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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A Very Special Recovery Guest and Now a New Published Author and Advocate. Meet Jason Hyland.

A Very Special Recovery Guest and Now a New Published Author and Advocate. Meet Jason Hyland.

“Those of us maintaining long-term sobriety know that addictions don’t care if you are rich, famous, a sports pro, have status, …ADDICTION has no boundaries on who it “Touches.”  ~Author/Advocate Catherine Townsend-Lyon
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Through the years within my recovery and writing journey, I have met many amazingly talented people who have become friends and like me, they feel writing is a necessary part of maintaining our recovery and a part of the advocacy work we do. While writing two years for a popular recovery magazine, I have met and interviewed many high profile people turned friends like my buddies, former NFL pros Vance Johnson, Randy Grimes, and also tattoo artist Kat Von D! …No, I don’t get “star struck” at all, as my friend Jason Hyland is no different.

He was well on his way to go from the minors into the Major League of Baseball family until addictions derailed those dreams. Coming from a home with an alcoholic father passed to Jason, now clean and sober, he has a unique gift of inspiring and motivating others to enjoy your life even when maintaining recovery.

As Jason shares of himself; “I am a former minor professional baseball player. Boston bred, thick & thru. And I’m Living the Dream!” Not surprising as I find him humorous and to be an exceptional writer and author of his first published book that was released just this past June 2018 titled; Stop Thinking Like That: No Matter What.”

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Jason’s book is now available in both paperback and e-book formats on Amazon Books, Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and Walmart Online.  I am about to read it myself and will definitely come back when done reading it and add my ‘Book Review’ here on my Recovery Blog, Amazon, which he has all 5-star reviews, and GoodReads. Here is more about the new release and it shares a wee bit more of what Jason does to “pay it forward” to those who still suffer from addiction.

About Jason’s Book

Hyland’s charismatic, witty, and candid writing style brings you onto the couch with him as he takes you through the wallows of addiction and alcoholism at its greatest depths, to a rejuvenated, motivated, inspirational rebirth. He is an example that addiction does not discriminate and puts to rest the stigmas attached. He was a man who seamlessly had it all with a bright future ahead, but the power behind drugs and alcohol took a stranglehold on him, halting any progression. Stop Thinking Like That is not your typical addiction story leaving you sad and depressed, rather you end each chapter inspired and uplifted.


After a nearly two-decades-long run in and out of the bowels of the diseases, he finally surrendered and found the courage to ask for help. His journey in recovery gives hope to anyone facing great challenges in life, that no matter how far down you have dropped, you can pick yourself up, and be even better than you ever imagined. During his first couple months sober, a newfound passion and burning rush filled him within. This passion has brought to light what is now Stop Thinking Like That.


All the while living in a sober-home with upwards of eighteen other addicts and alcoholics, he relentlessly pursued his passion of spreading the message of hope. His tireless efforts ooze through the pages in his quest to find the greatest version of himself that exists. He leaves you wanting to jump out of your chair and attack life, with constant motivation and reminders of what we are capable of despite how lost we may feel we are.

Hold on tight, because this journey is one exhilarating roller coaster ride that will leave you inspired to be a better person and with the drive to help others. No matter the adversities you face in life, you can overcome them and live out the life you always dreamed of.

Hyland is living proof that anything is possible if you want it bad enough. 
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Now, Jason and I met on Twitter and he is my “Re-Tweet King!” When we see each other on Twitter, we have a chat through DMing each other as I learned pretty quick how amazing he was and how he truly cares about those suffering from addiction! As a matter of fact, he was so generous that the very firstRecoveryfest Music Concert” put on by ” Above The Noise Recovery Foundation” – Jason gave away 20 Free Tickets to it as Macklemore performed and many others!


He inspires and will motivate you to not just “Live Life Within Recovery,” he “Inspires” you to “Live Your Life 2 The Fullest” while maintaining recovery! I do believe the photo above Proves my point! Lol. As he shares on his ‘Tweet Profile,’ he describes himself like THIS:  
“Bestselling Author of Stop Thinking Like That. Former minor leaguer turned addict turned Recovery Coach, I live to Inspire, Motivate & Spread HOPE thru Sobriety 7/24/17!”

