Category Archives: Uncategorized

What We Talk About When We Talk About Thanksgiving…



Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, and whoever you are with, if you don’t know anything else, please know this: I’m thankful for all of you! Wishing you all the best, today and everyday. Oh, and if you have something especially tasty to eat, that’s always nice, too. :)

Calling For Stories of Secular Recovery

Call for Submissions: Stories of Secular Recovery
Recovery stories provide evidence that freedom from addiction is possible. In early 2016, LifeRing Secular Recovery plans to publish a collection of recovery stories that have been shaped by secular tools, practices, and concepts. If you are in recovery from addiction to alcohol or other drugs, and your recovery is supported in a secular way, LifeRing Press wants to hear from you.
We hope our volume will represent many kinds of personal experiences and viewpoints with stories authored by a wide variety of individuals who are in recovery from alcohol or any other addictive drug.  We seek stories from all members of the secular recovery community — a community we know is filled with interesting people of diverse backgrounds and circumstances. We hope our volume will represent both a variety of secular recovery experiences and the diversity of the secular recovery community.  And we hope our volume will provide both evidence and inspiration that it is, indeed, possible to achieve and maintain sobriety using secular tools, practices, and concepts.
While the traditional structure of conflict (the struggle between our addicted and sober selves), crisis and turning point (what made us decide to seek freedom from addiction), and resolution (living in recovery) fits most recovery stories, we also seek stories with innovative structures.  In short, we want real stories of real recoveries, and encourage you to share your story, warts and all, with authenticity, passion, and a sense that your story has the possibility to change lives.
·               What was it that finally made you decide to get clean and sober?
·               Can you describe the kind of decision-making process you went through?
·               What tools, practices, and concepts helped you achieve sobriety?
·               Do you still use those same tools, or have they evolved or changed over time?
·               What gives meaning to your life in recovery?
Whether you achieved sobriety on your own or through your participation in secular recovery organizations like LifeRing, SMART Recovery, AA Agnostica, or Women for Sobriety, your story of secular recovery is important. We look forward to hearing from you. Please read our submission guidelines carefully, and feel free to contact us with any questions.
Submission Guidelines:
All submissions must include a cover sheet with the title of the piece; the author’s name, address, telephone number, and email address; and a brief bio of the author. 
Please use 12-point type (Arial or Times New Roman preferred).  Traditional essay or story entries should be double spaced; poetry should be single spaced. Pages should be sequentially numbered, with the title of the piece but no other identifying information about the author; this will ensure unbiased review by our panel of readers.  We encourage submissions of poetry; micro-essays (no more than 1,000 words); essays (1,000-2,500 words) and longer works (5,000 word maximum).
Entries selected for publication are subject to editing; the LifeRing Press editors will work with authors on the final edits and ensure that the author’s name appears as you wish in the final publication.
We prefer electronic submission of your entry, and that it be in one of the following file formats: .doc, .docx, .pdf or .pages.  You will receive an email confirming receipt of your entry.
All submissions must be previously unpublished work; all rights for future publication of selected entries will be held by LifeRing Press. Authors of stories selected for publication in this volume will receive a free copy of the book; no other payment will be made.
To submit your work electronically, please email it to:
If you must submit your work by postal service, please mail it to:  LifeRing Service Center, 1440 Broadway, Suite 400, Oakland, CA 94612. 
If you have questions about the volume, the submission guidelines, or submitting a story for publication, please email Kathleen at
Submission deadline: July 1, 2015  Entries received after this date cannot be considered for publication.

Ingenious Little Cartoon on a Sunday…

Hey Everyone,

Another LifeRing participant passed this ingenious little cartoon depicting a poor little kiwi succumbing to addiction to me, so in turn I thought I’d pass it along to all of you. It feels fairly reminiscent of my experience with alcoholism, so if you have an extra 5 minutes to check it out, it’s definitely worth your time:

“Nuggets” by Andreas Hykade

As those of us in the U.S. gear up for the holiday season onslaught (more about that next week), I hope you’re all having a peaceful and sober Sunday!


Check Out LifeRing On ONDCP Webinar!

LifeRing Board Member and Salt Lake City, UT meeting convenor Mahala Kephart recently participated in an ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy) webinar entitled “Expanding Opportunities for Recovery: And Introduction to Three Secular, Abstinence-Based Mutual-Aid Pathways” on LifeRing’s behalf. In addition to Lifering, the webinar also includes representatives from SMART Recovery and Women for Sobriety, and the ONDCP recorded it for our viewing pleasure.

Please note the webinar’s total length is 1:34 (one hour and  thirty-four minutes ) and begins with several minutes of ONDCP “housekeeping” business, then moves on to Mahala’s presentation at around 9:23.

Please click here to see the whole webinar on Vimeo, and many thanks to Mahala for representing LifeRing in a personal way while disseminating vital information about our organization on a national level. It’s wonderful to have been invited to the wider recovery conversation, and hopefully this is just the beginning for us!

