Tuesday, March 26, 2013

the only exception

“My turn now. The story of one of my insanities.

For a long time I boasted that I was master of all possible landscapes-- and I thought the great figures of modern painting and poetry were laughable.

What I liked were: absurd paintings, pictures over doorways, stage sets, carnival backdrops, billboards, bright-colored prints, old-fashioned literature, church Latin, erotic books full of misspellings, the kind of novels our grandmothers read, fairy tales, little children's books, old operas, silly old songs, the naive rhythms of country rimes.

I dreamed of Crusades, voyages of discovery that nobody had heard of, republics without histories, religious wars stamped out, revolutions in morals, movements of races and continents; I used to believe in every kind of magic.

I invented colors for the vowels! A black, E white, I red, O blue, U green. I made rules for the form and movement of every consonant, and I boasted of inventing, with rhythms from within me, a kind of poetry that all the senses, sooner or later, would recognize. And I alone would be its translator.

I began it as an investigation. I turned silences and nights into words. What was unutterable, I wrote down. I made the whirling world stand still.” 
― Arthur Rimbaud

there has been so much hubbub about the supreme court hearings around doma and prop 8. rightfully so, too. this could be another monumental achievement which will affect the lives of so many gay men and women- both in relationships currently and all the downline duos yet to be. 

love is so very under-developed in my culture. it was something that we dared not speak its name just a few decades ago. now it seems as if half the country- including the sequesters with the black robes who are vested with the task of interpreting  the language and the intent of those who came before us.

i am quite simply gobsmacked by the prospect of this momentous  removal of stigma from the landscape of same-sex lovers. it has proved an albatross and a handicap that so many of my contemporaries have had to trudge through life carrying in their backpacks. it has been the source of so much shame-based trauma which in turn has probably created generations of spiritual nomads- wandering through their lives never believing they had the right to settle anywhere. my brothers and sisters for generations have wandered with their deserted hearts living lustfully for the moment without much expectation of a connection which might last more than a season or two. yet here i sit tonight in quiet awe at this current wind which may blow this drought out of our lives forever. history could be made.

i have to admit that i see so many other issues in my culture- specifically derived from the nomadic nature of our hearts that i struggle strangely with being happy about the prospect of marriage equality. but this is my stuff. there is no magic cure. some of us will not assimilate or perhaps every really feel lovable- no matter how beautifully bright and colorful the celebration glows. 

but maybe there is an exception.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

aria ready

maria callas image credit.... ddmag.tumblr.com

"Human life is a most difficult classroom until you learn the simple fact that your truth is your power, your salvation, your fulfillment, your purpose and your way. Once you can truly believe that, life becomes the joyous and abundant garden that it was meant to be.." 
~ from Emmanuel's Book

i probably am jinxing our opportunity tomorrow by writing about it here, but i am excited enough to try to make it more real. as i've mentioned, we are moving forward with implementing a peer-to-peer network at my workplace. a grant has been written and within that process a framework was created for roll out. we are approaching another funding stream tomorrow and i have been asked to go along to discuss the concept, the framework, and the nuts and bolts. 

this represents a step in a direction i have at once coveted and doubted. this could very well mean that the mania-driven dreamstorming i have been doing this last year within the parameters of several organizations might stand a chance to have some life breathed into them. and beyond my own process and aspirations, it means that this idea of "recovery community" might actually become part of the architecture of public health substance treatment in colorado. ergo- our citizens with no resources might have more support when trying to put their lives back together- and that would be supplied very often by people just like them. this is like a multi-layer ganache cake to me.

the photograph of maria callas  is posted today because whenever i think of arias, i first think of her. she just might always represent the premier diva to me. she captivated a planet when she put her mind to it and she literally breathed life into an art form that had nearly become a museum exhibit. she was bright, talented, inspired. she was difficult, provocative, and a classic. she made no apologies. 

i googled aria as audition and came across a site named ariaready.net and found that there were 5 tips offered as follows.
1) Know your voice and your range and stick to them.
2) Select a diverse group of arias within your range.
3) Always start your auditions with the aria that is most solid in your voice and your heart.
4) Knowing the whole role is not necessary for your audition.
5) Always represent and present your personal brand.

so i will head to the meeting tomorrow with these tips in mind and some blueprints i have been working on. i am sharing them here to review the offerings. first there is the submitted grant- 18 pages of an outline. then there are some window dressings- 
1) A plan to implement and develop a coaching academy for our part of the country.
2) A plan to implement a volunteer workforce and addition to our campus.
3) Creating a value system from our peers to infiltrate our processes and help shift from a medical model.
4) Invite and support a multi-cultural peer network with the resilience necessary to speak to our population.
5) Create positive events for our recovering community to participate in with the intention of creating a recovery community.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

the young and the restless

image credit...ddmag.tumblr.com

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition in which a person has long-term patterns of unstable or turbulent emotions. These inner experiences often result in impulsive actions and chaotic relationships with other people.


