Thanksgiving Wishes and a Special Guest Article of Hope, Uplifting, and Serenity. Only One I Know Does It Well, Author and Advocate, Sandy Swenson …

Thanksgiving Wishes and a Special Guest Article of Hope, Uplifting, and Serenity. Only One I Know Does It Well, Author and Advocate, Sandy Swenson …

Wishing all my recovery friends and readers a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving Holiday!

I wanted to post something special for a few days who may mosey here as I begin my Holiday Watch and Blogging for the Holidays so anyone looking for help from gambling or any addiction will know someone cares and they are not alone through the Holidays! Leave a comment or EMAIL me: lyonmedia@aol  and I’ll be checking both many times a day!

Now, please meet Sandy Swenson! A longtime friend of mine through social media recovery communities is how we met. I have not shared a post of hers in a while but she is the ONLY person I would have and share at Holiday Time as she has been through it all and can uniquely write about how it can be a tough time when you either live with or lost an addict. SO I’ll let her get to it and Y’all go visit and signup for her newsletter too!

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Nov 21, 2018, / Sandy Swenson

Mom to Mom: Thanksgiving (when your child is addicted)—Filling Not Stuffing

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Mom to Mom: Thanksgiving (when your child is addicted)—Filling Not Stuffing

When my boys were little, they hovered about the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning, eager to get started with stuffing the turkey. We tied on aprons, washed our hands, pushed step stools over to the kitchen counter, and discussed who, exactly, would need to touch the pale and pimply turkey flesh.

My oldest son dumped bread cubes into a large bowl and his brother stirred in the onions and sage; they took turns scooping stuffing into the hollow center of our holiday bird before it was slathered in oil and popped in the oven. Our home was full of pleasant aromas and anticipation and things to be thankful for.

Norman Rockwell picture-perfect.

But things changed once my oldest son became addicted.

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Thanksgiving became a day stuffed with unspoken disappointment, anger, and fear rather than too much pie and good cheer. His younger brother, dad and I would wait for my son to show up—or not show up at all—while our turkey and sweet potatoes shriveled away in the oven. Retreating to different parts of the house, we avoided the sad festivities and phony smiles until tradition beckoned us to sit down at the table across from my son’s very empty place. Thankful, I was not.

It has been ten years now since my son even pretended he was coming home for Thanksgiving dinner. (I don’t know where he has turkey. Or if he has turkey.) I’ve had time to adjust to Thanksgiving the way it is and stop wishing for the way it should be, but time hasn’t taken away the hurt—or the hole where he should be. I suspect it never will. Instead, over time, I’ve grown stronger. Over time, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me to get through and even enjoy the holidays again.

1. Make room for your feelings and let go of old expectations.

I’m now strong enough to face the hurt rather than stuff it away (more often than not), and I’m strong enough to fill the holes in my life and my heart with things that make the day better, not worse. That means facing reality, not trying to re-create what can’t be re-created, starting new traditions, and spending quality time with some happy old memories.

There’s a lot wrapped up in this big day that rolls around one short day a year. A lot of hopeful hopes, fears, disappointments, and stress—when holiday tradition and expectation meet addiction it can be madness. But it’s possible to look at things differently, to do things differently, especially if the whole family is recruited to open their eyes and minds. And when the spirit of things leading up to the big day is giving thanks, that spirit is contagious.

Thanksgiving is meant to be a day for gathering together with loved ones and having fun. So simple—and beautiful—if left simple. A performance, it is not. And living up to unrealistic expectations, I will not.

I no longer spend weeks leading up to Thanksgiving trying to pretend that everything is fine, that addiction hasn’t consumed my son (and therefore my whole family), and that we can still pull off a pretend-perfect performance.

“I no longer stuff down my sadness, putting on the dressing of normal life in the same way I shove myself into my jeans after a big meal—by taking a deep breath, swallowing the pain, and pasting on a smile.”

