Sunday, January 30, 2011

weekend birthdays

Happy birthday to my sister, Karen (a.k.a. Kiki) and my nephew Matt (a.k.a. Awesome.)  This weekend we hold you both in our hearts with warm wishes for a happy, healthy and wonderful year filled with lots of love and joy.  May all your dreams come true. 
Things won are done; joy's soul lies in the doing. William Shakespeare

Faith is like the air in a balloon.  If you've got it you're filled.  If you don't, you're empty.  Peggy Cain

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.  Helen Keller

Love you both ~
Have fun and be happy xo

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Today is a perfect day to clean the stove and fridge ~ and bake cupcakes!  The snow is falling providing the perfect incentive to stay indoors and do something creative, hence, I am baking red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, sprinkled with lots of love.  I am into the colors red and pink lately; I wonder why?  Red is a power color; pink for spiritual.  I must purchase some flowers with these colors very soon.

I can't get an oldie but goodie out of my mind; my cousin, Cindy, shared this morning, the 1965 Lesley Gore song "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows."  What a blast from the past.  I am still feeling the warm fuzzies this song keeps providing.  It's amazing what a simple thing like an old tune can trigger.  I'll hang on to this one for awhile. 

As I nested yesterday (or better yet, hibernated) I happened to finally view the movie Temple Grandin.  I sat glued with my mouth open most of the time at the fabulous and heart warming story of this amazing woman.  Claire Danes portrayed her beautifully and I hope she secures more awards for her efforts.  This portrayal of Temple Grandin's journey with autism filled my heart with so much love and compassion that when it ended I couldn't stop crying.  My whole body was wracked with emotion.  The most profound message is in the truth that "we are different, but not less."  This will stay with me for a long time to come.   

Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows
Everything that's wonderful ~  is what I feel when we're together
Brighter than a lucky penny
When you are near the rain cloud disappears, dear,
And I feel so fine ~  just to know that you are mine.

My life is sunshine, lollipops and rainbows
Everything that's wonderful is sure to come your way
When you are in love to stay.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011


All you can do in life is be who you are.  Some people will love you for you.  Most will love you for what you can do for them, and some won't like you at all
Rita Mae Brown
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;  forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; succeed anyway.
If you spent years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.
Mother Teresa
In a few days January will be a distant memory and the cold, snowy season will slowly, but surely, leave us for better days.  Be strong and try your best to weather any storm that may come your way.  Keep the faith and be happy.  Perhaps a delicious dish will soothe your soul, hence I share today's recipes. 

Cabbage Mix

2 heads of cabbage
3 onions
8 carrots
1 bulk Chinese cabbage
5 celery stalks
1 whole garlic
assorted spices
butter and oil

Slice and dice cabbages, onions, carrots, celery and garlic in little bits.  Melt a whole stick of butter and some oil in two large frying pans (you can diminish this recipe in half.)  Saute in pans and add your spices.  Today I used sea salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, sazon and garlic salt.  Simmer covered for about 30 minutes until tender. 
Oriental noodles

Prepare Chinese noodles by boiling, draining and saute in a wok or fry pan adding a dash of teriyaki and hot sauce to taste.  Set aside and serve with aforementioned cabbage mix. 
Cabbage Soup

Take the other cabbage mix and place in a crock pot.  Add a little water to the fry pan to get all the leftover juices and put in pot.  Add 2 cans of crushed tomatoes and clean cans with more water, adding to the mix.  Can you tell I am a waste not kinda gal? Season the soup with a little more sea salt and pepper and let the flavors blend for a few hours.   Enjoy. 

We are the masters of our own fate. xo 


Saturday, January 22, 2011

bear down chicago bears

We are less than a day away from witnessing the much anticipated championship game between our beloved Chicago Bears and rival Green Bay Packers.  In honor of this moment, I share the Bears fight song lyrics which was introduced in 1941.  Though Jerry Downs is listed as the composer, it actually is a pseudonym for Al Hoffman (who also wrote the words and music for the song If I Knew You Were Coming I'd Have Baked a Cake.  Hoffman's lyrics:

Bear down, Chicago Bears, make every play clear the way to victory;
Bear down, Chicago Bears, put up a fight with a might so fearlessly.
We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation with your T-formation
Bear down, Chicago Bears, and let them know why you're wearing the crown.
You're the pride and joy of Illinois, Chicago Bears, bear down.

I decided a double batch of homemade oatmeal raisin cookies might satisfy those with a sweet tooth in our humble abode.  Chili is on the main menu for the game so this will provide a nice balance - all men love cookies!

Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of salt
6 cups oats
2 cups raisins
1 cup chocolate morsels
2 cups processed assorted nuts
1 heaping spoonful Nutella

Heat oven to 350.  In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.  Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Mix well. Add oats, then raisins, nuts, chocolate morsels and Nutella.  Mix well.  Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 10 minutes or until light golden brown.  Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets, remove to wire rack.  Cool completely. Store tightly covered. 



Thursday, January 20, 2011

spicy cheese mac

Sharing this simple dish that could be made to fill some bellies while indulging in the much anticipated championship football games this weekend. 

2 packages shell macaroni
1 block Velveeta cheese
2 cups milk
2 cans Rotel tomatoes
2 cups spiced crumbs*
1 lb. fried bacon

Boil macaroni and drain.  Slice Velveeta cheese in chunks and add to macaroni.  Add milk and tomatoes and stir lightly. Sprinkle spicy crumb mixture on top and bake in oven for about 20 minutes, occasionally stirring.  Enhance with crunched bacon after done baking.

