Monday, April 24, 2017

20. With Improving Hindsight
“What’s another reason to look back?” Austin asked. “You said there were three.”
“Look back if the way you see things has changed,” I said. “As I’ve gotten older, I see the world a little differently, including the past.  Now I don’t beat myself up so much for mistakes I made when I was younger. I have a better understanding of all my parents’ worries.  I see some of the people who were toughest on me really wanted the best for me.  I see people differently too.  When I look back now, I get a clearer picture, and I learn a little something new.”
Today I will look back with a changed perspective.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change 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

Sunday, April 23, 2017

19. Nothing New to See
After group, Austin stopped in my office. He said, “I’ve been thinking about the day my brother cut me.”
“Why?” I asked. Austin looked surprised by my question.  “The way I see it,” I added, “there’s three reasons to look back on painful events. If you have new information, then by all means look back. Do you have any new information?”
“I don’t,” Austin said.   
“Then there’s nothing new to see. Why torture yourself?”
Today I won’t look back if there’s nothing new to see.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change 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, April 20, 2017

18. Annoying Shadows
Austin flipped back to the page where he’d drawn his brother.  He added the shadow of a man to the right side.  “I’m coming bro,” he said softly.  
Jameston, who had been looking over Austin’s shoulder, said, “The shadow is wrong.”
“I know,” Austin said. “I’m not going for realism, just trying to express my thoughts.”
“The sun is in the west.  The shadow should fall left to right.”
“Got it.  Like I said, I’m not going for realism.  Just trying to catch an idea.”
Jameston turned to me and said, “He’s doing it wrong.  The shadow can’t be where he’s drawn it.”
“Let it go,” I said. “It’s Austin’s drawing.”  Twenty minutes later when The Other Ken arrived, Jameston was still arguing about the shadow with the rest of the group.  Most of the group saw Austin’s talent, and the love Austin felt for his brother.  Jameston only saw the shadow. 
Today I won’t let minor ‘flaws’ prevent me from seeing the bigger more beautiful picture.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change 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, April 19, 2017

17. To the People Who Refused to Give Up On Me
I pointed to the cane in the corner.  Daphne shook her head and limped off to get coffee.
The artist’s name was Austin and he asked if I could sit for a minute. He turned a page in his notebook and began sketching me as we talked. 
“Do you mind if I ask how you got that scar?”
He said, “I found my brother in a bar outside of Toronto. We had a few beers.   I told him he looked terrible, and needed to get help.  We had a few more and he started getting angry.  Said I didn’t understand, all I did all day was draw shit in my stupid notebook.”
Austin looked into my eyes, erased something, and started drawing again.  A long moment passed. He said, “We sat there for the longest time. Out of the blue he grabbed my shirt, said I’d ruined his life, and threw me to the floor. Called me a piss poor Van Gough and tried to cut my ear off.”
“And you still want to help him,” I said, wondering if I’d do the same.
“Not ready to give up on him yet. Gonna get stronger myself, a little smarter about when I talk to him, and see if I can’t reach him.”
I thought of all the people who refused to give up on me when I was struggling.
Today I’ll try to be one of those people who doesn’t give up on others.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change 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

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

16. Me First
Daphne and I walked into the group room together.  A young white man with long black hair who looked like he might be in his late twenties sat hunched over a notebook.  He was drawing in stunning detail a man in camo boxer shorts kneeling and looking north.  A set of drum sticks sat atop a neatly folded uniform. The sun set over his left shoulder.
“My younger brother,” the man said without turning to see who was behind him. “Last we heard he was in Canada.” 
“He was a soldier?” I asked.
“He wanted to be in the Marine Corps band.  Tough guy, patriot, musician – that was my brother.”
“What happened?”
“He fell and hurt his shoulder.  The doctor prescribed ibuprofen, but I talked him into taking Percocet. He fell in love with painkillers. Now he’s a roadie, bouncer, dealer, whatever keeps him close to his drugs.”
“And you?” I asked.
“In between drinking and smoking weed, I give music lessons and take classes.  I do just enough to keep my parents from kicking me to the curb.” He turned to look at me. A jagged scar ran from behind his ear halfway down his neck. “I want to get clean before I go after my brother again.”
Today I will put my house in order before I try to help somebody else.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change 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

