Monthly Archives: June 2013

It’s not my job – working with people not at them as a peer provider


As a peer provider, work can get a bit confusing. Sometimes I have to go back to my office after a short interaction and ground myself in the guidelines for doing peer support. There are very few rules but there are some.

Rule #1: Do not have sex with the people you serve.
Not that I was thinking of doing this but this is a rule with no if ands or buts.

Rule #2 Ask people for help or support when confused. This is an important rule as I don’t know all the answers, I’m not supposed to and it can be dangerous to think that I do. Refer people to the proper sources – a doctor or nurse, their support group, a class, instead of thinking I have to provide all services.

Guidelines are not rules but excellent reminders of how I can continue to grow as a peer provider

Guideline #1: It’s not my job to fix people, just to offer them opportunities. People can cry and be angry, people can make the same mistakes over and over. I do, everyone does. If I stop them then they don’t get to learn.

Guideline #2 It’s not my job to punish people, or prove them wrong but to explore their choices and let them have natural consequences. I guess this is related to the first one. Life is a brave experiment.  I tend to be impatient and want to see results but I have to trust that people and things change on their own time. I’ve noticed that when I don’t jump on people they actually come to me and talk about what happened.

Guideline #3 If I am trying too hard to help someone then I am probably taking away some of the humanity and power of others to beef up my own no matter how good my intentions may be. When I’m being the best peer provider I can be, I notice and ask if I am pushing too hard then attempt to regain my balance and let go of my need to help people.

Guideline #4 When I’ve had it and notice cynicism, irritation or hopelessness creep into my work, then it’s time to take care of my own recovery and trust that this will set a good example. This is also a time to tell myself what I am doing right and what is going well so I don’t dwell on mistakes.

Guideline #5 Keep it simple. Take small steps, offer small steps. Remember that planning is good but too much planning can be a recipe for a taste of humility

Guideline #6 Practice gratitude. I’m lucky to have a job as a peer provider. There are many others who would like my job! Gratitude is a good fertilizer for hope.

It’s just like riding a bike. Sometimes I’ve got to adjust my speed, breathe, notice the scenery and enjoy the company of the person I’m with without crashing into them!



Talent = perspective + gifts + courage



I remember the phrase, “I wish I had as much talent as they do in their little finger.”

That’s how I always felt. I love doing certain things, cooking, acting, writing, but I figured that I was not up to par. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that living everyday takes talent and the marvelous performers who I see on The Tony Awards are not just talented, they are ambitious and driven.

We will be having a talent show Thursday June 27th at The Wellness Innovations Center during lunch.  This isn’t about ambition but about getting up there and having fun. It’s about knowing that even though you might feel like you would rather die than tell a joke and mess it up, it might even be funny if you mess it up.

So come on over and perform or watch. Play charades with us. Laugh, applaud, sing along. Perspective and courage are gifts that are far more valuable than fame and fortune.

Fear, growth and faith

Even Egg-land's Best is sometimes not good enough for me!
Even Egg-land’s Best is sometimes not good enough for me!

Here is an interesting link to what The President of the United States has to say about mental health. It’s hopeful but as to be expected it doesn’t promise much and doesn’t go as far as I would like it to, but then, given my background, I won’t be president anytime soon. Click the link for more details.

Obama urges openess concerning mental health

What would I have liked? Not just a repetition of one in four people having mental health issues once in their life but more how mental health is something not just those “one in four” have to watch but ALL OF US need to take care of just as we take care of dental health and pregnancy wellness. I say “one in four” because that’s the statistic I go by and have heard more often than “one in five.” Is the president not counting Alzheimers disease? Autism?  Does he understand that everyone can learn how to take better care of their mind and emotions just as they do their backs and their knees? 

The mind is part of us that we refuse to believe is vulnerable or diverse in its attributes. Black and white thinking is, “Either you’re crazy or you’re not!”  What if the president admitted he smoked because he has a psychological addiction to nicotine, that he uses tobacco to deal with the stress and anxiety of a difficult job. He’s no different from the rest of us.  Sometimes, when those stress relievers no longer help, we trip and maybe even get injured. What if he said, “I deserve to be  able to see a therapist without people making fun of me or judging me.”

Lots of kids would do anything to avoid wearing glasses or having to go to special education because they hate being different. I wish that we weren’t a country based on perfection but one based on character. Maybe then we could see the worth in everyone, those with differently abled minds and diverse bodies who all wish to thrive but will need different supports to do so. What if people were really into their favorite teams rather than the star players? We all need community which is just another word for team. When we get older we will all need more assistance, but who will value doing this as long as we are focused on only what we can see – muscles, tans, money, clothes.  The real wealth is inside and sometimes it’s tricky to find.

Don’t give up looking for it!

Success measured in daily joy/accomplishments


fun itself is free!
fun itself is free!

We had a yard sale today at The Wellness Innovations Center. It was about 76 degrees and sunny. I got a little too much sun. I like the color pink and now that’s me all over. 

  I wasn’t sure how many people would come. I knew we had enough donations for a great sale but I’m prone to worrry. Imagine my surprise when I walked in and there was already a member waiting to start baking cookies and two trays of treats already baked by staff from another program.  Members came in slowly but surely and set up tables and goods outside. One member decided to post the event on the public radio bulletin board.  Another member arrived by bike with a trailer of donations. Everything was priced to sell, bargains were made, IOU’s taken. People who had no money were patient enough to wait until 1:30 pm when everything became free.  We made $131.27 to help with our lunches for this month.

There’s nothing like having a goal and being a member of a happy team to help me with my state of mind. Everyone pitched in. Some collected money, some invited their friends. Finding a group of people to belong to and a purpose in life is not easy. We who are in recovery have to be patient in building our community.  It may take a village to raise a child but it take time to build a village!  Instead of looking for the instant satisfaction and big dollars that society encourages me towards I think I’ll stick with building  my community here one cookie, one blog post, one yard sale at a time.

By the way, we have about 200 ( out of 900) videos and some women’s size 1x and 2X clothes left over. We are going to keep them for one week here at The WIC and anyone can take whatever they want for free before we donate them somewhere else. Stop by or let us know if you want to use them for your yard sale!