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What is Rescue The Rescuer?

Do You Ever Feel Like Everything Is Going Up In Flames? Fire fighters, police officers, soldiers, EMS providers, and all first responders are under immense pressure and stress, day in and day out. This can lead to incredible challenges both at work and at home. My mission is to put a spotlight on these problems and help find solutions with the Rescue the Rescuers podcast and blog. I want to help shred the shame and highlight strategies that work to alleviate and eliminate common stumbling blocks for First Responders like addiction, PTSD, relationship failure, and more. Disclaimer: The views, opinions and endorsements expressed in each podcast episode are those of the host and guests, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Mental Health News Radio Network.

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  • Brokenness- A True Gift

    Brokenness- A True Gift

    I know that the idea of being broken sounds like a tragic thing, especially if it is a bone or cell phone. However, I am here to say that brokenness is one of the best things that could happen to a human being. Rumi once said that “You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.” We humans are a complicated bunch and pride is the very thing that keeps us from being broken. Nowadays, image is such an important thing for people to keep up. Sadly, this way of thinking is distorted and destructive. If you look at the tiny writing on the side view mirror of your Toyota, it says “images in the mirror may be closer than they appear.” Image is regularly distorted and often found to be false.

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  • Brokenness: An Amazing Gift

    Brokenness: An Amazing Gift

    I know that the idea of being broken sounds like a tragic thing, especially if it is a bone or cell phone. However, I am here to say that brokenness is one of the best things that could happen to a human being.  Rumi once said that “You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.” We humans are a complicated bunch and pride is the very thing that keeps us from being broken. Nowadays, image is such an important thing for people to keep up. Sadly, this way of thinking is distorted and destructive. If you look at the tiny writing on the side view mirror of your Toyota, it says “images in the mirror may be closer than they appear.” Image is regularly distorted and often found to be false.

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  • Silence Blocks the Light

    Silence Blocks the Light

    Ok friend, it is time to get very radical. As a man in recovery, most of my life was covered in shame, guilt, and isolation. I spent a majority of my adult life afraid of the secret getting out. The irony is striking because as in most cases, I was the last one to find out that everyone already knew how broken that I was. We think that we can hide it but the vast majority of those that are in our circle are quite aware of what is happening. The closer that the light of exposure came caused the lies, manipulation, and secrets to increase ten fold. I was foolish to believe that I could hide what was happening, but the fear of being found out overshadowed everything else. This leads me to something I find to be a great paradox and somewhat of a hindrance of the greater message of freedom from bondage and hope.

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  • Chains Broken Finally

    Chains Broken Finally

    Many of us are told from childhood that our secrets and embarrassing moments should be kept quiet and hidden from others. Anything that we have done that would bring shame to us or our family should be locked in a deep hole never to reach the light of day. However, I come as a walking testament to the fact that the very shame and guilt we carry can only die through the light of exposure. Many of the things that we believed we should hide were never even of our own doing. The deeper the hole we dig to cover them, the further we remove ourselves from inner peace and contentment.

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  • Repetition: The Mother of Learning

    Repetition: The Mother of Learning

    When it comes to learning any skill or lesson, there is much to be debated about which method would achieve the most desired approach. Edward Lee Thorndike, the noted American psychologist responsible for laying the framework for modern educational psychology had many theories and one I find to be particularly effective and valid. According to his S-R Bond Theory, drill or practice helps in increasing efficiency and durability of learning. Essentially, in laymen’s terms, practice makes perfect. Now I would not promote any human effort as being perfect, yet the act of consistent repetition does increase skill level dramatically over time. As a trained martial artist, I am reminded of a lesson my old Master taught years ago that still resounds with me today. One evening while practicing a certain series of movements, he became quite frustrated at the constant mistakes that the entire class kept repeating. He sat us down and told us about when he first began learning martial arts in China back in the fifties. As an American who spoke only English, the barrier to learning was as high as the Great Wall of China itself. He explained that since he could not effectively communicate orally with his teacher, the only way was to observe the movements and repeat what he was shown. Of course, this was a different culture and time in history which included being stuck with a bamboo stick when the example was not followed. I am not saying that I agree or disagree with this harsh style, but my teacher did make a very good point about the learning through observation and repetition. At first, he was clumsy and got “punished” frequently. However, over time his skill improved just by doing the same proper technique over and over. He got struck with a weapon less often and the movement began to become natural to him. Eventually, he didn’t even have to think at all about what he was doing, the movements became as natural to him as driving a car or tying his shoe. Given that he was learning combat skills, the ability to act in a moments notice without having to think was imperative to survival. Most new undertakings don’t have the same possible life or death consequences but the principle in the learning style rings true. When I was 17 and traded my first car to someone for his but forgot that his was a five speed manual transmission. He dropped it off and we signed the title, yet I forgot that I had no idea how to drive it. In my enthusiasm for a “new” car, this major detail escaped my rational thought process. Fortunately for me, my mother learned to drive on an old stick shift Mustang and could teach me how. If you have ever learned this useful but somewhat archaic skill, the beginning is the “grind em until you find em” stage. The miracle is the fact that the transmission didn’t fall out from the jerking and grinding of metal gears for many painful hours. My mom probably still has a slight headache all these years later. However, eventually from repetition and consistent practice, the ability has now become as unconscious to me as breathing. I still drive a stick shift to this day and it is effortless and comes without the headache for my fellow passengers.
      I believe that Dr. Thorndike was correct when he proposed, tested, and submitted this theory on educational psychology. Inversely, he also states that what is not repeated tends to dissipate. Returning to my martial arts training is a perfect example. I spent many years practicing the movements that my teacher taught me, but due ti injury and changing life responsibilities, practice reduced until it ended all together. I know that if I returned to the school, some ability would still be there, but just as an axe that isn’t sharpened, so is a martial artist without practice. If one doesn’t use it, he loses it. Perhaps not completely, but to a large degree with the passing of time. To improve, one must wash, rinse, and repeat regularly or risk deterioration

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  • Let Their Jealousy Light Your Fire

