What I’m Reading Now; A Bookshelf Confessional of Addiction Recovery, Spirituality, and Erotica

Reading and writing has always played an important role in my life. Growing up my parents read to me each night before bed. My sister, before being able to read words, would create stories based off illustrations, eventually teaching me to do the same. And even before learning the alphabet I began creating stories with my drawings, publishing the first of my works, a story based on a frog named Henry, at age five (in Mrs. Anderson’s kindergarten class we were all published authors).

Although reading is of great value to me, I haven’t always taken the time to sit down and actually do it. Actionless aspiration became the norm in my teens and twenties, placing more importance on drinking, camping, running, school, work, yoga, gardening, skiing, writing – really anything other than reading. Thankfully, with the gift of introspection, this hope of becoming the type of person who relaxes with a book on a Saturday afternoon has become a reality. This change comes at a time I am fully embracing who I am, giving up the need to constantly “do”, and relaxing in the present moment.

The catalyst for this change was a desire, which became a goal, and was achieved with each flip of a page. The book which started my success: The Giver by Lois Lowry which I started in the fourth grade and finished 20 years later. This thought provoking story of breaking conformity at all cost, the ambition to search relentlessly for answers, and to find freedom in the pursuit of life spoke to my naturally-rebellious-self (for more on the topic of rebellion contact my mother). Since creating that goal nearly one year ago I have gone on to finish several books including Unhooked; How to Quit Anything by Susan Shapiro and Dr. Frederick Woolverton, The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, Recovery; Freedom from Our Addictions by Russell Brand, The Energy of Prayer: How to Deepen Your Spiritual Practice by Thich Nhat Hahn and My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean by Amy Dresner. This demonstrates just how powerful it can be to set an intention, create attainable goals and taking action (for more on how ‘Baby Steps’ function in a clinical setting see What About Bob? starting Bill Murray).

What I have found over the year of dedicated page turning is reading is an art form. There are guidelines and etiquette involved. One which we should all adhere to is not ripping out pages, especially at the end of a thrilling scene. If you need to roll a joint or spit your gum out, remember that you’re an adult and to find a some rolling papers or a tissue. Also, don’t be messy with your foods while reading! I can see the curry splattered on the pages of Lord of the Rings now. Do as the Zen Buddhist say, one thing at a time. My last rule happens to be on the list because of those naughty Germans in the 1930’s; Don’t burn books! The lessons learned and the imaginings of the past are all available to us to learn from and are contained on the pages. Take care of them.

Although I do like some rules there are others which I recoil against. Some include reading a book all the way through to the end, independent of whether is sucks or not, reading one book at a time, not marking pages (aka annotating), and the encouragement of swapping, trading, and borrowing.

We learn these rules from teachers, parents, and librarians in our formative years, but I wholeheartedly disagree. I read books like others watch television shows; the chosen subject dependent on mood and energy, one chapter or episode at a time, and moving to the next when desired. If I don’t enjoy reading a book, I simply don’t read it anymore. Continuing to read a book which you don’t enjoy would be like watching the first episode of Westworld, hating it, and continuing to watch the subsequent nine. Hours of your precious time lost. I once read 856 of 936 pages of Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, stopping because I was no longer interested in the events or characters. No shame.

And one book at a time? Heck no! Currently I am in the middle of seven different books on varying topics; Each with its own purpose and energy. This means no matter my mood, I always have something from which to choose.

And why swap, trade, or borrow books? Sure, if you don’t have the money to buy a book, find it at the library or ask a friend for their copy, but if you can (and I’m sure you can!) buy it. Buy the paper or hardback preferably. Hold it in your hands. Ear tag pages, write questions or comments freely in the margins, carry it with you wherever you go. A book is like a boyfriend, you get to know it slowly, and if it’s good, you don’t loan it out to others.

Although I don’t suggest sharing the physical copy of a book, sharing the content can be a wonderful way to connect more deeply with a story, improving comprehension and understanding. I suggest reading aloud with your significant other, sharing a book with a friend, or joining a bookclub in your area. Doing this will allow you to discuss the deeper meaning of the book and how it relates to you, the other person, or society as a whole. It also opens one to meaningful discussions which would not otherwise have been had. What a great way to spend an evening, a road trip, or a morning at the coffee shop; discussing the ideas, cultures, and imaginings of others, past and present.

