Thursday, April 18, 2013
I read a lot about addictions, go to a lot of 12 step meetings, and treat a lot of addicts.
I am finding that it really isn't about will power. As I read the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book I found this:
"The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink."
I agree with that. It doesn't excuse an addicts actions. It doesn't relieve them of consequences, or tell others to just forgive and forget. It simply points out the fact that it isn't about will power.
Then the AA book says this about a man who decided he was willing to try the 12 steps:
"The moment I made up my mind to go through with the process, I had the curious feeling that my alcoholic condition was relieved, as in fact it proved to be."
That is how life works. That is how God intended it to be. This is like the age old question about Faith v. Works.
Are we saved by grace, or by our actions? Can an addict exert enough will power to overcome his addiction? Can a sinner work hard enough to pay for his sins and be perfect? Should everyone stop trying because we never can do enough?
It says in Ephesians "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God"
Then it says in James 2 "faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."
WHICH IS IT???
I think the answer to my first question and this question are the same. It's not about Will Power. It's about Willingness Power.
When we admit we can't do it alone, and we are willing to seek the help of God - he gives us the ability. We must be willing to place our faith in something greater than ourselves. We must stop relying on our personal strength and will - at which point we are given exactly that strength and will which we lacked.
It's like C.S. Lewis said:
"In one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, "You must do this. I can't.”
After we make that admission, and really beleive it - we then work with all our heart, might, mind, and strength (which God has given us) to do what we should. We help others and avoid those things which we know destroy our lives.
We become WILLING to stop trying on our own. We use Willingness Power, and are then granted the Will Power we could never attain by ourselves.
We are always responsible for our actions. There is always a choice, and we always have access to the power to choose the right- The power is often not within us, but we can accept that power from above.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I've heard people say that Facebook is a waste of time. It's impersonal, it replaces meaningful communication, and it makes us connect more superficially instead of having real conversations.
That may be true for some Facebook users - but not me.
Facebook makes events or topics I would have mostly ignored - become very personal.
When there was the school shooting in Newtown - I would have responded like every other tragic event in the world. I would have been sad, asked why, prayed for the victims in general, and then tried to just move on.
But then I found out through Facebook that my friend's daughter was shot and killed in that Elementary. Her dad and I knew each other back in 2001 as missionaries in Brazil.
When the Boston Marathon bombing occurred - I knew some friends that were runners, but no one there. Then one of my friends posted the story of her friend - who was working the medical tent at the finish line. Suddenly a friend of a friend had heard the explosions, and helped the injured.
These events were not drowned out by the din of the news today.
With North Korea, and drone strikes, and the Texas stabbing, and all the atrocities and terrors that happen every day - it's easy to become immune.
I remember when the Columbine shooting happened. It never really hit home until I was in a choir with high school kids from Littleton, CO an entire year later. Now things hit home much faster. I feel the humanity - I know someone.
I can't glaze past it, or try to shrug it off.
The same is true of successes. I find friends who are running for their state legislature, starring in movies, graduating from professional schools, starting companies. I read their struggles, their successes, and it all makes me more human, more connected.
Stories in the news are not longer just stories, they are "What's happening to my friends."
Facebook has made it all personal - and I am a better person because of it.
Monday, April 15, 2013
(Search Local Locations Here to dispose of left over prescriptions)
The most common drug used by teens is marijuana.
What's the second most common? Prescription Drugs.
An HHS report showed that 3% of all kids (ages 12-18) misused prescription drugs in 2010. That percentage doubles for young adults (ages 18-25).
I'm not just talking about cough medicine. I'm talking about Vicodin, Valium, Ritalin, Percocet, Oxycontin, Xanax, etc.
An HHS report showed that 3% of all kids (ages 12-18) misused prescription drugs in 2010. That percentage doubles for young adults (ages 18-25).
I'm not just talking about cough medicine. I'm talking about Vicodin, Valium, Ritalin, Percocet, Oxycontin, Xanax, etc.
How do they get it?
55% get it from a friend or relative for free (often without the family members knowledge).