 *Take any leftover Dorito or spicy chip crumbs (you know, the dregs at the bottom of the bag that no one ever eats) and process them like bread crumbs. 


...and while you're praying for a Bears win, please keep my Uncle Bill in your prayers as he is undergoing chemo therapy to heal his leukemia.  He is a fantastic guy and I beg God to keep him with us for a long, long time... xo

Sunday, January 16, 2011

to be grandpa

One of the most powerful handclasps is that of a new grandbaby around the finger of a grandfather ~ Joy Hargrove

As if by default, you, as a grandfather, are the coolest person on the planet.  In a kid's eyes you are wiser, nicer and more patient than mom and dad.  You can take this opportunity to build a special relationship with your grandchild.  Take on and embrace the role of mentor.  Teach your grandkids to do things that their parents can't, don't have time to, or lack interest in.  Show them how to make a kite from scratch and fly it in the backyard. You are the family historian now.  Your life so far is full of interesting stories of days gone by.  Share them.  Recount your tales of walking 10 miles to school through 4 feet of snow and let them know what life was like before the internet and cell phones. Share stories of when their mom or dad were little and what funny things they did.  Show your grandkids you love them; hugs, kisses, piggy back rides, long walks pulling them in a wagon and never missing a chance to tell them you love them.  Showing love and building a caring relationship goes a lot farther than any material gift you can give them.  Grandfathers are filled with wisdom.
The simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate, is called a grandpa

If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I'd have had them first

Grandchildren:  the only people who can get more out of you than the IRS

Grandfathers are for loving and fixing things

To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word "boo"

Elephants and children never forget
Few things are more delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap

Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation

A grandfather is someone with silver in their hair and gold in his heart

The best place to be when you're sad is in Grandpa's lap

Every generation revolts against its fathers and makes friends with its grandfathers

My grandkids believe I'm the oldest thing in the world.  And after two or three hours with them, I believe it, too.

You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandfather 
poppie and tutu

Grandchildren don't make a man feel old; it's the knowledge that he's married to a grandmother.

Grandchildren are God's way of compensating us for growing old.

A grandparent is old on the outside but young on the inside.

Grandparents are similar to a piece of string ~ handy to have around and easily wrapped around the fingers of their grandchildren.

It's amazing how grandparents seem so young once you become one.

To be a grandparent is to enjoy one of the few pleasures in life for which the consequences have already been paid

What a bargain grandchildren are! I give them my loose change and they give me a million dollars' worth of pleasure.

I like to do nice things for my grandchildren ~ like buy them toys I've always wanted to play with.

I loved their home.  Everything smelled older, worn but safe; the food aroma had baked itself into the furniture.

When grandparents enter the door, discipline flies out the window.

Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do; they sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.

No cowboy was ever faster on the draw than a grandparent pulling a baby picture out of a wallet.

Never have children, only grandchildren. ~ Gore Vidal

Nicknames for grandfathers include Bampy, Ba Pa, Big Pop, Banpa, Da, Deda (Serbian), Didi (Croation), Dziadzia (Polish), G-Pa, Grampa, Gramps, Granddad, Granddaddy, Grandpa, Grando, Lolo (Filipino), Papa, Pappy, Peepaw, Pawpaw, Pampo, Pepop, Pompa, Pop, Poppie, Poppa, Opa (German) and Ye Ye (Chinese.)  Wayne already dubbed himself Poppie.

How the Grandfather Clock Got Its Name

Over 100 years ago in Piecebridge, North Yorkshire, England, there was a quaint country lodge known as the George Hotel, which was managed by two bachelor brothers named Jenkins.

In the lobby stood a floor clock, as they were called back in those days, that had been there for many years.  One unusual characteristic on the old clock was that it kept very good time.  This was uncommon, since in those days clocks were generally not noted for their accuracy.

One day, one of the brothers died and suddenly the old clock started losing time.  At first it lost 15 minutes per day but when several clocksmiths gave up trying to repair the ailing timepiece, it was losing more than an hour each day.

The clock's incurable problem became as talked about as its precision had been.  Some said it was no surprise that, though fully wound, the old clock stopped when the surviving brother died at the age of 90.

The new manager of the hotel never attempted to have it repaired.  He just left it standing in a sunlit corner of the lobby ~ it stands resting in the position they assumed the moment the last Jenkins brother died.

About 1875, an American songwriter named Henry Work happened to be staying at the George Hotel during a trip to England.  He was told the story of the old clock and after seeing the clock for himself, decided to compose a song about the fascinating coincidence that the clock stopped forever the moment its elder owner passed away.  Henry came back to America and published the lyrics that sold over a million copes of sheet music about the grandfather clock song.  These are the opening words of the first stanza:

"Oh my granfather's clock was too tall for the shelf so it stood ninety years on the floor.  It was taller by half than the old man himself, though it weighed no a pennyweight more...

Until that time, clocks such as the one in the old George Hotel were referred to by a variety of names, but not before Henry Work wrote his song, over a hundred years ago, were they referred to as grandfather clocks.

