Ste[p12 MagazineTM

Carrying A Message of Hope in Recovery

The Miracle




* Horoscopes

* Puzzles

* Recovery Resources

* Humor Page

* Newcomer’s Page

Accepting Acceptance

by Mendi Baron

It’s A Matter Of Choice

by Denise Krochta

Running Around The House Naked

by Suzanne Whang

Acceptance Is As Acceptance Does

by Jim Anders

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Inside This Issue

10 14 22 28 34 40

48 50


6 Cover Story: The Miracle of Acceptance

by Jami DeLoe

8 Accepting the Challenge

Dr. Judi Hollis - Food Obsessions

10 Healing Yourself with Acceptance

by Carol Teitelbaum - It Happens to Boys

12 Forgiveness

Darlene Lancer on Codependency

14 Mindfulness Meditation 101

by Courtney Lopresti

15 A Heart Full Of Reverence

by Tom Bliss and Alexandra Katehakis

16 It’s a Matter of Choice

by Denise Krochta

22 Life: Third Time Is A Charm

Dan Sanfellipo - Unlocked for Life

24 Accepting the Unacceptable

by Lori Nelson

26 Dear Petra Questions and Answers

by Petra Hoffmann - Expert Answers about Hep-C and Addiction

28 An Addict By Any Other Name

by Vicki Abelson

30 Easy Does It

by Terra Schaad - Mindfulness

34 PROFILE: London Rebecca Reber

by Nathalie Baret

36 The Fifth Reality: The Wrath Experience

by Susan Jackson - The Seven Realities of the Addicted Family

40 True Recovery

by Michele Downey

42 Acceptance Is As Acceptance Does

by Jim Anders

43 Accepting Acceptance

by Mendi Baron - The Teen Corner

44 Who Are You?

by Dr. Phyllis and Rev. Carrol Davis

45 Writing Your NOW Story

by Nora Slattery

46 A Spiritual Good Time Charlie

by Mark Masserant

48 The Pursuit of Happiness

by Judy Redman

49 How Do We Know We’ve Found Acceptance?

by Michelle Ghirelli

50 Life Shows Up

by Kyczy Hawk

52 Death Diaries for Patients

by Dr. Roneet Lev

53 Someone Amazing

by Roni Askey-Doran

54 Running Around The House Naked

by Suzanne Whang - It’s a WHANGderful Life

Regular Stuff

5 Letter from the Editor

7 Letter from the Publisher

7 Random Thoughts


11 Metaphorically Speaking

18 Newcomer’s Page

20 Movie Reviews with Leonard Lee Buschel

21 Self Assessment Questions

27 Book Reviews


32 Puzzles

37 Resources for Families

38 Reader Contributions

47 Recovery Online

51 We Asked, You Answered

55 Humor

57 Recovery Trivia

58 Horoscopes


Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354

Letter from the Editor

acceptably yours,

Roni Askey-Doran

This wonderful word acceptance is one of those enormous

convoluted all-encompassing, yet simple words that

touches every aspect of our lives all of the time. From the

moment we rise each morning, that very first glance at

ourselves in the mirror demands self-acceptance. Without

it, where would we be?

It took me a long time to love and accept that reflection

in the mirror completely and unconditionally. You can

read more about that journey of discovery on page 53.

Self-acceptance is one of the hardest things we face

in recovery. But when we find true acceptance of self,

we also learn that it comes with a wonderful sense of

freedom we never before imagined.

Over the past year, I’ve had to learn to accept numerous

life events that are painful and heart-breaking. The hardest

one is losing my father to Alzheimer’s. His body lives

and breathes, but his mind is gradually being consumed

by this horrible disease. He no longer recognizes the

people who love him the most. The strong capable man I

once worshipped is no longer there. This means, at some

point, I will lose him again .... Regardless of how well

I understand and find ways to accept it, there is nothing

that will prepare me for the heartache to come.

Ste[p12 MagazineTM



Account Manager:

Mailing Address:

Karen VanDenBerg


Roni Askey-Doran

Ness Ernst


P.O. Box 5677

Oceanside CA 92052

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Printed Copy

Pick up a copy at any distribution location

Subscribe for Home Delivery ($18/year) page 36 or online

Acceptance isn’t easy, but without it, how do we go on?

I’d like to wish everyone a very happy holiday season, and

hope that yours is filled with gifts of love and laughter,

that you enjoy the precious time spent with family and

friends, and that each moment is cherished.

3900 Prospect Ave., Suite E

Yorba Lina, Ca. 92886



The Miracle of Acceptance

by Jami DeLoe

There are no two ways about it; we all wish we could change

some things in our lives. This is especially true of those in

recovery. We wish we could change the past, things we said

or did, even our current circumstances, progress, or feelings.

In recovery, though, we quickly learn that not all things are

changeable. The Serenity Prayer tells us we need to “accept

the things we cannot change,” and we need to—for our sanity,

peace of mind, and emotional sobriety.

Acceptance has played a huge role in my recovery, and I’ve

seen the difference it’s made in the recovery of others. When

we live in denial, we can’t grow and heal, which makes

sobriety even harder than it already is. It makes us feel stuck

and unable to move. But when we live in acceptance, we are

better able to stay sober, live happily, and be fulfilled.

Recovery is a time of continuous learning, bearing with it

many lessons. Sometimes those lessons are absorbed quickly

and easily, but other times they are hard-fought and seem to

take forever. The lesson of acceptance has often been the latter

for me, something I’ve had to work hard for—and sometimes

still have to work hard to maintain. I’ve learned a lot about

acceptance along the way, though, and when I remember the

following things my life is better, my recovery is stronger,

and my outlook is happier.

It is what it is. There are so many things out of our control.

The faster we learn to accept that things are what they are and

they’re just the way they’re supposed to be at the moment,

the faster we will come to know peace. I have to remember

this when life gets me down and I am wishing for different

circumstances; this was very difficult for me in early recovery.

I would see other people who had longer sobriety than me.

They were happy and spiritually fit, and I wanted to be in the

same place. Clearly that wasn’t possible, and I had to learn

to accept my own progress was right where it was supposed

to be.

It’s a process. Acceptance doesn’t come all at once. Nothing

could be truer when it came to accepting my past. I wanted

so much for my past to be different—before, during, and

after my active drinking. The fact that I couldn’t change

any of it, no matter how desperately I wanted to, was hard

to swallow, even though the pain of wishing caused much

suffering. Acceptance of my past only came gradually, bit by


bit, even though I became willing to learn acceptance. I had to

be patient with myself and my recovery, and I had to celebrate

even the tiniest progress.

You don’t have to like it. I really hated it when a therapist said

that to me about acceptance. She explained that acceptance

doesn’t mean you condone what happened to you or you

approve of how you handled it. You don’t have to like the

things you become accepting of, you just have to do it. It

makes perfect sense that letting go of the things that cause

anger, sadness, or regret would improve my life, but it was

still difficult to hear, and equally hard to do.

It’s healing. When you learn to accept the things you cannot

change, some miraculous things happen. You begin to see that

you are able to cope in a healthy way, no matter what life

throws at you. You are able to be mindful—in the present

moment, not regretting the past or worrying about the future.

You can handle stresses that you couldn’t before. You are able

to stop falling into old behaviors that no longer serve you

well. You can deal with strong emotions and develop deeper

relationships with others. You become emotionally sober

and feel optimistic about life. It’s a beautiful and healing


Acceptance in recovery has taught me I can live life on life’s

terms. I don’t have to live at the mercy of my past, and I don’t

have to be overly concerned about the future. I can live here

and now, and know I’m right where I’m supposed to be.


doesn’t mean you

condone what


Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354

Letter from the


We’ve Got Mail!

Letters from our Readers

Hi Karen,

I chose the theme of Acceptance for this issue because

it’s the holiday issue, which makes me think of gifts.

Giving and receiving gifts.

There are gifts under the tree, gifts of family and friends,

gifts of celebration and gifts of thanks. The gifts I had in

mind when selecting the theme are the gifts of recovery.

Accepting the gifts of recovery can be challenging,

because it usually involves change!

As a result, there’s not a lot of holiday content in this

issue. Acceptance is something we live with on a daily

basis—365 days a year. So I want to take a moment to

wish everyone a wonderful holiday season.

No matter where you are, who you’re with, or what

you’re doing, please accept that life has an abundance

of joy for everyone. We simply need to focus on the

blessings more than the challenges and accept the gifts in

whatever form they are presented. I have difficulty with

that sometimes, but with practice, I’m getting better.

My name is Cipriano L.

I am a resident at the FellowShip center in Escondido.

a few weeks ago you dropped off your magazines for


I did not know who you were when I met you that day,

however you still left an impression with me.

I Love your magazine!! I have been in recovery for

6 mos and at the fellowship for 3.

It is very informative, inspiring, and well


I met Ness Ernst at the “Recovery Happens” at Liberty

Station on the 17th of Sept. and praised her on how

I loved all that you all are doing.

I played and sang with the FellowShip band that day.

Just wanted to drop you a line and tell you how

Tremendous you are and how blessed we are for having

you in our lives

Best Regards,

Cipriano L

Send your letters to:

Thank you for allowing me to be part of your journey

and for being part of mine.

Respectfully and Enthusiastically,

Karen VanDenBerg

What do people do

with all the extra time

they save by texting ‘K’

instead of ‘OK’??


Experience, Strength, and Hope

For People Struggling with Food Obsession

Accepting the Challenge

Q: Since we can’t abstain from eating, how does someone

accept ideas of flexibility with food plans?

A: The most common threads are honesty and accountability.

In early recovery, we struggle to accept that the smaller

portions we are expected to eat will sustain us—they seem so

much less than we think are adequate. The rigid food plans

recommended in treatment centers omit most sugars and refined

carbohydrates. Initially, this kind of eating is recommended in

order to get the Newcomer’s attention. When we go through

the process of weighing and measuring our healthy portions,

we see how much excess we had been previously consuming.

This was true for me.

To my relief, this rigidity is not recommended as a lifetime

food plan. That gets worked out with the step-by-step guidance

of a sponsor. Over long periods, as the person changes, their

attitudes and obsession with food also changes so they can

handle some flexibility.

For myself and others, it has been difficult to accept that we

can relax a bit. Most of us are initially scared of that relaxation

but, without trying it, we end up white-knuckling it. So, with

guided practice, we find if we slip into old habits of overeating,

we are able to ease back to the baseline of rigidity for a while.

We eventually approach some kind of normalcy. These ideas

are not to be tried at home alone, but only in consultation with

another recovering person.

Q: When you started losing weight, did you feel recovered?

A: It is very easy to accept the good news of recovery and relish

the compliments and admiration of others, but there are also

some losses. Eventually the accolades and congratulations will

diminish. Your old and new friends will just start expecting you

to be in your new body. Sometimes that will feel like loss and

abandonment. If not addressed and accepted, this could result

in regaining lost weight. Men who are accustomed to having a

commanding larger presence have to accept fitting in with the

crowd in a normal body. They need to seek an internal power

which is actually what true recovery is all about.

Q: How did you adjust to your new body image?

A: We are often so accustomed to seeing a certain image in

the mirror it’s very difficult to accept positive body changes.

After coming down from wearing size eighteen to size ten, I

spent two years buying size twelve pants and taking them to the

tailor for alterations. I had difficulty accepting myself as a size

ten person. I grew up in the Marilyn Monroe era and she wore

size twelve. In those days, size ten was considered skinny, and

that was something I couldn’t accept. It was suggested I try

on a size ten and I started shaking. Accompanied by a helpful,

supportive friend, I tried on the tens and haven’t looked back.

The fit of my jeans continues to be more honest than the view

from my eyes or the talk from my head.

Q: Do you think unconditional self-love and acceptance is

important before true recovery can begin—regardless of


A: Loving yourself is not a requirement for getting started.

Action is! I recommend getting busy doing something and then

later evaluate your feelings about yourself. If we waited until

we felt good about ourselves, many of us would never begin.

Taking action in one area (diet, exercise, mindful eating, loving

kindness) will influence all the other areas.

Love and acceptance of self comes from practicing new

behaviors that make us admire our actions. The deeper feeling

of being comfortable in your own skin and loving yourself

(flaws and all) comes much later.

© 2015 Dr. Judi Hollis is a Licensed Family Therapist, author of several

books and educational materials, motivational speaker, radio and

television expert. Judi would love to hear from you! You can ask Judi

questions and access her materials, at or call



Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354

“If you live for people’s acceptance, you will die from

their rejection.”

~ Lecrae

“Happiness can live only in acceptance.”

~ George Orwell

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to

entertain a thought without accepting it.”

~ Aristotle

Acceptance, tolerance and forgiveness, those are

life-altering lessons.”

~ Jessica Lange

“Remind yourself that you cannot fail at being


~ Wayne Dyer

“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and

only with acceptance can there be recovery.”

~ JK Rowling

Famous Quotes about ... ACCEPTANCE

“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself


~ Carl Gustav Jung

“Your need for

acceptance can

make you invisible

in this world ... risk

being seen in all

your glory.”

~ Jim Carrey


Healing Yourself with Acceptance

by Carol Teitelbaum, MFT

Male survivors are asked to blindly accept the messages

they receive about the requirements for being a real man,

even though those messages cause them pain, loneliness,

isolation, shame, and fear. Some of these messages keep

men from making connections with their own children and

partners. What are those messages? “Be strong, buck up, it

doesn’t hurt, be a man, don’t cry, don’t be vulnerable, don’t

be a sissy or act like a girl, protect yourself and everyone in

your charge.” These messages are conveyed to boys from the

moment they learn language.

These are not healthy messages for men, and we must help

change them in our own homes, communities and schools. So

many parents tell their boys not to cry, or be angry.

It is essential for men to be seen as human beings with

feelings, tears, laughter, anger, sadness and vulnerability, as

well as strength, courage and perseverance.

My group and I speak at middle and high schools helping

teenage boys speak up and release the secrets they have been

carrying around for years. One of the survivors in our group,

who is a manly man often starts shedding tears as he shares

stories about his past relationship with his children. At this

point in his life, the tears are gratitude for his progress and

the current relationship he has with his children. As he is

speaking, someone runs to get him a tissue and we explain,

“When someone in a group setting is getting in touch with

their feelings and shedding tears, please don’t rush for the

tissues. Someone who is crying is in their feeling space, not

thinking much, just feeling. When a tissue is handed over the

unconscious mind interprets that message as: “I should not

be crying or I better stop crying or be able to clearly describe

why I am crying.” Then, they come out of their feelings and

go back into their usual thoughts. What survivors need is a

compassionate listener, someone to validate their experiences.

After we leave a school, we get thank-you cards from the

students and every year we get some that say “Thank you,

Daniel, for showing us what a real man is.”

© Carol Teitlebaum, MFT is a Psychotherapist in private practice in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She is also the founder of Creative Change Conferences and It Happens to Boys Program.

She offers free group counseling to men and teen boys who have been sexually abused as children, and a yearly conference bringing well known experts in the field of trauma,

addiction and recovery together creating a two day healing community. For more information go to or call 760-346-4606





One year at our It Happens to Boys Conference, a speaker

asked the audience to name five good things about men. It

was a sad moment. A veil of silence fell over the room for

(and I timed it) two full minutes. Then, a hand shot up in the

back of the room and the young man said, “I know, I know,

Tomas Edison invented the light bulb.” To think, a room full

of 250 people and the only good thing that could be said

about men was an invention?

Let’s work on this as a healing community. Men, I challenge

you to start sharing the positive qualities you have with

others, and say positive things about other men. Women, stop

pumelling your sons with negative be a real man messages.

Men, heal yourselves with acceptance so you can become

positive role models for your sons and daughters.


Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354

Metaphorically Speaking

By Karen VanDenBerg

Manure Happens

It’s not something you see every day in the heavily populated

area of Southern California. However, in more rural parts of

the country, it’s common to be whif-matized by its pungeant,

yet sweet-smelling essence long before you’re close enough

to step in it.

