A National Recovery Month Offering

 

September is National Recovery Month, and a time for many to reflect on their accomplishments in the recovery process.  – michelle_peterson@recoverypride.org

Michelle Peterson got in touch with me about hosting an article for National Recovery Month and I am quite happy to oblige. Michelle  believes the journey to sobriety should not be one of shame but of pride. Her mission is aligned with that of RecoveryPride, which is to celebrate sobriety and those who achieve it.

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photo courtesy of pixlebay

Photo via Pixabay.com

 

 

Common Marriage Issues That Arise in the Wake of Substance Abuse

One of the hardest parts is over. The addiction is subsiding and physical healing is on the way. Yet, the questions lurking in the back of your mind include concerns like, “What if my spouse experiences a relapse?” and “Where does the relationship go from here?” Since roughly one out of every seven Americans faces addiction, these questions are not uncommon.

Families of the addicted parties often struggle to manage their pain throughout the healing process. Sometimes emotional agony hurts much deeper than any physical pain, and many people don’t know how to manage a post-addiction marriage. For those couples who find themselves in the midst of addiction recovery, here are a few common things you could experience:

Tough Conversations

By now, you’re likely very familiar with addiction-related conversations. Beyond the initial conversations that led to rehab, medical care, or counseling, there are other tough conversations that will need to be addressed. Some of the topics that arise during healing stages could be as serious as infidelity, substance temptations, or how to talk to your kids about the situation. But as one source suggests: “It’s important to find the balance between keeping the lines of communication open and avoiding the conversation escalating into a major fight.” Before you begin difficult discussions, consider the time, place, and circumstances that are involved. These conversations can be healthy, if they are addressed in the appropriate setting.

Forgotten Responsibilities

During emotional hardships, it’s often hard to focus on daily tasks. That’s because stress can cause forgetfulness. The non-addicted spouse may suffer from the overwhelming anxiety surrounding the relationship and might forget basic tasks like paying the bills or going to the grocery store. Meanwhile, the recovering spouse may still struggle with side-effects of harmful substances or become overwhelmed with dramatic shifts in their daily routine. To avoid these types of experiences, try to make lists of the daily tasks that you are responsible for accomplishing and the ones that your spouse needs to complete. If a significant task is neglected, try to have patience with each other. You’re both recovering from the situation and need time to adjust.

Temptations

Someone who has formerly faced addiction might struggle with frequent temptations. Some will crave the substance long after they’re sober. For others, simply seeing drugs or alcohol in their environment or on TV can trigger a desire for old habits. The spouse who isn’t tempted by these things should still be cognizant of the other’s reaction to them. The temptation could be strongest during the weeks directly following their decision to remain sober. Consider altering the home environment so that they don’t have to worry about facing these temptations.

Lack of Sleep

As you’ve likely already experienced, relationship issues can heavily impact your perspective and emotions. One minute you’re clear-headed and calm, then in the very next moment you’re in tears or furious at your spouse for something they did. Many times a wide range of emotions can also contribute to a serious lack of sleep. As harmless of an issue as it sounds, sleep deprivation can skew good decision making and negatively impact your relationship. Conversely, one source suggests that more sleep can result in happier relationships. If you’re having a hard time managing emotions on your own, it might be a good idea to seek counsel from a professional.

During this time of relational healing, it’s important that your marriage is surrounded with strong, trustworthy couples or counselors that can help walk you both through recovery. A healed marriage is only achieved when both the husband and wife individually choose to fight for the marriage. As you move toward full reconciliation, be aware of these common marriage struggles so that you can fight through them together.

Get in touch:

michelle_peterson@recoverypride.org                http://recoverypride.org/

 

 

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On Life & Biomimic Design: An Interview with the Architect Veronica J. Anderson

i am pleased to bring you an interview with the architect, Veronica J. Anderson. She shares with us a journey of seeking answers to Life’s basic meanings and purposes: a quest involving the confrontation of pain and disappointment, the will to stay the course of knowing herself intimately through her experiences and the joy of making Biomimicry Design a life-sustaining reality for 21st century cities.

