Recovery: Keep moving ahead, no matter what

Heroin. Cocaine. Alcohol. Depression. Bipolar. Or perhaps some combination. Whether you are suffering from an addiction or mood disorder, or you are a professional who treats individuals with addiction and/or mood disorders, you are well aware that recovery is a difficult process that takes time.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines recovery as follows:

“Recovery from mental and substance use disorders is a process of change through which individuals work to improve their own health and well-being. They live a self-directed life and strive to achieve their full potential. The guiding principles of recovery are:

* Recovery is person-driven;

* Recovery occurs in many pathways;

* Recovery is holistic;

* Recovery is supported by peers and allies;

* Recovery is supported through relationships and social networks;

* Recovery is culturally based and influenced;

* Recovery is supported by addressing drama;

* Recovery involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibilities;

* Recovery is based on respect; and

* Recovery emerges from hope.”

These are important principles to understand.’

In addition, the following is a working definition of recovery and remission from a fresh hope perspective, in which recovery is defined as, “the process of finding hope, purpose, and meaning for one’s life.” Stated another way, recovery is experiencing a meaningful life, in spite of any chronic brain disorder, mental illness, or any kind of mood disorder.”

Notice that both definitions present the over-arching message that hope and restoration of a meaningful life are possible.

Recovery is about wellness. It’s about moving towards the life you want versus coping and surviving as you are now. It’s about wellness versus coping, thriving versus surviving, and living a rich meaningful life versus a broken and pain-filled life.

It’s hard, and it’s hard to go through it. But keep moving ahead no matter what.

Sources: SAMHSA —

Fresh Hope —



Should I Stay or Should I Go?

By Holly Caplan, Guest Blogger

Growing up I was taught by my parents to get a job and keep a job. Period. It was ingrained in me that once I graduated college, I needed to land at a good company and stay there. The big reward would be retirement at 40 years with a fancy company pen and pension. This was my mindset for years.  It’s what was expected of me, and it is what I aspired to do.

Ultimately though, the longest I held out at one company was 14 years, thank you very much.  I was on a roller coaster with highs of success and excitement to lows of frustration and disappointment.  Yet, with dogged determination and loyalty I stuck out it. I was supposed to right?  Wrong.  By staying, I denied myself the opportunity for even more growth and opportunities. Staying was comfortable (even in the hardest times), but it wasn’t always productive.

Even though all of this is in my rearview mirror now, wish I would have known years before how to assess if I should stay or go. I needed some type of guideline to know when it was time to depart.  It would have given me confidence in making the big decision and the courage to pull the rip chord to create change for myself.

Here are three statistics will give you an indication of how employees view their current companies and jobs:

  • 71% of workers said they are looking to change employers
  • 37% of engaged employees are looking for jobs or watching for opportunities, as are 56% of not engaged and 73% of actively disengaged employees
  • 47% of people actively looking for new positions say company culture is the main reason

So if you are feeling like you need a job change, you are not alone. Here are three signs that maybe it is time to take the leap, and three signs that you should tough it out a bit longer:

3 Signs you should quit your job:

  1. Deficit in Development:

If you notice that your company isn’t doing anything to develop, train, or promote you, it is a sign that it may be time to go.  This is two fold. First, it shows they have little interest in your future and how you contribute to the organization. Second, your professional growth can be hindered if the company does not actively develop or promote. This deficit can create frustration on the employee’s behalf and it shows that the company is not invested in their people.

  1. Getting Out of Bed:

We all go through periods where our jobs are miserable, or we are just flat bored. Getting out of bed can feel like a chore itself.  If you are not mentally engaged in what you are doing for a living, don’t wait too long to make a change. Staying in a role you find completely uninspiring will do a number on your self worth and will be detected by your manager. When you feel this stagnancy or boredom linger, it is a sign that it is time to go. Give yourself the chance to find something new that will interest and inspire you!

