Alumni Blog

Karen’s Kula

Dear Alumni,
 
Happy New Year to alumni I had the amazing pleasure of meeting at Genesis, and also to those I did not get to meet. Happy 2019 & Happy January!
 
How are you? I think of alumni often, I surround you all with love and encouragement. After leaving Genesis, I hope you all are finding your Kula (your tribe, your support system) and continue to Practice, even without me there... 
 
I am always eager to hear from our Alumni - the good, the bad, and the in between of life unfolding. I am here for support while you are at Genesis and even when you leave to spread your wings out in this amazing world. 
 
So, this morning I had an idea.... what if I add a little Karen's Corner or blog to the Genesis News Letter? When I reached out to Skyler, she was excited and answered with such a Happy Yes! 
 
Ask, and you shall receive!!!
 
My hope in these newsletters are to share with you what I am practicing both on and off my mat at Genesis and in my own life, to be with you along the way! More tools to add to your tool box of coping skills such as new books, foods, quotes, poses, teachers... and to inspire you to continue this daily journey and choice of a Happier, Healthier Life of Ease - because a Body at Ease can NOT have dis-ease! And, it is a PRACTICE! One breath at a time, One day at a time, One thought at a time! It is never done as long as there is breath in our lungs! So, I hope you seeing my little addition to the newsletter today puts a smile on your face! I hope it reminds you to Pause, Breathe, Notice, Feel........ I hope if you are having a good day this moment, reading my words makes it an even better day! And, if you were having a rough day, this moment, reading my words may have helped you shift into having a happier moment!!!
 
What you focus on grows so, it is powerful to have these small reminders that you are doing
OK, that you have a support system here for you, encouraging you each and every day!!!!
 
Many of you know I set intentions daily and each month has a theme-
 
January's message is to - Plant the Seeds of My Desire! So for the next 31 days join me, find a quiet moment each day and ask...
 
What do I want to add to My Life?
What am I curious about?
What would make my day a little brighter?
 
Not what you don't like! Not what you want to let go of or loose (weight, job, stress) But what would add joy to your life? When we add new, inspiring, enjoyable things to our life.... the things that do not serve us any more fall away! They make space for the things that will brighten our life! Spark a new interest! Breathe new possibilities into our experience! 
 
For me, I made time to ask Skyler about my Karen's Corner idea! I hung a new bird feeder in my yard, and I am now enjoying Cardinals, Blue Jays, Doves, a Woodpecker and many sweet, little birds in my yard. I ordered a new book Heart Talk Poetic Wisdom for a better life by Cleo Wade! 3 new days in January and 3 new ways to enjoy my life! I also made time for a bike ride! I get up 15 minutes earlier to see these birds and sip coffee! I created a new binder of inspirational quotes! I am researching my Karen Van..... stay tuned to hear what that Desire is (FYI planted by a Genesis Alumni who sparked the idea with me) some of these seeds sprout instantly, some take a little longer like the amazon book order and some take months like the Karen Van and some years to align and fall into place like my Y12SR - Yoga of 12 step Recovery Desire 2 years ago! But each and every seed will blossom in its own time <3
 
Starts with one seed of desire.... then let it go and let it grow!
 
I love you all! Until our next newsletter if you have any questions you can email me kbvanneck@aol.com and check out Y12SR.com and put in your zip code to see if there is a Yoga of 12 Step Recovery near you! This is a relapse prevention movement! It is AMAZING! A safe place to come together and practice the 12 steps and gentle yoga. Y12SR is for anyone affected by addiction so you can bring your wife/husband/child/parent/friend....... every one of us needs a little EASE! 
 
So much love to each and every one of you - Karen

My New Thanksgiving Tradition- Just For Me!

Last year I did my very first 5k run on Thanksgiving morning- a Turkey Trot!
 
Over the years in recovery, I have done step work, participated in a 12-step fellowship, seen therapists, learned healthier eating habits, got in service, sponsored other women, went back to college and many amazing things that kept me vigilant in my recovery. I continue to try different things to find what works and what does not work for me. I was taught the journey keeps going and life always shows up.
 