I know the medications you have cost money. I know there is always a chance you could need a pain killer or a sedative in the future. I know how much we all hate to waste money or throw things away that are still perfectly good.
Believe me, saving the medications is not worth the risk.
Get rid of the drugs. Protect yourself, your kids, your grandkids, your neighbors, your friends, your bookclub, your church group, your piano students, your babysitter, etc...
If you ever need a pain killer again you can spend the money to see your doctor and get a new prescription. That's cheaper than jail, rehab, life-long addiction, etc...
How do you dispose of the medications?
Take them to a participating Pharmacy on April 27th - which is the next National "Drug Take Back Day"
Search HERE to find the participating pharmacy nearest to you.
- Now please stop reading and take 5 minutes to check your own medicine cabinet. It's worth it.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Is there anyway to disagree with any part of this book and not sound sexist?
It's a hot button topic - Feminism: Women leading in the workplace. It was written by a highly successful woman who is COO of Facebook and former Vice President of global sales at Google. She has been featured on TEDtalks and is now a successful author. Her book is being reviewed by me: a male conservative who is a physician and whose wife put her career on hold to stay home and raise four children.
My wife and I are demographically "the traditional marriage." We met in college, married young (23 and 25) and then immediately had kids. I continued my career and she transitioned to being a homemaker.
She made that choice - and being a mother has been the hardest endeavor she ever undertook.
The author, Sheryl Sandberg, repeatedly acknowledges that choice, and the difficulties of parenting:
"Parenting may be the most rewarding experience, but it is also the hardest and most humbling."
"Not all women want careers. Not all women want children. Not all women want both. I would never advocate that we should all have the same objectives."
She quotes Judith Rodin who told women: "My generation fought so hard to give you all choices. We believe in choices. But choosing to leave the workforce was not the choice we thought so many of you would make."
This book is full of sage advice, points out horrific and deplorable biases and injustices, and I enjoyed it immensely.
In chapter after chapter she shows how society (men and women alike), have a negative view of women and their abilities. When the same resume is presented with a female's name instead of a male's - she is judged to be less competent, harder to work with, and not as qualified.
Society and government both assume that men should not raise kids, that's a woman's job.
According to the US Census Bureau: When mothers care for children it's "parenting" but when fathers care for their children its "a child care arrangement."
She pleads with men to be equal partners in parenting and household chores. Women who stay at home with kids are working all day, just like their husbands at work. When the husband gets home, they are equally tired and stressed. So why do men get to relax or read the paper while his wife is supposed to make dinner, do the dishes, and get the kids in bed?
I agree. Men and women are equals. They should share responsibility equally. Our responsibilities may be different some of the day, but when I get home, every chore should be fair game for equal distribution. Some days my wife may need to go relax and I'll do dinner, dishes, and get the kids in bed all by myself. That's how it's supposed to work. My wife and I are equals.
Like the author says: "The best way for a man to make a pass at his wife might be to do the dishes."
My wife told me that years ago. They're both right.
Mrs. Sandberg gives great advice on how women can change the perception of women. How to make them equals in the workplace:
"Opportunities are rarely offered, they're seized."
"It is hard to visualize someone as a leader if she is always waiting to be told what to do."
"Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection."
Mrs. Sandberg is an amazing woman and leader - but there are points on which we disagree. We both have our backgrounds and as she accurately points out:
"All of us, myself included, are biased, whether we admit it or not. And thinking we are objective can actually make this even worse."
I am not objective. I was raised in the LDS church. I believe and follow my God and my religion. I know it, I live it, I love it.
This seems to make our perspectives quite different as to the whole purpose of life - what is worth striving for, and what makes us happy.
The author says repeatedly that her goal is an equal world:
"A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes. I believe that this would be a better world."
She does not believe that women should be so focused on marriage when they are young. Her perception seems to be more: Focus on career and success, and if a family happens, then decide which is first priority.
"For all the progress, there is still societal pressure for women to keep an eye on marriage from a young age."
