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ISSUE NO. 22

MAY-JUNE 2017

®

Milestones and Miracles Last Issue

Milestones of a Vision by Karen VanDenBerg

The Leroys: A Recovery Parody

by Mark Masserant

Milestones with a Small “m” by Nora Slattery

INSIDE: * Puzzles * Horoscopes * Humor Page * Newcomer’s Page * Recovery Resources

Keep Stepping by Lori Nelson


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MAY-JUNE 2017 - 3


Inside This Issue

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24

26

34

48

42

52

56

Features 6 Cover Story: Milestones and Miracles

30 What Life Does Best

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34 Milestones with a Small “m”

by Randy Boyd

Milestones of Surrender Dr. Judi Hollis - Food Issues

by Roni Askey-Doran by Nora Slattery

10 The Whole Nine Years

36 The Sunshine Vitamin

12 The Cost of Secrets and Lies

38 Milestones Against Meth

14 Sign and Significance

42 War Cries

18 Meditation

44 Perfect Love

20 Okay, Okay

46 Service is Good for the Soul, The Mind and the Body

22 Dear Petra Questions and Answers

48 The Leroys: A Recovery Parody

24 Keep Stepping

50 Milestones of a Vision

26 A Chat with Gabe Howard

52 Milestones in Recovery

28 Giving Back

56 The Secret

by Carol Teitelbaum - It Happens to Boys Darlene Lancer on Codependency by Jim Anders

by Rocky Bottoms by Dan Sanfellipo - Unlocked for Life by Petra Hoffmann - Expert Answers about Hep-C and Addiction by Lori Nelson

by Roni Askey-Doran by Terra Schaad

Regular Stuff 5 7 7 7 9 11 16 19 21 27

Letter from the Editor Letter from the Publisher We’ve Got Mail Random Thoughts Quotes Metaphorically Speaking Newcomer’s Page Movie Review with Leonard Lee Buschel Self Assessment Questions Book Reviews

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by Dr Keerthy Sunder and Jeffrey Bohnen by Angela Goldberg by Shelly Marshall by Dr. Phyllis and Rev. Carrol Davis by Susan Logan-McCracken by Mark Masserant

by Karen VanDenBerg by Kyczy Hawk

by Suzanne Whang

32 39 40 51 57 59 60 65 66

Puzzles Resources for Families Reader Contributions Recovery Online Laugh Lines We Asked, You Answered Directory of Sponsors Recovery Trivia Horoscopes

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Letter from the Editor realizing one milestone at a time,

Roni Askey-Doran

They say we should never look back. However, each time I reach an important milestone in life, it’s hard to not look back and see how far I’ve come along this wild and rocky path. I’m proud of the distance I’ve covered between the last significant achievement and this new one. It hasn’t been an easy road to travel. There were obstacles at every turn, and critics around every corner. I had to fight for this much progress, often taking three steps forward and two steps back. Milestones are how we gauge the state of our recovery. They don’t have to be monumental life-changing events. For some, a significan milestone is getting through a day without using. For others, it’s getting a job, moving to a new house, or starting a relationship. We can’t compare our own milestones to someone else’s because we all have different goals we’re trying to achieve in our recovery. My most recent milestone involved the realization of a locally grown project I’ve been working on for eight years. When I saw the smiles, the laughter, and the raw enthusiasm at the end result, I felt all the blood, sweat and tears I have shed were worth it. The endless frustrations, the sense of hopelessness and even the thought that I could never pull it all together melted completely away as I witnessed and participated in the same goal I set myself so long ago. In the beginning, I never imagined it would take so long. But finally, here we are. I did it. It’s an amazing feeling, the satisfaction of a well-earned achievement. It’s the first step in a lifelong journey, with many more milestones to reach along the way. Who’s coming along for the ride?

Ste[p12 Magazine TM

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MAY-JUNE 2017 - 5


Milestones and Miracles

by Randy Boyd

In my lifetime, I have celebrated a number of significant milestones; Marrying my wife Cathy thirty-three plus years ago, raising three beautiful children and now the proud grandfather of three beautiful granddaughters, just to name a few. Not to mention building a very successful construction company. All of these are milestones many can but dream of. Yet, only in the last twelve years I have achieved my most important milestones. This past February marked a very significant milestone. On February 5th I celebrated eleven years of not just sobriety but recovery. I had “tried” to quit drinking on my own in the past without success. It wasn’t until I walked into the Betty Ford Center (BFC) Intensive Out Patient Program that I was finally able to not only get sober, but stay sober. What was it that made it stick this time? The love and acceptance I felt not only at BFC, but also in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. 6 - MAY-JUNE 2017

As a male survivor of emotional, physical, sexual and spiritual abuse, I lived my life as a victim, and I played that card beautifully. After all, the best advice anyone was ever able to give me was, “Randy you just need to forgive, forget and move on.” Not once did I receive any empathy or compassion regarding the abuse, except from my wife. However, when I walked into the BFC, that all changed. For the first time in my life all my feelings, the anger, the fear and the hate were validated. Not my behaviors, not what I did for a living, not what I had accomplished, just those feelings I had been denied for over thirty years.

“Keep coming back and don’t leave until the miracle happens.” There was a women in my home group of Alcoholics Anonymous who always said, “Keep coming back and don’t leave until the miracle happens.” So I kept on coming back. Everyday I came back was another day I didn’t drink. And everyday I didn’t drink, another milestone was reached and another miracle took place. I believe most people are seeking a burning bush type of miracle, when in reality miracles can also come in very small inconspicuous packages. “Randy, you don’t understand what I’ve been through,” you say. Fair enough, in fact I use to think the same thing so let me tell you a little bit about me. My wife and I were on the brink of separation. I had an affair the year before I got sober. My daughter wanted nothing to with me, continued on page 29

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Letter from the Publisher The themes for each issue of Step 12 Magazine are determined months before we actually start working on them. I don’t remember why I chose the theme “milestones” for this issue back in January of 2016, but how ironic it is that so many milestones have presented themselves at this point in my journey. These personal milestones range from giving up cigarettes, to watching Step 12 Magazine find a partner and change her name (see story on page 50.) Sometimes, I reach a milestone by way of a setback. For example, I’ve been wanting to get some counseling for my dysfunctional relationship with food but it took gaining forty pounds for me to push my way through another twelve step meeting hall. Ironically, I’m losing weight at a snail’s pace, but my relationship with food is better than it’s ever been. This is the last issue of Step 12 Magazine that will be published. However, we will continue to carry a message of hope on a larger scale through Recovery Illustrated. That is a huge milestone, and every reader, contributor, sponsor, distributor, editor and believer can be pround to share that milestone with us.

We’ve Got Mail! Letters from our Readers

To Whom it may concern: My name is Kathy S. I’m a Newcomer in this Recovery Process. I enjoy reading your “Step 12 Magazine.” Thank you! Sincerely, Kathy S, Vista Dear Karen, I am writing to thank you for sending the JanFeb issue to me. That’s great that you’re making positive changes. This is a great magazine, and the men here enjoy reading it. I take it to my NA & AA groups Monday and Tuesday. Also, to my 12/12 study group. Being in such a negative environment, it gets difficult at times to stay positive, but I feel that I’ve been doing a pretty damn good job so far! Please keep me in your prayers and I look forward to the next issue. Thanks again for sharing them with me. Sincerely, Bradley State Prison Generated Mail Send your letters to: karen@Step12magazine.com

Thank you! I look forward to continuing the journey with you! Respectfully and Enthusiastically,

Karen VanDenBerg

In other parts of the world, are Milestones called Kilometerstones? Just Metric-ulating www.step12magazine.com

MAY-JUNE 2017 - 7


Experience, Strength, and Hope For People Struggling with Food Obsession

Milestones of Surrender It happened the first time more than four decades ago when I realized I had exhausted all efforts to control my weight. Though I’d fashioned my life as the advisor, giver, and helper, I had to surrender to needing help from others. In desperation I joined my first twelve step program. Next came surrender to a second recovery program, for codependency, followed five years later with surrender to the fact that, though periodic, I was just as alcoholic as all the patients I’d been treating for the previous twelve years. Entering each new recovery program was a milestone in realizing that I was not as accomplished as I’d imagined. Each new beginning required new surrender. Recovery brought new challenges and losing weight brought its own denials. Coming down from size 18 pants, I could not imagine myself as thin. I kept buying size twelves and altering them. A recovery partner took me shopping and helped me muster the courage to try

on size 10. It was a milestone, and now in size 6-8, I am not as scared or blind to my healthier size and weight. As I became clean in all areas of my life, I could clearly see pockets of dishonesty in my associations. My work situation was unethical. I confronted, and consequently threatened the unscrupulous psychiatrist who supervised me. I was promptly fired and thought I would die. Despite my sponsors sing song quote of “when one door closes, we open a window,” I was enraged and devastated. A great milestone was my decision not to “sue the SOB,” as we determined my recovery could not weather the stress.

“That decision to surrender my rage and righteousness provided me time to reach more milestones than I could have foreseen.” That decision to surrender my rage and righteousness provided me time to reach more milestones than I could have foreseen. I finished my PhD dissertation, opened up eating disorder treatment centers, and wrote a bestselling book. I became a media personality and national lecturer and never looked back. In later years, milestones have been the births of three more books with more to come, meeting the love of my life with whom I travel the world on great adventures. I’ve experienced and a personal surrender to aging and accepting. Future milestones will be accepting the new person I’ve become and realizing I actually deserve the gifts I’ve been given. For this, I’ll need to surrender my limitations. Dr. Judi Hollis is a Licensed Family Therapist, author of several books and educational materials, motivational speaker, radio and television expert. Judi would love to hear from you! You can ask Judi questions and access her materials, at www.judihollis. com or call 1-800-8-ENOUGH

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What They Say about

... MILESTONES

“Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments.” ~ Rose Kennedy

“My path has not been determined. I shall have more experiences and pass many more milestones.” ~ Agnetha Faltskog “The safest road to hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” ~ C. S. Lewis “It is when ordinary people rise above the expectations and seize the opportunity that milestones are truly reached.” ~ Mike Huckabee “Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead.” ~ Nelson Mandela “Success is a process ... During that journey sometimes there are stones thrown at you, and you convert them into milestones.” ~ Sachin Tendulkar

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MAY-JUNE 2017 - 9


The Whole Nine Years by Carol Teitelbaum

Nine years ago, I was asked to research the under-reporting of boys being sexually abused in the Coachella Valley. I took on that challenge and brought the proposal to Prevent Child Abuse, Riverside County. A vote was taken and the decision was made to take on this subject as a project, the rest is history. It Happens to Boys is dedicated to helping men and teen boys find their voice, tell their stories and begin healing. I am often questioned why, being a woman, I would take on a project like this. The answer is clear. I have been a licensed therapist since 1985 and all these years I’ve heard story after story of women being sexually abused by men. Then, the tide turned and I was hearing from men who were abused. However, what I learned over the years is that men have been indoctrinated into the Good Old Boy Club by good old men who have taught each other the mantra: “Real men don’t cry, share vulnerabilities, need help, or appear weak.” A real man bucks up doesn’t act like a girl or a sissy, he protects himself 10 - MAY-JUNE 2017

and everyone around him. So, if he was abused as a boy, he cannot tell anyone or everyone will find out he failed the test. Shame builds up in abused boys and they suppress those feelings over and over again until they rage. Hurt people, hurt people. That’s why I took on this project. I feel if we don’t help men to heal they will continue to go on hurting women and children. Road rage, domestic violence, child abuse, and drug and alcohol dependence costs our society billions of dollars each year. Now we know this issue exists, but how far have we come? Society’s refusal to address this issue causes great damage to our families. Nine years ago, recovery centers didn’t want to know us, even though statistics showed that 86% of male patients were abuse survivors. Because few tell anyone, we were told it would be too much for men to deal with while they were in recovery. One milestone is that many recovery centers now include a trauma track to their treatment. Physicians and hospitals are starting to include a sentence, “Are you safe at home?” to their intake sheets. The biggest milestone is that we are being invited to speak at recovery centers, conferences, schools and professional organizations. Each time we speak, men and women talk to us and say, “that’s my story as well.” What we were able to tell recovery centers is that if men do not deal with their core issue of trauma they will leave the recovery center, get triggered and relapse. We had been watching that happen over and over again and a huge milestone is having trauma work be available while men are on a safe place in a recovery center. Milestones for the men in our group are too many to number. Some have written books, some go out and speak with me at recovery centers and conferences, they are thrilled to be of service to other men who are hurting, and most are living much better lives, for some reconnecting with a higher power after they had given up on ever trusting anyone again. Most children ask God for help during their abuse, only to feel rejected again, even by God, finding a new spiritual connection is life changing. continued on page 13

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Metaphorically Speaking By Karen VanDenBerg

Tink, tink, splash. That’s the sound my earring made when it fell into the sink. My favorite earring, too! My heart skipped a beat and my mouth released a few choice words and a simultaneous gasp nearly caused me to choke.

The water was draining out of the sink and I couldn’t see past the bubbles to grab it from the clutches of the drain. My earring was doomed to a life of pipes and sewers. There was nothing positive to pull from this scenario. Nothing. I’ve never seen earrings like this before and I will never be able to replace it. My only hope is to someday be walking innocently along the beach after a sewer breech and stumble upon the little earring that could. Wait. I’m so distraught over my earring that I’m hoping for a sewer breech? Where’s my serenity? Where’s my faith? Where’s my reason to live? Then I remembered. There’s a screen at the bottom of the sink. It is there to keep exactly this kind of tragedy from happening. As the water finished draining, my earring was sitting in the screen a little wet, but unharmed. And like a flash, my next thought was, “Wow, that litte screen is just like my Higher Power—in all the right places to keep me from going down the drain.” Metaphorically Speaking is a regular column in Step 12 Magazine designed to help us connect our spiritual journey to worldly situations. Something to think about.

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MAY-JUNE 2017 - 11


Darlene Lancer

on

CODEPENDENCY Secrets and Lies

Most people who lie worry about the risks of being honest, but give little thought to the risks of dishonesty. Betrayal can sometimes damage a relationship beyond repair. It can be deceived. It can shatter the image of our partner, ourselves, our confidence, and even trust in reality itself. Trust is fragile. Secrets and lies jeopardize trust that, once broken, is difficult to regain. Dishonesty also damages us. Honesty is more than simply not lying. It includes withholding information or feelings that are important because they affect the relationship and deprive the other person of freedom of choice and informed action.

