Many Bridges of Recovery

 

 

September is National Recovery Month. It is a month to focus on mental health and addictions. It is a time to celebrate those who recover and to remember those who have lost their lives due to their conditions. This year’s theme as designated by SAMSHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) was “Join the Voice for Recovery: Strengthen Families and Communities”.


My kickoff for the month was the  Vancouver/Portland Hands Across the Bridge.  These events are to raise awareness for and celebrate people in recovery. The Portland event tallied a collective experience of over 4000 years of recovery. That is a LOT of people making the decision to do the next right thing day after day!


I also went to the Hands Across the Bridge-Marion and Polk County  2017 event. There weren’t as many participants yet it was well attended. There was food and music and many local support services. The participants walked up on the bridge and dropped flowers into the Willamette River as a symbol of our recovery and also in memory of our fellow friends in recovery who have left the earth.

FB_IMG_1506972525989
In Oregon we also have Problem Gambling Awareness Day. It was on September 29th in honor of Bobby Hafemann. Bobby ended his life due to the loneliness and hopelessness he struggled with because of his problem gambling 22 years ago. Many are unaware that gamblers have the highest statistics for completed suicides of any other addiction. The message for all gamblers is that there is HOPE and HELP. Treatment works. This years campaign is “Take a Break”. Signage encourages gamblers to take a break for just one day and if you aren’t able to stop for just a day, that could be a sign that maybe there is a problem. Pick up the phone and reach out, help is available for all Oregonians.

20170930_093933
September is also National Suicide Awareness month. There are numerous events around the Nation. Portland and Salem hold their Out of the Darkness community walk to bring awareness to Suicide Prevention in the first weeks of October.   Veterans are promoting the message of “Be There” for their annual suicide prevention and awareness campaign. 22 Veterans a day ending their own lives is too many.

DSC_0080.JPG
I myself have struggled with suicidal ideation as a symptom of withdrawals from opiates and benzodiazepines and also as symptom in my battle with gambling. Knowing the statistics for gamblers and for those coming off benzodiazepines I feel pretty blessed to still be upright and breathing. I am grateful that my natural intrinsic will to survive has been stronger than my occasional thoughts of being overwhelmed with life. Yet I know that doesn’t always work in the long term unless one learns how to manage life better. The symptoms of the disease can be treated while death is permanent. Suicide is not a solution and it can be prevented. Pick up the phone and call the National Suicide Prevention line. Be there for a friend. Participate in one of the activities in your local area to bring awareness to suicide being a preventable condition!


The month ended with the 4th Annual Bridgeway Recovery 2017 Run/Walk for Recovery event held in Salem, Oregon. This event is to raise awareness and help end the stigma for those suffering with a mental health disorder or an addiction. Bridgeway wants to help connect those that need help with the help they deserve. They realize how difficult reaching out can be due to the stigma associated with these problems. The shame that most people feel can prevent them from seeking help until their lives are in critical danger. There is hope and change is possible. Recovery does happen when you get treatment and utilize the tools available.

DSC_9521.JPG
Bridgeway Services is a new style of recovery services.  They are a Patient-Centered Primary Care Home (PCPCH).  They provide counseling, detoxification from drugs and alcohol, inpatient treatment and regular medical care as part of a holistic method of treating those struggling with their mental health and substance abuse disorders. They provide a trauma informed care approach, which is having the understanding that most all patients are having a response to previous trauma.

DSC_9580
Each of these events was a challenge for me to participate in due to my social anxiety. Left to my own devices and decisions, I would not have gone. I was encouraged to face my fear knowing there were others there to help me and I had tools to use. I am at in-patient treatment and my treatment team said immersion is a powerful tool. I was allowed my camera. It was a tool to keep me stay grounded. It helps me focus when overwhelmed with sensations from being around so many people and so much traffic.

 

DSC_0198

Dialectical view…..

DSC_0078

There but for the grace of God go I

What you see here is the result of my ability to use my tools and function and gain some self-esteem. By having access to my camera I was able to engage with people while using a tool which allowed me to stay in my own personal space. I also had the time of finding the settings and focusing for my shots.  I also engaged in a bit of exercise and enjoyed fresh air and had a few interactions with animals and nature. All these activities were mindfully noticed and utilized to assist me in staying in the moment. Some of this I have learned over time, and some of it is new skills I’ve learned since being in treatment.

