Principles of Service and Gratitude

12-step program12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The twelfth step of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) recognizes that the practice and principles applied in the entire ladder continue throughout a lifetime.  It is having the awareness to continue to live out the values of AA in our life and our relationships.  Learning and personal growth doesn’t stop once we complete all the steps.  It is a gradual and continual process.  It continues as long as we are open to noticing, observing our inner and outer world, and it’s affect on others and ourselves.  It is continuing responsibility for our actions, attitudes, and assessing our values and goals to ensure we are moving in harmony.

Maintaining sobriety is equivalent to a dieter who lost (fifty) 50 lbs.  To upkeep the recent weight loss; personal habits, choices, and a support system must be maintained.    The new physique is taken care of by consistent exercise, healthy food choices, and constant consciousness of the things they do, don’t do and consume.     The same is true for a member of AA.  Abstinence of alcohol unmasks many of the insecurities, fears, anger, sadness, and hurt covered by the veil of alcohol.  To help continue the change in behavior the recovering alcoholic must find healthy ways to acknowledge and process those surfacing emotions on a daily basis.  The principles of the twelve steps are a roadmap to notice, assess, and make adjustments to personal behavior that was denied while drinking.

Step twelve is based on the principles of service and gratitude.  In service, we are helping others.  In gratitude, we are thankful for the support, guidance, and safe environment to express our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs associated with our continued sobriety.

Since we have awakened from our own misguided beliefs, we have the experience, knowledge and ability to help others who may be struggling.  As a member of AA it is our duty and privilege to pass on our wisdom, our understanding, and our support.  It may be as simple as listening with an open mind and kind heart.  It may be validating for the first time someone’s thoughts and feelings.  It may be sharing from personal experience.  It may be sponsoring a newcomer and providing consistent friendship and support for their sobriety.  It may be any one or more of these deeds of service.  The most important component is to offer compassion, understanding, and an empathic listening ear.

As part of the AA program we provide service to others with humbleness and gratitude.  Having appreciation for a spiritual awakening is being thankful for the people who were there for us when we needed help.  It is reflecting on what we learned, being grateful, and in turn sharing our knowledge.  It is also assessing the approach that was given to us and adjusting it to what we would have liked when we first entered AA.  How has AA helped you and how would you convey that to others in a helpful manner?

AA is about living a clean and sober life with meaningful and honest relationships.  The twelve steps provide a foundation and platform to launch your personal growth and development of healthy relations with yourself and others.  Following the principles one day at a time enhances our lives.  The program when followed correctly ensures when we pass, we are remembered for being present, honest, courageous, humble, responsible, patient, and charitable with faith and hope for the future.

Here is a list of seven questions to help ponder your experience with the Twelfth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous.

1. Have you been able to reach out to another recovering addict? If so, describe the situation and how it feels to you.

2. What kind of approach would you like to have had when you first started the program? How can you implement your desired method in your life to others now?

3. How has the 12 Step program worked for you? 

4.  How do you usually handle conflict? Do you know of any way to be more effective in conflict resolution? If so, how would you become more effective? What would be the steps?

5.  How much time are you willing and able to work with others on their program? How will you go about setting that time aside?

6. What resources other than AA can you call upon when you need help as a sponsor?

7. How and when do you know if you are suited to helping another person on working a 12 Step program?

Contact me to enhance your journey recovering from alcohol or substance abuse addiction.  April Wright, MA., MFT Registered Intern #69624. Under supervision of Kathryn Tull, M.A., LMFT #44809 Kathryn Tull, Inc. 310.502.4944 http://www.therapywithapril.com https://femmevolution.wordpress.com

Open up and say ‘neigh’: Horses Help Teach Med Students

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Video: For America’s next generation of doctors, bedside manner can fall by the wayside in the first few years of medical school. But one doctor in Arizona is hoping to change that by offering a first-of-its-kind class using horses to instill compassion. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

For the next generation of doctors to develop a better bedside manner, it’s important to spend some time in a stable.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Allan Hamilton of the University of Arizona Medical Center, Tucson, is using his ranch for a first-of-its-kind class to help train first year medical students, bringing the humans in close contact with large flighty four-legged patients who can’t talk and who can be highly — and violently — reactive to doctors who aren’t attuned to their patients’ body language.

At his first “lecture,” Hamilton shows this year’s class how to safely approach a horse. He slowly walks up to one of his horses, running his hand over the animal’s body as he moves around it.

“I put my arm around him like this so the whole time, even when I go through his blind spot, he knows exactly where I am,” Hamilton tells the students and NBC chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman.

The slow, careful contact with the animal is not only for self-protection — the reaction of a startled horse can range from bolting away to spinning and kicking out at something it perceives as a threat — but also as comfort and reassurance.

The idea for the course began when Hamilton caught himself approaching a patient too abruptly and without the right amount of sensitivity.

“The whole thing started one day when I was in a hurry,” he said. “I was delayed getting to clinic and we just burst into this room because we were in such a hurry and this woman, she just screamed when we walked into the room because we came in so fast. I just remember thinking to myself, ‘boy I never would have done that if that was a horse.’”

The concept makes a lot of sense to Snyderman, a horsewoman herself. “As a physician I hear from medical school professors all the time who say that the students come in eager and passionate about helping others, and leave as cynical and harsh doctors,” she said.