So, he was willing and gracious enough to answer some interview question about his talented writing style as the book reviews for his new book are exceptional, so he had to have done a pretty good job writing his first book … Here are my interview questions I asked him from more of a “writers perspective” and how he answered.

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1) What inspired you to write a book?

I entered detox on July 24, 2017, and with me, I brought an empty notebook. I figured I would have a lot of alone time on my hands and thought journaling would help take up as much as possible. I journaled every night about basic things, from what I ate that day, any people I may have conversated with, like those who liked me, who doesn’t like me, etc, etc, just stuff like that.

Nothing major, just used for time consumption. Then one day I wrote a story about what my mornings were like during the heart of my addictions to alcohol and opiates. To this day, every time I read that piece I’d get goosebumps and it brings me immediately back to that environment. I was shocked at how great this piece came out so I brought it to a counselor at the 6-month program I was now living at, whom I trusted and she was amazed, as well. She said she felt all 5 senses through my writing of the imagery, and I said I might be onto something.

I had shared in my early weeks of recovery, and during one of the group sessions that I was going to write a book, and of course, everyone thought I was crazy.  But after this piece, I knew it was going to happen. I went out and bought a 5-star notebook with plans to use each section for a particular characteristic needed to succeed in not just recovery, but life itself. On the first page I wrote down the chapters names, and at the point, each chapter would be about one of the characteristics and I’d include a personal story relevant to the trait.

This, of course, isn’t how the book turned out to be, but the journey had begun. At one point I was writing in three different notebooks while reading a book a week on personal development and inspirational stories. My mind was being consumed with nothing but positivity and it oozed out of me into my writing. Something within me kept telling me to keep writing, this feeling was so real, burning in my belly, to continue no matter what. Naysayers, critics, haters, family, friends, no one believed in me, but that was okay because all that matters was that I believed in myself.

 

2) Tell us about your writing process

The program I admitted myself in we could not have a cell phone, internet access, or a car, so I had to utilize the 2-hour gaps we were allowed to leave the house as best I could. I would write in my notebooks at night and then walk to the library to type it up the following day. I did this nonstop literally until I graduated that program on February 23, 2018.

It is great to look back on all the notebooks, print-outs, mini notebooks with certain words I liked from a book a read and wanted to put into my book, and so forth. I did the math and estimate I spent around a 1,000 hours between writing ‘Stop Thinking Like That: No Matter What’ and then editing and publishing. The most tedious and time-consuming part was uploading my book onto Createspace, Amazon’s publishing platform. Writing came easy to me, and while doing so you’re not thinking about things such as fonts, formatting, page #s, etc., so I researched the best fonts for a self-help genre and taught myself everything on the fly.

Literally, from the first page to the last, and front cover to back, I did it. I hired someone from Morocco from the Fiverr to put the book cover together based on a design I drew in, you guessed it, a notebook. I have the pictures to show the drawing to the actual cover, and it is a beautiful sight.

3) What advice would you give other addiction-recovery writers?

Do NOT listen to the noise. There will be a lot of people trying to make you go about your recovery their way, try to slow you down, or to tell you that you can’t, it is all BULLSH*T!

Don’t listen to anyone, just follow your gut instincts. The further along you get the more people will try and hold you back. Those are the ones you do not need around. Toxicity is not allowed. AND just as importantly, be HONEST! People want to know you’re authentic and real, so don’t fear to be as raw and candid as you must.

Remember, writing is your therapy first, others second, so do whatever it takes to keep you on the right path. You will notice more people joining your side and rooting you on the more honest you are, as well as people reaching out to you because they realize they aren’t alone in this battle. Your truth speaks wonders.

 

4) How did you decide how to publish your book?

A family friend has published multiple bestselling books, so I reached out to him for advice.  His only advice was “to keep writing,” stating many people ask him for help, but then never follow through.  I followed through, and he continued guiding me on the process.  He suggested self-publishing my first book for two reasons; build an audience for future works, and to save/make maximum money.

I wasn’t working obviously while in rehab, so I didn’t have the funds to work with a publishing company, nor utilize an editor but was fortunate that my much-smarter-than-me girlfriend offered to edit the endless amounts of work I continuously sent her.” The closer I neared the finish line the more motivated I got. I knew the end result before I even got there. I sent my mother an email back in November which I saved, stating simply,  “I will become a bestselling author!”

