Gratitude

Gratitude was one of the earliest influencers in my journey of healing. After hitting a point of pure desperation, being grateful for even the smallest of things became easy. When I was finally awarded a bed, a decent meal, safety and dignity- I was genuinely overwhelmed with appreciation. If not for the lack, I would not have recognized the value, an increasingly familiar story for every single person on this planet.

It is all too easy to fall into complacency, and forget about what we are grateful for. After a week of perceived failures, miscommunications and anxieties- I found myself spiraled out of control. Fear and insecurities breeding negativity and resentments. Before I knew it- I had entirely lost sight of my capacity to be grateful. I was blinded by every shortcoming, and the beautiful world around me became clouded with heavy emotions.

And then, I was reminded. I was reminded that- the more negativity I was allowing in, the worse off things were becoming. When you focus all your attention on the perceived negatives, you literally train your brain to look for those shortcomings. You are creating a negative reality for yourself- one that is unsubstantiated and keeps you stuck.

We can do the opposite through gratitude. We can literally, rewire our brains to see all the positive, beauty and wonder through gratitude. 

In my journey to healing, no matter how uncomfortable each step was I was grateful. That gratitude for simply being alive and functioning in society, moved me through each day and excited me. It changed the way I perceived my world, and allowed for more good into my life.

Gratitude has become something of a trend-worthy topic of late, due to #blessed and #grateful. 

While it is actually amazing, that so many people are recognizing it’s value- I want to make a distinction. I am not talking about the contrived, cutesy social media posts that declare both your love and gratitude for your fancy coffee drink or expensive meal.

I’m talking real, down to earth, sincere and conscious gratitude. The kind of gratitude that lives buried deep in your chest, the kind that truly moves you and is shown through action and demeanor. Not just hashtags and gratitude journals. This kind of gratitude radiates from the smiles of those you can tell, are truly grateful.

Gratitude can look and feel an infinite amount of ways. Regardless of the exact specifics of how it looks to you, genuine gratitude shows up. It shows up when you are met with challenge, faced with complacency or shown disregard. It shows up, as a commitment to embracing all that is well, right now in each given moment. It becomes a way to live your life, a way to view your world and a way to behave.

When we are truly grateful, we act like it. 

What are you grateful for?  What moves you in recovery? How do you access gratitude?


Share in the comments below!

Support in Recovery

Support in recovery, is something that is oftentimes dismissed; and at the cost of person in recovery. What do we need to accomplish as a society, in order to create a different recovery culture?

 

Samantha*, is a woman in her mid 20’s. After years of partying off and on, Samantha never suspected her substance use was any different from that of her peers. Every weekend, her drinking began at happy hour friday afternoon, and ended Sunday morning for Mimosas. Most days following heavy drinking, she would wake with a resounding headache, unquenchable thirst and restless nerves.
“But that’s just a hangover”, she would remind herself, and continue drinking. With an established normality, she was always able to justify her drinking. She held a good job, maintained healthy relationships with her family, paid her bills. Until one day she couldn’t justify it any longer. 
Every event was an excuse to partake, every perceived slight a justifiable reason to numb out and every morning was a painful awakening. The kind of awakening that leaves you with heavy shame, burden and literal pressure from all the intoxicants taken the night before. 
So she decided to quit, to get clear, to heal her body. She excitedly shared her new perspective with her friends and peers, looking for encouragement and support. This was met with indecision and a general lack of enthusiasm. Samantha knew that she needed connection, support, a new community to engage in that wasn’t drinking or using. But where do I go for connection? 

Where do I go to get support? Who supports people in recovery? 

This is, unfortunately, a common situation for most people in recovery. Despite  intrinsic motivations to change our life, if we are net met with that reciprocal enthusiasm our success will be limited. We need a support system, and we need connection.

One of the biggest indicators of an individual’s success in recovery, is the kind of support system that they have available. With a good support system, an individual in recovery can stay connected and engaged.

Support groups across the country of various modalities are available to serve that purpose, and get us connected. AA and 12 step culture is an excellent example, of how recovery support systems, can help move a person through recovery. When we get connected to a group that supports us, understands us and holds us accountable; we are much more succesful in our recovery.

How do I find support in recovery? Where can I meet others in recovery?

If you are located in the Denver area- there is a plethora of resources available for you to access. Please see the bottom of this link for a short list of places to seek support in recovery.

Support groups, are the most common and most efficient. These provide millions of Americans community, support and hope in an often dark time.

These are typically offered at churches, community centers and mental health centers nationwide. For most, a simple google search can provide adequate information on places in your area that provide support. However, reaching out to certain members of your community can also provide you with resource lists. Spiritual leaders, mental health workers and human services offices are all equipped to offer substance use referrals.

What is a support group?

A support group, is a group of individuals that come together to support each other through a common problem. These groups, are often free or low-cost to attend and require minimal commitment. The goal of a recovery support group, is to inspire members in recovery to continue on their path of personal development.

File_000 (2)Why should I seek a support group?