 

 


I hope you see some of the themes I noticed from these activities. They are signs of recovery that are obvious and obscure. For one thing…there are many people in large groups. The struggle with mental illness and addiction is quite lonely. Getting among others and having a good time while doing it is a sure sign of recovery. Being out in public and not having shame to be associated with things such as addiction, mental health disorders, prior felonies is powerful and shows strength.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


How about evidence of families? That too is an area that often is surrounded with challenges for this population. Yet there were many moms and dads with their kids and even a few grandmas and grandpas too. Signs that said “Recovery is getting my dad back”.


Then there are the bridges. So many bridges! Recovery means having a lot of courage and stamina to leave old ways and old behaviors in search of a new path. For many people it means feeling like being on a different planet because of all they’ve lost and where they landed. Yet here these folks are out in the hundreds to hold hands or run or walk across a bridge to shake off the old and embrace the new. They are smiling. They are challenging themselves. They are pushing themselves when they are uncomfortable. I was so proud of all these people and I thanked them over and over and over. As each one passed me and I took their smiling face reddened photos I felt their courage and their hope. They were doing it. They were winning, just by being there! They were the winners, each one of them.

Recovery and Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Awareness aren’t to be recognized only in September. It is a daily thing. One day at a time. Stop the stigma. Have an awareness and become educated about mental illness and substance abuse disorder and learn how to be of help. A simple kindness and a nudge in the right direction can really make a difference.  Recovery is a lifelong journey.  It requires learning tools on a daily basis to live with things I can’t change throughout my life.  I will always be learning new skills. Sometimes I need a little more help, some new tools, a better understanding of my condition. That’s why I am at treatment. To get what I need. Thanks Bridgeway!

Advertisements

Capturing wild yeast and making sourdough bread!

This starter was created the beginning of the second week in May.

My list of new things to learn to do is always growing. When spring approached my research said it was a good time to capture some yeast and start my own science experiment on my counter. I read many different articles on how to make a good sourdough starter. The one I decided to follow was this one Sourdough Starter from Scratch: Collecting Wild Yeast.   My first capturing yeast was done in early April and it was growing well and I had been feeding it for a few weeks. I had put it in the refrigerator while I was gone from home traveling and when I tried to “fire it up” and reactivate it after a few days it developed some pinkish yuck so I threw it out. I started a new batch around May 10th and have kept it going on the counter ever since. I have tried four different Artisan sourdough bread recipes over the last few weeks and this weeks batch turned out the best in my humble opinion. My starter lives on the counter and I feed it daily with 1/3 cup of water and 1/2 cup WW flour. I toss 1/2 the starter about every 3 days. I feed it with AP flour the day before I intend to use it as that seems to create more yeast. The rest of the time the feeding is done with WW flour.

I have a little experience in bread baking over the years and anyone who knows how I am about recipes knows I have to go with my own flow and typically just use a recipe for some inspiration. That is what I did this time. I found yet another slightly different recipe and tweaked it to suit me using traditional American measurements since I have not acquired a scale yet. I found my inspiration with this recipe at Them Apples and I hope you take the time to check out this writer’s blog. He and I share a similar taste for foods! Lots of yummy stuff to be found and I love his layout!

I made my sponge using 1 heavy cup of my starter, 1 cup WW flour and 1 cup AP flour and 2 1/3 cups water. I mixed it with a fork and covered it with a cloth and it set on the counter from noon until 8pm. I wanted to have my bread ready to give a loaf to my physical therapist and my appointment was scheduled for noon the next day! I have learned over the last few weeks that baking good sourdough bread really is about taking your time and allowing the fermentation of the yeasts to develop. I love my set of Vintage Pyrex bowls and the large one was just perfect for this process!

While the sponge was doing it’s thing on the counter I tidied up my kitchen and prepared for an interview I was schedule to do at 2pm one of the reporters from the local newspaper. They are doing a full spread article on compulsive and problem gambling. I have been interviewed about problem gambling a few other times in the past.  I am happy to say this is the first interview I have had where I have significant recovery under my belt. The two other times for newspapers occurred when my life was in a shambles or I was literally sitting on my hands white knuckling it so I wouldn’t go place a bet. There was also a time I was interviewed for a TV newscast, and that occurred when I had been at a treatment facility and was at about day 45  and still trying to figure out how I was going to manage life once treatment was done. This time I am doing well today and it felt good to know that.  I am sure the article will focus more on the devastation that occurred during my 16 year battle rather than all that is good, and that is ok if the story helps educate the general public on the devastation that gambling can bring on a life. One other thing that is significantly different about this interview is that I chose not to remain anonymous. I am allowing the paper to use my name as well as my picture. Not because I am anyone special. Quite the opposite. I am just another person, who lives in the country and raises chickens and likes to cook and bake and has life challenges and loves people and is emotionally and mentally sound and happy with life. In a nutshell that is. I have nothing to hide anymore and it felt very liberating to say yes when asked if my name and photo could be used.