Instead, I plan ahead. I take the time to face my feelings—I take the time to grieve and cry for what was and what isn’t—and then, acknowledging the pitfalls I don’t want to fall into, I figure out ways to make the holiday work. And one of those ways is to ask for help—from friends, family, a therapist or counselor or any of the hundreds of support groups, like Al-Anon, Families Anonymous, or The Addict’s Mom.

2. Celebrate those who are at the table and let go of perfection.

I have Let Go of thinking that I’m the only one who can make the day (any day, actually) perfect, for anyone. Or that I can please everyone. Thanksgiving is made all the better with family participation—which means asking for everyone’s hands and hearts to be in the right place at the right time. Together we can prepare and adapt to the fact that our addicted loved one might not show up (or worse).

But, who is not at the table shouldn’t take up more space than the people who are.

There is no end to the room I have at my table. And in my heart. But both my heart and home have rules. Before the big day, I set my boundaries (and set up escape hatches), knowing that it’s possible that not everyone who shows up is going to behave. I can’t control the actions of anyone else, but what I can control is me (and even that is no easy task.). By facing reality, my actions don’t need to be reactions. My boundaries don’t need to be rough, they just need to be strong.

3. Try something different; open your heart to something new.

When the holiday hurts, maybe it’s time to try something different—something smaller, or bigger, or somewhere new. The meal, the menu, an old family recipe, the way (or the place) that we’ve always celebrated Thanksgiving…. the little traditions mean nothing compared to the meaning of the big tradition itself.

There was a time when I would spend weeks shopping and chopping, mixing and rolling, cleaning and decorating, for a meal that, for all of its hype, actually took less than thirty minutes to eat (not counting the time spent talking). But I enjoyed all the creative chaos. Until things changed. And then I didn’t. I felt a bit guilty at first, serving store-bought pie or stuffing from the deli, but the reality is, that isn’t what matters. And no one ever noticed—or if they did, they didn’t care.

4. Share your gratitude and give back.

Who is at the table is more important than what is on the table (or where the table is). In the holiday hubbub, it’s easy to forget what the holiday is really about.

“Giving thanks.”

So I’ve learned, having grown in my own recovery, to make every effort to live in the moment. To give thanks for the moment. To give thanks for those around me—those people who matter, and who deserve to feel like they matter, no matter what else is going on. I take the time to soak in and appreciate everything I have to be grateful for. Of which there is a lot.

My need to fill the hole that addiction has left in both my heart and life is big. And I’ve found that helping others keeps me moving forward. It may be overwhelming to add one more expectation to a day already laden with so much, but giving thanks by showing thanks doesn’t have to fall on one particular day in the fall. I’ve got 364 other days of the year in which to do what my heart needs to do. It helps me to help kids whose moms, for whatever reason, are unable to do mom stuff for them right now. And maybe someday someone will do the same thing for my son.

5. Accept what is, one day at a time.

Yes, I’m finally strong enough to fill the hole in my life where my son should be with things that make the holiday better, not worse. I’m strong enough to face reality—to accept what is—to start new traditions, and to spend time with some happy old memories; those are mine to keep and enjoy, forever.

Old memories still have the power to bring tears to my eyes, but I’m finally able to treasure my memories for what they are: gifts. I am blessed to have had so many years of such happiness, and not even addiction can take that away. After everything that has happened, I still have my sons’ smiles, the sounds of their voices, and the feel of their hugs, no matter how far away they may be. So, in giving thanks, I take the time to remember what was before embracing, fully, what is. I laugh, I cry. I allow the movies in my mind to fill my soul.

This year I will visit my 91-year-old mom in Memory Care, then my dad and I will have our Thanksgiving dinner at the home of the friend I grew up with and her parents, people we’ve known for about 55 years. Friends like family–I’m immensely grateful for that.

Many years ago my oldest son sent me this message:

“Happy Thanksgiving, Mom. Hopefully, someday I’ll give you a reason to be thankful for me. I love you. Thank you for still loving me.”

No matter what, I have always been thankful for both of my boys. And I’m thankful for what I have now. And I’m thankful that they both know how much they are loved.

