Tag Archives: Inspiration

Tag Archives: Inspiration


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.


Cumberland Heights’ programming is based on the principles of the 12 Steps of recovery. Each month we ask a member of our expert staff to share his or her experience on a specific Step. This month Spiritual Directors Angela Moscheo Benson, M. Div. MA and Stan Bumgarner M. Div. LADAC will focus on Step Two: Came to believe a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.

Angela Moscheo Benson, M. Div. MA

My first sponsor asked me to define each word in each Step we were working. Working through the definitions for Step Two brought my attention to the word sanity: the ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner. I remember reading that definition only to laugh out loud at how far from sane my ability to think was in that moment. It’s almost impossible to think back on the roar of distortion in my head the first time I worked Steps One through Three. I lump them together because I recommit to them every day, and right in the middle is the all-important recognition of the need for help.

Step Two is all about asking for help.  Sure, it’s also about understanding how our own best thinking got us here, but logically we need something outside of ourselves if we want to change.

There is an awareness which occurs in an honest working of Step One that leads me to a place of acceptance in Step Two. It’s as if the shift of perception leads to a shift in attitude, but that isn’t necessarily true. Unless we are willing to believe in something greater, the shift in awareness isn’t enough. At its core, Step Two asks us to move from the powerlessness we felt in Step One to a place of hope that change is possible.  Like it says in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, “We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation.” Most often liberation comes with the strength we receive from a Higher Power, but only if we’re open to the possibility of a restorative Power and are willing to ask that Power for help. For some, that Power is found in the other people in the rooms, but for me, that Power is a caring God who wants to help me recover my true spiritual nature. I may be powerless, but I’m not without help.


Stan Bumgarner M. Div. LADAC

Step Two is the natural progression of having worked Step One. In Step One we admit no matter how hard we try to stop, moderate, or control our drinking or drug use, we can’t do it. And as a result, our lives are not turning out the way we want.

The reasonable conclusion from working Step One is, “If I can’t figure this out on my own, then I need help, and it’s going to have come from something much wiser than I am and much bigger and stronger than alcohol and drugs.”

Working Step Two does not necessarily mean we must embrace the capital “G” God as the power greater than ourselves. Although many people are comfortable with this concept of Higher Power, there are also those who aren’t. And that’s completely acceptable.

For recovery newcomers, it may be more effective to have a tangible power greater than themselves in the form of the 12-Step recovery process, the 12-Step Recovery community, and a caring, present sponsor.

The essence of Step Two is recognizing and coming to believe two key concepts: 1. I can’t seem to figure it out because my addiction is bigger than I am; and 2. For me to survive and turn my life around I need help, and the help I get is going to have to be more powerful than my addiction.

Step Two is critically important because it sets the stage for all the other steps. Until we finally come to believe we need help, we won’t ask for it. Until we ask for help, we won’t experience the sense of hope and promise offered by working the remaining Steps.

New Starts in Recovery

 

For many, January signifies the start of something new: a new year, new resolutions, a new start. Many people make resolutions hoping to meet personal goals or to improve their quality of life. New Year’s resolutions are also reminiscent of the commitment we make to recovery. The first step we take in recovery is a step toward a new start.

The following are reflections on new starts in recovery from Cumberland Heights’ staff members:

A life in recovery from drugs and alcohol is a wonderful life with many new beginnings. A few of the many gifts I’ve received have been, stronger and deeper relationships with friends and family, a new way of living life with peace and serenity, and a greater understanding and love for myself and others. John Boolos (Case Manager, Men’s Department)


For me “New Start” has meant opportunity, and new found hope. A “New Start” has afforded me the opportunity to be the son, friend, brother, uncle and peer I feel I was meant to be. In active addiction I was far from the person I feel I was meant to be, but I felt completely hopeless. An overwhelming fear I had lost my authentic self, someone not only my family and friends missed, but I did as well. A new beginning filled me with the hope the real me was not gone, just lost. It was up to me to put in the work to find him again. With new found hope and a Higher Power of my understanding, I received the power and direction needed to find myself and sustain my recovery.  ~ Conner Davidson CPRS (Clinical Associate Team Leader, Young Men’s Department)