My brother, in the picture with me, asked me to do the race with him and oddly enough, I agreed. I figured why not try something new! And, an activity with my brother that he enjoys, considering he has sat with me in many 12-step meetings. I was excited but also nervous. He reassured me and encouraged me to try it- actually similar to how he got me to go to Genesis House for treatment a decade ago! They say some things never change, right?
 
The race was very hard since I didn't train enough, and I was so nervous. It was freezing outside! My brother had finished the race and actually came back and found me...very far in the back! I wanted to just walk the rest, I was so tired! I remember him saying, "I got good news and bad news. There is still about a mile left, but we will pass my car where I have water for you." I kept going, and he ran alongside of me, which was realistically more him not letting me quit. I can't say it didn't annoy me but looking back that was a direct example of those in our life, that care enough to not let us give up and believe in us when we can't or don't.
 
What did I learn from the experience?? I learned that running on Thanksgiving morning in New Jersey is freezing! And, running is more of an independent activity, I wasn't with my brother the entire time! I still had a great time and was very proud of myself for finishing AND not finishing last! Most importantly, I learned how that time to myself, in my thoughts and breathing the fresh (freezing) air felt amazing. I experienced reduced stress and high levels of positive feelings, some refer to it as the "runner's high."
 
I may be in recovery but I still have an addict's mind. Whatever makes me feel good, I want more. Like most things in life, running should be done in moderation, which I did not do. I learned the hard way after a few minor injuries, bad running sneakers and many Epsom salt baths. I never gave up! The times I was unable to run, I missed it so much and how good it made me feel.
 
Running is good for my health but it works best for my mental health! My thoughts are always going but when I run, I focus on my breathing and body movement so much that my thoughts stop. For however long I run, I am free from worry, stress, over-thinking, fear, sadness or anything else I am going through. It does not take away my problems or cure them, it allows me to take a break from them.
 
This year, I am doing the Turkey Trot, and I am doing it for me! However, the weather is predicted to be 29 degrees! My tradition started with taking a chance to try something new and having someone (my brother Cainan) that believed in me.... Do you have a tradition??
 
I am grateful! Happy Thanksgiving!
 
-S.N.

Campfire Blog

"You get guys around a campfire, and they start telling their stories. That's the fellowship that they want to be in."  - John Eldredge
 
As the season changes, my favorite fall activity is having a campfire! There is something beautiful and serene about sitting outside, in the fresh air- around a fire. It doesn't matter if it is quiet around the fire, gazing into the embers having a moment of reflection or quieting our thoughts to just be still. Or it can be enjoyed sitting with friends talking and telling stories as the night passes by. The way people gather around the fire is a different type of communication and intimacy that we do not find in a text message. Some of my favorite memories and adventures, started by simply sitting around a campfire.
What happens at the campfire, stays at the campfire!
 
In early recovery, I was scared to be around a campfire. This was a false belief I had that I wouldn't have fun unless I was under the influence. How could I do this clean and sober? It was later explained how the disease of addiction wants me to think that, so I relapse. From the 12-step fellowship, I had recovery friends that walked through the fear with me. We bought s'mores and a 12-pack of soda, not alcohol! We sat there for hours just talking and enjoying the night. The next day, I remembered the night and was grateful I did not let fear hold me back from a great time. I realized that my love for campfires started in my childhood long before my addiction and my disease was playing tricks on me!
-S.N.

This Mother’s day, I have some truth I want to share

I love my mother very much and words could never express my gratitude for the countless times she tried to help me get clean and sober. And, sadly the countless nights I kept her up worrying. I can say this now, with over nine years in recovery, but it was not always that easy for me to recognize how much I love her and how grateful I am to have her. Having genuine appreciation for the woman she is, took this recovering addict time to see.
 
I spent a great deal of time doing step work and going to therapy, trying to place blame on her or resent her for my addiction. Many problems I had in my life always came back to being my mom’s fault and I was the victim. The work I did with my sponsor for clarity on my part, letting go of resentment and forgiveness did help. The therapy sessions helped as well. However, nothing gave me the transparency I needed until I became a mother myself. 
 
