Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Listening and Speaking in Recovery



     In Zen Buddhism we have a teaching called the Four Noble Truths. I know pretty humble right? Anyway the last section is called the Eightfold Path and it's intent is to give us tools for everyday living. Tools for everyday living was something in short supply when I finally stopped abusing drugs and alcohol. The Eightfold Path was designed for us to develop awareness about our everyday functioning. It points to using our senses and abilites to balance ourselves in our everyday life. And the most important thing of all it encourages us to become less Reactive and more Responsive.

     This was a really big deal to me when I first entered a recovery status. I mean I had spent my entire life being reactive and honestly I don't think I had a clue on how to respond any differently. Being reactive seemed like a survival mechanism that I was unable to live without. At the time of my last hospitalization I was simply running on reactions and conditioning. As I remember it my life was entirely ugly and without much meaning.

     Although I studied Zen on and off for decades I had never actually applied myself with any intent to use it any more than a philosophy.The only use I had of Zen was that  I could use it to impress myself. I had a lot of Zen type soundbites that I could use with others but none of it was in my heart. When I finally aquired some recovery and some perspective I started reading Allen Watts books again. This time I was able to use my emotional structure to complete the knowing that Zen was not about thinking it was about doing.

     One of the very first things I learned at 12 step meetings was the art of listening. At first I didn't want to go at all. Then once I got comfortable all I was focused on was whatever I was going to say. I would become "bored" listening to others and spend a lot of time listening to the internal complaints in my mind. I was studying Zen with a passion at the time and was processing the part of the Eightfold Path that dealt with Right Speech. The material also folded in listening as part of right speech. One night at 7PM at a church in Madison Heights, Michigan I found myself with a cup of coffee sitting at a table and waiting for the six people who came to this meeting to start. As the first person started talking I started to repeat everything they said in my head like an echo chamber. Hmm. A minute into what they were saying I realized that for the first time I could ever remember I was actually listening to them and not the voice in my head. I did this with the three people who spoke before me. When it came to me I realized I had nothing to say. So I told them I was just there to listen and that's exactly what I did. LISTEN.

     Actually repeating what we hear is not that difficult. In practice we are doing it anyway but not quite in this specific and attentive manner. The main benifit is that we are actually processing the words being spoken and focusing on the meaning. This cuts way down on the chatter of our "all knowing" ego centric conditioning and sets us up to actually communicate in a thoughtful way. We actually know to the best of our ability what has been said. Yes it takes a little getting used to but it's worth the effort. You will notice that you start RESPONDING to what is being said and less REACTIVE to what you think you are hearing.

     Consider this. Being in remission from substance abuse can be the best opportunity you have ever had in life. Why? Because if you decide to take the opportunity to do so you are going to clarify your life like no else could even consider. All you have in life is egocentric conditioning. Everything you have done is a direct result from conditioning. The chances are pretty high that instead of learning to respond you learned to react to whatever experience was in front of you. You never decided how your were going to speak or listen, you were trained in the art of speech and listening. Now you have the opportunity to take the tools you have and seek a new direction. You get to choose how you speak and listen. It's going to require some work and now that your in remission you can choose to begin.

     I believe in you.

I'm always happy to hear comments and concepts. If you think I can help please feel free to email. me. The email address is to the left. I really love helping people gain a remission status and will gladly share any resources I have. You can do this. I know you can.

Be safe.
Bryan S. Wagner

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I don't want too! Recovery and willingness.






    Today I would like to talk a little about the idea of remaining abstinent and the idea of independence as they inter-relate to each other. A major topic I run into in the course of helping people enter the recovery stream is the overwhelming resistance to having anyone else in "control."
      I talked yesterday to a group of recovering people in a round table discussion concerning this issue. We all seemed to agree that thinking we are so independent that we won't accept help is an overwhelming problem for those entering the beginning stages of recovery. One of the women discussed that after being in recovery and remission for over five years she began to have some clarity that her avoidance of being helped or asking for help was a part of her personality long before she became addicted to heroin. It was a major feature of her attitude and behavior since childhood.
   A young man said that he had been committed three times for mental illness related to cocaine use but wouldn't think of entering a rehab. He felt like being in mental health based situation was acceptable but a rehab was full of those "addicts" and he didn't think he wanted to hang with them. His resistance to treatment was so strong it convinced him that only a very specific kind of help was acceptable. At the time he felt being emotionally ill was something acceptable. Addiction not so much. Lots of laughs about that one from a lot of people who knew exactly what that felt like.

   So today I am posing a couple of questions for us to consider.


   As weird as it sounds lots of times the entity making the decisions in our heads it the addiction attempting to keep our ego conditioning alive and well in the center of our lives. Ego can sound like its protecting us while at the same time reinforcing distance from others, strengthening itself, and a continued development of habit energy that will feed the addiction. This is not a simple issue to work with. It's one of the reasons it really helps to have a friend, counselor, twelve step friend, or family member who you can put some trust in. We do need help in dividing our genuine self from the addicted self. In the past my addicted self would readily lie to get what it perceived it needed. It would lie to anyone. What in the world made me think that it wouldn't lie to my genuine self?

   It's one of those painful lessons that come with recovery that is hard fought and not very apparent. How many times have any of us made decisions that at the time seemed to support our recovery and later on we found were the worst decision we could have made? For most of us more than a few times. It's a difficult position we find ourselves in.Who do we trust? Who can we rely on to give us information and perspective? I wish I had some direct answers to those questions. But I don't. The one thing I do know is that at the times I was an active addict most of my decisions were made around supporting the addiction itself. My trust of others was the same amount I had for myself. None.

   The times I readily went into inpatient treatment initially looked pretty impressive. I mean even to me at the time it seemed like I was serious about my recovery. I had convinced myself that I was indeed working in my best interest. I wasn't. Did I learn something inpatient? Yes. Every time and the experience and perspective helped me later. But still the initial attempts were made more in the light of wanting to continue my addictive behaviors and needing a time out more than anything. And in truth this seems like a part of a recovery cycle more than anything. I have heard this story from so many people in recovery. The endless area of "I'm not quite ready to quit yet."

   So I offer the following suggestions if you are unsure.

   We need to trust someone while we are figuring ourselves and our commitment out. So first of all do the work and find some people who tell you the truth. You probably will have some help from your ego because you are not going to like what you hear most of the time and that may be because it's the truth. At the same time find some people who you can be honest with most of the time. It won't do you any good to find people you trust only to lie to them all the time. Try what the people you trust have pointed out as possible directions. You don't have to do everything suggested but if you are at all serious at least try some of it. Check inside for signs of resistance. Sometimes it's an indicator that the addiction is fighting back by pretending to be protective.

   I hope some of this helps. It's really about not fooling ourselves anymore and thinking that somehow we can use the same mind that convinced us to be addicts to convince us to be abstinent. Time to seek some different perspective.

As always I love feedback and suggestions.
Be safe.
Bryan S.Wagner


Friday, August 14, 2015

Patience and The Art of Recovery



     I know that that it's so easy to want what you want right now. Every notice that? Ever notice how much that ties into the process of remission and recovery? How wanting is intrinsically tied to lapse and relapse? It's not just a matter of getting what I want, it's also a matter of not getting what I want. Either can result in lapse and relapse. 

     Actually it's a lot easier to want what you have. But I don't see many of us working on that one. We live in an age where deciding what you want and getting it has become the new way of life. It has become the new prime directive. 

     Having patience to me is the simple but not so simple process of choosing to not act on my thought structure or not being able to act on my thought structure and waiting without reacting.  I am more focused on the choosing to not act part because that's what drove so many of my addictions. Not doing something, of course, seems like the simplest thing in the world. Not doing. How hard could that be? Unfortunately I have, sigh, sustained a lot of damage by acting and reacting on my thoughts. A lot of times there was absolutely no thought structure that said "Perhaps you shouldn't do this." I had a thought and I reacted immediately. It comes under the old saying "If I had a nickle for every time I screwed up by acting immediately on my thoughts I'd have a million dollars!" (Or more.)

     Most of my addictions rely on me having no patience. Oh don't get me wrong. I have plenty of patience when it comes to waiting to fulfill any of my addictions. When I was using drugs I would wait for hours in order to obtain them. I would drive ridiculous distances in order to buy them. I had the patience of a saint as long as I could perceive a reward.

     But it doesn't work that way when I want to put a halt to my addictions because my addictions are the perceived reward. My default position says that if I don't "have" the focus of my addiction I will have nothing. My addiction logic says "Why would I try to be patient in order to have nothing?"