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Establishing Foundation

It’s clear from a visit to your wordpress site that you have a strong spiritual centre from which you live. Could you share the basic evolution of your beliefs/creed? As a child, I was raised Episcopalian and church every Sunday was an obligation. I grew up thoroughly enjoying the parts of that experience that revolved around making connections with other people: singing in the choir, meeting friends during Sunday School and growing up with older role models which my small family didn’t provide me with.

When I was ten or eleven the act of being forced to go to church every Sunday began to seem perfunctory and hypocritical. I don’t exactly recall where the questions came comp_collagehallwayS_905[1] Veronica Andersonfrom but I had a lot of them and my father especially was not pleased by my desire to vocalize certain doubts. Around the age of thirteen I realized that forcing someone to go to church and reprimanding a child for thinking for herself were both very un-Christian acts and so, disillusioned, I started to distance myself from the whole church community. I remained engaged in the church until sixteen at which point I found I just couldn’t fake it anymore. By then I had stopped living with my father and my mother was essentially powerless to force me into attending services. I was finally free to be my own spirit.

A year later I felt compelled to find out what more there was to this whole “religion” thing. I marched down to the public library and came home with twenty books on every religion I could find: Judiasm, Islam, Buddhism, even Rastafarianism. I had tried out the atheist thing for a few days but found that it was impossible to totally deny the existence of the spirit and thus, spirituality. At that point in my life, I was agnostic about the whole situation and this stage in my evolution continued until I found my first book on Buddhism which at the age of seventeen changed my life forever.
I found my yoga practice at nineteen as rehabilitation after a reconstructive surgery on my ankle that did not heal as expected. As a teenager I was suddenly unable to climb stairs and woke up every morning in pain which naturally gave way to a whole host of anger issues that were the gateway to the holistic spiritual healing I’m working with today. I would say that this is the time when I first realized the benefits of naming and identifying the energies moving in the body. Without the ability to name and identify places of stuck-ness and fluidity, one cannot embark on a healing mission; mine began with my ankle and expanded very quickly to my entire being.

When I was twenty I realized that I was an HSP and began to finally admit to myself how sensitive I really am. After two years of yoga the word “chakra” started to mean something to me and I started to notice a purple light between my eyes when I was relaxing in corpse pose; sometime around the age of twenty one I realized that this was my third eye. Once I had accepted the presence of this non-physical energy as a part of my being, I began to move even deeper into my practice of naming and learning to control the spiritual life force that moves through us all. I’m still evolving into completion and I am conscious of the work I have left to do in this maturation process. We should always bear in mind the fact that spiritual evolution is a never-ending process.

Was there a significant person or persons that influenced your evolution? This narrative has very clear stages of evolution which I’ve only discovered and named this year thanks to Caroline Myss’ book, Anatomy of the Spirit, which walks through the archetypical process of learning to manage our innate human power. When I read that book it shocked me silent to be able to literally draw a timeline of my spiritual awakening. I could see the progression of my life experiences which taught me what it meant to live in the present moment, seek truth, surrender to divine will, live love, manifest my will, relate to others, and feel total oneness with all creation. I could pinpoint specific years in which each of these lessons came to me through the seemingly random events of growing up and saw the time between the lessons exponentially decreasing as I neared spiritual maturity. That visual made the importance of spiritual work so much more real. This is a truly groundbreaking book.
The first book I read from that stack I took from the public library at sixteen that really gave me pause was by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who has changed my life and continues to influence my evolution. His writing style is elegant, simple and focused around the idea of Engaged Buddhism in an incredibly profound, non-dogmatic way. I highly recommend Being Peace or any of his books for literally everyone even remotely interested in the subject of peace.

