Monday, December 8, 2014

No More Burning Bridges

A couple of people talked to me about the damage I am doing without realizing it. Sometimes I burned bridges and others times I simply put my foot in my mouth by speaking about things as candidly as I do that I am not an expert on. In fact, on occasion I speak on things that I have no idea about because my experiences have not given me the insight I need to talk on the subject. That in turn has made me sound ignorant, ill-informed and even offensive at times.

Due to this, I will try to keep my opinions centered on the things I know best. They are recovery, addiction, mental health issues, trauma, treatment,  parenting, weight struggles, my personal faith, positive ways to impact the communities we live in, stigma faced by people who struggle due to past addictions, mental health issues, trauma and criminality and how to overcome all of those things.

I need to do this for multiple reasons. We are filing the 501c3 paperwork for Better Life in Recovery and forming the board of directors next year. We are also planning to host 24 Better Life in Recovery events that will require many sponsors and volunteers. I need to build connections with the community, and tackling issues outside of my scope of expertise and passion is detrimental to me successfully attaining my immediate and future goals.  I need to stay focused, because  Better Life in Recovery has a lot of things coming up in the future. 

From now on, my blog Spiritual Spackle will contain blogs that address all of the areas I am passionate about. Better Life in Recovery is a new blog starting the first of the year. It will address stigma, stigma reduction, addiction, recovery, mental health issues and positive ways to impact the communities we live in as well as what I have learned through my personal recovery in 500 words or less. Sometime next year I will be starting a Better Life in Recovery podcast that will mimic what I address in the Better Life in Recovery blog

My posts on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter will follow this same plan, adding random things about my family and everything involving Chicago sporting events (other than the White Sox because they reduced the amount of Cubs games I see on WGN so they are dead to me). 

In making changes to what I speak about and adding more outreaches both on social networks and publicly, my hope is to continue making an impact on the communities I truly care about without alienating people along the way. I know the more people I turn off by speaking of things I have no knowledge of, the less impact I and by proxy Better Life in Recovery will have. If there are fewer  people listening, than the impact we have  on our communities is smaller and easier to ignore.

For those who had open and honest conversations with me, I appreciate your candor and hope I can use the feedback I received to have a far greater impact on the communities my heart leads me to reach out to. I want to unite people, not increase the divide that already exists between us. My goal is to afford Better Life in Recovery the opportunity to reach more people each and every day while becoming a force for the sharing of long-term recovery and the eradication of stigma.

In order to meet this endeavor, I will remain as extroverted and animated as I always have been. The difference will be a sharper focus, which will help both me and Better Life in Recovery get more things accomplished. Look forward to the upcoming year, hope you are able to join with us as we continue to share hope and reduce stigma while trumpeting a simple truth, THERE IS A BETTER LIFE IN RECOVERY!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Putting Your Best Foot Forward in Recovery

What does putting your best foot forward mean?

It means you lead with your strongest selling point, your strengths. If I am applying for a job, that means my resume leads with my positives. If I am interviewing, I talk about my accomplishments. I steer the focus away from my deficits and towards my strengths. I also avoid buzz words that could leave a negative lasting impression on the person I am talking to.

Someone who does this well would be Donald Trump. Mr. Trump has filed bankruptcy 4 times. When he meets someone in the community, how do you think he refers to himself? “Hi, my name is Donald and I am a businessman who has filed bankruptcy 4 times.” Of course not, he refers to himself by his successes. When people think of him they think of his successful properties and TV show.

What does this have to do with recovery?


“I’m David, and I’m a grateful recovering addict” is how I used to introduce myself. I stopped because it never felt right, and it did nothing to reduce the stigma the community leveraged against me which I felt personally. All the general public heard me say was ADDICT! They visualized a junkie and the conversation was over.
When I said recovering alcoholic, they heard recovering Alcoholic!! They picture me passed out in an alley snuggling a bottle of Ripple. To avoid this, I started introducing myself as, “David, and I’m in recovery.” I was fine with this for the last 5 years.

Recently I watched The Anonymous People. They talked about recovery language and it resonated with me. It reinforced how I felt and what I have been telling clients the past several years. They also added to it. You start with an introduction, add that you are in long-term recovery and define what long-term recovery means to you. Then you talk about an accomplishment from your recovery.

This is a great elevator speech, and allows you to answer any questions they might have and leave a lasting impression all at the same time. So in closing, I ask  you, which sounds better? Which leaves a better impression? Which of these introductions will you use?

1.      Hi, my name is David and I’m a grateful recovering addict and alcoholic.
2.      Hi, my name is David and I’m in recovery?
3.      Hi, my name is David and I’m in long-term recovery. What that means to me is that I have not used drugs or alcohol since January 31st of 2009, and because of that I have been able to do start an organization called Better Life in Recovery whose mission is Transforming Lives with Recovery. If you have a minute I would love to talk to you about it.

For me, I rather enjoy the 3rd one and will continue to use it. After all, I would rather put my best foot forward and lead with my positives!