One Sweet Day

Before He took my mother,
He gave me a dream and a sign.
I said, “Dear God, don’t take her,
For she is my mother, she’s mine.

God responded,
“How can you say that? I gave her life.
I even made sure she became a beautiful wife.
I gave her those eyes that people adore.
Now, listen, Robin, because there is more.

When she was in pain, who did she call?
When her rent was due and she didn’t have it all?
Who did she call when she made mistakes and fell?
I gave her my only Son, so she wouldn’t go to hell.

You miss her? Yeah, I know you do,
Bur her purpose here on earth is through.
It is done and don’t worry Robin.
The victory is already won.
She misses her earthly family; I saw it in her tears.
I wiped her eyes; and now, no more fears.
One more thing, that was plain to see.
She does not want to come back
For she is here in Heaven with ME.

Soon, you will see your mother again, one sweet day.
by Robin Brownlee

The Moment

The Moment

Einstein’s continuum theory speaks of the illusion of time.  He said that, in a nutshell, all that is real is the current moment.  The past is gone, the future has not happened and to try to live in either of these places is to defy the gift of the now.  How often do we take for granted what is so freely given to us? 

Too often, while in active addiction, I lived in yesterdays and tomorrows allowing the todays to pass away. I could never find a balance. I have learned how vital it is today to know the sustenance of livelihood, to feel the cold wind on my face and give thanks that I am alive. And when I feel the wonder of this miracle I cannot know the indifference I knew so strongly in bondage.

Today I feel the moment. I know true friendship, I respect myself, and feel the love of my house mates. Watching us come and go, in different moments, and walks of life is inspiring. Appreciating the cup of coffee with my dearest friend as she embarks on her new journey is the moment. Had I not found such soul sustaining sobriety I would have never appreciated the depth and affections I have for having had the moment with her and all the ladies.

Thank you Guesthouse for all the moments.

Stefanie 

New Year Greetings

 

I was an avid reader as a child.  It remains true today. There were books that became popular in which the reader was given an opportunity to pick his or her destiny. For example, at the end of a particular chapter the reader was given an option to take a left at a crossroads or a right with small hints of what was to come. One could be either devastated by her decision or pleasantly surprised at the plot twist. There was always a twist.

Life is so much like this. I have found myself at one of those crossroads in the 40th chapter of my life. It is the selection before me to take one opportunity or the next. I know I do not want to go back and tread those journeys that brought me here to begin with.  I want to somehow make the decision without regret or second guessing because having read and learned so much of my story already I must trust that my intentions will guide my journey successfully toward an altruistic and beautiful endeavor.

I will be leaving the Guest House soon full of such hope that I sit like an excited 6th grader reading the “destiny” book eagerly awaiting the twists and turns. Such is life, twists, turns, smiles, tears, agony, euphoria, defeat, and victory. I embrace it all readied with my tools and a passion to greet the new year and turn to the next chapter of my life.

Happy New Year.

Stefanie

Gratitude

By Stefanie H.

It is vital in recovery to know gratitude.  To recognize its pulse and feel its sustenance is the key to serenity in sobriety.

Thanksgiving nears and while pondering a theme for this blog I found it fitting to write about my personal experience with gratitude.  Due to my incarceration and self inflicted purgatory the few years prior, I had little appreciation for anything. My focus was askew. I had no purpose.  I wanted to die.

Today there is hope. I am free from the proverbial chains of opiate/amphetamine addiction.  The incarceration paled in comparison to the mental slavery of active drug abuse.

Today, in this awe inspiring moment, I am so grateful for life and all the things I took for granted- telephone calls, short strolls, long walks, Pantene, carving pumpkins, baked spaghetti, grapes, iced tea, couches, after dinner conversations, sharing coffee morning silence, the way the sun filters between the blinds, camaraderie, speaking at GMU about my experience (and hope), belief in myself, knowing glances, Daddy, Momma, daughter, son, brother and autumn leaves….etc. etc. etc. I take a deep breath often times because as deeply as I felt misery I have travelled to the opposite end of the spectrum feeling overwhelming, breathtaking gratitude.  Guest House has been the vehicle on this beautiful new avenue of my life toward a better way.  All of those things I listed above I have received of focused upon while I have been here. I am encouraged daily to venture toward those things that give me peace and I finally appreciate. I am not that which I have been and today I know gratitude.

To be awake in my life is miraculous.  To recognize the miracle is gratitude and to voice the ‘Thank you’ is humility.

