Drug Crisis in our Backyard is happy to announce the first issue of our quarterly newsletter. This gives us the opportunity to introduce our not-for-profit community action organization to those new to us. Drug Crisis in our Backyard was founded in June of 2012 after the death of our oldest son Justin and the Christiansen’s son Erik to an overdose. We speak for all the families that wish they could have done more to save their loved ones. To that end, we started DCIOBY, we got connected with treatment facilities, local prevention councils, local governmental units, we got educated on treatments that have better outcomes, connected with addiction prescribers, therapists and certified peer recovery advocates. We learned what we didn’t know so that we could help families navigate the chaos created by the disease of addiction.
September is National Recovery Month and Drug Crisis in our Backyard is excited to be sponsoring our 7th Run for Recovery with our partners Search for Change and Run4Recovery. We are happy to say that this year the run will be hybrid. The in-person date is September 25, 2021, and the virtual run is the month of September. The purpose of the Run is to celebrate recovery, reduce the stigma associated with mental health and substance and provide resources for all those seeking information. All details can be found on the flyer below and here.
COVID was very detrimental to us as it was for many organizations that depend on community outreach to get their information to the general public. However, we did prevail and our support group that had been meeting at the Mahopac Library and Yorktown Cultural Center went virtual via zoom in March 2020. Since then, our reach has expanded and we have people who come from different parts of the country. Our support group is a combination of education and peer support. (Link to the support group) We practice strategies to influence change in a loved one’s behavior. These strategies are taken from the CRAFT model (Community Reinforcement and Family Training). We are having a full training on Oct. 16th via zoom from 9:30-2:00 PM. This session will be conducted by the Center for Motivation and Change. Registration is required here.
Drug Crisis in our Backyard works with many coalitions and providers in Westchester and Putnam Counties to provide resources for families. These resources may include help for a loved one misusing drugs or it may be for the family members that are in turmoil because of the devastating effects of addiction. In either case, we have professionals that can help. Please feel free to reach out to us via our website at www.drugcrisisinourbackyard.org
Founder and Executive Director
Mindfulness is being fully engaged in the living moment, paying attention to what is happening on purpose, with a sense of curiosity, and kindness towards yourself, being careful not to judge anything. It is important to recognize instances when the body is doing one activity and the mind is doing something else. We are not present in the moment. The mind may be traveling into the past, or going into the future, thinking about things that may never even happen. This has happened to me so many times, I can’t count, but I can recall examples. I drive my car to my destination, and suddenly I am there, but can’t remember what happened along the way. Or maybe I miss my exit; I am in my car, but not really in my car, because my mind is somewhere else. Missing out on a ride may not be very important but we also tend to miss life’s significant moments when this happens. I sit on a beach, finally on the vacation I prepared for, and I grab my phone to look up somewhere I would like to go next. Then I compare where I am to last year’s vacation. After a while I am no longer present on the beach that I looked forward for so long. The moment can never be recovered.
Mindfulness is being in the car when you are in the car, and on the beach when you are at the beach. I think Jon Kabat Zinn said it so well when he titled the book Wherever You Go, There You Are, which is one of my favorites. For a long time, I tried to wrap my head around what the title meant, and only learned through practicing mindfulness day to day. The breath is the bridge that links the body and the mind, and tuning into the breath can help us to place ourselves in the present moment. When we breathe consciously in and out through the nose, we signal to our nervous system that we are safe being with what is at the moment, and we are no longer engaged in the narrative of our thoughts.
Mindfulness has influenced my daily life because helps me to be where I am, with the understanding that the living moment is the only moment, ever. When I am in my car, the past is in my rear view, and the future can’t be seen until I arrive there, at which time it is no longer the future. Mindfulness can be practiced whenever we are doing anything. I now am aware to bring myself into each moment while going about my life while paddle boarding, walking, eating, folding clothing, watering plants, or just sitting in my yard, feeling grateful for each hummingbird that hovers, and every bee that comes to drink from the flowers I mindfully planted.
Mindfulness can be practiced anytime, anywhere, but meditation is a more deliberate practice that I set aside time for. However, you need a sense of mindfulness in order to meditate-to be in a state of present moment awareness. There are so many forms of meditation but there is usually a space prepared for meditation, somewhere where there are little distractions and is comfortable. I need to be sitting in a comfortable position so there isn’t any pain to focus on. Meditation is a state of non-doing (how many times do we wish we had nothing to do?). I love the times when I give myself nothing to do! Yet that nothing can really be something, and it is often more difficult for many of us because we think in order to meditate, we have to clear the mind, however, this is not the case. Many people try meditation and then are quick to judge the experience but we need to just let our stream of thoughts come and go with curiosity, becoming familiar with what we are thinking and not getting caught up in the stream. It is helpful to bring mindfulness into the meditation by focusing on the breath as it flows in and out of the body, as I treat myself with kindness, being careful not to judge. During this practice, I have a chance to just be, and see myself as I am.
This practice has influenced my daily life in many positive ways. I feel more focused and relaxed, better able to sort out my thoughts and focus on one thing at time. I feel confident that I can settle my nervous system when things get a bit crazy. I now look forward to my time each day where I give myself the gift of nothing to do!