New Starts to me is the opportunity to get this thing called life right, and live it the way God intends me to live. With new starts, and the program of recovery I’ve not only been able to find myself, but actually love myself again. (Being worthy is a hard thing to feel when in active addiction.) I’ve been given what I call my dream job, and I get to have true happiness in my life because of new starts. None of it would be possible if I didn’t come to Cumberland Heights to find out I needed a program, a tribe, and a family of other like-minded people to help support me, care for me and encourage me along the way. In my New Start, I found God, the program and myself. ~ April Sambuco (Human Resources Generalist)


For me, I see the opportunity for New Starts more like a “Personal Renovation.” Much like fixing up an old house, the framework is there, but in active addiction I allowed my house to become dilapidated and unlivable. Luckily on September 5, 2005, I was given the opportunity to hire a new “interior designer,” (which I currently identify as my Higher Power) to remodel this ole house. A relationship with my Higher Power and the 12-Step program has given me a new “Design” for living. In recovery I’ve become a father to two beautiful children, I’ve been an employee at Cumberland Heights for 10 years, and I have wonderful relationships with my family again. I’ve been sober for over 12 years, and none of this would be possible without my New Start. As we start this New Year I look forward to many more opportunities for New Starts. ~ Travis W. Hupp, LADAC II (Clinical Coordinator, Men’s Program)


One of the worst things about my addiction was the rotting ball of shame and guilt I carried around in my gut every day. Made up of lies, failures, losses, wrong choices, and missed opportunities, I couldn’t get away from it unless I drank and used. Even then, it always came back when the high wore off. After a while, it was with me even with the alcohol and drugs—a horrible mess of feelings I couldn’t name. What a relief to hear the Third Step Prayer and know I could ask a Power greater than myself to “relieve me of the bondage of self.” It was scary to think about turning my will and my life over to the care of this Power I wasn’t totally sure would take care of me, but considering the alternative, I was willing to give it a try. People told me to try it one day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time, as often as necessary. Each time I was willing to follow that suggestion, I could start again. I could have a New Start anytime I was willing to ask for help. The ball of shame and guilt began to unravel—sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly, as the Big Book says. Today, that ball is mostly a memory. And, if I start to feel that old sludge, thanks to a 12-Step program, its fellowship, and a Power greater than me, a New Start is always within reach. ~ Cinde Stewart Freeman, RN, LADAC, QCS (Chief Clinical Officer)

How have you experienced New Starts in your recovery? Please share your experience with us in the comments below.

Cumberland Heights Recovery Blog - 7 Ways to Avoid Stress During the Holidays

The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.
– Sydney J. Harris

Stress and anxiety can ruin your holidays and your recovery. Setting realistic goals, seeking support and planning ahead can help to lessen the stress this holiday season. Check out the following 7 ways to practice recovery and avoid stress during your holiday festivities!


  1. Know your limits.
    Don’t overextend yourself. Don’t be afraid to set healthy boundaries and know when to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed.
  2. Go to a meeting, do step work, call your sponsor.
    Engage your support system and beef up your recovery efforts during seasons of high stress. Don’t be afraid to reach out or ask for help when you feel overwhelmed. Take a deep breath and go back to the basics of 12-Step recovery.
  3. Get some physical exercise, fresh air and plenty of sleep.
    Exercise stimulates the feel-good hormone serotonin. Getting out in nature and going for a walk, run or hike can help relieve stress and reduce anxiety. Yoga and meditation are also great ways to refocus, clear your mind and calm your nerves during times of stress. Getting enough sleep is also crucial when avoiding the holiday pressures and being able to think clearly.
  4. Focus on being grateful.
    Making a gratitude list helps put things in perspective. Expressing gratitude or just paying a compliment has a way of lifting others’ spirits by bringing a smile to their face and yours.
  5. Pray and meditate.
    Silent reflection is always a good way to refocus and reduce anxiety. Holidays can be a deeply spiritual time of year. Take time to connect with your higher power or something greater than yourself; it will help you feel calmer and more centered.
  6. Volunteer.
    Spending time doing service work or volunteering with those less fortunate helps put things into perspective. Wrap gifts for a local charity, volunteer at a homeless shelter, buy a gift for a child in need – whatever adds meaning for you.
  7. Set realistic expectations.
    Focus on fun and relaxation, rather than on creating the perfect table, meal or moment, and you will see your holiday stress melt away. The most precious thing we can give to anyone else is our time and attention. Tune in to the people around you and really be with them, so you don’t miss out on what counts most.

Blog article: Eclipse at Cumberland HeightsI’ve just come down from the big slope and hill at the front of Cumberland Heights after watching the Eclipse. Along with everybody else, we’ve all been talking about it for weeks. The science, the mystery, the spirituality of it all. Metaphors abound.

At the simplest, the Eclipse shows how active addiction gradually shuts out everything else in our lives until the Moment of Totality–Step One. When everything is blotted out and we can no longer see our way backwards or forwards, we finally surrender. We finally admit that we cannot control our alcohol and drug use—that we are powerless and that our lives are unmanageable. We admit that addiction is killing us. Like the Earth and all that is on it, we cannot live without the Sun, or in our case, what the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous calls, “the Sunlight of the Spirit.”

What struck me on the hill was the beauty of that Step One surrender moment.  Patients, alumni, staff, and their families were scattered across the hill. As I looked around at the moment of Total Eclipse, I saw a couple of stars and a planet that couldn’t be seen until the darkness was more complete. You know, those people you take for granted when you really sick and who are still standing by you when you finally ask for help.  I saw sunset colors of gold and soft orange from all four sides—’a 360-degree sunset,’ as my friend Claude called it. The view I see every day suddenly seemed precious in a way I often miss—just like my family, my friends, and the other truly important stuff I ignored in active addiction.

I did not feel the beauty of my first Step One surrender. I was too defeated, too scared, and too unsure that there was anything on the other side. I didn’t know about Step Two and Step Three—how a Higher Power working through a fellowship of other recovering people would save me. It took time for me to see the beauty and the freedom of the Step One surrender. It took time for me to understand that Step One was the beginning of a new life for me.

As the Totality happened today, there was a spontaneous cheering from all across the slope and hill at Cumberland Heights! It wasn’t planned; it just came from deep inside us.  It was the sound of sober and clean people celebrating. “We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol and drugs-that our lives had become unmanageable.” And, in that very moment, the Sun started to come back out.


Cinde Stewart Freeman is Cumberland Heights’ Chief Clinical Officer and has been with Cumberland Heights for 25 years. During her tenure Cinde has served in nursing, clinical management and administrative roles.

Cinde is a bachelor’s prepared nurse with a master’s degree in counseling. She served on the Board of Directors at both AWARE and Thistle Farms. Cinde has developed and presented professional trainings on a wide variety of clinical skills, as well as process improvement, clinical supervision, and workplace wellness. She is an Oral Examiner for the Tennessee Board of Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors and a Qualified Clinical Supervisor for the LADAC.

 

Blog Article Courage in Recovery - written by Angela Moscheo Benson, MDiv, MA, Spiritual DirectorPoet E.E. Cummings once wrote, “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” I have that quote hanging by my desk. It reminds me why I do what I do for myself and for others and of the courage it takes to work for both.

