Tag Archives: Inspiration

Tag Archives: Inspiration


Your personal recovery journey is like a fingerprint. While many of them look and feel the same, unique experiences make our stories one of a kind. They can inspire, heal, create hope or even push someone to take that first step in their own journey.

Liz sits down with our Alumni Relations & Volunteer Coordinator to talk about what 16 years of sobriety looks like and how engaging with friends in recovery kept Jaime clean. Also in this episode: relationships that make you sick, a spiritual awakening while free-falling 30 feet, and Jaime's greatest triumph in recovery. Hint: It's a person and he only stands about 2.5 feet tall.

That’s what Cumberland Heights’ new podcast “Recovery Live” is all about. Liz Stanislawski, Marketing and Public Relations Manager and former WSMV journalist will be interviewing alumni, staff, family members, counselors – really anyone who has been touched by addiction. The podcast is co-produced by Jaime Gibbons, Alumni Relations & Volunteer Coordinator. She is the very first guest, talking about what 16 years of sobriety looks like.

Travis Meadows

Cumberland Heights also welcomed Travis Meadows on the show. The successful singer/songwriter is known for penning hits for several country music stars including Wynonna Judd, Jake Owen, Eric Church, Brothers Osborne and Hank Williams Jr. He also has several albums of his own like “Killing Uncle Buzzy” which was inspired by journal entries he wrote while he was in treatment at Cumberland Heights.

Click here to listen!

Future guests include a meth addict whose story was broadcast to millions on the A&E reality show, “Intervention”, a teen who grew up in the recovery world and ended up becoming addicted himself and a woman who as a young teen had to take care of her siblings when her mom disappeared for days.

These stories don’t sugarcoat. They are real, raw and honest. From teenagers with just a couple years of sobriety, to those who haven’t picked up a drink or drug in 30 plus years.

We are so excited to share this new project with you and hope you’ll gain as much from listening as we have putting it together.

These 2 sayings will help you keep working towards recovery We all need a bit of inspiration now and then, and sometimes recovery can feel like a never ending, uphill battle. Whether you’ve been in recovery for 3 months or 3 years, you’re going to have bad days – as Forbes Magazine notes, self-doubt can creep in and cause us to put up unnecessary walls that hinder our growth in recovery. We may become more reserved, less participatory in recovery activities, more anxious and depressed and less impacted by the tools we learn in therapy. If we don’t stay motivated, we’re bound to slip back into old habits – and perseverance is the driving factor behind sobriety maintenance. If you’re ready to feel inspired today, check out these three incredibly wise sayings:

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint’, then by all means, paint, and shatter that voice.”

This quote is said to have been spoken by Van Gogh, and it rings true on so many levels for addiction recovery. Rather than allowing yourself to fall victim to the negative thoughts that are spinning around, prove yourself otherwise. Embrace recovery and take steps to become stronger than you ever thought you could be.

“What is addiction, really? It is a sign, a symptom, a signal of distress. It is a language that tells us about a plight that must be understood.”

Alice Miller understood the pain of addiction – but far too often we spend time thinking of how resentful we are that it happened, rather than what our mind, body and spirit is trying to tell us. The next time you’re feeling depressed or anxious, or if you’re getting headaches, etc., ask yourself, “What is my body trying to tell me?”

If we take a look at the bigger picture, we can see that yes, addiction can cause so much despair – but there are lessons to be learned from it, and if we take these lessons and channel them into our recovery, we can become unstoppable.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

“Minds are like flowers. They only open when the time is right.” This quote by Stephen Richards resonates not only with people in recovery, but anyone who has been through a journey of growth. Just like the earth and atmosphere go through seasons of change, so do our minds and our spirits.

Whether you found sobriety in winter, fall, summer or spring you felt a new season within yourself. Maybe it was November on the calendar when you got clean, but spring in your soul.There are many parallels between springtime and recovery. Think about the transformation you made when you got sober. You, like spring, experienced blossoming, renewal and probably began to physically look a little brighter too.