    Let Their Jealousy Light Your Fire

    Have you ever noticed that people attempt to keep you in the gutter where you once were? We are left with a choice when the attack of jealousy enters our camp. We can let it burn our God-given purpose to the ground. However, if we want to rise up from where we came from, we can use at as fuel to light a fire that no man can extinguish. When we begin to turn a corner and start doing something different the haters begin their battle cry for blood. Our old patterns were predictable to them and as long as we stayed in our cage, they didn’t have to look at the things they would like to change but are too afraid of. Jealousy is rooted in fear of coming to terms with self and manifests in hatred, assumption, and anger. Historical texts and events are strewn with many examples of how jealousy destroyed some and lifted others higher. Cain killed Abel because he was jealous of his brother’s standing with God as righteous. America’s Revolutionary War was laced in jealousy. The early colonists wanted freedom from British rule and the British wanted control and  “their stuff.” Even Satan himself was once the most regarded angel in Heaven but wanted to sit in his Creator’s seat and thus, was cast down to Hell. The story of the Prodigal Son paints a vivid picture of this. The disobedient son, selfish and self-centered, wanted his inheritance immediately. His father gave it to him and he was off to spend it on booze, women, and pleasure. Until, one day he found himself broke, dirty, and desperate living in an actual pig pen. This “rock bottom” circumstance led him to come to his senses and return home, regardless of how he might be turned away for his behavior. Every day since the son left, his father waited for the son to return until that  perfect day when he saw him walking toward home. The elderly father got up and ran to meet him. He held no record of his son’s disrespectful actions and ordered the best robe to be placed around him. He placed his ring on the son’s finger as a sign that he was still his son and he loved him above all the wrongs he had committed. He called for a feast to celebrate. This is where jealousy crept in. The other son who stayed home and obeyed his father got angry. How could you give him the best robe, ring, and have the prize calf slaughtered for the feast? I have always done right , he is the bad one. The Father loved each son equally, but the “good” one failed to see it due to his own pride and ego. How could you celebrate for this screwup? The father celebrated for his one son, once lost in darkness, for he was now being brought into the light. Victor Hugo wrote one of the greatest pieces of classic literature ever, Les Misersbles. The main character, Jean Valjean was a prisoner at the beginning  of the story. He was sentenced to 19 years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. The commander of the prison, Inspector Javert, always had it out for Valjean. After he was released, Javert made it his life mission to prove that Valjean could never change and attempted to sabotage him everywhere he went. Valejean went on to build a good life, become a mayor, and a respected pillar of the community. The inspector’s jealousy fueled his burning desire to prove he was right and Valjean would always be a thief. Until one day many years later, Valjean had the chance to kill Javert but showed him mercy and grace instead.  Immediately, upon learning he was pursuing the wrong thing all these years, he committed suicide. He couldn’t accept the fact that he was wrong and that a man can change, regardless what he has done in the past. Jealousy will destroy the person consumed by it. Human nature hasn’t change since the first man walked the Earth. Adam and Eve walked with God in Eden, and it was perfect. They were given free will and one rule…don’t eat from that one tree. However, we know how the story ended. At the root, they were envious that God was God and they weren’t. For a brief moment, the temptation to “bend” the rule came along with curiosity, and we have been trying to get back to the Garden ever since. Evil entered the picture along with its symptoms of pride, jealousy, and anger to name a few, and little has changed since. Regardless of what you have done in your past, you still have a future. If you woke up today, your life purpose isn’t fulfilled and you are still here for a reason. Even our closest friends and family will sometimes criticize us when they see us climbing out of the hole that we dug through our own poor choices and decisions. We slip off the ladder when we waste time engaging with these people. We can love them and wish them well, but in order to move forward sometimes we cannot allow certain folks to join on our journey. One negative influence can pull us off the balance beam that we are now walking. Just remember, how others react to your success or your failures has little to do with you and everything to do with them. For too long you have been listening to what others think about you. As long as you aren’t harming anyone, be you and do it unapologetically. They may try to bring up the past but you don’t live there anymore. Moses murdered, Noah got drunk, David had an affair, and God still used them to do great things. In fact, He does his best work with broken things. Allowing yourself to be humbled by your circumstances allows God to do a great work within you, if you let him. If they are jealous and talking about you consider it a compliment for they are more interested in your blessings than the ones in their own lives. Are you going to allow the heat of jealousy to destroy you or mold you? The hotter the fire, the brighter the beacon. Shine bright!

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  • Respecting Your Ex: An Example for Your Kids

    Respecting Your Ex: An Example for Your Kids

    Chapter Twenty Two of the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament states  to “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” This sentence is loaded with wisdom beyond the surface level. Children do not learn from what we say, they learn from how we behave. Kids these days are far more advanced at younger ages than generations prior, thus making this approach all the more important. Even when we think they are too young or won’t notice, they are keenly aware of what we do and are always watching.

    Respect is Necessary

    I have been divorced for over 4 years and  have little control over how my ex-wife behaves in front of our two children. Due to our custody arrangement, my time with the kids is quite limited to a few hours once a week and every other weekend. WIth such an arrangement in place, my interaction with them must reflect how I wish for them to act as they mature into adulthood. Anyone who has been divorced is more than likely aware of the challenges of co parenting with an ex who may still carry resentment, anger, and hurt from the marriage. When two people in a relationship break up and have no kids, they can have a clean break and move forward without looking back. However, when there are children involved, this is impossible. If both parents choose to raise the children as a team when they may not particularly like each other, the behavior shown to their children must be exhibited with respect. As difficult as it may be to keep emotion or bitterness towards your ex spouse at bay, this is paramount to children learning how to cultivate successful relations with others. This past Mother’s Day Weekend was also  my time to have my children for the day. I told them that we had a fun day planned and one of the special trips we were going to make was to the store to pick out gifts for their mother. My desire to show my children that I respect their mother above all else trumped my own selfish desire to not spend my time or money on her. I brought them to a store and gave the guidelines to pick whatever they wanted to get her. They chose a few cute gifts and a giant greeting card that was taller than my 5-year-old. We spent an hour and a half in the store and had a great experience creating memories together. Ask me if I would’ve done this a few years ago on the day she filed for divorce and I would’ve laughed. However, with my own healing, learning how to be a single dad only intensifies my desire to show my children a healthy example. No matter what issues arise between my ex-wife and I, my policy is to never let a negative word be said in front of them regarding their mother. Sometimes, I admit, this policy is nearly impossible to adhere to. On many occasions I’ve had to practice grounding techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to remind myself of who I want my children to see in their father. People will do what you do not what you tell them to do. This lesson can begin with our children and is easily understood in adulthood. No matter who hurt who or which person is perceived at fault in the breaking down of a marriage, the children remain the ultimate gift from above and must be treated as such. No matter which way you lean spiritually speaking, the following verse in Luke 12:48 is necessary when speaking of how to raise up our children. “To whom much is given, much is required.” Respect for everyone, especially to the person our kids call mom or dad is part of such a great responsibility. Next time you want to speak harsh words regarding an ex, remember those little people are always watching. Please check out my friend’s great article that relates so well –

