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Comeback Journeys in Recovery: Episode 7

Dr Bill Campbell’s knowledge of addiction is based on both personal and career experience. He was a Family Physician  when he quit alcohol 36 years ago. Now retired he became an  Addictions Medicine Specialist, and is a past president of the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine and of the Addiction Medicine Section of the Alberta Medical Association. He suffered an aortic aneurysm 12 years ago but was able to continue working with the aid of crutches.

Comeback Journeys in Recovery: Episode 6

Joyce Ganong has been writing all of her life, but this is her first book.

Her articles on health and wellness have appeared in numerous publications including Canadian Living and B.C. Runner, and she is recipient of a Rotary Integrity Award and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for her work in community service. She lives on Bowen Island, B.C., where she spends time with her husband, daughters, and grandchildren.


Rocking On: into our 60s 70s & beyond

Cast your mind back to December, 2016. As year’s end approached did you start to wonder where the year had gone? I did. Now that I’m in my early 70s time seems to be chasing its own tail.

Whenever I got impatient as a child for an upcoming event, my mother told me “Stop wishing your life away. It will be over soon enough.” It didn’t make sense then. It does now. 

 For thousands of years, the mystics of all great spiritual traditions have reminded us of the futility of clinging onto anything because everything changes. In the 1960s and 70s I only thought about fun and it seemed to me everyone else did.  Even though during that time I was visiting aging relatives in hospital who were dying, I pushed into the dark recesses of my mind the reality that I too would age and die.

But my body started telling me in my 50s when It took me longer to recover from a workout or injury; while in my 60s the aches and pains from old injuries started getting bothersome. In  my 70s, while I can still crank out a set of 40 pushups or 10 full-hang pull ups, 10 years ago I could do much more. Inevitably my endurance and strength will diminish, but I’d like to postpone my dependancy on others for as long as I can. 

I met someone this morning who told me she didn’t want to live until she was 90 because she will be weak and fragile and dependent on the whim of others. It’s this vulnerability that I suspect most of us fear.

 If this is you, get active. If you are already active are you doing enough to ensure that you can at least get out and enjoy life into your 80s? Do you think you’ll be able to go out for long walks, play tennis or golf with friends? Play with grandkids?

Of course, there are no guarantees. All we can do is improve the odds. Physical activity, along with good nutrition and a spiritual faith, will keep you rocking into old age (whatever that means these days or in the future).  

Hope to see you rocking on the dance floor. 

Comeback Journeys in Recovery: Episode 5

Mary-Jo Fetterly is the inspiration and founder behind Trinity Yoga Inc.: a national Yoga Teacher Training, Personal Development and Advanced Studies School. She is well known in the yoga community as a devoted teacher, mother and practitioner.  The devastation and challenges of a recent severe spinal cord injury haven’t held her back, as she continues to inspire and coach individuals to live life to the fullest. It was only months after her injury that Mary-Jo, with the love and support of her incredible team, was back teaching and bringing the gifts of yoga through the powerful vehicle of Trinity Yoga to hundreds.

No matter what the situation Mary-Jo believes we all have a “disability” to deal with, whether it is physical, mental, emotional, spiritual or cultural and it is within the capacity of each individual to transform, heal and rise above obstacles, given the right tools.

Comeback Journeys in Recovery: Episode 4

Sherry Strong is a Food Philosopher, Chef, Nutritionist, the Curator & Co-Founder of the World Wellness Project, former; Victorian Chair of Nutrition Australia, Melbourne President of Slow Food, TEDxTokyo 2009 speaker and was a highly commended faculty member of the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, Vancouver Campus. 

Sherry’s written & illustrated a book called ‘A Return To Food – the life-changing anti-diet’ which is she presents the philosophies like Nature’s Principle, The Lethal Recipe and The Consumption Concept, that form the foundation for her 8-week Online Program which teaches people to develop a healthy relationship with food, their body and the environment for a ‘body & life that works’.

She is also the founder of the Return to Food Academy & Mentorship Program for Holistic Entrepreneurs which is presently transitioning 5-month online program culminating in a retreat with Sherry Strong on Bowen Island.

Comeback Journeys in Recovery: Episode 3

A conversation on PTSD with Shaye Molendyke, Lt. Col. USAF who talks about the success of the Yogafit for Warriors program for treating PTSD in the military, front line responders and those suffering from addiction.

Shaye has  taught yoga for 16 years and has an MA in Counselling specializing in Cognitive Behavioral and Group counseling. Her experience includes working at the Landstuhl Regional Military Hospital , Germany on the Psychiatric In-patient ward.

Comeback Journeys in Recovery: Episode 2

A conversation with Dr. Shahar Rabi on trauma, addiction recovery and the need for some form of spirituality for healing and reduction of fear.

Registered Clinical Counsellor and Co-Founder and Director of Education for the New Earth Institute in Vancouver, Dr. Shahar Rabi is currently the Program Director at the Orchard Recovery Centre on Bowen Island, with years of experience in treating trauma, addiction, depression, and anxiety. He also teaches Counselling Psychology at the Vancouver campuses of City University of Seattle and Adler University. His academic research has been mainly focused on mindfulness and body-centred interventions as means for well-being, connection, and growth.

Introducing...Comeback Journeys in Recovery: Episode 1

Comeback Journeys in Recovery are conversations with individuals who have either have recovered or are recovering from traumas such as an addiction, life-threatening illness, major accident, or abuse.  

My intention with this series is to provide additional seeds of knowledge and hope for those on their own journey of recovery.   I hope you enjoy it!

A conversation with Marni Spencer-Devlin on recovering from molestation, rape, physical abuse, heroin addiction, prostitution, prison and then cancer.

Unwanted, molested, raped, beaten, forced into heroin addiction, prostituted and thrown into prison. Miraculously Marni survived and emerged to build a multimillion dollar corporation with seventy employees. Then a deadly diagnosis changed everything again. Marni lost everything but instead of giving up, she tried to find the gift and discovered her true power. Today she works as an executive coach and marketing communications expert to help others recognize the unique gifts only they can bring.


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is not only a problem for military veterans or first responders, many of those addicted to substance abuse or any form of addiction also unknowingly suffer from it. Until we get help to discover the repressed trauma and do the necessary healing, we either keep relapsing or remain unhappy even in recovery.

A Walk on the Wild Side: A 10-day trek with Buddhist Monks

A journey to love from fear and guilt (Part 2)

In their orange robes, the Buddhist monks sat before dawn in a semicircle in the dense Thailand forest close to the Cambodian border. The light from a small lantern danced on their faces as they chanted in the ancient language of Pali, the incantations seeming to reverberate within their chests and rumble out from their throats.  The chanting ceased and they began silently meditating, the forest canopy broken only by the sound of cicadas, until approaching dawn heralded an increasing cacophony of noise.

It was 1993, and after a short working contract in a remote location in the far north of Vietnam, I had decided to join the Sangha of around 30 Monks who were taking an annual multi-day retreat into the forests to deepen their spiritual practice. This time, the Abbot of the monastery was taking a small party of us with the purpose of showing us the contrasts between natural forest growth and the hot, dry, dusty land resulting from destructive forest practices.

All my decisions at that time in my life were heavily influenced by undiagnosed depression , caused by a combination of several years struggling to stay sober again and a recent divorce.  I’d left it too late and had lost everything by the time I took my last drink in 1992. Two months after the divorce I took off to North Vietnam… the sort of decision not made by a healthy mind. That I was able to ride the emotional storm was, I believe, thanks to an expanding foundation of spiritual awareness.  My relapses hadn’t stalled the spiritual journey that had begun on the ski mountaineering trip.  (See Part 1) If anything, it had intensified.

My decision (irrespective of my emotional state) to participate in the forest trek was based on previous experience.  During a 12-month trip around the world two years earlier, I’d attended a 10-day silent meditation retreat in Thailand. That experience—as well as the week I spent studying A Course In Miracles at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland—stayed with me longer than Scuba diving in Fiji and on Australia’s Barrier Reef, treking in the New Zealand Alps and scrambling up Nepal’s Mountains. They had a long-term impact.

The forest trek event would offer a different experience. We walked for two days across land denuded of forests, and then for eight days (two more than expected) through dense, unexplored forest, sometimes having to struggle and crawl through the undergrowth. The contrast between the two was extreme, but even the natural forest was dry before the rainy season. One night we were unable to cook dinner for lack of water, and only found it the next morning in a pool muddied by wild animals. We boiled the water for cooking and added purification tablets so as to have water to drink during the day. It looked like weak tea.

At night we each cleared a space in the forest to hang a “Monk’s Umbrella,” the term used for a small mosquito net which would be our sleeping quarters for the night.  It was essential to weigh down two or three inches of the netting to prevent unwanted intruders. Upon retiring, I also used my boots and other personal gear from the inside because the forest floor seemed to move with nocturnal creatures and my mind was filled with images of snakes, spiders, and centipedes.

The Abbot eventually agreed to a meeting, after some participants started complaining about how tough the trip was proving to be. Through an interpreter, he told us: “All of you had expectations of what this trip would be like. It hasn’t met with your expectations and you are suffering. It is often failed expectations that cause suffering: try not to have any.” This idea was not new to me: yet at that time and place, its truth went deep.  I don’t know about you, but I am able to look back on my life and see all those minor and major events that left me feeling disappointed and often full of self-pity and resentment.

The Abbot went on to say: “It’s not doing that which is easy that gives the greatest reward; it’s doing that which is difficult. If you find this challenging, the memory will stay with you for a long time.”  It was 23 years ago and I still vividly remember that trip.

Recovery is also tough. Whether from substance abuse or a major trauma, the early years are often difficult. Many of us fail a few times. The secret is to keep trying.

Are you someone who has succeeded or are you still finding it difficult?

(Next Up in Part 3—Is a Dark Night of the Soul necessary for transformation?)