You wanna change the world???

The news on any platform feels so overwhelming today. It’s like politics has blended itself in every category of the media as possible, sports, Hollywood and social media. It’s hard to listen and take seriously especially when the “extremist-rant” is followed up by a money advertiser mention about Keri’s Berries. It’s actually quite comical.

So I think to myself how do I even make a dent, in a time when America is extremely-split on every topic imaginable, while the fingers point in both directions. Maybe I need to do more than just be sober.

But what? I had to start somewhere, so I decided to create my platform on “I have absolute zero control over the world and everything in it.” That right there gets me off-the-hook on a whole lot of issues. However I do have a responsibility, to someone or something, right? So I put my right arm out in front of me, and turned my body to a complete 360 degree angle. And that space right there, is where I start, and what I can control.

It’s a very small space compared to the world. So I started praying to my higher power to fill that small space with people who need help. And he did.

Andrew came in my life, and for the first time he has over 2 months of sobriety, after a dozen relapses. For the first time, he called me when he felt like using and drinking, and he remained sober. Nikki was having a nervous breakdown and her first day on the job at a local breakfast place. I took a second to tell her she was doing great, and with watered eyes, she said thank you. Brody called me and after a recent relapse after 15 months clean, he said he needed to get back in treatment, he couldn’t stay sober. Jessica called and after leaving treatment 2 months ago, she relapsed and wanted to go back. Then there was Vince, who literally got out of jail yesterday and says he is 6 months clean and if I would be his sponsor. And Mark, he showed me the scar that took up most of his forearm, and with a 24 ounce beer in his other hand, simply said, “I’m not ready yet.” Then picked up his wheel barrel of junk he has collected throughout our neighborhood and strolled down the street. It’s his journey, not mine.

You wanna change the world, start by waking up sober. Then help the people that your higher puts in your life. Action.

Walk Towards the Cheers…

Racing Thoughts: The Battle in your Head

On a good day, the “racing thoughts” come and go. On a bad day, they marinate a narrative in my mind that tell me I’m not good enough, smart enough, or I should be doing more. For me, that leads to some general anxiety and depression. When I’m in that spot in my head, there is nothing that can change the feeling. It’s just bad place for me to be in, and I know this today.

“It’s like my dopamine is firing blanks.”

The “clicks” on social media or purchases on Amazon don’t work anymore or bring little shots of joy. It’s like my dopamine is firing blanks. The only choice I have is to sit with the emotions. Or, take action.

Here are few things I do when I’m stuck in my head. I would like to add that alcohol and drugs are no longer an option for me to solve my emotional issues. That’s amazing. But I’m still left with myself, minus my number one coping skill. I once read, “You can make the leaves fall off the tree by shaking it, but the leaves will grow back, unless you get to the root.”

  1. Gratitude List. So I am five years sober, and just started practicing writing down a list of what I am grateful for. I always advise my clients and sober peers to write a gratitude list, but never have practiced myself. However when I wrote one last week, I felt better. I started with everything that I felt was wrong with my life. Then I wrote what I’m grateful for, then I wrote how I felt at that very moment and how silly my thoughts had seemed now that I was grateful.
  2. Thoughts are just thoughts. I heard in a meeting, “the voices in your head is not your higher power, it’s your Schizophrenia.” That made so much sense to me! This disease of addiction is truly originated in the mind. My best decisions listening to myself got me into treatment and other unhealthy situations and places. So, on a good day, the thoughts come, and let them ride right through.
  3. Take Action. There is nothing like taking physical action and doing something to get myself out of my head. It can be taking out the trash or blogging. If I get out of my own way, and do something productive no matter how small or big, it makes me feel better and calm my mind.
  4. Sit with your emotions. This one is tricky but I love practicing. I could have never done this is early sobriety or the first few years at that matter. But when I am able to sit with the feeling and emotions that my thoughts are causing, I can let them pass or I can dig deep and search for the root of why the thoughts are making me feel a certain way. It’s more like mediation, but when you are in the middle of a meeting or in front of large crowds, it’s a little hard to meditate.

I would love to hear your thoughts..lol..and some things you do to quite the noise in your head.

 Walk Towards the Cheers…

Waking up Sober the Monday after Super Bowl

 

Grrrrrrr..!

I use to be the “guy” who never missed a game no matter what. Some of it was a true and innocent passion for the “big-game” storylines and hype, while a big part of it was an excuse to drink and use. When I got sober, I stopped watching sports for the first 2 years for several reasons. First, I associated watching sports with using and drinking, second I couldn’t handle the emotional rollercoaster ride of my team barley squeezing out a win, or not winning at all. Third I didn’t like they way sports controlled me as far contributing 3 to 6 hours of watching any random day. Even though I haven’t watched a complete NFL game the entire season, (thank goodness), and my favorite team was completely horrible, (not the Browns), it doesn’t take a “super-fan” to realize what Super Bowl Fifty-two, (I think?), is all about.

