Archive for December, 2015

new-yearresolutionslistHow many times have you made New Year’s resolutions, determined that this year will be different and you will be better?

We make resolutions because we don’t like ourselves the way we are. We don’t like our tiredness, our fatty parts, our busy schedules, how much (or little) money we make, how often we yell at our kids. We make resolutions because we think that if we have good muscle tone or a more balanced budget, we’ll be better people. If we’re better people, we’ll be happier. Right?

As an addict, the prospect of making New Year’s resolutions may loom even larger. Of course you should change—you’re an addict and therefore a failure, a disappointment, and a liability to yourself, your friends, your boss, your family, your car mechanic, the cashier at the market…everyone! In fact, it would be irresponsible NOT to make a resolution to quit your addiction. And so the spiral of self-recrimination and self-doubt and self-pity spins faster and faster, and before you’ve made any resolutions, you need a drink.

According to Time magazine, only 8% of people who make resolutions stick to them. The rest of us quit after a week and end up hating ourselves. Alan Watts, a philosopher and alcoholic, writes, “Instead of deciding that you won’t be an alcoholic anymore, the only thing to do is not to drink, without any previous decision on this matter.” In other words, putting ourselves through mind games creates anxiety, guilt, and the torment of indecision. Making a resolution to be sober for 365 days is an open challenge to our ego, and our ego will fight hard to maintain status quo and make sure we fail. If we want to stop using, we stop for this moment. Then, we stop for another moment.

This year, forget resolutions. Try something new. You could start by thinking about who you are right now. What if you never change? Can you still find a way to love and accept yourself? Can you still believe that, despite how broken you feel, you are in truth, at this very moment, whole and perfect?

Loving yourself will probably seem like an impossible task. But think about it a little longer. What would it feel like to love yourself? What would it feel like to stop fighting yourself all the time? As you think about it, you’ll discover that you already know what it feels like. Stay in that knowingness for a moment. Return to it whenever you can.

Rather than a list of resolutions, here’s a short list of things to remember.

  1. Wherever you are, whatever you feel like, you always have the option to pause, take some deep breaths, and seek the place inside you that is okay. You can stay there as long as you like.
  1. Asking for help is a step of power, not of weakness. Professional help is available.
  1. You are not alone. No matter how lonely or hopeless you may feel, someone else is experiencing those feelings, too.

Millions of people have been caught in the darkness of addiction and have found a way out. They are your tribe, the people who will welcome you and support you if you choose to try a new way.

Christmas Morning

TrainChristmas Traditions make the holiday special. Christmas morning is when we gather in the Great Room at Bald Eagle Hospitality House to share Christmas traditions, while our residents enjoy sipping hot chocolate. Every family has their own traditions that make Christmas a special time for them. This is when we gather to reminisce and share the magical moments in our lives. Some residents share stories from their childhood, recalling sliding down the stairs with a sense of wonder and awe they experienced from seeing the lights and decorations and presents under the tree. For others, their most treasured memory is the electric train set up on its own platform with scenes of towns, clusters of decorated trees and of course the train whistle and the smoke that comes out of the engine. Our older residents recall the Christmas celebrations that they created for their children, passing down the great Christmas traditions to the next generation. Some feel that a traditional Christmas Eve church service is what really makes Christmas come alive for them. Others recall the special holiday meal and the Christmas goodies they got to enjoy.

Making of the Jesse TreeAlong with our reminiscing, we sing carols and we hang the last ornament on our Jesse Tree. To complete our special Advent tradition we hang a picture of the baby Jesus in the center of the Jesse Tree. This helps us all appreciate the passage of time and the fulfillment of God’s plan. With our minds focused on the goodness of God and our hearts warmed by the special memories of Christmases spent with those we love, we open presents to remind us of the many gifts we have received from God. At St. Joseph Institute Christmas morning is filled with memories and gratitude and “glad tidings of great joy.”

Christmas Afternoon

foodWe welcome family members and friends of residents to join us for our Christmas feast of freshly roasted turkey, baked ham, homemade stuffing and mashed potatoes, along with candied sweet potatoes, freshly steamed vegetables, and pineapple casserole. Of course, no holiday dinner would be complete without our delicious homemade pies: pumpkin, pecan, apple and egg custard. Our residents get to fully participate in this joyous holiday and share this blessed time with their family members.


ChapelOn Christmas Eve we have a Chapel service of “Lessons and Carols” to celebrate in word and song the events from the Bible that lead up to Christmas. Every day during Advent we practice singing a Christmas carol to prepare residents to participate in the carol singing on Christmas Eve. The Christmas Eve service is a celebration of light which includes the lighting of the Advent Wreath and our recognition of the Light of Christ that has come into the world.

During the evening celebration residents also participate in a guided meditation that is designed to give them an experiential understanding of what the shepherds must have felt when the angel appeared proclaiming “peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” After our faith celebration we all gather in Bald Eagle Hospitality House to enjoy special snacks and home baked goodies.

The goal of our Christmas celebration is to create special holiday memories that are an integral part of the new life that begins during the recovery process. Through the blessed season of Christmas we are able to capture the treasured memories of the past and unite them to the celebrations of the present in order to form a solid foundation for the many sober Christmases that are yet to come.