In September 2016 I decided to do a fairly ambitious project to celebrate National Recovery Month: interview a different man or male-identified individual in recovery every day for 30 days. The results have been wonderful with some great interviews from men all over the country and in Canada.
I began each interview with the men with the same question: What is the greatest gift that recovery has given you to help you be the man you always knew you could be? From that question came some amazing responses and some deep and vulnerable conversations to really show what men in recovery look like. Overwhelmingly, the men emphasized the importance of their relationships and being able to be present in those relationships in ways they never thought possible. With each interview we also discerned a word of the day which is listed with each interview and a quick glimpse, for you, on the focus of the conversation.
The majority of the interviews are available on YouTube and you can watch those by clicking on the link below. Several of the interviews occurred on Facebook Live and those can be found by clicking on the link (they should all be public but if you have any problems viewing it please check in with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Day 1: Rob Weiss. The word of the day is: Integrity. Rob and I had a wonderful conversation about what integrity means to men’s relationships and why it is so important for men to practice. A great way to start this amazing project.
Day 2: Beck Gee Cohen. The word of the day is: Authenticity. My guest on the second day is Beck Gee Cohen a leading voice looking at healing the impact of addiction and trauma on the trans community and educating our society as a whole about transgender and gender.
Day 3: Rick Dauer. The word of the day is: Choice. This is my interview with my friend, colleague, and mentor Rick Dauer who has shared much of the journey with me of looking at how to create more effective addiction and mental health services for men. This is a very intimate and heartfelt conversation.
Day 4: David Brown. The word of the day is: Family. David shares very openly about the impact his alcoholism had on his family, in particular an estranged son who has come back into his life. Together they are walking the healing journey through trauma and the challenges of reconnecting after years of pain and disconnection.
Day 5: Edwin Balcos. The word of the day: Integrity. Conversation with my good friend and mentor, Edwin Balcos, as he talks about the power of integrity to transform his life, especially how he has been able to be a father to his two children.
Day 6: David Washington. The word of the day is: Service. A fantastic conversation with David Washington a man in recovery over twenty years who has dedicated his life to being of service particularly to the men that society has essentially thrown away – men with trauma in jail and prison settings. The word of the day is: SERVICE and nobody embodies with more than David Washington.
Day 7: Aaron. The words of the day are: Higher Power/God. This interview took place during my visit to a father’s program in Santa Cruz, CA and Aaron was one of the many young fathers I met that night.
Day 8: Tim Harrington. The word of the day is: Teachable. Tim Harrington talks about the importance of being teachable as a man and how that has transformed both his professional and personal life. A great ending quote: “We cannot do this alone. I cannot live the life I want to live without help from others. Period.”
Day 9: Ray Santamaria. The word of the day is: Pause. A wonderful conversation looking at the power of the ability to pause in our lives and how that helps us to be the men we want to be especially as fathers.
Day 10: Allen Berger. The word of the day is: Freedom. My conversation with my good friend and mentor, Allen Berger, an incredibly wise man with 45 years of recovery who has made lasting contributions to the field of addiction and recovery. Enjoy this amazing conversation with this amazing man. And check out our upcoming project at: whatmenwouldtellyou.com.
Day 11: Michael Dinneen. The word of the day is: God. My conversation with Michael Dinneen. God is a challenging one for a lot of people. But more than anything this interview shows two men being very open and vulnerable with one another. For any of the men who feel like they are “too emotional” or “too sensitive” this one is for you!
Day 12: Paul Hamblin. The words of the day are: Emotional Recovery. Day 12 Interview with Paul Hamblin on the responsibility of men in longer-term recovery to share the message of the importance of emotional recovery not just “putting the plug in the jug”. The words of the day are: Emotional Recovery. There is hard work to be done long into our recovery so that we can be as connected and intimate as so many of us men long to be. We talk a lot about anger and how destructive it can be long into recovery.
Day 13: Fernando Rodriguez. The word of the day is: We. A great conversation looking at what it means to be a “man’s man” and how recovery gives us a choice about the man we want to be. We get to become the men we are in a community of support that is not afraid to tell us the truth and we get to be able to hear it because we know it comes out of love.