Was there a significant event or series of events that influenced your evolution? No, that would have been much easier, but truthfully it was just a long 17 years of abusive parents and not fitting in with the world around me which forced me onto this path of spiritual evolution. One moment of catastrophe is often easier to heal than a slow, painful one. I did have a traumatic surgery that five years later I am still recovering from. This has been a big catalyst for the advancement of my spiritual evolution which began a long time ago.

How would you describe or name your belief system/religion: I honestly believe that religions only serve as a means to separate people who could otherwise be united. All of the nuanced differences between the various paths to enlightenment seem distracting and I prefer to respect all religions equally, as long as they don’t justify harming sentient beings in any way. I believe what the Buddha taught: don’t believe anything I tell you until you have witnessed it to be true in your own life. I believe what Jesus taught: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I believe what the Hindus teach: there is an invisible life force that flows through our chakras and affects our minds and bodies as much as the physical world does. I create my own religion based on a deep spirituality and reverence for all life in every single moment.

 

Integration of Passion and Career:

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You have mentioned both art and mathematics as early interests and I am thinking that you find it easy to shift from left to right brain thinking. Would this be correct or is it more appropriate to say that it’s more of a merging of the two for you? As a product of American society, it would be something of a miracle if my Left Brain wasn’t stronger than my Right. I do possess the uncommon ability to easily switch back and forth between both in a parallel processing manner versus the more common serial processing. I am constantly switching from abstract, artistic perspectives and structured, mathematical ones. I feel much better when I am able to exercise both types of thinking in a balanced sort of way. Balance is more important than anything in this world.

Art can be rather abstract and subjective while mathematics and architecture suggest firm laws and boundaries – though when the products of all three elicit the word ‘beautiful’, there is a universal understanding that they are coming from the ‘same kind of place’. How have these two interests blended for you and found their synergy in application? The union of physics and art is exactly why I love architecture and exactly what makes well-designed spaces so jaw-dropping. Take for example, a building like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona; in this cathedral one can see a perfectly metaphorical synergy of math and art. The objective laws of physics plus the boundaries of necessary building functions coexist harmoniously with the importance of artistic beauty, inspiration, plus the movement of the human spirit. The stunning nature of this building’s spaces comes from the way the art is supported by the math and vice versa. Total perfection comes from a balance of the physical and ephemeral, something we can take heed of in our own lives.

To place more emphasis on the physical world leaves us feeling stressed, empty, and unfulfilled and leads to a life which I equate to the environment of the cheapest and ugliest office building you can find: a place no one wants to be. One needs to bring meaningful interactions into the space of life by means of spiritual endeavors whether it’s through religion or simply intrapersonal connections — anything that activates the spirit will do.

Did your interest translate to natural ability or did you struggle with mastering some facets of these disciplines? The hardest part of the architectural training was the dogmatic and rigid format under which my professors operated. I wasn’t allowed to open into my natural abilities like a flower; I was forced into rectangular cubbies and holes like cement. I think the field of architecture has recently struggled to stay relevant as society becomes less conscious of the beauty of their living environments (art) and more dependent on technology (math). Architects have compensated with equal parts fear and self-importance which takes much inspiration out of the professional world. I’d say navigating that energy has been the hardest thing to master.

Do you continue to practice a medium of art (apart from your career work) for the pure enjoyment of it? I started my blog to document my 365 Day Creativity Challenge which is the perfect answer to this question. I started to feel a bit dried up after finishing architecture school and needed to push myself to keep creating.

The act of creating arts and crafts is a beautiful metaphor for our intrinsic ability as conscious beings to create our lives. Art is everywhere and in everything in my life because I believe beauty is one of the things that gives life meaning. I try to do everything with artistic flare but in terms of the visual arts, my creativity is presently finding its way out through drawing, crochet and graphic design (a mix of sketching, photography, Photoshop, and collage).

Are there basic criteria that must be met for you to consider a project? Everything man creates should strive to be as beautiful as the natural resources it uses and replaces. I would never consider a project that is damaging or disrespectful to Mother Earth. I am constantly aware of the impact that the chosen site, construction processes and building materials will have on the present ecosystem and the entire planet as a whole. I see myself and all humans, present and future, as part of one giant living being and would never do anything to cause harm.