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  • Running Back to Bondage

    Running Back to Bondage

    The Old Testament story of the Exodus is a very poignant portrayal of humanity. Thousands of years later, not much has changed. The Israelites were held in back breaking captivity and bondage to Pharaoh.After God used Moses as a great leader to “let his people go”, the Red Sea was parted and off to the Promised Land. In their eyes, the bad times were over and nothing but riches and joy from now on.

    The Past

    If we read further, we will find that the journey to the land God promised them, was supposed to be an 11 day journey. Sadly, this trip took 40 years and most of them never made it. The instructions were clear and the road was there. Soon after the danger of the pursuing armies of Egypt was eradicated, they forgot where they came from. They forgot the pain and torture. They had the thought that the troubles were over. God provided a way out, but now we face new challenges. We have to eat manna, and there is no steak and eggs. The desert is hot, and there is no shelter. Then the blame game began. They pointed the finger at Moses, if not for him, we’d could have a house, bed, and assorted foods. I mean, so we have to perform hot, difficult labor. But…But… at least we wouldn’t be facing these new Goliath’s.What does that say about people, then and now?


    Think of a time in your life when you were in bondage, broken and full of despair. Perhaps, it was a relationship full of resentment, abuse, or mistrust.Maybe it’s a job that is making you miserable and hopeless. What about a drug addiction that took everything from you. You sat on the street in the cold with nowhere to go and yet, couldn’t stop chasing the next high. We have all been in that situation where we wanted out, and a way opened up. The rehab got us a bed, but now they insist you follow the rules and clean your room. We begged to get in, and someone made it happen in our cries. But…but..I want it to be my way. You finally escaped the abusive boyfriend, but now have to go back your mother’s basement at 37 years old. You are a grown woman, how can she demand certain house rules be followed? Late at night you text the one who hurt you and tell him, “ as long as you change, I will come back. “ We know how that one will end. A vicious cycle of escaping the quicksand and running like a moth to a flame back to it.


    God didn’t rescue us from our “Egypt’s” so we can run back when we have new, unfamiliar terrain to traverse.Perhaps, if the Israelites that he rescued from captivity would’ve entered the Promised Land had they put the same faith and trust in Him when it came to this new, strange road in the journey. Perhaps, if we are brought out of our slavery after begging God to save us, the answer is to trust. Trust the process in the next chapter of the story. The promise isn’t that it will be easy, but if we are saved it’s for a reason that isn’t in vain. Easy would’ve been staying where we were, even though it was suicide on the installment plan. Change is painful, but not as painful as staying where we aren’t supposed to be.
    Original Source-

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  • Paradox- Isolated Connection

    Paradox- Isolated Connection

    I was recently watching a speech given in the film “The Great Dictator” from 1940 starring Charlie Chaplin, and the statements he made carry even more meaning almost 80 years later. He spoke of “machinery that gives abundance has left us in want.” Hearing that on my IPhone 6+ super duper handheld connection device made my stomach churn like the Bering Sea during a storm. We have more ways to connect today than at any point in history, yet many people are more isolated than before things  due to things like social media. With one swipe of a finger, I can have  a video chat with someone in the Philippines, but somehow the connection that is sought gets lost on the digital highway. I know so many people who will not answer a phone call yet have no problem texting late into the night. Somewhere along the way the deeply desired human need for connection has been confused by Tweets, Snapchats, and Tinder matches.
    I cannot help but see how this is tearing the very soul away from who we really are. The temptation to post a selfie with the best makeup and newest pair of  Jordans in hopes of gathering likes has become the yardstick which the masses use to measure self worth. The hurtful things that people say across the ocean of technology about another person’s post can still create destroy a person even if not done face to face. People tend to be more bold about their opinions when hiding behind a screen with miles of distance between them. The old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a lie that has been handed down for decades. The bruises on the outside heal eventually, but the internal ones caused by words can last a lifetime. I believe that most people are well intentioned at their core and would never say the things they say to another person’s face, but technology has given them a false sense of security and a place to be brutal without seeing the effects of  their negative words.
    How many times have you gotten a text or email and felt hurt or upset only to find out that the intention of said message was the exact opposite? In my own life, I have not only burned bridges, I blew them up. Jobs and relationships have disappeared with a quick tap of the send button. Just turn on the news in any town and see the discord that can be sown by a single message that has gone viral only to be misunderstood and taken out of context. It has been stated that only 7% of any message is conveyed through words, and this is if the communication is direct and in person. The number dramatically decreases when it is through words on a screen or an “app.” Is it any wonder that the breakdown of moral compass, ethical behavior, and plain old decency has increased since the first modem dialed up to the world wide web?
    This message is not to say that technology in and of itself is evil at all. Through the dramatic advances made by this, we have seen many amazing things. Things like cures for certain diseases, the ability for people to “connect” , and efficiency in delivery of goods and services. My concern is the loss of people truly caring and looking out for one another. I don’t want to see another person commit suicide, homicide, or any other heinous act in real time via any given smart phone application. Use these things for their innate value, but don’t let them define who you are as a uniquely created person with immense worth and potential.

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  • Mary Poppins and Her Wisdom

    Mary Poppins and Her Wisdom

    I know that certain movies and shows can bring a flood of childhood memories into our minds when they show up on television. For me, Mary Poppins, the Disney musical from 1964 does just that. It reminds me of a simpler and in many ways, safer time of my life. I can easily recall sitting on the orange shag carpet of my dad’s house watching this cinema classic. However, just the other day I heard a song from the film and I realized that it was a lot deeper than just being a catchy tune. I am talking about “A Spoonful of Sugar,”the film’s most known and enjoyed song. Mary begins to sing this as she tells the children that she is hired to look after to clean up their room. She knows that chores are anything but fun, so she explains that anything can be made into a game and approached with sweetness instead of gall.
    The lyrics are so simple, yet meaningful and quite a metaphor for life. “A spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down,” is such a great way to approach the hard things in life. Why do you think that pharmacies even make special mixtures like cherry and bubblegum flavor to mix with actual medicine that children need to take? They obviously took a lesson from Mary Poppins. I propose that when confronting our issues in life, the spoonful of sugar can be utilized as a kind word, encouragement, and an attitude of non judgement of another person’s struggles. Too many times it is easy to point the finger and blame another person for things in harsh ways. While this may work and sometimes a stern approach can be effective, mostly it makes a person shut down and become non receptive to the message. I think of those old time fire and brimstone churches, pointing and blaming a person for their shortcomings. Speaking from my experience, this doesn’t work. If anything, the opposite of the desired response usually happens. Take a family member who struggles with drug addiction or gambling. Yelling, chastising, and threatening is a good way to keep a person stuck in that behavior. Brandishing the stick of punishment and condemnation only perpetuates the shame and guilt one feels and doesn’t inspire change. While sometimes the effects of another person’s behavior can anger another party and cause great dismay, approaching the offender in love is surely going to help rather than harm.
    Why is the saying ” catch more flies with honey than vinegar” still valid today? It is for the same reason that Mary Poppins sung about. I know that when I was in the middle of active drug addiction, shame and guilt choked my spirit daily. I hated what I was doing to myself and those I loved, yet didn’t know that loving and forgiving myself was the key to unlock freedom and peace. When family members would brandish an angry tirade or would belittle me as a loser, my motivation to change would dissipate. The human mind hears that one is a failure and it gravitates towards more failure. Now, please understand that one must face consequences for their actions, but why pour lemon juice into an already deep wound?
    Why is everything in jail punitive? They talk about rehabilitation, but in an environment where everything is punishable, how can one feel empowered to change?  Chances are the offender has already been their own self contsructed jail for years. A man is thrown into solitary confinement for weeks after having poor interaction with an inmate, gets releases, and does it again. Perhaps, learning who he is at the core, addressing the issues he has, and practicing positive communication would be the sugar he needs. A person enters rehab for help, gets punished for poor, maladaptive behavior the whole time they are there, is shunned by family members, then reenters society and does the same thing that got him into a facility in the first place. There is no difference.
    If we could only begin to approach each other in compassion, understanding, and love instead of handcuffs and isolation, true change could spread like wildfire. While painful truths need to be examined and addressed, approaching it with a spoonful of metaphorical sugar could be the catalyst to help the masses. We all know how to hurl darts and arrows at each other, perhaps a lesson from Julie Andrews’ iconic character is due for all of us.

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  • The Butterfly Effect

    The Butterfly Effect

    The Butterfly Effect states that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings on one side of the Earth can create a tidal wave on the other. Today, I got to see the most marvelous, living example of this and cannot get a moments rest until I share it with you. When loving people are able to take monumental, personal tragedy and rise up, a tsunami begins. My experience on the journey of personal recovery and transformation has placed people in my life that I would not have had the privilege and honor of meeting had we not gone through similar tremendous loss and heartbreak. I will start with Adam. I never personally knew him, but sadly he left this world far too soon when he lost the battle with addiction. However, when he departed, his family was left with a choice. They could take the weight of grief and let it destroy them, or they could take the pieces of their broken hearts and build an empire. His mother, Gail, with the help of her son Patrick, began to go about the heavy task of offering a ladder of hope out of the hole that others had found themselves in. She is the only woman I know who will answer her phone and bring complete strangers to a shelter, detox, rehab, or wherever she can at any time of day or night. Since Adam passed a few years ago, she and her family have helped countless souls find a solid foundation with which to build a life of remarkable joy and freedom free from the grips of addiction.   I was one of the recipients of her assistance when I had nowhere to turn. As tragic as it was to lose her son, his loss became a chance for myself and hundreds of others. Had she crawled into a hole of despair, there is a good chance I would not be here today to share her story, be a father to my own children, and be here to serve others in the same way she helped me.  It takes one butterfly to start a slight breeze and in turn cause a hurricane that can’t be stopped.   Now, I will tell you about another man I never knew but wish I had the chance to meet. His name was King. He also succumbed to his demons not too long ago, and like Adam left a loving family with a giant hole. His two sisters, Sue and Anne, began a crusade, King’s Crusade, almost immediately after his death. After meeting them today, I know that as devastating as it was to lose him, their purpose was designed by God through their brother. Sue and Anne have a peace about them that I couldn’t possibly describe to you. They are warm, loving , and open about their struggle. I explained to Sue that although it hurts tremendously, their cross to bear is this movement because they are the only ones who could do it without effort. To paraphrase from Roald Dahl’s “Willy Wonky and the Chocolate Factory,” “You don’t ask a fish how it swims or a bird how it flies.” They do it because they were born to do it. Since King passed, they too started flapping their wings and today was the beginning of a Butterfly Effect that is going create a storm. Though I never knew him, the sisters’ example made me feels as if I had. They began planting seeds in our community by planning an expo to address the addiction epidemic everywhere. Today it happened and that was just the start. We may never actually know how many were helped by today’s event, but I know how many wouldn’t have been had it not ever occurred. Zero. I don’t try to understand why God does what He does. Nor do I know why some people die from the same affliction that others survive from. However, recent events have given me the insight to know that none of this happens by mistake. I know that King, Adam, and all of the other lost loved ones would’ve wanted it this way. I met many folks who have buried their children in recent months today, and they are the true heroes. I thanked another man named Steve today for getting up, suiting up, and showing up. He buried his son Max recently, and he too has decided to build a bridge instead of burning one down. I am eternally grateful to have experienced the Butterfly Effect today, and cannot wait to see what comes next. If the message of hope shared today helps one person break free from the bondage of addiction, then the senseless wreckage that addiction leaves in its wake will not be in vain.

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  • We Trip Over Pebbles, Not Mountains

    We Trip Over Pebbles, Not Mountains

    When a person joins a gym for the first time, they see the treadmills and weights as their new best friends. Next come endless hours of  sweating and grunting while lifting more and more each week. They look at their progress two or three months down the line and don’t see the chiseled arms or six pack abs that they dreamed of during all of those painful sessions. Why is this? The pebble that they are tripping over is the high sugar and greasy fast food diet that they have had for 15 years. They see the big mountain of exercise and training, but miss the seemingly small detail that stands in the way of progress regardless of how many hours they spend on the elliptical.
    When someone enters a life of recovery from a destructive behavior like substance abuse, many times they see the abstinence as the goal. While abstaining from ingesting harmful substances is a cornerstone, it is but  a beginning of the climb to the top. It has been said that if you take the alcohol away from alcoholism you are stuck now with the ISM- I, Self , Me. The substance use or other behavior one uses to avoid the “ism” is merely of a deeper malady. The hurts, shame, guilt, and a thousand other forms of self loathing have to be dealt with if one is to get better. If the things that caused one to numb their feelings originally aren’t addressed , the destructive behavior will repeat itself. The internal self must manifest change and it cannot be done by changing the outside. These old ways of behaving will always trip us up until they are examined and reframed.
    Many times when a person decides to change their life, they go on  a shopping spree ,get plastic surgery, or move to a new city. However, these things are window dressing on a decaying house. There once was a man who went walking in the woods by a beautiful creek ,but noticed that the shoreline was littered with garbage. He decided to spend the afternoon removing the debris in  an attempt to beautify the area. After this task, he felt proud of himself and went home. He came back the next day to admire his work only to become deflated at another accumulation of trash. The man took a deep breath and cleaned it up again. This cycle continued for about a few weeks until in great frustration he decided to follow the creek to its origin. When he arrived there he found that there was a landfill at the mouth of the creek and that is why it kept accumulating garbage. The moral of the story is that if you don’t go deeper to find the source, the trash will continue to accumulate and you will constantly trip over it no matter what you use to cover it up.
    Next time you take a hike and have a clear destination in mind, keep mind of the rocks and and branches that could twist your ankle or break a leg. The big obstructions are clear, the things we pay little attention to are the ones that will take us out every single time. In order to take on the largest task of all, life, awareness of the tiny details can be the key to unlocking massive growth and change.

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  • I Cried at Soccer Camp, What About You?

    I Cried at Soccer Camp, What About You?

    What is you passion? Mom signed me up for summer soccer camp and had to pick me up at noon on the first day because I wouldn’t stop crying. It is really no secret to any of my family or friends that I was never the “traditional guy.”  As a child, I was awkward, puny, and uncoordinated. When the kids in the neighborhood would play football or hockey, I stayed as far away as I could. I just never had a desire to participate in such things. Heck, I remember when collecting baseball cars was a popular thing. Since all of the other boys had huge collections, I made it my mission to get an even bigger stash. Even though my parents knew I wasn’t into baseball, they obliged. My desire to fit in overshadowed my desire to be who I really was. I was more interested in theater or watching “I Love Lucy” then sweating outside in competitive sports. My passion was different that the other kids.However, knowing I was different kept me shackled to my fear of being found out. I wanted to hide my differences and blend into the crowd. I kept up the charade by joining the local football team at a mind-blowing 70 pounds. Of course, this was the 90 pound team and I was the tiny kid in the back of the line when we ran laps. I cried a lot there too. My dad loved sports and so did my twin brother so joining the team gave me a sense that my family would be proud. Somehow, I managed to suffer through the sweat and tears and made it on the championship team. Of course, my parents paid for my membership so they had to include me. It was the fourth quarter with only a minute or two left and the game was tied. We were playing against the local team that had never been beaten. They were twice our size and practically pros for middle schoolers. Coach Bob held a time out huddle and told us to grab any fumble that rolls out and win this game! And guess what happened? When the next play began, a fumble came out from their side and landed at my feet. I grabbed it. And since I didn’t really understand football and had not idea which way to go, I stood there midfield with the ball up in the air like the Statue of Liberty holding her torch. My fear of letting the team down paralyzed me in place. Thank God the referee stopped the game before I was pummeled. Anyways, we won the championship and I still have the jacket to prove it. That was my last day on any organized sports team. Why am I telling you this? I want to convey the idea of accepting who you are. As I said, I was never a guy’s guy. I never liked sports, tools, or cars. My ex- wife was more into that stuff than I ever was. I used to believe that there was something wrong with me because I would rather attend a musical than a football game. There are hundreds of examples in my life and I am sure in yours as well that we compromised who we were to be accepted. I would join groups of people just to be a part of, even if there “thing” wasn’t mine. It makes me think of young kids who grow up in gang saturated areas. Many of them join and do things that do not line up with who they so they will be approved of. It was only until I came to a major crossroads in my life that I finally began to embrace who I was all along. I don’t have to shave my face in your mirror, only mine. If you want to be happy, look within and be who you are. Follow you passion, that thing that ignites a brush fire within. I am reminded of the film Lethal Weapon 3. To summarize, Danny Glover’s character is a police detective who gets involved in a shootout with a local gang. He shoots and kills one of his son’s best friends. On the morning of the funeral, his son is shaving in the bathroom. He enters the room and while observing his technique offers some advice. He noticed that his son, Nick, is shaving with the grain. The advice is to reverse the razor and go against the grain to get a batter shave.  I watched this film when I was 12 years old and still remember how that message hit me. The deeper lesson was not to be a sheep and do what everyone else is doing. Go against the grain, and while you may stand alone, you will at least stand for something. Embrace the wonderful, amazing person that God created you to be. Start right now. Look deep within and finds that “thing.” You know the thing I am talking about. That thing that you always had a passion for and dreamed of doing or being. That is the thing that was placed in you from the time of conception. Align yourself and begin following that path. Is it a career? A hobby? What is it?

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  • Entitlement- Madonna and the CEO

    Entitlement- Madonna and the CEO

    A reserved parking spot is a perfect symbol for entitlement and self-importance. From the CEO to Madonna, no one is better than another. A few nights ago I had to take a loved one to the emergency room and something that I noticed in the parking lot got the gears in my mind turning. Anyone who has ever worked in the medical field , especially in a hospital is familiar with “medical Monday.” This very special day of the week is characterized by a major influx in visits to the hospital, particularly the emergency department. My girlfriend had a health issue arise that had to be taken care of on Monday and my parking lot experience opened my eyes to something I had to share with you. I dropped her off at the lobby door and went to find a place to park my car. It came as no surprise that the lot was full and I had to walk a good distance back to the building. As I scanned for an empty spot, I noticed that there was a line of four or five  empty spots near the ER entrance that were specifically reserved for “special” people. The closest one to the door was reserved for the CEO, despicable. I couldn’t believe what I was actually seeing. In a place where many people show up to sick or incapacitated to walk the head of the hospital gets to park right near the door. The waiting room was packed with people, yet no one parked in the reserved spot. The time was 8:00 PM and there was little doubt that the CEO was far from the property. This blatant example of executive entitlement irritated me. Not like a mosquito jumping on me during a camping trip in late July. This level of irritation actually made my heart rate increase and my blood begin to boil. I couldn’t believe that the person who is charged with being the example to their organization is given such privilege. Now, I am not sure if this was his/her decision to have this space. Regardless, it paints a very ugly picture to a consumer and I would also believe to an employee of the organization. It got me thinking that If I was the head of such a place, I would actually ensure that no one but the patients got the closest spots. Furthermore, I believe the best leaders are those that seek to serve rather than to be served. My desire to exude that belief would motivate me to ensure that I did not have a marked parking spot. In fact, I would also make sure that I parked farther away as to allow employees and visitors easier access to the facility. I would want my team to know that I do not view myself above anyone, but on an equal level. You may be wondering why I am making such a big deal out of this. A reserved parking spot may be a minor thing, but it points to a larger issue of perception. This creates the impression that the person in charge is superior to the rank and file. No one is superior to anyone. The people “below” that person are the reason the organization thrives or fails. The person at the top is merely a voice or face of the institution. Without the different and unique parts of the engine, it would not run. This attitude of  entitlement can be seen in our government, pro sports, and how “celebrities” are viewed as well.   I had the opportunity to work for Madonna when she came to town for a concert once. Another person and I were assigned as paramedics to her and her dancers in case anything happened while they were performing. We had to arrive 6 hours before she did and were given a  list of rules to follow. We were not allowed to talk to her or even make eye contact. When she did arrive to do her sound check, I was standing by the stage. She had sweat pants on and  no make up. While rehearsing, I was texting on my phone when a security guard came to me and warned me to put it away or I would be told to leave. The concern was that I was taking pictures of her, which I wasn’t. Now, if she or her crew got sick or injured, my expertise would be needed. Otherwise, it was clear to me that I was nobody of significance. Needless to say, I have never wasted a moment of my time listening to her music since. As a society, we need to recognize that each person is important, worthy, and needed. God put us all together on this planet and I doubt that he had any plans for en entitled hierarchy. While some may have high position and  status, everyone puts on pants, eats, and eliminates waste the same. What are your thoughts, my friend?

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  • The Key to Unlocking Any Change

    The Key to Unlocking Any Change

    About 10 years ago, I discovered the key to unlocking any change in your life. I had the honor of meeting the author of one of the most influential books I have ever read about 10 years ago. He created the cornerstone material for what I think to be they key to any kind of change. The book is available on many platforms and it’s titled “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson. His philosophy is simply that success happens through the small, seemingly unimportant tasks done consistently over time. A perfect example for me is one that he used to illustrate this idea. He says a lot of people want to write a book, but most never get started. Clearly, in order to have a remote chance of achieving a goal, you just begin somewhere. It only took ten years to begin applying his advice about actually writing a book. Jeff advised to break it down into small chunks, something simple that could be built upon. The Slight Edge told me to write a page and a half every day without exception and in a year there will be a book. The idea of writing an entire book is daunting but if taken into its smallest component it becalmed doable. This philosophy can be transferred to anything. A lot of people want to lose an ideal number of pounds, but need to start by learning how to lose one at a time. I am happy to announce that I have been doing my page and a half commitment and am getting to the end quicker than if I never would’ve at least started somewhere. The momentum has begun to accumulate and not only am I getting it done, but also a becoming a better writer though the repetition. Any skill or activity  practiced consistently becomes better. The key is to do it regularly. Larry Bird, legend basketball player, said that most people see his championship game. Yet, most don”t know about him practicing free throws every day for many hours. It is in the daily activity, no matter how small, where growth happens. My challenge to you is to think of your goal. What is your page and a half? Place it in the comments below, hold yourself accountable in a public way, and let’s work together as a community to figure out what activities you can begin today to get there. Let’s do it together!!

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  • Three Lessons I Learned From Getting Fired

    Three Lessons I Learned From Getting Fired

    Getting fired can be liberating. While the loss of security and fear can be crippling, it can also be the foundation to a new life of purpose and direction. I make no bones about the vast array of jobs I have acquired and lost due to mistakes, foolish decisions, and overall bad choices. With hindsight being 20/20, I can now say that each time I was fired, there was always a lesson to be learned. I would like to share some insight I gained from these sometimes devastating experiences. 1- Responsibility for my actions. We live in a society where a lot of blame and finger pointing occurs when a person is “caught” or “found out.” I can recall being fired from a very good job wit a county government and I quickly began to play the blame game. When they brought me in for that final talk, I attempted to shine the spotlight on the fact that my supervisor was incompetent, a bully, and no one respected him. The chief quickly reminded me that I was the one being fired and these were the reasons. I had refused to conform to the organization’s policies and procedures. I believed that my way was better and despite many coaching sessions by management, never adapted. I fabricated the truth in a few scenarios instead of being honest about mistakes I had made. They had made the decision to fire me for not being honest, thus showing a lack of integrity. While I was devastated for a with the new loss of income, I had to finally recognize that it was me who created this outcome by my choices and no one else. At the end of the day, we go to bed with ourselves at night and while external circumstances may happen, we are ultimately responsible for how we act and react. 2-My worth and my work are different Just because I had made mistakes and poor decisions, I am not my failures. I may have failed, but that doesn’t equate to who I am. I had to learn that my worth as a person isn’t equal to my circumstances. Otherwise, I allow myself to identify myself as those failures and the language I tell myself is more important than anything anyone could ever tell me. My internal dialogue runs 24/7 and allowing it to be negative, full of pity, and shame can and had almost destroyed me on a few occasions. I learned that by getting fired for poor performance or lack of humility manifesting itself by inflated ego has only taught me to remember that I am worth more than my choices. 3-I have a new beginning Just because a door closes, doesn’t mean that the end is here. As long as I am alive and breathing, I have a chance to start again. I now look at it as I am not a failure, I just learn and implement lessons learned. If Edison quit each time the light bulb he was attempting to create didn’t work, we might not have electricity. If I hadn’t ultimately lost my paramedic license as a direct consequence of substance abuse, I might never have been able to share my experience with others. I might not be able to impact people with my story as a means of giving others the courage to address their struggles. Being fired gave me a chance to live a life of purpose that may have never happened otherwise. If I can look up while being down, I can certainly get up and climb the ladder again. Falling off the bike leads to the choice of staying down or getting up and moving forward.