This is me filling, not stuffing.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with things to be thankful for, too.
~______________________________________~

Please recovery friends, go visit Sandy on her beautiful and helpful website and her Amazing Books make excellent Holiday Gifts!

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Dandelion Shop for Moms with Addicted Children, Sandy Swenson

 

Facebook, Sandy Swenson

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Recovery Guest Aurora M. Asks ~ What Really is a Therapy Animal?

Recovery Guest Aurora M. Asks ~ What Really is a Therapy Animal?

Hello Recovery Friends, Warriors, and Visitors,

 

One of the best things I did for myself, my recovery, and emotional health is having therapy kitties! Lol. I have three and I love them so much. They help give me focus and purpose to have animals to take care. But let’s learn the real difference between a Real Service Animal vs a Therapy Animal.

So, my recovery guest Aurora explains what really is a “Therapy Animal” be it in recovery, having mental or emotional challenges, and especially for those who have disabilities.

ALL ANIMALS DO bring us such JOY! …Cat

 

What Really is a Therapy Animal? 

 

In the past, up until a few years ago, the only types of services animals you regularly heard of, were actual service animals. Mainly dogs who would help their owners who had major physical disabilities. Over the past few years, the topic of service and therapy animals has increased at an alarming rate. An even more alarming thing is the number of people who were suddenly registering and claiming their pets to be service animals. It’s kind of a hot topic, so what really is a therapy animal?

Service vs Therapy


A service animal has to go through intensive training before being certified as a service animal. One of the biggest distinguishable features between an actual service dog is they are actually trained for a specific purpose. The ADA website states that a service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do certain work or specific tasks for their owner who has a disability that they are unable to do for themselves.

These tasks can include things such as pulling a wheelchair, retrieving an item that has been dropped, reminding them to take their medication, pushing the elevator button, or alerting a person to a sound. Without these service animals, these individuals would not be able to live with the same level of functionality.

 

Image result for copyright free service dogs

 

Emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy animals are not service animals. This doesn’t mean they don’t serve a purpose, but they are not a service animal. In addition, animals that are not dogs are not considered to be service animals in almost all cases. If someone comes to you and claims that the iguana on their shoulder is their service animal, it is in fact, not a service animal. They may find comfort in their pet iguana, yes. A certified service animal, it is not.

Registration for a Therapy or Comfort Animal

The ADA recognizes that a therapy or comfort animal can indeed provide comfort and are often used as part of a medical treatment plan. But the ADA website very clearly states that any sort of therapy or emotional support animal is not a service animal.


Strictly speaking concerning animals that are considered to be a therapy or comfort animal, there is a specific process that has to be followed in order for them to be considered a therapy or comfort animal. There are a lot of websites that will send you a service animal vest and a card stating that your pet is a service animal, but these services are actually illegal.


In fact, receiving any sort of certification or registration completed online is not only illegal, but it makes it hard for actual service animals to be allowed in public places, due to the saturation of claimed emotional support animals being toted around in public as if they are trained to do anything aside from providing comfort. Often, someone will illegally register their pet as a therapy animal in hopes of them “legally” being able to have them in a rental unit that doesn’t allow pets.

 

Related image

 

The only legal way to have a pet be considered a therapy or comfort animal is to have a psychiatrist prescribe them as such to you. Most psychiatrists won’t accept patients if this is their sole purpose for treatment, and will only prescribe dogs to previously existing patients.

These prescriptions also expire, as the purpose of an emotional support animal is to provide comfort during a healing period, and you will have to be evaluated on a yearly basis before your prescription to your therapy animal can be renewed.

“Therapy Animal” is a Loose Term

 

More simply put, a therapy animal doesn’t really have more rights than a regular pet does. And most importantly, if you bring your therapy animal into public and they misbehave, a business has every right to eject you without warning. This rule is the same with real service animals. However, more and more businesses are likely to turn away a real service animal due to bad experiences with a therapy animal. Let’s keep it simple for those with legal disabilities to have those “rights” with fewer problems or complications of their importantly needed “Legitimate Service Animals.” 

