellar. Day one: We start the weekend off with an amazing dinner and bowling. Day two: There is an opportunity for service work during the day and a 12-step meeting in the evening. Day three: Softball and the pièce de résistance: we have the Grilled Cheese Truck firing up their griddle and making us sammys! I anticipate great fun.
Many alumni have called asking which staff members will be there because so many folks are looking forward to reconnecting. This is one of the many areas where we shine! We are the Visions family, and with that comes the inclusion of alumni past and present who rely upon us to be the bedrock in their recovery experience.
Without further adieu, here’s some baseball inspiration. We aim to for silliness and fun and we know you do too!