Saturday, December 31, 2011

Good Medicine .. Pema Chodron

The Old Year has gone. Let the dead past bury its own dead. The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time. All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months! ~Edward Payson Powell

Thursday, December 29, 2011

on the ten- winter 2011

publishing this issue really has me thinking..
we are winding up our 4th year of putting this little periodical together. i remember when i started it..
i was just taking on the facilitator role for a social networking organization in denver. i had come to realize that living in colorado meant living alongside hiv stigma. it was very real and often painful for many of my neighbors. i wanted to visibly assure others that indeed there were hiv positive individuals, living in colorado, who were doing well, were not ashamed, and were finding success and happiness.
and here is the current incarnation- colorful and hiv very much in your face...

peace and happy new year.

TEN Newsletter Winter 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 holiday letter.... with humility

image credit..... david slijper

Calling All Angels-

As another December rushes by and 2011 folds itself up, I find it appropriate to send holiday greetings and wishes for you and your loved ones. It seems to have been a very hurried year- I don’t remember one rushing by quite so quickly.

Denver remains my current home, and continues to grow with me and around me  with leaps and bounds. I don’t mean just by population, but also the growing up it is doing as a metropolis. Rail services, high rises, museums, toll-ways, and many other markers of city living continue to pop up at almost every turn.
I started my 3rd year at the public hospital and have transferred to a 3rd clinic within that system. There are new challenges that tug at my heart and test my resolve almost every day. I had no clue, upon taking this position, that I would enjoy working and learning at a campus environment quite so thoroughly. It seems with so many wonderful hearts and minds pushing in the same direction, that an entire different level of energy gets tapped somehow. It continues to be energizing and invigorating. I will be playing Santa Claus at the Women and Family Services Party this year. I’ll post a pic on Facebook. I think this’ll be the highlight of this Christmas.

I managed to celebrate 7 years clean in September. The most notable difference for me is a renewed belief that a different process – emotional sobriety- needs to be the focus. I avoided growing up for so long, that it had become almost second nature for me to walk through life with blinders. For many of you, I am certain that this sounds absurd. But I know that many beliefs and habits need to be sorted through like the storage boxes in my grandparents’ basement after they passed- only with a handful of true keepsakes and much of something else.

I had the good fortune to act as chairperson for the 2011 Rally For Recovery for Advocates For Recovery in September. It was the 10th annual celebration to celebrate and make more visible the benefits of recovery- not only to the individuals directly involved, but also to the families, the workplaces, and the communities of the recovered individuals.  No doubt it is hopeful for people struggling with sobriety to see many individuals with long term clean time. It has become important to me that a concept of something wholesome and positive can exist beyond the image of addiction. So often- jails, institutions, and death are what follow in our collective minds. Thus, a more visible reminder that wonderful things happen with recovery is an imperative . I have agreed to act as chair for the 2012 Rally and join the Board of Directors for this organization as well.

My mom is doing well. She seems settled in her retirement and happy with her DVR and her tiny garden. We have spent several holiday weekends with the Baileys in Idaho Springs and done some great day trips from there- the most memorable for me being Maroon Bells just outside Aspen. It is truly one of the loveliest places I have been in years. I remember the profound quiet that came upon us as we approached the peaks and their reflection in the lakes. I can only hopet that you may you find that profound sense of peace in your life. 

Kiss Kiss and Beautiful Holidays To You From Colorado
******* Rod Rushing*******

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


image credit... alex ibsen

i arrived in philadelphia this afternoon with no real objectives other than to get outta dodge and attend the philadelphia roundup this weekend.  additionally i am touching  base with a dear friend who relocated here in october, it is remarkable to witness the resilience in someone who continues to pursue something he loves with someone he loves. it definitely gives me hope. 

one thing of which i am acutely aware is the fear i have of people and new situations. i don't remember being like this before, but i probably self-medicated through it and paid little mind. (double entendre :). i have developed fear and avoidance when faced with strangers. it makes some sense, as i work as a counselor and have that platform to meet clients with. i am confident and sure-footed most of the time. i also work with personal chefs at small dinner parties at private homes and have the run of the kitchens and dining rooms when i am there. 

but here, in philadelphia, without a "job", i find myself flailing and sputtering. it is awkward, clumsy, and uncomfortable. and i need to lean into the awkwardness somehow. 

this city holds history and it is a wonder to walk about. its majesty and grandeur are visible and present in a way that is also understated. there are old buildings that have been refurbed everywhere, and there are restoration projects all over the downtown area. there are plenty of buildings in decay as well.  as i was shooting the above photograph yesterday, some woman came up to me and asked "are you going to fix it"?  i laughed.
no- i had no intention of fixing this building. 

but it also reminded me that not too long ago, i was very much like this abandoned decaying structure. i was just there and not even remotely aware that i was in disrepair and needed fixing. but that has changed. 

philadelphia won't fix me. but it is presenting me with a new perspective on where i am and where i am going. the concept of roundups is, i believe, to support lgbt persons in recovery to normalize their experiences and feelings. the very concept intimates that our culture has specific needs and commonalities. as i move forward in my program, i understand that i continue to have work to do. 

thank you universe for reminding me that even though i have some time, i am not finished.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

the gift

image credit.... kristofj and sean

I need to go outside
I need to leave the smoke
'cause I can't go on living in this same sick joke
It seems our lives have taken on a different kind of twist
Now that you have given me the perfect gift
You have given me the gift

today someone told me a secret about their life. they clearly didn't want to talk about it, but at the same time they really really did want to talk about it, too. i let them make up their own mind without asking. and i didn't press for details.

it was painful for me to watch and listen. it wasn't my pain, but it was full of pain none-the-less.  it wasn't a pretty story. nor was it happy. it didn't have a happy ending and it's doubtful it ever will.  there is much shame and guilt around it. there were first pleasures and lost boundaries. and  left on the floor are broken thoughts and jagged memories.

i watched tears roll softly and pointedly as the details unfurled. the teller kept reminding me how okay they were with everything- which couldn't be further from how it seems. what seems more likely is that the teller has become accustomed to the twisted feelings and somehow thinks (as survivors do) that this is how it always is.

i inquired about whether this wounded one had ever considered self-forgiveness. i was answered with a seesaw response of "i have forgiven myself" followed quickly and painfully by"i don't know how". from what i could surmise, both are true, with the latter overshadowing the former in accuracy.

today, i am reminded once more that the bullshit i ran away from in my childhood, used anything and everything i could heavily to drown out reminders, and then uncovered very clumsily in early sobriety has been transformed. i no longer lead with shame and self-degradation as my calling card. though they are definitely still there, they have been recessed to a back shelf where they provide backbone for empathy and and echo chamber to help me listen when working with others.

i understood today's fractured fairy tale quite well. i felt blessed that i could be with someone as they allowed themselves to remove some of their armor and feel.

i am not the man i had mostly planned to be. thank god. i am just the guy i have become. it truly seems a gift.