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Reading for Recovery

Personal Development

During my first year of recovery, I buried my nose in whatever literature my sponsor handed me. It was pretty basic. The Big Book and a 12-step Workbook. I did my best to navigate the old-timey writing, outdated sentiments, and religious aspect. I’m thankful that I was able to look past the things that didn’t resonate with me, or make sense to me so that I could get well. My first year of sobriety I worked steps like it was my full-time job and it absolutely saved my life!

When I started becoming a wee bit more confident in my skin, I decided to see what other healing tools were out there. I continued with my 12-step program but I was thirsty for more. Of course, I was. I’m a person suffering from a substance use disorder. If something feels good, I want more of it times infinity. And healing felt goooood! I let the Universe know that I was open for more and to send me signs. As always, it came through.

A local hipster-esque publication voted me one of Alaska’s Top 10 Hotties for a Valentines spread they were doing. (Hilarious.) The best part of being involved in that project was meeting, Sol, the Life Coach. She had this angelic aura around her and I felt my heart rate lower the closer she got to me. “What the hell is a Life Coach?!” I asked her. She smiled her sweet smile and suggested that we meet for coffee and talk more about it. Her coaching became an integral part of my healing journey. She was not a therapist.

We didn’t yammer on about my past. She was interested in the present moment and near future. She helped me set goals and reach them and best of all, she led me to the mentors that took my life to the next level, (including introducing me to the Institute of Integrative Nutrition which I eventually enrolled in to become a coach myself and now Sol and I often collaborate!) At our final coaching session, (I was leaving town for a few months), she handed me a book, “Blaze, you totally remind me of this lady and I think you’ll really like her style.” I looked down at the cover of the smooth paperback. There was a picture of a cute blonde chick wearing angel wings, posing on a skateboard in the middle of NY street. I could dig it.

Personal Development

“Add More ~Ing to Your Life – A Hip Guide to Happiness” by Gabrielle Bernstein.

This was the first personal development book I’d ever read. I’ve read hundreds since then but this is still one of my favorites. It set me on a higher path and gave me tools I’d never been given before. Gabby B is aimed towards young women who are struggling and ready to get their life on track. She has a history of substance misuse and openly shares how that affected her life. She has written many best-selling books including; “Spirit Junkie”, “May Cause Miracles”, “Miracles Now”, and “The Universe Has Your Back” and she’s called the Spiritual Guru for the New Generation. In, “Add More ~Ing” she led me through exercises around Surrender, Forgiveness, Balance, and Manifesting.

I was finally given some practical tools with guided journaling, guided meditations, and a voice that was like mine. She helped me understand concepts that had previously been lost on me. Gabrielle Bernstein was also the first person to make me feel like meditation was accessible to me and that alone has changed my life! Check out her, Beginners Guide to Meditation

“Waiting: A Nonbelievers Higher Power” by Marya Hornbacher.

A Higher Power Personal To You

I was raised in the church. I even went to a non-denominational Christian school as a youngster. I thought that God was cool and maybe he was even my Dad. (My Dad suffered from a substance use disorder who I didn’t get to have in my life and who eventually died as a result of a lifetime of using). As I got older I asked more questions…and more and more questions and I was very disappointed with the answers given to me. So many things just did not add up.

When I was 19 I woke up with a masked man in my bedroom. I did what my Mom had taught me to do in a crisis and I screamed, “In God’s name leave Satan!!” Now, I definitely think that confused the masked man for a couple seconds but God did not swoop in and that man did not leave. That pretty much sealed the deal that the God I had been raised to believe in was just not working for me.

As I got further into my path of recovery I really enjoyed creating my own Higher Power. I read many books on different religions, spiritual concepts, etc. Today I have a strong faith in my own special belief system that has shifted the way I see the world and my role in it.

I love creating my reality and connecting to things I truly resonate with. All the questions I had as a child are now answered. So, that brings us to this book, “Waiting”. AA can be very religious. The text in the Big Book and even praying at the end of meetings. (NA is much less so.) I watched this massively turn off people that really needed support and help but there was no way they were going to engage in a group of “Jesus Freaks”, as one of my alcoholic friends called it. He badly needed help but he found the word, “God” highly triggering so he wouldn’t step foot into a meeting. Sometimes I think this is an excuse but the fact remains that it turns some people away.

I had the pleasure of living in Kansas City, MO for a few months and I frequented an AA meeting near my apartment. It was a meeting for Atheists, Agnostics, and Free Thinkers. WHAT?! It was the best group I’d ever been involved with. There was no praying, no obligatory hand holding or hugging, and the mood was more positive and joyful than I was used to. They had a stack of books on recovery that were specifically for non-religious people that wanted to work the 12 steps and heal without having to believe in God. “Waiting” is written by one of my favorite authors and I love the insight she brings to finding faith. She has another book called, “Sane” that is very specific to those with substance use disorders who also have a mental illness. She has bi-polar so she speaks the unique struggles of navigating recovery and the 12 steps when you’re dealing substance use disorder and mental illness simultaneously. I highly recommend her books! “Waiting, a Nonbeliever’s Higher Power.”   “Sane – Mental Illness, Addiction, and the 12 Steps”

“Soul Recovery, 12 Keys to Healing Dependence” by Ester Nicholson.

The Beauty Of Recovery

Ester…she is a vibrant magnetic force to be reckoned with! I have had the honor to hear her speak and sing twice now and each time I also had a 1-on-1 session with her. No big deal but she was Rod Stewarts lead backup singer for 5 years and has also sung with Better Midler and much more. She is a freaking rock star…for real. More importantly, she is a recovering from her substance use disorder with a captivating and heartbreaking story of the depths substance use took her to. Now, she travels as a Speaker, Singer, and Healer. Her book, “Soul Recovery” is really a 12-step guide for everyone. It’s not just for those of us that use substances but it’s for “normies” who have patterns of dependence in relationships, with food, with low self-worth, and more. She puts a spin on the 12 steps and integrates a metaphysical aspect.

As she says, “…metaphysical teachings are empowering because they are based on the idea that you are the driver of your experience—that the power to change resides within you, not from somewhere outside of you.” YES!! If recovery has taught me anything, it is that I get to take responsibility for my life, my choices, my past, and my future! Learning that we create our realities is the most empowering thing we can do! This book is engaging and full of very specific practical healing tools! Find more here: “Soul Recovery”

Today, I can truly say that I am a grateful person in recovery. If it wasn’t for my substance use disorder, I would have never been led to recovery which in turn led to healing my life and my soul in a deeply powerful way. Please continue reaching out, reading, watching inspiring youtube videos, finding mentors you can relate to and soaking it all in! You are worthy of healing. You can turn your pain into your purpose and live a life beyond your wildest dreams!

Original Article re-printed here with permission from

Red Rock Recovery Center is a Colorado state licensed substance abuse extended care treatment program designed to help you or your loved one recover from the struggles associated with alcoholism and drug addiction. Located in Denver, Colorado we offer a safe haven for those afflicted by the ravages of untreated addiction. Our program is based on a compassionate 12-step model that applies behavioral as well as life skill therapies, which will enable our clients to heal and recover.

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