Recovery Blogger “Magz” wrote this about springtime being an inspiration for recovery: “I love the significance of spring combined with Easter as the time of rebirth and renewal. When I see the little flower buds opening up on the trees and I think about the significance of Easter, I think about the huge transformation that sobriety has made in my life. In a sense when I quit drinking I died, and then I was reborn again in recovery. My life is nothing like what it was when I was drinking, and I am often overwhelmed by this truly unbelievable transformation.”

But the outside didn’t always look this way did it? Before there were birds chirping, flowers blooming and streams flowing there was lot of dormant grass, frozen creeks and not a flower in sight. In the dead of winter, it’s hard to picture life and vibrancy again, just like when we are in the throes of addiction. But as Mother Nature proves over and over again, no matter how cold, dark and lifeless it may seem, rebirth is on the horizon.

Man reading book during addiction recoveryJoseph Campbell, American Professor of Literature, once stated:

“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.”

Words are incredibly powerful and sometimes they can give us an entirely new perspective on life. They can make us contemplate new concepts and approaches that we otherwise would never have considered before. It’s so easy to become entrenched in reading that sometimes we may find that we lose ourselves amidst the words of a compelling story. The experience, the emotion and the imagery reel us in and we may almost feel as if we’re part of the story itself. If you love to read books, you may find a plethora of good, thought-provoking reads that will truly ignite your motivation and understanding of addiction recovery.

If you’re ready to get lost in some literature that’s good for the soul, check out these books:

  1. Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology and How You Can Heal, by Donna Jackson Nakazawa
  2. Nothing Good Can Come from This, by Kristi Coulter
  3. Recovery Rising: A Retrospective of Addiction Treatment and Recovery Advocacy, by Bill White
  4. Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions, by Russell Brand

A major part of addiction recovery is finding new hobbies and ways to spend your time. Reading could be an excellent hobby to pick up, especially since there are so many stories that have been told and so many new lessons you can learn. Between libraries and the internet, books provide us with so much knowledge right at the edge of our fingertips.

If you’re ready to get started on your journey to recovery, speak to someone from Cumberland Heights today. It’s never too late.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

If you talk to anyone who has worked with James Luna during his tenure at Cumberland Heights, you’ll hear all kinds of anecdotes about his impact and personality. There is one theme you’ll hear over and over – that James was a no-nonsense kind of guy. In recovery, James often told people things they didn’t want to hear but needed to. It always came from a place of love.

Remembering Our Friend, James Luna
Remembering Our Friend, James Luna
James was Clinical Director of the Men’s Program for 19 years. As his obituary states “His own personal recovery, that spanned decades, was paralleled only by the love and energy he put into patients and friends alike struggling with alcohol and drug addictions. His life’s work will be remembered by the thousands he touched who are now, in turn, helping others themselves.”

Cumberland Heights Board Member Rob Crichton had this to say about James:

“I first met James Luna 31 years ago. James was quite a force at Friendship House. I suppose you could put him in the category of the ‘tough love’ type. Staying sober and participating in the program was top priority. He introduced me to a rather rough looking fellow in the coffee bar at 202 one afternoon and informed me I was going to be his sponsor. What an experience. James was emphatic to put it mildly. He also called it like he saw it in the meetings, not cross talking, but he always let you know where he stood. I admired his AA orthodoxy especially in a meeting.”

Many years later I became reacquainted with James after he became employed at Cumberland Heights, but something had changed. James was much more mellow. The rough edges seemed to have smoothed out. I cannot tell you how this happened. Perhaps it was his marriage to Dawn or being in the Cumberland environment, but he had transformed into a much gentler person. We worked on two projects together at Cumberland Heights and I felt totally comfortable around him. It felt like we were beginning to be friends.

“One thing is for certain in my experience – James Luna was always a good man regardless what chapter of life he was in.”