~Aurora M.

 

 

 

“Recovery + God = Success! It’s Just That SIMPLE Recovery Friends! Can I Get An AMEN?”

GodVine's photo.
In Your Past ADDICTION  . . . .


Thank Goodness for God’s Mercy & Forgiveness Right?

I usually don’t talk a lot about my “spiritual side,”  as I don’t want to offend or make my friends who visit uncomfortable. I think that needs to change. I do have feelings around this topic. Many feel a 12-Step Program is drenched in religion, or you have to belong to a church or thoughts along this line. But it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Many also get so wrapped up in a 12-step program and think that’s all you need to recover.  That to is not true.  Each one of us come to recovery from different paths and many different addictions.  So, I feel we need to explore ALL options to be successful in long-tern recovery . . . .

Many times I thought to myself, the one thing I seemed to have been missing in my recovery, especially in early recovery was the “spiritual” side of myself.  When we first reach out for the insanity of addiction to stop, we come to seek recovery so broken and lost, when life seems very, very dark.  At least that is how it was for me.  For me, I had just come out of inpatient treatment and from an Addiction/Mental Crisis center after my 1st failed suicide attempt. So I surely was not feeling very “holy” at this time. Far from it.

I was feeling like God had turned his back on me. But that wasn’t the case at all, it was me who had turned my back on God. He would never have done that to one of his children. Many in recovery just don’t understand the love he has for all of us. If you begin to believe in his loving power over your life, you begin to learn that he was with you each step of the way. Be it within your addictions or in recovery,  he knew all before you even thought it or did it.  He see’s our path he has laid out before us.  No, it may not be perfect, or even a happy life all the time,  because we need to learn from the many trials within this path.  It is how we gain our “spiritual wisdom.”  It’s about open mind open heart as to believe in a power greater than ourselves to be restored.  My higher power just happens to be God, his son Jesus Christ, and The holy Spirit who ties us all together.
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And no, I never felt I had to attend someone else’s Church, some organized religion, or listen to some pastor or priest tell me my faults and character defects.  I believe that is NOT having a real true personal relationship with God, and his Son Jesus. My relationship with him is between me and God, his son and the holy spirit. When you have faith and hope given to you by God alone, you can believe he will perform many miracles & blessings in your life, and within your recovery journey. That is a major part of how I got to where I am today.  Without believing that he could restore me, and show me a better way of life, I knew I couldn’t lose in my recovery! And it is written in the gospel . . .

See, I was actually raised Catholic, but around 20 I became disillusioned with the rituals and confession. Why do I need to go into a box with a priest on the other side  of that box to confess my sins?  I can get on my knee’s and do that as part of my personal relationship with my GOD.  To repent and ask for forgiveness of my wrong doings.  I just became more and more uncomfortable with confession.  There are many other reasons, but this was the main one for me. I needed all the help I could get as I was again, so very broken when I came into recovery. We all are. I can tell you this. . . .

God has answered all my prayers when I was begging him to just stop the addiction triggers and urges, take those away? And I will do the rest and the work to be a success in my recovery . . . .

As we all know, God has his own time clock, and most times doesn’t always match ours! LOL.  It’s why many say, “in Gods time not ours.” So true, but still? He did hold up his end of the bargain.  He did take away the triggers and urges from me, as I began doing the my part of the work in my recovery.  He won’t ever let you down, it’s just in his time, not yours . . .

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So? How is your relationship with your Higher Power?

 

    $5.99 to buy

God Bless All,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author & Recovery Advocate XO

“A Moment Of Silence And Prayers To Those Lost On Flight 370 & Their Families”

“Dear Lord, Please Wrap Your Loving Arms Around Those Who Have Come To You From This Tragic Event, And Love In The Hearts Of All Those Who Lost A Loved One On “Flight 370″…
AMEN”…
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REALLY?  A TEXT?   SHAME ON YOU!…