Monday, January 30, 2012


image credit... HIV+ Babylon Chaos

Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.

sometimes it just all seems to go to shit. all the planning, all the meditation, all the affirmations, all the steps i take to stay grounded just fade instantly into black. i am left with darkness, unknowing, and chaos. it doesn't last long, but it is certainly a black hole. today was a feast of this chaos for me. it was huge, without flavor, yet hard to forget.

insanity and sanity may just be the same feeling- one perhaps being the negative of the other. or maybe a 2 sided kandinsky is what this resembles. or maybe i have seen a replication of the big bang theory. how did i live before faith?

Our universe began with a hot big bang 13.7 billion years ago and has expanded and cooled ever since. It has evolved from a formless soup of elementary particles into the richly structured cosmos of today.
The first microsecond was the formative period when matter came to dominate over 
antimatter, the seeds for galaxies and other structures were planted, and dark matter (the unidentified material that holds those structures together) was created.
The future of the universe lies in the hands of dark energy, an unknown form of energy that caused cosmic expansion to begin accelerating a few billion years ago....reprinted from scientific american

Friday, January 27, 2012


image credit .... zach russo

"A.A.'s Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which,
if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink
and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole."

1. Surrender. (Capitulation to hopelessness.)
2. Hope. (Step 2 is the mirror image or opposite of step 1. In step 1 we admit that alcohol is our higher power, and that our lives are unmanageable. In step 2, we find a different Higher Power who we hope will bring about a return to sanity in management of our lives.)
3. Commitment. (The key word in step 3 is decision.)
4. Honesty. (An inventory of self.)
5. Truth. (Candid confession to God and another human being.)
6. Willingness. (Choosing to abandon defects of character.)
7. Humility. (Standing naked before God, with nothing to hide, and asking that our flawsin His eyesbe removed.)
8. Reflection. (Who have we harmed? Are we ready to amend?)
9. Amendment. (Making direct amends/restitution/correction, etc..)
10. Vigilance. (Exercising self-discovery, honesty, abandonment, humility, reflection and amendment on a momentary, daily, and periodic basis.)
11. Attunement. (Becoming as one with our Father.)
12. Service. (Awakening into sober usefulness.)

another week has flown by and it seems fairly full. my friend lost her battle with parkinson's on wednesday and made her transition. there is mostly relief in my heart. it has been an experience to really absorb that i am available to offer support to strangers every day, but i was not able to do the same thing for someone i cared for deeply. character defect? most definitely. and i have to find a way to make peace with it. i understand that there will be a service in late april sometime. the family and her direct caregivers must be exhausted.

the hep-c support group is finally approved by the powers that be at the hospital and the first monthly group will start on 2/14. a licensed social worker will be facilitating and this is sponsored and supported by the hep-c connection. since we have a methadone clinic and an hiv clinic on campus we already have about 1000 patients who are hep-c positive. this is probably a good idea.

i will be flying to chicago for a memorial service of a family friend. she passed over the holidays, but cremation allows a less hurried planning process and a more intentioned attendance. i will only be there for a couple of days. probably not long enough. along the same lines, i was considering going to london with a chicago friend in june, but am leaning away from that idea right now.

i have applied for a part time position at a small counseling agency to work with clients on parole. i think it might be great experience and add a niche on my resume. the owner of the agency has recently been diagnosed with 4th stage pancreatic cancer and his wife will need support. this is the best way i am able to offer it.

as i read over the principles of the 12 step program, i am reminded that there is a responsibility with the gift of sobriety. i am guaranteed a life without the plague of obsession and chaos, but this does have requirements to keep healthy. this is a good place for me to begin my weekend.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

amazing grace

image credit... adri berger

i worked a small party for new clients tonight. it was for around 70 people and it was held to celebrate the installation of a new priest at one of the large episcopal churches in town. i saw several people from my past and i was reminded that i am part of a larger community as well as the communities i claim membership.
the most astounding thing for me was running into a former co-worker who had been present when i was creating the mile high meth project. the grant funding had come through and a mysterious anonymous letter had been circulated about me. i became convinced that it was the handy work of my supervisor and that he was fucking with me. i get triggered with ptsd with the whole scenario and ended up getting fired-(best thing and worst thing that has happened to me in recovery). anyway- this guy david and i talked last night for the 1st time since 2008. he validated my experience and my perception and i was able to make further peace with the whole situation. i cried this morning as i recalled the peace that touched me.