What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life.  And most importantly, cookies. xo

Saturday, January 15, 2011

to be grandma

It is said you don't know what unconditional love really is until you become a grandparent.  A grandparent looks at this new little life for the first time and it's like God has just handed him or her a piece of his/her heart.  The child of your child brings to a grandparent a feeling that can never be duplicated and a bond that can never be broken.  Some say being a grandparent is God's way of rewarding parents for not strangling their children when they were young. I look forward to enjoying the world through a child's eyes once again.  I heard the love for a grandchild is no deeper yet sometimes is seems purer, probably because it is free from the daily ups and downs of family life. 

According to the National Center of Health Statistics, the average age of a woman becoming a grandmother is 47.  A grandmother has numerous roles in the family dynamics.  I ran across a few sayings describing them, hence, I share. 

A grandmother is someone with silver in her hair and gold in her heart

In the Cookies of Life - grandmothers are the chocolate chips

Grandma's my name, spoiling's my game

When you need a hug call 1-800-Grandma

Grandma serves kisses, counsel and cookies daily

Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting

Grandma always makes you feel she had been waiting to see just you all day and now the day was complete

If your baby is beautiful and perfect, never cries or fusses, sleeps on schedule and burps on demand, an angel all the time, you're the grandma.

Becoming a grandmother is wonderful; one minute you're just a mother, the next you are all-wise and prehistoric

Grandmother-grandchild relationships are simple; grandmas are short on criticism and long on love

My name is NO NO but Grandma calls me precious!

Perfect love sometimes does not come till the first grandchild ~ Welsh proverb

One of my favorite grandmother wisdom stories captures a timeless truth.  The story of two wolves originally came from a traditional, Native American woman.  Women have passed such stories on orally from woman to woman and generation to generation.  This story is of a young boy who went to his grandmother fighting back tears and moaning that other kids laughed at him at school. His grandmother said softly:
"There have been times when I have felt anger, too, at others who were unkind and I have felt angry at myself for feeling small and helpless.  And I have even felt hate for those who felt no sorow for the hurt they cause.  But hate wears you down, Grandson, and it does not hurt your enemy.  I have struggled with these feelings many times.  It is as if there are two wolves living inside me; one is white and one is grey.  The white wolf is good and does no harm, living in harmony with all, and does not take offense when no offense was intended.  White wolf will only fight when it is right to do so and in the right way.  But grey wolf is full of anger.  The littlest thing will cause a fit of temper.  Grey wolf fights everyone all the time...for no reason...not thinking because this anger and hate are so great.  It is helpless anger and will change nothing.  Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside of me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit." 
The boy was listening very carefully.  He asked, "Which one wins, Grandmother?"  Grandmother smiled gently and said, "The one I feed."
In this traditional story, "Grandmother" connects to her grandson, his struggle and his feelings of anger by passing on her wisdom through the vivid images of the two wolves.  This marvelously imaginative story strikes us all with its truth.  It conveys knowledge and understanding, and as a story, it will impact the grandson more than a lecture.  It is a demonstration rather than a rule.  Grandmothers listen and demonstrate values and commitments by showing grandkids what is acceptable or uncomfortable.  They connect emotionally by listening to their feelings, needs, beliefs and emotions without judging or trying to fix their problems.  Making time and space in our lives for grandkids tells them they are valued.  We can teach them about humanity by showing them our strengths as well as our vulnerabilities.

There are many nicknames given for grandparents.  I found quite a few that tickle my fancy for grandmother, but when it comes down to it, I feel the baby will decide my nickname.  In the meantime, my favorite is the Cherokee Nana since I have a bit of the Native American spirit in my blood. Tutu is cute, too!
Grandmother, Grandma, Gramma, Grandmom, Gramzie, Granmama, Granny, Ga Ga, Babcia (Polish), Nonna (Italian), Lola (Filipino), Mawmaw (Cajun), Mammo, Nini, Ninna, Nanoo, Nee Nee and Tutu (Hawaiian)

The testaments about being a grandmother fill my heart with warm fuzzies and I agree that no one knows how it feels to be a grandma until you become one.  I only know how much I cherish the memories of my own grandmothers, especially my Nanny.  I listen to my sons' recollections of the times with their Gramzie and Granmama and sometimes it jolts me how much of an impact they really had on their lives.  The best gift they ever gave my sons was their time.  Of all the cute quotations I perused, this one by Edward H. Dreschnack hit home the most for me personally:
Just about the time a woman thinks her work is done,
she becomes a grandmother. xo

Thursday, January 13, 2011

*.* Baby Mine *.*

Our lives are filled with hope and anticipation of the blessed day that will bring miraculous joy to our lives.  Sometimes reality supercedes taking time out to reflect on how breathtaking this journey is.  Today I am making time to praise God for his blessings on our family with His creation.  Baby will begin kicking soon and in a matter of months we will hold our little wind. 
The big debate is what gender this bundle of joy will be.  I really don't have a preference as long as it's healthy.  I fervently feel this way, just as I did when pregnant with my children.  Conception is such a remarkable miracle and a healthy birth is crucial, that whatever sex this miracle of life is seems inconsequential to me personally.  We all have fun guessing anyway and some parents have a preference.  As a grandma-to-be, I can only say I am familiar with raising boys, yet would welcome a girl just to see how different they are.  No matter what it is, baby is a part of a stream of family members, both living and deceased, and I look forward to seeing whose characteristics it retains.  It also must be noted that boys are dominant in the Wind family, so the genes are much stronger for a male. I had two premonitions as to what it shall be so I am curious to see if they are true.  It will be what God wants it to be.
Since baby will born under the sign of Gemini or Cancer, most likely it will be like Mike or Wayne, both of whom are remarkable people who have made a beautiful difference in the world.  My Dad is also a Gemini and my Aunt is a Cancer; enough said.  Beautiful beginnings. 
I am taking inventory of all the baby things I accrued from my boys that can be utilized for the wee one.  I have had my eye on this darling blanket at a shop in Hinsdale for a couple of years and always said if we become grandparents, that is the first thing I will buy for baby.  I am already planning a baby shower for the happy couple and discover this to be more fun than anticipated.  A few of my friends are offering suggestions and resources from recent showers they attended which makes it easier to plan. 
Whether we welcome baby Dillan, which is Welsh for like a lion; son of the sea, or  Melanie, which is Greek for black; dark-skinned, this child will be dosed with enough love to conquer its world.  I already chose a nickname for Melanie ~ La La (means I love you.)