The number one storyline going into the “Big-Game” this Sunday is, Who do you hate more, Tom Brady or Eagle Fans? It’s really that simple. For me, I’m a Brady fan. If the Patriots win, to me Tom will be the best-ever, (whatever that means!). I like Carson Wentz, because I broadcasted one his game while he was in North Dakota State as my university played against him, and lost against him FYI. I know Wentz isn’t playing, however through recovery it’s important for me not to take this game to seriously, no matter who wins.

Here’s my logic. If I truly believe in and accepted Step 1, then I will do things throughout my day to help my stay sober. A person like me, can not afford to get emotionally invested in something so meaningless, like the Super Bowl. I can’t watch with a bunch of people who are drinking, or skip a meeting to watch. I can’t argue about a player, team or game. Other people can, I can’t. Reason being my old coping skill for handling uncomfortable emotions was drinking. Even though this will be my fifth sober Super Bowl, and I have new kick-ass skills to deal or sit with my emotions, I’d rather not test my sobriety, no need to.

If you are concerned watching the Super Bowl because you are on “day 1,” or maybe “year 10” here is a few things to make sure you wake up sober the following Monday.

  1. Host. You can’t control what other people do at their house, but you can control the invite list and the “no alcohol” rule at your own.
  2. If you absolutely must attend, maybe your up for that promotion at work and your boss invited you to his Super Bowl Party that’s is suppose to be epic, (which I would strongly suggest don’t go even if you don’t get that promotion), go with someone that is in recovery and have an escape plan if things get uncomfortable. “My neighbor called, and my dog jumped the fence or my house is on fire,” whatever works best!
  3. Go to your local recovery club or treatment center, someone will be hosting.
  4. Watch by yourself. That’s what I love to do. Pull out the old social media account and start analyzing every play from you smart phone, that will get the conversation going so you are not completely by yourself!
  5. My favorite, go to a meeting, don’t watch or DVR it for later.

No matter what you choose, remember this is not about Tom Brady or the Eagles, this about our recovery and staying sober.

Walk Towards the Cheers…

 

 

 

I am a Faliure

When I made the decision that I was tired of being miserable and I wanted help with desperation of a drowning man, I admitted defeat. And what was so hard about that evening in San Marcos, Texas in February of 2013, was that for the first time in my life, even though I had failed at life for the past two decades,  was admitting that I was a failure. And that feeling of admitting, is why I am sober today.

I didn’t realize it at the time, however today I know that I must fail and accept that failure in order to move on in life. I was holding on to some false notion that everything I was doing in my disease of addiction was going to somehow work out. But once I let go, it left room to not only learn from my mistakes, but to heal.

Yesterday I realized that I am still holding on to things in my life that I have failed at. For example when I first started my podcast, Keeping it Sober, my goal was to be the number one podcast on iTunes for the recovery genre, which I am far from. However I never admitted it myself, so I was never able to change what I was doing. Admitting that I failed, doesn’t mean I have to stop podcasting or rip it off ITunes, all it means is now I can look at it, and learn from what didn’t work, improve on what did work and now how I can I make it better.

Failure is a good thing. Without failure, we don’t have an opportunity to learn. Without admitting failure, I would absolutely not be sober right now. So what are somethings, projects or goals that you have failed at, but are still holding on to? Admit defeat, accept failure and learn from it so you can move on in your life and recovery!

What Does Recovery Look Like to You?

#myRecoverypic

So I challenge you this week, to capture a picture of your personal recovery. If you snapped a photo of your recovery what would it look like? Would it be inside or out? At night or day? Would there be people in it or will it be filled with nature? Is it something you live for or experience every single day and moment? Or maybe it is still something you strive for. Whatever it, post a picture here or on our Facebook page and group, of “What Does Recovery Look Like to You?” #myRecoverypic

There is an Ocean of Oppurtunity in Sobriety!

Where the road ends, new life begins!

The first days in addiction I felt like my life had came to an end. It was like the road had ended. There was no where left to walk. That is why I struggled so much in early sobriety because I felt like my life was over, whether I got sober or not. That thinking made it so hard to want to get help.

However a few weeks later, even though my life and everything in it was still a mess, I began to see the bigger picture. The “what if” I gave this “sobriety thing” a chance thought, started to peek in my mind.

The idea of what opportunities I could possibly have if I lived a clean and sober life gave me just enough hope to give sobriety a try.

A few months later I was able to really see a clear picture of my what my life could be. I started to understand that my life wasn’t ending, it was just beginning.

There is an ocean of opportunity in Sobriety!

Today at a little over four years sober, I can still see the “big picture” and still strive for many goals. The amazing things about it, is that once you see all the opportunity your life has clean and sober, you will always see it. The main things is, if you early in sobriety, do not think of this as the end of the road, think of it as the beginning of an amazing new life!

Like always feel free to join me at the private Facebook Group, Keeping it Sober!