  1. High turnover:

Employees stay in their jobs if they actually like their work environment. If they have a good boss, work-life balance and consistency, they will stay for a while. But, if these components are not present, most people will jump ship. If you see your respected colleagues leaving right and left, know the issues are most likely systemic. This is a signal that it is time to find a new ship that is sailing in the right direction.

3 Signs you shouldn’t quit your job:

  1. If you are under 12 months of employment:

This is the sweet spot, 12 months. Say you get involved in a job that you don’t feel is a right fit or you wish you didn’t take, do your best to make it last one year. Leaving at 6-9 months can look questionable to your next employer. Staying 12-18 months, even if you want to go, will show stability and that you were dedicated to this period of your career journey.

  1. Leadership change is coming:

When you see that the people above you are moving on or moving out, hold tight. This could mean a positive change for you. Their movement makes room for perhaps your advancement, a role change or maybe even just a better work culture. This type of transition can yield professional growth, so watch what happens and then figure out what this can mean for you!

  1. Look for a job while you have one:

It has been said again and again, it is best to look for a new job while you have a job. Even if you know you want to quit, stick with your current position (barring horrible circumstances) while you are on the new job search. Clearly by doing this, you are maintaining your current income, while at the same time you appear more marketable and desirable to your potential employer.

In today’s environment, there is a lot more freedom of choice based on social acceptance of job hops, which can work in your favor. If you find you are in disengaged or perhaps indifferent, don’t waste anymore time. Assess your current professional situation and don’t be afraid to ask yourself if you should stay or if you should go.

Holly Caplan is a workplace issues expert, career coach and author of Surviving the Dick Clique: A Girl’s Guide to Surviving the Male Dominated Corporate World. For more information, please visit, and connect with her on Twitter, @hollymcaplan.

Here’s How to Keep Millennial Employees

You’ve no doubt heard some of the bad things about Millennial-age workers…. how they are very talented, but ready to quit their job at the drop of the hat for greener pastures should a better offer come along.

In today’s fast-paced, competitive, global economy, companies need as many talented workers as they can find. So how can today’s businesses hang on to outstanding young talent? There is good news: Millennials, it turns out, ARE willing to stay IF it’s a great place to work at.

At the 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials, 88% of younger employees say they plan to stay long-term. These employees were also nearly 3 times as likely to be engaged at work, compared to other age and demographic groups.

“In other words, these employers have cracked the code on how to retain Millennials,” said Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work in announcing the release of the global people analytics and consulting firm’s annual ranking of the 2018 Best Workplaces for Millennials, in partnership with FORTUNE. (The list appears later in this post.)

Here are 5 key ways to keep Millennial talent:

Create authentic and meaningful professional opportunities such as industry leadership, philanthropy, teamwork, or other company purpose where they can make an impact.

Focus on your Millennial leaders — Ensure they’re getting the professional development, feedback, and mentoring they need.

Lead with sincerity — Leadership should “practice what they preach.”

Strengthen your employer brand — Promote your workplace with the same zeal as your products and/or services.

Offer a great workplace for all — Treat all employees equally, no matter their background or role in the organization.

Top Ten of the 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials:

2 Salesforce
3 Edward Jones
4 Workday, Inc.
5 Kimley-Horn
6 Power Home Remodeling
7 Veterans United Home Loans
8 Hyatt Hotels Corporation
9 Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
10 Progressive Insurance

View the full list at

About the 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials

Rankings are based on feedback from over 398,000 employees at Great Place to Work– Certified™ organizations.  Results were compared to colleagues’ responses from other generations. Rankings also consider the consistency of experience for all Millennials across various job roles and demographic backgrounds.



Take Your Dog to Work Day

Have you ever taken your dog to work? Would you like to? Friday, June 22, 2018, businesses around the globe will open their doors to employees’ canines to celebrate the 20th-annual celebration of Take Your Dog To Work Day.

TYDTWDay was established by Pet Sitters International (PSI) in 1999. This annual event urges businesses to experience the employee benefits of having dogs in the workplace and to promote adoptions from local shelters, rescue groups, and humane societies.