Friday, January 20, 2012

matters of the heart

jude law image credit... john stoddart

“People get into a heavy-duty sin and guilt trip, feeling that if things are going wrong, that means that they did something bad and they are being punished. That’s not the idea at all. The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn’t understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you’re given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further.”

“A psychotic drowns in the very same stuff a mystic swims in.”
pema chodron

i stopped by to see my sponsor today to check in about our meeting. during the conversation, it became clear that i have some  real resistance to looking honestly at myself right now. i am not liking this realization, but i can neither ignore nor deny it. i have some reservations. about what i am not exactly sure. but i do know that i need to lean into the resistance.

i have developed too many ego issues. i have wrestled with emotional safety. i have allowed my drive to succeed to overshadow my sense of inclusion. i have opted to feel numb in lieu of feeling uncomfortable-this is fairly scary. amid all this, i have become slightly isolated. i have set boundaries with family members and this has become a fence to keep them out. in some ways i have become fearful of others and thus prideful because i don't negotiate my fears. i let them control me and keep me like a stone sculpture. this trend has become like dining on a frozen dinner- without flavor, without adventure, and much too easy.

i realized today that i would like to speak publicly. i believe that the experiences i have catalogued might embody some valuable information. i am walking through recovery of a few types, mental health, bi-polar disorder, ptsd, sexaholism, and hiv. perhaps it sounds like a lot, but it is the road i am travelling. i'm not finished, but if i am to retell my insight, i must be more diligent about my own housekeeping. as i look around my house, i realize what a double entendre this is.

i have been listening to bettye lavette, shirley horn, and ernestine anderson lately. the vintage jazz standards create a sense of familiarity and wonder at the same time in me. but today i'll leave you with some etta james. she passed today and i am attempting to underline how blessed i feel she was here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

joyful january

Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.

i took about 15 pairs of trousers over to a day shelter today to donate and ran into a young man i know. he has been through treatment twice in the last 6 months and he finds himself homeless and coming up for air after a reigniting of his meth romance.
it was good to see him and it was not. i invited him to start something new in his life, yet he does not hear what i am suggesting. i will keep talking with him.
i met with my sponsor on saturday and talked about going through the step work again. i know i need to jump start my spiritual life. i am unclear that this is the right decision. i believe it is not a bad direction however. movement in a forward direction will be a good thing.
i saw the movie "joyful noise" on sunday. it was uncomplicated and full of music. i believe it was joyful. and i needed that.
my life has felt stalled since the onset of 2012. i have revisited old stuff, and yet i have not been scooped up by it. i have many tasks to complete before the end of the week. i hope for the ability to do them.
some changes- i have switched healthcare providers, i have filed for a modification to my home loan, i have applied for a secondary counseling position at a small agency that works with felons, i have taken a board position with advocates for recovery, i have decided to really work on letting go of my fears of others.

I Want To Take You Higher\
Feeling's gettin' stronger
Music's gettin' longer too
Music is flashin' me
I want to, I want to, I want to take you higher
I want to take you higher
Baby, baby, baby light my fire
I wanna take you higher 
.....sly and the family stone