During a brisk walk on a sunny day, my friend was heading

back to her house. She wasn’t alone. She was returning with

a friend after a day at the local farmer’s market. They walked

in the door, put down their packages and my friend promptly

dug out her shovel and headed back out of the gate towards


Her friend asked what she was doing.

“I’m not going to leave those cow-patties in the middle of the

road,” she replied.

So, with shovel in hand, she walked back to the place where

she’d seen the fresh piles of cow dung, scooped them into her

shovel and carried them back to her garden. This metaphor

is more than just “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”

Even when there is shit in the middle of the road, we really

don’t want to acknowledge it. We walk around it. We pretend

it isn’t there. We effectively block it from our view. It goes

to waste. It just ends up festering, rotting, and feasted upon

by mother nature’s amazing ecosystem. But without fail, it is

recycled and reborn as the same shit—different manifestation.

Instead of allowing that to happen, my friend faced the piles

of poop on her journey and she scooped them up and took

ownership of them. After the patties dried out, she broke them

down, split them up into smaller more manageable pieces,

and spread them around her garden. They’ve been processed.

As a direct result of handling the unpleasantness with energy

and purpose, she will have a garden of vegetables rich in

nutrients that will feed her body and soul.

That’s how it seems to work.

When we take care of stinky

messes on our path and see

the potential for new growth

in the aftermath, we blossom.

The next time you come across

some bullshit in the road,

remember … you can either

step in it, step around it, or

scoop it up and put it to good

use. Our gardens can flourish.

Metaphorically Speaking is a regular column in Step 12 Magazine designed to help us connect our spiritual journey to worldly situations. Something to think about.


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Focused on Healing and New Beginnings

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Darlene Lancer



Codependents often forgive and forget, and continue

to put themselves in harm’s way. They forgive and

then rationalize or minimize their loved one’s abuse

or addiction. This is their denial. They may even

contribute to it by enabling. We should never deny,

enable, or condone abuse.

Real Forgiveness

Real forgiveness doesn’t mean we forget or condone

another’s actions. In fact, we may decide to never

see the person again. Nor does it mean we justify or

play down the hurt caused. When we hold a grudge,

hostility can sabotage our ability to enjoy the present and our

future relationships. It actually has negative health consequences. It

raises blood pressure, impairs digestion, and creates psychological

symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and mental and physical


True forgiveness improves mental and physical functioning. We let

go of resentment, releasing us from obsessive or recurring negative

thoughts and any desire for revenge or that misfortune comes to

the other person. Empathy and understanding help us forgive. We

can then attempt to rebuild trust and may set boundaries around our

partner’s conduct in the future. We’re able to make constructive

changes and move on in peace.

The Timing of Forgiveness

Forgiveness too soon may deny anger needed for change. Justified

anger affirms our self-respect and motivates us to protect ourselves

with appropriate boundaries. It helps us cope with grief and let go. It

can smooth the progress of separation from an abuser.

If we’ve been betrayed or rejected, it’s natural to feel pain. We need

to experience it and cry without self-judgment. We need time to

feel the hurt and loss and to heal. Once, we feel safe and have gone

through the stages of loss, it’s easier to forgive.

Denial can make us forgive too soon or block forgiveness altogether.

Denying, including minimization and rationalization, that someone

is an addict or abuser encourages us to continually accept broken

promises, avoid setting boundaries, or stay in a toxic relationship.

Denying that a loved one isn’t the ideal we want or imagined only

feeds our disappointment and resentment. Accepting reality opens

the door to acceptance and forgiveness.

If forgiveness is withheld too long, it can impede completing the

stages of grief and lead to bitterness. Many codependents are

uncomfortable with feeling or showing anger. Instead, they’re

preoccupied with resentment and replay negative scripts and events

in their minds. Resentment can disappear when we give ourselves

permission to allow our feelings of anger and sadness to flow.

Darlene Lancer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, and an expert on relationships and codependency. Contact Darlene directly at or

follow her blogs on, also on Facebook at:, and on Twitter: @DarleneLancer.



How to Forgive

It takes conscious reflection, a decision, and often prayer to let go

and forgive. The following are some suggestions:

• Be sure to work through the stages of grief.

• Keep in mind that forgiveness relieves you of pain. It’s medicine

for you.

• Think about the ways that resentment negatively holds you back

and affects your life.

• Consider your contribution to the situation.

• Try to see the person’s behavior and attitude from his or her

point-of-view in the context of their life experience. Did he or she

intentionally try to hurt you? In other words, develop empathy, but

this doesn’t justify abuse or mean you should forget they’re capable

of repeating it.

• Praying for the other person is effective.


Sometimes we must forgive ourselves before we’re ready to forgive

someone else. We often blame others when we feel guilty. We can

hold onto resentment to avoid accepting responsibility for our

actions or to avoid feeling guilty. Although it’s important to reflect

upon and take responsibility for our contribution to the problem, we

need to forgive ourselves for any part we played. It may be harder to

forgive ourselves than someone else.


Reconciliation may or may not follow forgiveness. Sometimes, we

must clearly recognize that the person we care about won’t change.

Letting go of unrealistic expectations sets the stage for acceptance of

reality. We may decide to continue the relationship on less intimate

terms or with different boundaries that protect you.

The other person might not be willing to forgive us. Other people’s

anger hurts them, and our anger hurts us. Remember that forgiveness

increases our integrity and peace of mind. It heals the cracks in our


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Magazine for Long-Term Healthy Lifestyles of Recovery


Think about the word meditation.

What do you see?

Mindfulness Meditation 101

by Courtney Lopresti, M.S.

Maybe you picture a dark room. Incense. People sitting crosslegged,

clearing their minds of all earthly worries. Maybe you

think about highly trained monks, the kind who are so adept

at the task they can change their body temperature.

Thankfully, meditation isn’t nearly as complex—or intense—

as popular culture might suggest. Not only can anyone

meditate, but researchers have found that mindfulness

meditation can help people combat mental illness, addiction

and even chronic pain.

What is mindfulness meditation?

Mindfulness meditation has nothing to do with clearing your

mind and everything to do with listening to what your mind

has to tell you. Specifically, mindfulness meditation involves

focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting

each thought or sensation without judgment.

Headspace, a digital meditation service, likens mindfulness

meditation to watching cars speed down the highway.

Each car represents a thought or emotion, whether positive

(relaxation, happiness, food) or negative (sadness, anxiety,

pain). Our automatic response is to run into this metaphoric

traffic to chase down all the positive cars and stop all the

negative cars; an exhausting if not impossible task. During

mindfulness meditation, the goal is to watch each car drive

by, acknowledge the thought or feeling attached to that car,

and let it continue on its way.

Why is mindfulness meditation good for you?

People who practice mindfulness meditation often report

they feel more engaged with the world around them. They

also report a decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms,

instead finding they are able to more easily cope with adverse


These benefits are more than anecdotal. Researchers from

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, conducted

an extensive, quantitative analysis on forty-seven trials which

studied the effect of meditation on the brain. All of the studies

were rigorously conducted and contained no visible bias.

From their analysis, the researchers found that mindfulness

meditation can significantly reduce the severity of

psychological stressors including anxiety, depression and


“Clinicians should be aware that meditation programs can

result in small to moderate reductions of multiple negative

dimensions of psychological stress,” wrote the researchers.


What makes mindfulness so good for you? Some experts

believe that the benefits arise from being able to accept the

negatives in life without judgment. For instance, people who

struggle with addiction may agonize over their drug cravings,

wondering if a relapse is imminent or if they don’t deserve

sobriety. With mindfulness meditation, it becomes easier to

see drug cravings for what they are: an unpleasant sensation

that won’t last forever.

How do you meditate?

Mindfulness meditation requires no special equipment, nor

does it require an ability to sit still. You don’t need to clear

your mind, change your heart rate or purchase any special

incense. All you need to do is practice.

• Find a quiet, calm environment and sit down. If you want,

you can close your eyes, but you don’t need to.

• Focus on your breathing. How does the air feel when it

flows through your nostrils? How much does your stomach

move with each inhale and exhale?

• If you lose concentration, gently redirect your thoughts back

to your breathing.

• With time, expand your focus from your breath to the rest

of your body. Can you feel how your body rests on the chair

or ground beneath you? Can you feel your tongue in your


• Try to avoid judging any thoughts or sensations. Experience

them, acknowledge them, and then let them drive down the

road away from you.

Meditation can seem frightening, especially at first—it’s

not easy to sit alone with your own thoughts. With practice,

however, mindfulness meditation can help you live a calmer,

less anxious life. Try spending just ten minutes today being a

little more mindful. You won’t regret it.

Courtney Lopresti, M.S., is a senior staff writer for Sovereign Health, where she uses her scientific background to write online blogs and articles for a general audience. Contact

the author at For more information on Sovereign Health, visit

Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354

A Heart Full Of Reverence

by Tom Bliss & Alexandra Katehakis

excerpted from Mirror of Intimacy

To have a heart full of reverence for all that exists is the secret

principle of acceptance. And acceptance is an infinite loop: if you

revere life, you can accept reality; and only when you accept reality

can you revere life. You must jump right in to this acceptance loop,

but it’s not that hard. In fact, it’s impossible to take your deepest

breath and refuse life in that same moment.

Acceptance is objective empathy—the belief

that everything that is deserves to exist or

it would never have come into being. So

even before our choice, discrimination, and

intention come into play, we must practice

acceptance. A first step is to acknowledge that

there are no good people and no bad people;

there are only people whose experiences

taught them to cope the best they can.

But acceptance doesn’t mean approval,

advocacy, indulgence, or submission. We

don’t let the universe toss us into the tide of

another’s creed or being which may be hateful

and damaging to us. Acceptance simply

ushers into our awareness what already exists. And by affirming the

livingness of others, we spring to life.

The result of acceptance is connection to your world, which allows

a connection to the very center of your most secret self. This linkage

frees your ability for deeper experience and feeling. It invites your

self-awareness to help you enter into a co-regulated partnership with

another that may contain preference patterns and arousal templates

different from your own. Acceptance is a precursor to the most potent

intimacy, and acts as a lightning rod for sexual ignition, because the

cosmically connected, overflowing energy

in your body is evident to attuned others.

Through the widening empathy engendered

by ever-greater acceptance, you overflow to

feel your lover feeling your own overflowing


Daily Healthy Sex Acts

Who accepts you unconditionally? Do you

accept yourself? Think of all the moments

when someone’s acceptance affected your

life. We may not approve of everyone, but we

can accept and love people unconditionally

as others have loved us despite our faults.

Accept yourself. Accept your life. Accept

your feelings and fate. Today, walk in the world with loving

acceptance of all you perceive. Know that there is a greater meaning

beyond the superficial veil of existence, and that acceptance for

all that is, despite our biases and inherited narratives, is the key to

greater perception of that meaning.


It’s a Matter of Choice

by Denise Krochta

The other day, I was visiting with a friend whom I hadn’t seen for

almost a year. I told her I was about to write an article on acceptance.

Without hesitation she said, “Life-changing.”

Acceptance. What a concept! This is something we humans often

have great difficulty understanding. We like to feel we have influence

on everything and everyone in our lives. It’s our right and our duty.

As one who has loved numerous addicts and alcoholics most of my

adult life, I can tell you that acceptance didn’t enter my realm of

thought for a very long time. Speaking for myself (although I know

I represent thousands of loved ones everywhere), addiction in my

family was not acceptable and I was going to do everything in my

power to make sure it was gone from our family as soon as possible.

It wasn’t until I realized how little power I really had with this issue,

did I begin to think about the concept of acceptance. I spent the

majority of my time trying to figure out how to change others and

make them see things my way—the right way, of course. It was a

difficult lesson to learn and it took a long time, but I did finally get

that I could have spent my time much more wisely.

It was not a matter of just accepting others and their choices,which

is a very difficult thing to do, it was more than that. It was also

releasing judgements, and understanding that everyone is unique

and their perspectives are often different than ours.

In my world, I can offer two very specific examples of how being

able to accept who people are and how what is was life-changing

for me.

I have a loved one who has been in my life forever . Her life choices

were unacceptable to me. For a long time, any time I had to be

around her or make decisions regarding her, my body would tense,

my stomach would get queasy, and I projected all kinds of bad things

to happen. It totally affected my physiology and temperament. After

I learned and embraced the concept of acceptance and stopped

trying to get her to be someone I wanted her to be, all that stopped.

She did not change. I changed. My time spent with her these days

are pleasant, enjoyable, and not about me. I choose to accept who

she is and appreciate the best parts of her.

My second example is something that many of us loved ones will

relate to. When we discover addiction in our world, we often feel

guilt that we’ve done something to cause this. Even when we know

deep down inside this is probably not the case, that thought often

stays in the back of our minds. We are embarrassed to share our

troubles and often suffer in silence. When I released my book to

help people with tools and strategies to cope with loving an addict,

two major things happened to me. First, people who had been

keeping the same secret came and thanked me for the tools and also

for giving them someone to talk to who would not judge them. They

felt accepted. It was life-changing for some of them.

“It was life-changing

for some of them.“

The other thing that happened was that I received letters and emails

from people telling me what a bad parent I must have been to have

a child who had trouble with substance abuse. At first each letter

pushed me back into the mode of guilt. After over six years of writing

on the topic of loving those with mental health and substance use

and misuse issues, hosting my radio show with experts on the topic,

and advocating for this population, I’d like to say I am secure in

what I do and why I do it. But, just this week I ran into a situation

which had a very surprising effect on me and made me wonder

about my ability to embrace the concept of acceptance. Someone

very close to me was questioned by a family member whom he

loves dearly, why he would want to associate with someone like

me, who has addiction in the family. Momentarily, it took me back

to when I first got those letters. I realize now how important it is to

accept ourselves first and foremost, without judgement, to be able

to truly move on .... Life-changing!

Denise, who has dealt with addicts in her family most of her adult life, moved into crisis mode when she discovered that her teenage son was addicted to prescription drugs

along with alcohol and street drugs. Hers is a story of discovery and recovery. Her career in International business took her to places around the globe where meeting people

and learning their values and traditions has become an integral part of her life. Websites: and


Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354


Newcomer’s Page

Reducing Stress with

the “Acceptance Button”

by Kristin Wilhite, HHP

We all have buttons easily accessed by our loved ones. Imagine

if we had a button giving instant acceptance of what is that

initiates a calm response—no defensive or attacking reactions,

no hate, no drama, just the willingness to see things for what

they are and then act in a healthy way for you and your family.

Growing up in a culture where people had a difficult time

letting go of things not working out their way left me feeling

guilty and ashamed when I didn’t take the path my parents

choose for me. I felt I was a disappointment to my parents.

As I have gotten older and studied holistic health care, I’ve

realized the importance of not carrying guilt and shame. For

years, I have worked diligently to create inner peace, healthy

perspectives and lifestyle. Why? Because I want to be healthy,

positive and HAPPY!

In June, Orlando, FL faced a horrific shooting. I believe if we

are better able to accept each other’s differences, ourselves,

and our children as they are, there would be less hurt. No

matter what the motivation of the gunman’s attack, had he

grown up in a loving household where he was taught to respect

himself and others, would he have been driven to commit such

a heinous act?

Lack of acceptance leads us into inner conflict, frustration,

anger and self-destruction. I have seen children raised with

inner conflicts due to cultural differences. It is up to parents to

assimilate, then help their children integrate, not just expect

their children to cope with the traditions of the past.

Newcomer’s Checklist

aDon’t Take That First Drink or Drug

aMake Plenty of Meetings

aCall Sponsor

aHang out with People in Recovery

aFocus on the Positive

aTalk about your Feelings

Having witnessed the sadness my family experienced from

not knowing how to accept what is, I became an overaccepter.

Resentment, emotional pain, resistance, and lack of

forgiveness nearly tore my family apart. I am an empath, I felt

it all—no matter how much my parents thought they could

shelter me from it. My tolerance for unhealthy behavior led

me into many experiences I wish I’d never had. In my adult

life, I have chosen to learn tools to forgive, accept, connect,

nurture, communicate, and not be co-dependent! Of course,

these experiences taught me a lot, including how not to do it.