The Harm Caused by Secrets and Lies Some ways in which lies and secrets cause harm are: 1. They block real intimacy with a partner. Intimacy is based on trust and authenticity; the ability to be vulnerable or “naked” not only physically, but emotionally. 2. They lead to cover-up lies and omissions that can be hard to remember. These mount up, and if the truth comes out, it may be more hurtful than the original secret. The longer the truth is hidden, the greater becomes the hurdle of revelation. 3. The secretholder normally feels guilty, or at least uncomfortable, during intimate moments with the deceived person. Closeness and certain topics tend to be avoided. Avoidance may include things like being preoccupied with work, friends, hobbies, 12 - MAY-JUNE 2017

or addictive behavior, and doing activities that leave little opportunity for private conversations. The deceiver might even provoke an argument to create distance. 4. When we violate religious or cultural norms by hiding the truth, we experience anxiety and guilt. It’s a physiological reaction that is the basis for lie detectors. 5. Violation of our values leads to not only guilt about our actions, but also it affects our self-concept. Over a long period, deception can eat away at our self-esteem. Ordinary guilt becomes shame and undermines our fundamental sense of worthiness as a person. 6. Ways of managing guilt and shame create more problems. We hide not only the secret but more of who we are. We might build resentments to justify our actions, withdraw, or become critical, irritable, or aggressive. Some people are able to compartmentalize their feelings or rationalize their actions to manage dishonestly. Psychological defenses help us deal with inner conflict and an undesirable reality. They can be so effective that we’re convinced lying supports the relationship. 7. Victims of deception may react to the avoidant behavior by feeling confused, anxious, angry, suspicious, abandoned, or needy. They may doubt themselves, and their self-esteem may suffer.

Victims of Betrayal They can help the other person make sense of previously unexplained or confusing behavior. Unfortunately, frequently victims of betrayal blame themselves. We’re never responsible for someone else’s actions or omissions. If the relationship wasn’t working, both partners share responsibility to address problems. Aggrieved partners begin to review details of prior events and conversations, looking for overlooked clues and evidence of lies. There’s a natural desire to seek explanations and to know more facts. They may realize that they and their partner have been living in two different realities they once believed were shared. Even if the relationship survives, it’s a loss when trust is broken. Our first reaction is denial, if not of the facts, then the severity of the impact. It takes time to accept the truth. Each of us continued on page 13 Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354


continued from page 12

will attribute a different meaning to the facts in order to heal and make peace with ourselves, our loved ones, and a disordered reality we once thought was safe and predictable.

When, and How to Reveal What, when, why, and how we disclose are all essential factors. For everyone involved, the pain of the secrecy compounds the pain over the initial event, and the longer deception continues, the more damaging it is. Ideally, before revealing the truth to the person we’ve lied to, we should talk to someone nonjudgmental, whom we trust, or seek counseling. Each case of betrayal is unique. The potential damage and complications that surround lying as well as disclosure are things to consider when telling lies and keeping secrets. Contemplation in advance about the consequences of our actions to ourselves, our loved ones, and our relationships requires a degree of selfawareness, but can prevent unnecessary suffering. For more information on affairs, see www.dearpeggy.com. Darlene Lancer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, and an expert on relationships and codependency. Contact Darlene at info@darlenelancer.com or follow her blogs on www.whatiscodependency.com, also Facebook at: www. facebook.com/darlene.lancer, and Twitter: @DarleneLancer.

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The Whole Nine Years continued from page 10

Talking about milestones, we just completed our Ninth Annual It Happens to Boys conference in Austin. Texas. The reception was wonderful, people were listening attentively and asking questions. Men came up to us afterword to say, “me too.” A year ago, Lady Ga Ga performed a song at the Academy Awards called, You Never Know How it Feels till it Happens to You. She encouraged us to use our voices and to listen to survivors, but not say “I know how you feel.” No one knows how another person feels no matter how close you are. Nothing shuts down a survivor faster than someone asking them why they feel the way they do, or saying you understand, and invalidating their story. Survivor’s need compassionate listeners, they need guides to assist their journey to healing. Our tenth anniversary conference will bring some surprises. Stay tuned to future articles to find out what we will be doing. We are extremely grateful to be a part of the healing process for so many survivors and their families. © Carol Teitlebaum, MFT is a Psychotherapist in private practice in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She is also the founder of Creative Change Conferences and the It Happens to Boys Program. She offers free group counseling to men and teen boys who have been sexually abused as children, and a yearly conference bringing well-known experts in the field of trauma, addiction and recovery together creating a two-day healing community. For more information, see CreativeChangeConferences.com or call 760-346-4606.

MAY-JUNE 2017 - 13


Sign and Significance

by Jim Anders

Although each of the Twelve Steps constitute a discreet signpost and are worthy of examination, I want to concentrate on just two steps that proved especially important in my journey. Those were Steps Four and Five.

The art of cartography m e a s u r e s elevation and position across the face of the earth. All kinds of people from construction foremen to army commanders to families on holiday find this information useful because of the implications it carries. For instance, the more northern latitudes have shorter daylight periods, less direct sunlight and colder temperatures in January than southern locations. Lower elevations have warmer temperatures due to the sheer weight of the atmosphere pressing down and condensing the air especially in very low places such as Death Valley. Add to those conditions the long days and direct sunlight of, say, August, and Death Valley can become a veritable oven of hot, heavy, still air. This information is important not because such extreme places can always be avoided. When they cannot be avoided, they must be prepared for—they must be faced realistically. Where you are and where you are headed is of great importance.

Step Four requires that we produce something of great value, and as with most things of true value it is not easy to produce. We are told to make “… a searching and fearless moral inventory” (Big Book, page 59). A friend of mine refers to this type of activity as “spiritual archeology.” I love that image of sun beaten, stooped over scientists digging out shards of evidence with dental picks and paint brushes, and then examining their findings. All this unhurried and deep effort is spent to understand a dead civilization. You are of so such more value that I ask you to spend that kind of effort to form a deeper understanding of your souls. That such effort is required is the reason we must be “fearless.” After all, who has ever looked deeply within themselves and not So, if we prepare for physical journeys based upon data about found something distasteful or even worse? physical conditions how much more diligently should we Step Five follows the sometimes painful but always enlightening prepare for spiritual journeys? All journeys require planning Step Four. In this step, we try to get honest about our lives with and preparations. In the spiritual journey required of those of us ourselves, God and (at least) one other person. A secularized form who suffer with addiction the planning is hugely important. We, of sacramental confession this is emotional catharsis in action. therefore, need solid preparations. We need to know where we I will never forget my own experience with this step. I was scared are going … we need a map. to be perfectly honest with anyone. Moreover, I was exhausted Medically safe detoxification and a healthy diet along with the by the necessary preparation. I sat in my sponsor’s car wide eyed acquisition of some basic tools to deal with anger and despair and quietly shaking as I read to him my Fourth Step. When I was mark only the outset of the journey. These things give us a done he took my list and burned it. The rising smoke seemed to running start. However, always remember that abstinence is the ease the pressure … slowly at first, but building. With the list path upon which we tread and not the goal itself. burned to ash, I felt the weight of guilt and shame dissipate. I had If one wanders off that path the journey will be interrupted for it never felt so free before. With the weight gone, I seemed to float is not possible to navigate while intoxicated. One may even be about rather than walk. If you are new to recovery, do yourself obliged to return to some previous point and start again. However, the favor of navigating through these steps and you may find assuming we stay on the path How can we discern what to expect yourself walking on air as well. next? That is where the Twelve Steps are most helpful and begin Jim Anders holds graduate degrees in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and in Psychology from Brandman University. He is in recovery himself and has the to serve as spiritual signposts on this most amazing odyssey. pleasure of being program manager at the 122 bed Salvation Army facility in Perris CA where he has worked for nearly four years.

14 - MAY-JUNE 2017

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MAY-JUNE 2017 - 15


Newcomer’s Page GOOD THINGS

by Kristin Wilhite-Smith

hurdle of intense cravings. Some may call it ‘will power’, but even my mind played tricks on me. I had to plan ahead for days at a time, yet live ‘moment to moment’ to get through without caving in. I had to plan all my meals and my time management to make sure I had what I needed, when I needed it.

What does it take to ignite a new path? For some, hearing an unwanted diagnosis that leads to a change of habits into healthier ways. For others, it could be an injury that slows you down to give you some time to ‘rethink things’. Or maybe it comes from within, “I want better for myself.” However the delivery system, somehow, we get a clear message, “something must change!” In 2001, I discovered the three things I loved most were causing my biggest problems. Let’s look up candidiasis … sugar feeds that beast. Sugar! Who doesn’t love sugar?! I remember the street I walked down while eating my last ice cream cone. Last? Yep, for me eating cow’s milk products were causing me reoccurring upper respiratory infections and had to stop. It was my staple food! Half a gallon of milk, cheese and ice cream were part of my daily ritual. And what goes with cheese? Bread, of course. Wheat flour was the third food that my body was highly sensitive to—causing me inflammation and pain. As I have heard from the majority of people I have shared my story with, “if you don’t eat wheat, dairy and sugar, what else is there??! My journey to health was truly a challenge of having to learn new things. How to eat, when to eat, and what to eat. Dealing with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) required me to eat every two to three hours, often seven times per day. It’s amazing I had time to work! Seriously, I was prepping food nearly 4-5 hours/day and eating 80% vegetables. Sound intense? It was, but I got through it! Putting my “spirit in charge” was critical for me to overcome the

Reaching my goal of health, was a an emotional journey as well. When on a special diet, one can often feel isolated. Even going to a potluck was emotionally challenging. Fortunately, I realized the only way to get my needs met was to bring my own food. I became known as “the girl with the cooler.” Over time, it made me laugh that I was identified by my dietary requirements. Yet, it was necessary to my recovery. I didn’t want to miss out on social time with my friends just because I couldn’t eat what they could. I was able to do a little EFT to deal with feeling left out, and it worked. I know I am connected to the hearts of those I love, regardless of what I put in my mouth.

“Good things come to those who… GO get good things!” Remember hearing that old saying, “if at first you don’t succeed: try, try again?” Never give up my friends, because your diligence, commitment and efforts will bring you great things. I began to feel so much better after a few weeks on my new path. Plus, over time, I got a bonus of some desired weight loss! I am thankful I don’t have to be that strict now. Now I know that whenever I start to feel out of balance from being overstimulated, from lack of sleep or too much restaurant food, I know what to do. I appreciate where I have been, what I have learned and most importantly: the value of health. A milestone that continues to bring me health and happiness. Kristin Wilhite-Smith, HHP is a wellness expert utilizing Neuro-Linguistics for habit change and Whole Foods Nutrition for positive results. www.SustainableHolistic.com

Newcomer’s Checklist aDon’t Take That First Drink or Drug aMake Plenty of Meetings aCall Sponsor aHang out with People in Recovery aFocus on the Positive aTalk about your Feelings 16 - MAY-JUNE 2017

aBeware of People, Places, & Things aTake One Day at a Time aAsk Higher Power for Help aStay out of “Your Head” aMove a Muscle, Change a Thought aRead the Literature Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354


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MAY-JUNE 2017 - 17


Meditation My Path to The Direct Path

by Rocky Bottoms Like everyone else, I have a history … a spiritual history, that is. Raised Catholic and briefly exposed to small doses of other promotional brands of God, I remained unfulfilled. After 33 years of listening to various interpretations of God, higher power, spirituality and meditation in twelve-step meetings, I came to one firm conclusion; none of it made sense. As a co-occurring survivor, in order to stay clean and sober and abstinent and happy, etc. I decided I needed to start over and use the principles I had learned in working the steps to redefine God as I understood him. Honesty, openmindedness and willingness were the key (as usual). I knew the God they tried to impose on me wasn’t working. I knew the God I claimed to know wasn’t working either, and yet I would defend him and refer to him in ignorance. When I got to Step Eleven, I realized I had no clue what meditation was. Sure, I had heard the usual liturgical lingo in the rooms about how it’s “listening to God” or other interpretations that just didn’t resonate with me. At the same time this core frustration was taking place, a couple of other things were happening in the background of my search. At some point during my meeting mania, I ran across certain individuals who made claims about AA history that I just didn’t believe. One of those claims was that Bill W. had agreed to take LSD while sober. I thought to myself, I am going to research all this magnificent BS myself so I did. I went to the AA library and read the books. The key take away here is that I read. That, for me, was a big deal. A resentment, if used properly, can educate one as never before. I didn’t like to read. I never read. As a matter of fact, the last time I remembered reading a book was the cliff notes in high school. I rather enjoyed reading those books with my newfound sense of clarity. During the same time period, I made a commitment to myself to be taught the Bible as it was taught by a local Christian church. Every week for about two years, I would pay strict attention to what was presented as facts and then I would interpret the interpretation.

As they say … when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. In what seemed like a series of sequential random interactions and events, I was lead further and further into a deeper understanding of my spiritual path. I was offered a “beginner’s” meditation class at the VA to deal with depression. Up to this point in my life, my experience with meditation had consisted of a dark twelve-step room with a candle and inappropriate laughter. The VA meditation class introduced me to Mindfulness Meditation taught by Jon Kabat-Zinn. I could do this, I thought. I don’t need to sit in an uncomfortable position with tight leggings. How ignorant was I? The results were amazing. I was on my way. I was now involved in a continual process of reading, asking questions, slowly practicing and researching further, that which had intrigued me for a lifetime. How do I reconcile my religion with your religion and how does this result into magically turning into spirituality that makes sense to ME? I truthfully don’t recall how I initially ran across him (probably on YouTube) but apparently Father Richard Roth had the same type of inquiring mind as mine, except for the part where I drenched it in booze, drugs and gambling for forty years. His discussions on “Spirituality and the Twelve Steps” and “Cosmic Christ” were impressive. His interpretations coincided with a visit with my beloved older sister and spiritual mentor. When my sister detected it was time to let me in on her long-studied practice, the direct path using the love of truth as motivation, this was the turning point. It was the gift of all gifts as far as I was concerned. I was blessed with an introduction to her friend and mentor of non-dual teachings and the rest is history. After two years of increasing doses of practice, I have been able to recognize, investigate and celebrate my true nature through the direct-path of non-duality using self-inquiry meditation and yoga meditation. And yes, Bill W. did use LSD at the VA hospital in LA. Rocky Bottoms is a casual contributor.

