Monday, November 20, 2017

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

If the Right Thing Goes Wrong
As we pulled in front of his house I asked Rudy why MaryJo was in the hospital.
“Food poisoning,” he said. “She finally started eating again and she got food poisoning.”

“Well there’s a little bit of irony for you,” I said. “Will she be OK?”

“They think so. She texted me from the hospital bathroom: ‘Ordered oysters, they were my husband’s favorite seafood, and ended up here, bucket at my feet, sitting on the throne! Can’t wait to see what happens if I start dating again.’”

“Do you think she’ll go back to not eating?” I asked.

“No, she said she knows she has to eat, even if her first attempt didn’t turn out so well.”

Today I will do the next right thing even if the first right thing doesn’t go well.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Blowing up the Past
Rudy’s lawyer had arranged bail and Rudy was processed out when I got to the jail.

“Thank you,” Rudy said, extending his hand. He couldn’t look me in the eye. “I didn’t think you’d come.”

“You’re in deep,” I said. “Seemed like the thing to do.” We walked to my car in silence.

“Someone could have been killed,” Rudy said as he sank into the passenger seat. Another long silence.

At the first red light, I turned to him and smiled. I couldn’t help it. “I wish I could have seen the look on your stepbrother’s face.”

Rudy said, “He saw the flames and came running just as his car exploded. Boom! It was like our entire past was gone. Every humiliating thing he’d ever done to me blown up. Do you know the best part?”

I shook my head. “When the other cars exploded he raised his fist. Like when we were kids and he’d punch me for no reason. My dad would say ‘knock it off,’ but Dad would be laughing. Not this time. He raised that fist and I stared him down.  He’ll never intimidate me again.  Maybe you can’t change the past, but you can blow up the parts holding you back.”

I laughed. “Better not to blow it up literally,” I said. “Maybe not use gasoline.”

“Well if you’re going to be nitpick…”

Today I will blow up anything from the past holding me back.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Err on the Side of Kindness
I didn’t want to go get Rudy. I hadn’t known him that long, hadn’t liked him when I first met him. On the other hand, I thought I had some insight into why he was the way he was. Setting his stepbrother’s car on fire wasn’t a bright idea, but it showed just how frustrated Rudy was.  I had to give him some credit. The fire sent a clearer message than the strongly worded resignation letter I might have written if I were in his shoes.

I wasn’t sure what to do until I started thinking of all the times I’d messed up, and someone had cut me a break. The world hadn’t always been kind, but for the times it had, I thought maybe I owed it the benefit of the doubt. I’d be kind and give Rudy a ride.

Today I will err on the side of kindness.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Sometimes A Man is an Island
The next day Brat Boy texted me. He had a few classes with Jack’s son KC. KC’s girlfriend was pregnant. KC wanted to drop out of school and support her while he pursued an acting career. He thought the plan was terribly romantic. Brat Boy thought KC’s plan was just terrible, and KC should contact his parents and her parents immediately to come up with a better one. He wondered what he should do.

Luke’s book arrived. The Titanic, he argued, couldn’t have been sunk by an iceberg. A ship that big made of thick steel would have pushed the iceberg aside. He’d added an illustration with an ice cube and a straw. Luke noted that during the Civil War the English had betrayed the Confederate states by not siding with them. This made the South and Germany natural allies. He theorized that Germany gave them the U-Boat that sank the Titanic as the first step in rearming the Confederacy.  The book included a lengthy chapter on a German prince, his ties to the Knights Templar, the Masons, and Hitler’s father. I wondered if Luke had smoking meth when he wrote his book. I had no doubt he’d sell thousands of copies.

Rudy called me to say he was in jail. He was too embarrassed to call family, and really didn’t have any friends other than MaryJo, who was in the hospital. He wondered if I could come get him. He’d been arrested after alerting his stepbrother he was leaving the dealership by setting his stepbrother’s car on fire. Rudy had only meant to burn an obscenity into the hood, but had gotten carried away. Several cars in the staff parking lot caught fire after his stepbrother’s Mercedes exploded. Rudy was proud he’d been stone cold sober at the time.

“Sometimes the whole world goes crazy at all once,” I said out loud. “The best I can do is try to be an island of sanity.” I realized I was talking to myself again.

Today I will try to be an island of sanity.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

Climbing
“Look, I know you don’t think you’re that bad,” I said to Jack, “but you’re on a narrow ledge.”