Within 2 weeks of  ‘Stop Thinking Like that;’ and the help of pre-orders, made it became at release a #1 national bestseller in multiple categories in both paperback and Kindle, at the same time! It was such a proud moment, I had tears streaming from my eyes because I did it.

Not only to prove to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to as mom always stated, but to show all those who are struggling and feel hopeless that they too can achieve anything they want.  I am nobody special, I was at the bottom stealing from family, going through rubbish for cans, and stealing toilet paper from Burger King bathrooms. Today, I can now call myself a bestselling sober author. I set out on a mission to show anyone and everyone that “The sky truly is the Limit.”



5) Why a recovery book?

Funny thing is, it isn’t really a recovery book, but more so self-help and personal development book. And it is NOT a memoir by any means, although it does include some personal stories about where drugs and alcohol took me, the power they had over me, and hitting bottom.

It is about finding yourself at your bottom, then crawling, digging, scratching, and kicking your way out behind discipline, perseverance, good ‘ole fashion’ hard work, and most importantly faith in yourself. It is about realizing you can still achieve all your goals in life, live out the life you’ve always dreamed of and then some. It doesn’t matter how far down you may be today, your new life can start at the snap of a finger.

I have been blessed to have this second chance, and it didn’t take long to realize I had a purpose. That was to use and share my story to help others as ‘Stop Thinking Like That’ has opened up those many doors for me.

6) What do you think about the future of book publishing for addiction/recovery books?

I know you will start seeing more addiction/recovery books being published for two reasons:

1) – Self-publishing has given the average writer the chance to show their work to the world. I am not alone in saying many do write to help their recovery, as people like myself can take all those journals, notes, and stories, and put them into a book with our name on the cover.

2)With addiction being an American crisis and epidemic, everyone knows someone that is affected by addiction, no one is immune. The general public is now aware that it doesn’t matter how much money you make, where you live, what color you are, or what job you may have, ADDICTION DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE. You are seeing more individuals building up the courage to come out and tell their story.

It is not about being anonymous anymore, people realize they are not alone and that it is okay to be vulnerable, which I believe is a sign of strength. It takes courage and vulnerability to allow yourself open up to the world. It is how we can not only heal ourselves but help others at the same time.  Admitting you need help is VERY difficult, anyone will tell you that. So when we do find that courage to do so, we realize we don’t have all the answers, and that takes guts.

7) What types of genres you write or would like to write?

I have read upwards of 30 books in the first 6 months of my recovery all about personal development and helping me become a better human being. From; ‘Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People’ to Chris Herren’s ‘Basketball Junkie,’  to Tony Robbins and John Maxwell. Everything I read helped me in one way or the other, and I quoted around a dozen of the books I read in my book. I am a very positive person because I have witnessed firsthand the power of a positive mind.

The human brain is extremely powerful, and a determined mind is the most powerful thing known to man. I love reading about success stories, industry titans, everyday people overcoming massive odds, and building up my “knowledge brigade” aka my brain. I like to learn, and there is an infinite amount of knowledge to discover within the pages of any book.

8)  Will, you write another book and why?

YES! Because I want to help as many people as I possibly can and for whatever reason, my Higher Power whom I choose to call God has given me the platform to do so with writing.  And it certainly doesn’t hurt that I really enjoy writing, too

 

9) Lastly, what is one funny thing NO ONE Knows about you?
When I was young my mother would put me to sleep by playing jazz music, in particular, Kenny G…and I still do that to this day. 🙂

Readers, you will enjoy seeing Jason on this “Catching Up with Katy, State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives video! – I welcome a very special guest Author, Jason Hyland.” 
An amazing in-depth interview with Jason worth a watch!

http://haverhillcommunitytv.org/video/april-2018-jason-hyland

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I want to thank Jason for allowing me to share some his story and about his amazing writing style with all my recovery friends and visitors. Please take a listen to Jason’s full story above and below at an outdoor Recovery Speaking event! They both are heartfelt and uplifting and a true example of how we can make it through the other side!

 

 

You can connect with Jason on social media and visit his  Website ~JasonHyland.   –  Twitter –  Instagram –  Facebook –  Amazon Profile and Book Purchase!