18 - MAY-JUNE 2017

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with Leonard Lee Buschel

AFTER THE STORM Writer/Director/Editor: Hirokazu Koreeda Starring: Hiroshi Abe, Yôko Maki, Satomi Kobayashi Ryota is a gambler. More compulsive than conscientious. He doesn’t gamble on sports or at card games—he gambles on bicycle races. Yes, bicycle racing is a sport in Japan that looks like harness racing in America, but without the horses. This is just another one of the fascinating details filmmaker/ writer/director/editor Hirokazu Koreeda shines his Japanese lantern on in the best foreign film of the year … so far. This is a masterful filmmaker’s masterpiece. Not one false note. Performances that look more real and natural than your actual neighbors do. The story is as rich with physical details as it is with human emotions that other filmmakers would find impossible to convey with such simplicity. On a walk with her son around the housing project she lives in (this film is not about Samurais or Tokyo big-shots) a butterfly lands on a branch and the mother tells the son, “I think that is your father … he is still trying to annoy me.” The dad had died six weeks ago and when they are in the

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mother’s apartment, Ryota gently picks out the little end pieces of incense out of the family ceremonial bowl his father had burned some in before he died. The mother sees this and says “you will not find your father in those little pieces of incense.” The story is about a broken, and broken-up marriage, a son who plays little league, but not hard enough to impress his potential new stepfather. There is some crime and private-eye work going on, too. There is also greed, jealousy, love, longing, betrayal, and humor. Enough humor to fill up a thousand small balloons that will float through your heart. (Though this movie recommendation is not meant to replace your scheduled angioplasty) This film is guaranteed to bring down the blood pressure of anyone who is suffering from hypertension.

Leonard Buschel is the Founder and Director of REEL Recovery Film Festival. See the website at: www.reelrecoveryfilmfestival.org.

MAY-JUNE 2017 - 19


UNLOCKED For Life

with

Dan Sanfellipo

Okay, Okay! “Give it everything you’ve got for six months. After that, if you don’t like the results we will gladly refund you your misery.” – “Okay.” “Okay” is a powerful powerful response. It’s far more open than always responding with “no.” The word okay opened me up to trying new things and hearing new opinions. I was able to show up, work the steps, and call my sponsor every day. “Okay” was the beginning of my willingness. My willingness was the beginning of my recovery. I’m glad I said “okay” to saying “okay” because today I have over four years of continuous sobriety. I have a sponsor who has a sponsor, and I’ve worked the Twelve Steps. I have the honor of taking other people through “Nobody was asking me to trust the steps and being able to help. I can be present, I can show up and I can help another person. unconditionally; I was being Eventually I found the word yes; “yes” to showing offered a way to test the waters.” up and loving life. I said “yes” to allowing the good things into my life and being genuinely okay with that. Today, recovery includes serenity and peace. I have My brain was ready and willing to fix my own opportunities that help rather than hurt. I have a loving brain. I really believed I could. I was told, “you can’t beautiful girlfriend that I love with all my heart. I have a fix a brain like that with a brain like that.” My brain close meaningful relationship with my family. had gotten me to prison, seedy hotel rooms with strange people, dangerous situations, then back in jail—and the Saying “okay” to staying for the meeting turned out to be saying “okay” to to freedom and happiness. I suggest pattern kept repeating. I needed outside help. everyone try it. Everything’s going to be okay. Then, one day someone suggested maybe I could start Written by K.VanDenBerg based on interviews with D. Sanfellipo saying the word “okay” instead of “no,” “I’m too busy,” or “I just can’t do that right now.” The help being offered to me in recovery had no strings—no debt. So I said, “Okay, I’ll try something different.” Nobody was asking me to trust unconditionally; I was being offered a way to test the waters. Okay seemed much less threatening to my façade of superiority and once I decided to try that remedy, my life started to change. “Come a little bit early and greet people before the meeting and get to know some people.” – “Okay.” “Stay after to put chairs up after the meeting and help clean up.” – “Okay.” “There’s a lady who needs some help moving a bed in © Dan Sanfellipo received his education in the California State Penal system from the age of her house today.” – “Okay.” 13. A trauma survivor, author of the upcoming book “Unlocked for Life” and founder of support and coaching program of the same name, Dan is a practicing member of twelve-step recovery “Maybe you should get a sponsor.” – “Okay.” and an international competitor in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Dan has dedicated his energy, experience, strength and hope to helping men and women find lasting freedom—from poverty, restriction, stigma, addiction, despair and prison. Dan can be reached at Dan@unlockedforlife.com “Maybe you should do the steps.” – “Okay.” 20 - MAY-JUNE 2017 Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354 When I first got sober, I was not interested in anyone’s opinions or suggestions about anything I should be doing. I felt nobody knew anything about me, where I’d been, or what I’d been through. I felt like I was unique and had gotten a bad wrap in life. Every time someone asked me to do something, I would react with spite and rebellion. First of all, how dare they attempt to penetrate the wall of anger I created to make myself as unapproachable as possible. Secondly, I had zero intention of listening to anyone’s suggestions, let alone following anyone’s direction.


20 IMPORTANT Self-Assessment QUESTIONS For You or a Loved One

One of the oldest and most time tested dependency evaluation tools for chemical dependency has its origins from the Johnson Institute of Minneapolis. Many variations exist, but the basic questions are as follows: 1. Has anyone ever suggested you quit or cut back on your drug/alcohol use? Y / N 2. Has drinking or using affected your reputation? Y / N 3. Have you made promises to control your drinking or using and then broken them? Y / N 4. Have you ever switched to different drinks or drugs or changed your using pattern in an effort to control or reduce your consumption? Y / N 5. Have you ever gotten into financial, legal, or relationship difficulties due to drinking or using? Y / N 6. Have you ever lost time from work because of drinking or using? Y / N 7. Have you ever sneaked or hidden your use? Y / N 8. On occasion, do you feel uncomfortable if alcohol or your drug is not available? Y / N 9. Do you continue drinking or using when friends or family suggest you have had enough? Y / N 10. Have you ever felt guilty or ashamed about your drinking or using or what you did while under the influence? Y / N 11. Has your efficiency decreased as a result of your drinking or using? Y / N 12. When using or drinking, do you neglect to eat properly? Y/N 13. Do you use or drink alone? Y / N 14. Do you use or drink more than usual when under pressure, angry, or depressed? Y / N 15. Are you able to drink or use more now without feeling it, compared to when you first started using? Y / N 16. Have you lost interest in other activities or noticed a decrease in your ambition as a result of your drinking or using? Y / N 17. Have you had the shakes or tremors following heavy drinking or using or not using for a period of time Y/ N 18. Do you want to drink or use at a particular time each day? Y/N 19. Do you go on and off the wagon? Y / N 20. Is drinking or using jeopardizing your job? Y / N Three or more “yes� answers suggest that you should more closely evaluate your drug and or alcohol use. Call for help today!

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MAY-JUNE 2017 - 21


Dear Petra...

Expert Answers to your Questions about Hep-C and Addiction Join our LIVE Open Hep C Support Group at 11:11am PST every Saturday (Other topics Tuesday to Friday at 11:11 also) at: www.pocketlive.tv/live/petrabilities.html

Dear Healed: Thank you, my dear, for your kind words. It is feedback and encouragment like yours that keeps me going! It makes all the blood, sweat and tears all worthwhile! So, THANK YOU! And congratulations on your Cure!

Harvoni and Vitamins? Loves Park, Illinois Dear Petra: Is Vitamin D okay to take while I am on Harvoni? Dear Vitamin D: That is a great question! There are no known side effects between the interaction between Harvoni and Vitamin D. Many patients on Harvoni are being advised to take a multi-vitamin as well, and the only report is a yet untested side effect stating slight weight gain. Best of luck in your bright future!

Alcohol Free Restaurants? Dungannon, Ireland Dear Petra: I have been looking for restaurants that are alcohol free … why oh why should that be so difficult? Can you or someone reading this advise me of where I can find these? Dear Alcohol Free: I hope this does not come across as rude, but why should any establishment conform to you? I am needing you to look at this from a different angle. This would be like a store without clothing because you are addicted to shopping. You cannot create boundaries defined by all things around you, for you will find yourself in a really tight box! It is your job to master your sobriety regardless of outside presence. I hope this helps you find your POWER!

Liver Scan Full Freakout! San Antonio, Texas Dear Petra: I am freaking out! My doctor wants me to get an ultra sound and liver scan. He asked me if I drink and I told him I do not. His response, “It’s just weird. I don’t understand why your liver has progressed so much more than where it should be.” I am so worried… now I just keep thinking, “I am going to die!” What do you think? Dear Freaked Out: I totally understand how you must be feeling. I suggest you practice some breathing exercises asap. Stress and anxiety will not help your situation, and you don’t want to hinder it, right? Please do yourself a favour and get out of your head, take it slowly … baby steps … stay present. You got this … get your testing done and BELIEVE and have faith that you can handle whatever comes your way. I am feeling you will be fine. You Saved My Life! Aschaffenburg, Germany Dear Petra: I am healed from the Hepatitis C virus! I want you to know that this happened because I read your column about Hepatitis. Thank you so very much! I wanted to write you a letter, but English is too hard for me! Thank you, thank you! 22 - MAY-JUNE 2017

Is Suboxone the Methadone of the 21st Century? Washington, DC Dear Petra: I have heard it said that Suboxone is the Methadone of the 21st century, and that it is even more addictive than the opiates I want to kick!? What are your thoughts on this? Dear Withdrawal Fear: From what I can ascertain, Suboxone is just as addictive or more addictive than heroin. It is supposed to make the withdrawal symptoms easier to sustain. That being said, it gives an opiate user the stamina and energy to do what they have to do to hustle up the means to support their opiate habit in many cases! In most cases, it appears that addicts end up addicted to both drugs! More drugs are not (in my opinion) the solution to a drug problem. ©2017 Petra aka Petrabilities is a Mental Health Counselor, Clinical

Hypnotherapist, Card Reader, Speaker, Author and CEO of #HepCGI. Being an expert in her field and specializing in addictions, Petra is here to answer all your questions and concerns. Please send your questions anonymously via the contact form at www.Petrabilities. com or http://hepcgi.wix.com/hepcgi.

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“I destroyed everything in my life, my marriage, I hurt my children. When I entered AJ’s House I was depressed, drunk and suicidal. I believe that I am a miracle and the staff at AJ’s house has helped me love myself again and have purpose.” Wendy I

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MAY-JUNE 2017 - 23


Keep Stepping It starts the day we are born. That’s our birthday. Milestone one. Then our first step, first word, first day of school. Followed by many other markers of firsts. First love, first kiss, graduation (maybe another graduation) first job, first marriage (our last, if we’re lucky!), first child, first this and first that—and on and on ....

“Milestones are simply stepping stones.” We keep track. Our biggest. Our best. Our first. Our last. If we live a long life, the milestones are simply stepping stones to get to the next milestone. Which is most important? Are any of them enough? Sometimes, yes. Other times, no. Milestones are markers of comparison. In and of themselves, rather meaningless. Except to us, individually. How proud we are to announce our degrees and titles. How gregarious we become, surrounded by generations of family who know our achievements and look for the next accomplishment to paste into the scrapbook of Big Brag—or accept applause inside the indifferent corporations we work in that hoist us up higher than our egos dare dream. Whatever for? Why do we count the markers? Why do we display the trophies of triumph? It’s a very human thing, these calculated steps and milestones. Without appreciation, and the representative awards, we don’t think we matter. We proudly announce how many days, weeks, years, of sobriety we have accomplished. We gleefully beat diseases and tick off the obstacles overcome. We blow out more and more candles to prove we’re still here. Is that what it’s all about? We beat the odds and we shout it out so others will aspire to our heightened level of achievement. 24 - MAY-JUNE 2017

by Lori Nelson

What about the kid who ditches diapers? “Look Ma, ‘big boy pants’!” a toddler squeals, delightedly. Yes. For that child, a milestone, albeit one that will be forgotten. The twenty-something year old woman who sails across an ocean alone will probably never forget that journey. Every breath we take is a milestone for our overworked l u n g s . Every heartbeat is a milestone for another minute of life. Every blade of grass that survives the trampling of yet another indifferent individual can sway one more day in the warm winds of spring. Milestones are subjective. What is important to you will not necessarily be important to me. But I’ll cheer for you, because that’s what we do. We clap. We smile. We wear the right colors on the right holidays and for the right parade to pass by your personal accomplishment made public display. We care for each other so that each other will care for us when it is our turn. It’s a notch. It’s a way to keep track and transcend ordinary. If we don’t take a step we stay stuck. We have no where to go other than forward into the unknown and when we’re brave enough to do that we celebrate another stone stepped as a milestone. In truth, it is a mini-stone. A teeny tiny microscopic step to the next moment of miracle. It matters. Keep stepping. You’re only a stone’s throw away from your next giant leap. Lori Nelson is an author, speaker, educator, and international “edu-tainer” aboard cruise ships. She occasionally blogs at anotherloristory.blogspot.com. Find Lori on Facebook. Torture: Broken Foot, Shattered Soul, is available on Amazon, or email: anotherloristory@gmail.com

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MAY-JUNE 2017 - 25


Menta

n er or

e al t h C H l

A chat with...

GABE HOWARD

An award-winning writer, mental health activist, and soughtafter speaker and educator, Gabe Howard was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Since then, he has become an advocate for Mental Illness, and fights daily against the associated stigmas faced by those with mental health issues. Nowadays, Gabe writes regularly for PsychCentral.com, Bipolar Magazine, and has been featured in multiple news outlets. Recently, we sat down for a chat. Can you describe your“rock bottom” where you knew that you needed help to get yourself and your life back together? I didn’t know I had a mental illness. As far back as I can remember, I thought about suicide every day. Life went up and down, I went back and forth, and no one realized anything was wrong. I thought it was my personality. I couldn’t control it, and felt more and more isolated. Someone I knew asked if I felt suicidal and I said yes, because I assumed everyone had those thoughts. I ended up in the emergency ward of a mental hospital and that’s where it all began. While there were several lows along the way, I consider my rock bottom as waking up in a psychiatric hospital. What advice would you give your 25 year old self? Listen to professionals more, and to family and friends less. Not because my family and friends are bad, but everything they told me about mental illness was wrong. Every sterotype they knew about mental illness came home to roost. So, their “advice” set me back in seeking the treatment I needed. So, I’d also say to hug them more, and understand that they are scared too. Do you feel you can “recover” from mental illness, or is it a question of maintaining good management strategies? We’re already acknowledging that addiction and mental illness belong in the same camp. But I don’t think “recovery” is a good term to describe how we are progressing with the

26 - MAY-JUNE 2017

by Roni Askey-Doran

treatement of mental illness. When I was first diagnosed, I spent 100% of my time managing my illness. There is no cure for bipolar disorder, it’s long term, but rather than say I’m recovering, I can now define it better by saying I’m spending more time on my life and less time managing bipolar. Which part of your treatment do you feel was the most interesting or unexpected? Therapy was an amazing thing for me because I had pre-conceived notions about what “therapy” entailed. I discovered it was more about learning actual life skills, coping skills, management strategies, tools and techniques than actual therapy in the way I had always thought of it. In time, I learned to figure out what elements I could use for my own illness and proceed from there. For what in your life do you feel the most gratitude today? Life! I’m so happy to be alive. I really took life for granted, not on purpose, but because I really thought everyone was trying to decide if today was the day they were going to kill themselves or if today was the day they were going to live. Constantly weighing the pros and cons of whether or not I wanted to die, I wasn’t valuing life very much. When I learned to appreciate life for life’s sake, I felt an emotional range I’ve never had before and I’m really grateful for that. How important is it to have a solid support network? It’s extremely important. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family, knowing they cared enough to try, even though they made mistakes. When the people around you believe you can do something, you start to believe you can do it too. What does an average day look like for you these days? Get out of bed, put pants on ... I go to work. I play with the dog. My wife yells at me for not putting clothes in the hamper. It’s a pretty routine life now. continued on page 54

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Located in Temecula California

The following book reviews are honest IMPRESSIONS of these newly released titles. Grab a copy and see if you agree... These are not “paid” reviews. Do you have any recommendations for books about recovery? Get in touch! email: editor@step12magazine.com

Diets Don’t Work by Rebecca Cooper

The merry-go-round of obesity and eating disorders is difficult to escape. Most of us have experienced yoyo dieting, binge eating, disordered eating, or food addiction. During our “diet” we always lose the plot. Suppressed feelings and unresolved issues surface, and we run like children to a candy store to our old way of coping, beginning the struggle with obsessive thoughts of food, weight, diet, and body image all over again. Rebecca Cooper gets straight to the root of why we resort to emotional overeating. Rebecca guides us to understanding why dieting doesn’t address the problem of swallowing our feelings and overeating when life gets too hard. This book is packed with great exercises to help us look at our issues holistically and learn how to release negative thought patterns, employ healthy coping skills, and live in a state of awareness.

