Thursday, May 25, 2017

43. Alarmed
The group congratulated Austin on staying clean and sober.  He said, “I got another letter from my brother. He’s doing great. “
The Other Ken asked, “Did you ever find out why he’s writing letters instead of texting you?”
“I looked up the post office where his letter came from.  There’s nothing up there. Small Canadian town with a couple of stores.  I called the postmaster ‘cause there wasn’t much on the internet about it.  He said there was an old logging camp being fixed up by a group called the Church of Middaymorrow.  The pastor keeps everyone’s cell phones.  They all write letters. Said they seem nice.”
An alarm went off deep in my brain. I heard ‘church’ but thought ‘cult.’  I emailed The Other Ken, saying I’d look into the Church of Middaymorrow. “Probably nothing,” I said to my laptop, “but it’s never a good idea to ignore alarms.”
Today I won’t ignore life’s alarms.
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, May 24, 2017

42. Celebrate and Move On
“How are you doing?” The Other Ken asked Austin.
“I sold a painting,” Austin said.  “I didn’t use the money to buy weed and wine.  You guys have no idea how much I wanted to.  That was one of my favorite things in the world: sell and celebrate - weed, wine, and women. OK, mostly weed and wine.  I’m still a little rattled at how much I wanted to get high.”
“You’re rattled, but you’re clean and sober,” The Other Ken said. “Pat yourself on the back. When you don’t get high, when you stay on the diet one more day, when you don’t call the ex you know is bad for you, when you don’t buy something you don’t need, don’t dwell on how much you wanted to.  Figure out how you’re gonna put a little more distance between you and whatever you’re trying to avoid, then celebrate and move on.”
Today I will celebrate and move on.
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, May 23, 2017

41. Only so Mad
Morgan spoke next. “I’m doing OK.  Not much has changed, except my daughter is less mad at me.” 
“And what about you?” The Other Ken asked. “Are you less mad at you?”
Morgan laughed and said, “You know, I am. My husband’s older sister can stay mad about six different things and five different people all at once.  I have to pick and choose what I can be mad about.  When I’m angry with my sneaky-ass husband, I forget about my job. When I’m angry with myself for jeopardizing my job, I forget I’m angry at my daughter for blaming me for her sneaky-ass father’s behavior.  And when I think about the whole situation, I laugh.”
Austin smiled and said, “Add it to your gratitude list, you’re one of those people who can only get so angry for so long.  My brother’s like your sister-in-law.  He gets angry. He stays angry.”
Today I’ll be grateful I can only get so angry for so long.
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, May 22, 2017

40. Wisdom from the Skate Park
The next day The Other Ken’s group shuffled in. A few of them said hello as they passed my office. The entire group seemed down.
I kept my door open to listen to the group check-in.  Jameston spoke first.  He’d contacted his ex-wife about seeing his son.  She told Jameston the boy had no recollection of him, and she’d like to keep it that way. He’d stayed sober, but said he’d never felt so empty in his whole life.
“I am difficult,” he said. “I am rigid, and always convinced I am right.” His voice cracked. “I am judgmental and I have a strong need to be in charge.” He stopped to compose himself and added, “I saw some kid in the skate park on the way over here.  It made me think the faster he hit the low point, the higher he rose on the other side.  I fell fast this week.  I think I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been to rise to the occasion, even if I’m depressed as hell.”

Today I’ll accept low points as motivators.

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, May 21, 2017

39. Will Power
I went to an AA meeting that night.  A newcomer asked me how long I’d been sober.
“Twenty-Eight years,” I said.
“You must have tremendous will power,” he said, shaking his head.  “I’m going on a week, and I really want a drink.”
I thought about the fifteen pounds I’d been trying to lose for twenty years. Every year I resolved to cut down on sweets, but never made it past January.  The only thing I’d successfully given up for Lent was giving up anything for Lent.  
“I don’t know,” I said. “I have a little willpower, but mostly I work on not needing it. I avoid being around booze, I distract myself if I have a craving, I try to keep busy, and I work out so I go to bed tired every night.”
Today I won’t rely on will power.