Little Wind, we anxiously await your arrival with open arms and to embrace you with our love. 

Thank you, Lord, for these amazing blessings.  Thy will be done. 

to life! xo

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

good tidings

We have entered into a magical period from January 1 through 25 as all the planets are direct.  This almost never happens and is a highly unusual situation.  Some months we don't get one day like this, now we get more than three weeks.  A retrograde planet is weak and withholds its best energies, so having all planets direct provides extremely positive energies throughout the universe.

On January 4 we celebrated a solar eclipse.  This is a positive new moon and super powerful.  Solar eclipses are exciting for they open new doors and illuminate truths we need to see to protect ourselves.   All the planets are cooperating and offer strong cosmic support.  We will experience the benefits of a happy full moon on January 19.

Take this opportunity to meditate on how to benefit from the gifts bestowed.  Negativity is not fed if you do not participate in it.  Think of any negative condition as the equivalent of a match.  It has the potential for a great deal of damage if it is ignited, but can do no harm if you don't strike it. 

Man's work is with himself, to send out goodwill and blessings to every man, and the marvelous thing is, that if one blesses a man he has no power to harm him.  Florence Scovel Shinn

...the Universe is just a big xerox machine.  It simply produces multiple copies of your thoughts.  Now there's only one way to change all that.  You have to change your thought about it.  Neale Donald Walsch

The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.  Marcus Antoninus

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.  Helen Keller

Namaste  xo

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


What a cool date this is.  The snow is falling ever so gently this morning.  I dusted off the car windows so the kids could get to school and shovelled the first layer.  It was light and fluffy and gave me a decent work out, so my cardio is covered for today.  Walking the dogs was enjoyable for it is so serene.  I hope to be able to nest at home in front of the fireplace all day, but may have to travel up north to retrieve my baby boy.  We'll see.
It looks bare and naked but the ground is being warmed by a blanket of snow.  This is perfect weather to make comfort food such as stew, chili or soup.  The aroma will keep the house cozy.  Today I prepared lentil soup. I'll have to freeze some for another day to taste it as I am still on my cleansing fast - day 9 and feel great.  I savor a clementine each day and think they are the best thing ever created.  Margarita got me hooked on them and they are only 35 calories. 
lentil soup

Yep, that's a lemon floating in there.  I researched how to diminish the spice in dishes and this is one of the things suggested.  I have tons of lemons around so I popped a few in.  I think I added too much sriracha sauce and it dominated all the delicious ingredients.  We'll see if it works. I will not include the sauce in the recipe because most people don't like too much spice, unlike this family, but if you do, go for it, but only a drizzle.  Trust me, that stuff is potent!

1 pkg. lentil beans
 2 onions
5 celery stalks
bag of baby carrots
napa cabbage
mustard greens
dash of cumin
garlic to taste
au jus/beef broth
6 bay leaves
drizzle of oil
dash of sea salt

fresh parmesan cheese

Rinse and drain lentil beans.  Chop onions, celery, garlic and carrots.  Saute onions, celery and garlic in oil until tender, then add carrots.  Confetti chop napa cabbage and mustard greens.  Feel free to use something different as there are an assortment of lettuces and cabbages so today I tried these two.  The mustard greens were just too pretty to pass up.  I freeze my au jus after making beef so this is what I used for extra flavor but beef broth is just as hearty.  Place all ingredients in a crock pot, add a dash of sea salt, cumin and bay leaves and keep on low for hours.  The lentils need time to soften and the flavors blend beautifully.  Make sure to remove the bay leaves when ready to serve. Sprinkle freshly grated parmesan cheese on top for a nice touch.  Bake a loaf of homemade bread and your home will smell divine.  Food for the soul.

thumper pillow pup
Please pray for all the victims and their families in these tragic times.  Somedays I feel the world is falling apart at the seams and we need heavy doses of prayer to conquer the sad times.  I am noticing more and more people are willing to take a chance and help their fellow man.  All the heroes are giving us examples of how it should be done all the time.  Compassion fuels our souls.  Take it from Mark Twain  (my paraphrase)

is not the absence of fear ~
it is the resistance
and mastery of fear xo

Monday, January 10, 2011


"you can take the elevator going down, but you gotta take the steps back up"

The most effective way for your loved one to manage his illness is through engaging in a recovery program.  This includes completion and follow through of all treatment recommendations and attending 12 Step meetings such as AA/NA (Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.)  It is also necessary the loved one obtain a sponsor in the meetings to help him work the 12 Steps.  These steps are necessary because they are the foundation of the lifestyle change that will need to happen for him to truly be comfortable in maintaining a chemical-free lifestyle. 