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  • Wanna Lose Weight Quickly?

    Wanna Lose Weight Quickly?

    So, you wanna lose weight huh? Are you tired of looking in the mirror and seeing a double or triple chin.  Feel like you need a shoe horn and Vaseline to get your pants on? What about the fact that your closet is filled with more varied sizes of clothes than a local Goodwill chapter? If any of these things jabbed you in the gut, listen up! Ill give you a moment to catch your breath. I have located the secret to this ever expanding problem, if you’ll pardon the pun. Are you ready to find out how to quickly lose weight? Strap yourself in, turn off the tv, and put down the chocolate bar. Here it is: DO SOMETHING NEW!!! That’s it! The magic formula to having a beach body is summed up in those three words. This isn’t a trick and there is no smoke and mirrors. Now, I suppose you want me to explain. Since I want nothing more for you than success, I will. The secret to losing weight, or anything in life, is to do something new because whatever you were doing up until this point isn’t working. The decisions you have been making that led to your dissatisfaction with your weight, in this case, have all led up to this. They have brought you to the valley of decision. However, this is where most people stop.                                   Thought or Action? Three frogs sitting on a log and two decide to jump off. How many are left sitting on the log? One, right? Wrong!!! There are three still sitting there. Making a decision without action is just a thought. Notice, I didn’t say you could quickly lose weight by thinking something new. While that is a good place to start, it has to be followed by action. A thought is a noun, while action is a verb. It never goes anywhere without the do part. I also said this was a quick way to lose weight, and I didn’t lie. We can argue the semantics about the definition of “quick”, or you can just do something new. Arguing about what you think is quick will keep you hanging with the frogs on the decision log. I say quick because time will continue to march on and the “quicker” you start acting on the decision, well, you can see where I am going. The quicker you will lose weight!!! Whatever you have been doing that has not contributed to this goal needs to be adjusted somehow, today!! I didn’t say throw away all of the junk food, hire a trainer, buy a treadmill, and only eat salad. Sure, you can do those things eventually. For now, just start somewhere. If you eat a cheeseburger, fries, and milkshake every day at lunch, don’t order the fries today. That is something new. Use that as a foundation and build on it from there. Subscribe here and follow me on social media for upcoming tips and advice on changing your life into the one you know you want and deserve!!

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  • Get Rid Of Addiction Once and For All

    Get Rid Of Addiction Once and For All

    How can you get rid of addiction once and for all? There are many schools of thought on this and I happen to believe there are many ways. However, one thing that must be addressed is the underlying causes and conditions. What started the runaway train? Many times a destructive habit is brought during adolescence as “recreation.” This may be true, but whether they are aware of it or not, the desire to alter a feeling or circumstance is underlying. In our society today when someone does something “wrong” , the sharks of criticism and judgement begin circling. Recently, the artist formerly known as Prince passed of a now confirmed drug overdose. To the spectator hearing the news, this seems preposterous. He had fame, wealth, and all the worldly things that most dream of. What kind of pain was he in? Why would he choose to go down that dark road to oblivion? Why does the well respected heart surgeon lose his medical license for unnecessarily performing procedures to line his pockets? When the 21 year old young man from an affluent home is now living on Skid Row after thirteen drug rehabs, we need to start asking a better question then why the addiction.The more relevant inquiry should be why the pain? From the church basements all over the world which host 12 step meeting like AA, the world at large can begin to get a clue as to what the real problem is. “ I have an alcohol or cocaine problem” can be heard time and time again. Instead of asking why does he or she does that destructive thing, addressing the root cause is paramount to solution.   I would challenge this and suggest that “ you have an alcohol or cocaine solution”. As they say, pick your poison. Whatever the maldaptive or scorned behavior one chooses, the root of it all has to do with the pain one carries. The shopping to excess or eating tubs of Ben and of Jerry’s ice cream is just a short lasting analgesic band-aid to cover the hurt. A family is baffled at that awful Uncle James who isn’t invited to Thanksgiving Dinner anymore because of the whirlwind of destruction he has left in his wake. Rehab, jail divorce, and dereliction and yet he still robs people to get one more bag of dope. He is just weak, they whisper on the phone or in a passive aggressive Facebook post. Is he weak? Or is he trying to numb a deep pain that he isn’t even consciously aware that he has? The first time a boy kissed Jessica in High school finally the connection and affection that she never received from her absent parents draped over her like a warm hug. As long as she didn’t say no when the boy wanted to go further. The first hit of heroin and suddenly the warmth of a blanket, cuddled with chicken soup on the couch, this is love, right? To the body and mind, yes it is. Why would someone want to give up that feeling if they never received it from anyone or anything else? Once the combination for the particular person is dialed into the lock, a strong association begins, and breaking it can and has proved fatal for scores of people. Since we are all humans, we all carry hurts. Take a hard look at yourself and ponder what do I use as my medicine? More importantly, chase the rabbit down the hole further and ask why the pain? Original Source-

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  • Identity is the Key to Staying Sober