Every day the world sends messages to our egos telling us who and what we are. These messages also dictate who and what we should want to be, constantly encouraging us to compare ourselves to others. This message sending world is a human construct, material and subjective. It is not a spiritual message of love and tolerance. It’s no wonder we in recovery can feel so out of place in this world, especially in early recovery. Our program tells us a spirit of love and tolerance is our creed and yet our world tells our egos that an attitude of proud judgement and comparison is our way. The message sending world is selfish and wrong. It’s also a willing participant in the disease of addiction.

The disease of addiction could not thrive without the support of social human constructs. And yet, instead of promoting clean living, everywhere we look social media, TV, movies, music, drugs and alcohol are glorified and their use is commonplace. Those who choose not to use, and those in recovery, are considered square and dull by popular culture. And those in early recovery fear that message is true. I talk to patients everyday who worry about what will happen when they get out of treatment. With whom will they spend time? What will they do for fun if they aren’t drinking and drugging? Do they really need a recovery community instead of their old friend? These are legitimate concerns propagated by a culture of indulgence and instant gratification. So, how do those of us in the treatment field combat such strong messages?

For me, the key to success in recovery lies in Step 11. It’s written on page 98 of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, “There is a direct linkage among self-examination, meditation and prayer. Taken separately, these practices can bring much relief and benefit. But when they are logically related and interwoven, the result in an unshakable foundation for life.” Those are simple instructions that also happen to be difficult to carry out. In order to practice the concepts of 12-Step recovery, one must be made aware of the spiritual principles. On the common list of spiritual principles, courage is named for Step 4, and where I agree with that principle for that Step, I also believe courage is the primary principle required for all of the Steps (and for most anything else in life). It takes great courage to admit we are powerless.

It takes even more courage to ask for help and to believe a Power greater than ourselves is the bedrock on which 12-Step recovery is based.

Yes, it takes courage and at least a sliver of faith and a dash of hope to begin this program, but it also takes courage to speak the truth, to set boundaries and to self-advocate. Once we become aware that addiction is a disease, we must come to accept that diagnosis applies to us. Then and only then can we begin the important actions required for a “personality change sufficient to bring about recovery…Most emphatically [I] wish to say that any alcoholic capable of honestly facing his problems… can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts… Willingness, honesty and open-mindedness [and courage] are the essentials for recovery.” (AA p. 567 and 568)


Angela Moscheo Benson, MDiv, MA, Spiritual DirectorAngela Moscheo Benson is a Spiritual Director at Cumberland Heights. Angela earned a Masters of Divinity at Union Theological Seminary in New York City where she lived and worked for many years before returning to her hometown of Nashville. Angela’s focus is on the spiritual principles of 12-Step recovery and her spiritual pedagogy is concept focused and experiential. 

Angela is married to her childhood sweetheart, and they share an active home with her son and their seven rescue dogs.


When I was discharged from Cumberland Heights I knew one thing for certain…treatment may have been complete, but recovery was just beginning. Today, there are many ways I’m active in my recovery and one of the most rewarding is what I’m able to do for others. Service work is an integral part of what keeps me sober one day at a time. Each simple act keeps me out of my own head long enough to focus on another individual or group’s recovery. I’m not seeking recognition, only trying to make someone else’s journey in sobriety a little easier. And while focusing on someone else, something magical happens…people begin to recover together.

With this in mind, here are 10 ways to be of service to others in recovery:

1) Sponsorship – Becoming a sponsor is the ultimate way one person suffering from addiction can help another. A sponsor gives his or her time; meeting sponsees to help them work the steps, to ferret out the root causes of his or her addiction, and develop a deeper relationship with a Higher Power of their understanding.

2) Be a sober contact – Newly recovering people are always encouraged to get as many phone numbers as they can so they’ll have plenty of people to call when they’re triggered to use or drink. Being the person on the other end of the call can save a life.

3) Take meetings to detox units – I’ll never forget the first message of recovery, strength and hope I heard was in a detox unit at a local hospital. Providing this vital area of service work, you can inspire hope in someone about a program with the potential to change their life for the better.

