Monday, July 31, 2017

88. No Means No
At the end of the table I saw Anna sitting across from Heath.  I could hear Anna quizzing Heath about his new girlfriend. Jimmy the Weasel sat down next to Anna.  Anna slid her chair a few inches away from Jimmy.  Jimmy leaned in close to Anna, pretending he was having a hard time hearing Heath across the table.  Heath said something to Jimmy about leaving Anna alone.  Jimmy put one hand in the air, and other around Anna’s shoulder, as if to say, ‘Look, what’s the problem? She likes me.’
Anna froze for a second. I thought ‘Oh no, this is going to be a setback for her.’ She dumped her steaming hot coffee into Jimmy’s lap. He jumped up cursing.
Her voice was shaky, but she was smiling when she said to me, “In group you told us to be clear when we say ‘no.’”
I smiled back at her. “I think I was talking about refusing a drink.” She shrugged and went back to grilling Heath. I decided the next time I needed to tell someone ‘no’ I’d try to be as clear as Anna.

Today I will be clear when I say ‘no.’

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

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

Sunday, July 30, 2017

87. Laughter
I went to get Derek napkins and another cup of coffee. Filling the cup halfway, I turned to see Daphne had sat down next to him.  I sat down opposite from them. Derek was laughing and wiping away a tear. Daphne winked at me and gestured with her eyes toward Derek.
 “It’s not just Florida and flesh-eating bacteria,” Derek said. “My company is going bankrupt. A lot of people are going to lose their jobs.  I’m the HR Director.  I started processing people out today.” He smiled at Daphne. “Never thought I’d be laughing today.”
He still had a fine tremor in his hands, but he took the cup without spilling any.  I asked him what had made him laugh.
“Daphne wants to market flesh-eating bacteria as a guaranteed weight loss program.  We were working out an advertising campaign. Eat all you want. Nothing to weigh but yourself.  No meetings to attend. No supplements. Weight loss tends to be permanent.”

Today I’ll be grateful for people who make me laugh when times are 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

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

Thursday, July 27, 2017

86. What’s Eating You?
I went to an AA meeting that night and sat next to Derek the Dying Man.  He nodded, but didn’t say anything. I asked him what was wrong.
“I just got back from Florida yesterday,” he said. “I cut my calf on a car door. That’s how a sheriff down there got infected with Vibrio vulnificus.”
I had read an article a week earlier or I wouldn’t have known what he was talking about. “So,” I said, “It’s fleshing eating bacteria and not the cat that got your tongue.” Not even a smile from Derek. He stared miserably at his coffee cup.  I saw his hands were shaking.
People, including me, joked with Derek, reasoned with him, even yelled at him about being a hypochondriac. Not many of us took his worries seriously. People told him he should be grateful he didn’t have any real problems.
He tried to drink his coffee and spilled it on both hands and the table.
“Sit still, I’ll get some napkins,” I said.
Today I will remember some people travel a tougher road than I’ll ever know.
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, July 26, 2017

85. I Like You Life, But…
Two days later I was at work, scrolling past the ads for Russian women dying to meet me, and secrets the electric company, cancer doctors, and my dentist either didn’t want me to know or hated.   The last ad was an offer to help me discover if I had lived a past life.  I said to my laptop, “Yesterday I didn’t really live in this life.”  I wrote a reasonably good speech, but nothing very original. My training went well, but wasn’t my best effort.  When I got home after doing half my usual workout, I had a pop tart for dinner.
“I turned in the kind of day that says to Life ‘I like you, but only as a friend,'” I added. “Not gonna let that happen today.”
Today I won’t tell Life I like her, but just as a friend.