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, May 18, 2017

38. Cursed Blessings
Later that night I was sitting on the couch, reading an article on addiction treatment for high-functioning, wealthy people. 
Brat Boy, alarmed by the quiet, sat down, turned on the TV, called up a You Tube video on his laptop, and began a conversation with me.
“What are you reading, Dad?” he asked, flicking the spinner thing between his thumb and forefinger.
   I told him about the article.  “Having money is a blessing most of the time.  These folks use theirs to convince themselves they don’t have a problem.  When they do run into problems, money protects them from the consequences of their actions.
“But they’re still functioning, right?”
I said, “Another blessing – be able to function despite your problems.  Your grandmother worked while she was getting chemo. Said it kept her from losing her mind.  These folks can work through their addictions, but the drugs are slowly poisoning their minds.  Blessing into a curse.”
“Well I’m not an addict, so if you gave me $20, that would just be a blessing.  A blessing that would help me function better over the weekend.”
“If I gave you $20 for no reason it would be a miracle, not a blessing.”

Today I will remember a misused blessing becomes a curse.
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, May 17, 2017

37. First Person First
Austin poked his head into my office, nodded to Morgan, and said, “I got a letter from my brother. He’s clean and sober and working on a farm in Canada.”
 “That is good news,” I said. “Funny he wrote a letter instead of texting you.”
Austin touched his scar and shrugged. “He says he’s been sober for three months. I’m thinking I should go up there and check on him.”
“You’re what, less than a month sober?” I asked.  “Why don’t take care of yourself first before you look after your brother.”
“That’s what everybody in group said.  First things first. Just feels a little selfish putting myself first when I’m the one who got him addicted.”
I didn’t think he was solely responsible for his brother’s addiction, but I let that remark pass. “First things first.  Sometimes you have to put yourself first, even if it feels a little selfish.”

Today I may put myself first.

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, May 16, 2017

36. What Doesn’t Suck
While the group was taking a break, I called Morgan into my office to ask how she was doing.
She grabbed a cup of coffee from the kitchen and sat down in the chair closest to my desk.  For a minute I thought she was going to put her feet up.
She said, “Six months ago my husband left me to find himself in a tiny cabin in Warren, Pennsylvania.  Apparently my good friend from across the cul-de-sac found herself there too.  My six year old daughter wants to know why I chased her Daddy away.  Her fourteen year old brother wants to kill his father. Not healthy, but at least he’s on my side.  My headaches began right after my husband left. That’s when I started diverting medications from patients.  Not meds they needed mind you, stuff I was supposed to destroy, but didn’t.  Well, at first I didn’t take meds they needed.” She looked down and then out the window. “Now I’ll be tied up for the next three years trying to hold onto my nursing license.  My brother told me my car will never pass inspection, and I got my period this morning.  I’d say a lot of things suck in my life.”
Her expression changed. “Then why are you smiling?” I asked, smiling back at her.
“Because right now, this very moment, doesn’t suck. The coffee doesn’t suck. The view out your window doesn’t suck. I’d be grateful if you wouldn’t do or say anything to make me think you suck.”
I laughed. “I’ll try my best.”

Today I’ll be grateful for things that don’t suck.

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, May 15, 2017

35. A Disease and a Responsibility
I could hear The Other Ken’s group in the room next to my office.  He read them an article about a local man suing a bar.  The man had fallen off his barstool.  The Other Ken asked if they were on the jury, would they award the man any money?
Austin pointed out bars weren’t supposed to serve visibly drunk people.  Morgan, a thirty-eight year-old nurse who’d been caught stealing painkillers from her hospice patients, said some people could look sober when they were really drunk.
Most of the group said the man needed to take responsibility for his actions. 
Jameston didn’t say much until Austin argued the man had a disease, namely alcoholism, and wasn’t completely responsible.  I had really expected Jameston to side with the man, citing the law about serving alcohol to drunk people. Instead, he said, “My uncle lost most of his eyesight to diabetes.  Having diabetes wasn’t his fault. It was his fault, his responsibility, when he drove through an intersection and almost killed a guy walking his dog.  The judge told him some diseases require us to be more responsible, not less.”
Today I will be responsible.

