Tuesday, August 23, 2011

SPIRITUALITY - We are all spiritual beings having a human experience

Time flies and another week is here.  Today let's talk about spirituality as a part of the six areas of balance.  As Carol Lynn Pearson says in her great little book, "Embracing Coincidence", "I have lived my life by faith, choosing to believe that life has to make sense, choosing to believe there is Spirit behind matter, choosing to believe consciousness survives death, choosing to believe there is a God and that God is good."  Today, I believe this with all my heart and mind.  As a child growing up I was taught to fear God if I was not "good enough" or if I was not perfect.  As stated in the title we are human beings here having a spiritual experience.  Being human, I learn and grow through trial and error.  I am not perfect, nor do I need to be.  It is enough to "always do my best".  Today, I know God's love is unconditional and that I can choose to live in love or fear.  I choose LOVE.  In his book, "The Four Agreements" Don Miguel Ruiz gives us four important truths to guide our life.  First, is be impeccable with your word and to cultivate faith.  "To have great faith is to have great power, because your intent, your will is undivided.  When your work isn't dissipated by doubt, the power of your work becomes even stronger."  Faith is not sure knowledge it is more a belief.  What do I believe?  Do I believe in God and his love for me and his desire for me to become the best me?  Do I believe there is a higher, best me and I can become better?  Do I believe that God or the Universe supports my growth?  Don Miguel Ruiz's fourth agreement is "always do your best". My "best" is differenct from day to day.  Ruiz states:  "You do your best when you are enjoying the action or doing it in a way that will not have negative repercussions for you.  You do your best because you "want" to do it - not because you "have" to do it; not because you are trying to please the judge, and not because you are trying to please other people."  Have you heard it said, "It is progress not perfection"?  Am I better today than yesterday, am I better this year than last year?  How is my progress? Spiritual balance indicates the need for progress and so recovery is about continual growth.  To me an important part of spirituality is gratitude, being grateful for all good gifts and grateful for my life just as it is today.  Do you have a gratitude list?  To increase spirituality, it is helpful to write down each day, five to ten things for which you are grateful.  It is a great reminder of how blessed I am and I try to do this daily.  Give it a try, perhaps it will work for you too.  In her book, "Lovingkindness", Sharon Salzberg reminds us:  We may look for that which is stable, unchanging, and safe, but awareness teaches us that such a search cannot succeed.  Everything in life changes.  The path to true happiness is one of integrating and fully accepting all aspects of our experience.  Ying and yang, circle half dark and half light....  Unity, integration, comes from deeply accepting darkness and light, and therefore being able to be in both simultaneously.  We must move from trying to control the uncontrollable cycles of pleasure and pain, and instead learn how to connect, to open, to love not matter what is happening.   I will close with the Serenity Prayer said at the end of 12 Step meetings.  "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.  Today, I choose LOVE and light even living amidst the darkness.
Sue Judd, MSS, LSAC
Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Another week has flown by and now we will be discussing social balance as a part of self-care in recovery.  Remember the old John Doone poem:  "No man is an island"?  The song adapted from the poem states:  "No man is an island; no man stands alone.  Each man is my brother; each man is my friend."  Humans are social beings.  We need social support. However, if my social support has been my using friends, it is important to find people that are supportive of my recovery efforts.  Letting go of using friends often is a concern for most people in recovery, however, it is often a safety issue early in recovery. 

Most often when we talk social support, people talk about family support and families can be a great support and help.  However, there are other support systems.  Twelve Step groups offer great support and also anonymity or the idea that I can go to a meeting, share, and feel safe.  As well as meetings, there are sponsored activities in which to participate, ie., dances, camping.  A sponsor is there to help me understand and work through the 12 Steps.  Some people find support through their church and some churches offer 12 Step meetings and workbooks to use to work through the 12 Steps.   There are several Christian workbooks and even a Native American workbook.  Let me know of others that you have used or like?  There are many paths to support.  I talked to a friend in SLC who went to a weekend retreat for women through a Christian group and had an amazing experience and recognized her sober women friends are a strong social support.  She talked about taking a Tai Chi class and how much she loved it.  I can meet other like minded people when I try a class and I am willing to learn.  TurningLeaf Wellness Center has offered yoga and Zumba classes.  How about Tai Chi?? 

People in my work environment can also be a support.  Another man I know in recovery likes to hire other people in recovery and make the workplace a part of their support system.  Are you having fun?  A big part of social balance is to enjoy life and have fun.  When is the last time you blew bubbles or bounced a pebble across the water.  Going to Zions Park is a close, fun retreat for all of us in the St. George area.  What is your favorite way to have fun and nurture the child within? 