After the interview I hoped on my motorcycle and ran to town to check the mail for my guy while he is out of town and then back out to Applegate Valley Lavender Farm. I had promised my new friend Deborah Thompson, the proprietor, that I would help her do some preparing for the upcoming Oregon Lavender Festival. Check out her webpage and learn more about the Lavender Festival. Aside from enjoying this sweet ladies company, who wouldn’t want to hang out at a lavender farm and enjoy the scenery and the scents and the animals? I love it there. We played with her farm animal friends and pulled some weeds and ate some watermelon. It was a great couple of hours.

At 8pm I was back home and done with phone calls and little things that occupied my time for a while. It was time to make some dough! I dumped the bubbly mass of sponge into the bowl that goes with my standing mixer. I added 1 cup of WW flour, one cup of AP flour and 1/2 cup of oatmeal flour (that I grind myself with Organic Oats) and 1/2 cup of whole oats. I sprinkled in 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt and started up the mixer. Nice and slow at first. I didn’t want flour all over the place! It is a very wet batter as you can see from the photos. I added maybe another 1/4 cup of oatmeal flour after about 3 minutes because it was still sticking too much on the sides of the bowl. Once it all started to come together I amped up the mixer and let it fly for about 5 more minutes. I love my Kitchen Aid Mixer. It probably is the most used appliance I have ever owned. It is started to get a bit wobbly from so much use. When I use the dough hook to knead bread I have to hold the thing still because it bangs all over the place. I just use it as a resting place for the time it takes to knead it! After about 8-10 minutes with the mixer into an oiled bowl it goes!

Now to let it rise. I always pre-warm my oven to 350 degrees for just ONE minute and then turn it off and set my bowl inside with a tea towel or loose lid on it. I have a gas oven so it always stays a little warmer. It is a good thing I am a bit of a night owl because this dough still needs attention. As Rich at Them Apples states in his blog, this dough needs attention for about 4 hours or so. I would just stick my hands in the bowl and punch it down and turn it over and punch it down a few times each hour. At about 1:30 in the morning when I was just about ready for a good sleep I shaped the loaves into nice rounds and left them on a piece of parchment paper. I did the tea towel trick for holding their shape and it worked well. I covered them up and went to bed!

I awakened at 9 and padded out in my bare feet and turned the oven on to 450C degrees. I had a few things to do to put my “Barter Basket” so set to that while waiting for a good solid 30-45 minute pre-heat. I placed my rack in the middle of the oven and had a loaf pan full of water underneath that was heating with the oven. I also threw in some oiled new red potatoes to let them roast utilizing the pre-heat temps! I had my favorite Pampered Chef rectangular baking stone preheating in there too. For those who are curious my “Barter Basket” is a basket of home cooked and home canned food I put together each week for my physical therapist. She is treating me sans charge except for whatever I choose to bring as a barter gift. It is working out well for both of us. She and her betrothed are getting married in September and she has just asked me to provide some of the food for her dinner, which is a BBQ as well as highlight her bridal breakfast with some quiches and muffins and such! I have been so excited and honored about this. I have been enjoying cooking for most all of my adult life and to have someone ask me if I will cook for them for their most special occasion is just wonderful!

At 10 a.m.  I was ready to throw them in and have them bake. I had covered the bottoms of the loaves with a good layering of the oatmeal flour before letting them rise and so they moved about on the parchment paper I had set them on pretty well. I opened the oven and gently lifted each one with a nice long spatula and closed the door gently! Baked for 10 minutes at 450 and then turned the oven down to 200. The loaves were  just barely brown after 10 minutes. I checked on them after another 20 minutes and they didn’t sound quite hollow when tapped so I gave them an additional 5 minutes. On to the rack to cool while I got ready for my appointment with my PT.