Jack said, “When the cough is gone, I’m done with the cough syrup. There’s no ledge.”

I ignored him. It’s what friends do when one of them is making no sense. “The ledges get narrower as you go down. It gets easier to fall to the next one. Cough syrup daily, or maybe painkillers to heroin.”

“It’s cough syrup. Prescribed medicine. No ledges.”

“The good news is as you climb the ledges, they get wider. Life gets more manageable. Getting to the next one is more about growth than survival.  Now, you gonna climb out this mess now or do you have to fall down a ledge or two?”

“There’s no ledge,” he insisted. I quit arguing with him. Instead I wondered if I hadn’t gotten too comfortable on my ledge. Maybe it was time for me to do a little climbing.

Today I’ll climb the next ledge.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, November 13, 2017

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

Worsers
As we spoke, I realized Jack was high. My heart sank.
“Jack, you drank the cough syrup,” I said.
“I have a cough,” he said. “It’s prescribed.”
“You drank the bottle,” I guessed.
“I only drank half a bottle,” he protested. “I’m a big guy, I need a bigger dose.”  There was a long pause. Jack changed tacks, “OK, maybe I had a little too much cough syrup, but I’m not as bad as Luke.”
“So that’s your plan? Not worry about it until you’re the worst?”
“It sounds bad when you put it that way,” Jack said.
Today I won’t wait until I’m the worst to get better.
2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

Evidence
The next day I got an email from an old acquaintance named Luke. Luke asked if I’d review a book he’d written exposing evidence Confederate Civil War veterans and their followers sank the Titanic.

In ten years Luke had racked up three DUIs and two divorces.  He had a plate in his head from a bar fight. He’d starred in a YouTube video, urinating into the fountain in Point State Park, at noon, surrounded by tourists and office workers eating their lunches. He saw no evidence that he was an alcoholic.

I called Jack to tell him about the email. Jack had tried to convince Luke he needed help, but without much success. “He wouldn’t look at all the evidence,” Jack said.

Today I will look at all the evidence.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose


2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Monday, February 10th, 2020

Level Ground
Just as I was about to hang up, Jill got on the line. “Did he tell you?” she asked. Before I could answer she said, “Tell him.” Before Jack could tell me, Jill said, “He got cough syrup, the kind with codeine.”

“I have a cough, and a prescription from a doc who knows I’m an alcoholic,” Jack said, mostly to Jill, as if he was explaining himself to a disbelieving child. “I haven’t taken any yet, and I might not ever.”

“You think that’s a good idea?” I asked.

“Not you too,” he said to me. “Didn’t I just say I have a prescription? The doc knows I’m an alcoholic? That I haven’t taken any? I think I’m on level ground here.”

After I hung up, I said to myself, ‘the path leading to the slippery slope might seem level, but is slick with excuses and rationalizations.’

Today I’ll beware of the slick ground leading to the slippery slope.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Monday, February 10th, 2020

Fear of Success
The next day, I called Jack to see how his book deal was coming along. He had signed the paperwork. It made him happy, but sent his anxiety through the roof. We laughed about how many people we knew who feared success.

“How many times do you see people get shaky as they get close to their first year sober?” I asked. “They can’t seem to accept they’re doing well.”

“My brother couldn’t sleep at night for the first two months after he got promoted at work.  He was worried he couldn’t do the job. Turned out he could do it half awake.”

“I couldn’t count the people who relapsed on their last day of outpatient treatment. The worst was over, but the fear of success got to them.”

Jack snorted, “Before Jill, I killed every successful relationship. Happiness made me nervous.” He thought for a moment, and then asked why people sabotage their successes.

“I’ve known people who questioned whether they deserved success. They saw failure as inevitable so they wanted to get it over with. They were afraid the more successful they were, the more would be asked of them. Most people get past their fear and are glad they did. Never a good idea to give into the fear of success.”
Today I’ll try not to fear success.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sunday, February 9th, 2020

Oh Deer!
By February of 2020 my wife and I had been together thirty years.  As she slept in the passenger seat, I remembered some of the good times we’d had.

And that’s when we hit a deer. We didn’t bump the deer, or graze it.  The deer didn’t struggle to its feet a few minutes later, and run off into the woods, dazed but wiser.  We left a deer stain on the highway, and destroyed our new car.

“Of all the damn luck,” my wife said, standing on the shoulder and looking from the highway to the crumpled hood of our car. Tears streamed down her face.