My projects are an extension of myself, they are the way I am able to make this world a better place and I take great care to make sure that they are 100% sustainable meaning their execution in no way is detrimental to the ability of current and future generations to survive. This is a highly complex thing to achieve that operates almost entirely outside of the capitalistic system in place now but I have always been one to do things unconventionally.

My projects work in tandem with the local resources of the site to strengthen the local ecosystem by making it more complex. Building materials and energy sources are obvious resources but a less obvious one is the human community. It is essential to involve the users of buildings and public spaces in the design of what they will eventually give life to. I am especially interested in urban planning because of my desire to create healthy and resilient networks of people, spaces, and places in the face of an undeniably changing climate which few cities are prepared for.

When you take on a new architectural project, what is your process? I am an architect because I am in love with Mother Earth; designing healthy cities and buildings in which humans can thrive is the most satisfying way I know to serve and protect Earth and her children, my work is how I give thanks for the gift of life.

So, Nature is always my model for any design. This planet and its processes have evolved over billions of years of scientific self-testing and modification and all of the answers to our questions have already been discovered. It is merely our job to interpret them from the world around us. Biomimicry is an emerging field dedicated to exactly this purpose and has given way to some real game changers. It has been said that if the 20th was the century of technology, the 21st is the century of biology.

When Nature designs, she takes into consideration the location of the site and what resources are locally available; she finds the most efficient use of space and materials to achieve the desired function and does so with grace and style while avoiding waste that cannot be reused. I don’t believe in waste of materials, energy, or space and so the design process happens through a flow of iterations which repeatedly seek to find and eliminate inefficiencies.

sagradafamilia by Veronica Anderson 2012

Every project is different but it always starts with the same thing: site analysis. It is essential to identify the local patterns into which the project must be integrated and the local resources which can be exploited in order to achieve that. This foundation is applicable at every scale, whether it’s a design for an entire urban plan, or one small bench.

As an example, take my Urban Climate Catalyst designed for Lima, Peru in 2013. Knowing that the urban population on Planet Earth is the most rapidly growing demographic and that the two billion new inhabitants Earth will see are predicted to all reside in developing cities of the third world, I decided that increasing the resilience and health of the human race had to begin in developing cities. I looked to Latin America, the continent with the next highest rate of urbanization after North America and found a study that deemed Lima the “Least Sustainable City in Latin America.” My goal was to design architecture that increased the social, economic, and ecological resiliency of the people living in Lima as a precedent for future urbanization happening in this agglomeration of developing countries.

When I arrived in Lima I already knew that the city could not survive more than one year of drought due to polluted rivers and melting glaciers and appreciated the danger the world’s second largest desert city was facing, therefore the issue of water came to the fore. Since water is one of the most basic necessities for human life, I chose to address the issue of the four million inhabitants living in Lima’s slums without connection to the city’s water grid.

I designed four buildings, three of which allowed the members of a 300-person shanty town in Lima’s oldest informal settlement to recycle the water they bought from private suppliers to wash dishes, take showers, and do laundry. The fourth building exploited the communal nature of these activities and provided space for adult education, after-school activities, and other emergent economic enterprises.

Based on an analysis of the site at the very beginning I was able to utilize resources like knowledge of local building techniques which cut costs considerably, gravity to power the water filtration, solar power, and community networks to ensure usage of the facilities. The center of the architectural intervention is the communal resource of water which is filtrated through constructed wetlands, a collection of plants and soil that naturally eliminates toxins from water, making it reusable in a biomimetic way for non-potable uses. If you want to learn more about this innovative low-tech architecture, you can find tons of info on my website at cargocollective.com/veronicaanderson.

Must there be a meeting of the minds between your employer and yourself as to the use of the space or are you happy to adapt to requirements? The idea of prioritizing natural, efficient design is pretty much non-negotiable for me. I also hold the resources of the community in the highest regard and would never work with a client that sought to marginalize or weaken a population. Humanitarian work is my priority and I also feel strongly that architects should work with the people, not just for them.