She is saddened that some women leave the work force because they spend as much as they make on child care:
"One miscalculation that some women make is to drop out early in their careers because their salary barely covers the cost of child care... but professional women need to measure the cost of child care against their future salary, not their current salary."
I disagree. I think marriage and family are the most important things in life. My family is the only thing that will outlast this world. No project I start, thing I build, or money I make will go with me when I die.
My number one focus in life is my family. It is the reason I didn't choose either the cheapest nor the most prestigious Medical school. It's the main reason I picked my specific residency program.
I wanted a family. I wanted breakfast and dinner with my kids most every day. If my family isn't happy, nothing else really matters. I have amazing opportunities - I could direct the residency, publish in medical journals and write numerous books. I could move to a bigger and better University.
Those things might happen, but not at the expense of my family life. If they can happen as well - that would be ideal, but my family comes first.
I don't think women should be told otherwise.
The author also states that one major problem is gender roles.
"Women feel that they bear the primary responsibility for caring for their children, many men feel that they bear the primary responsibility of supporting their families financially."
In response I'll quote part of my church's Proclamation to the World on the Family:
By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.
I have never assumed that any woman could not succeed outside the home. The very book group I am in (which chose this book) is lead by two brilliant and successful female physicians. My wife has chosen to be a substitute teacher, a massage therapist, a personal trainer, a seller of children's books. She could do anything.
We have found each other and been blessed that we could have children (not everyone has that chance). We are both doing the most important thing. We are equal partners. I have my roles, she has hers, and we assist each other in everything to make it all work. We are focused on eternity, on a family that last long after this life. That's worth giving up a lot of "success" and "prestige." We give up what is good for that which is better. We hope to get that which is best.
Like the author said:
"The single most important career decision that a woman makes is whether she will have a life partner and who that partner is. I don't know of one woman in a leadership position whose life partner is not fully - and I mean fully - supportive of her career. No exceptions."
I completely agree. No decision is more important.
The question in the end is about your values, your priorities. What do you value more: A successful career with power, influence and financial well-being - or a successful family with love, caring, and eternal well-being?
Which has a higher value: Spiritual or Temporal Wealth? Yes you can have both. But which are you willing to sacrifice for the other? Which takes priority?
Yes women can succeed in any endeavor as well as men. They have genius ideas, could lead any corporation, and country, any organization and do it amazingly well. Is that really the goal?
That appears to be Sheryl Sandberg's goal, and she is attaining it. I wish her the best for both her family and her career. I hope she succeeds in reversing the course of hate, bias, and prejudice against women. I hope she helps women everywhere realize their immense capacity and ability. I hope she makes men and women everywhere see that they are equals.
In the end, No success outside the home can compensate for failure inside the home. If you cannot do both, I hope you choose your family's success over your career's.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
This book was not what I expected.
The two expectations I had when starting this book were:
1. That it would mostly be the same story as told in the movie with a few changes that were made for cinematic effect - (like no Rubik's cube, no night spent in the subway bathroom, and no showing up for the interview shirtless and covered in paint, etc...
2. That I would not like Chris Gardner. I had been told by someone else that the book showed that he was not a good man, that the reason he went to jail was not for unpaid parking tickets, but for domestic abuse against his wife. I should expect to appreciate his motivation, but dislike the man.
Both expectations were mostly wrong.
I was surprised by the book because the movie only covers about 1/3 of the book's contents. The entire first half is all about Chris Gardner's upbringing. It shows the horrors he endured, the constant abuse he received as well as the gut-wrenching details of him being forced to watch his mother get beat regularly. It shows Chris wanting to kill his step-dad because of the abuse, Chris getting raped by an older man, Chris stealing and going to jail and being taught right from wrong from the stable women in his life. It shows what life was like for a young black boy with a broken home living in a bad neighborhood.
I was very surprised to read about his first marriage. He wed a very successful woman from a wealthy family. Chris may have been raised in the poor part of town, but he was a genius. He started working in a medical research lab and with no college whatsoever - HE was the one teaching the medical students what to do. He planned to go to medical school, and he had the brains and ability - but he wasn't sure he wanted to go back to THAT much school. Was it worth it?