“We were luckier than the deer,” I pointed out, shaken but grateful.

Today I will remember luck comes and goes.
Lasting relationships are something to be grateful for.
  
2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, November 6, 2017

Sunday, February 9th, 2020

Talk to Me
Brat Boy played well. During his junior year in high school, he’d realized to play in college he’d have to focus on one sport. He chose volleyball over basketball.  It had been a painful decision that paid off.  He was beaming.

On the drive home, my wife kissed my earlobe. She whispered in a sexy voice, “Talk happy to me.”

I talked about Brat Boy’s game, and what an upbeat kid he’d always been. She talked about Blondie’s wedding plans. We wondered how long after graduation Brat Boy and CharChar would get married.

As our parents aged, as we aged, as our children established their own lives, we knew there would be bittersweet and outright sad times. It made no sense not to squeeze every drop of happiness from that moment.

After she fell asleep, I kept listing things we had to be happy about.

Today I will talk happy to someone, even it’s just to me.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sunday, February 9th 2020

Because I Want To
We hadn’t told Brat Boy we were going to his game.  Getting to the gym early, we sat where he he’d see us. The teams came out to warm up, and his face lit up as he waved.

“Makes the trip worthwhile,” Dr. Deb said.

I laughed. “What if we’d driven three hours and he had rolled his eyes when he saw us?” I asked. “We’d have to leave.”

“No, we’d stay. I’d strangle him after the game, but we’d see him play.” She leaned into me, squeezed my hand, and added. “Love to see my baby play.”

We’d driven three hours because we wanted to.  His smile was icing on the cake.

Today I’ll happily do something because I want to, grateful if someone else appreciates my efforts.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Sunday, February 9th, 2020

Recalculating
The next day, my wife and I were driving to Brat Boy’s volleyball game.  Where the road split, the GPS wanted us to take the southern route.  We took the northern route. It was eight miles longer but had almost no red lights. For the next twenty minutes the GPS tried to get us to turn around or take a backroad to the southern route. Every time we ignored it, the GPS announced ‘recalculating.’

It reminded me of that little voice that brings so many people back to addiction. It convinces them to try a side road. Their inner addict recalculates, bringing them back to the main road they thought they’d left behind.  

 A friend of mine was addicted to unhealthy, controlling, relationships. After years of abuse, she finally broke up with a narcissistic attorney. A month later she had joined a cultish church. The scared little girl in her head had recalculated, and found a new path back onto the same rocky road. 

I knew someone who kicked heroin, started drinking, convincing himself he was a social drinker. He sobered up, and recalculated how he’d fill the emptiness inside. He slept with every AA newcomer he could seduce. It took him forever to recognize sex was his new addiction.

Today I won’t recalculate my way back to addiction.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose
2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Saturday, February 8th, 2020

Honestly

“You don’t like me very much,” Rudy said to me.
How to answer? On the one hand, I didn’t like him. People who talk too much without listening, and drama kings/queens tended to be my least favorite people. Rudy was both.
On the other hand, I was gaining a new respect for him. He was trying to stand up for himself. He’d given up alcohol, the one thing he had turned to for comfort. I admired his loyalty to MaryJo.  Knowing his father and stepbrother had made his life miserable, I understood his pufferfish defensiveness.

Before I could answer he said, “It’s Ok. I don’t like me very much either.”  It was like watching the pufferfish deflate, not back to normal size, but to a flattened, lifeless, sad version of itself.

Twelve Step programs stress rigorous honesty. Lie about little things and before long you’ll be lying to yourself about big things, like why you’re holding onto the painkillers from a surgery you had two years ago. I didn’t want to lie to Rudy.

“There are things I’m learning to like about you,” I said, “but I’m not sure you should worry about my opinion.”

Today I will try to find something to like about someone I don’t.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose
2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Saturday, February 8th, 2020

Standing Up
MaryJo took a small bite of the donut and said she was ready to go back. Rudy kept his eye on her throughout the meeting. When she went to the ladies’ room, I said, “You really look out for her.”

“She stood up for me,” Rudy said. “We were sitting in my office. We heard my brother and a salesman out in the hall were predicting I’d blow the sale. I apologized to her, said they were just joking around, no big deal.” He took a sip of coffee. “She got up. Looked into the hall, and told them to shut up. Told them her husband - one of our biggest customers – would be buying his trucks elsewhere.” He choked up a little as he added, “Nobody had ever done that for me. Made me think I really needed to stand up for myself more.”

Today I will stand up for someone, maybe myself, if need be.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, October 30, 2017

Saturday, February 8th, 2020

With All My Might
MaryJo drank her hot chocolate and Rudy and I helped her to her feet. We moved her to a chair in an office next to the room where the AA meeting was being held. Rudy handed her a donut and she took a tiny bite. We sat in silence for a moment.

“You want to know what happened, why I don’t eat?” she asked me, her voice barely a whisper. “My husband called me from the kitchen. I said ‘wait a minute.’ I was watching TV. I went into the kitchen at the next commercial. He was lying on floor. Massive heart attack. Two days later he died without ever regaining consciousness.”

Rudy looked at me and said, “She blames herself. She shouldn’t.”

“No?” MaryJo asked. “Ken, he fell by the sink. On the counter behind the sink was the baby aspirin. He might have lived if I had gotten him that aspirin. We were two foodies in love. I can’t eat without thinking of him.”

“Heart disease doesn’t happen overnight,” Rudy said. “He might have died no matter what you did.”

Today I’ll let go of what might have been.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose
2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Saturday, February 8th, 2020

With Apologies to Weasels Everywhere
I turned from the coffee pot in time to see MaryJo slide out of her chair onto the floor.

Rudy took off his jacket, folded it, and slid it under her head. He asked someone to make her hot chocolate from one of the packets sitting next to the coffee pot. “Use warm, not hot, water,” he said, “she needs to drink it right away.”

Rudy looked up, saw the concern on my face, and said, “She doesn’t eat.” 

Before that moment I pitied Rudy, but there wasn’t much I liked about him. If asked, I’d have described him as a whiny, arrogant, weasel, meaning no disrespect to other members of the weasel family. (I once owned a ferret who hid my wallet and car keys, but had none of Rudy’s character flaws.)

Watching him take care of MaryJo, I saw a side of him I hadn’t seen before.

Today I’ll be grateful for whatever brings out the best in people.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Friday, October 27, 2017

Greenbriar Treatment Center   & the Meadville Medical Center
present:

Burnout: Clinical, Ethical, & Supervisory Issues

A training to benefit 
Operation Troop Appreciation
http://operationtroopappreciation.org/

Friday, November 10, 2017   9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.   $50*

At: Meadville Medical Center 751 Liberty St., Meadville, PA 16335 (814) 333-5000

Accredited for Five Hours for/by:
Addiction counselors : Pa. Certification Board
Counselors:  NBCC #6352& NAADAC #85689
EAPs: EACC #VKGRTC0117-A45
Nurses: 135-1-O-17*
Social Workers: in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work

*This continuing nursing education was approved by the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

Description: This workshop explores the clinical and ethical issues of burnout.  Participants will be asked to assess their own burnout.   Time pressures, cognitive distortions, procrastination, and vicarious traumatization are explored for their impact on clinical practice.  Dealing with burnout in colleagues and those you supervise is a key issue.

About Your Trainer:  Ken Montrose, MA, CADC is Greenbriar’s Training & Publications Director.  He has worked in the mental health/substance abuse field since 1986, mostly helping people overcome co-occurring disorders.  He has written extensively about addiction and mental illness.

Training Site: Meadville Medical Center 751 Liberty St.; Meadville, PA 16335 (814) 333-5000

Register:  Contact Ken Montrose at kmontrose@greenbriar.net 


Questions?  Ken Montrose  ✧ (724) 993-4581 ✧  kmontrose@greenbriar.net


All Proceeds Donated to Operation Troop Appreciation

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Saturday, February 8th, 2017


Lasers, Tasers, Phasers
As I drove to an AA meeting, Brat Boy called to congratulate me on retiring. He told me how he liked his Physics class. I was a Psychology major. I had no idea what he was saying. Something to do with lasers. Maybe Tasers. Might have been phasers, set on stun. I wasn’t sure, but I couldn’t help but love his excitement.

If he was excited about Physics, he was ecstatic about his girlfriend CharChar’s tennis match. She hadn’t just won, according to Brat Boy, she had crushed her opponent with an amazing backhand.  He couldn’t have been happier for her.

When I got to the meeting, people were gathered around the coffee pot, staring at the little red light, praying for it to turn  green.  An old-timer I knew was complaining about having to wait.
“Phasers and backhands,” I said, smiling. He muttered something about ‘Crazy Ken’ and went back to staring at the coffee pot.