Monday, April 17, 2017

15. Vanity
As we walked into the building, I noticed Daphne was limping.
“Do you want to take my arm?”  I asked.  “I think there’s a cane in the group room you can borrow.”
“Canes are for old people,” she said, smiling. “I wouldn’t want anyone to see me using one.”
“Your vanity is going to cost you,” I said.  She started to argue but I pointed out, “You’d be steadier on your feet if you used a cane, but you won’t.  How much time, money, and pain would falling and breaking a hip cost you?  I remember when you first got here you were too vain to ask for help. You relapsed twice. What did that cost you?”
Daphne shrugged, “If you were me, you’d be a little vain too.”
We laughed, but I wondered what vanity was costing me.
Today I’ll take stock of my vanity.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change 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, April 13, 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

14. Seriously
Daphne was smoking in front of the building when I got to work the next day.  A gray haired woman in her early seventies, she had been a client several years earlier. Every Tuesday she dropped in for the continuing care group.
“You still married?” she asked as she hugged me.   “Your wife must be a saint.”
“You’re still not in prison?” I answered.  “You must have friends in high places.”
We traded insults for a few minutes more, smiling and laughing.  Jameston walked past and shot us a disapproving look.
“He’s one of those guys who takes everything way too seriously, isn’t he?” Daphne asked. I nodded.
“Well here’s my five year key tag,” she said, pulling her key chain from her pocket. “Just got it.  Guess I took things seriously enough.”
“You always did,” I said, “without taking yourself too seriously.”
She smiled, ground out her cigarette, and asked, “You get dressed in the dark this morning?”

Today I won’t be any more serious than I need to be.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change 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

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

13. In the Meantime
“Hey Dad, I have to write an essay on the most important time in a man’s life.” Brat Boy said. “How men make the most of that time and how they screw it up. Whaddya think?”
“The meantime,” I said.
“You really can’t give me a straight answer, can you, Socrates?” he said, shaking his head and laughing.
“Hear me out. A lot of life is defined by what we do while we’re waiting or trying to do something else. My friend Gary knew he wanted to be a doctor the first day of college.  That was gonna take at least eight years.  In the meantime he studied. He didn’t get into any trouble.  In the meantime, he put some of his life on hold chasing that dream. Because he took care of the meantime, he’s a doctor.”
“How do people screw it up?” he asked.
“I couldn’t tell you how many people waiting to go to court for a DUI pick up a second one in the meantime.  Other people put off getting clean waiting for some milestone, or when they're less stressed. In the meantime, they do things to ruin their lives like committing a felony, or wrecking their relationships with broken promises.  Some people die in their meantimes, but more live in endless meantimes waiting for something outside themselves to change.”
“I’m waiting for you to get a second job to buy me a Porsche. In the meantime, I’ll write my essay without mentioning how deprived I am.”

Today I will take care of the meantime.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change 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

Monday, April 10, 2017

12. Predictable, Manageable, Acceptable
“Not sure how drinking can be called a relationship,” Brat Boy said, “but how is your life different?”
I was almost twelve years sober when Brat Boy was born.  He had no way of knowing what my life was like right before I quit drinking. 
I said, “Life is somewhat predictable, in a good way.  I’ve gotten into a healthy routine.  It’s mostly manageable because I’m clear-headed and not doing things to make it unmanageable.  And though I’m sometimes slow to accept things that can’t be changed, once I do, it’s almost entirely acceptable.”
Today I will be grateful life can be somewhat predictable, mostly manageable, and almost entirely acceptable.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change 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