A Word About Overwhelm

HI everyone. So, it’s been a little while since anything has been posted on our blog, and there’s a reason for that. Technically, there are a few reasons but really only one major reason, and since I have this here platform to use for just such a purpose, I thought I’d tell you alllll about it.

See, here’s the thing: I’m someone so easily overwhelmed that being overwhelmed overwhelms me, and then it’s almost always downhill from there. A lot of this has to do with a redundant perfectionism that – when mixed with a load of poor time-management skills, a nice dollop of intractable procrastination, and a wee touch of hiding out in a book or a movie (or online) – allows me to see a few molehills as Himalayas I’ll never be able to climb. Never, I tell you!

I learned these things about myself during my first year of sobriety, and I must say, I was shocked as all get-out to find out I was a perfectionist. I mean, what exactly did I have to show for this? It’s not like I’m one of those perfectionistic overachievers who does every ridiculous thing they can to show the world (or sometimes, just their parents) they’re worthy of honor and praise – hell, I made Bart Simpson look like a Harvard grad student compared to my tales of a fourth, fifth, sixth grade nothing. I never realized that doing nothing at all is a actual choice on one end of the “What the Hell Do I Do Now?” spectrum, but in fact, one of my family’s favorite mottos, oft repeated both to ourselves and one another, was: “If you can’t do it right the first time, then don’t do it all.”

Yeah, OK. Well, I can’t do all that much, anyway, so…I’ll take “Don’t Do It At All” for $1,000, Alex! Wait – make that a true Daily Double!

This sense of overwhelm figures pretty prominently for a lot of us in early recovery, as well. Once you sober/clean up, you’re suddenly aware of all the detritus left strewn about from your own personal train wreck, comprised of all the people places and things you left piled up, neglected, ignored, hidden from and/or otherwise generally bailed on over the years.  That hamster wheel to nowhere alone can turn one back to the bottle or their drug of choice (or both) quicker than you can say “Lickety Split”, and I’ve seen more than a few of my brethren fall under the strain of an unrealistic desire to play catch-up.

I had such a moment at somewhere around 30 days in, and I was given one of the greatest gifts to my sobriety when in a phone meeting I described the terror of realizing there was so much I hadn’t done and so many years wasted that I simply didn’t know how I could carry on. The other meeting attendees listened to my litany of woe patiently until a dear named Marie piped up and said, “You know what? You don’t have to worry about anything or do anything else right now except staying sober.” The very idea of that was like being struck by lightening, and since this piece of information was coming from a long-time sobrietist (i.e. LifeRing parlance for one committed to their sobriety), I took it at face value, and was SO relieved. I took a deep breath and accepted that even though I was not going to build Rome in a day, everything was still really going to be A-OK.

And lo, it was! It wasn’t about what I couldn’t do (everything all at once) so much as making a choice about what I could do (some people call this living in the problem vs. living in the solution), and it’s one of the most freeing feelings in the world. You place things in priority levels and work from there. D’oh!

I’ve used that experience every time thereafter I got overwhelmed to help me through, and it’s still what works for me today. It was especially useful when I was working a full time job, caring for my sick Mom, and trying to maintain my then long-distance relationship all at the same time. And yet my tendency toward feeling overwhelmed hasn’t just gone away. Ohhhhh, no – that would be too easy, even for me.

So it was that in the last month or so I found myself presented with several different irons in the fire – things that would require a great deal of my undivided attention – and I knew I was going to have to prioritize based upon what I could live with.

Let’s see…

1. DDNMW (Don’t Drink No Matter What) along with maintaining other serious health and well-being issues? Check.

2. Spend time doing good, fun activities with my hubby like taking wonderful meals, going to concerts, riding bikes, taking walks, learning to golf, and otherwise enjoying life together? Check, check.

3. Fall clean up of a badly neglected homestead? Triple check.

4. Decorating post Fall clean-up homestead for Halloween/Thanksgiving (I’m a holidays nut, you see)? Check to the 4th power!

5. Other slightly more miniscule day-to-day stuff I won’t bore you with but that’s time consuming nevertheless (but **sigh**, OK, some of which involved mooning over George Clooney’s endless Venetian nuptials)? Super industrial check!

6. Post on the the blog?

7. Finish the Books page?

8. Work on other LifeRing-related items?

9. Meditate, do yoga, and learn a lot of CBT?

10. And, oh yeah, lose 20 pounds?

As you can see, there were a few things important to me that I was not going to be able to give the time and attention I think they deserve. This blog is incredibly important to me for example, but so is my sanity, so some of the things normally toward the top of the list got bumped down in order to accommodate other things important to me, as well.

One can ask, did I simply have my priorities in order, or did the perfection monster get me again? Could be either, but most likely it’s a little of both – in which case, I still have work to do (I say after the 14th revision of the post).

Dear god, when will it ever end?!?!?! :D

Life continues on it’s way, and there’s never going to be enough time for it all. But as long as I do what I have to do to take care of myself, I will take care of everything else in good time.

How about you, Dear Reader? How has overwhelm affected you, and how have you learned to handle it?