Putting up with abuse never served my highest good. It only

served the part of me that wanted to perpetuate my guilt,

resentment, anger and pain. I made a conscious decision to

stop cause and change! I say this solely because I want you

to know, just like happiness is a choice, so is living with

negativity and self-destruction.

At this point in my life, I am careful with who I allow into my

circle and how I go about my day. I choose to be conscious of

my actions, my words, my energy and how I treat others.

There is great value in honoring that there is more than one

method to get from Point A to Point B. My husband and I do

things differently. If I judged him for how he does it differently,

there would be unnecessary drama in our lives. I have seen this

kind of drama drive people to the demise of their marriage.

It’s important that we accept each other’s unique way we do

things. Rarely are we ever going to think alike, and when we

do—it sure is entertaining. But when we don’t, we look to

honor each other’s ways.

The more we can allow others to be themselves, the more they

will feel confident in knowing we trust them, which is the

foundation of respect, and ultimately LOVE.

Kristin Wilhite, HHP is the Owner/Founder of DBA

Progressive Holistic Living: Providing Professional Holistic Health Care Since 1995. Check

out her online class “Put the Happy in the Holidays” To Relieve your Holiday Blues. Info:

aBeware of People, Places, & Things

aTake One Day at a Time

aAsk Higher Power for Help

aStay out of “Your Head”

aMove a Muscle, Change a Thought

aRead the Literature


Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354



Treatment for Alcohol and Drug Addiction

Specializing in Suboxone ® and Vivitrol anti-addiction medication

for long term sobriety, as well as alcohol and opiate detox treatment.

MFI Recovery provides the following:






with Leonard Lee Buschel

The Girl On The Train

and possessive, although Tom also looks a bit clenched. Not as

clenched as Kamal (Edgar Ramírez), however, who is Megan’s

superhot shrink. Rachel will later enroll as a patient of Kamal’s.

Stay with me here. It so happens that Rachel, who is obsessed

with her ex, takes a twice-daily train ride that passes the house

where Tom and Anna live. One day, she—Rachel, not Anna—

sees, or thinks she sees, a woman with blond hair, who could be

Megan, although she might be mistaken for Anna, kissing a man

with dark hair, who could be Scott, Tom, Kamal, or possibly the

FedEx delivery guy, on a balcony. Faced with this devastating

evidence, she, Rachel, becomes a sleuth, teaming up, slightly

unwisely, with Scott, who believes, slightly wrongly, that she is

a friend of Megan’s. So (1), who beds whom? (2) Who doesn’t?

(3) Who gets whacked? (4) Why can’t Rachel mind her own

business? (5) Frankly, who gives a damn.”

Last stop, end of the line.

I love trains. I love girls. So why did I find, The Girl on the

Train to be such a wreck? Maybe if I took more trains, Amtrak,

Southern Pacific or the Orient Express, I would have had more

time to have read the best-selling book, The Girl on the Train.

Then, I might have been able to let this runaway failure go by

without having to board this boring Hollywood—let’s a make

buck without caring about a good script—adaption.

I’m not sure if it was a thriller, a mystery, or a film about a woman

who loves to drink alcohol all the time. I’m not sure what the

story was about. I’m not even sure who the story was about.

And it wasn’t clear why anyone did anything to each other, or

themselves. Oh yes, I think there might have been a child in the

film, possibly an important part of the narrative.

The film seemed more intent on putting me to sleep, rather than

putting me in coach or business class where a conductor could

come by every fifteen minutes and explain the plot.

Maybe I’m not being fair to this ride that should refund my fare.

So I’ll let Anthony Lane, my collegue over at the New Yorker

enlighten you a little more.

He writes, “Here is an introduction to The Girl on the Train.

Listen carefully, and answer the questions that follow. Rachel

(Emily Blunt) used to be married to Tom (Justin Theroux), but

Tom had an affair with Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), who is now

his wife. He and Anna have a baby, whose nanny is named

Megan (Haley Bennett). Megan looks a bit like Anna. She—

Megan, not Anna—lives with Scott (Luke Evans), who is creepy

Leonard Buschel is the Founder and Director of REEL Recovery Film Festival. See the

website at:

Recovering Couples


12-Step Program for Couples

Recovering from Dysfunctional

Patterns of Communication


781-794-1456 (WSO)

Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354


Self-Assessment QUESTIONS

For You or a Loved One

One of the oldest and most time tested dependency evaluation

tools for chemical dependency has its origins from the

Johnson Institute of Minneapolis. Many variations exist, but

the basic questions are as follows:

1. Has anyone ever suggested you quit or cut back on your

drug/alcohol use? Y / N

2. Has drinking or using affected your reputation? Y / N

3. Have you made promises to control your drinking or

using and then broken them? Y / N

4. Have you ever switched to different drinks or drugs or

changed your using pattern in an effort to control or

reduce your consumption? Y / N

5. Have you ever gotten into financial, legal, or relationship

difficulties due to drinking or using? Y / N

6. Have you ever lost time from work because of drinking or

using? Y / N

7. Have you ever sneaked or hidden your use? Y / N

8. On occasion, do you feel uncomfortable if alcohol or your

drug is not available? Y / N

9. Do you continue drinking or using when friends or family

suggest you have had enough? Y / N

10. Have you ever felt guilty or ashamed about your drinking

or using or what you did while under the influence? Y /


11. Has your efficiency decreased as a result of your drinking

or using? Y / N

12. When using or drinking, do you neglect to eat properly?

Y / N

13. Do you use or drink alone? Y / N

14. Do you use or drink more than usual when under pressure,

angry, or depressed? Y / N

15. Are you able to drink or use more now without feeling it,

compared to when you first started using? Y / N

16. Have you lost interest in other activities or noticed a

decrease in your ambition as a result of your drinking or

using? Y / N

17. Have you had the shakes or tremors following heavy

drinking or using or not using for a period of time Y/ N

18. Do you want to drink or use at a particular time each day?

Y / N

19. Do you go on and off the wagon? Y / N

20. Is drinking or using jeopardizing your job? Y / N

Three or more “yes” answers suggest that you should more

closely evaluate your drug and or alcohol use. Call for help





Dan Sanfellipo

Life: Third Time Is A Charm

The most thought-provoking messages

are often delivered in the most

unexpected ways. I am compelled to

share some recent insights prompted

by a television show season finale!

My girl and I were sitting in front of the T.V., watching the last

episode in the latest season of Game Of Thrones. It’s a popular

show, and we find it entertaining. For readers who aren’t

familiar with the series, here’s a very brief synopsis: Jon Snow

is one of the primary characters in a show about territorial wars,

thrones, and kingdoms set in Medieval times.

In this season-ending episode, Jon Snow was killed! He was

brought back to life so he could fight in another bloody battle.

Understandably, he began to ponder his purpose. He thought

maybe he was brought back to life just so he could die again in

this final battle. However, he did survive.

As we sat contemplating the meaning of his revival my girl

said, “What do you think it’s like to be in that guy’s shoes; to be

dead and then brought back to life, only to be wondering what

your purpose is and why you’re there?”

It didn’t take long to answer that question. I have a really good

sense of exactly what it’s like to be dead and brought back to

life. I said, “It’s awesome!”

I’m on my third life right now. My first life was my childhood.

The time-frame is a little different for everyone. That first life of

mine, lasted until my first serious trauma. The innocence of my

childhood died, and the birth of my second life began.

Life number two lasted the better part of thirty years. I only

refer to it as a life because I was breathing, had a heartbeat, and

was still above ground. However, my soul was in darkness. My

life consisted of drinking, using drugs, smoking, going to jail,

prison, etc. I was comfortable living to numb my pain and my

life revolved around the next conquest.

Sadly, it is common to meet people in recovery who have

experienced some major trauma in their childhood which

casts darkness over their lives and puts a stranglehold on their

soul. So many people in the prison system have fallen victim

to an innocence-killing event (whether real or imagined) that

fractured their life and identity.

In recovery, I’ve been reborn into my third life. After walking

around dead inside for decades, I found a way to a better life

that feels fresh, new, and purposeful. At the age of thirty-nine,

I put down the drugs, alcohol, and criminal behavior in search

of something more meaningful and, as a result, I was brought

back to life—like Jon Snow. And like Jon Snow, I came back

to fight some battles! The demons I fight today are old habits,

old thought patterns, unwillingness to feel discomfort, and

self-centered motivation. Like Jon Snow, I have survived those

battles following my rebirth.

It’s an amazing feeling to recognize my opportunity to do

things differently. I build new relationships with love rather

than fear. I support myself through hard work and honest pay

rather than taking what I want out of jealousy and entitlement.

I help people because I have the means, not because I expect

them to repay me. I live a clean life.

It took a fictional television show where some guy came back

from the dead to fight a battle with a whole new perspective for

me to really understand that I’m not dead anymore. There are

still battles, but I don’t have to fight alone, and the rewards are


If I had made a list of everything I expected to gain in the first

four years of my new life, I would have completely shortchanged

myself. By being clean/sober and working the twelve

steps, having a new spiritual relationship with my higher power,

I’ve been given a new life.

This new life is available to anyone. A willingness to be

temporarily uncomfortable is the key to unlock a life more

exciting and rewarding than most can imagine.

Written by K.VanDenBerg based on interviews with D. Sanfellipo

© Dan Sanfellipo received his education in the California State Penal system from the age of 13. A trauma survivor, author of the upcoming book “Unlocked for Life” and founder of support

and coaching program of the same name, Dan is a practicing member of 12-step recovery and an international competitor in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Dan has dedicated his energy, experience,

strength and hope to helping men and women find lasting freedom—from poverty, restriction, stigma, addiction, despair and prison. Dan can be reached at


Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354

(Legislative Day Included)

Hilton Arden West in Sacramento

Let it go!

Free yourself to

accept the gifts

of today.

Sheraton Park Hotel at the

Anaheim Resort, Anaheim

Coming to Visalia, Summer 2017

Venue and dates coming soon!


Accepting the Unacceptable

Acceptance. We preach it. We read about it. We pretend

it. The thing is, sooner or later, we will all reach it.

Acceptance. Even if it’s your last day on earth (you’ll

be accepting then, won’t you?) the time will eventually come

when there will be no other choice than to throw in the towel,

wave the white flag—whatever your personal signal will be—

finally resigned that the unacceptable can only be dealt with by

making it acceptable.

Part of being a human being comes with the uncomfortableness

of being a human being. What we don’t like or appreciate

about others, we’ve got in ourselves. “If you spot it, you’ve

got it,” sounds the chorus of chaotic addicts in meeting rooms

everywhere. We wouldn’t recognize any flaws (or angelic

attributes, for that matter) in others if we didn’t also have

them within ourselves—to do, say, be, or act that way too. It

wouldn’t bother us, unless, well, it bothers us. Acceptance.

Oddly, we willingly accept in others what we won’t accept in

ourselves. Someone acts crazy; we laugh, we forgive. We act

crazy; a shame spiral ensues. Another person falls; we feel bad

for them. We fall; we feel guilty or angry. Someone else is a

mess; poor them. We are a mess; apologize and make amends.

Why the different standards? Where is the acceptance for us,

for them, for all, for the past, the future, the forever …?

Part of us always knows that, in the end, acceptance will be

the only option. Yet we fight until that end, thinking the fight

will potentially change the outcome. It won’t. And how many

times do we need to test this theory to learn the flow of only

two things: Now. Next. That’s it. That’s all we’ve got. Now

or, Next.

So where do we go from here?

Even as you’re reading this, you’re nodding inside. Yeah,

that’s right. Thanks, Lori. I’ll need to remember that. But,

being human, you won’t. You’ll still struggle. You’ll still

flounder and flop and fight against instincts, other people,

governments, traffic, mounting bills, unsatisfied yearnings,

poor food choices, weather (weather! For goodness sake—as

if you could do a thing about it!), your kids, your loved ones,

your parents (that particular battle is universally acceptable),

neighbors, and on and on and on. To be first is sometimes to

be last—like the first person into an elevator will be the last to

leave. And sometimes last is first. There is no fair. And there is

no fairy tale to explain why life fails each of us along our own

particular path.

When we plant a garden, we accept what grows and what dies.

Only two tomatoes this year doesn’t mean next year won’t

bring a bountiful harvest of twenty-two tomatoes. It should be

the same way with all of life. We sow and we reap. We accept.

It won’t always be predictable or perfect. Sometimes surprises

astound us with joyful resonance; other times the unthinkable

happens just as we recover from the last intolerable dilemma.

Be a boat. Learn to go with the flow, coast the waves, rock

unsteady, accept the gusts of perpetual winds that propel you

into Now or Next. No sense to linger in looking back, because

you are not going that way.

Yes, sooner or later, we all come to acceptance. Don’t let it

leave you bitter. Be better. Don’t try. Do. Don’t should on

yourself, or should on anyone else.

Simply accept. It’s easier that way, and yes, Scarlett, tomorrow

is another day. There will be another chance to get it right. Or

not. Either way … Next?

© Lori Nelson is an author, speaker, educator, and an international “edutainer”

aboard cruise ships. She occasionally blogs at anotherloristory. Find Lori on Facebook. Torture: Broken Foot, Shattered

Soul, is available on Amazon, or email Lori at anotherloristory@gmail.

com. Lori lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

By Lori Nelson


Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354


Conference Includes

• Workshops on the 12-Steps

• Emotional Sobriety

• Meetings

• Sober Social Networking

• Entertainment

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A Recovery


with Author and Spiritual Teacher Herb K.

December 4-11, 2016

Reserve Your Spot Today

with In This Life Custom



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Herb K.

Herb K. is an author

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Dear Petra...

Expert answers to your questions about Hep C and Addiction

Generic Hep C Treatment

Petaluma, California

Dear Petra: I am one of the millions of people unable to

afford the new Hep C treatment. It still blows my mind how

our country (not 3rd world either) can allow us to die due

to lack of funding and greedy pharmaceutical companies!!!

I keep hearing and reading about generic treatments, being

muled or shipped out of India. My questions is: How legal is

this route, and how do I know they are not just sugar pills!?

Dear Answer-Seeker: Great question! As a charity, we have

been approached by many sellers to promote this underground

Buyers Club. We have also been confused but, to err on the

side of caution, we have reached out and are working with

partnering organizations to eradicate this utter confusion. We

are working on helping to provide more detailed consumer

information going forward. I would suggest that if one were

to receive these meds, take them to a local pharmacist to have

them tested.

Hepatitis C and the Flu Shot?

Chicago, Illinois

Dear Petra: I am enduring a crazy inner dialogue about

whether or not I should get the flu shot. I have to tell you

that I am not comfortable with it, nor do I trust the system.

How important is it that I get it, considering my hepatitis C


Dear Inner Dialogue: Just in the United States, more than

2.7 million people are infected with hepatitis C, though

most who are (upwards of 75%) don’t know it. Being one of

those infected, you are at risk of flu complications including

worsening of your underlying liver condition, pneumonia,

bronchitis, sinus infections, and ear infections. Now, on

a personal level, I feel the same way you do, but when I

still had the disease myself, and especially when I was on

the treatment (when my immune system was even more

compromised,) I made the difficult decision to get the shot.

Perhaps have a good sit down with your doctor to understand

this better?

I’m a “Dabbler!”

Toronto, Ontario

Dear Petra: I am an active, seventeen year old, normal

teenager. I hope my parents never find out, but I do play

around with various drugs from time to time. My friends

say they are not worried at all that they may turn into drug

addicts. I kinda think the same thing, as I only dabble and

use once in a while. Can you tell me what you believe? Can I

become a full fledged addict?

Dear Dabbler: I am so glad you have the courage to write

in and ask. I hope you share this with your friends as well.

I myself was a dabbler with cocaine for many many years.

Before I knew what hit me, I finally came to the realization

that I was no longer just dabbling! This subsequently turned

into many more years of being caught in the fires of hell,

putting my daughter and family through misery (even though

they had no idea I was using.) The truth is, I emotionally

abandoned my daughter and also other family members

and close friends, even though at the time I thought I was

only hurting myself. It is a long road to recovery, so my best

advice is that you knock it off immediately! Nine times out of

ten … dabbling leads to agonizing addiction.

