https://guidinglightworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/73b1f7_1c76aa7bbd6e4902aaec73f912c60a40mv2_d_1935_1364_s_2.jpg 1364 1935 Starla McDermott https://guidinglightworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/1GL-logo-White.png Starla McDermott2017-05-23 14:52:002018-01-31 10:58:34Who is GLR again?
I love getting asked this because it’s an exciting question to answer. And the answer might be different than you expect. Guiding Light Recovery is an intensive, residential alcohol and drug treatment program – but many places could say the same. Here’s what’s different with us:
We’re completely free. (Sometimes even we forget this amazing fact.)We’re long-term. Our clients are provided significant time to heal and re-engage with life through both our program facility downtown and transitional housing in Kentwood.
We’re holistic and comprehensive. Professional licensed counseling, life coaching, educational classes, YMCA membership, support
groups, community involvement, spiritual exploration, employment readiness. Our goal for our clients is lifelong recovery and a new way of being in relationship to the world. Our highest aim is to be a safe space for truth-telling and transformation.
Shoot me an email if you have any questions about what we do or who we can serve: firstname.lastname@example.org
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https://guidinglightworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/73b1f7_b4233dc048af45ab9b9a6aff62ce67b7mv2.jpg 1153 1735 Starla McDermott https://guidinglightworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/1GL-logo-White.png Starla McDermott2016-11-15 16:47:002018-01-12 17:18:51A Quick Story of Living Differently
I wanted to share about the cool experience one of the men in our program had: He took a scary and willing step into what we call “living at cause, not at effect.”
Here’s the situation: A son who had done mean, harmful things to his mother, and a mother who wanted nothing to do with her son. A broken relationship the rest of the family discouraged.
When he came into GLR, this man did not see his part in the problem. There was a disconnect for him between his past actions and his understanding of his role in their damaged relationship.
Encouraged to ‘own’ his side of the street and concentrate on his personal behaviors and responsibilities, he started to see things differently. He started to engage in some honest reflection. He was challenged by his peers about the things he said, his attitude toward his mother, and his lack of action. And in wrestling with his new understanding of reality, he came to this conclusion on his own: ‘I harmed my mother and the relationship. No matter what she did, I’m not justified in doing what I did or in continuing to avoid responsibility.’
He went to visit her last week, and for the first time in many years he was sober when he was with her. After the visit, he wrote her a letter about his thoughts and feelings. He followed up with a phone call the next day to give her a chance to respond to it. He’s speaking about her differently.
These may seem like obvious things, or even small things, in the process of restoring a relationship but they are things which are monumental in connecting belief and behavior, faith and living, knowledge and action.
Before, his default behavior was ‘do nothing’. Now he’s taking action and living differently: willingly moving toward personal responsibility and reconciliation even though he doesn’t know what the outcome will be. His words, his understanding, and his actions are aligning – and that is exciting. It’s exciting to see deep change. It’s exciting to see revelation and positive action. It’s what we desire for each man. It’s why we’re here.
https://guidinglightworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/73b1f7_47c82e310bad478c84be6959f339b474mv2.jpg 807 1414 Starla McDermott https://guidinglightworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/1GL-logo-White.png Starla McDermott2016-10-28 15:41:002019-09-11 12:03:00Creating Culture
How can something you only sense, but not see or touch be so powerful? This is a mystery we’ve been trying to deconstruct here at Guiding Light Recovery.
What is it made of?
I’ve been thinking a lot about what goes into creating culture. How do we create a safe, hospitable space, a sense of belonging, for men dealing with addiction to start living a a new life of recovery? As we start to see how our actions and words can impact our atmosphere, we’re learning that maybe culture isn’t quite as intangible as we thought.
And that both opens up possibility and increases responsibility.
We’re discovering that by truly listening, by providing careful feedback, and by emphasizing community, we have started to create something different here: It’s space, both physical and emotional, that is safe and welcoming. It’s space for our men to both share honestly and take new action, hopefully without fear of judgement. It’s space to learn how to connect with others in healthy, positive ways.
Our culture is created by both staff and clients through our interactions and willingness to engage. One thing that we aim to do as staff is be fully present and listen to each man, creating space and focusing our attention so our clients can tell their story and really be heard. We are interested in coming from a place of respect for each client, and through honest and loving feedback being a mirror for men to see themselves more clearly.
When we see contradictions between what men say they value and what their actions are, we have a conversation about it with the individual: “Are you aware that you’re saying this is your commitment, but you’re doing that? What do you think is going on? Let’s explore that.”
We’re learning that the space we create; the insistence on respect and concern for each other, and the alignment we look for in men has built a powerful environment of growth and connection. We have men here who say things like, “I’ve never felt like I’ve been part of community like this before,” and “I haven’t ever felt like I’ve belonged in the past, but I do now.” It is exciting to see how culture helps provide men better opportunities to explore new ways of being and relating, to themselves and to others.
Are there questions you ask or actions you take to create a safe and welcoming environment? I’d like to hear your thoughts. Shoot me an email at email@example.com.
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What is your relationship with silence? The kind of silence where you can hear the rustle of your clothing if you shift in your chair, silence where you can feel the sound of your heart beating in your chest.
Last week the men in our Guiding Light Recovery program went on an overnight silent retreat at The Hermitage, a beautiful facility on 60+ acres of rolling fields and forest in Three Rivers.
36 hours of quiet. 36 hours of just being with yourself. 36 hours of being in nature.
This period of silence can be a powerful and uncomfortable time for men; free of noise and distractions, no music or conversations or TV, you are left entirely with yourself and your thoughts.
Why is the ability to just BE with yourself so important? We use many things to distract us from uncomfortable feelings and thoughts. For those of us in recovery, we have used alcohol and drugs to numb feelings and to escape being present because the present was too painful. To face these feelings in a safe environment with guidance is powerful, and helps men realize they can live life in a different way than they have before.
One of our spiritual directors led the retreat at The Hermitage, offering some thought-prompts and hand-outs for guidance in using this time wisely. The men were encouraged to explore topics we’ve been learning about in community addresses and classes: awareness of stories we tell ourselves, automatic thoughts, patterns of how we soothe ourselves, automatic behavior.
It felt great to see many of the men taking advantage of the solitude, nature and quiet to engage in reflection and writing. For those who are willing to engage in this silence, it can be a time where they may see their true selves for the first time and can experience their spirituality in a new way.
When we returned, several men commented on how they hadn’t experienced anything like that before. One man shared how revealing the time of quiet and silence had been: he hadn’t realized the extent to which he automatically sought out people and things to entertain him and distract him. He gained a new perspective on himself and his personal growth. And that, right there, is why we go on these retreats.
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The act of showing up to ask for help is a powerful first step for men struggling with addiction. I like this quote by Brené Brown because it’s concise and true: “The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time.” At Guiding Light Recovery, we have seven focus points our program centers around and willingness is the first one.
Once men are here in our program, the willingness to ‘show up’ each moment and engage in the present takes courage and has powerful ripple effects on truly living differently. As men go through the program, it’s a privilege to see how those who arewilling really start to make some deep changes and move toward a life of sobriety. Here are some of the ways we talk about willingness with our men in the GLR program:
Am I willing to listen more and talk less?
Am I willing to do things in a different way?
Am I willing to say ‘thank you’ to others?
Am I willing to say I was wrong?
We stress willingness so our men know they are responsible for their own recovery.The thought of going to any lengths to stay sober can be overwhelming and scary to some and that is why we also stress that it’s progress, not perfection, when working on a different way of living. It all starts with willingness.
What are some ways you talk about willingness, to yourself or to others?