Persons with BPD are often uncertain about their identity. As a result, their interests and values can change rapidly. They also tend to view things in terms of extremes, such as either all good or all bad. Their views of other people can change quickly. A person who is looked up to one day may be looked down on the next day. These suddenly shifting feelings often lead to intense and unstable relationships.
Other symptoms of BPD include:
  • Intense fear of being abandoned
  • Cannot tolerate being alone
  • Frequent feelings of emptiness and boredom
  • Frequent displays of inappropriate anger
  • Impulsiveness, such as with substance abuse or sexual relationships
  • Repeated crises and acts of self-injury, such as wrist cutting or overdosing

Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition in which people have an excessive sense of self-importance, an extreme preoccupation with themselves, and lack of empathy for others.


A person with narcissistic personality disorder may:
  • React to criticism with rage, shame, or humiliation
  • Take advantage of other people to achieve his or her own goals
  • Have excessive feelings of self-importance
  • Exaggerate achievements and talents
  • Be preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence, or ideal love
  • Have unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
  • Need constant attention and admiration
  • Disregard the feelings of others, and have little ability to feel empathy
  • Have obsessive self-interest
  • Pursue mainly selfish goals

    as i continue to work with others who are addressing addiction and/or seeking recovery, a very simple yet profound realization has come into view. those who are new to recovery often have not had the time nor the inclination to experience nor even consider what calm, peace, and serenity are. most of the time those attributes may not even be remotely in view. what seems more likely to the beginning of recovery is a tendency to lean towards chaos and drama for a feeling of comfort. since their lives and their brains have probably been steeped in crazy for a period of time, that is where they tend to take encounters,  because that is what is most familiar.

    interestingly, it becomes necessary to allow people the space to have their own discovery process around this, without strong redirection and hopefully without doing do much damage as they strive to rule planet chaos. this is ideally what i like to do. but man- it is not always how the story plays. often, for me, my patience gets tried or my own history at the theatre of the absurd goes into revival and i seem to intervene.

    i cannot know just how this small reveal will shift my days, nor can i know if that shift will have an impact on those i encounter. i do believe that a new level of empathy has been ushered in. i know that the soap opera of new recovery will be seen in a new light- hd if you will. stay tuned.

    Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

Friday, March 15, 2013

no fascist groove thang

History will repeat itself
Crisis point we're near the hour
Counterforce will do no good
Hot you ass I feel your power
Hitler proves that funky stuff
Is not for you and me girl
Europe's an unhappy land
They've had their fascist groove than

Brothers, sisters, we don't need this fascist groove thang.

i have spent the week struggling to keep my eyes open  i have been lethargic and lacking inspiration. i had an encounter last weekend with  a person that acted as an omen in my life. it tasted bitter and sour and i realized that it was time for a new chapter in my life.  i have heard that we live our life in a spiral and with each rotation we have the opportunity to have more truth revealed- if we are paying attention. i somehow  have the feeling that part of my life has just completed a rotation of sorts. 

i have been on this verge before. my emotions are familiar and ancient right now. i know that i have come to a fork and i am choosing a path. i am letting go of an effort i have been making. it has not been unsuccessful, however i don't feel that my efforts have been matched. specifically why that hasn't bothered me until now i am not sure. but that is how the truth seems today. 

i could be tired. i could be emotional. i could be over-reacting, i could be in the wrong. i could be all these things. i can live with being any or all these things.  i have come to understand that i have no obligation to be other than human. 

have my actions been honorable? i think so. have i put in a good effort? time can measure that better than i. have i been honest? in everything but the exit line- completely. am i ready for this? another measure best taken with time. 

underneath it all, a decision has been made- i felt i should wait to decide and so i naturally decided right away. i pressed 10 buttons and unlocked pandora's box.  and i am tired- tired of tap dancing- tired of balancing, tired of waiting for something to happen. and this last bit is directly connected to a spiral in my life. tonight is not the first time i have made a move- a decision- a change- because i am tired of waiting.  

this takes me back to david  richo's "how to be an adult in relationships" -especially the short bit called "what hurts us comforts us". if we grow up around drama- we may create drama in order to recreate that old feeling- even when it doesn't make sense to do so. i can't honestly say whether this  is the right decision. i can say that i am prepared to live with this- so that has become plenty for me.