RecoveryMind Training: A Neuroscientific Approach to Treating Addiction

by Paul H. Earley

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT La Ventana’s approach to substance abuse treatment is holistic, individually tailored, and grounded in evidence-based research. Our multidisciplinary team expertly craft treatment plans that include psychiatric and medical care; individual, family, and group psychotherapy. Our program meets the client and their family where they are at: we formulate treatment plans to focus on the individual’s needs, beliefs, and underlying causes of the disease throughout all levels of care. And yes, La Ventana accepts most major insurance.

We Offer a Full Spectrum of Care: • Sub-Acute, Residential, Medically Managed Detoxification Services • Residential Treatment Centers • Partial Hospitalization Programs • Intensive Outpatient Programs • Gender Specific Transitional Living • Structured Sober Living Environments

La Ventana Treatment Programs also specializes in the full spectrum treatment of eating disorders.

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An addiction medicine physician for thirty years, Paul H. Earley, MD, FASAM has worked hands-on with countless patients in recovery, providing longterm therapy for people who suffer from all types of addiction. His professional expertise also extends to advocacy for professionals before agencies and licensing boards. RecoveryMind Training is an innovative guide aimed at professionals in the field, and takes an extraordinary approach to understanding the dynamics of addiction and the recovery process. RecoveryMind Training is packed with up to date information on the neuroscience of addiction and covers a vast range of behavioral techniques. This book challenges readers to view addiction from an alternative perspective and introduces a structured treatment model that will put order to the chaos typically found with addiction.

MAY-JUNE 2017 - 27


Mindfulness with Terra Schaad

Giving Back

Photo by Blaire Catherine

how I can learn to receive more, and so it was with one particular little girl last Christmas Day at our farm. Because of this mini-human, I’m dedicating this year to hugging with my whole heart. Those half-hearted, lean in part way, pat you on the back hugs with even a subtle resistance to fully melting in just won’t do. Christmas Day, she got off the van crying from the Crisis Center tearfully expressing that she wanted her mommy. My co-worker met her and asked if she wanted to be held. “Yes,” she replied as she raised her arms and leapt. When I found her in line to ride, she was tearful and scared again, saying the horses were too big. I asked if she wanted me to go with her. Once again, she replied, “yes” and held out her little hand. Hand in hand, we walked towards Magic and as I placed her atop his back her tears dried up and her face lit up smiling. Seemingly joyous and relaxed I asked if she still wanted me to go or if she’d like to go solo. She emphatically said, “You go with me!”

Last year, Hunkapi Programs Inc celebrated our twelfth year of Christmas Day at the Farm. It was a tradition my brother and I started when we decided to give back on Christmas Day by taking some horses to a homeless shelter. We waited outside the windows for them to wake up to horses in their back yard. I have always felt horses were the greatest gift given to me and, because of that, In between chatting and laughing about carrot trees and my life has been about paying that forward. Santa, I realized this mini-human, whose little life has Over the years, the program has grown and this past been laced with trauma, was choosing love over fear. Christmas over 175 volunteers showed up at our farm That day, she chose to say yes, to open her arms and to give love and horses to forty children without homes. climb up and embrace fully, even when she has every It’s magical, and each year I leave the event feeling like excuse to freeze in fear. I received more than I gave. It’s humbling to be a part There’s a lot to learn from mini-humans and the way they of a growing community and consciousness of people love. I’m starting with climbing up and whole-hearted who are committed to giving back. Even more brilliant hugs. We have this one life to love fully and to be of is being part of a collective conscious of giving and benefit to others. receiving and to fully feel, somatically, the importance of © Terra is a zealous horse-lover and the executive director of Hunkapi Programs, Terra holds a bachelor of science degree in pre-veterinary medicine from Texas giving and receiving love in equal proportions. Always Inc. A&M University and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Arizona State is the case that in the act of giving, I receive a lesson of University. 28 - MAY-JUNE 2017

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Milestones and Miracles continued from page 6

and my business was on the edge of edge of failure. I needed miracles in several areas of my life. So I just did what that woman said to do, I kept coming back and I didn’t leave until the miracle happened. It took time, in fact a couple of years, but my wife and I began to heal our differences and our marriage was completely restored. Finally, after some time and effort, I was able to reconcile my relationship with my daughter. While the relationship with my daughter was the most strained, I had work to do with all my children and today they all look up to, love and respect me in ways I thought would never happen. Was it easy? Absolutely not; then again anything worth having in life does not always come easy. There are several milestones I have reached in recovery. After forty years in the construction industry, I closed the doors of my business and opened a foundation:

The Courageous Healers Foundation. I have written a groundbreaking book: Healing The Man Within. I graduated from junior college at the age of fiftyeight with high honors and on the Deans List with an AA in psychology. These are all things I never even dreamed I could do. There is one more milestone on my very near horizon. This June, I will be embarking on a Ride Across America to Stomp out Shame, a fund-raiser for The Courageous Healers Foundation. I will be riding my bike from Indio, CA to Beach Lake, PA bringing awareness and educating as much of America as possible about the devastating effects of sexual abuse of boys. So, keep coming back and don’t leave until your miracle happens! Randy Boyd is the founder of The Courageous Healers Foundation and works with the It Happens To Boys Conferences. Randy is a survivor of sexual abuse, a public speaker and an author. For more info see: www.courageoushealers.org

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MAY-JUNE 2017 - 29


By Roni Askey-Doran

“Right at this moment, my life is absolutely perfect.” I said it out loud wearing nothing but a huge happy grin. I said it in gratitude, to no one in particular. It felt amazingly good to be able to say it. It was one of those picturesque beach days. Blue sky, azure sea, white sand, the whole beach to myself. That morning, I felt at peace and in harmony with the world. Things seemed to be going extremely well. I have a job I love. I live in my dream house. I have wonderful friends, a great support network, and the best pets this side of the equator. My tropical garden is sprouting and blooming and fruiting nonstop. There is every reason to smile. Not long after that day, life did what life does best; it threw me upside down and dusted its heels on my back. People who know me well know that I live with a mental illness or three. I do it quite well actually, considering bipolar disorder is a bit like living next door to the world’s worst neighbors. If you’re not vigilant, you never know when they’re going to come out screaming and try to tear down your carefully built boundaries. The thing about bipolar is that it’s invisible. There are no physical symptoms. It actually is all in my mind. If you don’t know me, and I don’t warn you, there’s no way you could tell I have three bazillion shrieking demons inside my head, all running rampant with baseball bats, ready to tear me apart. Before diagnosis and treatment, my family and friends used to think I was crazy. Everything from schizophrenia to psychosis was suspected. My erratic behavior told them something wasn’t right. They just couldn’t guess what it was. It’s true, I have been known to do a crazy thing or two, but I’m not clinically insane. The irony is, if I broke my leg, the problem would be glaringly obvious to everyone, and immediately fixed. Bouncing between the manias and depressions of bipolar was exhausting. Depression became so debilitating that, several times, I made plans to check out. Some days were so bad that I wished I had cancer instead. At least everyone would know how to treat it. And there is no stigma attached. I thought having cancer would be better. At least, be more visible.

Three months after my perfect day at the beach, some “abnormal cells” were found in a blood test. Since that upside-down day, a lot of changes have taken place. I’ve chosen a holistic path to health. My strict diet is based on alkaline foods. I drink natural healing elixirs every morning. Daily, I vow to leap this hurdle and come out fighting. I trek back and forth to the hospital every week. There is serious surgery in my immediate future. My long-suffering ovaries are packing up, preparing to move house.

“It threw me upside down and dusted its heels on my back.” At some point, during the busyness of a full day of hospital visits, doctors and tests, I fell off a crooked footpath and injured my left ankle. The ligaments were badly damaged. For almost a month, it was forbidden to walk. My ankle was tightly bandaged. I put a purple sock on it to keep the wrapping clean. I did what I was told and kept my foot up, in ice packs. Life was put on hold. Everyone who came to visit asked about my poor twisted foot. They could see it was hurt. At my yoga class, the instructor showed me some special stretches to accommodate my injury. At the self-defense course for women, the instructor also gave me leeway so my ankle wouldn’t get hurt during practice. During the time my foot was recuperating, not one visitor asked about my cancer. That was when I realized. They can’t see it. Unless people see me visibly suffering, no one can tell anything is wrong. A sprained ankle is obvious. Cancer is not. Despite being life-threatening illnesses, my bipolar disorder and my ovarian cancer are as invisible as each other, and my stupid ankle has stolen the limelight. This is not how I imagined it would be. If there is a lesson here for me, it’s not about the grass being greener on the other side of a different disease. It’s about letting life do what life does best, and equipping myself to handle it. I have to take good care of myself, focusing on mind, body and soul. That’s the only way my life can ever truly be perfect. Roni Askey-Doran was a journalist in the Middle East before she moved to South America to become the author of ten books (fiction and non-fiction), including I’m Bipolar And I Know It. Roni is currently the Editor of Step 12 Magazine. Visit https://booksbyroniaskeydoran.wordpress.com for more information.

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Solution on Page 64

Puzzles

Across 2 Desires 3 Decide to make something a priority 4 Something to climb 8 Acceptance of people or situations that are disruptive or annoying 10 Either strong or soft, it’s the substance the future is built upon. 12 The attitude of being thankful 14 Euphoric acknowledgement of an accomplishment 15 A wooden fence-like object that runners jump over in track & field events 16 The ability to bounce back from unexpected challenges 17 Necessities 18 ___, strength, and hope 19 Accomplishments to aspire towards

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Down 1 Belief in something intangible 3 A limitation to overcome, or a wager 5 Not completed 6 Distance, weight, and volume are all units of _______ 7 Continue towards a goal regardless of unexpected challenges 9 Willingness to forgo instant gratification – sometimes just for five minutes 10 The absence of resentment 11 _____ not perfection. 13 A felt-tipped pen 14 Share thoughts, feelings, and goals with a trusted person

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Solution on Page 64

ACHIEVEMENT ANNIVERSARY AXIS CHANGE CHOICE COMPLETION CONQUEST CRITICAL CRUX CULMINATION DEFINING DEVELOPMENT DISCOVERY DURNING EFFORT EVENT GOAL JUNCTURE LANDMARK LCLIMX MOMENT OCCASION POINT REAKTHROUGH TRIUMPH TWIST

Spot the 12 differences in these pictures Solution on Page 64

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MAY-JUNE 2017 - 33


Milestones with a Small “m”

by Nora Slattery

Recently, I overheard the casual greeting “Have a great day” responded to with: “Any day I wake up is a great day.” I was struck by this simple truth. Yes, it is a good day when your eyes open, and you can start anew. If this sounds a little a sugary, I agree. But any day we wake up in recovery is a win. It’s also an opportunity. We all have some Big Milestones in our lives— events, deeds, relationships—that signify progress. These are the milestones we place in capital letters and document with a diploma or marriage certificate, a photo album or candles on an AA cake. But also consider milestones with a little “m.” Every day we wake up, we have a chance to do something better, to cherish a tiny moment, to see something fresh, to say thank you. These are often the subtle steps that make Big Milestones possible, and we ought to remember them, too. I teach my journal writing students to use their all senses when they write—smells, images, tastes, textures, sounds—to deepen the reflection and to hold the moment with vivid words. Then, I ask them to pick just one tiny detail in their life, the best good thing that happened that day—the extra long walk with the dog, that wave to the neighbor, the seat given to a stranger on the bus—and fully mark that as a significant event worth writing down. When my students first get this assignment, I see eyes roll a little and hear a few muffled

laughs. But, as they write I see focus, I hear pens quickly scratching against paper, little sighs of satisfaction. When they read back their writing, those moments captured in detail are much more meaningful than they expected. When we capture the best moment in our life just that day, we create tiny shrines to the greater good in our lives. Milestones with a small “m.” By writing the moment down in the fullest detail we can muster, we make these milestones real, and we build on them. We take cameras to the big events, but for the smaller ones, we have to be the camera. Writing our new life, one good moment at a time, is a milestone in itself. Nora Slattery is a professional business and speechwriter. She is a certified Journal to the Self™ instructor, teaching a workshop created by the Center for Journal Therapy. She is currently working on a memoir in the UCLA Writer’s Program. For workshop information contact: njslattery@gmail.com.