Basically, whatever you enjoy reading, read it. Nothing is better than a good book. Below is the list of books I’m currently reading, along with what I enjoy about them, and a link for you to find out more information. If you’d like to share what you are reading with me, leave a comment below, email me, or go to my contact page to leave me a message.

Happy Reading!

Lighting Up by Susan Shapiro

This book is a riot! I literally laugh out loud as I’m reading. Susan Shapiro hides nothing as she takes the reader through a rough year of giving up cigarettes, alcohol, gum, and pot. Themes include therapy, sex, addiction, family dynamics, and relationships. I HIGHLY recommend this book!

El plan infinito por Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende es mi autora favorita. Cada carácter que ella se crea yo puedo ver perfectamente en la imaginaria mia. Los caracteres se seguimos durante sus vidas y se conocemos los pensamientos, aspiraciones, y duermos. Esta historia no es diferente. Se sigue la familia Reeves en su viaje a California durante la segunda guerra mundial. Después que el papa de la familia se enfermó, la familia establecieron en un barrio hispano en Los Ángeles. Ellos encontraron amigos nuevos y encontraron una pasión para justicia social.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

I picked this book up amidst moving from Idaho to Arizona a week before Christmas with no home, job, or gym. In this teaching story Siddhartha, the main character, leaves the comfort of his home, giving up all things familiar, and goes on a spiritual journey to find himself (sound familiar?). During his journey he renounces everything material, meets the Buddha, learns of love and sensual pleasure, and finds his own true path, independent of others. Each time I pick this book up I see clearly where I am in my own journey and the possibilities of where I could go.

Love and Its Meaning in the World by Rudolf Steiner

After reading one paragraph of Rudolf Steiner I’m left to ponder for days about its meaning. This book on Love is no different. This isn’t a superficial book on the strategies of relationships. Rather it’s a book on our souls evolution and loves role throughout the journey. This one takes some serious mental juice. Only serious seekers should attempt.

Little Birds Erotica by Anais Nin

Thirteen short stories written by the diarist and essayist Anais Nin. What I love most about Anais is her courage to write about herself, the scandalous topic of sex, and fictional characters who practice introspection. Although this book was published after her death, the majority of the stories were written in the 1940s when she was part of a group who wrote pornography for a dollar a day. Isn’t she great?!


What are you reading???

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Ready to stop using alcohol, cigarettes, food, heroine, running as a way to distract, numb, or avoid life?? Work with me!

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Change Your Habits: Feng Shui Magic

If you have ever wanted to give up a bad habit (smoking cigarettes, drinking too much alcohol, coffee, Dr. Pepper, eating ice cream, watching T.V., having sex with strangers) you know stopping can be more difficult than first anticipated. Not only are we driven my our habits, routines created over several years of doing the same activity, but our physical habits, thought patterns, and even our homes can lead us back to using, and abusing, a substance or activity. For this, we must be diligent about changing our mental, emotional, and environmental landscape.


Change Your Environment

A friend of mine who uses Feng Shui in her interior designing explained how the layout of a home is indicative of the layout of the mind. If one is going to effectively change a habit or behavior they must also change their environment. This made total sense to me and often where I see clients struggle.

Take for instance giving up a habit such as drinking coffee in the morning. If I am going to give up drinking coffee, I need to change the layout in my kitchen. I need to remove the coffee maker and replace it with a tea kettle, as well as give away the coffee beans I have in the pantry and replace them with tea. In an extreme attempt to interrupt the bed-to-coffee-maker pattern, I could place my yoga mat on the kitchen floors as way to prompt me to stretch to awaken my body instead of relying on caffeine. This alone isn’t going to keep me from drinking coffee, but the change in my environment supports my goal and makes it more likely to continue without coffee. 