“Our higher needs include making full use of our gifts, finding and fulfilling our calling, being loved and cherished just for ourselves, and being in relationships that honor all of these. Such needs are fulfilled in an atmosphere of the five A’s by which love is shown: attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, and allowing.” 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

ROSC- Recovery Oriented Systems of Care

c'est moi at African American Health Fair Denver

The following  information was cut and pasted from the SAMHSA website. It is the up-to-date information regarding healthcare reform with regard to substance abuse and mental health treatment. This particular information is of particular interest to me because I work in these fields. And these issues intersect in my life every day in many ways. I believe (through and through) that these issues are worth spending my days around. Some people I know and some people I care about have struggles with these issues that swallow up their lives. So the idea of equal access to treatment is almost worth the national debt. 

But along with parity comes the idea that treatment for both mental health and substance abuse have a mandate to improve their efficacy to coincide with their accessibility. In their current state, these treatment modalities offer stigma, uncertainty, an extremely low percentage of successful outcomes, options that are designed for the providers benefit and not the recipients- i.e. 28 day in-patient- 90 day outpatient- etc,  the focus of substance abuse and mental health will need to expand from treatment to recovery/resilience if it is to be taken seriously. As science moves us forward in understanding, it reveals to us that the brain effects caused by substance and chemical imbalance are lifetime issues for the majority of us and we need to look towards caring for those issues with longterm solutions. Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care are the options that the movers and shakers are looking towards. We might have much better outcomes when we start to treat the whole person for the whole of their lives. ps- if you are inteterested in recovery i recommend you start reading the work of william white at www.williamwhitepapers.com

On October 3rd, 2008, the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 was signed into law. This new Federal law requires group health insurance plans (those with more than 50 insured employees) that offer coverage for mental illness and substance use disorders to provide those benefits in no more restrictive way than all other medical and surgical procedures covered by the plan. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act does not require group health plans to cover mental health (MH) and substance use disorder (SUD) benefits but, when plans do cover these benefits, MH and SUD benefits must be covered at levels that are no lower and with treatment limitations that are no more restrictive than would be the case for the other medical and surgical benefits offered by the plan.
The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act:
Eliminates the practice of unequal health treatment. This practice has kept individuals with untreated substance use and mental health disorders from receiving critically important treatment services. Providing parity provides insurance coverage for substance use and mental health disorders equally to other chronic health conditions like diabetes, asthma, and hypertension.

Improves access to much needed mental health and substance use disorder treatment services through more equitable coverage. Millions of Americans with mental health (MH) and/or substance use disorders (SUD) fail to receive the treatment they need to get and stay well. The lack of health insurance coverage for MH and SUD treatment has contributed to a large gap in treatment services. Improving coverage of MH and SUD services will help more people get the care they need.

Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care (ROSC) is a coordinated network of community-based services and supports that is person-centered and builds on the strengths and resilience of individuals, families, and communities to achieve abstinence and improved health, wellness, and quality of life for those with or at risk of alcohol and drug problems. SAMHSA/CSAT
Note: Prevention Services also play a major role in developing ROSC.
ROSC will require developing supports and services that provide self-directed approaches which respect the role of personal choice and commitment in pursuit of health and wellness. Developing a ROSC also requires helpinging engage people and families in support networks in their communities, to ease their integration back into the community and get their lives back on track. Linking people to services and supports helps sustain long-term recovery. The services and supports may include resources such as:
  • recovery centers in your community;
  • recovery activities and websites;
  • peer support;
  • mutual help groups;
  • faith based supports;
  • housing;
  • transportation;
  • education and vocational;
  • mental health services;
  • medical care, including HIV Services;
  • financial and budget counseling;
  • legal, and advocacy services;
  • alcohol/drug and gambling services;
  • prevention for children and adolescents; and
  • parenting and family services.
Developing a Recovery Oriented System of Care that is built on the strengths and resilience of individuals, families and communities who are actively taking responsibility for their health and wellness drives the continued efforts to build a foundation for recovery in our future .