Sunday, April 9, 2017

11. I’ll Get Better Tomorrow
When I got home Brat Boy was sitting up on the couch, doing homework.  He looked a ton healthier than he had two nights earlier.
“Feeling better?” I asked. 
“I am,” he said, “But I still think I could’ve gone to school and played in that game.”
“Yeah, but you’d still be sick today, if you had.  Like your buddy who did throw up during the game.”
Brat Boy laughed, snorted, and laughed again.  “I wish I could have seen it.  You ever do that? Play when you were really sick?”
“Once or twice.  Sometimes I still go to work when I should stay home.  It only prolongs the sickness.   At work I meet a lot of people who stay in relationships as they get sicker and sicker.  Relationships with drugs, food, gambling, sex, shopping, people – you name it.”
“Why do people do that?”
“Some think it’s not that bad, and maybe it’ll get better.  Some don’t think they deserve better.  Things rarely improve on their own. Sooner they start taking care of themselves, sooner they get well.”

Today I won’t put off taking care of myself.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change 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, April 6, 2017

10. Lessons from the Scoreboard
The next night I went to see my daughter Blondie’s boyfriend AntiFreeze play lacrosse.  The game started at 6:30.  The sun hung low in the sky. Its too bright light made reading the scoreboard in the eastern end of the field nearly impossible.  I saw advertising signs, but not until darkness fell could I see the score.   I thought of times I had ignored problems because life was ‘sunny day’ good, not facing them until things got dark.
Today I will remember,
I might see the sign(s) on sunny days, but I won’t truly know the score until darkness falls.
Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change 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, April 5, 2017

9. Setbacks
When I got home, Brat Boy asked me if I could take him to school the next day.  “You OK?” I asked.  He nodded his head, but he looked pasty white. Sweat glistened on his forehead.  “Let me guess. No matter how bad you feel, you want to play in tomorrow’s game. ” Again he nodded.  “What if you throw up during the game?”
“Then nobody will want to guard me,” he said.  “I should score a ton.”
I knew how he felt.  He’d worked hard in practice and deserved to play. Missing a game was like working all week without collecting a paycheck.  On the other hand, playing sick would only make him sicker.  Being too sick to play was an unexpected setback he’d have to accept.
“If you’re not feeling better, I don’t want you to go to school tomorrow,” I said.  I expected an argument, but he just groaned.
Today I will accept setbacks are part of life.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change 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

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

8. Gratefully Silly Stupid
The chairman called for the readings, and the meeting began. The speaker was a short, tan, middle-aged man in a gray suit. 
He spoke in a soft, deliberate voice, “My nephews weren’t allowed to swear, so they called me ‘A’hole Uncle.’  That got shortened to ‘A-Unc.’ For years I thought they were saying ‘Hey Unc.’”   As he spoke it became clear he’d earned the A’hole Uncle nickname
Near the end of his lead he said, “I used to do sad, dangerous, stupid things. One night I wrecked my car, marriage, and my career.  You never want to get a DUI at 3:00 a.m. with the boss’s daughter in the car.”  He took a sip of water and smiled. “I’ve come a long way. Now I do silly, stupid things, like looking for the glasses sitting on top of my head, or putting the phone down to look for the phone, or sending that ‘I love you’ text to my old probation officer instead of my girlfriend. Like the slogan says, progress not perfection.”

Today I’ll be grateful for the silly, stupid things I do.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change 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

Monday, April 3, 2017

7. Different Change
“Something bothered me back then, still bothers me today,” Hilary said. “Heath didn’t tear down that shed.  He dismantled it.  He pulled every nail, unscrewed every screw, and put them in an old coffee can. When he had it all torn apart, he stacked the wood and covered it with a tarp.  About a month later, when he thought the wood was dry enough, he burned it. He buried the ashes and the nails and screws, and planted a tree over them.”
“So what’s the problem?” I asked.
“He was a seventeen year old boy, whose father was taken from him.  Where was the anger? Why didn’t he take a chainsaw to the shed? Why didn’t he smash it with a sledge hammer?  I wanted to.  Sometimes I think he must have stuffed his anger.  Maybe he’s still stuffing it. That can’t be good.”
“People adapt in their own ways,” I said. “You got drunk and angry until you couldn’t get drunk anymore.  Heath grew up, maybe faster than you’d like, but he grew up.   He adapted by being mature.”

Today I will accept people adapt to change in their own ways, in their own time.
Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change 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

Sunday, April 2, 2017

6.  Can’t Adapt Without Admitting
“How’s Heath doing these days?” I asked.
“Good,” Hilary said. “Heath still misses his father, but he adapted a long time ago.”
“You’re dating again.  Looks like you’re adapting.”
She sighed and smiled at the same time.  “When his father died, Heath was ten.  He stuck out his chin, straightened his back, and walked through his grief.  He had to.  I sank into my bottle.  Just refused to believe Bill was gone.
“There was an old shed in the back of our yard where my husband tinkered with small engines.  After he died, I just let it rot.  I used to get drunk and pretend he was still out there, fixing some neighbor’s lawnmower.” She wiped away a tear.  “Right before I got sober, the kid next door put his foot through the rotted floor.  He had to get some stitches.  Heath tore down the shed the next day.  I had to admit Bill was gone and get on with my life. I put off adapting until I was forced to admit life had changed.”

Today I’ll remember I can’t adapt to change until I admit things have changed.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change 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, March 30, 2017

5. Who’s Got Your Back?
That night I went to an AA meeting.  Hilary was new to the group, but sober three years. Her husband had been killed by a drunk driver ten years earlier.  She’d spent the next seven drowning her grief in wine.  The irony wasn’t lost on her. 
She’d recently started dating again. “How’d last night go?” I asked.
She laughed for a solid minute. “So he pulls up in his Mercedes and texts me to say he’s here.  I haven’t dated in twenty years.  I thought maybe that’s how things were done nowadays. I grab my coat, and my son Heath asks me where I’m going.  I tell him.  Heath goes out to the car, tells the guy he has to come to the door, or he’s not taking his mother anywhere.  The guy left.”
“Were you mad at your son or the guy?”
“Neither. I was so proud of Heath.  He has my back.  Here’s a gratitude list for you, people who have your back.” 

Today I will be grateful for people who have my back.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change 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, March 29, 2017

4. Changes I Don’t Have to Make
I remembered my first encounter with Jameston.  “Hello,” he said, extending his hand. “My name is Jameston.”
I shook his hand, and not sure I’d heard him right, asked, “Jameston?” A sour look crossed his face. He told me he pronounced his name ‘JAIM es ton’, not ‘jaim ES ton’, not ‘james TON’, and please never refer to him as ‘James’, ‘Jim’, or ‘Jimmy.’
After telling me how  to say his name, he half blinked, and a weak smile crossed his face.  It took me a long time to recognize that tic was one of recognition.  I imagined an inner voice telling him he was right, struggling with a softer one recognizing he was overreacting, and asking him to relax. 
“Do you know the difference between OCD and OCPD?” he asked.  “If you want to help me, it is important that you do.”
 I said, “OCD, is an anxiety disorder.  People feel bad about having it, at least in its severe form.  Most wish they could stop the rituals and counting and hand washing.  The problem is not doing these things causes them a lot of stress. Likewise, they need to have things organized to avoid anxiety. People with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, OCPD, think they are right, the world is wrong.  They wish the rest of us would do things their way, the only way, the correct way.  They need things to be organized and done exactly as they see fit, or they experience anger and frustration. ”
“Well, you seem to have a basic understanding. I suggest you read a little more to sharpen your knowledge.”  
There was the tic again. I felt a sad sort of gratitude about not needing the rigid control Jameston needed.

Today I will be grateful for difficult changes I don’t need to make.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change is a work of fiction. Any similarities between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

3. The Ability to Change the Things I Can
Later, I handed Max The New Guy the message.  He made a face like he’d found a fingernail at the bottom of his soup bowl. “You don’t remember him?” I shook my head. “Tall, thin, balding.  Knows everything about OCPD, but can’t seem to stop being a controlling, perfectionistic, pain.  Knows that’s why his wife left him. Alcoholic you found crying in the lobby. He was one of my first clients.”
Somewhere deep in my head an old brain cell woke up and flooded my memory with sadness and anger.  I’d never met anyone more aware of the need to change, more determined to change, and less successful at making changes than Jameston.
Today I’ll be grateful I can change.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change is a work of fiction. Any similarities between the characters and anyone you might know is pure coincidental.

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

Monday, March 27, 2017

2. Small Change
At work the next day somebody called for Max The New Guy. Even though Max cheered for a football team not well-liked around here, I thought I’d better take a message.  I started to scribble a name and number on scrap paper, thinking I’d give it to him when he got in. 
I knew how this story ended. Max would get to work, and I would discover I’d lost the slip of paper.  I’d waste half an hour looking through stacks of paper, my garbage can, and the recycling bin, until I found it.
“Wait a minute,” I said to the caller.  I opened my email, put the phone on my shoulder, and typed the message as the caller spoke.  Done.  Making this small change spared me time and stress.  
At the end of the message I added, “It’s the NFL off-season. Now is the time to leave the dark side and come into the light...”
Today I will start with small changes.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change is a work of fiction. Any similarities between the characters and anyone you might know is pure coincidental.

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

Sunday, March 26, 2017

1. Changes
“Whatcha thinking about?” my daughter Blondie asked me.  She was home from college, so mature it broke my heart.
I said, “Something I wrote a while ago, ‘Today I will remember the world owes me nothing, does not respond to my will, and goes merrily on with or without my consent.  On the other hand, I am free to change myself as I see fit.*’”
“Oh, I like that. Why do you look puzzled? You wrote it.”
“I just realized I wrote it fifteen years ago.  I’m wondering if it’s time for some changes.”
Today I will consider making some changes.

Time for a Change ©2017 by Ken Montrose
Time for a Change is a work of fiction. Any similarities between the characters and anyone you might know is pure coincidental.
Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com
*Meditations for the First Thirty Days: How Not to Become Roadkill on the Highway to Recovery

© 2002 by Ken Montrose

Thursday, March 23, 2017

67. Of Mulch and Men
A month after he was arrested, Gerry’s father died of heart failure.  He was forty-five years old.  At the time, I thought the deaths of Gerry and his parents were a colossal waste.  Six months later The Other Ken told me almost everyone in treatment when Jerry died was still sober. 

“When Gerry and his mother died, it scared them,” he said.  “They were losing a little of that fear when  they heard the news about Gerry’s dad. It helped them all refocus.”

A young guy named Croft once told me you can be the tree or you can be the mulch.  You can grow, drawing ‘smarts’ from other people’s mistakes, or you can be the person making those mistakes.  “Keep making them,” Croft said, “and life will turn you into mulch.”

Today I think I’ll be the tree.


Needles Not For Knitting is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Needles Not For Knitting (c) 2017 by Ken Montrose


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: http://www.amazon.com/Ken-Montrose/e/B001K8MG0S

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

66. Before Life Kicks The Denial Out Of Me
I was the first to get to work the next day. A black Escalade straddled two handicap parking spots in front of the building.  As I walked past, the driver rolled down his window and asked if I was one of those idiot therapists. Technically, I’m a trainer, not a therapist, so I answered honestly.

“No I’m not,” I said. Gerry’s father rolled the window back up.  I felt my rage building, wanting to scream at him, ‘You’re the idiot. You’re the one who drank with his son.  You’re the one who got high with his wife.  You’re half the reason they’re dead.’

Instead I walked through the glass doors to the lobby.  I texted Miss Rella telling her to enter the building from the other side.  I asked her to let everyone else know they should do the same.  The police arrived ten minutes after I called 911.

As they took him away, my rage cooled just enough for me to hope this was his wake-up call.  He was estranged from his family and had just buried his wife and son.  He had just been arrested. If this kick in the teeth didn’t wake him up, what would?

When I got to my office, I made a list of times I’d made changes before life kicked the denial out of me.

Today I’ll be grateful for any changes I made before life kicked  the denial out of me.