4) Chair 12-Step meetings – A certain amount of responsibility comes along with steering the ship at a 12-Step meeting. The chair passes out the readings, and often, chooses the topic of discussion. This role serves every person attending.

5) Attend business meetings – Each home group has a meeting set aside to discuss financial details: bills for rent, items needed for purchase such as soft drinks; and the collections to pay for expenses. This is a good way to serve the home group.

6) Greet people – Making someone feel welcome in a 12-Step meeting is a wonderful way to give back. Shaking hands, taking an interest in a newcomer, offering a smile or a friendly hello can be the one thing someone needed to hear to come back to another meeting.

7) Clean up – Each month my home group assigns someone to clean up our meeting place. Wiping off tables, sweeping floors and cleaning up the facility to keep it nice for our meetings is one way to get out of ourselves and help others.

8) Offer transportation to meetings – In recovery finding our way to meetings is our responsibility. However, some provide rides as service work. I was blessed enough to have someone who helped me get to meetings when I couldn’t drive.

9) Participate in fundraising – A clubhouse where I got sober recently held a yard sale. Providing clothing, tagging items or volunteering time at an event like this are all ways to provide service work.

10) Host sober activities – A common complaint among someone new in recovery is that they don’t know how to have fun without substances. Hosting an event for sober people to have a bonfire, barbecue, movie night, canoe or camping trip; or just a gathering to walk together downtown is more helpful than you might realize.


10 Ways to be of Service to Others in RecoveryKatrina Cornwell is a case manager at Cumberland Heights, a motivational speaker, blogger and three-time, first-place award winner in the annual Tennessee Press Association contest.

In her presentations, she speaks about her addiction to drugs and alcohol and how those habits led to a drunk driving accident which killed a man in October 2009.

In the days and weeks after leaving Cumberland Heights for a new adventure in early recovery, I discovered I was painfully shy when it came to meeting new people in the rooms.

Initially this made it difficult for me to make the meaningful connections so necessary for someone in early recovery to achieve and maintain sobriety.

I was afraid of them. I was afraid of me. I was afraid to be vulnerable enough to let anyone see how much I was hurting over what I’d done and how I’d hurt others and myself through my actions.

So, I went to the meetings, kept to myself and left immediately after for many weeks isolating myself in the crowds of recovering people. I warmed up slowly to the people in the AA groups I attended. I paid attention in particular to the women who demonstrated the kind of recovery I wanted to emulate.

One day, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and walked up to a woman I had grown to admire very much for the way she worked the program. I asked her to be my sponsor. Although she was not able to accommodate me, she connected me with a lady who became my sponsor and devoted friend for more than six years. Although she is not my sponsor now, she remains one of my most trusted friends in recovery.

Katrina Cornwell with members of her recovery community.
Katrina Cornwell with members of her recovery community.

Finding a sponsor who I could trust with my deepest darkest secrets, someone whom I could count upon to be my spiritual guide through the 12 Steps was another way I grew in recovery.

Working the steps with my sponsor solidified our commitment to each other, helping each other stay sober one day at a time, spending time together and staying in the literature.

I remember so clearly sitting down with her for my fifth step, not knowing how long it would take or what her reaction to all of my heinous sins would be. Never did she wince or cast a judging glance, she just loved me. She helped me grow until I became strong enough to reach out my hand to help someone else.

My sponsor took me to AA meetings, went to dinner with me and to the movies. She wrote a letter to the judge in my case. She even testified on my behalf at court twice. It was a connection like no other in the program, and it is vital to the successful recovery of the newly recovering alcoholic or addict.

Establishing this relationship in recovery helped make me the woman I am today.


K HeadshotKatrina Cornwell is a case manager at Cumberland Heights, a motivational speaker, blogger and three-time, first-place award winner in the annual Tennessee Press Association contest.

In her presentations, she speaks about her addiction to drugs and alcohol and how those habits led to a drunk driving accident which killed a man in October 2009.


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