Riley Hoyer, one of the first-year medical students who signed up for Hamilton’s innovative class, recognizes the skills he’s learning.

Right now, “I’m studying books instead of focusing on patient care and so this was just one class that I could do as an elective to try and better learn how to interact with animals and learn how to use my body language to interact with patients,” he told TODAY.

Because horses can’t talk, students need to learn to read their body language to set up a “conversation.” They need to have a rapport and develop trust before the horse will stand still to have its heart monitored with a stethoscope or to get an inoculation.

Snyderman watched as one of the other students connects with a horse. “And now he’s making eye contact with you because you approached him in a very sensitive way,” she said. “It’s a lot like [approaching] a patient.”

Hamilton believes that the program can build better doctors, helping them to overcome fear and improve confidence.

“Probably even more important is it saves doctors,” he said. “Our salvation is going to be to go back to what really makes us fulfilled, which is this essence of human-human interaction and the ability to take somebody in the most dire of circumstances and say,’grab my hand I know we’re going OK we’re in this together.’”

Hamilton’s class has been offered since 2001 and it’s gaining attention around the country. Stanford University and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey are now offering similar courses.

Hamilton didn’t get his horses with a plan to teach students a better bedside manner. “I moved out here specifically to do neurosurgery by day and horses by night,” he said with a chuckle.

Optimize Brain Function and Create Happiness

be_happyHappiness is a choice.  It can be a difficult decision to make with all the negativity in the world.  It doesn’t have to feel like such a daunting option when focusing on small changes.  Small changes create big leaps forward.  Over time a greater sense of happiness is enlivened.  If you want to optimize your brain health and create greater happiness here are some simple ideas.  You don’t have to do them all to achieve results. Focus on just a few and see how you can make small changes ripple outward.

1. Meditate.
2. Journal.
3. Write 3 things you are grateful for daily.
4. Exercise.
5. Create random acts of kindness.
6. Drink at least 6 to 8 oz of water daily to stay well hydrated.
7. Eat healthfully with lean proteins, 5 to 7 cups of fruits and vegetables and whole grains daily.
8. The suggested nutritional supplements tyrosine (500 – 1500 milligrams) 2 to 3x daily; OPC (oligomeric procyandius) grape seed or pine bark (1 milligram per pound of body weight); and gingko biloba (60 – 120 milligrams 2x daily) help increase dopamine and blood flow to the brain and may help with energy, focus, and impulse control. Before taking any supplements, first consult with your doctor.
9. Think positive, healthy thoughts and rid yourself of automatic negative thoughts.
10. Surround yourself with positive, uplifting people.
11. Spend time with people you want to be like. You are more likely to become like them.
12. Talk to others in loving, kind, helpful ways.
13. Fill your environment with comforting smells such as lavender, rose, or cinnamon.
14. Breathe into your diaphragm.
15. Effectively confront and deal with situations involving conflict.
16. Develop clear goals for your life (relationships, work, money, and self) and reaffirm them every day.
17. Focus on the positive things in your life more than the negative.
18. Establish eye contact with and smile frequently at others.
19. Notice when you are stuck, distract yourself, and come back to the problem later.
20. Write out options when you are feeling stuck.
21. Seek out the counsel of others when feeling stuck. Often just talking about feeling stuck will open new options.
22. Enhance your memory skills by learning something new every day.
23. Sing, hum and move in rhythm often.
24. Touch others frequently in a loving and appropriate manner.
25. Power pose daily for 2 minutes.

Life brings many challenges.  There are many uncontrollable ups and downs.  Regardless of what life may throw us, we can still choose to be happy.  Adding just one or more habit from this list ensures you are controlling what you can.  You are making certain your brain performance and personal well-being are at their best.

Tenth Anniversary of the Iraq War: The Personal Impact – To the Point on KCRW

Tenth Anniversary of the Iraq War: The Personal Impact – To the Point on KCRW.

Ten years ago tomorrow, the US invaded Iraq. The human cost to American veterans and their families – and the many Iraqis now desperate to leave a ruined country.

In 2003, Saddam Hussein was said to have “weapons of mass destruction.” There were hints he was tied to September 11. Eighty percent of Americans supported the US invasion. Ten years later, 58 percent say it was not worth years of unexpected combat, more than $2 trillion— and the deaths of 4500 Americans and 100,000 Iraqis. Marcos Soltero always wanted to be a Marine, and enlisted when he was 17 — two months after the Twin Towers collapsed in 2001. Linda Johnson watched both her husband and her youngest son go to war. Tomorrow, we’ll look at why the war is so widely perceived to have gone wrong. Today, we focus on the human consequences: veterans and families coping with injured brains and bodies. Was there ever a real welcome home?

Guests:
Steve Vogel: Washington Post, @steve_vogel
Elspeth Cameron Ritchie: former Army psychiatrist
Stacy Bare: Iraq War veteran
Matt Gallagher: Iraqi veteran, @MattGallagher83

Links:
Veterans Administration
2012 VA report on vets who die by suicide
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on timely access to high-quality care
Vogel on Army ordering reforms for mental health care treatment
Ritchie on the Army task force report on behavioral health
Sierra Club’s Mission Outdoors Program
Gallagher’s ‘Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War’
Veterans Expeditions
Johnson’s ‘To Be a Friend Is Fatal: A Story from the Aftermath of America at War’
The List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies