Thanks to Defy Ventures, I recently had an opportunity for several sessions with a mental health professional…she diagnosed me with Anxiety Disorder(!)

Not surprising, as the better part of twenty years of my life involved shouldering the burden of being the target of a vast law enforcement conspiracy* against me

*Of course, the “conspiracy” might’ve had something to do with my methamphetamine psychosis…the resulting disembodied voices I heard (and still hear!), constant surveillance upon my person, gaslighting campaign against me, etcetcetcetcetc…

Yet being diagnosed with anxiety disorder is—like most things—an opportunity to remind myself, that we as humans are not troubled by things, but rather by the view we take of them

(I think Epictetus wrote this)

I’ve chosen to view this diagnosis as the chance to give myself a second chance! To focus on what’s right, rather than what’s wrong…and on what I’ve accomplished (thanks to a lot of help) rather than where I’ve fallen short (thanks to my poor decisions)

You, in these challenging times, may deserve your second chance, too

What burdens are you shouldering, and how do you choose to view them?

Please join me on Saturday, 8/8…I’ll be hosting a free Learning Event on Fair & Second Chances

The event is sponsored by Defy Ventures, the nonprofit that delivers entrepreneur and employment training to people who are/were incarcerated

(I graduated Defy, am on the Advisory Board for the Northern California Chapter)

Tentative agenda: A discussion of what are Fair & Second Chances, why they are important, how you can further help promote them, and readings from my book

Because the best way to help others is often to help ourself, and vice versa

The law enforcement conspiracy “compelled” me…while still addicted to meth…to sink deeper into criminal activity: toting a loaded pistol, transporting felony weight (narcotics in quantities as to warrant a felony conviction, had I been busted), burglarizing my family’s home

(“Compelled” in quotations, because it was my poor choices that led to my addiction, that led to the rest)

How are the burdens you shoulder holding you back?

Today, I realize the disembodied voices I hear are angels’ whispers, benevolent spirits, help from the ether, or something of that nature

My anxiety can be quelled through breathwork, meditation, and bringing value to others

Help/inspiration comes/has come from many sources: law enforcement, Defy, and you, my reader…my gratitude compels (no quotations) me to give back

How will/do you lessen your own burdens, by helping others with theirs?

As I write this, twelve years clean, I sit on my parents’ front porch, beloved coffee by my side, gazing at the majestic red maple tree rising above the lush green lawn

In 1970, the year I was born, my family planted the tree…it grew skyward, while I grew…well, I grew in various directions!

Today the tree towers above me, maple-flaming-red leaves set it off from the lush green of surrounding pines and brilliant blue of the sky above

The just-post-dawn sun pokes rays through the needles

I’ve learned to set myself apart

To forsake medication in favor of meditation, angry acts in favor of gratitude, self-pity in favor of service to others

To forsake blaming law enforcement in favor of partnering with police

I’m a person who could’ve chosen to burden society and those around me—yet who, thanks to others, taught myself to grow

On Saturday, 8/8, you can plant your own tree! Or further nourish the one already taken root…

As many of you are undertaking your journeys in ways far more meaningful than mine

As we turn our attention to second chances for others…

Whose reasons for their criminal history, I consider more “legitimate” than mine…meaning, they never had maple trees planted for them

They haven’t always had opportunities to visit with mental health professionals, weren’t shown pathways to meditation by Zen practitioners, didn’t spend summers on lush green lawns

Yet I know, from working so closely with incarcerated persons labeled “the very worst of the very worst”…convicted of violent crimes (murder, in many cases), gang-affiliated

They are often Shining Lights, flourishing trees, with the potential to give to their communities, as much as/more so than I

We can and must help them grow, the way I’ve been helped, if we are to create the society that works best for all of us…with safe streets, and bright futures for our youth

On Saturday 8/8, give yourself the gift of a second chance, by giving that gift to others

Here’s your link to register

Resources For You

If you know or are a person who is struggling, check out my free PDF: Ten Helpful Questions to Ask When Someone You Love is Recovering From Addiction

Simply go to my website, and hit the “Download PDF Now” button in the lower right. When you enter your email, you’ll be signed up for my weekly newsletter, Meditations on Meth. Feel free to unsubscribe if you don’t want it.