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, May 14, 2017

34. Wonderfully Worn Out
“You’re limping,” Jameston said. “What happened?”
“Years of basketball and a torn meniscus,” I said. “Then a few more years of basketball.  After that, I jogged until my knees hurt. Then I switched to bikes.”
“Bet you regret it all now.”
“Not a one game, not one step, not one bike ride,” I said.  I walked past him into the building.  After I called up a document on my laptop, I turned the magnification up to 130%.  My eyesight was slowly deteriorating.  I thought of all the good books I’d read, the kids’ soccer, basketball, and volleyball games, the track meets, and school plays I’d watched. How many times had I stared across a lake, squinting at the sun reflected off the water, sure I could hear fish laughing?  No regrets.
My dad called.  I could feel his pride as he told me about the grandchildren and great grandchildren. When I hung up, I said to my laptop, “Oh, the miles he’s put on his heart loving his family.”

Today I will put a few more miles on my heart.
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, May 11, 2017

33. Secret Inspiration
A week went by before I encountered Jameston in the parking lot. He was cleaning the inside of his car again.
“What’s going on Jameston?” I asked. 
“I have a son,” he said. “From my first marriage.  When we divorced I considered him an extension of my wife. I cut him out of my life too. I’ve had nothing to do with either of them for ten years.  Because of Austin, I called and left a message for her to call me. 
“What does Austin have to do with calling your first wife and your son?”
“I’ve wanted to call, but after so many years I didn’t think he would want to hear from me. I wondered what she had told him about me.  In truth, I was a little afraid of their reaction.  Austin was willing to put himself in danger to help his brother.  He inspired me face their anger, perhaps my son’s rejection. Please don’t tell Austin. It might make group awkward.”
“He won’t hear it from me, but you really ought to tell him,” I said.  Jameston shook his head.

Today I will be grateful for the people who’ve inspired me, whether they know it or not.


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, May 10, 2017

32. No Problem
Heath came to pick up his mother after the meeting.  She didn’t like to drive at night.  As Hilary said goodbye to everybody, Heath and I talked. I asked him how he was doing.
“I’m doing great,” Heath said. “I met someone, my grades are great, and I got a good job for the summer.”
“So what’s your problem?” I asked, noticing his frown.
“I have the best mom ever, but she’s making herself miserable assuming my happiness is all an act.  She thinks I’ve been suppressing my feelings about my dad’s death for years.  The other day she said it was a shame I couldn’t enjoy my life more.  She could enjoy her life more if she accepted I’ve made peace with my dad’s death, mostly. I wish she could stop looking for problems that aren’t there.”
“I’ll talk to her,” I said.
Today I won’t look for problems.

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, May 9, 2017

31. Tough Love
After she mocked his hypochondria, Daphne hugged Derek The Dying Man.  At first he didn’t put his arms around her, but she held on until he did.
“I hate you,” Derek said, smiling and looking down on Daphne.
“Love you,” she said. “Sometimes I’m a little tough on you ‘cause I hate how you make yourself miserable worrying about silly things. Now let me go.  People will think we’re a couple. I’m way out of your league.”


Today I won’t forget the love if I have to be tough.
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, May 8, 2017

30. A Laughing Matter
I went to an 8:00 o’clock AA meeting and sat next to Derek The Dying Man.  The week before Derek had been convinced a brown patch on his arm was cancerous.  I had suggested he see a dermatologist to put his mind at ease.  Daphne told him he was probably going to die in a day or so. Nobody ever accused her of being overly sensitive.
That night he was worried about the zika virus. Anna, standing a few feet away with Hilary, said the virus wasn’t found this far north. Hilary said he had better chance of hitting the lottery than getting zika. 
Daphne pretended to swat a mosquito on her arm, asked if anyone else thought it was getting hot in the church basement, and said everything was getting blurry.
“You’re not funny,” Derek whined, even though he looked like he was about to laugh.
“I just wanted you to see how ridiculous your worries are. The fact you can laugh at them should tell you something.”
Today I will apply the laugh test to my worries.