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The Sunshine Vitamin

by Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD and Jeffrey Bohnen, BSc The beautiful Californian sun shining down onto the laptop used to type these words couldn’t be more fitting, given the topic of our article this month. The sun’s light is actually absorbed and processed by our bodies to produce Vitamin D! Want a quick, noninvasive test to see if you’re getting enough Vitamin D? Here it is: check to see if you have tan lines. The presence of tan lines is a quick and dirty indicator that your levels of Vitamin D are probably sufficient. However, especially during the winter, it’s quite common to develop Vitamin D insufficiency. In fact, it’s estimated that Vitamin D insufficiency affects almost half of the world’s population. But why does Vitamin D matter? The funny thing about Vitamin D is that it’s not really a vitamin. It’s actually a hormone, which means that it can directly affect gene expression. Vitamin D is a key regulator of the mind and body, as it supports: • Bone Health - it helps your body absorb calcium, which strengthens your bones. • Mood and Well-being - it may help regulate mood and protect you from depression. • Weight Loss - may help regulate appetite. • Healthy Energy Levels - may improve energy levels and lower stress. • Disease Prevention - proper Vitamin D levels may reduce your risk for developing multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and the flu. • Cellular Health - Vitamin D may slow down the effects of aging.

A lack of Vitamin D can lead to a variety of related disruptions in the mind and body. For example, research found that people with deficient Vitamin D levels were 91% more likely to develop insulin resistance (a precursor for diabetes). Low levels of Vitamin D have also been implicated as a risk factor for cancer, autoimmunity, gutbrain issues, hormonal imbalances, and dementia. Okay, that sounds important … so how do I get it? The easiest way is to soak up some sunshine. Although it’s a rough approximation, fifteen minutes of sunshine per day is a common recommendation. Keep in mind, however, that factors such as distance from the equator, clothing, and skin pigment affect Vitamin D absorption. In addition, it may not be possible to receive sufficient sun exposure during certain parts of the year or in certain environments. In such cases, it’s best to ensure that your diet contains healthy sources of Vitamin D, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and eggs (eat the yolks). In addition, milk is often fortified with Vitamin D.

continued on page 37 ...

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continued from page 36

Fun fact: The government implemented a milk fortification program during the 1930’s to overcome rickets (soft/weak bones), which was a major public health problem at the time. Another option to ensure sufficient Vitamin D levels is supplementation. Specifically, I’d recommend looking for a Vitamin D3 supplement from a trustworthy distributor. As a gift to our readers, we’d be happy to offer a 15% discount for people interested in our own premium-quality Vitamin D3 supplement. Simply mention Step 12 Magazine Vitamin D3 Discount in an email to contact@mbtrins.com, and we’ll hook you up. Taking a Vitamin D3 each day has the potential to help you achieve joy, peace, and balance in your recovery.

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“Vitamin D has the potential to help you achieve joy, peace, and balance in recovery.” Note: Dietary Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that its absorption is dependent on the presence of fat molecules. This means that it’s best to take a Vitamin D supplement with a hearty meal. Should I be worried about taking too much? The short answer is both yes and no. The form of Vitamin D that we make from sunlight is more easily regulated by our bodies. Therefore, it’s difficult to “overdose” on sun-derived Vitamin D—although you will probably have other things to worry about if you’re receiving too much sun exposure. On the other hand, you have to be careful with Vitamin D derived from food or supplements because excessive amounts of these molecules can become toxic. Be sure to carefully follow the suggested usage guidelines for Vitamin D supplements. Of course, consult with your doctor before making any changes in your diet and supplementation. As always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. Now get out there and enjoy the sun! Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD is boarded in both Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, is a member of the Editorial Team of the Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy and also the best-selling author of Face Your Addiction and Save Your Life. With over 20 years of medical experience, he has developed a signature clinical methodology, integrating cutting-edge science with ancient wellness techniques.  Dr. Sunder currently serves as Chief Medical Officer of the Mind & Body Treatment and Research Institute and as Medical Director of Brisas Recovery and Wellness Center, both of which are located in Riverside, California.  You can follow Dr. Sunder at  www.mindandbodytreatment.com,  http:// doctorsunder.com, and  www.brisasrecovery.com,  or reach him at  DrKeerthy@mbtrins. com. Jeff Bohnen, BSc studied Psychology and Music at the University of Michigan. He’s currently studying Integrative Neuropsychiatry at the Mind & Body Treatment and Research Institute before beginning medical school in July.

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Milestones Against Meth by Angela Goldberg

Also in 2004, the MSF held the first of several large conferences at Marine Corp Air Station Miramar to ensure a common understanding and knowledge base regarding meth and meth-related issues. Stories of meth use and abuse permeate the news, leaving a string of tragic milestones, murders, domestic violence, and officer-involved shootings where a suspect’s meth use provoked the response. As disturbing as those stories are, there are also positive milestones. The County of San Diego Meth Strike Force has worked diligently to reduce meth problems through prevention, enforcement and treatment. The following story is just one news-making incident of a meth-afflicted life gone wrong. In 1995, Army veteran Shawn Timothy Nelson, his life in a downward spiral due to meth use, slipped into a San Diego National Guard Armory. Nelson pried open the hatch of an M-60 Patton tank and went on a demolition mission along San Diego streets. He flattened cars and bulldozed fire hydrants before getting stuck on a median on Highway 163. Nelson’s life ended when he attempted to dislodge the tank and drive it into oncoming traffic. He was shot to death by a police officer. This story received a great deal of attention, but it only scratches the surface of the destruction that can be attributed to meth use. In 1996, in response to growing meth problems, San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob established the Meth Strike Force (MSF); a multi-agency partnership charged with addressing meth-related issues in the region. It was the first, in what has become a long list, of milestones in the fight against meth in San Diego County. The following are several other positive milestones: In 1998, San Diego County was one of the first to establish local limits on the sale of precursor chemicals used to manufacture meth. This became a State Law in 2001 and a national standard in 2005. The Vista Partners Project began in 1999; a multi-pronged, intensive, local community effort to reduce meth problems in partnership with MSF and the City of Vista. Supervisor Jacob convened a Board of Supervisor study session on women and meth, laying the groundwork for gender appropriate services in 2004.

38 - MAY-JUNE 2017

In 2005, the Stop Meth Associated Crimes, or SMAC, campaign targeted meth-fueled identity theft, helping to enact a State standard blocking key credit card information printed on sales receipts. Prevention specialists and law enforcement teamed to eliminate drug paraphernalia sales in 2006. In 2007, the documentary Crystal Darkness aired in San Diego, resulting in numerous calls to the Meth Hotline.

“The Meth Strike Force works diligently to reduce meth problems through prevention, enforcement and treatment.” MSF began Operation Tip the Scale in 2009, a first-of-itskind project linking law enforcement with drug treatment counselors for the purpose of providing treatment options to offenders in lieu of jail. The operation continues today, including “tip to treatment” where arrestees are taken directly to treatment. In 2010, the county adopted a crime-free multi-housing ordinance that requires managers of problem apartment and condominium complexes to get training in recognizing and preventing drug-related problems through lease conditions and environmental design. The Tip the Scale campaign won an award from the National Association of Counties in 2011 for innovation in addressing meth abuse issues. These milestones give hope that soon the tide will turn in the meth epidemic. Yet, meth use continues to be a problem locally and nationwide. Readers can help by using treatment and recovery resources, reporting meth-related crime and encouraging people with meth use histories to seek help. For more information, visit www.no2meth.org. Angela Goldberg is the Facilitator, of the San Diego County Methamphetamine Strike Force (MSF) and also the Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force (PDTF).

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C alendar W atch May 2 - Brothers & Sisters Day May 5 - Cinco de Mayo May 9 - Lost Sock Memorial Day May 14 - Mother’s Day May 14 - Dance like a Chicken Day (on Mother’s Day?)

May 20 - Armed Forces Day May 29 - Memorial Day

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NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) http://www.drugabuse.gov/ Drugfree.org http://www.drugfree.org/ Ask The Judge (answers for teens about the law) http://www.askthejudge.info/ TheFix.com https://www.thefix.com/ Addiction Inbox http://addiction-dirkh.blogspot.com/ Pathway to Prevention (teen use and abuse stops here) http://www.pathwaytoprevention.org/ CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) https://www.robertjmeyersphd.com/index.html GRASP (Grief support for those who have lost someone to addiction) http://grasphelp.org/ Camp Mariposa (For children who have addiction in the family) http://www.moyerfoundation.org/campmariposa Recovery Research Institute http://www.recoveryanswers.org/ The McAlister Institute (low cost/no cost treatment services) http://www.mcalisterinc.org/ Resource List from Denise Krochta at Addicts Family Lifeline, Inc.

MAY-JUNE 2017 - 39


For our Submission Guidelines please email: editor@step12magazine.com. We’d love to hear from you.

See You Never by Justin Lopez, age 16 The law of life is one that is persistent and perpetual. The law of life is change. Because change is consistent, I will never see you folks again. I will never see you folks again with, not only the same physical features, But also will never think about you the same. You see change is like getting a hangover; When a person has a couple of drinks, they start to feel euphoric, And happy and full of emotions. They would love for these emotions to be everlasting, But as soon as they get accustomed to having a great time, The hangover in the morning kicks in. The hangover is like change, because it is inevitable And you knew the night before it was going to happen. I wish everyone the best and please remember, Never change and drive.

The Pink Ensemble By Lyn P. Unity Hall, Sun City, Ca. Jackie L. Lawson, 53, said that she’s grateful to God and to her Twelve-Step program for thirty years of sobriety (March 3, 1987). Lawson’s birthday joy was fashionably evident as she wore the perfect pink ensemble, from the glittering tiara, to the pink, denim jacket and the formal gown, down to her pink tennis shoes. Lawson’s effervescence glided her to the podium at a fellowship birthday bash held on the last Saturday of March. Lawson spoke of her experience, her strength and her hope. “I appreciate everything that the program and the fellowship did to help me with sobriety. It’s been a great adventure. Happy or sad, I don’t take a drink. The most beneficial thing I’ve received along with sobriety is the friends I’ve made over thirty years.” Lawson said. When asked to share one of her sobriety mantras to newcomers, Lawson said that her conscious contact with God is important. “Unconscious contact with God doesn’t really work. God is with me and he’ll never leave me alone. God is love,” she said. “I talk to Him a lot. I’m completely amazed that by taking one day at a time, I’ve got thirty years sober. Now, that’s a miracle,” Lawson said.

40 - MAY-JUNE 2017

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BECOME A CERTIFIED ALCOHOL & DRUG COUNSELOR My Journey My journey began in a substance abuse treatment facility. After going through rehab and being introduced to the 12 steps in 1985, I was invited back by the treatment center I had completed to be their first Behavioral Technician. I didn’t have any formal education or training to help other alcoholics and addicts recover. What I had to offer was my strength, hope and experience. I loved helping others, but it wasn’t enough. In order to grow in the field & advance my career, I had to go back to school. I needed a specific education to have the positive impact on others that I really wanted. ATI was created to offer others an affordable, efficient and accommodating avenue to increase their effectiveness in the field of addiction treatment and open the door for employment opportunities. I have worked nearly every position in a treatment center – from an entry level Behavioral Technician to the Executive Director of a 150 bed facility. During my 30 years in the field, I feel good about the work I’ve done helping others get their lives into a better space. If you aspire to help others, make the word a better place, and earn more money in a field you are passionate about, ATI was created with you in mind. Call us today and let us surprise you with how simple it can be to take the next step. Ron Black, LCSW VP Addictions Training Institute

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by Shelly Marshall

Traditionally, armies used rallying cries and military mottos to mobilize troops and overcome the often paralyzing fear of the enemy. These war whoops usually had religious overtones and were designed to capture their troop’s commitment, not unlike encouraging a newcomer’s commitment to recovery. Today, those battle cries survive in what we call slogans, which originate from the Gaelic word sluagh-ghairm, translated as war cry. Getting clean and sober can feel like war. War against a disease. Although we eventually learn to cease fighting anyone or anything, in the beginning we battle a ferocious enemy: the compulsion, obsession, and jonesing to pick up just one more time. To confront this fierce enemy, the old-timers gave us a very powerful tool in slogans, which often goes unrecognized. Most members, if we are honest, have grumbled at one time or another about the constant repetition of “mindless” sayings. Yet slogans, even if irksome, are a powerful way to reach the suffering alcoholic. Slogans and Service Go Hand in Hand Even if the twelve-step war cries don’t get the respect they deserve, slogans and service go hand in hand. We hear slogans are “simplistic” and “bumper sticker recovery.” All the same, old-timers and newcomers alike walk into meetings and Alano clubs everyday, walls bedecked in the classics: First Things First; Live and Let Live; Easy Does It. 42 - MAY-JUNE 2017

Our slogan’s convey messages. They are brief, memorable and usually seize the attention of the person they are meant to influence. Whether begrudgingly or gleefully, we repeat a handful of these sayings meeting after meeting hoping to penetrate the resistant skull of the newcomer. Practice for our Brains Brain research tells us repetition is the most basic technique for learning. You know, the “practice makes perfect” kind of thing. So while it may be frustrating to hear, Keep coming back; it works if you work it after every meeting, that simple phrase is burning its way into the consciousness of the newcomer, slipper, depressed and forgetful. That war cry means that some alkie will get up in the morning and hear the enemy’s cry of “Just one won’t hurt,” and they’ll use their counter cry, “Keep coming back.” Because you chanted the war whoop with them at the meeting yesterday, you are more likely to see them back in the room today, despite the presence of the enemy. As I approach half a century drug and alcohol free, my brain circuits have healed, where once they were fried. When people shared around the tables, my mind dawdled between fleeting thoughts. How would the rent get paid; could I take those pain meds after getting my wisdom teeth pulled; should I tell the group I dreamed about taking speed last night? Hmm, what did that guy say? Focus. Focus. Finally, something actually made it into my head, Learn to listen and listen to learn. Wow. I knew I wasn’t listening and also knew I wanted to. I could learn to listen and would listen to learn. That war cry gave me the strength to try harder. continued on page 53

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Perfect Love by Dr. Phyllis and Rev. Carrol Davis

It is important to make special note of significant events in our lives: marriage, birth of a child, earning a degree, purchasing our first home, and paying off our home. Did you ever consider marking the milestones of your spiritual journey? Our walk with our higher power is the most important and critical part of our recovery process, yet, after years in the program, how many of us take our new life for granted? The Bible talks about the milestones of our lives in terms of monuments, telling us about monuments that were erected at various points in biblical history to mark the event of victory over enemies. Do we make note of the victories in our lives, the changes in our relationship with Christ? We have been on a specific spiritual journey for quite some time. We’ve been looking at the words of the scriptures, the promises of Christ and our beliefs. Do we truly believe in our hearts what our mouths have confessed? Have we totally trusted Christ in all things, or do we just say we do? Our most recent test came about four years ago. Without notice the disability insurance company quit paying our insurance which amounted to half our monthly income. We were faced with the same accounts payable and half the previous income to meet expenses. We were terrified. We say the Lord will provide—but will He? Maybe He will not provide the things we want. We say all things work to our good. Do we really believe that in our hearts? If so, why were we so stressed out about our situation? We found that we believed in our heads—not in our hearts. Over the next months and years we struggled with those thoughts that did not line up with the word of God and looked at the beliefs that were causing us stress. When we found a belief that invoked fear, we took that thought captive to the Word of the Scriptures and the promises of Christ. It was a hard several years—not because of our circumstances—but because of what we believed to be true about our circumstances. We say the Lord is our refuge in times of trouble but if we truly believed that in our hearts, we would not fear. We say perfect love casts out fear so why were we afraid? We feared we would lose our home. Where would we live? What would our lives be like given this new situation? We say the Lord has plans to prosper us and to give us hope and a future. Yet; if we really believed that, we would have been in perfect peace and we were not. 44 - MAY-JUNE 2017

When Christ brings us through, we must celebrate and acknowledge all that He has done. Applying the Word of God during difficult times is when we learn to trust Him more. Celebrate the deliverance and give credit to your higher power. Three short years ago, we were afraid we would loose our home, had times when we did not know what we would eat, much less pay bills. Today we reflect on the trip of a lifetime as the Lord not only delivered us from our dire financial situation but has given us many additional blessings: a published book of our journey that has received five star reviews, a published workbook that was recommended by a noted Christian Author, receipt of the Christian Author’s Award in counseling and recovery, and a full practice. A milestone has been this walk through terrifying experiences and trusting His provision when we could not see. continued on page 45

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continued from page 44

Thank you Daddy for our amazing trip that marks this milestone in our lives: You brought us through the valley of a belief in financial ruin to the promise land of abundance (a trip to seven countries, a cruise, six nights in Paris, airfare and entertainment for the cost of a vacation in the USA). Who would have thought? Who would believe? We asked and He provided. “You don’t have because you don’t ask” became an experienced verse in the scriptures, not just words on a page. Will this always work? Of course not! It is not always in our best interest; but when the desires of our heart line up with the plans He has for us, it is amazing what He can and will do. Thank you Lord for an amazing vacation; the one that serves as a milestone to us: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.”