My “Barter Basket” contained a jar of Marsala Chicken that I had cooked overnight in the crock pot, the roasted potatoes, a jar of canned peaches, a jar of Blackberry Plum jam, a plateful of Lemon Bars a loaf of this lovely Artisan Sourdough Oatmeal bread and a dozen of eggs from my Layers! My wild yeast starter is still growing on the counter and I believe I will make this same recipe again next week. I had a slice of this bread and it is very good, but I will add a little more salt next time. I think with the WW and Oat flours salt requirements increase! I hope you enjoy learning about Capturing Wild Yeast and making some good sourdough bread!

 

Making a living vs. making a LIFE

It has been busy this week. I am trying to start a business. It began with an idea that I have been running around in my head for a few weeks. I haven’t made any actual transactions of business yet, but I have met a few farmers and had a few emails of interest. For now, I’ll take that as a sign to proceed. But today is Sunday and I am in town and not doing any work. I am having my day of social interaction and getting my spirit fed.

So grateful for the beauty I SEEK that God always provides!

So grateful for the beauty I SEEK that God always provides!

I had a few new things this week. I love having “new” experiences at this time in life. In fact, I was thinking about all the new things I have done in the last year. My 50th year of life has had me doing more new things than I have in years.

This week’s new things included:

1. Drinking raw milk from grass-fed cows. I don’t remember ever having milk that didn’t either come from the milkman (yes, when I was 5 I remember the nice man who brought milk in glass jars), or from the store. That in itself is a big deal for me. The fact that it didn’t irritate my gut, the way milk has for years, was nothing short of a miracle. I ended up drinking an entire 1/2 gallon of milk in 2 days. That’s a big deal for a gal who LOVES milk and hasn’t drank a glass in over a year because of lactose intolerance and IBS. I may have found a cure. I did use 1 pint of the milk to make some homemade yogurt. Another gallon is ordered for pickup.

I love this stuff!

I love this stuff!

2. Making homemade yogurt. It was pretty simple. I haven’t eaten any of it yet, but I made it with the raw milk, and am hoping it is as delicious as that fresh milk was. If it is good, I will definitely do a blog later with the instructions, because the way I did it was pretty slick…if I do say so myself.

3. Meeting with farmers. I went out and met with farmers. I asked them about their farms and their productions and their hopes for ongoing sustainable organic food. I heard about their hopes and their dreams, their challenges. I picked up little tidbits about their families. I asked them how I can promote their farm and the foods and goods they produce to families that want fresh healthy locally grown food. It was a great day. I only took a couple of pictures and this little sweetie holding one of her hens said what my day was about. Farms, food, friends, community!

This sweet cherub was helping her parents show off their free range chickens.  Adorable!

This sweet cherub was helping her parents show off their free range chickens. Adorable!

4. Fermenting vegetables. I have made sauerkraut with my dear friend up north a couple of times. He taught me how his grandfather taught him who had been taught by someone before that…if you get the picture. There was no recipe. It was a rhythm and a taste and a big mess!!! Making big batches of Kraut the old way is fun! I also made a batch of my own this last fall. It’s not hard. Did you know that lacto-fermented vegetables are so good for the gut. And I need good things for my gut. I had seen beautiful jars of “Garlic-pepper infused” vegetables at the local Grower’s Market. I decided to give it a try. I read a couple of articles, watched a couple of “how to” videos on U-tube. Then I started chopping and layering. I think they look lovely. I will let you know in a week or so how they turned out. I also did a crock full of slicked and diced cabbage with a little onion and garlic in it.

Pretty colors and good for the body!

Pretty colors and good for the body!

5. I also have been gluten/sugar-free all week long. Lots of juicing!!! And I made gluten/sugar free brownies for a treat!

A recipe I found by following one of the local CSA's blogs.  It hit the spot.

A recipe I found by following one of the local CSA’s blogs. It hit the spot.

6. Putting up a greenhouse – I already covered that, but it was a new thing.

So, those are new things I’ve tried just this week. Over the last year, new things I’ve done include; learning to ride a motorcycle and buying my own motorcycle; growing a garden for food; canning; re-purpose old furniture; raising chickens; raising baby chicks; farm life; countless new recipes and cooking creations; driving a BIG motorcycle (that wasn’t mine and I only did it once). These are just the things that come to mind right now. I love doing new things and trying new things and hope to learn until the day I no longer am here on earth.

