Home > feelings, poetry, work > Cadre Convening

Cadre Convening

Thursday and Friday I attended a convening of the Missouri Cadre for Co-Occurring Excellence. The Cadre is a group of clinicians and active consumers who meet quarterly to plan and strategize on improving services for individuals who have co-occurring mental health and substance abuse problems. It arose out of funding from the Missouri Foundation for Health hiring substance abuse agencies to do mental health work and mental health agencies to do substance abuse work with the idea that most individuals have both problems and would be better served if their services were delivered that way.

I have been attending for a couple of years, do a little committee work, and now serve on the Interim Committee, a quasi-democratic body charged with navigating us from a project of a foundation to an independent participatory democratic organization. Mostly its educational sessions by the charming duo of Dr Cline and Dr Minkoff, experts in the field of co-occurring disorders.

This convening was held at a Marriott in West St Louis. I was asked to bring along a consumer from Jeff City and agreed to do so. He was a real charming fellow and a bit manic which can be contagious and we had some real animated conversation driving out. It was nice to see someone else managing their disorder in a healthy and independent way and it made the drive fly by.

I had left at the ass crack of dawn, well quarter after, i was running late but was still a little late to the meeting. After wards I was talking to our fearless leader Craig who also sits on the credentialing board and I found out I likely have enough training hours to get my co-occurring specialist certification. This will allow me to bill for doing co-occurring counseling which is mostly what I do but i have to bill it as substance abuse counseling because that’s all the licensure I currently have. That was probably the most helpful thing I learned.

The conference programming was a lot of review and I can’t say I learned a whole hell of a lot. There was some stuff on stage matched groups that was interesting. There was also a role play of a group and the role players were really funny. There was also a lay out for a presentation on anxiety that looks helpful and replicable. Mostly it just validated my own approach to the work, which is good.

The evening of the conference I went and saw an old friend. It was really fun hanging out and we went to The Himalaya and I had my first Nepalese food. It was pretty good and reminded me of Indian cuisine. I also hardly got any sleep. We also watched 500 Days of Summer which was better than I expected.

At the previous conference we had focused on increasing consumer involvement so amongst other things we had a presentation by Tim Hamilton the founder of DRA (Dual Recovery Anonymous) and his wife Betty. Betty had asked for a show of hands of who has a dual disorder and I had outed myself as a lunatic with some drug history for the first time. I frequently do when talking to clients but rarely do when talking to other professionals. Its not relevant or helpful so i have known all these folks for years and then let them know i was on the other side of the fence.

So driving home from the last convening I had thought about the implications of that and it came to me that i should share this poem with them. It talks about being an agent of change and we fancy ourselves change agents in this movement of ours. I kept putting off asking for a little time on the agenda until the last piece. Craig was facilitating updates and it was dragging a bit. He was standing by me so i asked for the last 3 minutes for a closing. I read the following poem:

Becoming Whole

You see the whole absurdity in the human condition

And strive to see the beauty in the life that your living

You’ve overcome the emptiness

And learned the art of giving

And you have broken the chains

That once held you down

You have learned to rearrange

You are an agent of change

You think and you learn and you are

Destined for the stars

You love every part of life

You see the hope and the magic

You smile through the darkest nights

And rise to face the tragic

And you have opened your mind

And reached for the prize

You have learned to feel and grow

You can let people know

Change has happened before

It will happen again

The least shall rise up

The great shall pay for their sins

And you stand upon the rooftop

And shout out your agnostocism

Yet you love your neighbor as yourself

And live out your cathechism

And you have crossed the great valley

And are on the other side

You have faced the great fear

You have crossed the divide

You have learned to overcome

Light shines from your soul

You are mighty and strong and you are

Becoming Whole

It was really well received. I was nervous and put a lot of emotion into it. My proudest part was in my intro I mentioned that I had bi-polar disorder and that one of the gifts of that was poetry. I think I was definitely the only one to refer to bi-polar as a gift. So people liked it. I have pledged to post it on the Missouri Institute of Mental Health co-occurring list serve and Betty Hamilton talked to me about doing a CD for DRA, so maybe something will come of it. I am a little nervous with my increasingly high profile. There are so many apparent contradictions in my life that it just seems like someday they will have to come back and bite me in the ass. Not everyone believes “everything is true, everything is permissible”.

On the drive home i was very jazzed up from the energy and positive feedback. My co-pilot also was inspired and we had a great time making plans. We are going to bring Bruce C. in for a DRA speaker and try to reinvigorate DRA in Jeff City. Good things are coming and it feels good to be part of a movement again.

Categories: feelings, poetry, work
  1. suzanneme
    March 7, 2010 at 5:12 am

    That was very brave of you and I liked the poem and its optimism.

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