Vivian Jo Bell, who works in Medical Records said, “I found him to be direct, honest, grateful and compassionate. My favorite memory of James is 22 years ago. I was diagnosed with cancer. James Luna was the first person to come to me just to talk and offer prayers.”

Our Chief Clinical Officer Cinde Stewart Freeman had this to say about James:

“I met James during my first 60 days in recovery. I didn’t know how to talk to people and I was afraid this recovery thing wouldn’t work for me. James caught my attention in meetings because he spoke rarely, concisely, and always something that rang as true to me. During a day that I was really struggling, I got my nerve up and asked the $1,000,000 question. ‘James, how do you get faith?’ I think my voice was shaking; I know my hands still were. I thought he was going to give me a mystical and deeply theological answer that would change my world. He looked at me closely and then simply said, ‘Well, Cinde, you lived through things that you thought you couldn’t live through, and when you look back, you realize that God helped you. That’s how you get faith.’ At the time, it seemed too easy to be true and much too simple. As the years have gone by, James and I have had many conversations about God and the nature of spirituality.  I learned so much wisdom from him. But I am not sure that anything he taught me was as powerful as that first simple truth a truth that turned out to be mystical, deeply theological, and that did indeed change my world. Godspeed, my friend. I love you.”

James had a way with words, both spoken and on paper. You may be one of the millions who read his articles on Grapevine, AA’s monthly publication.  And few could forget his goodbye letter to Cumberland Heights when he retired in 2012.

It read in part:

 “To have been allowed a minor part in this unfolding passion play of God after his wounded and devastated children for the past 25 years has been, for me, nothing short of…words are often insufficient in this realm. Fortunately, God has languages that need no words.”

A Life Celebration will be held for James Saturday, Oct. 20 at 2:30 p.m. at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home and Cremation Center. A reception will follow at The Pavilion.

Learn more about James Luna’s life and legacy by reading his obituary.

Davidson County Community Education Program

EVENT TOPIC: Addiction Affects the Entire Family

Addiction is a family disease that stresses the family to the breaking point, impacts the stability of the home, the family’s unity, mental health, physical health, finances, and overall family dynamics.

Join us to learn about how your family might be affected and what you can do to support yourself, your family and your loved ones who may be struggling with substance use.

Davidson County Community Education

EVENT DETAILS:

LOCATION: AGAPE Center – 4555 Trousdale Drive, Nashville, TN 37204
DATE: October 25, 2018
TIME: 6:00PM – 7:30PM

REGISTER NOW!

ABOUT THE ORGANIZER:

The mission of Cumberland Heights is to transform lives, giving hope and healing to those affected by drugs and alcohol. Addiction is a chronic, progressive, and potentially fatal disease. We carefully provide the highest quality care for adults, adolescents, and families who suffer from, or are affected by, this devastating disease.

Overdose Awareness Day at Cumberland Heights

Friday August 31, 2018

International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is a global event held on August 31st each year and aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

Overdose Day spreads the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable. Together we honor those we have lost and share hope for the future.

A Service of Remembrance of those lost this year, especially to addiction, helping us to move from grief toward hope and healing. A list of first names with last initial of those we are remembering will be read at the service. If you would like to add a name to the list, please submit that using the form below.

June 10, 2018: Sunday Sermon: You Have To Serve Somebody…or Something

We are all worshipping something, whether we realize it or not. In this talk, Stan explores the various “Higher Powers” at work in our lives like seeking the approval of others, chasing financial success or needing to control people, places, and things and compares them to the benefits of the Gospel of Jesus, the Eightfold Path of Buddhism, and the Twelve Step recovery process.

May 27, 2018: Sunday Sermon: The Rich Young Man Revisited

Our most treasured possessions are the belief systems we use to navigate life as we understand it. In this talk, Stan borrows from the Biblical story of a rich young man who could not envision another way of being in the world and missed out on the greatest opportunity of his life. And so it is for those of us faced with the choice of recovery or continuing to use.

