Sunday, November 22, 2009

Teaching in Sacramento

Dr. B. J. Davis and I had a good day Saturday Nov. 21 in Sacramento CA, teaching a group of addiction counselors about LifeRing and Choice Theory.  LifeRing convenor Robert O. in Sacramento deserves major kudos for getting the event on the calendar and getting every detail, including ample refreshments, in place on the day of the event.  Two leading members of CAADAC (the California Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors), namely regional director Pete Nielsen and regional vice-president Karl Hexberg, arranged for Continuing Education Units, email-blasted the regional membership, and prepared the paperwork, and Karl sat through the entire session.

We started at 9 am, and I began my 200-slide PowerPoint about half an hour later.  I covered basic facts about LifeRing, such as where the meetings were located and typical characteristics of our membership, and then outlined the 3-S philosophy.  I got to the end of the second S by lunch time.  It was a good interactive session with just about everyone in the room getting into the discussion and nobody falling asleep.

After lunch I finished the third S, and then Dr. Davis talked for about 45 minutes about Choice Theory and his research into Quality of Life in recovery.  Then I picked it up again and covered the LifeRing meeting format and the Recovery by Choice workbook.  I had to cut it short as we ran out of time but certainly the main points got across.  The audience were attentive the whole time.  There was lots of crosstalk, all of it positive.  Even though a number of folks present identified themselves as 12-step, there was no tension or animosity on either side.

Both Dr. Davis and I got a lot of thanks at the end, and I got a couple of inquiries about giving the LifeRing talk in other towns.  There were people from Vallejo, Petaluma, Yuba City, and other towns plus local Sacramento folks at the session.  Our only regrets were that not more people from social services agencies in the city attended, because apparently they were not included on the email lists.  We're talking about repeating this training in the spring, this time with broader advance publicity.

The whole set of my 200 slides is available for downloading at workshop.ppt 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Visit to Charleston

Despite beautiful summer weather -- 76 degrees and a blue sky -- about 30 people turned out at the Unitarian-Universalist meeting hall in Charleston South Carolina this past Sunday to hear me talk about the LifeRing approach to addiction recovery.  Most of the credit goes to LifeRing convenor Matt Dean, who founded the LifeRing meeting that convenes in the same building on Friday evenings, and who proposed the program to the Lowcountry Secular Humanist Association who sponsored my talk and paid my transportation. 

This was the first "normie" audience (people mostly not in recovery) I'd spoken to in quite some time, and they hung in there even when I ran a bit over time.  I spoke without any text or notes and that seemed to work OK.  The feedback I got directly, as well as the feedback that came indirectly (usually more telling) were all positive.  

The Humanists have adopted LifeRing as the  charitable organization to which they will direct their donations for the rest of this year.  Quite a few people told me how relieved they were to have a secular recovery alternative where they could refer their family and friends in this mostly Bible-belt area.  

Matt together with media maven Todd Fresh (who edited the terrific B J Davis DVD available from LifeRing Press) were perfect hosts and took the time to show me around historic downtown Charleston.  

I have to say, this city has worked hard to clean up its act.  In the old days it was the main port from which captive Native Americans were sold into slavery in the West Indies; it led the secession from the Union to preserve slavery; and of course it's the site of Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began.  

I didn't see a single Confederate flag, and the whole tenor of the beautifully preserved or restored historic downtown is to let bygones be bygones and let the tourist dollars roll in from wherever.  And of course the fact that the city has an active Secular Humanist group and a LifeRing meeting is a jewel in its reputation.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A message to warm an author's heart

This message came in today from David F., LifeRing convenor in San Rafael CA:
I got an e-mail yesterday from a guy who wanted to know if he could "drop in" on tonight's LifeRing meeting. We exchanged e-mail a couple more times to be sure he got the directions, etc. Tonight, he showed up and, when it came time for him to talk, he said he'd gotten sober on his own for a while, then began drinking and it was affecting his marriage. He didn't now where to turn for help. One day, in the Self-Help section of a bookstore, he saw your book. It looked interesting so he bought it, read it, liked the way it was written and what it said very much, got on the web site and found our meeting and here he was tonight! I think he gelled very well with LifeRing and we'll see him again real soon and for a long time!
So, hey man.....Congratulations!  -- David
Thank you David.  This is the kind of thing that makes an author's long lonely hours of research and writing and rewriting worthwhile.  The book was designed to bring people to LifeRing meetings and it looks like it's working. 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Your input needed on website redesign project

A major redesign is in the works for the (a/k/a website.  Whether it needs it or not (LOL!).  The site first launched on June 16 1996 and it's been growing like a kudzu vine ever since.  Now a talented and experienced web designer has stepped forward.  He is Chris Adams. 

Chris' day job is as senior art director for Rolling Orange (see and his personal website is at   He has designed websites for Santa Cruz Snowboards, Giro, RockShox, Bell BMX, Blackburn, Mahlzeit (Zurich), Carnegie Hall, Weisman Art Museum (Minneapolis), Electronic Arts, 3M, Andersen Windows, Stanford University, Stanford School of Medicine, Yale University, University of Chicago, Santa Clara University, Covad, Cisco, Borland, QPorter (Zurich Mobile), Straub Hospital & Clinics (Honolulu), Wilcox Health (Kauai), and 3M Dental, among others.  We are in good hands. 

Chris' design process begins by casting as wide a web as possible for user input.  In the coming days, if you have any connection with LifeRing, you will be invited to share your views about the ( website via an online survey.  Your emails, letters, even phone calls are also invited.  Chris and the rest of the LifeRing IT group want to be sure that everyone has a chance to be heard and that no idea is overlooked. 

Two survey forms are now up on the web, asking for your input.  One is for the "general public" -- anyone at all with an interest in LifeRing, especially our online presence.  Click here for that one.  The other is aimed more specifically at LifeRing convenors, who are the living core of this organization.  Click here for the convenor input form.  Both are anonymous, and there's no rule against filling out both.  But do it now, or very soon.  (Survey is now closed.  Thank you to all who participated.)

We hope very much to launch the new design in January, which means an enormous amount of work between now and then, and everyone's timely cooperation is necessary.  I'm excited about this project, and I think you will be too.  We're going to have a top notch professional looking website, and that's going to inspire even greater confidence in the organization and attract even more people to this positive, empowering recovery environment of ours.

Monday, November 2, 2009

LifeRing Training in Sacramento Nov. 21

Following up on the well-reviewed Sept. 19 LifeRing training in Oakland, I'll be co-presenting a new LifeRing training for treatment professionals in Sacramento on Saturday, Nov. 21.  This'll be in part a replay of the Sept. 19 presentation in Oakland, and in part an entirely new and exciting event, with the addition of my co-presenter, Dr. B.J. Davis of Strategies for Change.  Dr. Davis is, of course, the author of the new DVD, What is Recovery?  A Quality of Life Analysis (available from LifeRing Press), and a frequent and dynamic presenter at professional conferences.  Here's an online flyer with the information about the event.  As in Oakland, there'll be 6 (six) CEUs available for treatment professionals.  Even better than Oakland, which cost $10, this event is FREE.  LifeRing convenors and other participants are, of course, invited to sit in.