Saturday, January 14, 2012

here's to life

No complaints and no regrets.
I still believe in chasing dreams and placing bets.
But i have learned that all you give is all you get, so give it all you got.
I had my share, i drank my fill, and even though i’m satisfied i’m hungry still
To see what’s down another road, beyond a hill and do it all again.
So here’s to life and all the joy it brings.
Here’s to life the dreamers and their dreams.
Funny how the time just flies.
How love can turn from warm hellos to sad goodbyes
And leave you with the memories you’ve memorized
To keep your winters warm.
There’s no yes in yesterday.
And who knows what tomorrow brings or takes away.
As long as i’m still in the game i want to play
For laughs, for life, for love.
So here’s to life and all the joy it brings.
Here’s to life, the dreamers and their dreams.
May all your storms be weathered,
And all that’s good get better.
Here’s to life, here’s to love, here’s to you.
May all your storms be weathered,
And all that's good get better.
Here's to life, here's to love, here's to you.

i wrote about an encounter with someone who was deeply lost in his drinking last week. 4 days later he had died. i was very saddened by it all. feeling quite helpless and ineffective is just a fraction of the things that i have tried on. it's better today. i am accepting and letting go. it is a process though.

the flip side of course, is that the struggling soul- my friend- is struggling no more. he doesn't have to hate his hiv and his hep-c any longer. he doesn't have to deny that he doesn't feel his best.any more. he doesn't need to imbibe till the blackness rolls in any longer. and he doesn't have to hide who he is and how he is. he is free.

this space i now find myself in is part of my reality. strangely, it has been for half my life-in one way or another. in the 80's and 90's it was the virus that was taking out many of my contemporaries. drugs and alcohol took out a few too, but it was mostly aids. now i find the opposite to be true. working within the hiv field, the virus takes out a few, but more than anything else, i see multiple earth departures fueled by substances.

i am practicing staying grounded as i continue to remember that people die. this death is not an isolated incident. thankfully, it is not a daily one, but it happens more than i would like. i am thankful i am able to available for others. the 80's found me numbing out myself. today i am listening.  i honestly am changing. one day at a time.

“There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly. Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.” 

Friday, January 13, 2012

walking on water

Waves are not measured in feet and inches, they are measured in increments of fear.

-Buzzy Trent.

SOUL SURFER is the inspiring true story of teen surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm
in a shark attack and courageously overcame all odds to become a champion again, through her
sheer determination and unwavering faith. The film features an all-star cast, including
AnnaSophia Robb and Helen Hunt, with Carrie Underwood in her film debut, and Dennis Quaid.
In the wake of this life-changing event that took her arm and nearly her life, Bethany's feisty
determination and steadfast beliefs spur her toward an adventurous comeback that gives her
the grit to turn her loss into a gift for others.... Soul Surfer the film 

i watched the film "soul surfer" last weekend and have not been able to shake its message out of my mind. it is certainly an inspirational film based on the true story of aussie born surfer bethany hamilton who tragically lost an arm to a shark attack. with resilience she developed through her faith and honed by working with others, she returned to the sport (and lifestyle) that she loved- and returned with grace. 

yes i am almost embarrassed that i totally loved this teenager tale of recovery. yes i think it's probably corny. and yes i have seen it more than once this week. for me, it is a quintessential tale of faith and redemption. and these are themes that i now believe in. 

at times in life, i have found myself devastated because my dreams and plans were shattered. it felt as if my life was obliterated, and i didn't think i could or wanted to go on. but my plans are not the only blueprint at work in my life. i have a design, but not the design. this is pivotal. i have input, but am not in charge. 

what i love most about bethany's story is the revelation that her life became so much larger when she began to accept her new situation and started working with her circumstances. just as she meets the surf where it is and finds the patience and skill to ride a wave back to shore, she shared her life's joy and her experience with others in lieu of seeking pleasure for herself. this action opened a view of her life that was bigger than she could have guessed or imagined. and she triumphed and found peace.

on a more universal level, the scenes in the film of hawaii are breathtaking, the ocean shots, the surfing culture, the rocky pacific rim shores establish themselves as an integral part of the story. it is not a new story by any means. it is a yarn that has been spun and re-spun throughout the ages. it is, however, a real story. the fears that we encounter when our plans are trashed by life seem insurmountable at times. and this will continue to happen as long as we have dreams. and the grace that is bestowed when we let go of our plans and make room for another is life changing, right-sizing, and priceless. 