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Rev. Carrol graduated from Furman University, and was ordained in 1975. Honored in Who’s Who, Dr. Phyllis E. graduated from the Union Institute. Davis & Davis were awarded the Christian Authors Award for their book Stop the Violence: Seven Stages to Sanctify. Get more information at: www. thejourneypathwaystohealing.net

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Service Is Good For The Soul, The Mind And The Body By Susan Logan-McCracken, MPW

work of Nancy Morrow-Howell and colleagues, “Effects of Volunteering on the Well-Being of Older Adults,” published in The Journals of Gerontology. Morrow-Howell reported that in 1996, forty-three percent of people over the age of sixty-five and thirty-seven percent of people over the age of seventy-five volunteered, and because of this, learning about the impact of volunteering on older individuals became an important area of research.

I can’t think of a time when my mother wasn’t serving someone. From cooking a meal for a family in need to driving an elderly person to church, Mom was a model of service for me growing up. What’s amazing to me now is that, at eighty-two, she still serves others at her church and in soup kitchens. Not only does she motivate me to serve, numerous studies show that she herself reaps multiple benefits from serving others. In “The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research,” the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS) reviewed thirty-two studies that showed numerous mental and physical health benefits of serving others. Here are just a few highlights from the research. It really IS more blessed to give than to receive You may have been taught the biblical principle that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Stephanie L. Brown and her colleagues actually found evidence supporting the adage. Individuals who provide support to others have more health benefits than those who receive support from others. The study, “Providing Social Support May Be More Beneficial Than Receiving It: Results from a Prospective Study of Mortality,” published in Psychological Science, concluded that giving rather than receiving promotes longevity. That doesn’t mean we should always give and never receive. Graciously receiving allows others to benefit from giving and fulfills needs in our own lives. Brown’s study cites forty-one other studies that explored giving, receiving and their profound effects on health, happiness and society. It’s never too late to start serving Serving is especially healthful for the elderly. In fact, research shows that volunteering yields physical and mental health benefits, especially for older adults. The CNCS cited the

46 - MAY-JUNE 2017

The researchers found that even when controlling for factors like race, gender and social integration (defined as contact with family and friends), adults over the age of sixty who volunteered experienced better health and functioning, and lower depression levels. Volunteering alongside others has inherent benefits in itself, because when we serve, we form friendships with those with whom we serve. By controlling for social integration, the study shows that volunteering has benefits beyond increasing friendships, a fringe benefit of volunteering. Serving helps in recovery The twelfth step of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) calls upon those in recovery to carry the message to others who need help attaining sobriety. Many people find that sponsoring helps them to maintain their own sobriety. The wisdom in this step has farreaching effects on both the sponsee and sponsor. People who practice the twelfth step provide the sponsee (or those new to recovery) with much-needed support and solidify their own commitment to sobriety. Helping others addicted to alcohol contributes to the sponsors staying sober, because focusing on others helps in their own success of not picking up another drink, according to Maria E. Pagano, Ph.D., in “Helping Others and Long-term Sobriety: Who Should I Help to Stay Sober?” published in Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly. Pagano and her colleagues also noticed these patterns in their research: “Sober alcoholics were significantly more helpful to others at home, work, and in twelve-step programs than they had been while drinking.” “Lower levels of general helping while drinking increased to moderate levels at one year and twenty years sober.” In AA, the sponsees become sponsors, and the sponsors increase their level of service, creating a healthy cycle of receiving and giving back. Isn’t that what life is all about? Susan Logan-McCracken is a writer and editor for Sovereign Health, a Joint Commissionaccredited behavioral health treatment provider with locations throughout the United States. To learn more, visit us at SovHealth.com, Facebook and LinkedIn or follow us on Twitter. Image: bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock

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MAY-JUNE 2017 - 47


THE LEROYS A Recovery Parody

by mark masserant

With the final days of the winter of 2025 approaching and extreme boredom setting in, the Pink Elephant Group decided it was time for something new. Already in the books were several Bowl-a-thons, Karaoke Nights, and finally, the fly-by-night Velcro Twister Games, which led to random thirteenth steps and oodles of resentments. We dropped them like a bad habit. Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Drunkard was proposed, but shot down unanimously—our butts had fallen off long ago, leaving most of us disqualified. After multiple suggestions were sunk, Bitter Bill spoke up from the back of the room. “How’s about giving out some awards? ‘Course I probably won’t get one,” he droned drearily. With the Oscars on the horizon, we decided he was right—we would host an awards ceremony, with our own peculiar spin to it. It immediately wobbled into our Pink Elephant think tank. With much forethought, we agreed the trophies should be called Leroys, after the unforgettable drunk in newspaper comic pages, Leroy Lockhorn. Not to be overlooked, Leroy’s feisty wife, Loretta, would be credited with founding a new chapter of Black Belt Al-Anons, named Samurai Butterfly. Despite the ever-present threat of plumping up widespread egos, the date was set for the inaugural event: The First Annual Leroy Awards. My sponsor thought it might not be in our best interests. He often stated, “Alcoholics are egomaniacs with inferiority complexes.” It was profound, but also a complete duh. Inasmuch as he assured newcomers they were in good hands, having assembled a panel of

experts, moments later he would share how we used to feel lower than whale poop at the bottom of the ocean. He was a little inconsistent. Apparently, he was trying to bring our ups down and our downs up in his own oddball way. Still, his far-out grasp of Zen was puzzling, although helpful on many levels— if you were an oxymoron-lover. Nevertheless, next year I’ll nominate him for a new category; Best Producer of Confusion. The old clubhouse was chosen as the venue. Cigarette smoke stains were scrubbed off the walls, and we loaded up on pamphlets, styrofoam cups and butt cans galore. A fleet of coffeepots was fired up to accommodate some serious sipping, and a metal sea of folding chairs was arranged. Donuts were plucked off shelves until local stores were bare. In no time, everything was in place, the room was packed and the festivities were ready to commence. The one and only cable channel that considered filming it was the EGO Network, but they withdrew—too many old-timers were seen photobombing on the red carpet, with ghastly results. After the banquet, the legendary but fictitious Juan Valdez was honored with Oscaresque razzle-dazzle for his lifetime commitment to coffee beans. A barista’s toast was followed by a rousing group-slurp. Next was the main event: the winners of the Leroys were ready to be announced. To counterbalance ego re-inflation, attendees were urged to limit their applause and keep the schmoozing to a minimum. Nominees wondered if that wasn’t resentment material, but chose to let it go. It was time to begin. continued on page 51

48 - MAY-JUNE 2017

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MAY-JUNE 2017 - 49


Milestones of A Vision

by Karen VanDenBerg

Laid off after thirty-one years with one company, newly sober again, and not sure what I wanted to do when I “grew up,” I had a vision. I love to write, and I love recovery, so I decided to start a magazine. The idea to start a recovery magazine with zero experience in publishing or graphic design seemed preposterous. However, I couldn’t shake it. I fell in love with the idea of loving my job!

I finally got some help in December 2015, when Roni came on board. This was a thrilling milestone to reach. She gently began to convince me to improve some of the formatting and finally convinced me that two spaces after a period is no longer the standard. Subscriptions increased and sponsors began to see the value. We In March 2013, I was trying decide were able to make a donation to New whether or not to move forward with this unshakable dream. My pros and Creation Behavioral Healthcare Foundation’s treatment cons list was the extent of my business scholarship program—a milestone of giving back that I plan, but I knew that funding would hope we continue to improve upon. be important. I told myself, and a few others, if I could raise the money I We now have subscribers all over The G ifts of needed by the end of the week, it would the country, and we distribute to ® Reco very be a “go.” In my mailbox that day was a facilities nationwide. When we Milestones and check for exactly the amount I would exceeded 10,000 copies in print, I Miracles need to get this magazine off the ground, and I made a almost fainted. That was a milestone Last Issue commitment. That was the first milestone I achieved. I never expected to see. I had laughed in the ear of the printer who told me the cost of printing would be lower Initially, my vision was to have a local once I hit the 10,000 copy volume. magazine for the Inland Empire that “Ha, ha, like that’s ever going to would publish events, advertise local INDEPENDENCE happen,” I said, while my head was AND businesses, and profile local people. FREEDOM saying, “wouldn’t that be amazing?” However, by July 2014 we expanded into Orange County, San Diego County, Palm Springs and the San In 2013, I had a crazy vision and gave birth to a magazine. Gabriel Valley. We had increased our We have gone from 20 pages in our first issue to 68 pages print run from 1,500 to 5,000. Printing today. We’ve gone from 1,500 issues in print to 15,000 more than 5,000 magazines was and have become self-supporting! What a huge exciting another significant milestone achieved. milestone this is! November/December 2013

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Step 12 Magazine has matured and INTRODUCING Magazine in early 2015 so we could gotten “married” to Serene Scene ILLUSTRATED own the website domain and social Magazine. She’s changing her name Finding Gratitude media identities. We took 1,000 to Recovery Illustrated and is moving copies of the magazine to the AA forward with her purpose as a beacon World Convention that year and of hope for the recovery community; Gratitude Is Everything poof, we weren’t just in California whether someone is in a twelve step “If nothing anymore. None of these milestones program, smart recovery, celebrate changed, there’d Flakka Designer Drug Alert were in my business plan because be no recovery, or just on the fence. The new butterflies” I had no business plan. I truly flew name will “illustrate” our diversity by the seat of my pants and was caught regularly by my better (pun intended), but our mission remains the same. Higher Power. I prayed “bless it or block it” on a regular Now, we’re actually going to set goals and milestones so basis and tripped over unexpected milestones without we don’t trip over them when we get there. seeing them coming.

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THE LEROYS A Recovery Parody

continued from page 48

The Winners of the First Leroy Awards: Best Denial: Ain’tNoDuck Chuck Best Pity Party: Bitter Bill Best Dishonesty (Over and Over): JustaCouple Jimmy Best Justified Resentment: NobodyHug Doug Best Jaywalker: Category withdrawn; We are NOT good jaywalkers! Best Creative Walking: Cain’tWalk Skip Best Fridge Magnet: Surrender2Lynne Best AA Urban Legend: Meeting-Makers Naked Best Spiritual Experience: OuttaBody Dottie Best Collapsible Bottoms: NotSoDead Fred Best Stuck on Step 2: NutJob Bob Best Slogan Slinger: My Sponsor Best DTs: KindaScary Mary Best Instrumental Soundtrack by an Al-Anon: Does not exist Best Lower Companion: Bottomfeeda Rita Best Sex Inventory: Fifty Shades of Jay Best Thinking Problem: Cup-is-Half-Phil Best Knowitall: You already know, don’t you? Best Hole in the Soul: Incomplete Pete Best High Bottom Drunk: Misdemeana Gina Best Double-Dipper: Double-Dip Skip By evening’s end, there were more mini-leads than any butt could endure, and rollicking ovations that rivaled any sobriety countdown. Still, egos were untarnished, gallons of coffee were gulped, and no directions were followed. No surprise there. The premier event was enjoyed by all, even those who didn’t get a Leroy; in fact, those people were especially grateful. After clean-up, Pink Elephant Group members were asked if there would be another. Their response, of course: “We’re only doing this One Year at a Time.” www.step12magazine.com

RECOVERY ONLINE Alcohol Addiction Alcoholics Anonymous: www.aa.org Secular Sobriety: www.sossobriety.org Women for Sobriety: www.womenforsobriety.org SMART Recovery: www.smartrecovery.org Drug Addiction/Substance Abuse: Narcotics Anonymous: www.na.org NIDA: www.drugabuse.gov Recovery Program Search Engine: www.recovery.org Sex Addiction Sex Addicts Anonymous: saa-recovery.org Sex Addict Help: sexaddicthelp.com/Links/index.htm Healthy Mind: www.healthymind.com/s-index.html Food Addiction Overeaters Anonymous: www.oa.org ACORN: www.foodaddiction.com Food Addicts: www.foodaddicts.org RFA: www.recoveryfromfoodaddiction.org Gambling Addiction: Gambling Anonymous: www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga Problem Gambling: www.problemgambling.com CCPG: www.calpg.org Other Addictions: Internet Addiction www.addictionrecov.org/ Addictions/index.aspx?AID=43 ReStart: www.netaddictionrecovery Support Groups for Family and Friends Al-anon: www.al-anon.org Al-ateen: www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen Adult Children of Addicts: www.adultchildren.org Gam-Anon: www.gam-anon.org Codependency: Forums: http://www.onlinecoda.net/forums.html https://sites.google.com/site/codacall Mental Health Links SAMHSA: www.samhsa.gov Other Links and Resources http://www.roommatesinsobriety.com Check out Step 12 Magazine on Social Media https://www.facebook.com/Step12Magazine @Step12Magazine https://www.pinterest.com/step12mag www.instagram.com/step12magazine

MAY-JUNE 2017 - 51


Milestones in Recovery by Kyczy Hawk

I just wanted to get sober and stop using drugs. I wanted the craziness to stop. I wanted the constant stream of internal invective to stop, to quit yelling at myself, and to get away from all of the abuse. I wanted to be a REAL mom, not just a mom who was “on her way”, “just about there” and who would feed you, care for you, read to you “in a minute”; a minute that would never come. I wanted the pain to stop. It was clear I couldn’t overdose or drink myself to death. I would have to quit. So, one day, I hit bottom. I wanted my soul back. I wanted to live. I hurt enough to call a friend. I went to my first meeting. And from that very bleary evening to this I have not had a drink. The drugs would tempt me from time to time for another year and a half. I have been able to accrue quite some full on clean and sober time since then. April 29th is my anniversary/birthday. It is this time of year that I look back; consider, appreciate and find grace in what I have been given in my recovery. Not all of it was planned, most was unexpected. Here are six things that surprised me. 1. My first milestone was letting go of the “I have to do it myself” illusion. I learned to become a student in the rooms. I had to develop a bit of trust, a little mental clearing in order to understand what was being said. It took a little while for me to be able to comprehend what I was reading and to concentrate through a whole meeting; but eventually I settled down. I had grown up thinking that I had to know everything before I was taught—to jump right into any task and master without a lot of instruction. I discovered in recovery that pausing to listen and to learn was not only permitted, but preferable. I learned to follow suggestions and to do homework. Later this skill of becoming a student helped me gain the degrees and certifications required in my professions.