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

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

84. Shhhh
After my workout, I went to the steam room.  People seldom spoke in there, and nobody brought their cell phone.  When people did talk, it was usually in low whispers.  Compared to the noise and confusion of the rest of my day, the steam room was an oasis of calm. 
Brat Boy and Blondie could study with the radio and TV on, while chatting with friends.  The distractions that would have driven me up the wall didn’t seem to affect them at all.  They would have described the steam room as too quiet, and maybe even creepy.  Both were amazed I sometimes drove with the radio off.  Long ago I had quit arguing with them about turning down the volume in their lives.  They thrived in the noise.  I needed the quiet, and I had watched too many people who also needed it burnout because they didn’t make the time for it.
Today I will find however much quiet time I need.
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

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

Monday, July 24, 2017

83. Watch It Buddy
Later in the morning Quinn told the group his mother died in the cult. I went to the gym that afternoon with heaviness in my gut.  When I got there, the halls were filled with kids attending an afterschool program.  As I threaded my way through the throng, I bumped into a kid that might have been in first or second grade.
“I’m sorry,” I said, smiling down at him.
With a deadpan face he looked up at me and said, “Watch it buddy.” He couldn’t hold the expression, and he doubled over in laughter. I laughed too. As I walked away, I could hear his friends laughing and imitating him, “Watch it buddy.”
I turned back and smiled at the kid again. He had a great sense of humor, and he’d lifted my spirits.
Today I’ll be grateful for people with a sense of humor.
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.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

82. Dope Sick Determination
Group started and I left my door open to listen.  The Other Ken asked the group what they thought was key to success in life, including recovery.
“You gotta pick two, maybe three things you chase with dope sick determination,” Quinn said.
“What’s dope sick determination?” Holton asked.
Quinn chuckled. “Being dope sick brings focus to your life.  You gotta get some, and you’ll do whatever it takes.  You can’t chase other things the way you chase heroin, doing illegal stuff.  You can be focused and determined.”
“And picking those two or three things is key,” Holton said, nodding his head.
“Pick the wrong ones and you’ll end up successful and miserable.  Pick the right ones, and even if you fail, you’ll be OK.”  He paused, and added, “My daddy looked after us, taught us, with dope sick determination.  After he died, my momma fell apart. I was addicted, abused, neglected, and part of a cult.  Now, I ain’t bragging, but I learned a lot from my daddy, and because of him, I’m still here. I’m getting squared away.  He succeeded even after he was gone.”

Today I will chase what’s important with dope sick determination.

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

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

81. Choosing Rewards
The officer searched and handcuffed Jameston. He put him in the back of the car.  As they drove off, my heart sank.  I thought of all the things Jameston wouldn’t have control over in jail.  When he got out, the real struggle with powerlessness would begin. 
Two thoughts came to mind. Unlike Jameston I hadn’t eaten Xanny bars, or washed them down with a glass of wine. I wasn’t going to jail. I still got to decide when I’d eat, where I’d go, what I could do.  I’d earned some reward points.   Rewards not claimed tended to expire.  Today would be gone and with it the chance to celebrate the day.   I called my wife.
“Let’s eat somewhere nice tonight,” I said.
“Why?” my wife asked, probably wonder what the occasion might be.
“Because we can.”  And because life’s rewards have an expiration date.

Today I will celebrate just because I can.
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

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

80. No Problem So Bad
The next day I saw Jameston sitting on the bench at the end of the parking lot. When I got closer, I noticed a cut above his right eye. Two neatly folded but blood-stained handkerchiefs sat on the bench beside him.
“The doctor gave me these,” Jameston said. He pulled a bottle of Xanax bars from his shirt pocket. “You’re not supposed to mix them with alcohol, but after I took a couple, a glass of wine seemed like a good idea. I thought life couldn’t get any worse.”
“What happened?” I asked, a sense of sadness and dread washing over me.
We were interrupted by car horns on Route 19. “Yesterday, after my wife and I met with the divorce attorneys, I had an appointment with a neurologist.” He dabbed at the cut with another hanky.  “My wife had accused me of being a control freak.  The universe heard, and laughed. I’m about to lose control, of my muscles at least. The neurologist told me I have ALS.”
A police car pulled up. Before the officer said anything, Jameston stood up, said, “My ride to jail is here,” and walked over to the police car. “It’s my car wrapped around the street sign,” he added, gesturing toward the highway.
Today I will remember the slogan:
There is no problem so bad a drink cannot make it worse.