Depending on where you live, and what you do for a living, the idea of taking your beloved pooch with you in to the office might seem a bit far-fetched. Fortunately, for me it isn’t. I live in a small town where it has often been okay for me to bring my dog in to, among other places, the local post office and pharmacy. Many employees are even willing to offer treats!

Of course, I luck out as I have a small dog, who isn’t hard to hold for the short while I am visiting whatever business it is that I’m in. It’s also a decent idea to hold your dog as opposed to having him on the ground just in case he should decide to do “his business”!

I’ve also had the good fortune of first bringing Baxter, and now *Pepper Ann, in to visit my wife’s workplace as well as a local assisted living facility. You’ve no doubt heard of the positive health benefits dogs can offer, such as reducing stress and helping you lose weight. But don’t take my word for it, check out

Actually, you don’t have to read an article to recognize the positive health benefits of dogs. Just seeing a smile on someone’s face, a person making a “cute pooch” or similar remark can help make someone’s day. You can see this person’s face light up, where a frown may have been in place just minutes before you brought “Fido” in the door.

Pet visits, also known as “pet therapy” are also welcome at a local adult day facility I visit periodically. They even get a kick out of it when Pepper Ann barks! I have to admit, that one surprised me!

Now it’s true that it’s a good idea to check with the boss to make sure that a pet visit is okay! It’s also possible someone might be allergic, and so you need to take that into account. It’s also not a bad idea to bring along documentation to show that your pooch is up on all of his vaccinations.

But for the most part, a pet visit can bring a welcome change of pace to usual, humdrum routines. So bring your dog to work. Why not Friday?

PHOTO ABOVE LEFT:  *Pepper Ann, our 16-month-old part poodle, Maltese, and Chihuahua. In case you’re wondering, she weighs 8 pounds.

Too Many Lives Cut Too Short

Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade recently joined a long line of celebrities who completed suicide. Bourdain, a famous chef, author, and CNN host, was 61 while Spade, a noted fashion designer, was 55.

This list includes, among others, Robin Williams, Kurt Cobain, Marilyn Monroe, and NFL star Junior Seau. It turns out that celebrities, despite all of their fame and fortune, aren’t immune from taking their own lives.

Their deaths, while tragic, aren’t nearly as unusual as one might think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each day 121 Americans (93 of which are men) either commit suicide or lose someone to suicide. Even more startling, the CDC reports that suicide increased by 25 percent across the United States from 1999 to 2016.

The American Psychological Association (APA) supports a multi-faceted approach to address this national crisis. “This crisis affects people both with and without diagnosed mental health conditions,” said the APA in a news release. “Suicide is often an act of desperation, brought on by an inability to cope with life’s stressors. Addressing the source of those stressors is vital.”

Read more here

However, “most people don’t want to die. They just don’t know how to end the pain,” stressed Leah Rolando, a suicide prevention specialist with Mental Health America of Wisconsin.

And the pain has often been going on for some time. Many people who take their lives, including Spade, have been seeking treatment for disorders such as depression, anxiety and others – sometimes for years.

For someone who is dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, or who has a loved who is struggling, it can be tough to know what to do. One useful resource is the National Council for Behavioral Health‘s Mental Health First Aid handbook. (Additional resources are listed at the end of this post).

Rolando stressed that it’s vital to ask direct questions and not “beat around the bush” because you are afraid of using the “S” word. “Ask, ‘Are you thinking of suicide?’ A less direct approach would be, ‘Have you been unhappy lately?’” Rolando also suggested, “Say, ‘I’m sorry you’re feeling so bad. What can I do to help?’ as opposed to, ‘You’re not crazy!’ or, ‘You’re just kidding, right?’”

Rolando outlined a four-step approach that counselors can use:

* Use QPR (question, persuade, refer) – and be sure to have resources handy;

* Talk privately;

* Allow the individual to talk freely; and

* Show empathy and compassion.

Perhaps the one “good thing” (if you can call it that) that comes out of tragedies like these is the spotlight celebrity deaths place on this national scourge. Maybe, just maybe, the more deaths like these bring suicide into the forefront of discussion, the more lives might be saved.