Day 14: Tim Walsh. The word of the day is: Connection. A very powerful conversation with my good friend Tim Walsh. We talked about the power of recovery to help men find connection to self, others, and The Source/God/Higher Power. We talked about how men who want to walk a conscious path may find themselves in disconnection with others especially men who are stuck in a more toxic masculinity. In particular we address this BULLSHIT meme #nohomo that has been popularized lately. In being true to ourselves and the best man we can be we may find it lonely at times and even lose connection with others but so long as we maintain connection to our true selves and The Source we will be okay. Great conversation!
Day 15: Roland Williams. The word of the day is: Father. My interview with Roland Williams. A powerful testimony of recovery from a man with 30 years of recovery about the joys of being a father and learning how to love. In teaching two young men to be men he became the man he had always hoped to be.
Day 16: Randy Boyd. The word of the day is Voice. This is a powerful conversation with Randy Boyd, author of Healing the Man Within. This could be a triggering conversation for many people but if you or someone you know has been sexually abused this is a very important conversation. This man has dedicated his life to speaking up and his passion comes through loud and clear.
Day 16 – BONUS Canadian Edition: Graeme. The word of the day is: Life. He got his life back. My friend from Canada and for you hockey fans a little treat as well. A wonderfully sensitive man with a sweet soul.
Day 17: Okwas Jack Beynon. The word of the day is: Relationships. Day 17 of Men in Recovery Okwas Jack Beynon is my guest. We met via Facebook and have never met in person. It was a true honor to have him as a guest. He was honored with the name Okwas which means faith by elders of another tribe in the town where he got sober. The word of the day is: Relationships. Speaking about a man named Ross who would hug every man who came into the meeting: “There were times when I would be looking down and he would grab my face and pick it up and look at me and say ‘I love you'”
Day 18: Phil Valentine. This interviews started a special week focused on some of the amazing men of the recovery advocacy movement. Phil Valentine has had an amazing journey of recovery and as a national leader on developing community-based recovery services. The word of the day is: Purpose. Listen to Phil’s interview and you will see how clearly he is living his purpose. And don’t miss his amazing story about walking the Appalachian Trail!
Day 19: Tom Hill. Continuing the focus on the amazing men of the recovery advocacy movement. Tom Hill who has been an outspoken voice for many years shares with me his experience as a gay man in recovery advocacy. The word of the day is: Freedom. A great quote from Tom: “Coming out [as a gay man] was such a powerful experience I wanted to come out twice [also a man in recovery].” Wonderful conversation.
Day 20: Ben Cort. The word of the day is: Connection. Ben Cort shows up beautifully in this conversation as we talk about the power of true connection and how hard that can be for men. This conversation explores why it can be so challenging for men to connect at deep and vulnerable and we both issue a challenge to men in the recovery community so we can all support each other in deepening our relationships.
Day 21: And on this day, Dan rested. Enjoy this video about The Man Rules (which does still involve me yapping but with some real smarts!)
Day 22: Tom Coderre. Continuing my series with a special week focused on the men of the recovery movement. Today’s interview is with Tom Coderre who has had quite a journey through his addiction and recovery. His is a classic story of a man who made it to the top only to crash and burn quite dramatically all so that he could be where was supposed to be. The words of the day are: self-acceptance. This was a great interview to celebrate recovery month and the power of recovery!
Day 23:Greg Williams. A great interview with Greg William for Day 23 of the Men in Recovery series for National Recovery Month. This is our continued focus on the men of recovery advocacy. The word of the day is: Freedom. As one of the interviewees for The Anonymous People, I got the turn the camera on Greg! Greg speaks candidly about being in relationship, being a father, and has a VERY interesting and powerful take on what it means to practice these principles in ALL of our affairs. Enjoy!
Day 24:Joe Schrank. Day 24 of the Men in Recovery project for National Recovery Month 2016. The word of the day is: authenticity. But, as can be expected when speaking with Mr. Schrank, it is a provocative and charged look at the challenges and benefits of being authentic in our professional and personal lives. This interview looks at the many facets of authenticity and what it means to practice it knowing we will always make mistakes.
Day 25: Chris Allen. This is my interview with my good friend and amazing tattoo artist, Chris Allen. The words of the day are: self acceptance but we spent as much time on honesty and what it means for men to practice vulnerability. Chris talks about something that causes a lot of men in recovery suffering – the recovery persona – where having the answers and being an “alpha” member of the twelve step community protects from experiencing the pain of your true self. As a new father, Chris discusses what it means to move into a true experience of selflessness and how being a father offers the chance to give what many of us never got – and all because of recovery.
