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