     Except it's a lie.

     Nothing about addiction is rewarding. It might be a lot of things but it's not a reward. And rarely actually improves the quality of life. A real reward is measured in things like feeling pretty good about ourselves from the overall perspective of living life. It comes with a sense of evolving in a direction of our choice not a default direction. Rewards are internal. I don't really absorb "rewards" from other people. Perhaps for a second or a bit longer. But then I never keep them because they fade. If I value rewards given to me by others I want more, and it turns into another addiction. That would be the well know "approval addiction" that our entire planet could do without. A real reward is one that you keep inside of you. It's yours.You "grow" it internally.

     You can measure you patience. When you have a thought that you don't want to react upon you can delay action and you can measure it. Do you give yourself credit if you delay an action and yet perhaps still act on it later? Do you just throw that earned patience away and feel you are starting over? You do yourself an injustice if you do and you are making change harder than it needs to be.
By practicing even a one minute delay you are developing your potential to delay longer. That's worth celebrating.

     Now humans don't like to think this way but if you were drinking heavily every day and finally narrowed it down to drinking once a day would you celebrate that as a success or feel you were "Still an alcoholic" and consider it a failure? Most people believe the latter. When actually that have set up a new default system and need to feel the internal reward of doing so. Do what you need to do to increase potential and celebrate it.

     Did you realize that a delay is a success? Or do you only see success as a total and complete change? The difference will be in how you treat yourself. Either as a success or a failure. It's crucial to see the difference.

    So next time you sit with a thought that is driving you to act on an addiction see if you can delay it by one minute.

     One minute by the clock.

     You may find at the end of one minute you don't want to act on the thought anymore. You may decide to wait another minute. And another one. And you may find that you will spend the rest of your life minute by minute being patient with yourself and celebrating life without the addiction.

     As always I look forward to comments and any feedback.

Bryan S. Wagner


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A New Default or 15 Minutes to a new you.


     Have you ever noticed how we live our lives in our heads? We exist almost entirely on ideas instead of acts. It's axiomatic that we feel by having thoughts, particularly "taking action" thoughts, that we have made some sort of significant progress towards accomplishments.

     Not true.

     Thinking and planning is not doing. It never will be. I am not saying that they don't have a lot of value. They set the artificial "map" of a possible territory. But that's really all that happens. Plus when you look closely you will see that having a "map" or "goal" does not prevent the flow of life from simply changing your chosen direction. Outcomes are never a surety. Change is the norm.

     My friend Carl told me that he had decided to do some work outside his house. It had been a couple of years since he did anything due to an injury that was now fully healed.  Now the time was ripe to get the yard and house in shape. He figured it would take several weekends and wanted to get started. So Carl sat at the kitchen table and drew out a picture of the yard and carefully labeled the areas he needed to work on and exactly what he needed to do. Then he made a list of the things he would need. Mulch, seed, some flowers, boarder bricks, and he took a walk through the garage and decided he needed a few tools.

     He was done for the day and congratulated himself on finally getting started.

     The next weekend he took some pictures of the house and decided he needed to brick the chimney,
paint the shutters, and blacktop the driveway. Again going to the garage to check his tools situation and make a list. He also went to a local mega store and wrote down some prices of materials and tools. He felt he was making some good progress at this point.

     The  next weekend he was unable to do any yard work because it rained really hard that weekend and he decided to let it go another week.

     The next weekend he had a trip planned with the family so nothing was accomplished.

     Hey! Finally the weather was good and he was going to be home on a weekend so he went to the store and bought materials brought them home and loaded them in the garage. Done for the day he really felt a sense of accomplishment.

     He wasn't "feeling well" the next weekend so he put the project off.

So at this point your probably asking yourself is Carl ever going to get this done? Well I really don't know. He hasn't started yet and as I write this June will be over soon.

     Carl was over the other day and was bitching because he hadn't accomplished anything in the yard or house. I said nothing but inside I understood how the whole event was playing out. Carl was doing a version of a pattern that a lot of us professional procrastinators use. This is what happened to me when I initially attended college and was given an assignment. First I would make "plans" to do an assignment that needed to be done. I would plan what night I was going to do it. Then I would make sure that I had everything I needed to accomplish the assignment. Then I would get my "work area" ready. All this would take up Friday and Saturday. By the time I finished screwing around on Sunday I would find myself up against the clock concerning the time. I would then feel anxious and most of the time very angry. At everything. I always managed to get the work done but hardly ever in a timely manner. Carl has his own version of this cycle.