Worried Parent

Hamburg, Germany

Dear Petra: I found you online and think you are great! I have

a question regarding my teenage boys. How exactly can I tell

if they are drug or alcohol addicts or not? I know they drink

and use some drugs (although they try to deny it), but I can

always tell by the way they behave. Does that mean they are

addicts, though?

Dear Worried: The fear as a parent here is that the younger

they are, the more likely they will become addicted. There

are also DNA/hereditary factors involved. Does addiction

run in yours or your spouse’s family? Also, has there been

any trauma in their childhood? I believe very strongly that

all addiction is rooted in past trauma, without exception. It

sounds to me if you are even asking the question, then there

must already be cause for concern? I would suggest it is time

to sit them down at a family meeting and address the issue

at hand!

Hepatitis C is a growing Global Pandemic!

1 in 12 people have viral hepatitis worldwide.

© 2016 Petra aka Petrabilities is a Mental Health Counselor, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Card Reader, Speaker, Author and CEO of #HepCGI . Being an expert in her field and specializing in addictions, Petra is

here to answer all your questions and concerns. Please send your questions anonymously via the contact form at or


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Writers In Treatment Presents

The following book reviews are

honest IMPRESSIONS of these

newly released titles.

Grab a copy and see if you agree...

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Making Peace with Suicide

A Book of Hope, Understanding, and Comfort

by Adele Ryan McDowell

Laemmle NoHo

5240 Lankershim Blvd.

No. Hollywood, CA 91601








Author Adele R. McDowell combines

practical guidance with spirituality

and a deep understanding of pain

and grief, and trauma and its impact.

Adele has packed every aspect of

losing a loved one to suicide into a

single insightful, meaningful edition

which should be read again and again.

Personal accounts of those who have attempted

suicide, sometimes multiple times, from people

who have leaned over the edge of the abyss but

didn’t jump, show us how moving away from

suicidal tendencies requires conscious choice and

deliberate action. Adele helps readers understand

the complex factors involved when people choose

to take their own lives, making it abundantly clear

that society needs to find better ways to talk about

and understand why people become so desperate

to escape that they choose to end their own lives.

Spiritual Transformation

in the Twelve Steps

by Darlene Lancer

“In working the steps, you become

teachable and begin to see yourself

realistically—the good and bad, strong

and weak, and in true relationship

to others,” therapist Darlene Lancer

explains. She examines each of the

Twelve Steps and describes in detail

how each should be practiced in

order to achieve a spiritual awakening. Focused

on drug addiction and codependent relationships,

one of the book’s best features is that there is

plenty of help for codependent individuals. At the

end of each step, there is a list of questions, each

of which guides the reader during those first

tentative steps towards a journey of self-inquiry

and discovery. It’s a great resource manual for

anyone (addict, codependent, friend or family)

seeking a meaningful life-change.


An Addict By Any Other Name

by Vicki Ableson

You can’t turn a pickle into a cucumber. I’ve always

been an addict. This is how I stay sober.

Yesterday I didn’t enjoy a beautiful opportunity, or

have the appropriate gratitude for its bounty. I focused on my

frustration over things that I’m powerless over. I needed to

make a different choice … trust … find my faith … and know

that everything will be all right. I have tools. Not everyone is

as lucky ….

Recent events are a stunning reminder of what can happen if I

ever forget that I am, and always will be, an addict.

“That morphine drip was like

being in a velvet body Snuggie—

with Sting—having tantric sex,

whilst he sang Sister Moon

gently in my ear.”

When I like something, I want more of it, and I want it now.

That pretty much means anything and everything. When I was

a kid, it was too much TV, candy, and boys. I can remember

being four and having a mad crush on an unavailable toddler.

Okay, he was six, but that’s not funny. Neither was my

obsession. At four? There’s something not quite right about


In my teens, it was cigarettes and pot. Then came the three

C’s: coffee, Cheetos, and Coke, diet, of course. The calorie

savings were needed to compensate for the aforementioned

cheese curls, chips, and carbs in general—the low fiber kind.

There was LSD, and more boys. Almost always, the “bad

ones.” It was all sprinkled generously with Boone’s Farm,

and topped with a Quaalude or three.

In college, I played marathon sessions of poker, pinochle, and

Risk—till the coke ran out—the other kind. There was also

Boodles gin, and again with the boys. Oh, those nasty boys!

Post university, I graduated to playing Ms. Pac Man and

Donkey Kong till the wee hours of the morning, when it

was just me and the scary crackheads in the arcade. My own

coke usage amped up, I ate cold pizza ‘round the clock, and

developed a taste for fine wine and cognac. Interestingly, just

about the only thing I wasn’t constantly craving was booze.

I compensated for that with a fixation on an alcoholic who

thought of little else.


Marijuana eventually brought me to my knees. That

sometimes amuses people. “Let me know when you have a

real problem.” Wikipedia defines addiction as “the continued

repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences.” I’m

tired of debating whether pot qualifies. It does for me. I can’t

smoke it like a lady, or a gentleman. I know that if I take one

hit, I’ll be off and running. 24/7. There’s not a doubt in my


There were still ashtrays on restaurant tables when I quit

smoking cigarettes. I gave up weed more than a decade ago.

In both instances, removing the substances from my life, and

white knuckling it, was made possible thanks to self-righteous

indignation. But, I was still a vulnerable, miserable addict.

Once I got into recovery a whole different deal started to

happen. It was no longer just about not doing something,

I became painfully aware of the crap I was doing. I’m

intolerant, impatient, and unrelenting—high maintenance and

exhausting. Control and perfectionism drive me.

Years of therapy hadn’t solved it. I learned how to work

through situations but I didn’t have a clue how to change my

reactions or alter my perceptions. Working the steps took me

in and made me look around. It was dark in there, really dark.

The program brought light.

continued on page 29

Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354

continued from page 28

I’ve abstained from substances and addressed the root causes

of my addiction but, once an addict …. I still act out and the

computer became my drug of choice; Facebook is my favorite

brand. It won’t kill me—in many ways it feeds me—but it’s

the way I do it. The compulsion is running the show.

I went from always being early to being chronically late. I’ve

whiled away more hours the Facebook homepage than I can

bear to think about. But I use it for my work; it continues to

be directly responsible for the path of my success. It’s also the

source of my social life to an enormous degree. When I look

at where my life is now, little of it would be possible without

Facebook. I attempt to use the force for good, but moderation

has never been my strong suit. I challenge myself daily to get the

hell off more often. Some days I’m more successful than others.

I can be disciplined doing what needs to be done, but I still

can’t control my obsessions with anything I like unless I

humbly seek assistance. Constantly. I’m not a love junkie any

more. That’s something.

I have a sponsor, sponsees, a program, and a higher power.

I go to meetings and check in with friends. If not for those

things, yesterday, I well might have used. It’s not for lack

of willpower, nor a choice. My brain is hotwired differently.

I require vigilance, and will for the rest of my days. I’m an

addict. I know I said that before ad nauseum. I think it bears

repeating—again and again and again. My disease wants me

to forget. It fucks with me constantly. I can’t think myself

right. I can only do the right thing with a shitload of help.

I never stuck a needle in my arm, they scared me too much,

thank God. In my early twenties I had surgery and was sliced

open. I was given morphine to ease the pain. It’s been thirty

years, but I can remember the feeling as if it were yesterday. It

was the most euphoric sensation I’ve ever known, even more

than falling in love, or meeting my babies. Now that’s scary!

I remember saying aloud to myself, “Now I understand.”

I’ve heard heroin and its derivatives described as feeling like

a warm blanket. For me, that morphine drip was like being

in a velvet body Snuggie—with Sting—having tantric sex,

whilst he sang Sister Moon gently in my ear, pausing only to

tell me how smart, funny, beautiful, sexy and skinny I was, as

he shot-gunned a bowl of ganja through a perfect kiss, while

feeding me potato chips with Chubby Hubby ice cream,

chased by a margarita on the rocks with salt.

Had that drug been administered for more than a day I

wouldn’t have stood a chance of not chasing it forever.

Yesterday, life was not going according to my plan. People

were not reading from my script, and the time-line was way

off. I was hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. I wanted to rage

and be vengeful. Then, I wanted to run and hide. I just wanted

it to stop. The noise in my head was too loud. Then I thought

of a broken hero now gone. And called my sponsor.

Bestselling author, performer, producer, promoter, and talk show host, Vicki Abelson,

thrice appeared on Saturday Night Live, co-starred in a pilot for Comedy Central,

and optioned a music reality show to Telepictures. Vicki is the creator and host of the

celebrity-driven literary salon Vicki Abelson’s Women Who Write. Follow her on Twitter

at @vickiabelson. This article was originally published in The Fix, 4/2/14.



with Terra Schaad

Acceptance, as we think of it in mindfulness, is acknowledging

things as they actually are in the moment without judging or trying

to change it. Few situations actually force us into acceptance like

the death of a loved one. My program, Hunkapi, recently lost our

horse, Easy, who had been with us for over thirteen years and,

through his death, I got to experience the fast lane to acceptance.

The day Easy died was a normal day for me and him. I was preoccupied

with contracts, emails and cleaning stalls. Easy was

perky and hungry, as always.

At 3:00 pm, I went and gave all the horses a snack and he met me

at his stall hungry and alert, tearing into his snack voraciously.

At 4:30 pm, I checked on him again and he was down, sweating,

rolling, and in distress. In that moment, there wasn’t a contract

or email in my inbox that mattered more than relieving the pain

I could see he was in. In that moment, I began living in my most

present state of the whole day.

Over the next three hours, I witnessed the sheer will of a being

who was fighting to live, and I was forced to accept there was

almost nothing I could do to help him, other than be beside him.

As a therapist, my day is spent working with people, both

children and adults, who come here fighting to protect themselves

from harm. We move quickly into fight, flight, or freeze through

our hurtful words, our violent actions, substance use, or by nonresponse

to protect our mind, body and spirit, only to create

distance and disconnection from those whom we truly crave love.

In our final hours, though, our human body, like Easy’s, will fight,

not to create distance, but to live. It will fight to live because it is

our most innate nature. It will fight to live, because it was born to

Easy Does It

live, and living is worth fighting for. To fight for any other reason,

is a waste of attention and energy.

The compassion and acceptance that filled each of us as we sat

on the ground weeping his death was enveloping. I sat in awe as

I realized that even in his death, he asked us to be our best selves.

There was no criticism, judgment, or fear in that space; only love,

support, and an absolute desire to take away his pain.

With acceptance, we have the opportunity to move forward

into situations in life, with new-found intention and behaviors

that are more benefiting to us and our community. In honor of

Easy, let’s practice noticing our critical mind, judgments and the

harsh words we use to protect and defend. Let’s practice meeting

people with compassion and acceptance and seeing how we may

ease their suffering. Let’s practice loving, supporting, and living.

© Terra is a zealous horse-lover and the executive director of Hunkapi Programs,

Inc. Terra holds a bachelor of science degree in pre-veterinary medicine from Texas

A&M University and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Arizona State

University. She practices living mindfully, is an avid adventurer, yogi, and two-time

Ironman Arizona finisher. She embraces her extraordinary life with mindful, contagious

enthusiasm and gratitude.


Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354

New Creation Behavioral Healthcare Foundation

and New Creation College



of the Newly-Released film:

Memo to Self: Protecting Sobriety

with the Science of Safety

by Dr. Kevin McCauley

Dr. Kevin McCauley is a former Navy flight

surgeon and co-founder of the Institute

for Addiction Study. He is recognized as

an engaging lecturer, creative filmmaker,

and innovative program designer whose

work makes difficult scientific concepts

understandable to all and fosters the

acceptance of people in recovery as full

and valued members of society. Memo

to Self: Protecting Sobriety with the Science of Safety is an

eagerly anticipated sequel to the award-winning video “Pleasure


Thursday, November 17, 2016


Neighborhood Community Center

1845 Park Ave., Costa Mesa CA 92627

Limited Seating - Registration is Required

Sign up for this event at:

In this film, Dr. Kevin McCauley re-lives his own precarious early

sobriety – negotiating hazards such as hostile prosecutors, treatment

programs with divided loyalties, and his own craving brain. Following

the advice of the Addiction Medicine experts who helped him, he

replicates the sobriety habits and success of recovering pilots and

health care professionals. By framing addiction not as a problem

of moral choice but as a safety/risk management challenge, Dr.

McCauley explains how recovery is neither rare nor random – with

the right kind of support, it can even be expected.

This film will prove a valuable tool for therapists, counselors, recovery

coaches and clinicians to introduce audiences to the concepts and

practices of Recovery Management, and for people in early recovery

and their families learning how to survive the first year of sobriety.

Dr. McCauley will answer questions after the viewing.

Sponsorships and Donations are

Tax Deductible


10:30 - Networking

11:30 - Lunch (Provided)

12:00 - New Creation

College Virtual Tour and


12:30 - Movie Premier

2:00 - Questions/Answers

with Dr. McCauley

DVD’s Available

Sponsorship is Tax-Deductable. Proceeds will go to New Creation Behavioral Healthcare Foundation to benefit education and treatment scholarships




6. “God, grant me the __________”

8. Common Thanksgiving Main Dish

10. Mental power, force, or vigor

11. Dedication and responsibility

13. Aid

14. We all have to face the _______ of our choices (good and


19. The state where Bill W. and Dr. Bob met.

20. Quiet conversation with a Higher Power

21. An event or circumstance that pushes personal limits

22. Wrapped items stored under a Christmas Tree

23. A fundamental, primary, or general law of truth

25. Lack of strength

Solution on Page 56


1. The exchange of money or favor for goods or services

2. The act of taking or receiving something offered

3. Silencing of the mind for spiritual connection

4. A pre-determined destiny

5. Faith and reliance

7. The opposite of falsehood

9. Information that is understood and accepted

12. “____ Grapevine”: AA’s Subscription magazine

15. Hung by the chimney with care—sometimes filled

with coal

16. Quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies

17. Mercy, clemency, pardon

18. A situation or circumstance as it truly is

20. Often converted to a jack-o-lantern

24. Turkey day is a day to give _______


Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354



































Solution on Page 56

Spot the 12

differences in

these pictures

Solution on Page 56


PROFILE: London Rebecca Reber

by Nathalie Baret

Barely six months into her sobriety, London Rebecca Reber

received an unforeseen opportunity to become Miss Venice


“It was shocking to me,” said the now former Miss California,

United States 2012. “I’d always been an athlete, so this was

really far out of my comfort zone. With no pageant experience,

newly sober, and trying to find my way, I certainly didn’t feel

worthy or capable of being crowned a queen.”

After wrestling with the idea for two weeks, plagued with

the fear of never feeling good enough, the Oakland-born,

Californian native surrendered. “This wasn’t my plan for my

life, but for reasons I couldn’t predict, I was being led to do this

thing and I just knew I needed to stop denying what had come

to me so effortlessly. I thought, ‘Maybe this is God’s will for my

life and it’s time for me to get out of my own way.’”

Then, at twenty-eight years old, Reber received a healthy dollop

of praise and support after accepting her title as Miss Venice

Beach and felt encouraged to try out for Miss California, United


On finals night at the Miss California pageant, she stood

behind the curtain waiting for her name to be called, about to

walk the stage in her bikini. She had made it to the final three

contestants and now it was down to the live-session interview

round. Suddenly, flooded with mixed emotions, she heard her

fear creep in, saying, “I don’t want to let my sponsors down. I

need to make my family proud. But still, every other girl here

probably wants those same things.” So, I challenged those

doubts, “What makes me different? Why pick me?”

Reber recalled, “A voice in my head gently whispered, ‘I’ve

done everything I possibly could to prepare myself to get

to this point. There’s nothing I can do now to change who I

am in this moment, I might as well enjoy it!’ I accepted that

if the judges didn’t pick me, I’m okay—that just means they

want something other than me, which I can’t be.” So behind

the curtains, she decided her purpose was to be of service. “If


they did choose me, I would use the crown as a microphone

to spread an inspirational message of hope to young women:

that no matter what you’re struggling with, you can change. It

mattered because, before I got sober, on the outside everything

looked fine—I still had a job, a car, an apartment—but inside I

wanted to die. I was suicidal, I was hopeless.”

