Archive for June, 2011

Four “A”s

I am putting together a new group for work and as always I prefer to do my creative efforts at home in my own time. I have always worked that way finding the day to day grind and meeting responsibilities, deadlines and helping people makes work fairly frenetic most of the time and not a great space for thoughtful creative enterprises. I’ve had my best therapeutic insights, come up with a new approach to a stuck problem in just musing on it a bit on my own time. When I was married I would get checked for not leaving work at work but if you enter the helping professions sometimes a little more is asked of you. I don’t fret about work, worry about my clients, or beat myself up over outcomes. I do sometimes brainstorm, ponder, muse, pray for the people who are struggling who cross my paths. Its part of caring about people.

I also like to do my creative thinking at home so that I continue to own my own thoughts. If I were laying this out on my office computer on the clock then there would be every expectation that the fruits of my labor would belong to my employer. Now I am pretty much anti-copyright but I would hate to see a situation where I don’t have access to my own ideas because someone else owns them. So most of my original stuff makes its first appearance here.

The state of Missouri pays substance abuse treatment agencies for two types of groups, education groups and process groups. Education groups you teach something and that is my preferred mode of operation. Education is not a particularly effective intervention for people struggling with drug abuse and addiction. Most of them know drugs and alcohol can be bad and recovery can be a road out when you’ve lost the ability to find your own way. Motivation is actually the name of the game and so education groups have become an opportunity to grow my motivational speaking abilities. Its more akin to preaching then teaching and has been a lot of fun.

Process groups are group therapy. In education groups I make my personality very large and in process I make it very small. I start each group with a check in. Your name and how are you feeling. I point out identifying and resolving feelings is key for recovery. Rather then provide a feelings list (there are many if you google them) I want to stimulate creativity and honest expression I just ban a few meaningless pleasantries: good, fine, OK, & alright. I also ban “tired” as a body feeling and rarely an emotion. Then I define what process means and ask people to do it, sit back and watch. Nod, call on people and ask questions when no one is talking. If everyone didn’t participate I do a check out of what stood out in treatment today?

It works fine, have heard many times, “that was the best process group I’ve been in”. But my new slot is 7:00 pm, much too late for an unstructured member driven process group. So instead I want to do something highly structured that is still a group process activity. I have been kicking around a self help/social change group for many years. This seems an ideal time to kick it off. I am going to call it an Accountability Group and organize it around what I call the 4 “A”s: Awareness, Assessment, Action, and Accountability. I thought about calling it 4 A or AAAA as well. It will be set up on a level system and to go with the 4 “A”s there will be 4 life areas: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

We’ll begin the group with a check in and perhaps expanded introduction. The first week will be all about Awareness which begins the change process. Identification and informal observation.That can last one week to forever. Out of that Awareness we will develop Assessment tools to measure and create a baseline. Usually for two weeks. Out of that data an Action Plan will be developed. Accountability will come from the group as well as mutual support and the sharing of ideas.

I envision a 16 week process and leveling people up as they get things done. Making it easy to start, just be aware but making the next levels having concrete achievements tied into it. After you move through the whole system for all four areas you are ready to start your own 4A group. We’ll develop tools for each level and documentation and accountability systems collaboratively over time.

Categories: feelings, health, work

the good life

I haven’t blogged for a while and felt like I should put something up. I have been a little emotionally drained for the last couple-few weeks and motivation has been a little harder to come by. I am certainly meeting expectations and even advancing some projects but sometimes come short up against what I would like to do. Two months since The Popster passed so I guess I’m right where I should be. I had a week or two with just the dogs when coincidentally john and kevin both went back to california to get there stuff. John’s things are here now and tonight’s after work project is to help kevin move his things. They have cleaned the garage which is looking better then it has for a long time. I opted out of that process to spend the time in the garden. John moved up some book shelves into the living room and am looking forward to seeing his library join mine for a time. He also has two paintings by Gonzalez Gonzalez a London painter Dr. Tod was into in the 80s. Having not even finished painting I have not got onto getting things for the walls. He paints faces that look like abstract water colors at first glance. There’s one with a little yellow that we’re hanging in the living room as that really pulls the face out, and there’s a blue and violet one, that I’m not sure I see the face in yet, that we’re putting up in john’s room.

We’ve had our first string of hot, unrelentingly hot for better than a week. Its slowed me down a  bit as I get used to it. Mowed the lawn, back on saturday and front on sunday. Had to find the sweet spot between the evaporation of the dew and before it became to damn hot. My neighbor John broke out an old push reel mower yesterday. We both agreed it was quite a work out. I hope he sticks with it. Its a chore but so is going to the gym and that costs money. It makes me think how much all these time saving devices really cost us more. With the introduction of vacuum cleaners and dish washers and the like they’ve just increased the standard of what a clean house is, not to mention the rise of square footage of the average home, and how much time do we save if labor saving devices take out the physical effort so we have another chore of having to go to they gym. simpler is better and the old ways have their wisdom. I could have a bigger garden if i used a rotor tiller but you can’t dig down 2 feet any way but a shovel. My 2 feet of top soil tells me its been worth the effort.

Yesterday I mostly rehabbed the big garden bed. I weeded, harvested a nice little jar of radishes and planted my black plum tomato. The compost is coming along and I have a lot to use. i also jazzed up some of the extra soil from the tree planting and added some more soil around the peach tree. John looked up Belle of Georgia and its a red skinned white stoneless peach that comes due in August. I’ll let you know how they turn out. I also swapped the hose onto the rain barrels and watered that way rather then by 2 1/2 gallon can. That was so much easier and I am going to use so much more rain water which takes more out of the fall on the roof and run madly into bear creek process. i can see adding multiple barrels if I keep using goodly amounts of water. last year was wet, but still I only got to the bottom of the barrel once.

I also picked strawberries and made round two of strawberry pancakes. This time I used Jiffy Mix and I am definitely sticking to scratch from now on. Its hardly any harder and its quite a bit cheaper and way better. I almost stirred in a little extra baking powder after the first cake came off the grill but just stuck with it. They were good nonetheless with the stanton boy’s local eggs over medium and real maple syrup and organic butter.That led to a lively discussion on if that means anything. I bought it because butter was $4 and organic was $5. When i can get regular for 2-3$ then the price differential doesn’t seem worth it. John’s proposition is that corporate cows making corporate butter is so off that organic practice becomes meaningless. My argument is that cows eat a lot of corn, unfortunately and my understanding is that organic animals are fed organic feed and that makes a lot more acreage of organic corn a slight improvement over our normal monoculture nightmare food production system. It also increases the chance that our milk cows are grass fed by changing those relative economies.

Dinner was altogether much better as we were well over 90% local and 20% from the backyard and all agreed that it was good. I roasted my first beer can chicken. I brined it with salt, brown sugar, and some unfiltered apple cider vinegar. then I stuck an open can of budweiser up its yahoo and sat it on the grill. For the grill I had a big fire on one side and added a lot of soaked hickory chips which provided the bulk of the flavor. It was yummy with a crispy brown skin. I also made a packet with the first of the new potatoes (reds and whites) and a couple of baby turnips, with half a garlic snape, some fresh fennel root, & oregano. kevin put together the asparagus packets. sarah brought some trout and a pasta salad (our pasta is where we lowered our local percentage besides incidentals like butter & salt).

Its been really fantastic and again I thought that no one was eating a better meal no matter how much money they had. I like living the ‘good life’ and showing it can be done with just a little bit of labor and gumption. alright well maybe a bit more than a little but we can all take steps down a path of sustainability.