I became a mother in 2011, and what an experience it has been! Being a mother is the greatest blessing I have ever received but it is NOT easy! I will be the first to admit, I do not know what I am doing half the time and I keep learning as I go! I am blessed to have a mother and friend’s that are mother’s to ask, “how did you handle this?!” It is a great experience of learning about my child and also myself but, I am doing it clean and sober! How FABULOUS is that?! 
 
I know each day I do my best and always what is best for my son. With that being said, I still make mistakes and my son sees me fall short at times. I have to understand that I am not perfect, and learn from my mistakes in order to do it differently next time. I have to reach out to my mother, my friend’s with children, my network and my sponsor to ask questions or admit I am struggling. Through these trial and tribulations, I realized my mother traveled the same road and made mistakes when I was a child. So, this got me thinking that despite the many issues and resentments I had toward my mother, she was always doing her best. Becoming a mom helped me to understand my mother’s parenting decisions, enough to let go of anger I had and empathize with her regarding the hard decisions we are faced with as a parent sometimes. I was put in her shoes and was given clarity I never understood in the past. Experience is the greatest way to learn or understand things- at least in my case.
 
My son may get upset with me and may even resent me one day for the things I do. However, the hope is that he will one day see and realize I did the best I could, and that I stayed active in my recovery while raising him. The fact that he may resent me is not scary because that may be his process and I would never want to rob him of that learning experience. 
 
My mother stepped back and allowed me to learn on my own. There is no way I could ever repay her for all the amazing things she did as a mother- but I can show her that I understand what it takes to be a mother, as well as forgive her for anything I held on to. I can continue to make my mom proud by staying active in my 12-step fellowship and be a great mother like she is!
 
Happy Mother’s Day!

No More Excuses!

Excuses, Excuses!
 
There are so many beneficial reasons we go to meetings in recovery, and the journey can start there! For many, we meet sober friends, we identify with others, we do not feel so alone, we feel relief after and we want to keep coming back. However, there are others that do not agree. I have heard so many excuses through the years of why addicts can’t go to meetings or why the fellowship will NOT work for them.  Excuses like; I do not have a car, people make me feel uncomfortable, I do not need meetings anymore, I will get addicted to meetings, meetings are depressing, I’m too busy, I do not believe in God, I’m too embarrassed, I do not have child care, and so on. 
 
Now, some of these excuses may be relevant or make sense to us but, when it comes to substance abuse- we must take it serious; it is life or death. Also, addicts are creative and can typically find a way to overcome obstacles the same way we found drugs and alcohol. We went to extreme measures in active addiction, so let’s go to extreme measures to save our lives! Doesn’t that make more sense? We can get to a meeting if we want to. It all starts there. You don’t build your new foundation in isolation. Meeting makers- make meetings and it is the beginning of the road to recovery, and finding a sponsor to do the work suggested to stay clean and sober will save your life.
 
We are some of the most resilient souls on earth and capable of anything! Many find when they stop using what amazing people they have the potential to be!
 
If you think nobody believes in you and you feel hopeless, know that I, Skyler Noon, believe in you! I am only one phone call away and would love to remind you of the opportunities recovery can offer, we can’t do this alone.
 
Don't Forget- You are worth it.
Call, text or email me anytime!
 
Skyler Noon
Alumni Coordinator
(856)397-7647

Bloom where you are planted

Welcome Spring!

Today is a new day and a great day to be sober! Every day that we get through without picking up a drink or drug it is a BIG DEAL. Each day we learn how this is an amazing accomplishment when considering where we came from. Can you remember the first day trying to stay sober? Did you constantly looking at the clock thinking a minute that passed by felt like an hour? Time went by so slow in the beginning. However, as we stuck around and continued to do the work as we went to meetings, got a home group, worked with our sponsor and gave back to others in service work, time did not go by so sluggish. There was a point I felt I didn’t have enough time to do everything I wanted to get done!
 
At times in our active addiction we became so isolated we could not even go to the supermarket without being under the influence and now there is hope for us! We used to not be able to do anything such as go to a family function or a social gathering without being drunk or high and now we are able to actually enjoy them without the crutches of a substance. We start to love our new life and embrace the style of living in a positive way.
 