Brat Boy’s excitement had vaccinated me, at least temporarily, against pointless negativity. I thought I owed it to the world to pass on that excitement.

Today I’ll find something to be excited about.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose
2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

February 7, 2020

Plant Life
On my last day of my old job, I emptied my office of everything except a huge plant. The plant had been a gift from my colleagues to mark my 20th year of sobriety.  Twelve years later, it took up a third of the room.  Ms. Rella said I should drag it outside, kids could build a tree house in it. The Other Ken said I should sell it to a lumber yard.  Max The New guy offered a scheme involving flooding the floor and waiting for beavers to take it. They were exaggerating, but only a little.

I put the plant in the lobby.  I hadn’t done much more than water it, and the plant had tripled in size. I thought of all the people I knew who were looking for great insight or waiting for some major event to change their lives.  They could learn a lesson from the plant, growing a little each day.

Today I will grow a little.


2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

February 6th, 2020

Pulling the Plug, Putting it to Rest
After my retirement lunch it occurred to me there were two expressions for ending something. The first, ‘pull the plug,’ I took to mean ending something because it wasn’t likely to get better.  I didn’t want to think I was pulling the plug on my career.

Some people see the second expression ‘put it to rest’ as the sadder of the two.  People use it to say they’ve stopped something that shouldn’t have started in the first place. ‘I hope we put that rumor to rest.’ Some people say ‘put it to rest’ reminds them of ‘put to sleep.’ They think of pets they’ve lost.

I’ve always thought ‘put it to rest’ meant doing the right thing at the right time.  When something is good, I hoped to enjoy it right up until the right time to stop. I had been working the same job for twenty good years. It was time to stop, time to put it to rest.

Over the years I’d been forced to put to sleep dogs and cats I loved. I thought I had done so at the right time. I never wanted to prolong their suffering to postpone my grief. 

Too many people I knew prolonged their suffering by not pulling the plug on their drinking. 

Today I hope I’ll know when it’s time to put it to rest.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, October 23, 2017

February 6th, 2020

Retirement Party
My retirement party was more of a roast than a lunch.  Several people imitated me talking to myself. They pointed out I never left my office just once. I always had to come back for my keys, or phone, or something I needed for a training. They joked about me being the only trainer in America who didn’t use PowerPoint. Ms. Rella laughed about me complaining I couldn’t lose weight as I pulled my third or fourth piece of candy from the jar.

I had been tense about retiring, even though I had started planning a year earlier.  My retirement party was just what I needed to lighten up.

Today I will laugh at myself, for my own sake.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, October 22, 2017

February 6th, 2020

Writing Your Own Eulogy
A woman from another rehab who attended my trainings came to my retirement party. She asked, “What was the quote about obituaries you had on the old website?”  

“Live each day like it was your eulogy,” I said. “Could be your obituary.”

“What does that mean?” she asked.

“If people had to describe you, based only on what you did today, what would they say?” I asked.

She smiled. “If they saw me at breakfast, they’d say I love my family.  I got to work early, so they’d say I was a hard worker. I brought brownies because I hate skinny people.” She laughed. “Just kidding. I brought brownies because everybody’s been stressed lately. They’d say I’m a team player.” She went on to describe a day she could be proud of.

“You’ve written a great eulogy,” I said.

Today I will live my life like I was writing my eulogy.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

Second Chance
On Mondays I usually talked to Jack, but he didn’t answer my call. I got a message from MaryJo telling me she’d gotten my email address from our website. She hoped I didn’t mind her contacting me. I told her it was good to hear from her.  

MaryJo asked me if I could reach out to Rudy. I told her I’d rather drink coffee until my hands shook, and then give myself a vasectomy riding in the back of a pickup down a bumpy road.

She typed ‘HaHaHa’, thinking I was joking. ‘He doesn’t understand why you hate him. I know you don’t hate him, but that’s how he thinks.  Could you give him a second chance? Stick out your hand? Be the bigger man.’

My conscience annoyed the hell out of me by listing all the times I’d been given a second chance. I told MaryJo I’d talk to Rudy. I wasn’t going to be his verbal punching bag, but I’d try to start over with him.
Today I’ll give someone a second chance.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

Getting to the Good Part
My daughter Blondie called me when I got home. She and her fiancé Antpup had both been offered transfers to Bleak, New Mexico.