Needles Not For Knitting is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Needles Not For Knitting (c) 2017 by Ken Montrose


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: http://www.amazon.com/Ken-Montrose/e/B001K8MG0S

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

65. HALT
“Time for you to go to bed,” my wife said. “Today sucked out all your energy.”
“It did, but it’s only 9:30,” I said.
“What’s that AA slogan? HALT? Don’t let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired?  I’d say you’re tired and angry.  Time to get some rest.  You can deal with your anger tomorrow.”
I knew she was right, but I said, “I’m a grown man, I’ll go to bed when I’m ready to go to bed.” Two minutes later I said, “OK, I’m ready.”

Today I will remember HALT.


Needles Not For Knitting is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Needles Not For Knitting (c) 2017 by Ken Montrose


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: http://www.amazon.com/Ken-Montrose/e/B001K8MG0S

Monday, March 20, 2017

64. Not That Stupid
After work, The Other Ken, Max The New Guy, Miss Rella, and I went to Gerry’s viewing.  As we stood in front of the casket, Gerry’s father stumbled up to us and said, “You did this.”

When I got home I told my wife about our encounter. “I wanted to punch him,” I said. 

She said, “That would have been stupid.  Be glad you didn’t.”

“I never would have hit him.   I could have done a lot of other stupid things, starting with telling him off, in front of all his family and friends, standing at his son’s coffin.” 

“Be glad you didn’t do that either.  Anything else?”

“I didn’t break my toe kicking something. Didn’t yell at the girl in McDonalds who got my order wrong.  Didn’t give the finger to the guy tailgating me all the way down Route 19.”  I hugged my wife and added, “Didn’t try to lift my spirits by running off with some smoking hot, twenty-five year old.”  At this my wife laughed. “It could happen,” I said, smiling.  She couldn’t stop laughing.

Today I’ll be grateful for all the stupid things I didn’t do.

Needles Not For Knitting is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Needles Not For Knitting (c) 2017 by Ken Montrose


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: http://www.amazon.com/Ken-Montrose/e/B001K8MG0S

Sunday, March 19, 2017

63. Pick a Challenge

When I got home, Brat Boy noticed I seemed a little down. He said,   “You need a distraction, Dad.  How about car shopping.  Have you seen the new Corvette?”

I said, “Buying  a ‘Vette.  That’s a cheery thought. I’d have to get another job to buy one.  Do you have any idea what it would cost to insure a Corvette for sixteen-year-old new driver?”

“Consider it a challenge, Dad.  Think of the pride you’d feel watching me drive away in brand new red Corvette. That's the kind of challenge guaranteed to lift your spirits.”

“Here’s a challenge, take a 2005 Nissan Altima with 215,000 miles.  Keep it running until it hits 250K. Drive it to the gym every day to work on your skills. Stay on the honor roll. That’s a challenge, one you and I can conquer together, son.”

Brat Boy laughed and shook his head, “I can’t decide if you’re just old, or you really have no soul, Dad.”

Today I will pick a challenge wisely.

Needles Not For Knitting is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Needles Not For Knitting (c) 2017 by Ken Montrose

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at:

http://www.amazon.com/Ken-Montrose/e/B001K8MG0S

Thursday, March 16, 2017

62. Chart Review
The Boss was texting to schedule a chart review. When something really bad happens in a rehab, everyone involved is called together for a chart review.  These meetings are about more than looking at someone’s chart. They’re a chance to see for staff  to share their grief while reminding themselves what they’re up against – a culture flooded with powerful painkillers, dirt cheap heroin, synthetic drugs sold online, and veterinary medicines being abused by people.  Chart reviews are sad, but motivating.

Years earlier I had worked with people suffering from severe schizophrenia.  At that time state mental hospitals were downsizing. People who’d been inpatient for years were sent to live in communities struggling with the crack epidemic.  I did several chart reviews back then.  I learned to look and look again, giving myself credit for the effort I’d made, but owning my mistakes. 


Today I will remember to learn, I have to look and look again.