     Most of us have been through this but it's worth looking at time to time. We need to ask ourselves "What am I doing?" Not the "thinking of doing or planning" doing but actually taking action on my thoughts type of doing. It seems that we have come to a place in time where we are starting to believe that thinking about something is doing something. It's not. I get lots of blank stares when I ask people "So what are you doing about that?" If you watch or listen to the news you run into a lot of reports on things that appear relatively out of your hands when it comes to doing anything about it. "Feeling bad" or "sad" about events shows you have some emotional connection. However it's not going to resolve anything.

     I suspect lots of people manage to feel better by feeling bad. That way they can assuage their feelings about the issue, relieve some feelings, show others how much they care (lots of people can't seem to wait to tell me how much they care about stuff) and at the same time do nothing.

     I read once that you can tell somethings a problem if it has a solution. If not you are worrying. I wasn't sure about that until I actually started using that statement as a baseline for my thinking. I have found it's true, the only difference is if you are trying to actively find an answer. Even then we usually need to become active in real life in order to find solutions. We have been learning to think for so long that we actually believe that all problems are going to be solved by thinking.

     Thinking, when necessary, is a good way to start. And almost all the time the solution is going to have an "action" involved in coming to a solution. So what we need to focus on is thinking to action. There needs to be an action part of any problem solving, not the one we see in our heads, but the actual "moving the body through space" type of doing.

     Carl had the right idea when he went to the store, it fell apart when he was unable to further his action. As you can see Carl is starting to eat up his time and like most summers they move forward at a relentless pace.

     Committing to action is fine. Do not fall into the trap of "mind actions." Saying that your committed to doing something might make you feel good but it's still not the act of doing. Talking will not get anything done and it uses up time.

     You have probably noticed that time is a precious commodity. Or maybe not. However you look at time I can assure you that it's the single and most valuable resource you have. Without time we have nothing.

      I think that spending 15 minutes a day taking action is sufficient to overcome inertia. Most of us have and can spend 15 minutes a day on things we find important. What I find is that 15 minutes will prove to me how much my intent is real. It's better to take a walk for 15 minutes than to take weeks planning out and researching an elaborate exercise program. You can always spend a little time refining and restructuring your action. But if we are unwilling to commit to 15 minute period than what are we doing?

     Why 15 minutes? No real reason. Like most periods of time it's pretty arbitrary and in itself doesn't matter. But I like it because it falls under the heading doable. If 15 seems to long try 10 or 5. You can add more time later if you want. The idea is to start setting up a new "default" system. It becomes stronger if you can use the same time of day or week as a regular time.

     I sincerely hope you find something you have been planning and try it for fifteen minutes. Do not worry about what anyone thinks or how long anyone else is doing anything. Just pick the thing you find important and give it and you the gift of time.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Addiction and the Hole Whole

 The Black Hole of Addiction!


     I want to talk a little bit about replacement technique today. After years of working with people who were addicted to a variety of behaviors and substances it became increasingly clear that taking an addiction process and terminating it in ones life left an enormous "hole". I  noticed this as an important part of the recovery process. Most people who were unsuccessful did not, or were unable to, replace their addiction with something lasting or they considered themselves totally "cured" after initial stabilization and proceeded to move away from their vision of an abstinent life. As a result they did not maintain the kind of lifestyle that would support and ongoing recovery and lapsed.  

     The problem as I understand it was that removing an addiction would leave a huge Hole in our everyday life. It makes sense because taking something out of our lives creates a vacuum in our behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual  existence. Most of the time it's a vacuum in direct purportion to the severity of the addiction. Awareness of the hole and it's impact would drive people back into addiction if nothing was done to substitute what was missing. The hole would produce feelings of emptyness, loss, feelings of sadness and depression, confusion, anger, resentment, longing, and a firece need for "something' that was undefinable. All the things that an "addiction" seemed to solve. People can and would last a long time feeling the hole at different times. Sooner or later the hole would drag them back in and lapse or relapse would occur.