Studies indicate that treatment techniques that foster coping skills, problem-solving skills and social support play a pivotal role in successful recovery.  Individualized treatment approaches that emphasize stress management strategies are important in relapse prevention.  HALTS is an acronym used in the addiction field that identifies five major stressors that leave recovering individuals vulnerable to relapse.  HALTS encourages individuals to monitor and modify their behavior when they become too hungry, angry, lonely, tired, sick.
Chemical dependence damages relationships that are supportive and nurturing and pushes the individual to move toward autonomy.  The chemically dependent person tends to distance himself from friends that question his behaviors.  It is important to understand that as long as your loved one is using alcohol/drugs, a normal relationship is impossible.  His connection will be with the drug of choice, not with family members.  Chemical dependence impacts family members as well and creates chaos and inconsistency in daily life patterns.  Family members of recovering addicts have modified their behaviors to accommodate this illness and they need to be active participants in recovery as well.  Family relationships may have been damaged while a family member was using.  Early in recovery an addicted loved one will try to reconnect with the family, but there may be areas of resentment, hurt feelings, fear and mistrust that the family may have to work through.  You, as the family, need support and may need to make some lifestyle changes as well.  Al-Anon offers such support.
Forgiveness is a necessary process for family healing.  Forgiveness is the bridge from the past to the future.  No grievance is ultimately or eternally unpardonable.

A healthy, functioning family offers warmth, support, safety and love to its members.  Each member of the family needs to have a feeling of belonging/togetherness with the family system.  Maintenance functions are survival functions that allow family members to meet basic needs.  Families must develop self-determination, or autonomy~personalities are allowed to grow in unique and separate manners.  Each member of the family develops a sense of self-worth in healthy families.  A spiritual bond is formed within the family based on mutual respect and appreciation.  Mistakes are allowed and forgiven, family members are able to be playful and creative with one another.  This helps develop a sense of fitting into a 'bigger picture' of life. 

AA/NA, Al-Anon and FA are based on the concept of turning one's will and life over to the care of a Higher Power.  The person comes to understand the repairing of his life can be done by developing a value system that helps provide guidance, which is the basis of many faith/belief systems.  This system outlines the expectations for behaviors/actions and determining actions by comparing choices to that value system.  It is important for ongoing recovery efforts that the individual builds this spiritual connection and creates daily rituals through attending AA, church, temple or meditating.

~ to release someone from the obligation of who you want them to be

~ to wish someone well after a long bitter journey with the one who hurt you

~ to call off the dogs of revenge and vendetta

~ to discard the blame game

~ to eliminate guilt and shame-provoking behavior

~ to empty the closet of the skeletons hidden away for future references

~ to open the door to the possibility that trust can begin again
Forgiveness is the root of recovery in the family.  The stages toward forgiveness are denial, self-blame, victim, righteous wrath, survival, integration and finally forgiveness.  To forgive is not to condone, forget, make excuses for the other, necessarily reconcile, eliminate anger, drop the charges.  You know that you have forgiven your loved one when there is no more grind-you-to-the-bone grievance towards the one you love; you love yourself more now than when you lived in your resentment; you stop clenching your fist, grinding your teeth and setting your jaw; you discover yourself wishing them well; your memory is in process of being healed ~ what he did not longer stings; you experience your own forgiveness from your higher power; PEACE.  Forgiveness is a choice you discover you have already made.  There is no magical formula but as the Big Book of AA suggests, we learned to pray for the one who hurt us; talk out, talk through and talk to death your resentment with a mentor; write on paper a letter to the one you resent-not to send-but to absorb; re-vision your perceptions as one who has been forgiven; read/listen to the stories of people who have learned to forgive an enemy.
Friendship is an area where the need to belong or be accepted can be met.  The chemically dependent individual will need to develop new friends that will encourage healthy lifestyle choices and participation in socially appropriate activities and interactions.  Many addicts and family members of addicts struggle with feelings of low self-worth.  Self-esteem is often credited to people feeling validated; however, much of self-worth is connected with the ability to achieve and succeed.  The recovering loved one may struggle initially but by building positive network with schools and work can help the person become successful in academics as they need to hear about their positive qualities from others, too.  Children have counselors, teachers and social workers; employees have supervisors, co-workers and mentors.  Access all your resources.  You deserve the support.

Consider how much time was spent on your loved one's drug use.  If drugs are removed from the picture, how much time would now be available to be utilized?  It is important that the recovering addict develop new and old interests that bring enjoyment, physical activity and constructive use of time.  Unscheduled blocks of time should be avoided initially because it allows time for the recovering individual to reminisce about the old times and to be caught off guard by triggers for old, unsuccessful behaviors.  Before leaving treatment, talk with your loved one to see how they intend to separate themself from dysfunctional behavior and to develop new interests.  It is unrealistic to think your loved one will lock himself at home and only interact with family and people at meetings.  People need the stimulation of other people to challenge views/beliefs and thoughts.
All a recovering addict is asked to do is to do whatever it takes to not use for the next 24 hours in front of him.  The great part of this is that the individual can stop himself and get refocused at any point of the day. 

 slogans used in Families Anonymous (FA):

One Day at a Time

Let Go and Let God

How Important Is It

Keep It Simple

Just For Today

Live and Let Live

The 3 Cs

  I did not cause it
I cannot control it
I cannot cure it

prescription for addicts from Dr. Bob (1937)