    Identity is the Key to Staying Sober

    I promised you the secret to staying sober and I  realize I left you hanging. I hope you took the time to consider my suggestion. I asked you to pause and look within and define sober for yourself. Is it abstaining completely from something that has constantly kept you from achieving you true potential? Is it practicing a chosen behavior less or switching to another?   Isn’t that up to you to decide? Truly, does any given behavior have the ability to give you peace within yourself and create harmony with other people? Do we help others or at least not hurt them when they cross our paths? Do we treat our bodies properly? For as far as I know, we aren’t getting another. The word sober, I believe, has gotten used way out of context especially in the rooms of AA, in treatment centers, or with our families.   Many people used substances to mask some sort of pain, whether it be mental, physical, spiritual, or psychological. Whether to escape or avoid pain, many people have found themselves isolated by any behavior that becomes obsessive or compulsive due to its varied beginning characteristics. The next thing we know is we are alone with that thing that destroys us whether it be sex, drugs, or rock and roll. I believe the alone part is the key element to sobriety. Sobriety of mind, not wanting escape from our lonely existence, comes from building a life that we have always wanted.   rat-152162__340-300x300.png   Examining the experiment that Canadian scientist Bruce K. Alexander and his colleagues did in 1981 to study addiction makes clear representation of what I mean by building a life worth living essentially. The rat in the experiment died in the cage alone with what he found himself alone with, the drugged water.   Many of us do the same thing. We end up alone without connection, purpose, or meaning. Why not distract with whatever we have left? Getting sober for us is to add things into our lives besides the things that are killing us. We finally start looking at our core and finding who we are and what we wanted to be ever since we can remember. We start looking into our identity.   We learn to stop gripping so tight to things that can be taken away. What if we put everything into “one basket,” and that basket gets taken or lost? What happens when we grip tight to a job or relationship and lose it? We remove the mask finally and see who we are underneath it all. Whatever we identified ourselves with that was external and is now gone for whatever reason.   What if that was all we had and we identified as Joe, the lawyer or Bill the unemployed boyfriend who lives with his parents? Suddenly Bill’s parents die or Joe gets his second DUI and loses his license to practice law. That thing that either one had placed every ounce of attention and passion in and than he lost. Does he give up at life and then seek to run from his problems? Or is it his chance to build a new?   No matter where you find yourself today, getting sober of mind, body, and spirit is to treat yourself right and find out who you are. Build a life that you wanted long before the desire to distract yourself started, no matter what the reason. If you begin to actually start using the sober mind to drive sober decisions that are congruent with who you really are, you will start to have peace. I can guarantee it.   If you woke up today, you can go do something different. The secret to staying sober is finding out who you are, what got you here, and what you can offer the world with your unique story.Most importantly, what would you do with your life if you could do it for free and not have any stress of having to pay bills, “barely make it,” or  having to hustle to get by? What is that deep down dream? What is thar one thing you would do if you could?   Would you teach kids to fish because the best feeling you ever had was when grandpa taught you and your ideal utopia is to feel that feeling forever? Is it to climb the Himalayas? Perhaps, you should try climbing on a treadmill as a means of heading in that direction.   Pick your thing and go towards it now that you are sober minded, clear, and aware of what you really want. Do something now and go towards “your thing.” If you start there and get moving, you will be on the road to staying sober…no longer alone with oblivion suddenly by overdose or on the suicide installment plan via fast food and ice cream.  

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  • Critic: A Lion Without Teeth

    Critic: A Lion Without Teeth

    Since man first walked the Earth, there has always been a critic. I liken the idea of a critic to a loud mouthed, roaring lion that doesn’t have teeth and certainly cannot bite. These are the folks who take great pleasure at pointing out what you’re doing and picking it apart. Far be in from them to mind their own side of the street.

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    Interested in Hiring Stephen to Speak at Your Event?

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    Stephen is a man who has been given the gift of many experiences in life. For most of his adult life, I was a 911 Paramedic. He also had the honor of serving as a rescue worker at the World Trade Center on 9- 11-01 in NYC. He has seen tragedy and suffering first hand for many years. Little was he aware that he was the one who needed the saving. Through seeking peace within by using all things external, he wound up desperate, broken and destroyed in every way. He is now grateful to be a man in long term recovery from substance abuse and the effects of childhood and adult trauma. His goal is simple, to use his experience to connect, offer hope, give you a voice. He has expertise in Emergency Medical Care, First Responder PTSD and Substance Abuse issues, Recovery Coaching, Intervention, Leadership, and Spiritual Studies. He is also a charter member of the Southern Delaware Toastmasters International Club. He is available for coaching, mentorship, speaking engagements, guest interviews, content production, and consultation services. He is also a speaker with , which provides speakers and consultants for schools, public, and community organizations. Stephen is proud to be the host and creator of the Rescue the Rescuer show, the only show in the world geared towards first responders who battle mental health issues, PTSD, Substance Abuse Disorder, and more. His show is hosted on the Mental Health News Radio Network He welcomes you to book him for a free consultation, so we can devise a plan to meet your unique needs.

    Stephen is an expert speaker and presenter  on the topics of:

    • Substance Abuse/Recovery
    • Drug Lectures For Communities, Churches, and Schools
    • Self Care
    • First Responder Peer Support
    • Trauma
    • Bullying
    • Self Esteem and Self Worth
    • Chasing Dreams and Passion
    • Finding Purpose
    • Whole Life Transformation

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    Stephen has a true servant’s heart! His drive to help others so selflessly represents his passion and calling. His gift is his ability to connect with others on such a real level. 
    Tania Glenn, PsyD, LCSW, CCTP
    Principal, Dr. Tania Glenn & Associates, PA

    Working with Stephen was a pleasure.  He created a comfortable atmosphere where it was easy to talk with him.  Being in the mental health field for the past 30 years and the Fire Service for 28 years, knowing Stephen was a firefighter and is open with his own mental health, made it natural for me to discuss the sensitive topics of behavioral health and treatment.  Further, Stephen’s professionalism as the host was recognized and appreciated.  I would easily talk with him again on his podcast and recommend others to do the same.
    Daniel DeGryse B.A., CADC, CEAP, LAP/C
    Director, Rosecrance Florian Program, Rosecrance Harrison Campus, Battalion Chief, Chicago Fire Department

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