Reber attributes this clarity to three things. “I give my God, my

sobriety, and my program the credit to even come up with that


As Reber heard her name called, she took to the stage. Instead

of being questioned about her goals or political beliefs, she was

asked about who or what inspires her the most. “It couldn’t

have been a more perfect question because my sister Elizabeth

McCurry was in the audience. And, besides having Downs

Syndrome, she has undergone three open-heart surgeries, as well

as leukemia which put her through two years of chemotherapy,

and she also survived heart failure in 2010. My sister has been a

huge inspiration, and sparked my desire to get sober. I watched

her fight literally every day, for every breath. While I was using

drugs and alcohol to kill myself, she was trying so hard to live.”

Rebers won the pageant and also won Miss Congeniality, United

States that same year. She spent her reign traveling the country,

practicing philanthropy. “I made speeches at school assemblies

about body image and how that can drive us to bully others,

based on how we feel about ourselves. I started taking my sister

to all the charity events and fundraisers—she began inspiring

the public in such a unique way that she was crowned Honorary

Miss California and walked onto the stage with me to pass my

title on to the 2013 winner!”

Since choosing sobriety in 2011, Reber has helped countless

women in twelve-step fellowships get their lives back.

Currently, London is the National Outreach representative for

Connections in Recovery, an international addiction and mental

health treatment consulting and referral resource company.

Nathalie Baret is the Director of Public Relations at Win-Win Publicity House.

Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354

• Free Nationwide Directory

• Choose Facility based on

YOUR needs

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To list a qualified facility or Service in this Trusted Resource,

call 888-263-6793 or email

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For Meeting Schedules and

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Please visit our Website


Realities of the Addicted Family

The Fifth Reality:

The Wrath Experience

by Susan Jackson, LMFT

Of all the family scrimmage realities, the

wrath experience is the most serious. The

wrath experience in regards to the addictive

family system is developed in stages. The

stages correspond to the progression of the

addiction. These stages include; anger, rage

and wrath. One of the first indications that a change is beginning

to happen within the addictive family is the constant angry

responses to the addict or alcoholic by family members. Angry

responses in the beginning are not immediately recognized due

to the addict’s drinking or drug use. When the anger remains

unresolved it intensifies and develops into rage. Eventually the

rage progresses to the last stage, wrath.

A good example of these stages is in this simple vignette

describing the experience of a young child whose mother is an

alcoholic. In the early stage of mother’s drinking the child may

begin to get angry each time she drinks. The child may express

anger by sharing feelings and asking mother not to drink. Of

course, mother doesn’t stop drinking. As her drinking progresses

to the middle stage of her alcoholism, the child may start yelling

at her, demanding that she stop drinking. The child, more than

angry at this point, is unaware that their anger has progressed

into rage.

As mother’s drinking increases, the child, in an attempt to

stop her drinking, begins fighting with her. The child’s rage

is expressed by pushing and hitting. Eventually the drinking

progresses to the late stage and the child experiences wrath. The

child is so distraught by the ongoing frustration over mother’s

drinking, revenge is sought. Unfortunately, thoughts of suicide

and/or homicide are considerations. Seeking vengeance is a sign

of late-stage wrath. This vignette is all too real. Sometimes it

is the addict and sometimes it is the non-drinking, non-using

family member who acts out during the late stages of addiction

and wrath. This is the reality of the addictive family.

Although the wrath experience may manifest at any stage of

addiction, it usually reveals itself in the late stage and is evidenced

by extreme negative and self-destructive behavior. This behavior

can include suicidal and homicidal ideations or actions. Wrath

has been described as anger that is vicious and fierce.

For the family, the embarrassing moments, lack of emotional

connectedness, physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse, or

debilitating experience of grave incongruence all contribute

© Susan Jackson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, and Clinical

Director for New Creation Healthcare Foundation/His House. Susan has contributed

to the field of addiction, as distinguished Clinician, Clinical Supervisor, Director, and

Author for over 28 years. She began her career working for the City of Chino, as a

Gang Interventionist, Domestic Violence Counselor, and Prevention Specialist. Susan’s

dedication and experience working with adolescents with substance use disorders,

and their afflicted families, led her to Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine

Center, where she became the Family Therapist on the Chemical Dependency Unit.


to the family scrimmage reality

of wrath. The wrath experience

is located below the abstruse (the

second reality) and manifests in the

deepest part of the pain of addiction.

Wrath is accompanied by despair,

panic, and agitation.

Pathos, the abstruse, and grave incongruence all contribute to

the wrath experience. These realities fuel the irrational desire

of family members to destroy the cause of their emotional pain,

their resentments and the deterioration of the family.

The non-violent expression of wrath by family members may be

displayed in passive aggressive behaviors, such as over-spending

or expressing advanced rage using sharp, sarcastic comments.

These expressions of wrath are justified by the family because

the addict or alcoholic does not stop using or seek help and keeps

the addictive family in a state of denial.

The reality of the wrath experience has been described by family

members as a monster inside. The feelings of wrath are destructive

and are the most anxiety-producing experience of all the

realities. This is because there is complete disdain for the addict

or alcoholic in the late stage of the addictive family. Frequently,

family members feel disgust and loathing towards themselves.

Wrath is deeply concealed and extremely difficult to understand.

Wrath’s last expression, as stated before, can result in homicide

or suicide, or both. If you can identify this as your experience,

please get help. The

family scrimmage

is about taking an

in-depth, sincere,


look at the

addictive family in

an effort to evoke a

desire for addictive

families to seek


Wrath is the result

of participating in

the daily family

scrimmage. When

we are able to

understand these

realities, we can

resolve and heal.

There is always

hope. Recovery is

the ultimate reality!

Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354

Naranon Family Groups

Alanon Family Groups

CODA for Co-dependents


(National Institute on Drug Abuse)

Ask The Judge

(answers for teens about the law)

Addiction Inbox

Pathway to Prevention

(teen use and abuse stops here)


(Community Reinforcement and Family Training)


(Grief support for those who have lost someone to addiction)

Camp Mariposa

(For children who have addiction in the family)

Recovery Research Institute

The McAlister Institute

(low cost/no cost treatment services)

Resource List from Denise Krochta at Addicts Family

Lifeline, Inc.





Please send your submissions to: We’d love to hear from you.

White Noise

Lyn P., Sun City

Good, White Noise.

Foaming, unfurling, crashing waves.

Paddling out on my surfboard, duck-diving,

Sturdy walls of ocean water, underneath the hurl,

Of crushing turbulence.

Before I catch a good swell, I gain enough momentum,

Catapulted by sheer, natural force.

Standing, wobbling, walking the stick projectile,

‘Til the tide raises me on my ratty board,

Like an offering to the sky,

Above the swirling, salt water, drenched, discombobulated,

Reliant on my sense of sober balance.

Living, powerful, ocean breaths surging rhythmically, roaring,

Rough and tumble.

All around, palpable synchronicity; perfect timing,

Without fussy help from me.

Good, White Noise.

Sometimes I can’t decipher life on life’s terms.

I’m simply focused on accepting,

The open invitation to…

RIDE the WILD, wooly WAVES!

You can’t stop the waves,

but you can learn to surf.

~ Joseph Goldstein


Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354

You Can Change Tomorrow

by Kirk Bocksberger

You can change tomorrow, but you have to start today.

Addiction may hold you down, depression and despair may arrest all your hope,

but deep down inside you do have the strength.

You can change tomorrow, but you have to start today.

Search inside yourself; listen to your new voice.

The time has finally come, make the right choice,

as grim as it may seem to be,

change is possible, just do the right thing and soon you will see,

Make no mistake it’s a tough road ahead, there is no such thing as an easy way out.

But I know you can do it, I have no doubt.

Just stop running and don’t try to hide,

Listen to God, he speaks from inside,

He will show you the way.

You can change tomorrow, but you have to start today.

The Roads I’ve Traveled

by Patricia Bruckner ©2016

I traveled a road fueled by alcohol,

Where all roads led to my own downfall.

There were roads called misery, and roads called pain,

Leading to nowhere, no sweet refrain,

From the many demons within my brain.

There were roads to anger and roads to malice,

Where all sins were drunk from a silver chalice.

There were roads to anguish, and roads to lies,

Leading to nowhere, with no alibis.

There were roads with pits, and many holes,

Buried beneath were all the lost souls.

Along the roads, skylines of cities called debauchery and guilt,

The foundations; disease from which they were built

You could buy sex for the price of a beer,

Losing all thought of things once held dear.

So many roads along the way,

Where every day was Groundhog Day.

Roads in circles and never-ending motion,

Round and round like a lovesick potion.

So many roads, so little time,

My life was worth less than a dime.

And then, out of the corner of my eye,

I saw a road less traveled by.

It whispered to me, it called my name,

“Come travel my road, we’ll learn a new game.”

There were twelve paths along the way

Leading to freedom and a brand new day.

Each path I took drew me to a higher power

Where my life was changed each minute, each hour.

When I reached the twelfth path, I came to believe

That God had given me another reprieve.

All things are possible with God in my life.

The road I now travel is free from strife.



True Recovery

When I first worked in the hospital as a nursing assistant,

they asked me if I would go to the new CARE alcohol unit

they were starting. I knew it was a new adventure because

nobody knew if this would even work in a hospital. I also

knew nobody else volunteered for it because they were

scared. I went. It worked out. So, I began my long and

fruitful journey studying and working in the treatment and

addiction field. Along the way, the director of a treatment

program told me that, as a requirement to be in the job, I had

to go to Al-Anon and have a sponsor. Since I was working

with these alcoholics five days a week, eight hours a day, I

would be spending more time with them than their families.

If the family needed treatment, so did I. (Of course, today he

couldn’t get away with that kind of direction but that Eskimo

saved my personal and professional life)

“The dis-ease is cunning,

powerful, baffling and patient.”

Years later, I was able to introduce Dr. Anne Wilson-Schaef

to a group of professionals as their main speaker (right off the

plane just after she had spent months with aboriginal elders

in Australia). She coined the famous process vs. substance

addictions, and determined that not just individuals and

families had addictive processes organizations, but also the

work place. Suddenly, this addiction thing became much

bigger than the alcoholism treatment I had started with.

The disease, I was told, was cunning, powerful, baffling and

patient. I didn’t know how true those words were not only

in my life, but in my patient’s lives. Much like the topic of

cross-addiction, we were educating people that the type of

drug didn’t matter. The disease could care less if it was legal

or illegal; it was an equal opportunity destroyer.

Substance addictions, we were taught, were just the ones we

were familiar with in treatment; drugs, alcohol and pills and/

or the eating disorders of anorexia, bulimia and compulsive

over-eating. But the hardest addictions to see were the ones

society rewards well. Shopping, gambling, religious, work,

sex and love (people) addictions were everywhere. I was also

told that, over time, switches in addiction could occur because

addicts weren’t adept at dealing with their feelings. Who

could blame someone who was worrying about a loved one

(love addiction) or worked hard (work addiction) or wanted

to do a little shopping (shopping addiction)? Everything was

done in secret. This pain is equal to the pain of an addict

doing drugs, alcohol and pills.

by Michele Downey RN MAC LMFT

But, when I heard the solution was spiritual, everything

started to make sense. When addicts accepted and loved their

spirit, their feelings (and what to do with them) and found a

power they could do business with, I saw that the addiction

process wasn’t necessary any longer. I saw that it could be

truly healed as long as people in recovery were vigilant.

As long as they were aware that each new thing (working,

shopping, internet, man, woman, food) had the potential to

become addictive. Then, they had as much chance as someone

recovering from alcohol addiction who also knew to stay

away from pills and drugs. If addicts undertood this spiritual

thing, recovered their spirit, understood their feelings, then

they could maintain their true recovery, one day at a time.

I’ve painfully experienced the truth of this, not only in my

life, and the lives of my loved ones, but also in my patients

and clients lives for over thirty years.

I am grateful for that Eskimo who pointed me toward the

road to humility by first looking at myself through the twelve

steps of Al-Anon. Eventually, with continuous mentorship,

practice and grace, I have been able to recover and see

how true recovery is possible. It may be that the dis-ease is

cunning, powerful, baffling and patient but then my recovery

is so much more cunning, baffling, powerful and patient.

Michele Downey is the founder of Michele Downey’s Recovery Life Coaching School, and the Host of the “Design for Living” Radio Show, Mondays at 10:30a & 4:30p PST

Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354


Acceptance Is As Acceptance Does

by Jim Anders MA

Many years ago, I used to attend a wonderful Sunday

night NA meeting in Southern California. This was a small

meeting, as there were rarely more than twelve and never

more than twenty attendees. Yet, in spite of its diminutive

size, its impact, at least on me, was substantial. One could

feel the spiritual gravitas in the atmosphere of the rooms.

Also obvious to the practiced eye was the effort by nearly all

who attended to be genuinely engaged with each other and

the Twelve Step traditions. This particular assemblage of the

afflicted seemed to be pregnant with hope and possibility.

Although there were, no doubt, several reasons for this

enviable state of affairs, I was particularly fond of one

idiosyncratic practice in particular. At this meeting (as at

a few others like it) the individual tasked with leading the

meeting on any particular week would begin by sharing on

the First Step only. Every week, every leader opened with

the same topic. And guess what? It never ever got old, and

never even seemed repetitive. It appears there is an infinite

number of ways addicts (like us) can find to crash our lives

in flames.

I, for instance, am a disgraced former member of the

evangelical clergy. Toward the end of my active addiction

and in desperation for the next hit it was a common practice

of mine to steal from the very church that employed me.

Other friends at that meeting had similar stories. One story, as

an example, involved the use of benzos liberally mixed with

alcohol, which inevitably led to blackouts. What happened

during those blackouts would be comical if it were not so

potentially hazardous. My friend would describe in detail

how he drank to black out almost every time he drank. After

a night of partying, and losing his intellectual bearings and

moral sanity, he would wake up in the morning and count

it a blessing if he recognized the bed he was sleeping in,

and it was another blessing if he could remember where he

left his car. Most shockingly, he related that if he could find

his car in the morning after such a riotous night, he would

carefully and slowly inspect it for dents, dried blood, hair

and torn clothing. Before completing that macabre ritual, he

couldn’t be certain that he hadn’t run over or into something

or someone during the previous night. There were countless

other stunning recollections of insane behavior from that

motley crew of grateful-to-be-clean and sober addicts. These

admittedly crazy stories proved essential to my developing



“There is an infinite number

of ways addicts can find to

crash our lives in flames.”

I considered myself lucky to have found and attended such

an insane group in my early sobriety because the constant

focus on insanity—paradoxically—helped keep me sane.

For me, as for most of you, accepting that all hope of

regaining control was gone (and was probably illusionary

from the beginning, anyway) is, quite likely, one of the most

difficult things we’ve ever set out to accomplish. Yet, being

substance-free without true acceptance of powerlessness is a

fool’s errand. While hope remains that we can still use drugs

recreationally or drink responsibly we will try to do so.

For us, attempting to consume substances without loss of

control and demoralizing consequences becomes far more

likely when we forget those very consequences. Acceptance

comes when we remember the pain, loss and shame that

substance use always produces. Acceptance that substance

use is unacceptable is the only sane option.

Jim Anders holds graduate degrees in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary

and in Psychology from Brandman University. He is in recovery himself and has the

pleasure of being program manager at the 122 bed Salvation Army facility in Perris CA

where he has worked for nearly four years.

Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354

Accepting Acceptance

I remember it vividly. I was seventeen years old and home

visiting from yeshivah (Jewish/Rabbinic school). My hardworking

father was relaxing on the couch in our suburban

home when my younger brother ran in. He was in tears. As

it turns out, the neighbors kid wasn’t allowing my brother to

join the rest of his friends on the basketball hoop. His dad

banned our family until “the Rabbi mows his lawn.” Now

mind you, we weren’t talking about some kind of overgrown

jungle left unattended. Our neighbor would proudly march

across his lawn weekly in his custom sports jerseys mowing

his lawn to measuring stick perfection. My dad, with eleven

kids to support and a community requiring his constant

attention, didn’t have that kind of luxury.