Finding Healing through Art - A Blog Post on Cumberland Heights Addiction Recovery Website
Rebecca Sledge Johnson Clinical Coordinator and Art Therapist

Art therapy is a growing experiential therapy used by  the Traditional Men, Women, Young Men, and Extended Care programs at Cumberland Heights. It’s offered through weekly groups as well as to individual patients referred by their primary counselors.

Art therapy allows patients a non-confrontational mode of expression and communication which fosters self-discovery, internalization of core beliefs and improved self-esteem and identity exploration, while also supporting and enhancing 12-Step work. At Cumberland Heights we’re fortunate to have access to a variety of media for the patients to take risks and play with – including painting, drawing and collage, as well as repurposed and “trashed” materials which can be used to create something new – something out of “junk.”

No artistic skill, background or even desire is required for art therapy. All that’s asked is a patient remains open to the process and keep criticism of self and others at bay. This is a huge obstacle for many who’ve been told by others they aren’t creative or aren’t good at creating art – and have ultimately internalized a belief that art is not a mode of expression they’re capable of utilizing.

I have many patients who come through and have experienced some form of “art trauma” and find it very threatening to do something creative outside of their comfort zone. It’s incredibly rewarding to witness these individuals step up with courage to allow themselves to be vulnerable.

There are many things I love about art therapy; namely, there is tangible evidence of a patient’s process. There’s proof of how they’re feeling or thinking in the moment of creation. Art-making is inherently self-esteem boosting and allows patients an opportunity to get “out of their heads.” They begin to make sense of what seems out of control, especially when it’s difficult to find the words to describe or identify what they’re experiencing.

Success Stories

Finding Healing through Art - A Blog Post on Cumberland Heights Addiction Recovery WebsiteI worked with one young woman who entered treatment as the victim of a violent assault. Through art therapy, she was eventually able to tell her story using an artistically altered book as the method for her narrative work. She already had a lot of mature coping skills in place and had done some amazing work in boundary ­setting and self-care while in treatment.

After an art-therapy assessment, I decided she had the ability to self-structure. Her work showed she was very intelligent, insightful and expressive, but also revealed a struggle with unhealthy relationships and feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. I asked her to create an altered book using an old hard-backed library book and mixed media. I gave her no directive beyond this in hopes this freedom would allow her to tell her story. By the end of this book, she showed her attack and trauma, and asked me to join her in her primary group so she could share her story using her book as the guide to show the story she was unable to tell.

The young woman began a new altered book before leaving treatment; the first page was full of messages of self-empowerment. It was inspirational to see her find her voice by taking away the power of her traumatic experience through externalization and storytelling. She no longer carried the burden of her shame and fear alone. Through art therapy, she reclaimed her life and found courage and inspiration from within.

Finding Healing through Art - A Blog Post on Cumberland Heights Addiction Recovery WebsiteArt therapy is powerful in a group setting as well, allowing peers to share themselves at a deeper level and demonstrate trust and willingness in the process.

I worked with an adult male patient who admitted he felt art therapy was the least helpful group for his recovery. After he skipped group, I gave him an assignment to explore how this avoidance was indicative of old patterns or defenses, encouraging him to think about what was holding him in these well-worn patterns of addiction.

From this challenge, he created a sculpture representing his long-term struggle with true acceptance in his life, and acknowledging for there to be a higher power, darkness also has to exist. He connected this to an understanding he had to find balance in his life and work in order to accept that which he cannot change, so he would be empowered in his recovery. His presentation changed completely and his work demonstrated a catharsis, a shift in breaking through his defenses and finally being authentic.

These are just a couple of examples of the powerful work I have been fortunate enough to witness in art therapy. I truly believe in its value as part of addiction treatment. I continue to be blown away by the power of the creative process in self-discovery and, most importantly, self-healing. I am eternally grateful to Cumberland Heights and to the people who have passed through these doors for the healing and growth I receive daily.



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