 i smiled, i cried,. and i liked it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

prayer in the darkness

image credit... mrmvs

The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you refuse to take the turn.....
author unknown

the 1st 11 days of this year have challenged my equilibrium.  i'm not sure if nature might be pushing back at me since i exerted quite a lot of energy in the month of december. whatever the reason, i certainly didn't expect to encounter a somewhat distorted and dinghy looking glass. hope- expectation- success- disappointment- are all curves on the same highway. 

wow... these past days certainly reflect the idea of trudging the road of happy destiny- at least the trudging part. 

what i am very sure is that i believe that this current movie reel i find myself dramatizing in is temporary. my story involves much more for me to do, more to endure, more to discover, more to learn, and more to let go. 

  oh please- 
sweet complicated universe, help me make room for good things to happen in my life. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

camera obscura... through a glass darkly

It doesn't hurt me. 
Do you want to feel how it feels? 
Do you want to know, know that it doesn't hurt me? 
Do you want to hear about the deal that I'm making? 
You, It's you and me. 

And if I only could, 
I'd make a deal with God, 
And I'd get him to swap our places, 
Be running up that road, 
Be running up that hill, 
Be running up that building. 
Say, If I only could, oh... 

You don't want to hurt me, 
But see how deep the bullet lies. 
Unaware, I'm tearing you asunder. 
Ooh, There is thunder in our hearts.... kate bush

the darkness that seems to have settled upon my life at the beginning of this year seems a bit less stifling today. although continuing to be out of sorts, i sense some hope- with regard to specifically what i am not so sure. there is a recurrence of old feelings that i haven't yet pinpointed.

perhaps there is an innate sense of self-destruction that permeates my foundation. i know that i can't sense directly what is not right, but with time, i can rewind until i forage the rough steps and the missteps until perhaps motivation emerged.

i now realize (after only 1 week this time) that some ancient feelings got triggered somehow. i reacted as i have trained myself to. i then paused, looked around, and remembered that my emotional responses are not my desired ones. the recoiling of  the released ball of emotional yarn needs to happen. it is happening. staying in the moment is the last instinct.

meanwhile- the image i captured, although based in reality, is not at all a true image nor is the response a real response, but more i have just experienced a reflection of an old reaction.

it's a lotta friggin work to heal sometimes..

"Please forgive me. This post strains two metaphors and doesn’t do it very artfully. One, the camera obscura, represents, literally, the “dark room” in which many developers find themselves when working with a non-standards-based SOA development platform. The second, “through a glass darkly” represents the transition, indeed, the revolution, that developers need to accept in order to get SOA applications widely deployed".... an idea lifted from another blogger

Friday, January 6, 2012

right thing to do......... anyway

image credit... larry sultan

what an incredible funk this week has been steeping in. i have been in a dark mood, sleepy, unable to rest at night, feeling sketchy, and fantasizing about emotionally overreacting. its weird. it feels like old behavior- familiar. and it feels a little dangerous. whatever is going on, i haven't really been having fun. i have been weird. i have recoiled a little, and i feel unsure.

today i met with someone with a heavy drinking issue. he had stopped for a few months, but i believe that the holidays and the emotions around that were too much and he drank again. he now finds himself hallucinating, hearing voices, paranoid, lost, fearful, and smelling of raw potatoes. he absolutely refused to go to a detox, but i did take him to an emergency room.  it opened my heart quite a bit to spend time with him. i hope it helped him. i know it changed me..


People are unreasonable, illogical, self-centered them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives good anyway.
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies successful anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow good anyway.
Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable honest and frank anyway.
People love underdogs but follow only top dogs
...follow some underdog anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you try to help people anyway.
If you give the world the best you have, you may get kicked in the teeth
...but give the world the best you have

Wednesday, January 4, 2012