At Second Nature we are obviously concerned about and committed to mental health. Perhaps not as obvious, is our focus on and commitment to physical health and well-being. For over a year, our nurse Adam at Entrada has been tracking the weight and body fat of our clients on a monthly basis. To get a first glimpse of these physical changes, I recently crunched the numbers for our clients that entered and graduated during 2014.
When you’re tasked with hosting an event and spend hours preparing for it and making sure it goes off without a hitch it’s easy to forget why you were doing it in the first place. I can often be guilty of focusing too much on the details and erring on the side of perfection. During our event I sat around a warm fire surrounded by professionals of the industry in the middle of the Nevada desert. In this moment our Health and Wellness Coordinator invited the group to practice mindfulness as we enjoyed a well-prepared meal of beans and rice. It was the first time in over a month where I actively took time to slow down and enjoy the present moment. I was reminded WHY I was there and how powerful the wilderness can be. I was overwhelmed with the amount of contentment and gratitude surrounding me.
As a yoga teacher and meditation facilitator for Second Nature Entrada as well as the yoga director for a local, in-patient addiction treatment center for adults, I become giddy (if not a little smug) with every new article or study that references mindfulness as a means of complimentary treatment for behavioral or psychological disorders. Mindfulness is gaining a greater voice in the field of psychology and physiology and we practitioners of such a concept are celebrating!
When I decided to become a therapist, I was in my early 20’s. I thought I was beginning a career where I could put my skills to use to take away others’ pain. I was introduced to therapy early in life due to my many struggles in childhood and my mother’s instinct to seek guidance from child psychologists. I thought I had wisdom to offer—wisdom gleaned from the years of challenge and from the self-evaluation that therapy often offers. It wasn’t long into my career before I realized that I wasn’t in the business of helping people feel happy, but rather I was in the business of helping people feel everything. The ability to allow for the painful feelings of others is difficult as a therapist and almost intolerable as a parent. It also became clear early on that any wisdom I had was gleaned from my own struggles and mistakes and that offering advice to anyone was both arrogant and misguided. Trying to steer people in the direction I deemed best, removes the essential aspect that adds worth and depth to our human experience.
I am firstly a yogi by profession and by passion. One of the supreme focuses and goals of a yoga practice is to find balance in all things – the body, perceptions, lifestyle, discernment. So… to be true to my path, I decided it might be healthy to present a recipe that might not fit the healthiest of the “healthy” models… for once. To be sure, a healthy life cannot be sustained by the ‘perfect’ diet. A healthy lifestyle is about what feeds us but not necessarily (or not exclusively) about food. Remember when you were a kid and playing with friends took precedent over coming in for dinner? Your mom had to demand that you come inside and, even then, you ate half of what you should have just to get back out to play some more. Or when you were in love and food was the last thing on your mind? It was something else entirely that fueled you! Food might be a part of the puzzle but sustenance is complex and multidimensional. So this week in the field, we focused on using food to evoke comfort in a way that is balanced – to conjure positive memories, bring us together as friends, family, or community. For me, nothing brings comfort like my mom’s chicken noodle soup. So put down the kale chips and try this recipe out! I hope it warms your belly and heart like it does mine!
I woke up. Where am I? How did I get here? It occurs to me that I am in my car, which is upside down. I am drunk. My car is still running. I start to panic. How could this happen? This can’t be real. My body is numb except for a sharp pain in my left shoulder where my body bounced off of the doorframe. I kick the passenger door open, step out and sink waist deep into swamp water. My car is wedged between a concrete drainage pipe and a mound of dry soil. The carriage is suspended over water. It was the scariest moment of my life. That was the night before I checked into rehab. One and a half years before I finally got sober. I was 18 years old.
Reflections on “Understanding Gender Issues for Residential Treatment ” sponsored by University Neuropsychiatric Institute, The Bodin Group and Second Nature
I have had the benefit of hearing Dr. Jami Gill’s transgender presentation on two occasions, most recently on September 29th at the University of Utah’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. I will identify just a couple of the many themes that I continue to contemplate with regards to her presentation.
An important part of the journey back to health and well-being is to remember how to self-soothe when life is turbulent. At Second Nature, we encourage our clients and students to establish discipline around self-care. Creating comfort in simple, healthy ways is an essential part of that discipline and can be SO much fun to explore! The following recipe is incredibly simple and full of time-tested medicinal properties!!
Diving the Depths of Our Story
One of the first assignments completed by participants upon arriving to Second Nature Entrada is a life story. Reading the life story is the first introduction a person will make to the group and little direction is given on how to write it. What stands out to me is how consistently people write their stories as a linear journey that highlights the events leading to Second Nature. The subtle labels that clients put on themselves – addict, unmotivated, anxious, etc. – tell a story of people with little dimension who have “messed up” and need to “get back on track.”
I love being a substance abuse counselor. My formal education and professional experience over the past 11 years has brought depth and complexity to my life that challenges and enriches me daily. In truth, however, my first love is music. I’ve been writing and performing music since I was 16 years old. I wish I could adequately relate to you the thrill I get when I finish writing a new song and the absolute rush of performing that song for a crowd full of friends and family. This passion started when I was a toddler. When other kids were playing t-ball I was rocking out in front of a mirror, pretending to be the newest member of my favorite band – Metallica. Have you ever done that? Stood in front of the mirror, lip-syncing or singing along to your favorite band? Pretty nerdy, right? But we’ve all done it. I still contend that I am pretty much the greatest air-guitar player ever. No, seriously. I do. Yes, music is my passion and I couldn’t imagine loving it more than I do.