What inspired you to become an addiction counselor?
I have the soul of a storyteller. Addiction counseling has proven to be a setting where my soul has found its meaning and purpose in this life. Our stories make us who we are. We share our experience, strength, and hope because our stories bind us together. When we share our stories, we know each other. I think the sharing of our stories is the “We” in the first step of the 12-step program, (We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable”). It is the essence of spirituality. Without “We” there is no spirituality. Without our stories, there is no “We.” Without “We” there is no defense against a disease that fragments and isolates human beings. Without the stories, the fire of possibility, the fire of life goes out.
How long have you been with The Ridge?
What an amazing honor it is to be a witness to the fire of life as it rekindles in the hearts of our residents and their families!! What a joy it is to join in the circle of healers and helpers who come here to lend their hearts to the work of restoring those caught in the web of addiction. I have had the privilege of hearing the stories of people beginning their passages into healing for seventeen years. The last two of those years have been at “the big white house on the hill.”
What is your favorite book/movie/podcast about recovery?
Some stories arrive in people, some in books. Some of my favorite books are
In The Realm of The Hungry Ghosts, Gabor Mate
“Not every story has a happy ending, … but the discoveries of science, the teachings of the heart, and the revelations of the soul all assure us that no human being is ever beyond redemption. The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists. How to support that possibility in others and in ourselves is the ultimate question.”
Refuge Recovery, Noah Levine
“The greatest courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.”
Moby Dick or The Whale, Herman Melville
“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”
Who has been a source of inspiration for you in your career as a counselor?
Though I find inspiration in the lives of those who share their stories and in books old and new, the greatest inspiration for me as an addiction counselor is my wife, Dawn Michelle. As a single mother, she raised four wonder-full human beings, returned to college later in life and earned a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree in Social work and serves as a midwife to people through the dying process as a hospice social worker. She is an aneurysm survivor who has gone through seven brain surgeries and embodies the quote from Moby Dick above. She is an agent of change and a vessel of hope. She inspires me with faith, love, and joy.
How do you define success as a counselor?
Taking my wife as my example, to be successful in my work means that I am able to touch others’ lives, to help them know they are not alone, and to impart some bit of joy or wisdom that will leave them better than before with a desire to continue on.
What are 3 words your friends/family would use to describe you?
I don’t know what three words my family and friends would use to describe me. Maybe funny, compassionate and willing.
Thank you for allowing me to share some of my story with you.