2. Along with meeting recovery a day at a time my next milestone was giving up immediate gratification. I learned the long game. We do recovery a day at a time, and at the same time you learn to defer rewards and results. This didn’t happen right away. (I didn’t get the wisdom of multiple years’ sobriety until that number of years had passed.) I stayed clean and sober when life was hard; one day at a time, at the same time remaining clean for the long haul. Illness, death, issues with children and with finances, car trouble and heart trouble; I stuck to my recovery process one day at a time. I learned the art of sticking to it—whatever it is. Even waiting. Even silence. 3. I thought I was useless and a drag on society when I came into recovery. I recall the exact day, where I was standing in my alano club amid the smoke and laughter when I thought to myself; “I get to be here”, “I am accepted”. I was called on to share. People looked toward me and laughed when I was funny, and held that deep abiding silence when I was sad. I learned that I have something to offer; in recovery and in life. Each day I go to or participate in a meeting I get to reach deep into myself and find the best of myself in that moment. When I share one on one I am looking for my best and highest good. An amazing milestone in my deep abiding recovery was to discover that I have something to share. 4. I learned that I could dance sober. Now that might seem like a small thing, but it was a big thing to me. I have felt all angles and kinks when I got on the dance floor. It was as if each part of my body had its own rhythm section and nothing was in sync. There was a lot of enthusiasm but very little grace. Early in sobriety I was invited to the celebration of A.A. in Santa Clara Valley—a big dinner dance in a hotel. I was overwhelmed; it was fancy, I was not. Special dress and semi continued on page 55

52 - MAY-JUNE 2017

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continued from page 42

In early recovery, my mother and I attended a meeting in San Pedro down by the docks. (Mom brought me to my first meeting and at this time we only had a few weeks each.) A huge display rack showcased hundreds of little cards with various slogans on them—free for the taking. Selecting which one we wanted to represent our innermost self was serious business back then. I chose several that had meaning for me while Mom deliberated a bit longer. Finally, she picked her perfect message: Be Humble and You Will Not Stumble. In later sobriety, we often remembered that slogan and laughed heartily, finding it all the funnier because at the time it seemed so profound. Slogans Save Lives

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Slogans are our method of capturing clean and sober insights in a compressed form. They are our weapons against the inner addict/alcoholic, the little itty bitty shitty committee upstairs, and the ever present disease doing push-ups in the parking lot while we attend a meeting. For alcoholics and addicts who have a rough time focusing in early recovery, slogans save lives, literally. They are the Swiss army knives of the Twelve Steps. Give slogans their due respect when working with others for they remain the War Cries in the battle for recovery.

For Men

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MAY-JUNE 2017 - 53


GABE HOWARD

continued from page 26

What blows your hair back and makes your heart beat wildy? I love live music. I love concerts and live performances. Also sporting events. The thing I love the most is being a public speaker, standing in front of people and talking, and making them laugh. That’s the biggest rush I can get. How would you describe your greatest achievement? Living well with mental illness. It’s such an invisible disease, people have no idea how much you’ve had to overcome. It’s an epic battle against an illness no one ever sees, then you realize the last few months have been pretty good. What’s the closest you have ever come to death? The suicide plan I had before I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital. I’d rented an apartment specifically to commit suicide. I had life insurance that would pay out in the event of suicide. I tied up all the loose ends, and was ready to depart. I’m thankful that didn’t work out. Who is your favorite superhero, and why? Batman. He uses his brain to do all these amazing things. He doesn’t have super powers like Spiderman or Superman. He’s a tortured soul who took a bad situation and made good out of it with intelligence (and probably billions of dollars). Where is the most interesting place you’ve ever been emotionally and why? The rapid cycling of bipolar that rages in uncontrollable circles from elation to despair, paranoia, mania and everything in between. It spins around so fast you have no time to process anything. Describe the weirdest situation you’ve ever been in? Before I was diagnosed, I woke up half-naked in the basement of a strip club after a three-day manic bender, hanging around a bunch of people I didn’t know. I couldn’t remember what I did the night before and had no idea how I got there. Do you feel substance/alcohol abuse magnified your mental illness? If so, in what ways? Yes, absolutely. Firstly, I would describe myself as an abuser rather than an addict because quitting wasn’t an issue. I’d say substances altered my state. I was already in an abnormal state with depression clashing against mania, so adding substances just made the whole thing a goopy mess. It made an already bad situation even worse. Global advocacy against stigma is stronger than ever. Do you feel the battle is being won, and what more needs to be done? Vast amounts of progress have been made, particularly over the last twenty years. However, we still have such a long way to go that it’s hard to celebrate a victory. Since we don’t even really know how far we have to go, we might actually be on the precipice of really changing how the world thinks about mental illness. Or we could be twenty years away.

54 - MAY-JUNE 2017

What’s the biggest lesson life has taught you so far? Don’t expect anything. John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” and I agree with that because it’s all random, up in the air stuff. I try to control the things I can and let go of the things I can’t. And acceptance is a powerful thing. If you could be any cartoon character, who would you be? Mickey Mouse. He’s well known, universally beloved. He gets along with Minnie fantastically, and he’s well respected. There are no scandals there and he owns Disney. That’s pretty awesome. Do you see a correlation between the American diet and increasing issues of mental health? As an observer, I see that a lot of people who suffer from depression are also eating processed foods. It’s cheap and easy to get; it costs nothing to buy a cheeseburger and soda. I’m not a scientist, but it can’t be a coincidence. I don’t believe depression leads to weight gain. I believe depression leads to poor eating habits which leads to weight gain. I feel better when I eat healthier and it really helps improve my mental health. How big a part do you think diet plays in the maintenance and management of mental health? I think it has a role. I don’t know exactly how big of a role except to say that it’s bigger than the zero that we think. Physical and mental health are linked and food is a part of the equation. Depression makes you feel bad physically, so I think if we adopted a better diet, then we’d get better faster. What should I have asked you that I didn’t? You should have asked, “Do I feel that everybody can get better?” It’s a tough question to answer, but YES I do believe everyone can get better, regardless of their situation. At the same time, peole do not get better equally. My better isn’t going to be on the same level as someone else’s better. I think if each person can achieve a level of wellness where we each can live a decent life, then they’re better. We tend to stigmatize people who aren’t as well as us. Forward is a direction, so our only true goal is to be a little better today than we were yesterday. Find out more about Gabe Howard at: www.gabehoward. com

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Milestones in Recovery continued from page 52

formal attire; I was sure I wouldn’t fit in, that I wouldn’t know how to behave and I couldn’t possibly dance. I was a wreck. But I went. It was amazing—it was as if all the ragged edges in the joints of my body had been smoothed out. I wasn’t the best dancer by far but I didn’t look like a ragged marionette with a shaky person as the puppet master. I now enjoy dancing—of any style—as a fully sober woman. 5. One hurdle I return to from time to time is self acceptance. The miracle milestone is that I am able to enjoy self acceptance at all. My life had been driven toward fun and forgetfulness (of feelings, circumstances, despair) until it became overwhelmed with fear guilt and shame. Those last three were the only ones I could identify in early recovery; those and rage. I was always the backward magnet repelling and being repelled by others. I repelled myself. Building on the unconditional love in the rooms, the safe and loving care from my sponsor, and the eventual purging of the pain from the past through the steps allowed me to establish a sense of self that was kinder. I “did esteemable acts” to develop self esteem, and have eventually come to like myself. I have come to accept myself, good and bad, for who I am. This has given me a firm and reasonable foundation for considered change; a good person who is evolving.

6. Active addiction is such a baby way to be; days filled with self indulgence and skirting responsibilities. Even when I was doing for others I secretly doused myself with chemicals to make that giving bearable. I really was “her majesty the baby”. In early recovery I learned how to start acting like a grown-up. It was a huge milestone to practice “adulting”. I started with the basics of self care; regular meals, regular bed time, doing laundry each week, cleaning up after myself and my family, paying bills on time, and not buying things I couldn’t afford. I took care of my health as well as the health of my kids, I got a job and got there on time each day. These small steps grew and I went back to school, became qualified for other, better paying jobs. I took care of my kids AND learned to let them go. I was able to practice principles of honorable behavior in my relationships and started standing up for myself in healthy ways. The result is that I am able to act my age in a respectful way. Milestones for me have not just been the days, the months or the years—the milestones are what I have done with those units of time. These are six ways that I have grown into the woman I had always wanted to be; the person I have wanted to be. These aren’t the only significant experiences but with others have helped me create a life that is truly “Happy, Joyous and Free”. Kyczy Hawk is the secretary of the Yoga Recovery meetings, Sundays 7am PST on In The Rooms (http://www.intherooms.com/livemeetings). She is a yoga teacher and author of Yoga and The Twelve Step Path and Life in Bite Sized Morsels. For more yoga tools, visit: http://yogarecovery.com/additional She is aided and amused by her family who keep her busy and humble.

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MAY-JUNE 2017 - 55


ang h W e n Suzan

What a WHANGderful World!

The Secret In October 2006, I watched a documentary about the law of attraction called The Secret. I loved it so much that I bought 100 copies of the DVD for my family and friends. A voice inside me whispered, “Send it to Oprah,” but I thought, “She’ll never get my package, and she’s probably already seen it anyway.” The voice said, “What do you have to lose?” So I FedEx’d the DVD with a letter to Oprah, infusing it with good energy, and then forgot about it. A month later I was driving, and my cell phone rang. It wasn’t a number I recognized, so I had no intention of answering it, until a voice said, “Answer this call.” “Hello?” “Hi, is this Suzanne?” “Yes.” “This is Abby from Oprah Winfrey’s office.” OH MY GOD! I started driving like an Asian, so I pulled over. “Abby! I never answer the phone when I don’t recognize the number, but a voice told me to pick up.” “Well, I never call anyone who sends anything to Harpo Studios because of the sheer volume of mail we get here. But last night, my friend Frank made me watch a DVD called The Secret. I hadn’t seen it before, and I loved it. This morning I came into the office, and YOUR PACKAGE was on TOP of the stack of mail of my desk.” “OH MY GOD!” “Also, Oprah hasn’t seen this movie. You’re the first person to send it to her.” How is that possible—the movie was released a year ago! I guess everyone else assumed that she had already seen it. “Abby, that’s incredible.” “We’re going to South Africa for six weeks to visit the school that Oprah opened there. I’ll bring the DVD and make sure she watches it.” “That’s phenomenal! Have a wonderful trip, and I’ll talk to you when you return!” It felt like my car levitated the rest of the way home. Six weeks later, I was sitting at a table for two, waiting for my friend Lucille at a café in LA. A tall friendly man walked up to my table, sat down, and said, “Hello!” A bit taken aback at his presumptuousness, I said, “Hello.” He said, “How are you?” I said, “Blissful. How are you?” He said, “Following my bliss.” Then he paused and said, “Have you ever seen the movie The Secret?” And I said, “What?? Not only have I seen it, but I was the first person to send it to Oprah, and—” Before I could finish my sentence, he had sprung up from his chair and was running around exclaiming, “Oh my God! Did you know that Oprah’s doing a show about The Secret in two weeks?” I blurted out, “NO, I didn’t know that! How do YOU know that?” He said, “I attend the Agape Spiritual Center, and Rev. Michael Beckwith was

56 - MAY-JUNE 2017

in The Secret. He just announced that he’s flying to Chicago in two weeks to talk about The Secret on Oprah!” I was flabbergasted. Then I said, “Wait a minute—why did you come over here and ask me if I’ve seen The Secret?” And he said, “I have no idea.”

The next morning I left Abby an excited voicemail asking if I could please come and be in the studio audience for this episode! Through a series of miraculous circumstances manifested by the law of attraction, I flew to Chicago for an insanely low airfare, got upgraded to a suite at the hotel I booked, met Jack Canfield (another panelist from The Secret) in the hotel’s check-in line, got invited to dinner with him and the rest of The Secret panelists the night before the taping, sat next to Rev. Michael Beckwith and became friends with him, rode to Harpo Studios in a stretch limo with the panelists the next morning, witnessed the most incredible hour of television as it happened, told Oprah my story and heard her confirm that I was the first person to send her the DVD, and had my picture taken with Oprah’s arm around me. On my flight from Chicago back to LA, I got goosebumps as I remembered that just a few months prior to this moment, I had scotch taped a photo of Oprah next to a photo of me, and put it inside my Magical Creation Box (a 3D version of a vision board). And now I have a real photo with her!!! Mother Teresa once said, “We cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” It was a small gesture to send a letter and DVD to Oprah, but I did it with great love, completely detached from any particular result. I had nothing personally to gain from it, and I know it’s had a positive ripple effect on the world. © Suzanne Whang is best known as the host of HGTV’s #1 show, House Hunters, for almost a decade. She also co-hosted Bloopers with Dick Clark on NBC, and FOX After Breakfast with Tom Bergeron. Suzanne played Polly on NBC’s Las Vegas for four seasons, and she’s a double award-winning stand-up comedian. She’s a published author, keynote speaker, teacher, coach, political activist, and metaphysical minister. Suzanne has a B.A. in Psychology from Yale University, and a Masters in Cognitive Psychology from Brown University. She’s currently starring in the sitcom From Here On Out (Here TV), recurring on the new DirecTV series Kingdom, and stars in the hilarious film, A Weekend With The Family. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @suzannewhang.

Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354


Gabriela was teaching basic English to refugees for several months when they finally passed their first level exams with flying colors. Individually, each of the students thanked her and showed their appreciation for her hard work.

“You do it all yourselves,“ insisted Gabriela, proud of them all for working so hard. One weekend, Leonard was admitted to the hospital with weird pains in both his legs.

His doctors concurred and decided to conduct a range of tests to see if they could figure out what was wrong with Leonard’s legs. Meanwhile, his family visited Leonard every day and brought him his favorite food; lots of fresh fruit. Days passed, while Leonard languished in bed and ate his fill of pears, apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, peaches and apricots.

One afternoon, a phlebotomist entered Leonard’s room to collect some more blood for another series of tests. Noticing an apple sitting on his nightstand, she 
remarked, “An apple a day keeps 
the doctor away, right?” “I guess that must be true,” Leonard agreed. “I haven’t seen a doctor in three days.”

After i-messaging back and forth with his wife, Harry jokingly commanded Siri to pass along this message: “You need to get back to work now; you have a husband to support.”

The message Siri actually sent was: “You need 
to get back to work now; you have 
a has-been to support.”

One student paid her the ultimate compliment when she said, “You teach English good.” Another assured Gabriela, “I will always forget you.”

And a third student beamed and said, “I thank you from the heart of my bottom.” After losing the School Spelling Bee, Max said, “So what if I can’t spell Armageddon? It’s not the end of the world.” Spotted in the classifieds: “For sale: cemetery plot, $200, so 
I don’t have to spend all eternity lying 
beside my ex!” After an impromptu song during practice, the pastor asked the church pianist, “What key did I sing that in?” The pianist replied, “Most of them.”

“Wow! Look at all these milestones I’ve collected.” “Those aren’t milestones! Those are the marbles you lost right before your last DUI.”

A Gunnery Sergeant and 
a Captain were out inspecting a Marine training exercise when they spotted a second lieutenant ambling about aimlessly. “Where is your foxhole, Lieutenant?” asked the Captain. He snapped off a salute and 
responded, “I don’t know, sir!” 
Turning to the Sergeant, he asked, “Gunnery, where is my foxhole?” You’re standing in it, sir,” said 
the Sergeant, pointing to the ground. “All you have to do now is remove the dirt.”

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MAY-JUNE 2017 - 57


Keynote Speaker: Glennon Doyle Melton is the author of the inspiring New York Times best-selling memoir, Carry On, Warrior. She is also the founder of Momastery.com, where she writes essays from the heart about marriage, motherhood, faith, addiction, recovery and serving the marginalized.

For registration and more information, visit FoundationsEvents.com

58 - MAY-JUNE 2017

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of “A validation n ell ess, emotional w the path to and clearing hich allows my heart, w appreciate me to truly that have the miracles occurred.” ~ Kristin W

“My last Milestone was...”

“I opened my own business.” ~ Bryan S

“From an inspiration to our 9th conference. Three of our group members have written books and so many are out there being of service.” ~ Carol T

“Ten years sober.” ~ Teresa C

“The tea m signatur launched their Nutrition e ‘Brain Tune ’ a for Relapl Supplementatio se Preve n ntion at doctors ~ Dr Keeunder.com.” rthy Sun der

“A major, recognizable milestone I had was after three years in Al-Anon, when I was able to take a vacation without my husband, enjoy myself, and not be thinking all about him!” ~ Darlene L

“Getting the KORN gig was a pretty big deal. Also Rock to Recovery getting its 10th employee and increasing its capacit y to 400 music therap y sessions a month.” ~ Wesley Geer “Building a ho wildest dreams, me. In my In I would be able ever thought to do that.” ~ Roni A-D

d as invite ’s w I , ly t n t aren “Rece r at my p to dinne e been banned home. I’v iting them for from vis that was a big years, sothem, and me. step for enrietta B ~H www.step12magazine.com

“I just finished writing a book.” ~ James T

“I started writing again.” ~ Theo D

just d of 15 years ntil I n ie fr y o b y “M eu waited for m I have e H . d se o p pro now d sober, and got clean an ears in the program.” y just over five Jose N ~

“Noticing that I didn’t opt to eat when my world was changing around me.” ~ Karen V

“Not using today.” ~ Harold B

“My first meeting a few days ago. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to walk in that door for the first time.” ~ Roger P “I just got the job I really wanted. This is so huge.” ~ Wanda G

clean.” “30 days T ~ Lenore

“Reconn ecting w ith my child ren.” ~ Geoff O

years for thirty “Grateful March 14th.” sober on ~ Mark M

my ried to ave r a m “I got r’s dad. I h n te ow daugh I have my an a job. ain. I have ip ag nsh place elatio r e m ” aweso my mom. h t i w ie J ~ Ann

“Millions of my fans turned a Hollywood ‘NO’ into a ‘YES’ and I’m very grateful for that.” ~ Deadpool MAY-JUNE 2017 - 59


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Nearly 1% of all high school seniors in the USA have abused methodone.

In 1976, the filming of the classic movie Apocalypse Now was plagued with problems including actual dead bodies that were stolen from a cemetery, Martin Sheen’s heart attack, Dennis Hopper’s wild parties and countless cocaine binges, Marlon Brando’s 300lb belly and Coppola’s frequent mental breakdowns.

In 1866, seeking to cure his morphine addiction, American pharmacist John Pemberton created a syrup called Pemberton’s French Wine Coca. However, legislation in that same year, in the state of Georgia where Pemberton lived, banned coca-wines and alcohol. This forced Pemberton to look for an alternative to his original coca wine. After many experiments, he finally landed on the extracts of coca leaves and kola. The two main ingredients in Pemberton’s new drink were cocaine, from coca leaves, and caffeine, from kola. With these ingredients, nothing changed much from Pemberton’s previous French Wine Coca, and the rest is history .... Cocaine was first used in the USA in the 1880s, where it was applied as an anesthetic in eye, nose, and throat operations. This use has since become obsolete with the development of safer drugs.

A ten year study revealed that alcohol is a direct cause of liver, colon, rectum, oropharynx, larynx and breast cancers, accounting for 5.8% of cancer deaths worldwide. That’s 500,000 people a year!

Robert Peace, a ‘black guy from the hood’ ended up graduating from Yale with honors in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, moving back to his ‘hood’ and teaching biology at his old highschool, engineering his own strain of marijuana and getting killed over a drug deal.

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According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2016 there were 20,783 emergency room visits in which an energy drink contributed to a health issue.

Only one in nine people in the USA gets the treatment they need for addiction and substance abuse.

8% of North Americans are being treated for substance abuse.

It is estimated that 2.7 million people in the USA are addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers. MAY-JUNE 2017 - 65


Aries Mar 21 – Apr 19

Taurus Apr 20 – May 20

Gemini May 21 – Jun 20

Cancer Jun 21 –Jul 22

Leo Jul 23 – Aug 22

Virgo Aug 23 – Sept 22

May – Increased communication between you and those around you, particularly your partner, brings a new understanding. Your head and heart seem to be in better accord, so you’re feeling especially optimistic. This optimism isn’t just related to career and financial matters but to private matters, especially your romantic life. Your open mind and willingness to be flexible will be very rewarding. Jun – You’re a favorite among family and friends, because you’re tuned in to the human comedy of life. You’re a master of brilliant strategies, and you’re making snappy comebacks right and left. You’re making people laugh, which is your real gift. Your popularity could spike and you might find yourself the center of every party and the leader of every team. People are happy to follow someone with such energy. May – The heavens have quite the agenda set up for you, starting early this month. That arrangement you’ve been working on almost nonstop for ages will finally start to come together, due in no small part to the fact that you haven’t had very much luck in the sleep department. Still, sleepless or not, if anyone can keep their eye on their dream, it’s you. Don’t worry. A few more sleepless nights should do it. Jun – Plans to work at home at least part of the time might be firming up for you, Taurus. Your mind is very much on home and family right now, so you might be thinking in terms of leaving the rat race of the city and creating your own office. Success is highly indicated, so it’s well worth going for. If you start planning today, you might have it worked out soon. Mar – Still feel like you’re spoiling for a fight? Don’t let it happen. Not when you’re this close to achieving the goal you’ve been planning out, minuscule detail by minuscule detail, for longer than you care to remember. Besides, that recent power struggle you won bolstered not just your confidence but also your belief that you, and you alone, are in charge of eliminating anything negative in your life. Jun – Information about possible careers and investments might come to your attention this month, Gemini. You may give a lot of thought to these matters, especially since your thinking is changing along with the times. This is a good time to explore new avenues your life could take over the next six months, and make final decisions, if appropriate. Give this some thought before you act on your plans. May – You need some time alone to rest, recuperate and get your act together— more together, that is. Take it right now because, over the next few weeks, you’ll have your hands full with entertaining both familiar loved ones and extending your hand to amazingly interesting new friends. Even if you don’t nap, be sure to at least close your eyes and do some creative visualization. Jun – You’ll be giving a lot of thought to your future. You’re wondering how best to increase your financial standing; thinking in terms of making some investments in land or property. If you’ve been considering buying a home, this is a good time to do it. Any paperwork involved now should be finalized swiftly and smoothly. But don’t forget to maintain your investments on the relationships you’ve created. May – If communication has been difficult for you in the past, Leo, you may find things a bit different. You may have a deeper understanding of the motives of others, making it easier for you to deal with them. Your intuitive abilities are operating at a high level, so you’re likely to form new bonds based on what you sense about others. Celebrate this month! You need the lift. Jun – Being the star of the show isn’t just something you’re used to, it’s something you’ve learned to expect—and that has nothing to do with being vain, either. People love to be entertained, but not all of us are up for the challenge. So when you’re in the mood to perform, whether it’s in someone’s living room or on an actual stage, you’re guaranteed an eager audience. May – Is it possible to expect the unexpected? Maybe not literally... but it is necessary to keep your mind, heart and soul open to all the wonderful possibilities that are about to come your way. Most importantly, don’t get bogged down in old, outmoded ideas of what things ‘have’ to be like or what you ‘should’ do. The stars are telling you it’s time to explore your options and take a chance even when it scares you. Be bold. Jun – Inside information may come your way that starts you thinking about improving your financial standing, Virgo. You might hear of career and investment opportunities that you’ve never considered before. You’re an adventurous soul. You might consider jobs that would have your grandmother reeling! The coming months show promise for you. Good fortune lies over the horizon. Go for it!

66 - MAY-JUNE 2017

Libra Sept 23 – Oct 22

Scorpio Oct 23 – Nov 21

Sagittarius Nov 22 – Dec 21

Capricorn Dec 22 – Jan 19

Aquarius Jan 20 – Feb 18

Pisces Feb 19 – Mar 20

May – It’s going to seem like everyone around you is in the mood to be as sociable and friendly as you are every minute of every day. If you have a jealous or even slightly insecure partner in the vicinity when someone attractive, obviously interested or single starts acting especially sociable and friendly, try to tone down your response. Why ruin a perfect evening—and maybe more—for a few minutes of flirting? Jun – You could meet new friends at a social gathering, Libra, people who could become valuable business contacts. You might learn of new and different investment opportunities that reflect the changing times, these could capture your imagination. Your understanding of others runs deep, so relations should be congenial. You’re in the right mood to make the necessary decisions unhesitatingly. May – You’re by nature a person who likes to look toward the future. This month is a very special one for you. You might wonder what the next few months hold, Scorpio. You’re trying to answer this question by looking within and coming up with insights about you and your goals that you’ve been too busy to see before. These will work for you and guide you in the right direction. Jun – Ah, the game of love. Sometimes you roll the dice and you get to pass ‘Go’ and collect a sweet chunk of change. Other times, it seems like the only rule is there are no rules and it’s every person for him or herself. You’re in more of a limbo state right now, and not really sure which way to turn. Instead of trying to figure out a course of action, why not figure out what you want first, and then act from there? May – Your attention has most definitely shifted from mediation to more personal matters—and travel. Yes, given your druthers right now, as a reward for how good you’ve been lately, you’d like nothing better than to drop everything and take off with a certain someone you just know would make the Eiffel Tower look even better—if they were standing in front of it with a great big smile on their face. Jun – Your spiritual and career goals may come together, Sagittarius, enabling you to make a living without compromising your ideals. New opportunities may come your way to make new friends with people who share your beliefs and interests. You might reflect nostalgically on the past and yet look to the future with great optimism. Good luck! May – Your routine will be disrupted because of surprise errands or short trips you’ll find extremely pleasant. This means the trouble you dealt with recently will be all but a distant memory by the time your head hits the pillow. In the meantime, don’t give it a second thought. Think about what a lovely time you’re having—and about the fact that tomorrow’s agenda could present an equally delightful instant replay. Jun – Capricorn, you’re looking forward to making a new start. Your intellect is working in harmony with your intuition. Your mind is clearer and more focused than it was, and you’re thinking of expanding your horizons and creating new career opportunities for yourself. You’re feeling passionate about life, ready to face just about anything. The only challenge right now is to stay grounded in reality. May – The position of the planets could have you doing a lot of soul searching, Aquarius. You’re looking deep within to discern your true goals. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find. Increased communication and deeper understanding enhance your relationships. Many of your aims are likely to be spiritual in nature. Write them down. Jun – Making a choice between two attractive offers has never been something that’s disturbed you—especially when you’ve been responsible for arranging them. Prepare yourself. If someone comes along who seems eager to pretend they’re exactly what you’re looking for, don’t feel obligated to let them know you’re on to them. Not right away, at any rate. You’ve got more important things to think about. May – This month you might take time out from all the recent excitement to take a good look at your life, Pisces. Is it satisfying? Are your current commitments contributing not only to your own well–being but also to that of the planet? You’re likely to decide to change your habits in some way, either through augmenting the ones you have or taking on an entirely new ones. Jun – If anyone knows how it feels to be so darned happy, infatuated and out of your mind in love, it’s you. So when you pass by someone (or two someones) with ‘that look’ on their face, toss them the same look in return—or offer up a nod and a toast from across the room. They’ll get it. Happiness and love are contagious, and you’ll have more amorous offers than you know what to do with.

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Step 12 Magazine Issue 22 - Milestones  

This is our last issue. Effective June 1, 2017, we will publish as Recovery Illustrated

Step 12 Magazine Issue 22 - Milestones  

This is our last issue. Effective June 1, 2017, we will publish as Recovery Illustrated

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