I am going to share a story from Carol Lynn Pearson from her book "Embracing Coincidences" entitled STOP and START.   "So tired.  I had lain awake most of the night staring at the ceiling, racked with concern.  This morning I made myself walk to the park.  Coming back, despite the warm sun and the cheery bird calls, I found myself spiraling down, down....allowing the worst possible scenario to play out in my mind.  "Stop!"  The voice was loud and sure.  It was my own voice.....I took a few deep breaths and opened my eyes.  The first thing that appeared in my vision was a word, a work in large, white block letters only ten feet away from me on the asphalt path:  STOP.  The path was about to meet the street.  But I had been about to meet the abyss (mentally).  A warning sign.  Hours later, I was leaving my granddaughter's elementary school, where I had been with both the kindergarten and first grade classes, doing "creative drama" with Aesop's fables.  Still tired, I was hurrying to my car, cutting across the schoolyard.  There, under my feet, what was I standing on?  A word.  A word in large, white block letters on the asphalt playground:  START.  Start?  Playing? Learning?  Becoming a child?  Trusting?  An invitation." 

And so, my invitation to you this week is to play and have fun sober.  I would love to hear what you find to do and with whom??

Monday, August 1, 2011

EMOTIONAL BALANCE - Honoring Feelings and Emotions

Last week we discussed mental balance as one of the six areas of balance. This week the third area of balance to be discussed is emotional balance. The Level 1 Seminar is as important for emotional balance as it is for mental. Do you remember the Serenity Prayer said at the end of Twelve Step meetings? “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. How often do you feel peaceful and serene? Many of us try to avoid feeling emotional pain or discomfort. We may use alcohol and/or drugs to avoid feelings; to escape from feeling pain. Sometimes, we may even escape the joy or sabotage our own success if we are not feeling “good enough” or “worthy”. Sometimes we are feeling the guilt and shame of our thoughts or actions and this keeps us stuck in our addictions. Remember, feelings are not good or bad they are just feelings. They are clues to my emotional state moment to moment. I can accept and honor: “this is what I am feeling” and then choose how to work with the feelings. I can choose constructive or destructive ways to handle my emotions. For example, if I am feeling angry, I can go to the gym rather than “punch” a wall or someone. Galileo reminds us: “We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.” Discovering and honoring feelings can be rewarding and it helps us identify with others as we all feel feelings . In Seminar, we learn there are two ways to live life: coming from love or coming from fear. A Course in Miracles states: Perfect love casts out fear. If fear exists, then there is not perfect love. But only perfect love exists. If there is fear, it produces a state that does not exist. And Emily Dickinson wrote: That love is all there is, Is all we know of love. I have found meditation most helpful in getting to know and honor my feelings. What have you found? Click the "Contact Us" tab at the top of the page and let me know. I would love to hear from you.

Sue Judd, MSS, LSAC
Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mental Balance and Self-Care - Take your Power Back

In my last blog, physical balance of self-care in relation to Substance Abuse Recovery was discussed.  Today let's talk about mental self-care as a part of the six areas of balance.  How often to you check in with your mind and your thoughts?  Are you a positive or a negative thinker?  Do you believe that you have a choice to change your thoughts?  Are your thoughts working for you are against you?  As you thought about each of these questions, hopefully, you are aware that you have the power and the choice to change the way you think.  You are responsible for your thoughts.  Certainly there are people from the past who have influenced the way you think and there are people today who may still influence your thoughts.  You, however, have the power to choose whether or not you are influenced.  One of the first things to consider, is experimenting with challenging your thoughts and taking back some of your personal power.  How willing are you?  I find it helpful to think of the brain as a computer that has been programmed.  You have done the programming and you can choose to reprogram your thinking.  Certainly people have been influenced the programming, however, you alone choose to keep the negative programs running.  So, choose today to make a different choice and put boundaries around those thoughts.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said:  "People only see what they are prepared to see."  Or Robertson Davis said:  The eyes see only what the mind is prepared to comprehend."  Are you stuck in a self-limiting belief system because of this?  In our Substance Abuse Recovery and Life Skills Group, we address this and it is a start.  Have you worked with Affirmations?  This is a way to start reprogramming the brain.  However, if you really want to challenge your belief system attend a Personal Development Seminar offered by TurningLeaf.   The Level I Seminar is a part of the Intensive Outpatient program and will help anyone start to identify self-limiting beliefs and thoughts and begin to think and be more positive and loving.  You can improve your life in so many ways and it is my joy to see people make positive changes in their thoughts and actions.  Do not doubt, you can do it.  As stated by William Shakespeare:  "Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt".  We are here to show you ways to take back your personal power and live a more fulfilled and joyful life.