Resources include:

Calm HarmCalm Harm is an app that provides tasks to help resist or manage the urge to self-harm. Visit

Fresh Hope — This organization empowers individuals to live well in spite of a mental health diagnosis (along with their loved ones) through peer-to-peer Christian mental health support groups that are recovery principle driven. See

Kevin Hines Story – A heartfelt video from a man who survived a suicide attempt off the Golden Gate Bridge. See

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255

Suicide Prevention Resource Center – Self-paced online courses will improve your knowledge and skills in suicide prevention. Learn more at



The Bipolar Blues

Yesterday I walked about,

A smile upon my face.

I had a neat appearance

And a sure and steady pace.


Today it’s hard to lift my head

As I walk down the street.

My posture bends somewhat more

My appearance isn’t as neat.


It’s hard to smile but I try

As folks I know pass by.

Sometimes it’s hard to focus

Or to look them in the eye.


I’m weary and each little thing

I do takes effort now.

Yesterday I moved about

Much easier somehow.


Few really tend to understand

The way that I must strive

To try to deal with each new change

So that I can survive.


For even in one day my mood

Can turn from low to high.

At times I’ve been in the depths of hell;

I’ve also touched the sky.


Because my problem’s found within

The centers of my brain,

I think it’s kind of hard for folks to know

About my kind of pain.


All I ask is understanding;

In my work or in my home,

So that even in my darkest hours

I won’t feel so alone.


Submitted by Colleen Wicker, Suring, WI

While written for individuals with bipolar disorder, most any of us who are coping with a mental health challenge can likely relate to this stirring poem. While the author of this blog did not receive this poem in time to post during (May) Mental Health Awareness Month, the truth is that mental health challenges know no particular months – they are ongoing, hence its continued relevance. Hopefully it touches some of you reading it. Blessings to you and yours.

Happy Memorial Day

“All gave some. Some gave all.” – In memory of all those who have served in our Armed Forces….  Happy Memorial Day 2018

My dad served in the India, China, Burma Theatre during World War II. He was part of the last mounted cavalry unit during WWII. It’s no wonder he could ride a horse when I was a kid, and the rest of us couldn’t! I also found out years later, through a neighbor of mine who is a military medal expert, that my dad was eligible for some medals he never received!  I wrote to (then) Congressman Reid Ribble, and his office sent them! Not that my humble dad would have cared… as we all know, those in the “greatest generation” like my dad just wanted to get on with life after the war, and raise their families.


Photo below left: Yours truly at the WWII Memorial in Washington in fall 2012. No, this wasn’t taken during Memorial Day weekend – it was taken during a break from the national/international EAPA conference that fall in nearby Baltimore – but it remains a special memory of mine.

The veterans pictured in yellow were there as part of Honor Flights that take vets to DC to see the memorial. Too bad my dad did not live to take one of those. I’m sure blessed I got to see it.

‘Pushing Through’: Why it’s Important

This is the last in a series of posts commemorating Mental Health Awareness Month.

Pastor Brad Hoefs, author of Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis, refers to the importance of “pushing through.” But what does it mean to push through? For those of us who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, Pastor Hoefs says this simply means that we won’t use excuses to hinder our recovery. That might sound easy enough, but in this day and age in which many would rather pass the buck, than to look in the mirror, “pushing through” isn’t nearly as automatic as it may sound.

Consider: My wife was a special education teacher, and it was not uncommon for “Johnny’s” mom to tell her that, “’Johnny’ won’t be able to do any school work today because he forgot to take his Ritalin this morning.” Would it be more difficult for Johnny to get his school work done without his medication? Probably. But did it mean he couldn’t anything done? I doubt it. And while this is an example of a child, the truth is that adults are pretty good at making excuses, too. After all, wasn’t Johnny’s mom making excuses for him?

I hope I do not seem overly harsh – it’s just that I have witnessed how much of a crutch some people let their medication become. “I can’t do this because my meds weren’t adjusted right.” “I can’t do that because my ADD was acting up.” Pushing through means we’re going to do our very best regardless.