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


79. A Great Day To Plant A Tree
Morgan said, “I know I’m on the right path.  But after we got home and my daughter went to bed, I spent the night beating myself up for getting addicted, for not going back to school, for not doing something when I first realized my marriage was in trouble.”
“I understand,” I said, “From time to time I still think about the opportunities I missed, and the stupid things I did. Water over the dam.  Best I can do is make the most of now.”
Morgan smiled. “My mother loved a Japanese saying.  The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, but the second best time is now.”
“From this day forward,” I said.

Today I will plant a tree.
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

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

Monday, July 17, 2017

78. They’re watching

The next day I asked Morgan about picking up her daughter.

“It was sad, Ken,” Morgan said. “She’s always been daddy’s little girl, but she wanted to come home with me.  I think my husband was shocked.”

“Why do you think she was so eager to go with you?”

“She had a hard time putting it into words, but you could tell she knew there was something wrong with her father. Kids know more than we think they do.”

“Do you think she knew something was wrong when you were getting high?” I asked

Morgan said, “At the time, I thought I kept it hidden, but now I think she must have known something was wrong.  Kids watch you, they really do.”

Today I’ll try to set a good example. Kids may be watching.

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

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

Sunday, July 16, 2017

77. What Can You Do?

The next day, Quinn asked me if I could watch his dog for a few days. I knew why.
I said, “Going to Canada to rescue Austin is way more than you should take on right now. On the other hand, Morgan is going to get her daughter today.  The little girl is with her father at a hotel in Carnegie.  Morgan doesn’t think her husband will give her any trouble, but she could use some company.  Gonna be an emotional day.   Think you could ride along?”
“I guess that’s all I can do,” Quinn said.
“Do what you can.”

Today I’ll do what I can.
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

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

Thursday, July 13, 2017

76. Grateful Not Hateful
“Cacophony,” I said to my laptop. “The word of the day is cacophony, a harsh discordance of sound.”
Every morning for a week a new group member had spent the time before group loudly complaining, using the f-bomb as her noun, verb, and adjective of choice.
That morning she was telling the group her effing cat coughed up an effing hairball just to effing spite her.  Then her mother, that effing witch, called to see how she was doing.  
Mostly I wanted to ask her what was really bothering her.   A small part of me wanted to tell her to shut up. Just shut up. Really, shut your pie hole.  Had I done so, she wouldn’t have, adding me to her list of effing  a’holes  instead.  
I sent The Other Ken an email offering to run a group on gratitude. Maybe it would help her brighten up.
Today I’ll be ‘grateful not hateful.’
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

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

75. Gift Horse
My phone rang – Brat Boy and Blondie wanted to meet me for lunch. This meant one of two things. They loved and missed me.  I left for work before they got up.  Blondie was working into the evening.  Brat Boy had either volleyball or basketball practice. Both were likely to be with their boyfriend/girlfriend when I got home from the gym.
It might also mean they were bored and too lazy to cook lunch for themselves.
I hesitated, thought ‘They’re two teenagers who want to have lunch with their dad. Who cares why? What’s that old expression, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth?’
“Meet you at the Meatball Emporium at 11:30,” I said to Blondie.

Today I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

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

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

74. Secretly Kind
As they were leaving group, I heard Holton tell Morgan, “Don’t worry, he’s not going to Canada.”
Morgan asked, “How can you be so sure?”
“A week ago I told him the shelter was full, and asked if he could keep a puppy until a cage was available.”
“I could keep some kittens for a while if that would help.”
Holton laughed. “I lied. We had cages open. I figured if he loved a dog he couldn’t take with him, he wouldn’t go. He already has a dozen puppy pictures on his phone.”
“You are devious but kind,” Morgan said. “I never would have guessed.
“Let’s keep this our secret,” Holton said.
Today I will be grateful for people who are secretly kind.
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

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

73. Intelligence Gathering
The next day Quinn told the group he was thinking of going to Canada to get Austin.  The group told him this was a bad idea, but Quinn said it was what his daddy would’ve done. “I know how bad these cults can be.  I gotta do something.”

“Your dad was Army, wasn’t he?” Holton asked.  Quinn nodded. “Bet he never went into a fight without a plan.  Bet that plan was based on information.  Bet he tried to find out what he was getting into before he got into it.”