Recovery becomes enjoyable, we gain deep and meaningful relationships, and start to gain our families trust back. Suddenly the NA/AA dances we found “stupid” -we are now in attendance at with our fellowship friends. We learn to live life again and on life’s terms at that! Embracing the journey feels wonderful and I am grateful! 
 
-S.N.

Faith in Action!

Once we are clean and sober, we must face these awful things called feelings! They are new and we have no idea how to deal with them. This is why it is important to get a sponsor and work the steps together.

We must learn about the spiritual principle of having faith in a power greater than ourselves. We used because of our feelings and continued to use just to avoid dealing with them. The emptiness we felt would not go away, no matter how much we used. We put the substances down and now the feelings are here- staring us right in the face! Now what?! We have to learn to have faith, BUT also how to apply it to our lives. For me, I find situations on a DAILY basis where I need to apply faith. Some days I do well- other days- not so well. There are times we are faced with days of heavy feelings that are so strong that faith is the last thing we think about. So, on those days we just do not pick up no matter what. We are not perfect; but over time, we will learn and get better at applying it.

What is faith? By definition it is complete trust or confidence in someone or something. For us users, Faith is the principle we learn to help replace our feelings of FEAR! We learn a new feeling that "it will all work out" and your higher power has got this. We begin to see the evidence of faith in our life and also the lack of it.

Faith is invisible, it is something inside of us but the power of our faith is very visible to others! Faith helps us deal with situations and can be very appealing to others when they see us getting through situations.

Therapist Rob Hooper once told me he heard in the rooms, "you are holding on to a thread, when you could have a comforter." Control gave me a false feeling of faith, but I was being controlled by the situation- what kind of faith is that? The hardest part was letting go of the idea I could control everything and believe something else could. My struggle with accepting faith and giving up my control was a long battle (I eventually lost that battle). I did not gain or develop faith overnight, but it came when I was ready to accept it.

Today, I choose to call my higher power God. I learned in this process that faith without work cannot be called faith, it needs to be the way we live.

"Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this journey if you learn all the right words but never do anything about the issue at hand? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?" (James 2:14-17). This means we cannot just say we have faith, it is more than verbalizing it. We must affirm our faith in our life; faith is shown in our "works" and behavior - in our daily life. The surrender is not easy to get to, but worth the journey to embrace freedom.

-SN

 

"You can't think your way into right action, 

but you can act your way into right thinking." 
-Bill Wilson

Act As If

If you are anything like this recovering addict (me), you would know that when I first started treatment, the last thing I wanted to do was identify with others. Doing so was one of the biggest suggestion our counselors gave us, but my mind was not open to the idea. I was more of the addict that liked to compare myself. In reality, I wanted to convince myself I was better than the disease of addiction.   I told myself, "I wasn't that bad,"in order to continue my use. I thought that this rationalization may convince my family and friends, who were hoping I would "get it," this time in rehab.  If only I was not an addict after all, I won't have them on my back.
 
I did not want to hear anything about "my will"  versus "God's will" at this point, so I was running my own program while in treatment.  Since I knew best, I was very positive this time and believed things would be different. I changed the type of pill I used and decided it was not going to bring me to my knees like before. I made a decision - if I only use these pills, and keep my use under control, I will be ok. Sadly, we know how this story ended; once I got out of treatment  the relapse came right after the plane  landed in New Jersey. This "different substance I could control," brought me to my knees. Once again, I felt like a failure! Why couldn't I just control it? How did it get so bad again?
 
I was in a dark place wanting to die because my addiction was worse than ever. I was far from having the power to stop even if I wanted to. I was terrified to ask for help so I just wanted to give up; I had lost all hope. I figured death would be the only way to solve the problem and stop hurting my family. If I was gone, they no longer had a daughter that was a failure and would not have to worry anymore. By some miracle, my higher power did not let me die, there was a bigger plan for me. My family had an intervention when I was discharged from the crisis unit, and I agreed to go to treatment. I was broken, I finally surrendered.
 