 

What’s your biggest fear for staying sober?

elevatorI don’t know how or why the question popped in my head. It’s really the first thing that came to mind as I opened up my laptop. It sounds crazy, someone being scared to stay sober but I think that may be big part of the challenge. Sobriety leaves us alone with ourselves. It’s that awkward moment of silence you share on an elevator  with someone like your boss or manager. You know them, but not really. Not enough to strike up a conversation, but enough that you know you should. We don’t know who exactly is under all the layers and layers of addiction we hide ourselves with. We have an idea, but we are not exactly sure. It’s just easier not to search, than to search and be disappointed. And that is why sobriety and recovery is a complete life change. And it can be scary however if you hold on, it can also be exciting and amazing! Imagine being in an elevator and the person next to you is the “sober you in five years.” What do they look like, where are they going, what do they say and is the elevator going up or down??

All comments are welcome and don’t forget to listen to our latest podcast!!

 

https://widget.spreaker.com/player?episode_id=9887413&theme=light&playlist=false&playlist-continuous=false&autoplay=false&live-autoplay=false&chapters-image=true

If You Had a Radio Show, What Would You Name it?

So at my little desk today at the Austin office acting like I am typing something of importance, while really I’m just blogging. Well I guess blogging is important, I mean if it were not for bloggers, how would I know who to vote for last week, yeah right!

My wife’s in Vegas for 25 days. And this is day 3. I hit two meetings in San Antonio and one today in Austin. I’m not going do the whole “25” in “25” however I though it would be a good idea kick-off the whole deal with some meetings.

Having a plan is a good idea when your significant other leaves out-of-town. I mean like a true addict and alcoholic, I had over three months to create some sort of “plan” when my wife left so I don’t relapse but file-nov-17-3-04-14-pmI put together something really quick, seconds after I dropped her off at the airport. Then today while eating Arby’s after my fifteen minute work-out at Planet Fitness, (where no one judges if you eat Arby’s afterward), oh by the way if you haven’t eaten Arby’s like in four years, its pretty dam good, I came up with my plan.

I’m going to start an Internet Radio Station! Well, not exactly. Well, that’s what I wanted to do, but then the thought hit me, start a live show first, then see if the financial support is there, and if it is, then move on that. Where this entire radio station came from was this past weekend my buddy wanted to broadcast a high school football game, but I didn’t want to go, but I was the one with the Internet audio stream. So I configured a way that he could call me from the press box and could grab his audio and convert it to a digital signal and pump that baby right into my Internet Radio IP address, so then to be listen to on the website. I know, genius!! And they say sobriety is boring!

No but seriously like it’s way cool you can call in and chat live, while being broadcasted over the net! So, a recovery radio show it is, just one problem,

what should I name it?????

jrv

By the way, don’t forget to check out my latest “Keeping it Sober” podcast Episode 24, Is Addiction a Disease??? on keepingitsober.org or iTunes

…just let it sink in!

So I made it out to Austin, Texas today. I was promoted at work and my new job has me visiting different locations in the South Texas area. While I was here, I set up a meeting to introduce myself to my new boss. I was walking into the restaurant we choose to meet at, when it hit me.

I honestly can not believe how far in life I have progressed since 2013. I mean, my life was over, done, zero, blown-to-pieces, hopeless, a lost soul, ka-put, game over, no time left, down 1-3, the Buffalo Bills x 4, the Cleveland Browns 0-9 season, The Miracle on Ice but in reverse, Hillary Clinton and the end of VHS tapes.

I mean seriously, I was done.

I just want to let that sink for a bit…

-jrv

 

 

The movie Spun, Chris Isaak and my 3 year chip walk into a bar…(coffee)

thAbout a week ago I was sitting at Starbucks with the one person who showed up to my once a month, “How to create a podcast” group, ( I know, my life is so freakin exciting that your literally foaming at the mouth word by word), when the “Love Song” by the Cure, cover song came on. No, I’m sorry it was a Chris Isaak, “Wicked Game” cover song that came on, (I know, I can’t believe you’re following me either) and it immediately triggered my mind to find the girl who was singing it. I was like OMG, that sounds so good! So while I was ignoring the only member of the group babble on, a familiar hot flash came over me as I was searching the gallows of Itunes. 206d32ba0ba62cafad46c412791e136dThe obsession of desiring and seeking a song that would somehow make my life perfect merged with the obsession to drink and use just one more time. The taste of that “dark freedom” took my current reality back to a time where the only responsibility was no responsibility. The innocent moment of searching for a pretty cool song, quickly vaporized into a feeling of extreme urgency to watch the movie “Spun”, which for the 3 days prior to my last relapse in 2012, I obsessionally watched over and over. And over. This all happened in a period less than about 3 minutes, however it felt as if I took a trip for years.

Back in Starbucks I realized where my mind was, and where my feet actually were. Then I weighed my options. 1. I could ride the wave of old memories being that well, all they really are is thoughts. 2. I could blow off the entire ordeal and act as if nothing happened. 3. I could take action.

3 year chipI picked 3, and I texted a few members in my recovery program. At over 3 years sober, I actually had to tell someone I was in a bad place emotionally as if I was back on day 1. And for that I stayed sober another day. The morale of the story, which should really be, “Don’t go to Starbucks and listen to cover songs from Chris Isaak,” is no matter how far along you are sober, picking up the phone and calling or texting someone when your life feels a little weird can save your sobriety. And your life.

-Jaime