You’ve heard the saying; “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.”
Well today, I was in the right room, with very smart people.
All-day, every session I went to, from the continental breakfast to the breakout sessions, I was listening and learning. The presenters were sharing where SMART recovery is now, where it started and where it is going.
I am so happy I made the decision to attend.
So happy that I got on a plane and flew to Chicago. That I stayed up late, with the time change, and got up early. That I sat at different tables, ate with different people, and attended breakout sessions with different people. Getting the most out of my time here is my goal. I feel I have achieved that. Everyone has a unique path, a story of how they arrived at this moment. And I have learned so much that will help me in my personal recovery.
Yesterday I got to enjoy the empowerment comedy of Ernie G. and his powerful life story.
He gave all of us a postcard that had on the back, a quote from Marianne Williamson. He shared the full quote with an outpouring of passion. Here is a portion of the quote:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? … We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
How we frame our thoughts is an area I am very interested in.
How do I speak about my depression? After much mental wrangling, I tell myself and others “I have depression, but depression doesn’t have me.” And I write under the pen name Depression is not my Boss. I know how damaging words can be. And then there is the stigma associated with any mental health issue.
Richard Saitz, M.D. gave an enlightening talk about labels, titled, “Words Matter: Addiction Terminology, Accuracy and Stigma.”
The evidence is overwhelming that labels in the media can have consequences for entire populations of people. Labels in the healthcare system, in schools, in public institutions, in our laws and statutes often support outdated ideas and thinking about challenges people have.
Saturday was a day filled with learning.
After opening remarks and a state of the organization report, DeSean Duncan shared his personal recovery story with us. Another powerful example of the human spirit overcoming obstacles. Very inspiring. And the work he is now doing is changing lives in a way he couldn’t have imagined before he found recovery options.
Saturday night, an actual SMART Meeting was held for those interested in participating. The room filled up and we had 20 facilitators and a few of us laypeople participating. For me, that was probably the most exciting part of the entire two days.
It turns out, our mock meeting was conducted like a meeting out in the wild, with a facilitator leading the group and following established rules for SMART Meetings.
Having been to a few months’ worth of meetings, it was helpful to hear other ideas about how meetings are run, within the framework of and using the tools of SMART. Some of the facilitators in attendance have used these tools for over 20 years. They have insights that they were willing to share with the group. On my journey towards a balanced life, I am using many of the tools that SMART offers.
Getting into the nuts and bolts, I downloaded the CBA, cost-benefit analysis worksheet recently. Using this to help me make a major decision helped me slow down and really think it through. So, I carried the sheet around for three full days before making my decision. I was even able to share my thoughts about the choice in the week’s SMART Meeting. In the end, I know I made the right choice.
And I learned about several more tools tonight.
Back home, our local meeting facilitator has used many of the tools. Going to the Conference and being with many SMART facilitators, I have learned additional tools and techniques and approaches that help attendees achieve their goals. And they will help me, too.
In the interest of my own self-care, I am holding back my urge to rush in and commit to being a facilitator.
Knowing how I am, I would gladly sign up for the training and get involved either on-line or by helping to facilitate at my local meeting. My current business outside of my day job involves career coaching and resume writing. I have been doing this for over ten years. One of the facilitators last night suggested that I could expand my practice into life coaching.
In many ways, I am already providing life coaching as I work with my clients.
Adding the tools provided by SMART will be helpful for me and those I work with, however, my relationship with SMART plays out in the future.
You see, everyone was welcoming, supportive, and sharing with their time and resources. I saw many examples of professionals sharing tips with other professionals. The esprit-de-coir was everywhere. You can bet I will be attending next year.
By then I know I will have taken the training to be a facilitator, and possibly SMART’s advanced training.
But for now, the flight attendant is coming on the intercom to tell us we will be landing soon, and she will be coming through the cabin one last time to take any trash. So, I am going to put my laptop in my travel backpack, put my tray table in the upright and locked position, and enjoy the rest of my flight home.
My thanks to everyone who put on the conference, everyone who presented, and everyone who attended. That said, I could not have asked for a better way to learn more about the tools available to live a balanced life.