Sue Judd, MSS, LSAC
Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The 6 Areas of Balance - Physical

Last week I discussed the six areas of balance and this week I am focusing on physical balance.  Physical balance looks at how I stay physically healthy with exercise and diet.  Let's take about exercise first.  There have been studies that show regular walking helps mental and physical health.  The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of cardio exercise daily and walking works!  TurningLeaf Wellness Center has a Zumba class taught by Cliff Tapusoa on Monday evenings at 6:00 p.m.  Zumba's motto is "Ditch the workout and join the party."  Cliff really does make it fun!  This is a beginning class and he will go slow so no one needs to be fearful as he wants you to "get it".  When you find yourself stepping out of your comfort zone and trying even though you are afraid, that is when you gain confidence and personal power.  Classes are $5 or you can buy a punch card for $20 and the 5th class is free.  Great deal!  We have had a Kundalini yoga class in the past and I loved it and I would like to start another one. There are so many fun ways to exercise and feel great.  Do you have a favorite?  I would love to hear about yours.  Now let's talk briefly about diet.  I am quoting ideas from a book I would highly recommended buying and reading:  "All Health's Breaking Loose:  The Handbook by Loa Blasucci.  What are you willing to experiment with as far as diet?  Most of us do not eat very healthy; the American diet is sorely lacking.  Consider this: "Toxic foods prevent us from feeling our best, and therefore our reactions to situation may be be at their best - the vicious cycle begins.  Begin to notice how your body feels as you become toxin-free.  Eliminate:  sugar, white flour, caffeine, processed and packaged foods, milk, diet soda, pork, cold cuts, and any cannor boxed food with additives.  These substances accelerate aging.  They are basically 'dead' foods that offer no energy to your body and contribute to degeneration and decay.  They prevent you from feeling the vibrance that you deserve to feel."  This may seen extreme, however, hopefully, it will help you to pay more attention and be more aware of what you are eating.  "How you eat is how you fuel your body.  This 'fuel' will determine how good you feel, and feeling good is how you win the game of life."  If you are intrigued read Loa's book, it is filled with great health ideas.  From Walt Whitman:  "If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred".  How well are you honoring yourself in this area?

Sue Judd, MSS, LSAC
TurningLeaf Wellness Center

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The 6 Areas of Balance

For the month of June, I would like to focus on balance as an essential part of the recovery process.  How committed are you to working a balanced recovery program?  Commitment can be strengthened by doing a daily inventory to see how well balanced you were for the day.  Also, it is important to live in the present and work at this one day at a time.  It is important to live in today and not in the past or the future; yesterday is gone and tomorrow is yet to be.  Today is all we have.  These are six areas of balance to consider:  physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and financial.  Next week, we will address physical balance.  Start thinking about each of these areas and how you honor each area each day. To quote George Bernard Shaw:  "People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are.  I don't believe in circumstances.  The people who get on in this world are the people who get UP and look for the circumstances they want and if they can't find them, make them. What are you making of your life today?   Do you eat healthy and exercise regularly.  Are you aware of your thoughts; are they positive or negative?  Are you thoughts self-affirming or self-defeating?  Are you comfortable with all of your feelings and know how to use them constructively?  Who and where do you find social support; do you know how to play, laugh, and have fun?  What is your spiritual basis?  The Twelve Steps are a spiritual program and the best recovery is found in combining treatment and Twelve Step meetings.  Finances are the last piece in the balance equation and we will look at what that entails.  I am excited to focus on each area and look forward to your ideas as well.  One final note from Lao Tzu:  "If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never truly be fulfilled.  If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself.  Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.  When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you."

Sue Judd, M.S.S., LSAC
TurningLeaf Wellness Center

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Overwhelming Cost of Addiction Treatment

As an addictions counselor, I am, and have been for some time, frustrated that clients  need or want treatment and cannot pay.  Even with insurance, it can be overwhelming.  However, many clients have no insurance.  Often they give up after the initial evaluation especially if Intensive Outpatient treatment is recommended.  They give up and do not even give it a try or they find "something cheaper", or they may start and then drop out because they feel overwhelmed.  There is the often erroneous belief that they somehow  found the money for alcohol or drugs, so just take that money and pay for treatment.  However, the monies they used for drugs were often acquired illegally, ie., through dealing, stealing, etc.  Or they have let things go unpaid to use bill monies for alcohol or drugs and once sober, they are trying to play catch-up as well as pay for treatment. We will be able to offer sliding scale rates based on income for substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, and/or seminars.  In April, we had an open house at TurningLeaf Wellness Center to announce the TurningLeaf Foundation.  Our Executive Director, Shelley Lantz, has been a major force in paperwork filed and sharing her expertise in fund raising.  I owe her a big thank-you.  Our initial fundraiser is collecting change and filling the jar we have in our front waiting area as many times as we can within the next 100 days with spare change.  Or we can send you a bag to fill and you can be a "change bandit" asking others to help.  Our goal is $100 in 100 days from as many people willing to collect change and give to help save a life and families.  If you or someone you know needs help with treatment, counseling or seminars, please go to the TurningLeaf Wellness Center web site or the TurningLeaf Foundation web site.  Give us some basic information and we will call you.

Sue Judd, M.S.S., L.S.A.C.