I was fuming—I mean really mad—and prepared myself to

march over to their house and give that man a piece of my

mind. My dad, is his infinite patience looked up from his

bible study and said, “Don’t worry, I will handle him.” “Are

you sure?” I asked (quite protectively for seventeen). “Don’t

worry, I will handle it,” he said. I believed him and left to

blow off some steam at the gym. Upon returning shortly

thereafter, I found my dad engaged in his solution; he was

mowing the lawn.

There are no words to express the feelings I experienced that

day. I was angry, righteously indignant, politically fired up

and most of all disappointed in my dad. In many senses, I

was right. Why let this man get away with treating us with

disrespect. Who was he? And who were we to enable this

behavior? Why shouldn’t we stand up for ourselves as Jews

and Americans? How could we let such behavior and such

people win?

Mendi Baron, LCSW, is the founder and CEO of a several residential and outpatient

treatment centers for teens struggling with mental health and addiction issues

based in Southern California and New York. A passionate advocate for teens in the

field of mental health and addiction, Mendi is a go-to expert to start the conversation

on critical issues that impact teens and their families. To contact Mendi go to

That day was a lesson I continue to learn from, and grow from

as I mature each day. As always, my dad stayed a few steps

ahead. He realized that, sometimes, there are some things

you cannot change and some people you cannot control. He

understood and internalized a concept I am still working on,

that of acceptance. Like the serenity prayer many a client of

mine says, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things

I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the

wisdom to know the difference.”

Today, the neighbor and our family are good friends and, with

eleven kids, eleven grandkids, numerous parked cars, and extra

traffic, it seems they too have learned to practice acceptance.

It is important to note that acceptance does not mean

subjecting oneself to abuse or degradation, and this is also

an important part of knowing the difference. After all, there

is an element of every situation that you can control, that

being yourself and how you react and adjust to it. Sometimes

acceptance means having enough self-respect to know you

cannot change others and, thus, wisdom to know how to live

your life free of those trolls.

The greatest gift you can give to

others is the gift of unconditional

love and acceptance

- Brian Tracy


Who Are You?

by Dr. Phyllis and Rev. Carrol Davis

“Who are you?” is the question my husband asked our

granddaughter every time he saw her. It is a game he started

the first time they met. She was just a toddler of three. She

always responded with a grin and the affirmation, “Alexa.”

Alexa has grown to become an independent, confident young

teen. The last time we saw her, she beat him to the punch.

Darting in the doorway, hands on her hips, head cocked to

the side, she challenged him with her question, “And who are

you?” in her most grown up voice. Laughter followed as they

hugged each other hello.

How important is the question? Who we believe we are

creates the reality of a life of promise or one of desperation.

Notice the question we are asking is: who we believe we are.

Belief is the key word, not the reality of who we are.

Acceptance is one of our most important needs according

to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We need acceptance and

approval in order to feel needed, valued, and loved. This

driving force starts when we enter the world. We look for

acceptance from family, friends, co-workers, and associates

in many different ways: for our appearance, work, ideas,

beliefs, values, possessions, talents, abilities, etc. The need to

be accepted and valued is the root cause of most addictions

and problems.

What happens to your world if you believe you are somebody

you are not? The brain operates much like a computer taking

in information from the world around us. Children take in

information from the people, places, and situations they are

exposed to, creating and developing beliefs and values.

What we think determines how we feel, and how we act and/

or react to a situation. If we have positive beliefs about who

we are, we make better choices. Negative beliefs cause poor

choices creating disappointments and failures.

Christians base their beliefs and values on scriptures. Yet

many Christians fail in their life choices, careers, and social

interactions, suffering from addictions, anxiety, depression,

fears, phobias, and mental disorders. Why?

The answer can be found in about twelve inches, the distance

between our heads and our hearts. Who we say we are and

who we believe we are do not match. The beliefs we claim to

be true are not reflected in the authenticity of our lives. We

say we have certain thoughts, beliefs, and values, yet when

held up to the hash critic of reality, we fall short; we miss the

mark. Christians look no different than the secular world and

we wonder why people are not drawn to Christ.

The hope and promises offered in scripture reside in our heads

as intellectual belief. Yet, what we believe to be true in our

hearts drives our decisions. If we believe the words of Christ

in our heads but believe the lies of Satan in our hearts, our

lives will reflect the lies of Satan as if they were true.



You are not acceptable

You never get it right

You are unloved

You don’t belong

You have no value


You are a child of the King

You are forgiven and accepted

You are loved with an everlasting love

You were chosen before time began

You were created in the image of God

Knowing the truth of who we are, and believing that truth

with our entire heart, can turn a life of depression, anxiety,

addiction, worry, and illnesses into a life of promise filled

with joy and hope.

Take steps to open your heart to the transforming power of the

risen Lord. Write the truth on post-it-notes of various colors

and post them throughout your home. Speak truth into a tape

recorder and play the tape as you sleep. Speak the truth and

affirm who you really are into a mirror. We challenge you to

try these exercises for three months. You will see a dramatic

difference in your life.

(Excerpts: “Journey of the Soul … Cracked Pots and Broken Vessels”

and workbook, “Stop the Violence … Seven Stages to Sanctify,” by

Dr. Phyllis and Rev. Carrol Davis, wherever books are sold)

© Rev. Carrol graduated from Furman University, ordained in 1975. Honored in Who’s

Who, Dr. Phyllis E. graduated from the Union Institute. Davis & Davis were awarded the

Christian Authors Award for “Stop the Violence Seven Stages to Sanctify.” Participants

give the book, “Journey of the Soul Cracked Pots and Broken Vessels,” and workshops

five star reviews as they journey to resolve challenges of living life in a fallen world.

Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354

Writing Your NOW Story

by Nora Slattery

When you have to face the harsh mirror, and the bitter reflection

says all you understood or desired has fallen apart, where do

you go from there? That is the point where I felt hopeless.

I knew I had a serious problem, even though I was able to hide

it from the world as a successful businesswoman—though not

from my family or friends. And I could not hide it from myself.

I would have liked to, but you look in the mirror, and there it is.


I thought I could never be better than the worst I had become.

So, who was this horrible person? This loser? Why was I her?

I had to know. I am a writer by trade, an investigator, and a

reporter. So I picked up my pen and asked myself; how did I

get here? Why? What did I want? What do I want? Honestly.

That was a hard assignment.

I interrogated myself. Truthfully asking where I had gone off

the path, did I want to change, and if so, what were the steps

back? I put it on paper. I was as clear as I could be. Since only

I would read this, I felt free to write down what I could not tell

those closest to me, even those who most wanted to help. Some

of it was profane, some deeply embarrassing, even shocking,

but some of it almost verged on funny. (That helped.) I wrote

the story of my life, as it was then, as it was in the present, but

most importantly, how it could be.

It saved my life. It took me six weeks and fifty dense pages.

Not prettily written or—in parts—coherent to anybody but me,

but there it was. The story of where I had been, but also where

I hoped (and prayed) I could go. It wasn’t hopeless. Writing it,

and then reading it freed me. It allowed me to believe in myself


I do not think the story of your life is written in stone. Examine

the pieces, and find understanding, inspiration, and forgiveness.

No, you cannot erase what happened, but you can accept it and

in doing so, perhaps, send yourself off in another direction, to

write another new chapter.

Writing the truth takes courage, but so does life. Just take a

pen and paper and give it a try, it might just be the start of your

Now story.

Nora Slattery is a professional business and speechwriter. She is a certified Journal to

the Self instructor, teaching a workshop created by the Center for Journal Therapy.

She is currently working on a memoir in the UCLA Writer’s Program. For workshop

information contact:

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A Spiritual Good Time Charlie

“I amz what I amz and that’s allz that I amz.”

– Popeye T. Sailorman

For me, acceptance usually involves some discomfort. Defeat

at the hands of alcohol was a victory not easily gained. On

the surface, I was sure I had surrendered, yet hidden deep

beneath all my bullshit, part of me hoped it wasn’t real. I

knew I would be lost for a long time.

My journey into recovery couldn’t really begin until I accepted

I was an alcoholic. It demanded that I burn the bridge back to

alcohol. To the ground. Although more painful than I’d like to

admit, it was necessary.

After many years of drinking, I wasn’t sure who I was when I

got sober, but I had to shed the image that had been created by

booze. Surely, the old me would drink again. There had to be

a new me, and he would be introduced when the masks and

old ideas were discarded. I had to stop trying to be what I am

not, and stop trying not to be what I am.

“You’ve got to learn to live with what you can’t rise above.”

– Bruce Springsteen

Stashed for years in my unwanted feelings bank was an

extensive backlog of things I had to accept. A few were

traumatic. Help was required from my sponsor to identify the

working parts of the Serenity Prayer. Wiggle room be damned,

it was I who would have to change and I who would have to

accept. Everyone else was disqualified. “Could anyone ever

change you?” he challenged.


There’s a good reason why some Twelve Step vendor hasn’t

made millions hawking No Pain, No Gain bumper stickers.

Nobody likes pain. And alcoholics and addicts drain vast

amounts of energy trying to escape from any discomfort,

large or small. Nevertheless, you can run, but you can’t hide.

No matter how hard you try, sometimes you reach in a grab

bag and pull out a turd.

“That’s just the way it is. Some things never change.”

– Bruce Hornsby

Accepting that my beloved old ideas were suddenly unusable

was difficult. There were so many to let go of, namely: that

I had all the answers, and that people would like me if I had

all the answers; that if I was happy, everyone was happy. So

many of my old ideas were balonious*. And I wasn’t sure

how the new ones would work out in recovery.

Furthermore, what was important to me and what’s really

important were two different things. I had things upsidedown,

inside-out and twisted. It was apparent I had missed

some life lessons, and I had to play a quick game of catch-up.

“It’s always something.”

– Roseanne Roseannadanna

Recovery isn’t about learning how to get what I want, but

learning how to live with what I get. I had to let go of getting

my way, of trying to control. Realizing my limits, I needed to

end my feeble attempts at playing God.

Naturally, I still had my conniptions when things were going

badly. I was a spiritual good-time Charlie. Now and then, I

wondered if God had a suggestion box. Occasionally, I had to

send myself to my room and let the idiot run around inside of

me; he always wears himself out eventually. That’s a good thing.

This cat didn’t always land on all fours, though. When things

went way south, sometimes I got so mad at God I think I gave

him an ear infection. Sorry.

“When will I ever learn to live in God?”

– Van Morrison

Consequently, the path of least resistance is a walk of peace. My

emotional barometer, restless, irritable and discontent, warns

me when I’m off the path, and it’s hard to ignore. When I stop

fighting everybody and everything, the resistance subsides;

when I accept God’s will, there is peace. It’s win-win.

Despite occasional discomfort, there is a magnificent gift I

can accept as I continue on. I can live in the space between

two drinks: the last drunk and the next first drink. Amidst the

miracle of days, weeks, months and then years of sobriety,

I discover something precious between those two drinks;

something I had been missing: life. Mine.

* aka—full of baloney

by mark masserant

with a little help from phive filosophers

Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354



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The Pursuit of Happiness

I work and teach in the recovery industry, and I can honestly

say there is no one I have more love, empathy, and respect for

than the individual who is in early recovery. By far, the most

difficult journey I have ever taken was my first year of recovery.

Painful doesn’t begin to describe the horror I lived through in

that first twelve months. When I entered the rooms, I felt like

I was carrying a cross to my own crucifixion. I bore so much

hurt on my worn-out frame that I had little hope I was going to

make it. I would have preferred a crown of thorns piercing into

my flesh over the internal daggers tearing at my mind from the

inside out. My head was in psychological torment.

With such odds against us, it’s a miracle that any of us ever

makes it into sobriety, much less be able to stay and grow there.

Many of us arrive into the rooms so devastatingly broken, we

are unable to continue on life’s plan. We come in spiritually

bankrupt, delusional, angry, ruthless, resentful, hurt, wounded,

prideful, devastated, and defensive. Despite all this, by the grace

of God, we are able to hear bits and pieces of the message in the

meetings which provide us with glimpses of hope. Then, on the

flipside, we hear those things that leave us completely baffled,

bewildered, and frustrated.

When they quip, “Acceptance is the key” what are they

talking about? In early recovery, I remember being completely

Dr. Judy Redman is a leading proponent of recovery. She has dedicated much of

her personal and professional life to the betterment of the recovering community.

She began her career as a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor in 2000. She began

teaching AOD Counseling Studies in 2004 and is currently the Director of Education

for New Creation College, Costa Mesa. Currently, Dr. Redman is completing

her Dissertation; Motivational Interviewing’s Impact on Addiction Counselors.


by Judy Redman, Phd

submerged in self-pity, crying my eyes out in

front of my cold-hearted sponsor, only to hear

her say the most ridiculous thing I had ever

heard in my life: “Acceptance is the key.”

What?! Was she nuts? Why would she say

something so unfeeling and callous? Didn’t

she hear me tell her what those people did to

me? It was one of those instances where I was left completely

baffled, bewildered, and frustrated.

My sponsor understood acceptance was the key to serenity

which would open the door, and enable my pursuit of happiness.

She knew that until I was capable of grasping the concept of

acceptance, I was going to remain behind the locked doors of

my tortured mind, forever enduring those daggers of resentment,

relentlessly, stabbing at my mental torment.

Clarification to my sponsor’s baffling reply trickled in slowly,

in bits and pieces. Through the consistent exposure of Reinhold

Niebuhr’s well-known prayer, which is popular in recovery:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the

difference”, and the reading: “Acceptance is the answer to all my

problems today” on page 417 of the fourth edition of AA’s Big

Book, in a chapter called “Acceptance Was the Answer”, and

also by observing the actions and acceptance of the old-timers in

the rooms, I began to understand the phenomena of acceptance.

Finally understanding the need for acceptance, I then turned to

the questions “Why do we pray to God to grant and not give us

serenity?” Why can’t we just pray for God to give us serenity

to accept the things we cannot change? Why do we have to

work so hard for acceptance? Why can’t it be easy? My sponsor

gently informed me that my questions were examples of my not

accepting. I could not move forward until I accepted the process

of recovery. I had to accept there were things I was not going

to be able to understand but, if I wanted to pursue happiness, I

would need to accept the direction I was being given.

Acceptance doesn’t have to be difficult, but we make it difficult.

We continue to burn and steam over the things we are most

powerless over. We continue to harbor grudges over and over

because of something that happened to us in the past. The work

in recovery teaches how to go through those piercing daggers of

resentments and to discard them one by one. We cannot re-frame

our thinking about resentments until we are ready to give up our

current way of processing life. We can choose to keep dodging

the internal daggers of resentment in our mind or we can choose


Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354

How Do We Know We’ve Found Acceptance?

by Michelle Ghirelli

I was once told, “Denial can be a dangerous and deadly thing.”

The problem is, when you are stuck in denial, you are the last

person to know. As I look back on my life almost two years ago,

I think about all the things I was in denial about: the fact that my

career was over, that I had actually been arrested, that I had to

confront my friends and family, that I had

a problem, and that my life as I knew it

was going to change completely. For me,

it would have been so much easier to crawl

into a hole, stay stuck in my denial, and

give up on living. However, acceptance is

what saved my life.

If you asked me now how I was able

to accept all these traumatic changes in

my life I don’t even think I’d be able to

answer. What I do know is that acceptance

happened through a lot of time, tears, and work. By no means was

I able to wake up one day and be in full acceptance of my past,

and there was really no specific moment when I realized I was

moving from denial to acceptance. It is a process you don’t notice

in the moment but, looking back, you realize how hard you have


So how did I know I had found acceptance, and that I was allowing

my higher power to work in my life? I was more at peace than ever

before. Each day, because of the work I was doing, I was able to

feel peace in the chaos. A life full of acceptance, acceptance of

myself, my past, other people and situations, allows me to find

happiness where before I found despair

and anxiousness.