Another example, which I am working on currently, is getting back into a daily formal meditation routine by dedicating myself to 40 continuous days of practice. Many of you might be thinking, “Changing the habit of not meditating isn’t life or death like alcoholism or anorexia…”. On the contrary, meditation is how I discovered how to sit with uncomfortable feelings instead of numb them with food, alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana. To ensure my meditation success I didn’t just ‘hope’ to be able to complete the 40 days. No. I bought a calendar to put in the kitchen, marking down each day in the succession, which changed the environment, as well as placing meditation cushion and chairs in the living room for easy access and no room for excuses. I also enlisted my partner to be an accountability buddy, reminding one another each evening of the goal. And finally, created a plan to sit for 10 minutes for the first 10 days, 15 minutes for days 10-20, 20 minutes for days 20-30, and 30 minutes for days 30-40.

Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life: How to Use Feng Shui to Get Love, Money, Respect and Happiness by [Carter, Karen Rauch]

Both of these examples include a change of environment, crucial to the success of the desired habit change. Without these it would become too easy fall back into the unwanted habit or justify quitting the new and desired routine. If you are serious about changing your patterns, habits, and/ or addictive tendencies, you need to get serious by making changes in your environment. You can also ask for help from co-workers, friends, partners/spouses, or contact your local Feng Shui interior designer 🙂

Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life by Karen Rauch Carter 

For those incredibly brave, serious folks who are ready to tackle their habits which are getting in the way of living a healthy, fulfilling life, check out my resource Creating a Bad Habit Busting Recovery Wellness Plan, attached below.

Bad Habit Busting Recovery Wellness Plan


If you need more support on this long, arduous, adventurous road to recovery, contact me!

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Mindfulness Saves Lives!

Mindfulness is defined as paying attention, on purpose, with kindness. When we take time to develop and practice mindfulness by watching our thoughts, feelings and

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sensations rather than react to them, we create space between the two stimuli. This gives us the power to choose how we respond and can help save our lives.

Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Imagine one is driving, they hear the “ping” of the phone nearby (not terribly hard to imagine, right?). The first response might be to reach for it. Rather than acting, this practiced person senses the urge to take a peek, but instead takes a breath and stays driving. They might do a body scan, feeling the sensations of the back’s contact with the seat, feel the air on their skin, notice the rise and fall of the sensation. Fully attentive while driving, one can respond to the happenings surrounding themselves, staying in the moment and safe.phone on car seat


Addiction and Mindfulness

If one tends to participate in self-harming rituals (possibilities include, over/under eating, cutting, taking drugs or alcohol, nicotine, sex, video games or technology) this practice is greatly beneficial at times of craving or while breaking habits. A triggering event might take place: An interaction, a sensation in the body, stress or worry. In that moment, one finds themself craving the object which makes the situation feel more in control.

When this happens, we use mindfulness.

We can watch the craving thought, feel the craving sensations in the body, notice our emotions at the time, and choose how to respond. To do this we must be willing to pause, to sit, to feel these sensations. It takes a dedicated, not time-consuming, mindfulness practice. You can be mindful doing anything and everything! Walk the dog, converse, sit formally, all with the intention of paying attention on purpose, with kindness.

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Not participating in this act of self-harming can save one’s life. Seriously.


Suicide and Mindfulness

Another, even more serious, version of self-harming is suicide. When suicidal thoughts occur, which they do at times, one can develop the space to recognize the thought as just that, a thought. Or maybe it comes in the form of a sensation, pausing and feeling into this sensation. Over and over again, we practice this. We feel sensation without responding to them, we watch our thoughts and let them go. Doing this, we create the opportunity to choose our actions. We create space and time to reach out, connecting with someone, or list out our values.

This space can give us life.

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Using mindfulness, we can deactivate the amygdala  stimulation (fight, flight, freeze) and are more able to activate the prefrontal cortex  where reasoning takes place. This allows us to respond rather than react and is calming to the nervous system.


There are several ways of developing our capacity to recognize thoughts, feel strong sensations without reacting to them, and labeling our moment to moment experiences.