Day 25: Arnold McCuller. Great conversation with Arnold McCuller. The words of the day are: spiritual connection. Another great interview to offer perspective for men who may identify as gay on how to engage in their recovery with other men in a safe and healthy way. Lots of great discussion about how men learn to come together in recovery in ways that are not as common in our larger society.
Day 26: Jerry Law. This interview opens my series with the wonderful men of The Meadows, beginning with Jerry Law. The word of the day is: Freedom. Another great conversation exploring how men navigate relationships and what we need to do in those relationships to be intimate and connected when it goes against so much of how we have learned to be men.
Day 26: Kevin McCauley. The word of the day is: sensitivity. A wonderful discussion with Dr. Kevin McCauley to help men navigate the challenges and benefits of being extra sensitive and emotional which both of us have found to be common characteristics with men with addictive disorders. A wonderful mix of an intellectual and personal conversation for both of us. Enjoy this one!
Day 27: Sean Walsh. My interview with Sean Walsh, CEO of the Meadows. The word of the day is: Faith. Sean talks about what it was like being raised not ever knowing his father and the impact that had on him and his understanding of spirituality and a higher power. As is true for so many men in recovery Sean could never have imagined being the man he is today – a father of four, a husband, and a visionary leader. The true journey is letting life create the best man you can be rather than trying to force it yourself.
Day 27: Scott Davis. Men of the Meadows with Scott Davis. The words of the day are: Belief in Myself. It’s not every day that you hear men emphasizing the importance of this. And, of course, some people would accuse men of believing too much in themselves – and that is part of the problem. But Scott is quick to point out that this isn’t about bravado or arrogance it is about a sense that one has a inherent worth and value, just for who he is and nothing else required. THAT is not something that a lot of men talk about though every single one of us experience it.
Day 28: Allan Benham. Continuing my conversations with another one of the wonderful men of The Meadows, Allan Benham. The word of the day is: Authenticity. The conversation talked about how so much of men’s lack of authenticity comes from our not understanding that we have inherent worth and value irrespective of the car, the job, the money, etc. The Man Rules tell us we are constantly trying to prove our manhood. Recovery allows us just to be who we are – and in doing so we get to be our best masculine selves.
Day 28: Brad Lamm. The word of the day is: Pause. Once again, this very important word and practice comes up – the POP – the Power of the Pause! A great discussion about how counterproductive and even silly anger is in our relationships.
Day 29: Greg Fine. Another one of the wonderful men of The Meadows, Greg Fine. The word of the day is: Me. But not the me that little insatiable, petty, greedy, and self-centered me but a true sense of and comfort with self. This interview has a more explicit discussion of the Twelve Steps, particularly steps 6 and 7.
Day 29: Jim Corrington. Day 29 – Part 2 – with Jim Corrington from the Meadows. The word of the day is: Purpose. This was a wonderful conversation looking at the power for men in finding meaning in our lives by serving something greater. Part of that purpose is balancing it with being fathers and partners.
Day 30: Chris Dorval. Day 30 – our final day – of the Men in Recovery project and a great treat for me to end this incredible labor of love with Chris Dorval, a young man I am very proud to know and who is a wonderful example of a man in recovery. The word of the day is: Opportunity. If you know Chris you know how important family and being a father is to him and so it is no surprise that he has his beautiful little boy, Lincoln, in the video with him.
Day 30: Matt Burton. Day 30 – Final Interview – Matt Burton, a man who has committed his life to his recovery and to helping men heal from trauma and loss. Matt is a true spiritual brother to me. The word of the day is: Myself. Anyone in recovery knows how lost we were and how disconnected from ourselves addiction makes us. Our conversation focused on recovery from trauma as well and really helping men to see experiences as trauma. Listen to Matt’s experience “discovering” trauma with a therapist. Like so many men he simply couldn’t see it because we spend so much time telling ourselves – and having others tell us – get over it, it wasn’t that bad, it was your fault, etc. That may push it aside but it doesn’t create healing and so it doesn’t go away. This interview, as I knew it would be, is about the whole journey of emotional recovery and how, for many men, that means doing the painful and powerful work of trauma recovery.