The art of acceptance is a lifelong gift that

must be worked on every moment. Every

day, I come across something I need to

accept, whether it’s people or situations.

The difference today is, I know how to do

it. I know I am able to accept things that

upset or displease me, and that doesn’t

make me a weak person. On the contrary,

being accepting of other people, places,

and situations makes me the strongest person I’ve ever been.

And so I leave you with this:

“And acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today …. Nothing,

absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake …. I need to

concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as

on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes” (BB pg. 417).


Life Shows Up

by Kyczy Hawk

It sounds possible: to be in acceptance and yet, it is hard to

stay there. This is how it was for me; I watched my life go

down the tubes. I was so low, I had no more defenses, reasons,

rationalizations. I was tired of trying to make everything seem

okay. It wasn’t. I was a mess. I needed to accept that I was an

addict and my life had become unmanageable.

This acceptance happened once, when I gave up drugs and

alcohol. Then, I relapsed on drugs. The acceptance had

slipped away. The demoralization had to happen again and I

am very lucky it did. I had to re-accept that I am an addict and

an alcoholic. On this point, there has been no dithering. I have

been clean and sober since then.

As I moved into recovery, life showed up—not just the chaos

I’d created while I was using, drinking; betraying friends,

stealing, and denying my kids an ethical, reliable, caring

mom. I created so much chaos when I was using there was no

way to find that life acceptable.

When I found recovery, I thought all would be well! I would

no longer be challenged by what I deemed unacceptable

situations. Not! Life showed up. Getting a job, being fired

from a job, finding an apartment, having difficulty with the

rent, not to mention the changes in relationships which occur

when you are there—sober and present. Everything didn’t go

my way. There were days when nothing went my way. On

one hand, the kids loved that I was present and, on the other

hand, they couldn’t run the house anymore. They were angry.

Life showed up big time.

I had to accept that. I had to accept that I was going to have

to grow up and that the world was not going to bow down to

me just because I had stopped drinking and using. I got used

to that reality and acceptance eased the pain.

The longer I am in recovery, the more big kid things come up

that renew my acceptance skills: ill and dying parents, grown

children with their life issues (including addiction), the aging

of my body. Acceptance.

Changes in household circumstances, income and job.

Developing boundaries in my relationships, some of which

cost me the relationship. Acceptance.

How do you do it? How do you accept? I’ve discovered that

I only ever find acceptance whenever I face my limits of

resistance. I don’t want my parents to be ill! My resistance

did nothing to change that. When I accepted the situation, I

could be of service in a compassionate way. When I stopped

resisting my son’s way of finding a drug-free life, I could

accept his path. When I stopped resisting my own aging (the

changes in my abilities and looks) I could accept the fact that

this happens to us all, and resistance is futile.

As a person of yoga, I use my breath to help me take a

moment—a pause—to disengage from my wants and griefs

and just bask in what is. I hold the present moment where

everything is alright. Inhale, exhale, slowly and evenly with

calm and care. The next thing I know, I am in the hands of my

higher power, and the way is clear.

Over and over, I resist, but for shorter and shorter periods

of time. I use my breath. I take a break. Eventually I accept

(people, places and things) and, just when I least expect it, I

find gratitude.

Kyczy Hawk is in long term recovery and is enthusiastic about her life in sobriety. She

is the “secretary” of the “Yoga Recovery” meetings, Sundays 7am PST on In The Rooms

( ). She is

a yoga teacher and author of Yoga and The Twelve Step Path and Life in Bite Sized

Morsels. For more yoga tools, visit her website at:

She is aided and amused by her family who keep her busy and humble.

Are you or someone

you love experiencing

a family, relationship

or addiction crisis?

I can help.

Scott H.


Your Crisis Coach

Call or text now: (619) 993-2738


Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354

“The hardest thing I’ve had to accept is...”

“Feeling every one of

my emotions.“

~ Sally W, Utah


~ Joanie B, CA

“The party is over.“

~ Georgina, Miami, FL

“That there are

people who love me in

spite of myself.“

~ Dean M, NYC

“Not everyone is

going to like me.

As long as I’m

genuine and kind to

everyone, I’m doing

the best I can.”

~ Jennifer L, CA

“That I am who I am”

~ Ness E, LA, CA

“They will probably

never make a pair of

Spanx designed to fit

my body perfectly.”

~ Miss Piggy

“Walking away from my old

life and all the boys I went to

school with. They’re still there,

doing the same stupid things,

oblivious to their addictions.”

~ Jeremy O, Big Sur, CA

“Craving a drink every

single day and not

picking up a glass.”

~ Nelson W, CA

“I’m not God.“

~ Susan F, Carlsbad, CA

“Not everyone has

the ability, means, or

want to recover.“

~ Beck G, Florida

“That I have a good

heart, after all.“

~ Alison P, CA

“I am worthy.“

~ Jonathon G, CA

“My lack of control over

the outcome.”

~ Karen V, LA, CA

“That I have a disease

with no cure.”

~ Deana C, Facebook

“Having to go to

my grandmother’s

house and ask for

her forgiveness. I

didn’t go yet.”

~ Tina P, NYC



of actual life”

~ Roger M, San Diego, CA

“Leaving the past in the past. I

can’t help looking over my shoulder.”

~ Kate G, Seattle, WA

“All the hard-core things my sponsor

drummed into me and all that stuff I

never wanted to hear. That was what

actually saved my ass in the end.

~ Catherine J, Ohio


~ Fiona T, LA, CA

“Knowing that some of the people I

love will never forgive me, even though

I’m sober now. They’ll never forget my

past. They’ll never trust me again.

~ Lenora H, San Diego, CA

“That one of my parents

is a bad person. This

toxic person does no

good for me and is trying

to destroy me from the

inside. The saddest part is

that I’ve lost a parent.“

~ Zachary R, LA, CA

“No matter what I

do with it, my crazy

hair will always

stick straight out


~ Pippi Longstocking


~ Helen C, Dallas, TX

“The loss of the love of my life.”

~ Diane B, Leesburg Florida

“The concept of a

Higher Power.“

Roni, Ecuador


Death Diaries for Patients:

Is Your Name On A Death Prescription?

by Roneet Lev, MD FACEP

Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Prince,

Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, all world famous

entertainers from different eras and backgrounds who

share one distressing distinction; each died of an accidental

prescription drug overdose. While these deaths are well known,

thousands of men, woman and children—who are not rich or

famous—die without ever being noticed. Despite that, chances

are you know someone who died of an accidental prescription

overdose. Sadly, none of the people who die intend to overdose.

In 2015, the San Diego’s Medical Examiner’s office worked with

the California Controlled Substance Utilization and Review

and Evaluation System, CURES, to look at the prescriptions

people took in the year before they died. We called this study

the San Diego Death Diaries because they tell the story of a

person’s life through prescription drug use and abuse. Every

day in the United States, over one hundred people die from

accidental medication overdoses. The majority, seventy-eight a

day, die as a result of prescription painkillers.

In 2013, in San Diego County, 254 people died from

prescriptions; 186 had data on CURES. This group

received 4,366 prescriptions for thirty-three different types

of medications, from 713 different physicians, and 275

pharmacies. Eighty percent died from a cocktail of several

medications. Methadone was the cause of death in forty-six

people; in twelve others, methadone was most responsible for

deaths related to a single medication.

Do people die if they take their medications exactly as they are

told? The answer is, yes, but in significantly lower numbers.

Of the 254 people who died, forty-two (16.5%) died using the

medication in the doses and intervals they were prescribed, and

not combining their medication with drugs or alcohol. There

are risks even when taking medication as prescribed—let alone

taking too many or mixing medication with alcohol or overthe-counter


As much as we wish for everyone to be pain and anxiety

free, it is not always possible. Patients—especially those in

recovery—need to ask themselves: do I really need this? Ask

the same question of your doctor.

Here are some tips cultivated from studying the Death Diaries.

Please remember that these recommendations do not replace

talking with your doctor about your medications.

Take medications only as prescribed. There is a fine line

between a medication being helpful and being a poison. No

extras. More is not better.

Do not share your medication. While your intentions may be

good, you may be hurting, not helping.


Use only one doctor and one pharmacy for coordinating your

medications. Many patients have different doctors: primary

care, psychiatrist, and surgeon, but there must be one who is

coordinating the medication to avoid drug interactions.

Beware of sleeping pills and Benadryl. Sleep aids depress

your central nervous system and have an additive effect on

painkillers and anxiety medications. Sleep aids stop being

effective after continued use. It is best to use non-medication

methods of getting sleep when necessary.

Avoid being on pain and anxiety medications at the same time.

More than half of the Death Diaries showed this combination.

Many people are anxious and in pain, but that does not take

away from the risk this combination causes.

Do not assume that, because you have been taking your

medication for years, they are safe. Sometimes your family

and friends are able to see changes in you that you cannot see,

ask them about it.

With pain medications one

must beware of time lapses

between dosages. Your

pain receptors adjust over

time and many people die

assuming they can handle

the dosage because they did


Realize there are many

alternatives to pain

medication. You need to

understand your pain, have

realistic expectations of

pain management, and use

alternative methods of care,

including ice, heat, massage,

acupuncture, acetaminophen,

and ibuprofen.

Prescription medications can

be lifesavers, but when they

are misused, unintentionally

or otherwise, they can

become prescriptions for

death. Use this information

to reduce your chances of

becoming a prescription drug


Dr. Roneet Lev chairs the Prescription Drug Abuse Medical Task Force and is Director of

Operations at Scripps Mercy Hospital.

Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354


Amino-Acids for Brain Health

by Roni Askey-Doran

“Stand in front the bathroom mirror and look at your face. Look

directly into your eyes and repeat the following statement five

times: ‘You are beautiful and I love you.’ Do this twice a day;

once in the morning, and again before you go to bed.” These

were my therapist’s instructions. I gaped in horror as she let this

information sink in. Look in a mirror? I hadn’t even glanced

sideways at a mirror for years. My reflection in anything: a

mirror, a window, even someone’s sunglasses, repulsed me. The

thought of viewing my reflection on purpose made me nauseous.

The first time I did this exercise, I collapsed in a heap on the

bathroom floor, howling in pain. I hated myself so completely

I couldn’t even look. Then, I got up and stood there, not able to

look myself in the eye, taking in the horrid creature I’d grown

accustomed to ignoring. It was excruciating to look at myself.

Unable to see anyone worthy looking back, I spat the words at

the mirror. The pointlessness of the exercise filled me with rage.

It was weeks before I felt anything besides anger and loathing.

Several times, I picked myself up off the floor and forced myself

to look into my own eyes. Sometimes, I refused to look at any

other part of my face, and focused on my eyes. Often, they were

puffy and red from crying. Other times, I squeezed them shut and

numbly chanted the statement, not believing a word of it.

At least twice, I crossed my eyes in frustration, doubling the pain.

Despite my yearning to throw a rock at the mirror, I kept my

promise, as long as

I wasn’t prescribed


I practiced the


and recited the

dreaded phrase

until I finally

began to believe

it. The first minor


took a month.

Immediately, my

therapist noticed the

change in my face,

especially in my eyes.

Standing at the mirror every

day was vital. I repeated the

mantra until the first glimmer of

self-acceptance kicked in. Gradually, I

felt a perceptible shift in my emotional state.

After several weeks, I smiled at my reflection for the first time.

That small gesture brought tears. That morning, I noticed my

eyes shone bluer. As I chanted my daily mantra, the darkness

began to fade away. Life was looking up, and more positives

came my way. This simple sentence had the power to change

my perspective, and awaken my long lost self-love. Inside that

terrifying looking glass, I discovered someone amazing.

Experience The Twelve

Steps Through Music!

“You are beautiful and I love you.”

What is Synaptamine and how does it work?

Addiction has a high heredity component, based on a reward deficiency trait that may be impacted by the environment. We believe that in

order to change the continued epidemic of abuse of opiates/opioids or any other drug and non-­‐drug addictive behavior, the La-­‐Vita RDS

patented aqua–nano liquid product, Synaptamine, should be a first-­‐line defense.

LaVita Scientists, especially Dr. Kenneth Blum, their Chief Scientific Officer, have published many articles proposing that even initially during

detoxification, Medically Assisted Treatments (MATs) should be substituted with the non-­‐addicting and safe ‘pro-­‐dopamine’ regulator –

Synaptamine. This statement it is backed by extensive scientific peer reviewed published articles in prestigious journals. We now know that

addiction or Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) [now featured in SAGE Encyclopedia of Abnormal Psychology 2016] is a brain disorder and is

due to genetic vulnerability in at least 100,000 million people in the America. Any treating clinician should embrace the concept that both

initiation of substance seeking and continued abuse is due primarily to a hypo-­‐dopaminergic trait (genetic) or environmentally induced state

(epigenetic) or a combination of both.

So a major solution must address the low dopamine brain function early on in the recovery process especially when an individual seeks help,

clinicians should promote the long-­‐term balancing of dopamine function with the laudable goal of inducing “Dopamine Homeostasis”

(regulation). There is continuing excitement concerning the consistent positive effects of Synaptamine. Almost thirty published studies clearly

show major anti-­‐craving effects, enhanced well-­‐being (stress reduction).

Synaptamine is not a drug rather it is a natural mixture of precursor amino-­‐acids to neurotransmitters like serotonin, glutamine, and

dopamine, inhibitors of the breakdown of brain endorphins and inhibitors of enzymes known to clear or breakdown dopamine in the synapse.

Simply it has been found that Synaptamine has been shown to gently activate (light up) dopamine across the reward circuitry of the brain in

abstinent heroin addicts. Studies have revealed that there is an increased recruitment of additional dopamine neurons firing in brain areas

involved in reward processing with possible neuroplasticity even in the long-­‐term.

The Synaptamine model, unlike other detoxification models that continue the addiction cycle, by administering either methadone or

buprenorphine/naloxone during this critical detoxification period, definitely by-­‐passes this unwanted therapy and starts the individual on a path

of victory from the chains of addictive drugs. So what is our secret?

1) Understanding the mechanisms involved

2) Finding new ways to induce long-­‐term dopamine homeostasis.

We achieve this by supplying the abstinent opiate addict with just the right amount of dopamine, which induces just the optimal amount of

dopamine to be released from the neuron -­‐ without adding MATs like methadone or buprenorphine in any form, rather replacing it with

Glutaminergic-­‐Dopaminergic optimization (GDOC) as provided by Synaptamine.

Through continued additional research, along with fellow neuroscientists and clinicians, we may find new ways

to further enhance an optimization of glutaminergic/ dopaminergic systems. With Synaptamine you can induce

“dopamine homeostasis”, redeem joy and restore hope!

I have children who suffer with depression

and/or anxiety. We have tried many

medications over the years, but the effects

were short term & the side effects were

sometimes worse than the depression itself.

After introducing my son to Synaptamine, he

came to me one day and said "Mom, I can tell

it is working because I am smiling all the

time." My daughter's also added Synaptamine

to what she was already doing and

immediately noticed improvement with her

anxiety. Thank you so much for this wonderful

product! [Wendy A.]

As a mom of 5 kids and a wife of a recovering

addict, saying I’m stressed would be an

understatement. Since being on

Synaptamine, my stress level has decreased

and my energy level has really increased. It

also has helped with my cravings for carbs

and I even noticed weight loss with this

product. I was looking for something natural

with no side effects to come along because I

didn't want to be on medication. My body

never reacted well with anything the doctor

prescribed. I am so happy I was introduced to

Synaptamine! [C. Hendrix]

I am a 56 & in recovery from alcoholism. I

agreed to start using Synaptamine on the

urging of a friend. I began taking it daily and

within the first week noticed that I was able

to stay sharp in a demanding job without

feeling overwhelmed or taxed. I happened to

run out of the product over a weekend … the

way I felt after suddenly discontinuing its use

only reinforced in my mind the great benefits

I had been enjoying during my daily doses. I

won't let that happen again as this has

honestly given my recovery a boost that I'm

not willing to be without. [Bill G.]

Working the steps using the Twelve Songs

Workbook with the Twelve Songs CD is a great way

to experience Recovery Through Music. Each page

of the workbook incldes the lyrics, a picture, and a

series of questions that relate to the corresponding

song (and step).