Support groups in recovery serve a variety of purposes, helping to solve a lot of the common problems that come up. Things a recovery support group will help you achieve:

  • accountability for behavior and substance use
  • Outlet for talking through difficulties
  • Hope for what a recovered future may look like
  • Connection with peers struggling with similar problems
  • Provide tools and techniques for handling obstacles in recovery
  • A safe place to be and feel welcomed without judgment

Denver Metro Recovery Support Groups:

  • Freedom Recovery Groups- Integrative, holistic, peer driven recovery groups. These groups meet once weekly, and are low-cost and accessible to everyone.
    • Hayley Mathews (720)979-7933 Hayley-mathews.com
  • AA- 12 step based groups. Free- various times and locations.
    • DACCAA.org
  • NA-12 step based groups. Free- various times and locations.
    • NAColorado.org
  • Phoenix MultiSport- Athletic gym for individuals in recovery.
    • Thephoenix.org
  • LifeRing- Secular recovery groups.
    • lifering.org
  • Celebrate recovery Religious 12 step based groups. Free- various times and locations.
    • Celebraterecovery.com

Freedom Recovery Groups are registering for our next cycle now,so please be sure to contact Hayley Mathews, for registration information now.

 

 

 

 

Butterflies

I first noticed the butterflies a few weeks ago, while walking my son through the neighborhood. Pushing his stroller along the sidewalk, houses and pavement- our typical scenery, I was struck. In our concrete jungle of a community- butterflies. Painted lady butterflies everywhere. Landing on my shoulder, resting on my bumping stroller and flying overhead. Was I seeing things? Is this a sign? Maybe I’m just paying more attention.
Weeks go by, and they haven’t left. I still see them in droves on my walks, and the cat has left a trail of butterfly wings on the path leading to our front door. I find them tucked into bushes, hiding among autumn leaves and perched silently on my lawn.
I had to know what was happening. With the help of google, I did some research. No- I was not seeing things, there were definitely more butterflies in the Denver area.
As I spent some time uncovering facts and logic about Painted Ladies I discovered what exactly was laying behind this divine miracle. All research led to the changing climate, and nature’s way of adapting to the change. Painted ladies migrate, not surprisingly, from North to South in the fall. In North America, that journey starts in Canada and northern United States during the late summer, and ends in Mexico in the winter. Meaning that they are almost always visible in the fall in Colorado.
They don’t travel in typical straight south patterns, instead following wind currents down to warmer weather. This usually means meandering, winding and sometimes circular paths that eventually land in the south. This year however, they painted ladies are spending abnormal amounts of time in the Colorado area. What is leading to this, is the globally changing climate and extreme weather.
The northwestern hemisphere has been dominated by changing wind patterns- being a direct clue as to what is happening with these winged ladies. It should be no secret that hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have caused incredible damage to our country and continent. So the painted ladies are here now, influenced by the changing winds. While they have surely been impacted, these resilient, beautiful bugs have adapted, and are still as beautiful and magical as before.
They have been creating miracles here. In Colorado, weather radar could pick up so many butterflies- it looked as though large flocks of birth were migrating passed. In reality- it is just these painted ladies- spreading there love and joy across a city that typically only sees them for a couple of weeks at most.
I think about what the butterfly means.
Maybe growth and transformation doesn’t have a clear cut and dry beginning and end. Maybe transformation doesn’t stop when you become a butterfly. Transformation occurs in subtle adaptations to our environment, not just majestic life changing phenomena, like the caterpillar morphing into the butterfly. These butterflies have brought magic and wonder to this city- simply by adapting to a changing climate. They found how to embrace their innate beauty in a previously harsh environment, making where they’re at more beautiful and magical in the process. These butterflies have taught me that we are never done growing and changing. We grow, our environments change in reaction to us and then we grow to adapt and be our best selves. The work is never done. No set of circumstances despite how perfect they may seem, will allow you to be your perfect self. That self is already within you.
“We are already whole, healed and free.”

Sending Love,
Hayley

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Healing

The word Healing has always held such a strong connotation for me. To heal; meant to be free. It meant being empowered, relieved and whole. I fought being healed, and I have fought for healing. I have stayed locked in the prison of my own comforts, slowly deteriorating from hiding from the sun. I have been angry, looking to be healed. Begging and yelling at the world to fix me. I have healed others unknowingly, and hurt them in the same breath.  It is my journey to heal, and to be healed, I can only surmise that being the reason such a beautiful thing has become such a strained fixation.

My own healing has been a journey.  There are no other words to describe the non linear course that my life has taken, riddeled with obstacles, boundaries and fear. I have tried a million and a half ways to heal, and I am always looking for another one. As someone who wants to help others, I have always found some sort of obligation to sift through everything, and present the world with truths. I continue to learn everyday, however one thing remains clear and unchanging. We are all mystical, unique indivudals, and their is no cure all. No one method will work for everyone, because that is the beauty of us all being on our own paths.

My intention for this blog is two-fold. I would like a place to share what I find in the world, to the world around healing. However, I also intend to use this as a place to find inspiration. Hope can come from many sources, and with a diversified approach to healing, perhaps even the most far removed can find connection, hope and strength here.

Sending Gratitude IMG_0423