Trust God
Clean Up
Help Others

thank you Dr. Bob and Bill, and all those who are friends of Bill and the healing centers that continue your amazing work xo

Sunday, January 9, 2011


"getting sober is a process; relapsing is a process, too
Alcoholics Anonymous saying

Patients are given the opportunity to work on a relapse prevention plan to minimize the risk of a return to use, however, it is only as good as the honest effort put into it.  Recovery needs a connection to the program, sponsor, support and structure.  Warning signs of relapse are change in thinking, going back to old ideas, looking good on the outside with a loss of feeling good inside, cutting out meetings, not as invested, mood swings, not admitting something is wrong and avoidance.  After the early recovery process, the middle stage of recovery is to establish a sober lifestyle which requires a sponsor, work steps and attending regular meetings. Relapse warning signs are not doing the Steps, stress build up, complacency, getting stuck and return of tactics for avoid accountability.  The last stage of recovery is personal growth which needs your life to be settled onto a routine and working with others.  Relapse signs are breaking routine, avoiding sponsor, focus shifts to others, not asking for help and having all the answers.

If the warning signs appear in a loved one who has undergone therapy, contact your support system, express your concern, listen, acknowledge what you have heard, ask how you can help, use check list and/or reality check, increase your utilization of support groups and systems and use natural and logical consequenses - detach with love.  Follow up is one of the most important keys to a recovery program.

There are six different stages of recovery with corresponding relapse warning signs for each.

Stage 0 - active addiction may be enforced abstinence such as in jail or in treatment - no relapse warning signs

Stage 1 - transition - recognize addiction and its problems; accept help; start recovery-treatment - relapse warning signs include return of Denial and Resistance

Stage 2 - stabilization - medical stabilization; crisis management; structured recovery program - relapse warning signs include return of problems with normal functioning, such as confusion, overreaction, poor managment of situations, stress cycles, self-condemnation and onset of denial

Stage 3 - early recovery - internal change - change in addictive thought, feelings and behaviors - relapse warning signs include return to thinking, feeling and behavior problems such as painful memories from addiction and crisis, ineffective thinking, self-defeating behaviors and lifestyle, overwhelming pain and problems, mental and emotional shutdown

Stage 4 - middle recovery - external change - establish sober and balanced lifestyle - relapse warning signs include return of self-defeating lifestyle patterns such as failure to repair lifestyle damage, unresolved issues, circular problem solving, build up of stress and pain

Stage 5 - late recovery - growth and development - relapse warning signs include over-confidence and complacency such as stop personal growth, focus on others instead of self, inability to cope or ask for help, activation of self-defeating behaviors

Stage 6 - maintenance - ongoing personal growth - relapse warning signs include any of the signs from stages 1 through 5.

Relapse prevention education is crucial to the treatment of addiction because addiction is a chronic disease.  It does not go away after the completion of treatment.  It is a disease that can be managed through the development of lifestyle changes, similar to diabetes.  Symptoms of addiction may resurface during any stage of your loved one's recovery.  These symptoms must be addressed to avoid complete resurgence of the disease process.

According to Terence T. Gorski, relapse prevention expert, there are 9 predictable steps to relapse.

Internal Change - Using old ways of thinking; the recovery program seems less important; mood swings; deep inside the person knows something is wrong, but he tries to cover it up

Denial - Stops paying attention to what he is thinking and feeling; does not want to talk about it and tries to convince himself everything is okay when it really is not

Avoidance and Defensiveness - Avoids people who will honestly point out the problems he does not want to see; gets defensive, scared and angry; blames others for making him bad; takes focus off himself by criticizing others' problems and faults instead of honestly looking at his own problems; using compulsive behaviors to keep his mind off of how uncomfortable he is feeling; creates problems for himself by using poor judgment and impulsively doing things; starts feeling uncomfortable around others and spends more time alone then begins to feel lonely and isolated

Crisis Building - starts having problems he does not understand; even though he wants to solve these problems and work hard at it, new problems pop up to replace every one he solves; unable to see the big picture and starts doing things that will not really help; feelings of depression set in; he stops planning ahead; things keep going wrong and feelings of nothing-is-going-his-way grows stronger

Immobilization - the feeling of being trapped in an endless stream of unmanagable problems; feels frustrated about the time and energy put into what feels like futile efforts at solving problems; he feels like a failure and experiences a loss of motivation to do things that will be productive; he experiences a desire to retreat or be rescued

Confusion and Over Reaction  - feels overwhelmed by all things; has difficulty organizing thoughts and ideas; experiences difficulty in focusing on tasks; makes mountains out of molehills and overreacts to issues or situations; has difficulty trusting others; switches from overreacting to feeling emotionally numb and inappropriately expresses feelings and gets angry at people for not understanding him

Depression - becomes so depressed and unable to do things that were normally accomplished; he feels that life is not worth living, and sometimes considers committing suicide; he is unable to conceal feelings from others; pays less attention to hygiene and personal needs; relapsing seems like a reasonable solution to the feelings of being helpless and hopeless

Loss of Control  - the individual starts doing things that violate his values and hurt those he loves; as a result there is a loss of self-respect; finds excuses to miss therapy and self-help group meetings; cuts himself off from others by ignoring them, getting angry or criticizing and putting them down; he gets so isolated that is seems there is no one to turn to for help; self-pity sets in and becomes a tool to manipulate and gain attention from others; he realizes he is out of control but continues lying, using denial and making excuses for behavior; as the feeling of self-pity grows out of the shame and guilt, relapse becomes a more likely end result