Thank you to Guest House for reminding me of all there is to truly be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The Journey

By Stefanie H

Addicts, aka the walking wounded, while in active addiction seem set apart from the rest of society. We all know each other as if equipped with some extra sensory radar as we meet in the bars, jails, institutions, and finally recovery endeavors of our pathways. We seem to acknowledge each other with knowing glances and head nods that confirm our shared existence.  We compare the holes that exist within our souls. We continue to wander aimlessly searching , sometimes failingly, for that missing piece.

At Guest House, we find that it is only when we search within that we come close to the answer. We come from different walks of life.  We come from the city and the country. We started out differently but ended the same. We arrived here.  A new day and a new way arrives with us, if only we reach and grab the opportunity availed.  We cry, we feel, we laugh, we cook and sometimes…well, sometimes we are just silent.  We meditate on change as this wonderful place gives us opportunity beyond our expectation. There is hope.

I have learned here that the “small” moments I receive in sobriety are actually the profound moments.  These glimpses of euphoria and contentment allow me to finally walk my journey outside the bondage of addiction and give endless thanks for the trip.

Sometimes all we need is that possibility of hope to move a step forward. My journey has begun and for this I am eternally grateful for the 2nd (okay 99th) chance.

New Facility

New Facility Allows Friends of Guest House to Help 28 More Women

On May 1, 2013, Friends of Guest House opened its second facility in Alexandria, Virginia. The new facility can accommodate 7 additional residents, allowing Guest House to assist 28 more deserving women per year. The opening was made possible due to an expanded contract with the Virginia Department of Corrections and aided by the support of generous donors. In April, Guest House participated in the 24-hour Spring2Action fundraiser, where donors raised over $11,000 to help open the new facility.

The inaugural residents have already moved in and are getting settled in their new home. We are grateful for the support of staff, volunteers, and donors who believe that Guest House can make a difference in women’s lives. As a result of this support, 28 women will be making smooth transitions into the community and have hope for a better future.

 

Brittany GMU Intern, Friends of Guest House

Big Brothers Big Sisters

While there are programs for parents who have been incarcerated to deal with becoming a parent after incarceration, there are few programs for children to deal with the issue of having incarcerated parents. Big Brothers Big Sisters is among one of the programs nationally that deal with finding appropriate mentors for children who have had parents who were incarcerated, or who are currently incarcerated. Children with parents who were/are incarcerated are more at risk for being incarcerated than children without parents who are/were incarcerated. Big Brothers Big Sisters promises children a special friend they can talk to about any issue they feel like they have, without having to feel the threat of somebody not keeping their secrets. While mentors are required to report to the case workers if any “secrets” may lead to the child being hurt in any way, the relationship between the “big” and “little” is completely confidential, allowing children to truly open up. The programs consists of treating your “little” as if she/he were truly your little brother or sister and basically completing normal daily activities with your little. Educational trips, such as college scouting or museums, can be of some of the places appropriate to take your little, as well as lunch trips or walks in a park. The program has showed positive effects for children involved in it. In a study conducted of 1,138 youth, they were 46% less likely to start using illegal drugs, they skipped school days fewer times than the past year, and they had a marginally significant positive impact on their GPA’s. The program allows children to be able to talk to an adult that they can look up to, open up to, and trust.

References:

http://evidencebasedprograms.org/1366-2/117-2

Amanda, GMU Intern at Friends of Guest House

Aside

Aftercare Program

The Aftercare program at Friends of Guest House is one of the main influences that determine whether or not a woman will continue to live a successful lifestyle.  It is typically a 6-9 month program where women who have graduated from Friends of Guest House will continue to have support through Guest House. The current Aftercare specialist, Mary, continues to support these women once they have left Guest House. The specialist helps them utilize the county resources they may not be familiar with themselves. These resources include grants for school, housing assistance, food assistance, and items through community donations (such as clothes and furniture). While interning at Friends of Guest House, I’ve had the opportunity to visit the home of a woman who is currently in the Aftercare program. From the moment we walked through the door, until we left, she was so excited we were there to visit her. This particular woman went back to school after graduating from Friends of Guest House; she received her associates’ degree and is excited to start working on her bachelor’s degree. With the help of the Aftercare Specialist, she applied for financial aid and was awarded grants to pay for tuition. When asked how the woman felt about the Aftercare program, she responded that it was important to her because not many people in her life have stuck around when she was doing well, and Friends of Guest House has done just that.

Amanda, GMU Intern, Friends of Guest House