Needles Not For Knitting is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Needles Not For Knitting (c) 2017 by Ken Montrose

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at:

http://www.amazon.com/Ken-Montrose/e/B001K8MG0S

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

61. Boom
Most days the rehab is a funny, inspiring, hopeful place to be. Some days the bombs go off.

“Actually, I wanted to talk to your colleague, but you should know too,” Gerry’s uncle Harold said when I answered the phone. “Gerry and his mother passed away on Monday.  We’re waiting to hear from the coroner, but it looks like they overdosed on wine, painkillers, and Valium.” Boom.

I expressed my condolences and transferred the call to The Other Ken.  Twenty minutes later I was still staring out the window when I got a text from The Boss.


I will enjoy today. I don’t know what tomorrow brings.


Needles Not For Knitting is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Needles Not For Knitting (c) 2017 by Ken Montrose

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at:

http://www.amazon.com/Ken-Montrose/e/B001K8MG0S

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

60. Little Dog, Barking Gut

The next day at work a woman named Terry stopped me in the hall.  She said, “I’ve been a little jumpy since I first got sober. Is that normal?  Ten times a day I get this knotted feeling in my belly.”

I said, “LDBG syndrome - little dog, barking gut.   That feeling’s like a little dog that barks at everything passing by, every sound. Happens to a lot of people when their lives change – going to college, getting married, having a baby, new job.  I’m not saying you should never trust your gut, but try not to react every time you feel jittery.  The more attention you give to the little dog, the more he barks.”
Today I’ll try not to pay too much attention to the barking dog in my belly.

Needles Not For Knitting is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Needles Not For Knitting (c) 2017 by Ken Montrose

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at:

http://www.amazon.com/Ken-Montrose/e/B001K8MG0S

Monday, March 13, 2017

59. Once again with enthusiasm!

That night, I got coffee and two donuts and sat down at a long folding table set up in a church basement.  As I sank into the metal chair, I nodded at the thirtysomething woman sitting a couple of chairs away. 

The meeting began with the familiar readings.  The chairman asked if anyone had one day clean, one week clean, and then one month. The woman bounced to the podium to get her thirty day chip. She beamed as she walked back.

“Will anyone with five to ten years sober please stand,” the chairman said.  “Ten to fifteen.  Fifteen to twenty.”   When he got to twenty-five or more, I stood.   

After the meeting, the woman who’d gotten her 30 day chip hugged me. “Congrats on all those years!” she said.  She held up her chip. “I never thought I’d make it this far.”  As we talked, I couldn’t help but see the difference in our outlooks.  I was content, while she was enthusiastic. After our conversation, I realized a little of her enthusiasm had rubbed off on me.

Today I will seek out enthusiastic people.


Needles Not For Knitting is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Needles Not For Knitting (c) 2017 by Ken Montrose

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at:

http://www.amazon.com/Ken-Montrose/e/B001K8MG0S

Sunday, March 12, 2017

58. A Sinking Yacht
Gerry said, “I’m scared, but I’m going to take the concrete road back to rehab.”

“Why are you scared?” I asked.

“I love them.  I want to help them.  I’m afraid they’ll pull me down with them.”

We sat in silence for a moment while I thought of another analogy to help him visualize his situation.

“With no money worries, it’s like your addicted parents had been living on a slowly sinking yacht.  You saw they were taking on water, they did not.  Your relapse was like swimming out to them, trying to save them.   Going to rehab is like swimming back to shore. The halfway house isn’t as nice as your parents’ house, but it represents dry land, it’s safe.”

Gerry picked up the story, “But from dry land, I might see the boat resting lower in the water.   I’ll want to swim back to save them.  Maybe try to convince them to get clean, to leave a sinking ship.  That’s just like bailing out water, and it’s not enough.” He paused.

“Complete the analogy,” I said. “What happens next?

“I might be tempted to stay with them until they sink. Sinking would be my mom dying, or my dad killing someone while he was driving drunk.”    

“So what’s the thing to do?”

“Encourage them, but don’t go to them,” he said.  “Stay dry, stay away from a sinking boat.”

Today I will encourage someone, but I won’t drown with anyone.


Needles Not For Knitting is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Needles Not For Knitting (c) 2017 by Ken Montrose

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at:

http://www.amazon.com/Ken-Montrose/e/B001K8MG0S