Archive for March, 2010

Cadre Convening

March 6, 2010 1 comment

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

“Battle of Fallen Timbers”

I saw the Toledo Metroparks are having a March Forth on March Fourth and they are walking the site of the Battle of Fallen Timbers. If you are not a student of history there was a time in the Indian Wars when they were a lot more close. After the Revolutionary War the standing army of the United States was defeated by a coalition of Native American Tribes several years running. Washington finally pulled Anthony Wayne out of retirement who shaped up a pretty tight army which slowly and methodically beat back the indians across the Ohio country culminating in the final battle close to Toledo. Since I’m writing this in English and not Shawnee you can guess who won. In the midwest there is a lot of stuff named for Anthony Wayne most notably Fort Wayne but not so much for the indians. Here’s my poem on the subject again taken from my chapbook “America: Tales of Atrocity and Near Escape”. Ask me for a copy and i’ll give you one.

The Battle of Fallen Timbers

Gave us Mad Anthony Wayne

But the Indians who fought and died there

No one remembers their names

If Deja Vu didn’t have a name

Would I still feel like I’ve been here before?

If there weren’t just a few so incredibly rich

Would there have to be so many billions of poor?

And the winners right the history books

Always to cover their shame

And the winners get so self righteous

They’re never the ones to blame

If Deja Vu didn’t have a name

Would I still feel like I’ve been here before

If there weren’t just a few so incredibly rich

Would there have to be so many billions of poor









Chief Pipe



Little Turtle

Stands Between

Weh-yah-pih-er-sehn-wah (Blue Jacket)

Thick Water

Big Fish


Categories: history, poetry

meteorological spring revisited

March 1, 2010 1 comment

Seeing some interest in last years post I thought I would revisit the topic this year. Meteorological Spring is the idea that the equinox doesn’t really hit when the seasons really change. Its the idea that March, April & May are more springlike and June not so much. Astronomically spring rolls through to around June 20. Obviously mid June is Summer. Personally I celebrate both.

Last year I was a new nonsmoker. This year its been a year and I am in a great place with it. I feel as much more like a nonsmoker than a former smoker. This weekend I was even able to pick The Popster up a pack which would have been a no no a year ago.

Last year I was sick of winter. This year much more so. I am in a better place emotionally which i wouldn’t have realized without going back and reading my old post. This winter has been so much worse. We got hit with a long and very cold snap in December wiping out my winter crops and then snow and cold all winter long. No winter gardening. Only 2 of my 3 garlics i managed to get in survived. The third one washed away and froze. I don’t know when i’ll get my hands in the dirt. The compost hasn’t done anything all winter so it’ll probably be May before I have usable stuff. (Last year I had a batch in March and a batch in May).

Last year I had a Convening of the Cadre for Co-Occurring Excellence to attend. This year I do as well. This year I am on the steering committee and we are trying to do something. I’ll see if we really did on Meteorological Spring part 3.

Other changes, I am blogging more, playing more dungeons and dragons, and getting less projects done on the house. Getting along better with Dad in retrospect and am overall happier. I am getting a little more exercise, eating out a lot less and spending a lot less money. I am driving less and reading less books and more magazines. I facebook more and talk on the phone less. I gave up my personal cell phone months ago (great decision) and am days away from dropping my work cell phone. I am working a little less but still too much. All in all life improves. Easy to miss without some reflection on where we’ve come from. I am more and more seeing an “attitude of gratitude” as the most fundamental thing in my quality of life. Thanks for sharing the journey and please leave a comment.

Categories: feelings, gardening

“The School Dance”

I was planning on writing a piece on persuasion after reading an interesting article on the subject in Scientific American Mind and another on NPR but I am to bushed. I trimmed up the tree in the front yard, used a chainsaw for the first time, and everything. I chickened out from climbing around in it sawing off the dead branches. Instead I tied some rope to a hammer and lassoed the dead branches like I was hanging a bear bag (when you camp you have to hang your food at least 12′ to keep the bears out of it) and then pulled them down. Dad was impressed, didn’t know i had that skill set. So when I want to post but don’t feel like writing its time to post another poem from the past. This one I wrote in that first flurry of school shootings, prior to Columbine. I can’t relate to the desire to commit random violence but I can relate to feeling left out and alone.

Luke Woodham shot some kids at Pearl High

Don’t ask me who, don’t ask me why

Kids got it hard, this is true

Deadbeat Dads and sniffing glue

Luke stabbed his mom or so they say

What a way to start your day

The newspapers say Satan’s to blame

But I know it was cuz he never came

To The School Dance

The School Dance was really Rockin’

After wards all the kids were talkin’

Who you gotta know and what you gotta do

If you want to try… to be cool.

Luke Woodham’s a killer yes I know

But what can you do? Where can you go?

Stuck in a house with a Mom you hate

And there’s no way you’ll get a date

To The School Dance.

The School Dance was really Rockin’

Afterwards all the kids were talkin’

Who you gotta know and what you gotta do

If you want to try… to be cool.

Luke Woodham will spend his life in jail

With no parole, no chance for bail

He was wrong for what he did

Cuz now there’s gonna be two less kids

At The Scho0l Dance.

The School Dance was really Rockin’

Afterwards all the kids were talkin’

What you gotta know, and who you gotta do

If you wanna try… to be cool.

Categories: childhood, poetry