“Not the same thing,” Quinn said.  He probably didn’t realize he was nodding ‘yes’ as he said it.  The Other Ken had them list situations they had rushed into.

“I married an idiot right out of high school,” Morgan said. “I wanted to get away from home. If I had known then what I know now…”

“Wish I’d done a little research before I bought that car,” another group member said, gesturing toward the oil-stained spot where his ride sat rusting.

“Wish I’d paid better attention in Health Class,” a young woman said. “I might have known you can get pregnant the first time, no matter what your boyfriend says.”

Today I won’t get into something until I know what I’m getting into.

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

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

Sunday, July 9, 2017

72. Hidden Pain
“How’s the leg?” I asked Daphne. “How bad is the pain?”
She said, “Truth be told, I was just about done with painkillers. It hurts, but I can manage. You know what stings? One of my nieces stealing my pills. The thief didn’t know I wasn’t in a lot of pain. And to think I’ve always trusted those brats.” She pounded her cane on the floor and added, “Drugs. Nothing leads to breaking someone’s trust like booze and drugs.”
Daphne, one of the toughest people I’d ever met, wiped a tear from her eye. Having her trust betrayed truly stung. My heart broke for her.  
Today I will not betray a trust.
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
https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, July 6, 2017

71. Honest Mistake
“Okay, you can yell at me,” Daphne said when I walked into the AA meeting.
“You’re a mean, miserable, old lady,” I said, laughing.
“Don’t you want to know why you should yell at me?” Daphne demanded. I shrugged. She said,
“My huge addict family visited me. Somebody stole the pills from my surgery I left in my medicine cabinet. I could kick myself for being so careless.”
I shook my head. “Nah, I’m not gonna yell. Sounds like an honest mistake. If they were sitting out, or you kept them months after your surgery, I might.”
Daphne hugged me. “Better a miserable old lady than a middle-age jackass,” she said with a smile.
Today I won’t kick myself for honest mistakes
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

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

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

70. Can You Hit the Curve Ball?
The next day Morgan told the group her husband had taken off with her daughter. She said, “Mind you this is not a Lifetime movie in the making. This is an idiot texting me from a motel to say he can’t be separated from our daughter. If I want her back, I have to take him back too. Talk about life throwing you a curve ball.”
“What are you going to do?”  Jameston asked.
“I’ll give him a day or two to spend with our daughter, and then I’ll cancel his credit cards.”  Morgan smiled and added, “I’ll put ‘being clear-headed’ on my gratitude list.  It’s much easier to hit the curve when you’re not eating Vikes like they were jelly beans.”
Today I’ll be grateful I’m clear-headed.
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, July 4, 2017

69. Many Do Recovery
Quinn left. I checked my email. Two agencies were looking for presentations on the opioid epidemic.  Both agencies asked if I could present something a little different. I laughed to myself – over the years I’d developed a reputation for being a little different. I suggested a discussion on how friends, families, and professionals needed to take care of themselves, followed by a reminder that people do get better.  In short order, both agencies agreed on the topic.
I said out loud, “With so many illnesses you hear about the people who die or create chaos, you don’t hear about the people who cope, maybe even thrive.  You don’t hear enough about the people who overcome their problems.”
Today I will remind myself – people do get better.
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

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

Sunday, July 2, 2017

68. Throwing A Good Today After A Bad Yesterday
“How’d you end up here?” I asked Quinn.
He said, “I tried to drink away the memories of the Guild. That’s what we called that cult, the Guild. Never worked.  I’d wake up from a blackout with no recollection of the night before, but crystal clear recall of the Guild.  Later, I learned alcohol gets in the way of forming new memories, but you gotta make it to late stage alcoholism to erase the old ones.”
“I’m glad you stopped when you did.”
“Getting sober saved my life, but accepting my past has given me peace,” Quinn said.  “You know how they say ‘throwing good money after bad’?  Wasting a good today fretting about a bad yesterday is the same thing.  I’m done with it.”
I won’t throw a good Today after a bad yesterday.
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

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