Monday, March 11, 2013

attack ships on fire

image credit.... ddmag.tumblr.com

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.
 Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
 I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. 
All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. … 
Time to die.....
credited to Rutger Hauer

i have come through the 1st of what is probably going to be a series of very tumultuous weeks and months. although i have had the support of colleagues for the last month, it has really been my experience that support can be very much like applauding a performance. people applaud often because they get caught up in the moment. when the moment ends however, they pull themselves away from adoration and gingerly begin to pick at the particulars of an idea, or song, or play, or idea. 
i want to support an intervention at the workplace. although it has been quite punitive for so long, my intention is to bring choice, personal responsibility, and recovery waft within our walls. 

my career for this century has been woven around change. assisting people in creating change in their lives, in insisting on change in systems as well as creating new services to address unmet needs. i have found myself to be far more  effective and successful than i had ever imagined. this does not surprise me however because i have never really imagined failing. what i had never imagined was confronting the resistance that i have through all of this. not every single change that i have been involved in has brought controversy, however it has been a very sobering (ha!) journey to walk through some of the cheap shots and low blows that have been thrown in my direction. 

Co-Facilitated HIV+ Recovery Support Group as peer volunteer 
in tandem with an LPC at A.R.T.S. 2005-2006
Implemented a peer support group for LGBT seeking recovery from methamphetamine 2006
Co Chair Denver Office of HIV Resources Planning Council 2006-2010.
Strength In Numbers Colorado Moderator 2007-2009
Managed and implemented Cicatelli & Associates training for Peer Mentoring 
and kickstarted HIV One on One Colorado in 2009 
Operations Managing Partner for Travelink Management 1988-1998
Developed peer-to-peer 16 page quarterly newsletter "On The TEN" 
for Colorado HIV Community 2008-present
Helped establish Peer Advocacy 501C3 organization named TEN - Treatment Education Network in 2009
Recognized as Advocate of the Year 2010 by Advocates For Recovery Colorado
Implemented Meth Treatment and Recovery Program for Englewood Agency 2012
Created and maintained recovery oriented blog "The Climb" for AFR Colorado 2011-2012
Served as Recovery Rally Chair for AFR Rally For Recovery 2011 and 2012. 

i have encountered resistance along the way with so many of these endeavors. each individual effort of mine was met with resistance with origin of different sources, different individuals brought each of them forward, different motivations generated each of the attacks, some were subtle, some overt, some were hidden and some were on public display. i have felt battered now and again, however as you may see, the sum of the pieces seems an accomplishment- and i don't think my work is done.

there is a part of me that would like cry "victim" here, but clearly that ain't gonna happen. all of this life that i have  lived since recovery began is truly bonus time. i didn't expect to be here, nor did i really ever do anything to earn extra time on the clock. but i am here and i can't come up with a good enough reason to take it for granted, nor waste it. that being said, it's a priority to make the best of it. so i wanted to write about attack ships for a couple of reasons. i know i am going to feel attacked during this next year (and more) of change. and my sense is that i will be attacked. someone will disagree with me, someone will want to do what i am doing, someone will want to steer us in a different direction. it comes with the territory. and it is incumbent upon me to be realistic about this and find the wisdom to enjoy the dance. speaking of dance, i still love the revolting cocks version of "attack ships on fire" after all these years. it reminds me of bobbing my head, feeling connected to some volatile emotion  and even dancing by myself. and i love the quote from "blade runner" that uses the image of attack ships on fire.

dance, of course, is something i have experience with. maybe not lately, but back in the day i did have a reputation for not just cutting a rug, but also adding poetry to movement.. i loved to dance. i still love music. i assimilate with rhythm and i expand with silence. i have to remember this next year somehow that although i am feeling like a fraidy that i a don't project that- except to a few. isadora duncan dancced her way through her life. she heard a rhythm that others only wished for. and while she lived- she lived. i hope this is one of the lessons left for me to live.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

when the levee breaks

image credit ...ozge gurer

Cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good, 
Now, cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good, 
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move. 
lyrics memphis minnie and kansas joe mccoy

sometimes i am in uber-love with facebook. it offers me hit after hit of glimpses of thoughts and ideas outside my everyday. my haphazardly honed adhd loves this effect. this morning it was a recording of led zeppelin's recording of "when the levee breaks" from their 1971 album "IV" the sight of that audio post gave me permission to zoom out of my life for a minute and put on a different pair of glasses.

continually saying yes has a price. i know this. i have seen this. i have lived this. but my innate desire to excel overrides any logic i might posses. my way is to take it on, take another on, and then say "sure" again mostly because nothing else ever comes to mind. i learned early on in life how to become teacher's pet. i purred in the luxury of excelling in the classroom and being perceived in a positive light, while the i spent the rest of my small town existence of a sissy boy queer orbiting in an atmosphere of whispers and shame. as fate (my teacher) would have it, this obsession with feeling accepted and an impulsive need for validation like a bird of prey  flies close to the falconer.