Many of the new things I try are to make improvements with my health. I am always trying to heal my body. Some ways I do that are through food and nutrition. Some of the new things are to stretch my mind and find things to enjoy in life. I spent years and years working and just taking care of all the chores of life. Today, for my health, I know I need rest and relaxation. I must have creative outlets. Recreation is necessary for my mental health.

I am trying to find a way to be self-sufficient within the limitations my body currently puts on me. I am hopeful that I will continue to have more energy and more strength as I find new ways to eat and heal myself. I am seeking a life that is not just about working to make a living, but rather a work that is about making a wonderful LIFE!!! Time will tell how this all works out. For now, I will take it a day at a time, like I do all things.

At Wildlife Images.

At Wildlife Images.

Something I’ve wanted to try.

I have been contemplating this idea for a number of months. The idea of starting a blog.  I love sharing things.  It isn’t that I think I know so much.  It’s that my life has changed in such ways that I have time to be at home and try things and let you know how they work.  I also enjoying sharing pictures.  I am NOT a photographer.  I have a very old camara and I use my phone frequently  I just love to take pictures to chronicle the passing of life and the moments.  It really is about the moments.

My blog will have posting about a variety of topics.  I recently adopted a flock of 13 chickens.  I got the chicken bug in the early spring of 2012.  I had not anticipated actually being able to get chickens until spring of 2013.  But life gave me a bunch of lemons…and I got chickens!!  GO figure.  I love my girls.  They provide so much more than eggs.  The most important thing, is the sense of repsonsibilty.  They need me to provide them with food and water and PROTECTION!  So that means even on days when I am feeling challenged, I still have to attend to THEIR needs.  If you check in on my blog you will know why me getting up and attending to some chickens is important.

Another of my interests in gardening.  I just moved to a small 13 acre mini farm.  They have given me permission to build my DREAM!  I have had a dream of building a greenhouse for many years.  I actually bought and acquired 50+ windows in early August.  I brought them with me on my move just 2 months ago.   I will have to redesign it based on the new location, but I am hoping to have it ready within the next year.  Until then, I will use the plastic greenhouses that are available on the property.  Gardening with greenhouses is a new gig for me, so you get to watch my successes…and my blunders.  I used to own and operate my own landscape maintence business years ago.  I have had a love of things growing most of my life.   Babies and plants and animals.  I am pretty silly about nature.  🙂  It makes me happy.

I was diagnosds with a spastic colon when I was 17. That was really a drag.  Today it is called Irritabel Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  I am so grateful that I love food enough that I didn’t give up on eating!  If you have IBS you know the challenges.  Finding what you can eat…and finding a BATHROOM!  I am still working on this, but it is 75% better than it was years ago.  I know a few things that will cause upsets.  And sometimes…if I am home alone…I will pay the price.   I won’t do this as often as I used to tho. If I eat natural organic whole foods and stay away from dairy and prepared foods, I have much less troubles.  So, with my own dietary experiences I have a soft spot for anyone that has ANY type of gastrointestinal disorder affected by eating.  We all have to eat!!!  If you have food challenges I will at some time try to address them.  Oh yeah…I am also a nurse.  And preventative medicine is something I have always believed in.  I am learning about some alternative nursing now.  I will be sharing on healthcare related topics.

Lastly, I am a recent convert to being a country girl.  I have always thought I was born in the wrong century.  I think if I would have been alive and kicking back in the 1800’s…well I might have made history!!!  Well, maybe not…but I would have head a heck of a good time trying.  I have been living a rural lifestyle for the last 14 months, and believe I have arrived to the place I belong.  My way of getting here may or may not be discussed.  I have not decided on that yet.  But, I have  arrived to the country and even tho some major challenges were presented, I decided to stay in the country that I have come to love.  Rogue Valley!  I will share more about that later too!!!  It really is a magnificent place in Oregon.

My top THREE things in life.  God, Recovery and my kids(and grandson).  They are the backbone to everyting that I am about!  So you will hear me talk of God, spirituality, acceptance, surrender, love, forgiveness, joy, sorrow, challenges, emotions, praise, forgiveness and a number of life on a day to day basis issues.

I plan on having fun with this.  I hope you enjoy it too!  I have always enjoyed writing, but have become very “prose” oriented with social websites.  I am hoping that a blog will help me to expound on my writing abilities.  Language is beautiful.  Sharing is joy.  Community is paramount to survival!  Yes, I will touch on self-sustainable living, preparedness, canning, and if SHTF!!!

Thank you for reading my first post.