Thinking about Relapse - the individual begins to see relapse as a solution to problems and begins to feel relief at the thought of having a solution; things seem so bad or so out of control that there seems to be no reason not to return to the use of drugs/alcohol; he begins to minimize the perceived risks/consequences of relapse and the behaviors associated with a return to the using lifestyle; the compulsion experienced during this stage is significant

The Final Relapse - the recovering addict tries to solve his probems and feels better by relapsing; he rationalizes the behavior, despite an internal awareness that relapsing won't provide the solution and will only hurt him in the long run; when initially returning to use, there is typically an attempt to control behavior; the individual feels disappointed in himself as the loss of control increases; feelings of guilt and shame contribute to the continued out-of-control spiral; problems continue to get worse until he realizes that help is needed and at that point makes a decision; he may choose to continue to self-destruct or pursue recovery again

SLIP ~ Stupid Little Idiotic Plan
recovery saying

Relapse prevention planning minimizes the risk of a return to use.  The plan is only as good as the honest effort the individual puts into it.

stabilization ~ establishing abstinence

self assessment ~ finding out what is going on in one's head, heart and life

relapse education ~ learning about relapse and what to do to prevent it

warning sign identification ~ making a list of potential relapse warning signs

warning sign management ~ learning how to interrupt warning signs before losing control

inventory training  ~ learning how to become consciously aware of warning signs before losing control

review the recovery program ~ making sure the recovery program is able to help manage the warning signs

involvement of significant others ~ teaching others how to work with the recovering addict to avoid relapse

follow up ~ updating the relapse prevention plan regularly

People can and do recover from the impact of addiction.  If you fall down, dust yourself off, get back up and begin again.  We are never alone. Let go and let God. xo

Saturday, January 8, 2011


'they try to make me go to rehab, I say NO, NO, NO'  Amy Winehouse

Drug rehabilitation is a term for the processes of medical and/or psychotherapeutic treatment for dependency on substances such as alcohol, prescription drugs, cocaine, heroin or amphetimines. The intent of rehab is to enable the patient to cease the substance abuse in order to avoid the psychological, legal, financial, social and physical consequences that can be caused, especially by extreme abuse.

Psychological dependency is addressed in many drug rehabilitation programs by attempting to teach the patient new methods of interacting in a drug-free environment.  Patients are encouraged not to associate with friends who still use addictive substance.  Twelve-step programs encourage addicts not only to stop using alcohol or drugs, but to examine and change habits related to their addictions.  Many programs emphasize that recovery is a permanent process.  For legal drugs such as alcohol, complete abstention, rather than attempts at moderation, which may lead to relapse, is emphasized. One is too many, and a thousand is never enough.
Various types of programs offer help in drug rehab, including residential treatment (in-patient), out-patient, local support groups, extended care centers and recovery or sober houses.  Newer rehab centers offer age and gender specific program.  Traditional addiction treatment is based primarily on counseling, however, recent discoveries have shown those suffering from addiction often have chemical imbalances that make the recovery process more difficult.  Counselors help individuals to identify behaviors and problems related to their addiction.  It can be done on an individual basis, but more commonly in group settings which can include crisis-counseling, weekly or daily counseling and drop-in counseling supports.  They are trained to develop recovery programs that help to re-establish healthy behaviors and provide coping strategies whenever a situation of risk happens.  They also work with family members who are affected by addicts, in a community to prevent addiction, and to educate the public.
Counseling is also related to intervention, a process in which the addict's family requests help from a professional in order to get this person into drug treatment.  This process begins with a goal of breaking down denial of the person with the addiction.  Denial implies lack of willingness from the patients or fear to confront the true nature of the addiction and to take any action to improve their lives, besides that of continuing the destructive behavior.  Once this has been achieved, the professionals coordinate with the family to support them on getting this family member to rehab immediately, with concern and care for this person.   
typical day in treatment

~ hygiene in morning, before and after meals and before bed
~ school - academics, gym/weight room, art
~ group counseling
~ down time
~ evening meetings - AA/NA or speaker
~ spirituality talks, church services
~ evening treatment education
~ phone to home or visitation
~ recovery garden walks, outside recreation
~ meet with primary counselor/nurse/phychiatrist
~ chores - make bed, keep room and day area clean

This system is used with the goal to help patients and families begin the process of recovery by providing the necessary education and support to begin healing the hurts caused by addiction and foster the desire to continue that recovery once they leave the doors of a rehab center.  They are providing the tools needed to work recovery in the home, in school, on the job and in the community.
Treatment works.  Compared to other chronic illnesses, addiction treatment can have very positive outcomes. 

Heroin addiction ~ 60% success rate with medical compliance
Diabetes ~ 50% success rate with medical compliance
Hypertension ~ 30% success rate with medical compliance

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

A person recovering from addiction can experience two different types of withdrawal.

  Acute ~ the body may experience physical withdrawal from the absence of substance abuse.
Brain damage ~ withdrawal experienced during sobriety: alcohol/drug use causes damage to the nervous system. 