When I went back to treatment this time, I started to "Act as if" or "Fake it until you make it"; meaning even if I didn't want to, I pretended until I actuality want to. Not being able to look at myself in the mirror, I was willing and open to trying anything!. When I started to compare myself or judge others I pretended I wasn't until I truly wasn't. When I was listening to someone struggling at a meeting I didn't care what the person was saying- I just listened and "acted as if" until I did have empathy. The days I did not want to be sober out of jealousy of the people drinking and it looked like they were having fun, I "acted as if" I too was having fun until I was. I had way more fun than I ever had drunk! This all probably makes me sound silly, but when you start to "act as if," it will happen before you know it.
 
At the end of my addiction, being so defeated by drugs, "acting as if" turned out to be the way I saved my life. It all comes down to action and faking my mind into action when I was unwilling .  This minor action became the turning point of my sobriety. I still practice this today, and I challenge you to "act as if" today and discover what actions you are capable of that you never thought you had!
 
-S.N.
 
We are here to help!
 
Always feel free to reach out to me. I would love to be there to help in your recovery journey.
Skyler Noon, Alumni Coordinator

Time To Unpack!

We quickly learn after putting down the drugs and alcohol that we have much more to work on than getting through just the detox. Many people crawl into treatment with "emotional baggage" that we have been carrying around for most of our lives. Besides, we can all be carrying some form of baggage, addict or no addict! Everyone is fighting their own battle with something. We hold on to the past, we worry about the future and forget about the present moment. There is no payoff from repeating destructive patterns or from feeling pain, but fear is a great motivator for many to continue the vicious cycle.
 
What baggage are you still carrying around? Are there people, places and things that do not serve a purpose anymore? Is there a pattern or habit that is not working anymore? Is there a feeling of resentment that keeps you from reaching your goals? How long are you willing to repeatedly feel pain? What needs to happen for you to be willing to let go? These are some questions to give some to think about as we take a daily inventory of ourselves. 
 
Certain goals or phases in our lives can't be reached without losing some of the baggage. With that said, let's lose the stigma or fear of doing a step four and get rid some of the extra weight. At times,  it is comfortable to do what we always did, but do not let the results be a shock, we will get what we always got! The freedom we feel if we CHOOSE to let go and move on from our past, is worth the short-term discomfort. 
 
It all comes down to making the decision, what will you choose?
 
 
S.N.
 
"Sometimes we have to let go of what is killing us, even if it is killing us to let go." -Unknown
 

Christmas Break from Recovery?

For many people in recovery, this can be a particularly challenging time of year. Also, a time where it could be easy for one to relapse by putting their recovery on "Christmas Break." But, did our using and drinking ever take a break? Awareness and preventative planning can always help if relapse is close by.

During the holidays we are around certain family members we only see this time of year that may drink or drug too much or they flat out drive us crazy! Maybe in previous years we were able to deal with this better since we were drunk or high ourselves. Certain people and behaviors could be a lot less tolerable now that we are in recovery. But this is nothing to get worked up about, and nothing we cannot get through clean especially with our recovery friends and plenty of clean holiday events. So, plan your holiday the same way you previously planned to get high or drunk for the holiday.

We should know it is okay to not go to certain family events where we will feel unsafe and if we need to, LEAVE EARLY! If it is possible, bringing a recovery friend may also help. Create an escape plan of why you may need to leave early, that way you would not feel that you have to explain yourself in depth or that you are offending anyone. Keep your sponsor and networks phone numbers close and do not be afraid to USE them! Find out where there are Holiday Marathon meetings, speaker jams, dances or a holiday alcathon -where meetings run round the clock and there are plenty of support of others in recovery.

And lastly, it is important to remember that we should all have an attitude of gratitude during the holiday. Let's not forget why we got clean to begin with, and keep that gratitude. We are clean today with the ability to be at a holiday event we will actually remember!

In the first few holiday's we may need to avoid or get away from certain aspects of family members or events. However, after step work and because of the experience we gain on this journey, we may develop a large amount of tolerance and empathy for those that once drove us bonkers! That is where we can see the growth in ourselves and benefits of working a recovery program. We are not responsible for how others act, we are responsible for our recovery and how WE react in these situations.

Happy Holidays!