Categories
Holidays Recovery

Staying Sober on Labor Day Weekend

It’s Labor Day weekend, the first holiday of the school year and the one that indicates the hibiscus©saritzrogersreal end of Summer and the transition toward Fall. Labor Day represents the culmination of Summer barbecues, eating al fresco, long days and warm nights. Stores already have Halloween swag for sale and it’s still August! I wish I was kidding.

For addicts and alcoholics, long weekends tend to mean parties. But as the path of recovery becomes your own, the meanings of holidays change. They become opportunities for making healthier choices, having sober fun, and making long-lasting connections.

Still, for someone new in recovery, holidays might be overwhelming. Holidays may be the first relatively unstructured time for the newcomer fresh out of treatment, or it may be reminiscent of times past where things went awry. The reality is, recovery requires a shift: a shift in social circles, life choices, and a shift in how we represent ourselves to the world. Gone are the days of calculated debauchery and lost memories.

Here are some helpful tips to help you stay on track this Labor Day weekend (and any holiday weekend from here on out):

  • Get active: Play in the surf, go on a hike, or a long bike ride.  Firing up those endorphins is good for us and positive for our mental health.
  • Go to extra meetings; There are meetings going on at all times of the day—early morning to the infamous late-night meetings.  Often times, there are marathon meetings on holiday weekends.
  • Stay in contact with your sponsor and actively engage with your recovery support system
  • Be of service! Helping others gets us out of ourselves and into action. At 21 years sober, I spend more of my time being of service than I ever did. It keeps me present, engaged, and out of my head.
  • Host or attend a sober event. In sober living? Maybe your house will be up to the task of making an in-house sober fun day – BBQS, pool party, et cetera.
  • Engage in a contemplative practice: yoga or meditation. Yoga and meditation are both a direct route to self-care. They cultivate the engagement of the breath, which helps us stay in the present moment. They both ask that we are present: not in the future and not in the past. This, in and of itself, is profoundly self-regulating.
  • Say “No” when and if you need to. Remember, “No,” is a complete sentence. If something doesn’t feel right to you, “no” is a perfectly acceptable answer. It’s a boundary and good practice in recovery.
  • Ask for help: You cannot do this alone. Understanding that asking for help is a learned skill, practice whenever you can.  If you are lonely, or overwhelmed, or emotionally triggered, reach out to someone. Work with moving against the discomfort of asking for help – it does not imply weakness, but rather, tells those around you that you are courageous.

And most of all: have fun this Labor Day weekend. Like Theodore Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) once said, “Fun is good.” Try to find joy in the little things: a cuddle with a dog, a great cup of coffee, a cool dip in a pool on a hot day, the majestic cloud formations, a sunset, or whatever strikes you. There are nuggets of goodness everywhere. And if you have trouble finding something joyful, do yourself a favor and jot down 3 things you’re grateful for. It will help you find your way. Have a safe and sober weekend

Categories
Adolescence Alumni Events Recovery

The Annual Alumni Ski Trip! It’s Finally Here!

This is it: time for our annual Alumni Big Bear Ski trip,

Ski Bear Mountain (Photo credit: miheco)

and we are over the moon! It’s one of the favorite alumni events of the year, and the fact that 6 more weeks of winter have been predicted (thanks, Punxsutawney Phil!), and the fact that snow is falling, we are raring to go.

 

It’s always an adventure complete with community building activities, epic goofiness, 12-step meetings, fellowship, and a burrito-eating contest. Yes, you read that last part correctly. There’s a place in Big Bear that sells something called the “Big Juan” burrito. It’s a 4-pound burrito and if you can eat it in 45 minutes, you win a T-shirt. There is always someone willing, no matter the warnings of sickness and overwhelm.  It must be some T-shirt! We’ll post pics if someone dares to take this challenge.

 

The best part of this trip is the alumni community. Alumni are given the opportunity to reconnect with one another, bond and share stories of recovery, downfalls, and encouragement. Some come just for that, even though they don’t ski or snowboard. In fact, there has been many a time where alumni have helped each other out on the slopes, guiding each other down their first hill or their 100th.  Team work, fellowship, goofiness, laughter, hot cocoa, marshmallows, and the inevitable teen prank: It’s all worth every moment.

Categories
Holidays Recovery

Visions Wishes You a Happy Thanksgiving and Chanukah

It’s a big night: it’s the night before Thanksgiving and the first night of Chanukah. It’s a holiday mashup if I’ve ever seen one!

 

There is the inevitable stress (walk into any grocery store and you’ll see what I mean), family shenanigans (some good, some bad), and excitement. I won’t lie, the entire week has been focused on making Thanksgivukkah donuts. Really.  What I will tell you is this: try to find some humor in the madness. There is humor and joy or the possibility of both everywhere you turn.

 

There are:

Menurkeys

 

 

 

 

Bad jokes:

Why don’t turkeys fly?
They can’t afford plane tickets!

Why do turkeys gobble?
Because they never learned table manners!