     Some "professionals" and supporters seem to think that doing something like "going to meetings" or developing a "hobby" are things that will "fill" the hole. To some degree they are right. Particulary when people attend meetings regularly and become active members of a support system. Plus it is helpful to be applying themselves to the work of the process of the twelve steps. Where the mistake is made is underestimating the intense experience of addiction and how totally numbing the effects addiction has on everyday life. Addiction is with us every single moment of every day. Our addiction insinuates itself into our lives in ways we don't ever see until the addiction is diminished or gone and even then the impact may not be discernable until years later. Then we start to notice the thousands of ways we "miss" the addiction. What we do, what we say, our thoughts, daily routines, and our life direction has been contaminated by our addiction. So the idea of using a single activity to fill the whole is good but usually is not enough unless we turn the replacement into another addiction. This does happen and many times becomes another ongoing addiction that attacks the quality of a persons life. 

     So what do we do?
  1. Become aware that this is happening. Don't write off or ignore feelings and thoughts. Trying to ignore or drive through feelings and thoughts is akin to the behaviors that enabled our addiction to begin with.
  2. Accept that we will need to make a lot of changes in our lives. Just about everything needs to be examined and then changed or replaced. Our relationships, activities, thinking, attitude, ego, what we like or dislike, finances, food, exercise, and spirituality all needs to be examined. Commitment to this is crucial. Abstinence comes with lots of hard work and commitment. 
  3. Fear and Anxiety will be part of the process. We are taking on a huge life change here. If you are not feeling some anxiety and fear then it's probably not happening. We don't fill the hole in our hearts without some fear. We are leaving the "safety" of addiction and going out into new territories. 
  4. Keep a journal or use a recording to track what's going on in your daily life. People sometimes ask what good is journaling or recording ourselves going to be? After all we can all remember whats happening with us everyday so what's the problem? Recording our responses to daily life cuts through one of addictions greatest strengths. DENIAL. Addiction Ego will selectively use the days events against you. It will blindside you if you are not practicing awareness. Writing or recording as close to the event as possible cuts back on "selective memory' and ego centric contamination. If you try this for a month you will be surprized at what you are able to see. 
  5. Develop and grow an awareness practice. I really encourage people to do this. There are many paths and opportunities to start an "awareness" practice. Doing so will enrich your ability to see what is instead of wanting to see what we believe. Addiction "does a number" on our ability to see clearly and seeing clearly is what makes life valuable. What we are seeking in an awareness practice is to develop some clarity in our perception of life. 
  6. Engage in this process of recovery with others. We need to take ourselves out of the vacuum that we have been living in. In order to accomplish this we need others who are aware of our needs and directions. This can be intimidating but seeking out others who can support us when we are making changes can be crucial to success. Can we make changes without others for support? Of course we can. But having the support can accelerate our evolution, keep us from falling during vulnerable moments, and we get to help others evolve in their own lives. Others presence offers us a valuable mirror, we can look at ourselves from some one else's perspective. If we see this clearly it can be a great tool. 
     We are not in essence "getting rid" of something in our lives by leaving an addiction behind. What we are doing is opening up "space" to grow. We open up space for new experiences and perspectives. 

     I welcome any input, ideas and suggestion. 

Bryan S. Wagner

Friday, April 17, 2015

Awareness in Recovery


I remember leading a group discussion concerning this topic as a counselor in a rehab. It was interesting how people viewed the idea of awareness and past relapses. We focused on when in the cycle of recovery and addiction a relapse starts.

Almost everyone acknowledged that is starts long before the actual event. Much of it seemed to hinge on self talk. Those "voices" in our heads that hardly ever have anything positive to say or act in any support of what is good for us. So much negativity.

A woman I'll call Jane admitted that she had planned her relapse for months. Her S/O was going on a business trip and she realized that as soon as she heard the news she started to "plan' her relapse. Images of buying heroin and using it "in secret" filled her mind. Jane was seeing a counselor, attending a support group, saw her relationship as stable and had a good job. She was active in a church and had a few friends. Despite all of the possible support she made the decision to use. This decision, made months before, cost her a lot. But in the long run Jane's awareness of what happened has also enriched her life.