if i try to recap the events of this past week, my first emotional response is shame. and i don't have the clarity today to understand whether this shame is appropriate or if it is primal. (i hate this not knowing btw). i ran an emotional marathon this week-
 i sat through what seemed like endless arbitrary meetings
 i waded through some large marshes of co-workers discontent,
 i called off a mini-vacation in my old hometown 
i juggled finances and made some hard but necessary choices,
 i took some more ownership of a grant application,
 i wrote a bio-sketch of my peer support experience,
 i became hyper-sensitive mid week and walked through the rest of days,
 my car stopped working,
 i asked for help and got it,
 i received a note from a colleague expressing concern about the work project not being truly
  encountered some passive aggression from a person whom i recommended be re-assigned,
 said goodbye and good-luck to a favorite work mate who transferred to another department.

i am really gobsmacked just writing all this out. these last days i have felt like a gymnast on a balance beam. it's been daunting and precarious and felt competitive. and i have danced like a cobra for the snake charmer. i don't know if the dam will hold. but i do believe the ride is far from over. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

a pair of wings with a ball and chain

image credit... wayfair.com

O Tell Me The Truth About Love by W H Auden

Some say love's a little boy, 
And some say it's a bird, 
Some say it makes the world go around,
Some say that's absurd,
And when I asked the man next-door, 
Who looked as if he knew, 
His wife got very cross indeed, 
And said it wouldn't do.

Does it look like a pair of pyjamas.
Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
Does its odour remind one of llamas,
Or has it a comforting smell? 
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is?
Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love. 

Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes, 
It's quite a common topic on 
The Transatlantic boats;
I've found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides, 
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway guides.

Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
Or boom like a military band?
Could one give a first-rate imitation 
On a saw or a Steinway Grand?
Is its singing at parties a riot? 
Does it only like Classical stuff? 
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet? 
O tell me the truth about love.

I looked inside the summer-house;
It wasn't over there; 
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,
And Brighton's bracing air
I don't know what the blackbird sang, 
Or what the tulip said;
But it wasn't in the chicken-run, 
Or underneath the bed.

Can it pull extraordinary faces?
Is it usually sick on a swing? 
Does it spend all its time at the races,
or fiddling with pieces of string?
Has it views of its own about money? 
Does it think Patriotism enough?
re its stories vulgar but funny?
O tell me the truth about love.

When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I'm picking my nose? 
Will it knock on my door in the morning,
Or tread in the bus on my toes?
Will it come like a change in the weather? 
Will its greeting be courteous or rough? 
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.

there is something i am learning about myself and my nature that seems new. funny, because i am sure it has been the same all along- i suspect i am just waking to it. in the beginning stages of taking an idea and running it up a flagpole and letting the winds of processing stretch it into a life size float. this part of the creative process is the intoxicating part for me. 

unsure as to whether to be validated or not, i feel vindicated to understand finally that it is the kinetics involved in ideas which propel me forward. i get high on ideas. gosh- i feel a little naked admitting this. it's almost as if i feel a little ashamed because i find enjoyment. hmm- gotta find a way to let that bit go. 

i have been told that i am driving the bus on this new idea. i might as well have been given a pair of wings and a ball and chaing at the same time. it's so dizzying and quite daunting. none the less, i am in my cups these days. spinning ideas on creating a vision, a mission, core values, developing and implementing a volunteer workforce, educating, training, and funding all have me believing i might be on a tilt-a-whirl. it's certainly an amusement ride. 

thank you, thank you, thank you universe for opening my world to this opportunity. i have to admit here that some of my judgement will be clouded by my own desires and prejudices. i am swimming a resentment now that i perhaps clouding my judgement somewhat. i am willing to let it go, but i haven't been willing enough to forget it. i pledge to make an effort to get to that place. 

the name of our new venture is slated to be named.
"Back To Life". 
Peer Recovery Services 
What We Teach We Learn
the logo ideas are being bandied about and the next brainstorming event should happen this month. i am scheduling an impromptu thank you lunch for all the volunteers that have participated since the onset. and we will hopefully will start to work on our mission statement.

i don't think i know more than anyone nor do i feel more special. i believe that the ideals of recovery and inclusion that i spout so often about here have been carved into the landscape well before i was aware they existed. i embrace those ideals however, and i work to live by them. and something tells me i will post more about the project as it rolls out.

Recovery Premise 1: All individuals are unique and have specific needs, goals, health attitudes and behaviors, and expectations for recovery.
Recovery Premise 2: Persons in recovery with mental illness, alcohol or drug addiction, or both, share some similarities, however, management of their own lives and mastery of their own futures will require different pathways at times.
Recovery Premise 3: All persons shall be offered equal access to treatment and have the opportunity to participate in their recovery process.