“It’s a drab, miserable place,” Blondie informed me. “If you have a future with the company, you stay a year and learn the ropes.”

As she spoke, I looked up Bleak on the internet. It was below Hope on the map. A former secret Cold War military base, much of the Corporation’s facility was underground. The Corporation had gotten it for a song. The town of Bleak had sprung up around the site. It consisted of a grocery store, a bar and the town’s only restaurant, a laundromat, an oil change and tire center, and a tattoo parlor. 

“It’s going to be tough,” Blondie added with a sigh, “But worth it over time.”

I said, “It’s like boot camp, training camp, the first year of recovery, and learning to play an instrument. You have to work through the first part to get to the good part.” 

Today I will work through the first part to get to the good part.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Case of Empties
As I was leaving, I bumped into a newcomer I’d met the week before. I asked him how he was holding up.
“I feel empty,” he said. “Drinking was a big chunk of my life.”
“You ever start with beer and drink ‘til you were full?” I asked. “Then you drink shots, but ‘cause you’re drunk you hardly notice how bloated you feel?”
“And somebody says, ‘let’s go to Denny’s.’”
“Right,” I said. “So at the end of the night you throw up. And throw up some more. Until you feel completely empty.”
He smiled, he knew where I was going. “You give your empty belly time to settle down.  Then you fill it, but slowly.” He shook his head. “You let your life settle down before you fill it the same way.”
“It all starts with feeling a little empty at first.”

Today I’ll accept feeling a little empty at times.
2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, October 16, 2017

Let It Go
At the end of the meeting I walked to the podium to shake Rudy’s hand.  Several people stood in line in front of me. When it was my turn, I shook his hand, and said, “Nice lead.  I appreciate your honesty.”

It had been two weeks since our first encounter.  Rudy had been angry then when I had told him I just wanted to sit quietly, and listen to the speaker. I had hoped he’d forgiven me for wanting a moment’s peace.

“Lucky me, Mr. Important had the time to listen,” he said, loudly enough for the people behind me in line to hear.  He looked around me to them, making sure they heard.

“You have a nice night,” I said.

Today I will let go of someone else’s resentment.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Don’t Feed the Hand That Bites You
I got to the Sunday night meeting late and took a seat in the back next to MaryJo and Phil.  An uneaten donut sat on MaryJo’s plate.

The chairman called for the readings. Phil rose from his seat, pushing on his cane. He read the Twelve Steps in a steady voice. The man refused to surrender to the pain.

The chairman introduced Rudy, that evening’s speaker. “My father wasn’t a bad guy,” Rudy said, “I can’t blame him for my drinking.” As Rudy told his story, I thought Rudy was wrong. His father was a bad guy, a brutal, arrogant, tyrant who had crushed Rudy’s spirit.

I doubted I’d ever like Rudy, but I understood him better. He had been bitten time and again trying to feed the ego of his abusive father. 

Today I won’t feed the hand that bites me.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Thursday, January 30th, 2020 

An Honest Mistake
Two days later I drove three hours to give a speech on burnout to 150 people. In the crowd sat judges, probation officers, counselors, social workers, and others prominent in the addiction treatment field. They came from all over Pennsylvania and represented a golden opportunity to establish contacts in the eastern half of the state.

I was ready for them.  The crowd smiled, nodded their heads in agreement, and laughed as they followed along in the twelve-page booklet I had provided.   I timed the speech perfectly, covering all the material with five minutes left for questions.

I was pretty pleased with myself until a man in a suit approached me after the training.  He held the conference program in his hand. “Did you know you were supposed be talking about changing addictive thinking?” he asked.  He showed me the program.  My heart sank.

Later I realized I had read the conference planners’ email from the year before. That year I had also discussed burnout.   I spent the rest of the day wondering how I could have done something so stupid. 

The next day I presented on forgiveness in recovery. I paused when I got to the part about forgiving oneself.
Today I will forgive myself for honest mistakes.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose
2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

“To Accept the Things I Cannot Change”
The next day Antpup called me to get my opinion on the wedding plans.

“Antpup,” I said, “A wedding is the vehicle that takes you to marriage. You have to be in the very front of the car, standing tall, leading the way, looking powerful.”

“I’m the engine?” he asked.

“You are the groom, you are the hood ornament. Your job is to look good, not to drive any decisions, steer in any particular direction, or God forbid, slow the vehicle’s progress.  Accept this and the ride will be much smoother.”