Jane started an awareness practice backed by a contemplative practice that I recommend. She started doing a journal and unlike before started sharing this journal with others in her support group. So in essence she had the fortitude to take an unfortunate event and evolve from it. No more lies to herself or letting her egocentric addiction make the rules of the game. It's interesting that at least a part of her, even after some recovery time, simply took a return to heroin as a "legitimate" thought structure and also convinced her true self that she could live with it.

Most relapses don't happen in a vacuum. Addicts will sometimes say a relapse "just happened" because of no special reason. Maybe. But I reject that. Relapse starts a long time before the event. It can be subtle and insinuate itself into our minds but more often it's an agreement we make with out egocentric conditioning to allow it to happen.

Egocentric conditioning loves to make us victims. It can't and we aren't unless we allow it.

  • In conjunction with recovery start looking at recovery as a daily remission status. Every single day is going to be different. 
  • Old solutions don't always apply to new problems. Keep developing. 
  • Which means to evolve. Daily. 
  • Don't lie and don't listen to the lies your conditioning tells you. 
  • The very second you "hear" those relapse thoughts address them. Right now and right then. Drop everything and take a look at where your ego is hijacking you. 
  • Get it out. Don't let the ideas consume you. Share, write, record them and look at them. 
Get used to looking at the internal egocentric thinking on a daily basis. Start a practice that allows you to have the time to look inside and not take thoughts for granted. You don't have to study Zen like I did but look at all the options and start to investigate an awareness model that works for you. 

I encourage and love feedback. If there is anything I can do to support you please allow me to do so.
Jane now has almost six months abstinent and reports she is doing it daily.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Addiction and the Eight Fold Path

  ADDICTION AND THE   EIGHT FOLD PATH                                                               
                                                                                                                                                   PHOTO BY SOCK PUPPET


     For those of us who study Buddhism one of the first things we come in contact with are the Four Noble Truths. The semantics change and meanings are slightly different but they boil down to life is suffering, we suffer because of our ignorance, thinking, view, suffering can be experienced without pain, and we do so by following the Eight Fold Path.

    I think we all have a different ''wording" to these ideas but the concept is basically the same. In talking to some people who are addressing their addiction and evolving towards remission I became aware that the way the Eight Fold Path is classically presented presents an opportunity for resistance and internal manipulation. As most of us in remission know addicts become master manipulators and continue if given the resistance to work with.

     To be in remission means to change most of everything the ego has held as true. The Four Noble Truths speak to this and the Eight Fold Path suggests a platform for the process.

  • Right View
  • Right Thought
  • Right Speech
  • Right Conduct
  • Right Livelihood
  • Right Effort
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Meditation
     As you can see this may cause some difficulty in accepting primarily brought on by the word Right. Yes I know. This has been addressed lots of times and the word "right" doesn't mean right in the sense of right and wrong. At least we believe the word "correct" or a similar word should be substituted. Personally it all still feels like, "Well, if you want to be good and correct do this." Which if you think about it is somewhat true but I really think of it in terms of evolving. So it's more like evolution will occur when following this path. Evolution in the sense of change not in the sense that evolution is good or bad. I mean if your evolving you are the one who decides what to do with it.

     So the primary problem has always been with the word "right.' So the way I have been addressing the issue is to use the word "aware." So if we choose one of the paths, let's say Effort what we have is Aware Effort. We are no longer evaluating the process of effort. We are now simply seeing effort in awareness. Different but the same concept.

  • Aware View
  • Aware Thought
  • Aware Speech 
  • Aware Conduct
  • Aware Livelihood 
  • Aware Effort
  • Aware Mindfulness
  • Aware Meditation 
     The interesting thing is that if we are aware of our effort we are usually feeling like we are evolving instead of struggling. Instead of acting as the agent of the act we are allowing the act to grow by itself. If we are aware of our thoughts we become partners with them instead of trying to resist them or manipulate them. By the act of resting in awareness my speech becomes aligned with my internal principles. In effect we are no longer resisting on any levels but allowing ourselves to evolve into a process that speaks to our hearts. 

     Of course as a side benefit this all reminds me that what I practice is awareness. Plain and simple. The more aware I am the closer to my heart I become. 

     My encouragement would be to see how all this feels to you within your own practice. 

     A few people have asked about the video in production and there have been a few technical problems that will soon be solved. Thank you!

     As always I welcome any comment or input. I love to hear new perspectives and thoughts.