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, May 7, 2017

29. Got Gas?
When I got home that day, I cursed daylight savings.  I’d have time to cut grass before dark. 
My lawnmower started on the first pull, but the engine ran rough. I fiddled with the carburetor screw.  The engine was smoother, but still misfired every so often.  I added a capful of gas treatment to the tank. In a minute or so the engine ran smoothly.
Way too pleased with my non-mechanic self, I said to nobody in particular, “Adjusting the carburetor’s like getting your life in order, finding the right mixture of people, places, and things. Gas treatment is like motivation.  A little makes a big difference, but you can’t run on it alone, you’d burn out the engine.  Gasoline drives the piston, the way habit drives life.
I hadn’t noticed my wife sitting on the deck above me. “Talking to your lawnmower?” she said. “Not the healthiest  habit.”

Today I will take stock of my habits, they drive my 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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

28. Smart Choice, Second Impulse
“Of course,” Jameston said as he began cleaning tight spaces with a Q-tip, “she doesn’t know she’s soon to be my ex-wife.”
“You seem calm for a guy who just found out his wife is cheating,” I pointed out.
“Actually, I’m more than calm.  I’m quite pleased with myself.  I didn’t follow my first impulse. I didn’t confront them, and I didn’t get drunk.” He paused for effect. “And I didn’t let her know I was aware of the affair.”
“What did you do?” I asked amazed.  Jameston always seemed to do the wrong thing
“I waited for my second impulse, which is usually smarter than my first. I called an attorney,” he said with a wicked smile. “A shark in a suit and tie.”   
I could almost hear the theme music from Jaws, but I thought he’d been smart to wait for his second impulse.

Today I will wait to see what my second impulse is.
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, May 3, 2017

27. Details
When I got to work, Jameston was sitting in his car, polishing the dashboard with a cloth.  A baggie with toothpicks and Q-tips sat on the passenger seat next to window cleaner and a roll of paper towel.
“Detailing relaxes me,” he said. “The last time I was in treatment they told me to try new ways to relax and this is what I came up with.”
“I go to the gym,” I said. “Not very imaginative, but it works.  What else do you do?”
“I make a list of people who got what they deserved,” he said. “I know that sounds cold, but it makes me think there’s some justice in the universe.”
“Whatever works,” I said. “Anything stressing you today?”
“My ex-wife is dating her boss.”

Today I will find a new way to relax.

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, May 2, 2017

26. Sometimes Slowly, Sometimes Never
That night in bed, I had a great idea for a story.  I knew I should have written down my thoughts, but it seemed unlikely I’d forget such a great idea.  The next morning all I remembered was thinking I’d surely remember such a great idea.
Leaving for work, I was distracted and frustrated, trying to remember my idea. I put my coffee mug on top of my car and my computer and gym bag in the back seat.  Half way up the road I heard the mug roll down the back of my car and hit the pavement. 
“Not again,” I muttered to myself as I picked up the umpteenth mug I’d left on the roof that year.
Today I may have to accept I will never learn some lessons.
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, May 1, 2017

25. Nothing Personal
Anna updated me on her life and recovery.  She’d been promoted to head of cybersecurity at work.  All her parents could talk about was her brother’s new job as an assistant football coach at a junior high.  She missed Xanax and wine, but not blackouts.  Hilary was her new sponsor, and she thought Heath had a crush on her.
When Anna was done talking, she stood up abruptly.  She seemed to enjoy our talks, but kept them short.  We waved again.  We didn’t shake hands in part because of her OCD, in part because men made her uncomfortable.  From her neglectful father, to the boy who taken nude pictures of her and shared them online, to her rapist college boyfriend, and the therapist from the counseling center who’d convinced her to move in with him, she’d been betrayed by men over and over. There was nothing personal about her mixed feelings about me.  
Today I will remember someone’s feelings about me may have nothing to do with me.
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 30, 2017

24. Time Takes Time
The next day I was staring at my laptop when a petite woman in her late twenties knocked on my open door. I stood, but didn’t stand shake her hand. We smiled and waved at each other even though she stood less than ten feet away.  I motioned for her to sit in the chair closest to the door.

