Monday, December 29, 2014

Seventeen years.

Seventeen years ago I walked up Fairmount Boulevard in Cleveland Heights to Jane's house. A month earlier, Tina had informed me that Jane - a luminous light of a human - was sober. We had stood in Tina's cold garage smoking, me with wine glass in hand, when I tearfully explained to her that I knew I had to quit drinking. She cried too as she had been prepping to give me her private intervention speech.

Jane brought me in to her solarium sanctuary and told me a bunch of brilliant and hopeful things but the one I remember was this, delivered in a way that made me understand the words "beseeching" and "grace."

There is so much love.

Then she took me to a meeting, the second oldest women's meeting in the world. Miraculously, I kept showing up. I cried for about a year of meetings and clenched my teeth the rest of the time. I started taking Pilates. I moved, I breathed, I did what I intended to do. Like I said, for an addict, these are miraculous achievements.

I have so many tools now that I use to stay as healthy as I can. Movement, meditation, service work ... these are all in the kit of parts I have put together for myself to stay relatively not crazy. But it is so important to me that I don't forget the addict part of myself ... my inner slick trickster who made me believe that the best thing I could do any given day was to have another Jack Daniels or glass of wine.

I am one of the lucky ones. Michael was not. Jen was not. So many others who are sick and suffering are not.

So with immense gratitude, I offer myself to any of you who may need a hand. Every single good thing I have today is the direct result of this moment, seventeen years ago.

I have added to Jane's promise.

There is so much love. 
There is so much fun. 
There is so much laughter. 
There is so much to do.

Who is ready?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Do the next right thing.

Holy smokes.

Has it ever been harder to figure out how to focus one's efforts for the greater good? Is the world falling apart more or do we just have more constantly updating, dopamine-inducing evidence of what has always been an epidemic of humans behaving badly like humans who need more support?

No matter what developmental model you follow, whether Spiral Dynamics and Integral Theory or Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs or cultural and/or individual trauma theory; even if you haven't studied about how human's behave when they are not getting basic needs met for safety, shelter, community, and purpose, it is pretty easy to see that our collective community is suffering.

When these needs aren't met, when our nervous system is aroused in the fight, flight, freeze response, we are virtually INCAPABLE of moral choice making, long-term planning, empathy and other higher-level cognitive functions. So whether our clarity is mucked up due to forces outside of our control like poverty and abuse or via our dedication to constant online updates and righteous responses, we are pretty much doomed to our current scenario of polarization, depression, violence, and disorder. We are disordered. So we act disorderly.

My mind is naturally inclined to disorder, to move in a thousand directions in search of something akin to excitement in the guise of clarity. I know now from my own study of movement, meditation and the study I call "getting my shit together" plus the wisdom of countless others, I won't find clarity by admiring the problem, again and again and again.

I can only take one step at a time. I can only do the next right thing. If I am lucky, right action leads to right thinking. In the end, that matters less as that the next right thing for me tends to be a place of service and community. That's where joy is. That's where order is.

So today the next right thing was to write. First this, then my play.

Tonight the next right thing is to teach movement, to teach a few others how to embody wellness and breath.

Tomorrow the next right thing is to celebrate the successes of women in recovery with the talented staff of First Step Home, to share the True Body Project with inspiring and challenged young girls in the West End, and to spend time with my son, who is making his own difference in a school-based health center.

And so on. It just might add up to something.

What is your next right thing?