“I guess there are worse things to accept.”

“From now ‘til your honeymoon, smile. Nod your head. Be grateful.”

Today I’ll be grateful for things more easily accepted.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose
2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.
Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Which Puppy Do You Feed?
The phone rang at Jack’s end. I could picture him sitting at his desk, absorbed in whatever he was doing, in no hurry to grab the phone. The answering machine clicked on just as he picked up.  “I’ll call you back,” I said over the sound of the recorded message.

When I called back Jack said, “My agent thinks he has a publisher, not great money, but good.”

“Nice!” I said. “Are you excited?”

“I am,” he said with almost no emotion. I pictured a snail, raising its head slowly, giving a half smile, and then sliming off somewhere.

“Try not to get too excited,” I said. “It’s bad for the heart.”

He chuckled. “I am excited, smartass.”

I was excited too, but also a little jealous. My mixed emotions reminded me of the legend of the two wolves that live inside us. These  two emotions were pups. I decided to feed the excited one.  “So tell me about the publisher.”

Today I’ll be happy for someone, even if I am a little jealous.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose
2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday, January 27th, 2020
Common Ground
I called my friend Jack to see if he’d heard from his agent.

Jack had met his wife at a party while she was still drinking. Her name was Jill, and he joked that being Jack and Jill, they should hook up.  They did, an hour later in the bathroom. 

Jill quit drinking when she found out she was pregnant. They agreed to co-parent the child, thinking in time they’d get to be friends.  Luckily for their son KC, Jack and Jill fell in love at pre-natal classes, doctor appointments, and shopping trips.

Jill, who taught third grade, thought she should be allowed to Taser uninvolved parents at the end of every grading period. Petite, she formed a swarm of one, buzzing around and overwhelming everyone she met.

Although he’d been clean for years, Jack moved and talked like he’d just swallowed a bottle of cough syrup.

KC called his parents “Hyper” and “Hipper.” He said they gave people hope that in a world so divided, people so different could make their relationship work.  Despite their differences, they’d been married for twenty-years.

Today I’ll be inspired by people who make it work.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.
Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, October 8, 2017

January 24, 2020

Compromise
Ms. Rella stuck her head in my door. “Chocolate or vanilla cake?” she asked. “What kind of icing?” She was planning the retirement party I didn’t want.

“For the last time,” I said, “No party. I’ll shake hands with The Other Ken and Max The New Guy. You and I will hug. We’ll keep in touch.”

“I’m inviting the management team, everyone in the outpatient sites where you train, your wife, and folks who buy your training series every year.”

“I’ll give you ten names.”

“You’ll give me fifty,” Ms. Rella said.

“I’ll give you twenty-five and their contact information to verify they exist and plan on coming.”
“Done,” Ms. Rella said.  “And I will verify.  And don’t waste my time with imaginary names like ‘Beau Guss’ or ‘Anita Mann.’”

I hated the idea of a retirement party.  People I cared about loved the idea. So I compromised. I didn’t want to be one of those rigid people building up his self-esteem by always getting his way. Having retirement party wasn’t a violation of principles. Nobody was asking me to lie or steal. Besides, I like cake.

Today I will compromise, just not my principles.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose
2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.
Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, October 5, 2017

‘Bring the Body and the Mind Will Follow’
I asked Blaine to come into my office and tell me his story.

Blaine had been raised by a hard-drinking, workaholic father he rarely saw, and a wine and Valium loving mother. He was allowed to drink wine from an early age.  His mother let him smoke weed in the basement when his father wasn’t around.  He said, “Some people have stocked refrigerators.  We had a stocked medicine cabinet. To be honest with you Ken, I can’t wait to get off probation so I can get high again. I’m just doing rehab to make the court happy.”

“Then no more opiates, and no more bullshit stories about how your urine got dirty,” I said.  “Maybe you’re not here for the right reason, but you’re in the right place, and that’s a start. They have a saying in AA. Bring the body and the mind will follow.”

Blaine laughed, “My older brother dragged himself to church for a year just to make his girlfriend happy.  They broke up, but he’s studying to be a minister.”

Today I will drag myself to the right place.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

I Thought It Was A Different Kind of Aspirin
I circled ‘positive’ in the block marked opiates.

The man’s name was Blaine and he wasn’t happy. “Don’t you believe me?” he asked.