Eventually it gets to the part we know. After he left his wife for another woman (and describing quite openly his sexual interests, and how much they got him in trouble) his new girlfriend gets pregnant and they get married.
A while later he meets a stock broker, decides that is his destiny, and his wife laughs in his face.
This is where I was surprised. The timeline is quite different from the movie.
Chris has many interviews with many brokerage firms, but due to his lack of formal education he can almost never get a 2nd interview. He finally gets offered a 2nd interview with Dean-Witter, and 2 weeks before the interview he argues with his wife in front of their house. As he describes it: they are screaming at each other and he grabs her wrists, she struggles and tells him to let go, when he does she falls backward into a rosebush and gets scratched up. She cleans herself up and leaves. 30 minutes later police are at his door asking about domestic battery. He's astonished. The cops run his ID and see the $1200 in unpaid parking tickets and take him to jail. He is never charged with battery and the cops tell him they'd let him go, but he has to pay the parking tickets, or serve 10 days in jail. He takes the 10 days. When he gets out it is the day before his second Dean-Witter interview. He goes home - everything is gone. His wife, his belongings... and his son.
He has no business clothes, in fact no clothes at all except what he was wearing when arrested. He goes to his interview the next morning in bell bottom blue jeans, a t-shirt, a wind-breaker, and paint speckled Adidas sneakers.
How does he pass the interview?
He tells the interviewer everything except the jail part. He tells about his wife running off with their son, and taking all his material possessions with her. The interviewer says he's been married and divorced three times and can TOTALLY relate. The interviewer talks for 45 minutes about his own marital problems and with no real questions or interview he welcomes Chris Gardner to the internship. The first $1000 stipend will arrive after 30 days of work.
At this point I thought - WHAT!? So he gets paid AND his son isn't with him for all of internship? That's not how the movie showed it? What about being homeless? What about sleeping in the bathroom of the Subway with his son?
That happened 3 months later. Though he had been hired, he still made next to nothing as he built his clientele. Then suddenly his wife showed up, dropped off their son, and left. Chris was still dirt poor, couldn't afford much of anything, and that's when it all happened. He really did push his baby boy's stroller up and down the hills of San Francisco. He really was homeless, they spent MANY nights in that Subway bathroom. He rushed to make it to the family shelter on time and when they didn't make it, they slept somewhere else. It's devastating.
The story is sad, but encouraging - and it goes on. It shows not only his first success as a stockbroker, but how far that went - up to the time Chris Gardner met Nelson Mandela, bankrolled a $50 million inner city development for kids, and made well over $1 million per year.
It is a success story, and I enjoyed it. I wish Chris Gardner well. I hope I can learn the lessons he did by reading them, rather than experiencing them myself. I honestly don't know how I'd do it.
In the end - I judge books by the effect they have on me. When I finished this book, I reevaluated my life with the thought - I CAN DO ANYTHING!
Any book that leaves me feeling that way is worth recommending.
Monday, April 1, 2013
How does a book remain relevant for nearly a century?
It has to be based on universal principles.
Over 30 million copies have been sold.
There are at least thirty-four other 12 step programs based on this book.
- 12 step programs for every addiction from Heroin to Overeating, Meth, Sex, Work, etc...
Anything you can be addicted to - there is likely a support group for it that uses the 12 step program.
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
I have been told for years by my patients who attend 12 step meetings that "the higher power can be anything, the group as a whole, or someone who has been there longer than you."
Well - Not the way the original book was written. Bill W. speaks clearly and repeatedly about God. There is an entire chapter written to agnostics about how they need to start the 12 steps with an open mind, and eventually they will come to believe in God, because that is the only way it works. The 12 steps are very spiritual, and very based on grace. Once you stop trying to save yourself and let God save you, then you will have success in your efforts and will be able to help save others. You believe in any version of God, but it is still God.