  • Meditation: One can meditate focusing on the breath, sensations, sounds, or a visualization.
  • Movement: Walking, yoga, Tai Chi are all meditative movement focused on reestablishing the connection between brain and body.

Treat meditation like coffee… Do it everyday!


Resources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3383812/

https://www.speakingofsuicide.com/2013/09/02/mindfulness/

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Addiction and Poverty: A Cycle We Can End

My hope is the information on the issue of poverty and addiction will allow you to develop a deeper understanding of the disease and how poverty places an extra layer on overcoming addiction. If we know the problem, we can better address it and provide communities around the world with a solution. Please contact me with questions, ideas, or if you’d like more information on how this is done in Idaho.

As always, Thank you for reading!


Addiction and Poverty Defined

Poverty

To end the cycle of poverty and addiction we need to first have a working definition of both terms. Poverty is defined as the state of one who lacks material resources. This might be characterized by cramped housing, living on the streets or in a shelter, and a lack of transportation. People who experience poverty are less likely to go to school, receive adequate health care, and have less access to sanitary living conditions. It’s important to remember poverty can be experienced intermittently, for weeks, months, or years, and over generations. The longer one experiences poverty, the greater the affects and risks of developing unhealthy relationships with substances. 

Addiction

Addiction is defined as a physical, as well as, psychological dependence. It is possible for people to become psychologically dependent without having a physical addiction. The psychological aspect involves craving, an intense desire to keep on using the substance/object of one’s addiction even when it’s obviously leading to problems. I’m sure you’ve experienced this sensation at various times in your life, whether with a substance like alcohol, chocolate cake, or television. Just the thought of going without the substance can fill one with dread and anxiety. With this as a side effect, it can be difficult to imagine life without the substance/ object.

The human body is amazing and can adapt to substances ingested, whether healthy or not. A side effect of this phenomenon is the physical dependency which can develop. This can lead one to experience withdrawal symptoms when the level of the substance in the bloodstream fall to low. These symptoms are highly unpleasant and can be fatal. Another outcome could be needing more of the substance to get the same effect. 

Dealing With the Underlying Causes

The underlying reasons for beginning the substance/ object dependency should be noted, observed and dealt with if one is to fully recover. Identifying the causes to seek out a substance give one more tools for dealing with the thoughts, emotions, and feelings as which arise, causing the craving for a substance.

Poverty and Substance Abuse

Research suggests a strong association between poverty, social exclusion, problematic drug use. This manifests itself as under or unemployment, insecure housing, and leaving school before graduating. This association coupled with other dispositions accumulate to mean some people are more at risk of addiction, although there does not seem to be any one single factor which determines whether someone will form an addiction. It is a mixture of genetic and environmental factors which play a role in forming addictive behaviors. 

There are 4 Risk Factors that Lead to Addiction

#1. Childhood Experiences

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Work with Me: The Road to Recovery

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I specialize in recovery-based life coaching for people seeking all aspects of well being: balance, clarity, focus, fulfillment, serenity, health and success. This means supporting clients recovering from the disease of addiction by guiding them through important decision-making processes with heart-centered purpose. Drawing out my client’s own inner wisdom and truth to transform challenges into meaningful change with an emphasis on wellness and mindfulness practices.

Part of recovery and avoiding relapse involves gaining new life skills and having a new vision for your life. One way to work through specific issues and continue learning and growing is by working in conjunction with a certified Recovery Coach. Recovery coaches focus on the present and future in helping clients make lifestyle changes, move forward to meet their goals and increase their life satisfaction. When working with a recovery coach you can ensure all client/coach communications are strictly confidential. Recovery Coaching is recognized as a key element of the new integrated treatment industry standard, Recovery-Oriented Systems Of Care.


What is a Recovery Coach?

Recovery coaching is the collaborative work done between a professional Recovery Coach and their client to take the client from where they are now to where they want to be. Clients who hire a recovery coach usually are seeking relief from their addictions, or are seeking to enter into recovery, or want to enhance their recovery, always looking for a safer, more balanced, happier life. Coaches help clients sustain positive life changes.

Recovery is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life and strive to reach their full potential.

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