 

Silly videos:

 

If you find yourself in a situation where you feel too vulnerable, remember these tools for self-care:

  • Take 10 deep breaths.
    • Try one of my favorite calming techniques: Breathe in for the count of 5, breathe out for the count of 6. Do this 10 times! If you can, increase the #s, always making the outbreath longer. It naturally calms the mind and resets the nervous system.
  • Take a time out;
  • Make an exit plan
    • drive your own car
    • have secondary plans or a safe place you can go.
  • Go to a meeting;
  • Be of service. It will change your life.

 

From all of us here at Visions Teen, we wish you a safe, sober, and fun Thanksgiving and Chanukah.

 

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”  Charles Dickens

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
Alumni Events Recovery

Alumni Adventure: Halloween Horror Nights

One of the most lauded alumni events at Visions is our Halloween outing.  This year is no different as we expand our adventure and take it to new heights: Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, we are coming your way!  I hear it’s scarier, gorier, and more terrifying than ever.  Rumor has it, Halloween Horror Nights makes Knott’s look like kids’ play! Say it isn’t so!

 

The attractions are fraught with zombies galore, inspired by the Walking Dead as well as some much-needed comic relief. A little screaming, a little laughing: it’s all waiting for you! Check it out:

 

  • The Mazes take you through the “shadowy confines of the West Georgia Correctional Facility,” which of course is chock full of hungry zombies looking for…YOU. In the mazes, there is no “safe haven.”
  • Once you leave the West Georgia Correctional Facility, you can jump on the Terror Tram, where you will find yourself in a zombie filled town of Willbury. The wilderness is filled with “decaying Walkers.”
  • There is some comic relief available with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure. I’m sure it’s like, totally most excellent as they take you through the madness of this year’s pop culture adventures.

The rides are there too, albeit scarier than the usual fare. Maybe you’ll be seated next to a zombie on one of these rides: Transformers, Revenge of the Mummy, Jurassic Park — in the Dark, and the Simpson’s Ride.

 

Of course there are also myriad scare zones throughout the park:

  • The Curse of Chucky is in the house, and he is ready to play hide and seek with you.
  • There’s the Purge, where you have to find a way to “survive the night.”
  • We can’t forget the Clowns, right? Those with Coulrophobia (fear of clowns) beware as you find yourself on clown-filled streets of Paris.
  • Next you may find yourself under the shadows of the Scarecrowz Tower, with a new breed of scarecrows waiting for you nearby.
  • And last but not least is the Walking Dead infestation. Stay together, y’all. Zombies are notoriously unpredictable.

 

The excitement for this event is brewing amongst the Visions kids and I can’t help but share their enthusiasm with you all here:

 

“I am so excited for the Visions Alumni event this Friday.  I really am looking forward to going to Universal Studios Haunted Horror Nights with all my new friends I have made at Visions and to see all the alumni kids.  It’ll be a great night for sure.”

 

“I can’t wait! I’m so ecstatic. I personally don’t like scary things, but I’m still so excited.”

 

“I like haunted houses and stuff so that will be cool.  I like sober fun and going with my friends. It will be fun.”

 

Whether you are alumni, a current client, or staff member along for this scary adventure, Halloween Horror Nights will be a night to remember.  What a cool opportunity to be a team: stay together and enjoy the ride! This is what sober fun is all about!

 

Categories
Adolescence Alumni Events Recovery Service

Visions Alumni Weekend, 2013!

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!

https://youtu.be/4uc7beYpGXM?t=4s

Categories
Events Recovery

ICYPAA 55: Phoenix, Here We Come

The 55th ICYPAA Convention (International Conference of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous) is happening and it’s in Phoenix, Arizona this year! ICYPAA is an annual gathering for young people to celebrate and honor their sobriety. Over the years, we have seen an increase in the numbers of young people coming into recovery. ICYPAA has been a consistent resource.  ICYPAA provides a huge pool of experience, strength and hope for young people, allowing a safe space for those walking similar paths and trying to better their lives to be amongst their peers in a fun, entertaining, spiritual, hopeful way.

 

Being of service is something you can do no matter how long you’re sober: it can be a day, months or years. It simply doesn’t matter. Putting your hand out and helping someone else gets you out of yourself.  Being at an ICYPAA convention is a neat way to approach fellowship and service work because you’re in a huge container for the process to unfold. You are essentially hanging out with other people for an extended period of time, and all are on the same path. It can be a truly wonderful experience. But nothing says it better than this:

 

“ICYPAA and its attendees are also committed to reaching out to the newcomer, and to involvement in every other facet of AA service. ICYPAA participants can often be found serving at the national, state, area, and group levels. Newcomers are shown, by people their own age, that using AA principles in their daily lives and getting involved in AA service can have a significant impact on a lasting and comfortable sobriety.”

 

I got to spend some time at our Day School, and the kids were abuzz with excitement and anticipation about the weekend ahead of them. The members of the staff that are going are excited too. Sober conventions are an experience! When I asked Will, one of our tutors, about his thoughts and expectations venturing off to ICYPAA, he said,

 

“I’m just as excited for the road trip as I am for the actual convention. This will be my first conference, so I don’t quite know what to expect. My plan is to go to the meetings and interact with as many people as possible. I think that people from other parts of the world have a different perspective on sobriety. It’s always interesting to hear someone else’s point of view.”