Without makeup, her hair pulled in ponytail sticking out the back of her cap, wearing a sweatshirt that hung to her knees, and baggy jeans, she would still turn heads wherever she went.

“Good to see you Anna,” I said.

“I saw Cindy and the other Ken on the way in,” Anna said, smiling.  She held out her hands, palms down for me to see. “Getting better.  I just wish it all worked faster.” When I had first met Anna she washed her hands so frequently her knuckles bled. They weren’t even cracked that day.

Anna had thought when she got sober, her other problems would fall away. Almost a year into her recovery, she still struggled with anxiety and OCD.  She was getting better, but slowly. Every now and then, she stopped by my office to hear how impatient and I had been about the slow pace of recovery.

“Believe me,” I said, “People wish diets worked faster, cigarette cravings went away sooner, broken hearts healed quicker.  It’s human nature to want things to get better much faster than they got bad.”

“I know the slogan you’re gonna quote. Time takes time.”

Today I will try to be patient: time takes 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

Thursday, April 27, 2017

23. I Can’t See What I’m Saying
After Austin left, I read and re-read a speech scheduled for that afternoon.  I had put together a booklet outlining my speech, but I looked at my laptop as I practiced.  My laptop was set to magnify my documents to 130% of their original size.
That afternoon, lawyers, union representatives, and people from industry who didn’t typically attend my trainings and speeches made up the audience.  I wanted to impress.
As I came to the podium, I realized I couldn’t read the small font on my handout. I held my notes at arm’s length until someone handed me their reading glasses. They didn’t seem to help.
I laughed, explained why I couldn’t read my own booklet, and gave the speech from memory. My delivery wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked, but I was prepared. 
Today I will prepare and roll with the punches if things don’t go according to plan.
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 26, 2017

22. Living in the Past
“What’s the third reason to look back?” Austin asked.
“To live a little,” I said. “To tell the people, places, and things that had hurt you to kiss off, I’m still here! Maybe say out loud to the world, ‘you hit like a little girl,’ even if you felt beat and battered at the time.” Austin touched the scar below his ear.
I added, “To relive the good times. The more independent my kids get, the happier I am about the time I spent with them when they were little.  When Blondie talks about choosing a career, I remember her choosing what we’d watch.  I really started to hate the Olsen twins and their sappy movies. Brat Boy operates a car, but I remember when he’d get so excited he couldn’t work a fishing reel.  He’d walk backwards until the fish was almost on dry land so I could take it off the hook.  I don’t live in the past, but every now and then I do pay it a visit.”
Today I will live a little, in the past.

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 25, 2017

21. Pebbles in my Shoe
Austin said, “With all the time you’ve been sober, you must have cleared away all the resentments and misunderstandings and bullshit from your head.”
I laughed. “No, I haven’t.  When I talk about recovery with you guys, I’m presenting the ideal.  Nobody lives up to the ideal.  I may have cleared away some of the boulders of my resentment, but there’s a pebble or two in my shoe.”
“Like what? Got an example?”
“In second grade, Miss Fry gave us a sheet of paper with three rows of three dots. We had to connect the dots with four straight lines.  I was the only one to figure it out.  She gathered all our papers, looked them over, and with this smug smile said, ‘Nobody got it right!’ I ran to her desk, looking for my paper. She yelled at me.  I found my paper anyway, held it up and said ‘see!’ showing her and the girls in the front. She snatched the paper away, pointed to one of my lines, said, ‘It bends.’  Now it did bend slightly.  But I knew I had solved the problem and she couldn’t admit it.  Instead of basking in a moment of second-grade triumph, I got shoved into a corner and threatened with a paddle. It still bugs me.”
 “Whoa Ken, how long ago was that?” Austin said, laughing and snorting.
“We’re coming up on the 50th anniversary,” I said. Maybe it is time to let it go, shake that pebble loose.”
Today I will get a pebble out of my shoe.
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 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