The book speaks extensively about the need to carry the message to others. AA depends on fellowship and unity. When an alcoholic is struggling, the way to stay sober is to go help someone else. It talks about men who have finally become sober and instead of going back to work and being the family man they've always wanted to be, they spend a year helping other alcoholics first.
There are chapters for everyone in an alcoholics life - the spouse, the kids, the doctor, the employer, the friend, etc...
I do not hold with those who believe that alcoholism is entirely a problem of mental control.
I earnestly advise every alcoholic to read this book through, and though perhaps he came to scoff, he may remain to pray.
My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea. He said, “Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?’’
That statement hit me hard. It melted the icy intellectual mountain in whose shadow I had lived and shivered many years. I stood in the sunlight at last.
It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning
Never was I to pray for myself, except as my requests bore on my usefulness to others.
Faith without works was dead, he said. And how appallingly true for the alcoholic! For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead.
One poor chap committed suicide in my home. He could not, or would not, see our way of life.
Alcoholism brings misunderstanding, fierce resentment, financial insecurity, disgusted friends and employers, warped lives of blameless children, sad wives and parents—anyone can increase the list.
If hundreds of experiences have shown him that one drink means an other debacle with all its attendant suffering and humiliation, why is it he takes that one drink?
...We cannot answer the riddle.
In their hearts they really do not know why they do it. Once this malady has a real hold, they are a baffled lot. There is the obsession that somehow, someday, they will beat the game. But they often suspect they are down for the count.
The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.
The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God’s universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.
All of us, whatever our race, creed, or color are the children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try.
We have seen the truth demonstrated again and again: “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.’’ Commencing to drink after a period of sobriety, we are in a short time as bad as ever.
Our behavior is as absurd and incomprehensible with respect to the first drink as that of an individual with a passion, say, for jay-walking. He gets a thrill out of skipping in front of fast-moving vehicles. He enjoys himself for a few years in spite of friendly warnings. Up to this point you would label him as a foolish chap having queer ideas of fun. Luck then deserts him and he is slightly injured several times in succession. You would expect him, if he were normal, to cut it out. Presently he is hit again and this time has a fractured skull. Within a week after leaving the hospital a fast-moving trolley car breaks his arm. He tells you he has decided to stop jay-walking for good, but in a few weeks he breaks both legs.
On through the years this conduct continues, accompanied by his continual promises to be careful or to keep off the streets altogether. Finally, he can no longer work, his wife gets a divorce and he is held up to ridicule. He tries every known means to get the jay- walking idea out of his head. He shuts himself up in an asylum, hoping to mend his ways. But the day he comes out he races in front of a fire engine, which breaks his back. Such a man would be crazy, wouldn’t he?
The moment I made up my mind to go through with the process, I had the curious feeling that my alcoholic condition was relieved, as in fact it proved to be.
“Quite as important was the discovery that spiritual principles would solve all my problems.
If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago.
God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men.
Instead of regarding ourselves as intelligent agents, spearheads of God’s ever advancing Creation, we agnostics and atheists chose to believe that our human intelligence was the last word, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end of all. Rather vain of us, wasn’t it?
We, who have traveled this dubious path, beg you to lay aside prejudice, even against organized religion.
When we drew near to Him He disclosed Himself to us!
We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not.
We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.
Any life run on self-will can hardly be a success
“God, I offer myself to Thee—to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!’’
When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.
If we have been thorough about our personal inventory, we have written down a lot.
We have no right to save our own skin at another person’s expense. Such parts of our story we tell to someone who will understand, yet be unaffected. The rule is we must be hard on ourself, but always considerate of others
It is seldom wise to approach an individual, who still smarts from our injustice to him, and announce that we have gone religious.
The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it.
We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not.
We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality—safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.
If he does not want to stop drinking, don’t waste time trying to persuade him. You may spoil a later opportunity.
In our belief any scheme of combating alcoholism which proposes to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure.
Experience is the thing of supreme value in life. That is true only if one is willing to turn the past to good account. We grow by our willingness to face and rectify errors and convert them into assets.
Ask God in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit some thing you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.
Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!