“It means that no matter who’s told you what, you’re not going to remain where you’re at; you expect to get better to the point that you are no longer experiencing the daily effects of your disorder, and you are successfully managing and enjoying your life rather than letting your disorder manage you,” says Pastor Hoefs in his landmark book.

Is this easy? Of course not. Will we become discouraged that we’re not making any progress toward living the life we want to live? I venture to say that nearly all of us will have our share of bad days. But what does “giving in” to a mental health diagnosis prove? That we’re going to be satisfied with living a lesser life because it’s easier to complain and bemoan our circumstances, than it is to do something about it?

Now I am not saying that having a mental health diagnosis is just a case of “mind over matter,” that we can will ourselves to recovery. If there is a chemical imbalance in our brain, getting and taking the right medication can go a long way toward improving our state of mind and well-being. But I am suggesting that we can be like the little boy (and his mom) who were convinced he might as well stay home from school because he forgot his medication. … Or, we can “push through” and do our best regardless. Will we have as good a day as we might have had, had we taken the med? Possibly not. But what would it hurt to try?

Part of getting better is up to a doctor and being properly diagnosed and then prescribed with the right medication. But some of getting better is also up to us. We can choose to succumb to a mental health condition, or we can choose to overcome. Which will it be?

If you’d like to learn more about Pastor Hoefs or Fresh Hope, check out

Yanny vs. Laurel: Does it Matter?

Surely you’ve heard of the Yanny vs. Laurel controversy? A computer-generated voice has become perhaps the most divisive subject on the Internet since the gold/blue dress flap posted three years ago. But which is it – Yanny?….. as most of us seem to hear? …… Or is the voice saying, “Laurel”?

I’d like to make the case that there is no real right or wrong answer because it depends on how we hear the recording individually. Yes, even in today’s global village, the fact is we are still individuals, and as such, it stands to reason that no two people are going to hear (or see) the same thing. (Surely you’ve heard of the Rorschach inkblot test?)

Consider how diverse political views can be on the same topic… Do we need to vastly reduce the number of guns to slow down the disturbing number of mass shootings in our society? Or is the problem much deeper-rooted than that, in which limiting guns would only be the tip of the iceberg? Is a border wall needed to reduce the number of drug runners and illegal aliens coming in to the US? Or is this an example of racial and ethnic discrimination at its worst? I could go on and on and on.

The point is, I think, we all tend to hear things a little differently, filtering our own experiences, and yes biases, into the equation. It reminds me of when I was a newspaper reporter and covered the construction of a proposed Target distribution center near Oconomowoc, Wis. The argument went back and forth….would the center damage the environment? (A “Yanny” of its day). Or would that effect be negligible, in favor of the “greater good” – adding hundreds of good-paying jobs to the area. (the flip side or “Laurel” of the issue).

Try as I did to be objective, which was the order of the day in journalism back then, the fact was that I grew up in a small Wisconsin city that had seen hundreds of layoffs in the 1980s. Having witnessed firsthand the economic devastation the vast loss of jobs had on my hometown, it was very difficult for me to see what was wrong with adding lots of good-paying jobs to the Oconomowoc area!

I understood the need to put some environmental precautions into the equation in order to minimize pollution. (My wife and I enjoy the outdoors and like to camp, and so I like to think I got that.)

But when the center cleared the environment impact statement hurdle, what was wrong with proceeding at that point? The environmental side continued to cry, “Foul!” As a reporter, I had to cover that part of the story, but I sure didn’t get it!

The point is, we all filter our beliefs and experiences into what it is that we are hearing. In this case, the “Yannys” of the issue said the center was a bad thing because of the pollution it would add to the environment. Conversely, the “Laurels” said the economic boon outweighed any potential pitfalls.

And the Yanny vs. Laurel recording controversy? For the record, I just hear “Yanny.” As I say, it all depends on the individual.

For more on the Yanny/Laurel illusion, see