That said, one of the things I thrive on is adapting to specific regulations and requirements. I have always thrived on problem solving and appreciate the challenge of designing with and for a client because exercises in flexibility are always an opportunity to grow. I am attracted to the idea of private residential commissions because of the appeal of working to satisfy the particular needs of one or two people. This is the same reason I am attracted to urban planning; this scale offers the chance to affect more lives in one design gesture but at a lesser degree.

It is considered the ultimate good fortune to be able to make a living doing something you are passionate about. The majority of people would say that this just isn’t possible. While this can be valid and not an excuse in these days and times, it is equally important that people understand that 99% of those who work their passion would say that it is not simply as though they walk a golden path, and that there have been/are huge sacrifices and adjustments made. Visitors to a happy, upbeat, positive site such as yours might come away with the impression that they could never arrive in a similar place, personally. What would you say to them?Fake it ’til you make it! Some days I don’t feel positive until I force myself to feel grateful for who and where I am and trust me, that gratitude has not always come easily. I think the only thing that I possess which is extraordinary is I am not afraid of hard work. I’ve struggled to survive in one sense or another for my entire life and, quite frankly, I would say I don’t know where the happiness and positivity come from but I actually consciously manufacture them to some degree every day. I am still young. I know one day the manifestation of those things will become effortless but today, they’re not, and that’s okay because the effect is the same. “Joy is what happens when we allow ourselves to recognize how good thing really are.” Marianne Williamson said that and it speaks directly to the power of our own minds.

I spent enough years feeling like a victim of my circumstances in an abusive home and eventually I got to the point where I knew so much about what I didn’t want that all I had left to do was to create what I did want. So that’s what I’m doing. I’ve never been given any breaks in my life and perhaps that’s what taught me not to be afraid to work hard. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t have to work for my dreams and so, I just always have.

If you’ve been blessed with a life full of support and opportunity, the first thing to do is feel gratitude and if you haven’t, be grateful for the other blessings, lessons and strength you’ve been given. Gratitude moves you from the passive into the active. From the place of the active, you begin to see that your attitude defines literally everything about your life and circumstances and that is the place from which magic happens. When a person realizes her innate ability to manifest positivity in her mind, the universe can’t help but respond to that with equally positive circumstances and interactions, that’s the Universal Law of Attraction in action. I welcome doubters to try it before they deny it. They say it takes thirty days to form a habit. Try forming a habit of gratitude and if your path doesn’t look more golden at the end of those thirty days, you can call me fortunate.

Remember that Aristotle said, “Excellence is a golden mean: A habit of good deeds and an art of balance. Between cowardice and rashness lies courage. Between sloth and greed lies ambition. Create your destiny by becoming what you repeatedly do. The path to happiness is already within you.”

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Thank you, Veronica, for sharing so much and so freely –  and  for the encouragement!

Readers, please let us know what ‘works’ for you, what gives you purpose and drive; and what are you grateful for?   – weaver

*all photo credits: Veronica J. Anderson

 

The Norse Creation Myth

Another guest post to expand your imagination and appreciation of how universal archetypes have fired the human mind in all places and times – and inspired survival and the will to prosper. As you imagine the characters and settings, can you see correlations between your own cultural ‘belief origins’ story and those presented here?

**Note: for further fascinating reading on Norse beliefs and their subsequent influence before and during the 1st century, see the link in the comments below.