The onset of PAWS may begin 7 to 14 days into sobriety.  Many people use substances to help cope wth stress in their lives.  People in recovery experience a great deal of stress and have to learn to live life on life's terms without the use of substances.  Stress aggravates the damage to the nervous system and can worsen the intensity of the symptoms being experienced.  Not everyone experiences PAWS, it depends upon whether the nervous system was damaged by substance use.  PAWS can be experienced from about 6 months to 2 years.  After abstinence begins, the symptoms tend to peak in intensity at 3 to 6 months.  The damage done to the nervous system can be repaired over time.  The healing process does not occur rapidly and tends to take anywhere from 6 to 24 months with the aid of proper treatment and a healthy recovery program.  For people who experience PAWS symptoms, it is crucial to recognize and manage the symptoms in order to achieve long term recovery. 
Symptoms of PAWS

Inability to think clearly ~ may experience short attention span and can't concentrate on a task for more than a few minutes; rigid and repetitive thinking ~ struggle with having the same thoughts repeating over and over

Memory problems ~ short term memory problems ~ one understands what is being presented and explained, but he quickly forgets it;  the brain has difficulty storing the information in long term memory; may even have difficulty remembering significant events that occurred in his life

Emotional overreaction or numbness ~ he overreacts to a small situation that would  normally not matter much ~  on a scale of 1 to 10, one would react to something that was a 3 as if it were at 10; some people experience so much stress that they emotionally shutdown and become numb ~ a person may not be able to identify how he is feeling or may have significant mood swings without knowing why.

Sleep problems ~ a majority of people, in the beginning stages of recovery, experience strange or disturbing dreams; the dreams can create difficulties with a person's ability to get sleep; the dreams occur less and are less intense the longer a person is in recovery; one may have trouble falling or remaining asleep (insomnia.)

Physical coordination problems ~ this is the least common symptom of all the PAWS symptoms dizziness, trouble with balance, poor eye hand coordination, slow reflexes, accident prone; these symptoms can give the appearance of being drunk without drinking.

Stress sensitivity ~ difficulty in managing stress, unable to determine low stress situations from high stress situations; overreact when experience low stress situations.
When a person in recovery experiences stress, all the PAWS symptoms can get worse.  It is important to decrease and manage stress by getting enough rest, being relaxed, eating balanced meals and having healthy relationships.  A person experiencing PAWS may feel that he is going crazy because he feels confused, can't concentrate and can't solve simple problems.  The person is not going crazy.  These symptoms are normal in recovery and will get better in time.

People that are high risk to experience PAWS symptoms are those that don't work a solid and stable recovery program and don't properly care for themselves.  People who learn to effectively manage levels of stress in their lives can control PAWS.

Stabilization includes finding ways to interrupt the PAWS symptoms and bring them under control

Verbalize ~ talking about feelings with someone who will not judge, criticize or downplay what you say. 

Ventilate ~ even if feelings seem irrational and do not make sense, express it. 

Reality test ~ ask if what is being said makes sense; sometimes a person is too emotional to appropriately perceive what is happening. 

Problem solving and goal setting ~ brainstorm ideas to solve the problems being experienced at that time and take action to change the problems and decrease the level of stress experienced. 

Backtracking ~ think back about what happened, how it started, what could have been done differently and how it was dealt with in the past that was effective.
A recovering person should gain education about addiction and recovery. The person should learn what his triggers to stress are and the symptoms that result from the stress.  One should learn effective coping skills to assist in managing stress levels. A recovering person should retrain memory skills by writing down what he wants to remember.  One should ask questions when he doesn't understand what is being explained.

The recovering individual is solely responsible for his recovery and needs to protect himself from anything/anyone that may threaten the recovery.  The person has to learn what causes him to experience stress ~ then to change it, avoid it and/or not overreact.

Poor nutrition, including not eating, can lead to emotional and overraction to stress and intensify PAWS.  A person in recovery needs to eat well-balanced meals three times a day and have nutritious snacks between meals.  It is recommended not to have sugar and caffeine, as these ingredients can trigger levels of stress. 

Exercise can reduce stress and rebuild the body.  It helps the brain to naturally produce chemicals that relieve pain, anxiety and tension.  It increases a person's ability to feel good, concentrate and remember.  People in recovery gain significant benefits from daily exercise. 

People in recovery need to find ways to laugh, have fun and play to reduce/cope with stress.  Find activities that you enjoy.  Take a bubble bath, go for a nature walk, get a massage and learn meditation.

While a person is in rehab, they may undergo a series of emotions in addition to physical changes, and at times want to leave, or convince themselves they are ready to leave.  Here are a few tactics they may use to avoid accountability, which should be discussed and dealt with professionally.

~ continually point out the other person's inadequacies

~ build yourself up by putting down others

~ tell others what they want to hear and not what is the truth

~ lying by omission; distorting the truth and disclosing only what benefits you

~ vagueness: making statements such as "I will think about it, maybe, or if I feel like it"

~ attempt to confuse others

~ divert attention away from yourself by changing the subject or talking about irrevelant information

~ minimizing the situation: making statements such as, "no, it's alright, you just got into a little trouble."

~ agree to say yes without really meaning it

~ silence

~ pay attention only to what suits you

 ~ make a big deal about something minor

~ put off doing something by saying "I forgot"

~ put others on the defensive - argue about a word, attempt to embarrass

~ use anger to intimidate

~ ignore - be totally inattentive

~ accuse others of misunderstanding

~ claim that you have changed just because you did it right one time

One final thought about rehabilitation is a saying from Rosecrance in Rockford, Illinois:

"we are not bad people becoming good, but sick people becoming well"

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the Serenity
 To Accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can;
And Wisdom to know the Difference...xo