How amazing is it to get to experience the world with open eyes, and an open heart?

 

It looks like this is going to be an amazing weekend of sober fun, meetings, and support. From what I hear, it’s also monsoon season in Arizona, so it will be hot, muggy, rainy and absolutely beautiful. Life is infinitely better when you can be present for it!

Categories
Recovery

Serious to Silly: Finding your Funny Bone in Recovery

Do we have to stop being silly just because we’re in recovery?  I think not!  In fact, our mental health just might be at stake if we get too serious!

Things we do need to be serious about:

  • Our sobriety
  • The 12 Steps
  • Our speech: is it helpful or harmful?
  • Our actions: are you being selfish, self-centered, greedy, or manipulative?
  • Our health: are you taking care of our mental and physical health?
  • Asking for help
  • Developing self-awareness
  • Self-care

But here are some things where being silly, play, lightheartedness can be invited in:

  • Creativity
  • Exercise…outside…in the mountains, or at the beach. In fact, learn how to do something new, like stand up paddle boarding, and bring your sense of humor with you–you’ll need it!
  • Look random things during your day that bring you joy and share them with others.
  • Games: grab a yo-yo or try to walk a slinky down some stairs. Remembering how to be ridiculous is truly liberating.
  • Have a Game night. Seriously a night hanging out with friends, some coffee, and a silly game like Balderdash can be hilarious.

Getting sober, managing mental health issues, learning how to be comfortable again or for the first times in our bodies is hard work. It’s scary, emotional, and intense. When we get lost in the intensity, and lose site of our light side, recovery can feel overwhelming.  This is where finding humor, laughter, and fun can act as a release valve we so desperately need.  Keep it simple never sounded so good!

Categories
Anniversary Blogs Holidays Mental Health Recovery

Happy New Year!

New Year – Chinatown
© 2012 saritphotography.com

‘Tis New Year’s Eve and I have to say, 2012 has been amazing. We celebrated 10 years of service, continued our diligent efforts of care and expanded upon our mental health track, got a facelift at our Brentwood facility, and expanded our programs. We are blessed to have a team of people who are imbibed with the love and passion it takes to work in the field of recovery. Visions is a family, pure and simple, and whose primary purpose is to be of service to one another.

Over the past year, we have celebrated many of our team in our Anniversary blogs. However, we are far from done! The anniversary blogs will continue into 2013, so we can honor those whose altruism and sheer kindness form the foundational brick and mortar of the Visions team.

For those of you new to the path of recovery: stay connected. Your sober network provides a wonderful net on which to rest when things get tough or scary. The work of sobriety and mental health is a long process, but one that is well worth the effort. If I could say one thing to you at the end of this year it is this: when things get tough, or frightening, and the shadows of your trauma is looming, turn toward it. Sounds counter intuitive, but when we look directly at that which frightens us, we take its power. Shadows have the capacity to thin and dissipate, and in doing so, they eventually lose their opacity and their power.

It is with great excitement and joy that I wish you all a wonderful, safe, sober, and sane New Year. May the winds of change bring you love and happiness, and most of all healing to whatever path you’re on. Let yourself be loved. You are worth it.

Categories
Adolescence Holidays Recovery

Sober Fun for Adolescents in Recovery

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What’s this? The 4th of July lands on a Wednesday? This might mean less opportunity for teen substance abuse or experimentation, or it might mean a murky Thursday morning. I’m hoping for the former. This got me thinking. At our outpatient treatment facility, one of the groups we hold for our adolescents in recovery includes “sober fun” as a way to get our teens to embrace the idea of having fun in recovery. We all know one of the scariest things about getting sober as an adolescent is the fear of being alienated socially by friends.  Most of the time, the activities that used to be exciting and fun are unsafe in sobriety—drinking and using can’t be used as a social buffer anymore. Recovery is a lifestyle change: both inside and outside of the body.

Why not make the 4th of July chock full of sober fun? It’s a great way to get pre-teens and teens out of their adolescent comfort zone and into a setting of silliness. The options are truly limitless. Sometimes sober fun happens organically, with impromptu dance parties, or  bouts of charades. Not to mention, there are always the organized activities that are far more fun sober than loaded, like bowling, mini golf, or paint ball. The idea is to get comfortable in our skin so we can let loose without chemical aid. Life is fun. It is full of wonderful surprises, why not experience them in a way you can remember later?

Over the years, I’ve had far more fun sober than I ever had using. Being in recovery empowers us to be present. We become engaged with our lives and in our friendships, which ultimately means we can enjoy our experiences tenfold. One of the best gifts of being a young adult in recovery is this: learning to live in the solution before we get stuck undoing decades of bad habits.

Have a wonderful, safe, and colorful Fourth of July. More than anything, have limitless fun and laugh like you mean it.