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Odin, from Old Norse Óðinn, is the Allfather of the Norse gods and the ruler of Asgard. (Illustration: Victor Villalobos, Wikimedia Commons)

Odin, from Old Norse Óðinn, is the Allfather of the Norse gods and the ruler of Asgard. (Illustration: Victor Villalobos, Wikimedia Commons)

A Guest Post by Thor Lanesskog

In the Middle Ages, including the Viking Age (c. 800 – c. 1100 AD), Scandinavians followed Norse religion, and according to the creation myth, there was nothing in the beginning. The only thing that filled the universe was Cold and Heat.
On one side, to the north, was Nivlheim, with frost and fog. On the other side, in the south, was Muspelheim, a sea of ​​raging flames guarded by Surt. Between them there was nothing, except for a huge abyss, Ginnungagap. Here, in this vast nothingness – between light and darkness – all life was created, in the meeting between ice and fire. Slowly, the ice started to melt – and shaped by the cold, but awakened by the heat, a strange creature arose – a huge troll. The troll was a hermaphrodite, and its name was Yme.
Where the ice melted, the drops formed another creature – a giant cow; Audhumbla. The milk flowed like rivers from her big teats, and this is how Yme found food. Audhumbla immediately began to lick the salty, frosty stones that lay all around her and the giant. Up from one of the stones the cow suddenly licked some long hair, and the next day a head and a face appeared. The third day the cow finally managed to lick off the entire body. It was a man, big and beautiful. Bure was his name – and from him descends the gods, the ones we know as Aesirs.
The giant Yme got children with himself. While he was asleep, he began to sweat, and suddenly, out from the left armpit grew a male and a female being. Yme’s legs mated and bore a son with six heads; Thrudgelmir, father of Bergelme. This is the start of the frost giants; Jotner – a mythological race that lives in Jotunheimen, one of the nine worlds of Norse cosmology.
The different creatures mated and got children. Odin is the son of the Jotner Bestla and Bure’s son Bor. It became increasingly more frost giants, and they only created disorder and chaos. One day, Odin and his brothers Vilje and Ve made an uprising against Yme and his family. The fierce battle was won by Odin and his brothers. They killed the giant and a tidal wave of blood washed over the Aesirs’ enemies and drowned them all, except the Jotner Bergelme and his wife. From this Jotner pair, who fled into the mist and hid, derives all subsequent generations of frost giants. Also Audhumla – the first cow – must have been washed over the edge, because after this carnage no one has seen or heard anything about her.
The Aesirs dragged the dead Yme to the midst of the Ginnungagap and placed him as a lid over the abyss. His blood was transformed to sea, and his meat to land. The bones became mountains and cliffs. The teeth and shattered bone fragments became stones and scree, while his hair trees and grass. The gods threw his brain mass high up in the air, and clouds were created. The skull was used as a firmament. The gods caught sparks from Muspelheim and attached them to the skull so we got sun, moon and stars.

Small worms crawled out of Yme’s corpse. These were the origins of the dwarfs who lived in underground caves and grottoes. The Aesirs chose four of them to support the firmament and to guard the four corners. These dwarfs are named Østre (Eastern), Vestre (Western), Nordre (Northern) and Søndre (Southern).

Still Honoring Thor
Thor (Scandinavian languages; Tor, Old Norse; Þórr) is one of the most important gods in Norse mythology. He is Odin’s eldest son and his mother is the personified earth, Fjörgyn. Thor ruled the weather, particularly thunderstorms, and it was said that both thunder and lightning were created while he rode in a chariot pulled by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstrkjerra, while he struck with his hammer, Mjölnir. He was also the god of harvest and war. Thursday (“Thor’s day”), and many Scandinavian places and persons are named after him.
According to Scandinavian folklore, Thursday was a day when hidden powers were especially close to the human world. Many kind of work could not be done on Thursday, for example spinning. On Thursdays, people could get in touch with the supernatural and thus increase human powers.
To this day we still honor Thor with a weekday, which shows that Norse mythology is an important part of the western world’s cultural heritage.

Thor Lanesskog is the editor of ThorNews where you can read more about Norwegian and Scandinavian culture.

Sources: Hoftun 2002; Hoftun 2004

Many thanks for sharing, Thor! 

Readers, please note that along with current news on food, sports, travel and cultural happenings, there is also much more content on the Vikings in this subsection of the fascinating ThorNews site.  – weaver