“That your vet gave you a used syringe, you accidently pricked yourself with the needle, and this put enough leftover opiates into your system to be detected on a urine drug screen?” I asked him. “No.”

He started to say something, but I interrupted. “Here’s the deal about lying.  If you feel good about lying it’s usually because you like getting over on people who believed you.  You can get hooked on that rush. Feeling bad about lying can be the first step toward relapse. And if you don’t feel anything when you lie, lying becomes just another tool you use to get away with things, liking getting high while on probation.  AA and NA suggest being rigorously honest to avoid those traps.”

“Okay,” Blaine said, “Here’s the truth, I went to get an aspirin, but somebody musta put a Percocet in the pill bottle…”
Today I’ll try to be rigorously honest.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sooner Rather Than Later
I went back to my office. Just as I was settling into my desk chair, when a young man I didn’t recognize stuck his head in my door. “Can you watch me pee?” he asked. He was holding a specimen cup.

We went into the bathroom.  He passed a breathalyzer, and then provided me with a sample. I dipped the twelve panel test into his urine.  He watched over my shoulder. I told him I’d let him know if anything showed up.

“Oh, I know it’s clean,” he said still peering over my shoulder as the test strips darkened.

“You’re positive for opioids,” I said. He told me that was impossible.  I tested him again. “You’re still positive for opioids,” I said. I started to fill out the paperwork.  He put his hand on the paper.

“Before you mark me positive, here’s what I think happened.  I give my cat an injection once a week.  I got the needle from the vet.  He must have used it giving painkillers to large animals. Then, to save money, he recapped the needle and gave it to me like it was brand new.  He’d save money on supplies that way.  I accidentally stuck myself with that needle. Probably how I got opioids in my system.”

I started to argue with him, but changed my mind. Instead, I said, “The sooner you get clean, the longer you’ll have to look back on your recovery, the longer you’ll have to enjoy your life.”

Today I’ll remember, the sooner I get started, the longer I’ll have to look back and enjoy.

  
2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, October 2, 2017

2020 Vision will return tomorrow.  Today is my  29th sober anniversary and I always take the day off. The last time I had a drink, I made an illegal left turn at 3:00 a.m. and hit a county sheriff. I had just gotten kicked out of my Ph.D. program and my divorce was a month from being final. I was $35K in debt and living in a sad apartment with a blind cat and no furniture.

Life is good now. My wife and I have been happily married for twenty-six years. My son and daughter amaze me. They've never seen me drunk, and have a hard time believing the stories from my younger days.  I was lucky enough to hold onto most of my old friends.  I love my job.

I write this every year to remind myself of all the rewards of recovery, and what life was like when I was still drinking.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

January 23, 2020
Indian Summer
The winter of 2020 had been brutal. A shift in the polar vortex had brought frigid Artic air south where it set up a lounge chair, parking itself over the Mid-Atlantic States and the Midwest. The reality of my resignation was setting in. The opioid epidemic raged on.

I walked into Ms. Rella’s office to get my mail, shivering and shaking snow from my hair. “This sucks,” I said to Ms. Rella.

 Cindy knew I meant more than the weather, but she said, “It’s Indian summer.”

“Indian summer happens in the fall. Have you been huffing markers?”

She smiled. “In India it’s summer, but India seems a million miles away and it feels like summer will never come back from there.  But it will. It always does.”

Today I will remember summer comes back.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Puffer Fish
“What’s Rudy’s story?” I asked MaryJo.

“He’s a puffer fish,” MaryJo said turning toward Rudy and shaking her head. “He blows himself up to look bigger than he is inside. Rudy grew up in his SOB father’s shadow.  He rode Rudy mercilessly trying to toughen him up. Said he had to be tough because enemies were everywhere.  Rudy’s mother died, the father remarried, and Rudy got a stepbrother. The dad thought the stepkid was a god, and the two of them treated Rudy like a dimwitted mascot.  Rudy inherited 49% of his father’s car dealership. His stepbrother got 51%.  You see where this is going?”

“Rudy’s never good enough for the old man, but he inherits his father’s paranoia.  His stepbrother treats him like a joke at work.  Probably the other employees do too.  He has to puff himself up just to feel like he exists.”

“I know he’s annoying, but don’t let him bother you. He’s a puffer fish just trying not to get swallowed up by the world.”

Today I’ll try not to be annoyed by the puffer fish.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/