This is an exciting, fun and affordable new way to

enhance spiritual growth no matter what a person is

recovering from on their journey


Suzanne Whang

What a WHANGderful World!

Running Around the

House Naked

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot

change.” That’s the first line of the Serenity Prayer, so I guess

it’s pretty important. Acceptance of the things I cannot change.

For example, I cannot change or control what other people

say or do, but I can choose my response to it. I’ve heard it

said that God exists in the pause between when someone else

says or does something, and when I reply. It helps for me to

pause, take a breath, and remember that the things people say

to me are more often a reflection of them than they are of me.

In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz reminds us not

to take anything personally. That includes both compliments

and insults. Ideally I have my own sense of self-worth that

isn’t dependent on external feedback, so I don’t rollercoaster

emotionally with high praise or harsh condemnation from

those around me. As a recovering codependent, my goal is

to respond, not react. Reacting implies something childish,

emotional and impulsive, whereas responding implies

something mature, evolved, and thoughtful.

I love the saying, “If I’m hysterical, it’s historical.” One of

the ways I can maintain my serenity is by identifying and

healing my open wounds. If I have no open wounds, then no

one can hurt me by throwing salt. If someone came up to me

on the sidewalk and said, “You’re a fat, bald murderer!” I

wouldn’t get triggered, because I know none of that is true.

But if someone said, “You should be on that show Hoarders!”

I would probably get defensive, because cluttering has been

an issue in my life for decades. I’ve hired professional

organizers, discussed it in therapy, and made huge progress,

but it’s far from being handled.

If a recovering alcoholic’s number one priority is sobriety, then

a recovering codependent’s number one priority is serenity.

It’s tricky to be in a program where falling off the wagon is

so nebulous. With alcoholics or drug addicts, sobriety means

you don’t drink or do drugs, and if you do, you’ve fallen

off the wagon. What constitutes falling off the wagon for a

recovering codependent? If it’s defined as slipping away


from serenity, then I fall off the wagon regularly. But I see

how being in acceptance can help me get back on track. It’s

counterproductive for me to rail against the present moment.

My boyfriend Jeff and I just moved into a new house. Well,

the house was built in 1946, but it’s new to us. I sold the house

I owned for the past twelve years, and we’re renting this

house together. We are surrounded by boxes, and our lives

have become a 24/7 game show entitled, Where Is That Thing

I Need Right Now? The idea of unpacking, decluttering, and

getting settled into this house is beyond overwhelming. And

when I’m overwhelmed, I can get paralyzed.

Author Anne Lamott has a great story about her brother.

When he was ten years old, he was writing a book report on

birds that he had been putting off for months, and it was due

the next day. He was at the kitchen table freaking out and

close to crying, surrounded by blank paper and pencils and

many different books on birds, paralyzed by the gargantuan

task he faced. Her father came and sat beside him, put his arm

around her brother, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take

it bird by bird.”

Last week, I was in the middle of freaking out about packing

for the move, when Jeff reminded me of this story. He just

smiled and said, “Bird by bird.” Ah, yes. Acceptance for

me right now means that I must accept the current chaotic

condition of the house. I will not dig my head in the sand. I

will let my gratitude list for this new place surpass my task

list. Just for today I can do this, one box at a time. Progress,

not perfection. Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles

begins with a single step.” So today, I will take a few steps.

I will be gentle with myself. I will remember that moving

is considered one of the most stressful things a human can

experience, and that I’m doing great. I’m so thankful to have

a wonderful house to live in, and a boyfriend who makes me

laugh every day. And since we have a beautiful front porch,

I can take a break and enjoy a cup of tea whenever I want. I

can bask in the beautiful rose bushes that grace our yard. And

I can feel serene. Until I can’t find the dress I want to wear

tonight, and I’m running around the house naked, screaming,


© Suzanne Whang is best known as the host of HGTV’s #1 show, House Hunters, for

almost a decade. She also co-hosted Bloopers with Dick Clark on NBC, and FOX After

Breakfast with Tom Bergeron. Suzanne played Polly on NBC’s Las Vegas for four

seasons, and she’s a double award-winning stand-up comedian. She’s a published

author, keynote speaker, teacher, coach, political activist, and metaphysical minister.

Suzanne has a B.A. in Psychology from Yale University, and a Masters in Cognitive

Psychology from Brown University. She’s currently starring in the sitcom From Here

On Out (Here TV), recurring on the new DirecTV series Kingdom, and starring in the

hilarious upcoming feature film, A Weekend With The Family, in theaters April 1st. You

can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @suzannewhang.

Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354

Humor Page

Jimmy worked hard all his life and saved every penny

of his earnings. Even though he was a rich man, he

was a scrooge when it came to money. He loved it more

than anything, including his wife, Maria. On the brink

of retirement, Jimmy was diagnosed with untreatable

cancer. Just before Jimmy died, he said to his wife:

“When I die I want you to collect all my money together

and place it in the casket with me. I want to take it all with

me to the after life.”

Jimmy made Maria promise with her hand on her heart

that when he died she would put every cent of his money

in the casket with him. Eventually, the cancer consumed

his soul, and he was gone.

At the funeral, Jimmy was stretched out in the casket in

his best suit, and his grieving wife sat draped in black

next to their best friend, Nancy. When the ceremony was

over, just before the undertaker closed the casket, Maria

said, “Wait a minute!”

She was holding a shoe box. Carefully, she placed it

inside the casket with her departed husband’s body. The

undertaker locked the coffin and rolled it away.

Nancy whispered, “I hope you weren’t crazy enough to

put all that money in there with that stingy old man.”

Maria responded, “Yes, I promised. I’m a good Christian,

I can’t lie. I promised I would bury his money with him.”

“You mean to tell me you just went and put every cent of

that so-and-so’s money in the casket with him?” Nancy


“I sure did,” said Maria. “I got it all together, put it into my

account and I wrote him a check.”

Q: What do you call a cow with no legs?

A: Ground beef.

Q: What has eighteen legs and catches flies?

A: A baseball team.

Q: What would you give to injured lemons?

A: Lemonade.

Q: Why did the referee stop the leper’s hockey game?

A: There was a face-off in the corner.

Q: Where would you learn how to make ice cream?

A: At Sundae School.

Q: What has more lives than a cat?

A: A frog—it croaks every night.

Q: What kind of dog hears voices?

A: A Shih-Tzu-Phrenic.

Q: What did did the mother duck say to her duckling?

A: “If you don’t behave, I’m gonna quack you one.”

by Ranay Dato

by Ranay Dato


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Contact Step 12 Magazine at 760-898-8354

MESSAGES and things that make you go “Hmmmm.”


Athlete and surfing

extraordinaire Andy Irons struggled with

poly-addictions. Hotel maids found his lifeless body

in 2010, lying in a bed with the sheets pulled up to his chin.

Autopsy results showed Irons died of cardiac arrest from a

mixture of cocaine, methamphetamine, alprazolam

and methadone.

Heroin was originally called

tetra acetyl morphine; the

result of a slight scientific


An estimated 20 million

Americans aged 12 or older have

used illegal drugs in the past 30

days. This estimate represents

8% percent of the population

aged 12 years old or older.

The most commonly abused drugs in the United

States of America include cocaine, heroin, inhalants,

LSD (acid), MDMA (ecstasy), methamphetamine,

phencyclidine (PCP), steroids (anabolic), Vicodin,

OxyContin and legal prescription drugs.

David Hasselhoff,

known for his

roles in Baywatch

and Knight Rider,

struggled with

alcoholism for

years. After

several very public

meltdowns, he

completed rehab in

2009 and has been

sober ever since.

It takes MDMA

(commonly known

as “Molly” or “ecstasy”)

approximatley 15 minutes

to reach the brain and

begin having an effect

on the body.

In the 19th Century, cocaine was

marketed in medicines for children,

mainly “tooth drops” to alleviate pain.

Methadone was created by chemists in Germany in WWII.

Its original intention was to take the place of the scarcely

available morphine to work as a painkiller.

William Stewart Halsted

was a physician and

pioneer in the field

of breast cancer

treatment. One of the

“Big Four” founding

professors at the Johns

Hopkins Hospital,

Halsted was the first

surgeon to perform a

mastectomy. He was

also a morphine and

cocaine addict.

In the late 1800s,

most opiate addicts

were upper- and

middle-class women.

Happy Birthday!





Nov / Dec 2016 Horoscopes


Mar 21 – Apr 19


Apr 20 – May 20


May 21 – Jun 20


Jun 21 –Jul 22


Jul 23 – Aug 22


Aug 23 – Sept 22

NOV - Someone in your family or social group is going through something that is

starting to affect your relationship with them. Communication is going to be either

strained or outright hostile, but you need to try very hard not to take anything

personally. Regarding your finances: charm is a given, but whether you are the one

playing the flute or snaking your way out of the basket remains to be seen.

DEC - If you own your home or have any kind of investments in real estate, Aries,

you might hear some great news this month about the value of that investment. It’s

likely to be increasing, and probably will continue in that direction. This could make a

big difference in your life in some way right now. In fact, there might be a number of

options opening to you. Consider them all carefully, and go for the gold.

NOV - With all the social events you’ve attended lately, it’s likely you’ve met some

people in the healing professions. These doctors, nurses, and technicians could be

useful to you later. Be sure to file their contact information away for future reference.

On another front, expect to receive some good news concerning your finances.

DEC - If other people around you get loud and angry about a surprise announcement,

you should definitely not follow their example—no matter how justified they may

be. Screaming at someone isn’t going to mitigate the stress or anxiety, it will only

increase it. Be mindful of your role in every conversation, and try to be a force for

mutual respect, not power struggles. There will be another day for you to get down

and dirty—and get things off your chest.

NOV - Exciting news could bring a lot of joy into your life, Gemini. Your income

may soon skyrocket, and more opportunities to advance yourself professionally

should start coming thick and fast. You may even receive some sort of public

acknowledgment. This isn’t the end of the line, however—this is only the beginning!

You will be glad to know you can expect this trend to continue for some time.

DEC - You’ve been out of the social loop lately, but you are still on the mind of your

friends. They’ve been reading your mood and think you need time alone, so if that’s

not the case you need to let them know as soon as possible! Get yourself involved

in the rhythms and activities of your favorite people and let them know you’d love to

tag along when they run their errands, or household chores.

NOV - People are apt to try to hit you square on the head with their ideas and

thoughts, so be ready for the onslaught of information that may come your way.

There’s a distinct advantage to listening to the whole spiel before you react with your

own facts and emotions. The problem is that you’re going to be tempted to argue

instead of calmly resolve the matter. Practice active listening this month.

DEC - It’s a good time to get what you want from people who have never been

interested in coming to your aid before. Your charm is strong enough to overcome

anyone’s selfishness, and you shouldn’t think twice about celebrating the fact that

you have won them over. Invite them out for coffee or even dinner. Now that the ice is

melted, it’s time to build on that warmth and create something long-lasting.

NOV - Tightening your money belt is not fun, but having the extra cash when you

really need it is! Think about long term gains in, and be more thrifty. Order the

small size, skip the fancy extras and don’t you dare take a cab! If you enjoy a small

convenience today, you will suffer a major inconvenience tomorrow—so do your

future self a favor by simply saying ‘no’ to your usual luxuries this month.

DEC - Leo, love of all kinds—of friends, of family members, romantic love—flourishes

in the home this month as several visitors come to your door, perhaps unexpectedly.

One of your guests could bring some wonderful news about money. A strong sense

of unity among all those present should be very apparent, at least to you. Anchor

yourself in practical matters before you try to prove your point to others.

NOV - You may experience a transformation in your thinking. It’s bound to affect

every aspect of your life. By always questioning, you work through difficult issues

that require a constant reshuffling of viewpoints. Feel free to open yourself up to new

ways of thinking as you dismiss old ways that no longer serve you. Now is a terrific

time to consider a fresh wave of thought. You’ll be exposed to a new way of truth.

DEC - A large gathering of friends, relatives, and neighbors could take place in your

home this month, Virgo. You might run into a few old friends you haven’t seen in a

long time and enjoy catching up. A former romantic partner could also be present.

Are you still interested? If so, pursue it. It might work this time! If you’re no longer

interested, perhaps you could now be friends. Think about it!



Sept 23 – Oct 22


Oct 23 – Nov 21


Nov 22 – Dec 21


Dec 22 – Jan 19


Jan 20 – Feb 18


Feb 19 – Mar 20

NOV - You will find certain aspects of your life which may have felt disconnected in

the past are finally slipping into their proper place in the puzzle. Have faith that all

your painstaking planning and organizing is finally going to pay off. This is especially

true in love and romance. This month, Libra, spend intimate time with a close partner

as soon as the opportunity arises.

DEC - You will be faced with some very tantalizing social invitations, be very picky

about which ones you accept. Even a quiet night out could snowball into a very foggy

morning. You know the usual suspects, so look out for familiar patterns. The leopard

cannot change its spots, so if a friend who usually walks on the wild side wants you

to walk there with them, say ‘no.’

NOV - Restriction and discipline might not be your forte, Scorpio, but realize that this

may be exactly the type of thing you need the most. Try not to expend your energy in

too many directions. Focus and channel your efforts into those things you consider

the most important. Make sure that most of your day is spent tending to these things.

Have you hugged your loved ones lately?

DEC - Retail therapy is a very bad strategy for dealing with the dramas you’re going

through right now—you can’t buy yourself out of the blues. Any impulse buys you

make in the moment might provide a temporary relief of your symptoms, but they

definitely won’t deal with the underlying cause. Save your money for another day.

Instead, take a walk or visit with a friend—for free.

NOV - Appreciate the good things you have. Don’t let another day go by without

really paying homage to the people who’ve helped you grow along the way. Take

a walk. Climb a tree or help a child build a tree house. Connect with your spiritual

side that finds satisfaction in where you are now instead of always feeling a need to

search for something bigger and better.

DEC - Try to be as generous as you can this month. Your benevolence can open

doors and make people remember you in an extremely favorable way. Be the first

one to give someone a compliment. Loan a friend a few bucks, or offer to lend a

coworker a hand on a particularity ambitious project. The more outgoing you are with

your time and goodwill, the faster you’ll feel the karmic results.

NOV - When it comes to matters of love and romance, you may need to tone things

down a bit. An aggressive approach now may drive your loved one further away from

you instead of drawing them closer. Remember that love is a two-way street. Don’t

just do things the way you’d like to do them. Capricorn, this month it’s crucial you

consider your partner’s thoughts and feelings every step of the way.

DEC - If you take every little detail into consideration, your head will explode, and no

one wants that. Start the month slowly, but don’t obsess over matters that may turn

out to be inconsequential. Your intentions are good, and you genuinely care about

the other people involved, as you will demonstrate mid-month. The holidays will have

you charming someone out of a bad mood with a razzle-dazzle tap dance.

NOV - You may find your love is incredibly magnetic now, Aquarius. All you need to

do is be yourself and, suddenly, people flock your way. There are terrific opportunities

for you to strengthen the bonds you have with the people you care about the most.

Solidify your relationship with soft romantic words and actions. There is an extra

sensuality to your mood and actions now.

DEC - A big change up is coming to your immediate surroundings—the world around

you will be different place by the end of the month. With a change in environment,

you’ll experience a change in attitude. What used to seem like a waste of time will

suddenly ignite a flicker of hope. It’s time to pick back up on what you thought was a

lost cause—because it just might not be so lost after all!

NOV - Consider taking a more conservative approach to your actions this month,

Pisces, as well as to the way you dress. Others may be rather put off by something

that comes across as too flashy. Fashion is apt to be a significant concern for you

now, which is fine. Don’t underestimate the power of personal appearance.

DEC - Doubting yourself is normal—in fact, it’s healthy. When you doubt your

actions, you apply a healthy skepticism to your decision making and help perfect it.

Luckily, any doubts you have will be quickly erased this month. December will be full

of signs and affirmations that you are on the right path—despite what other people

might be telling you. You are swimming with sharks now, but you are in no danger as

long as you keep moving forward.

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