Student Spotlight: Connie K.

Connie K.Tell us about yourself.

I’m Connie. I’m from Lindstrom, Minnesota, and I’m a junior at Augsburg. I am a psychology major and am planning to hopefully be an art minor.

What brought you to Augsburg College?

I went to college in Superior, Wisconsin for my first year of school. I got sober up there, but it’s not easy being in recovery in college when almost no other students are sober. A friend of mine knew about StepUP and helped me learn more about the program. I also wanted to be close to my family, who all live near Minneapolis. Because of the StepUP program and the college’s location in Minneapolis, Augsburg seemed like the best fit.

What are you enjoying most about Augsburg and about StepUP?

Being at Augsburg, I love the diversity of the college. I’ve learned a lot and am grateful that my mind has been opened to new perspectives. I also love living in the city.

Being in StepUP… I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like being here completely takes away something that I’m stressed about. When I was in Superior, on the weekends especially, you could hear everyone partying in the dorms. It made me feel different and alone. Here, I don’t feel alone because of my sobriety. I don’t feel different. Sobriety just seems normal, which is a good thing for me right now. I don’t get caught up in stressing about being sober. Instead, I just am sober.

It sounds like being is StepUP has shaped your college experience in many ways. Can you say more about that?

I think a big part of what you do and who you are is shaped by who and what you’re around. Along with being in recovery, I struggle with depression. When I was in Superior, I was alone with myself. I didn’t want to be healthy and didn’t care about school. I did care about sobriety, but it’s hard to progress when you’re alone and don’t really want to connect with people who drink all the time. But here in StepUP, things feel different. Being around people who want to be healthy, want good things for themselves, care about school, and care about sobriety helps me to do those things too. StepUP has positively influenced my GPA and my sobriety. It’s also helped me become more willing to talk to people, which is something I’ve struggled with.

Tell us about your passions.

I’ve realized that when you’re using – or at least when I was using – since the only thing you really care about is using, you don’t listen to your heart when it tells you that you like doing something. You don’t pursue it. When I wasn’t doing the things I like, it contributed to my depression. It felt like, “If you’re not doing anything that you like, how could you be happy?” So I started listening when I realized that I liked being creative. I started painting more. I started drawing more. For me, art feels natural. It feels like this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s almost like breathing. If I stopped creating art, it would feel like, “Why are you not breathing?” And I’d realize, “You’re right.”

When I do something that makes my heart happy and makes me feel better, I listen to that feeling, and I do more of the things that make me feel that way. Listening to music is one of the biggest things that helps change my mood and helps me connect with positive feelings.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

I listen to a broad range. A lot of people know that I like Prince. I like rap music and hip-hop. The trendy music right now – I think that’s just more fun to listen to. But with artists like the Beatles, Chance the Rapper, or the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I listen to the lyrics more. I like music with deep lyrics that resonate with the way I think, and I can find that in their music.

What advice would you have for an incoming StepUP Student?

I struggled with some issues when I first came in here, and the only reason that I handled them well is because I worked through them very closely with my StepUP counselors and asked for a lot of support. They were situations that I didn’t know how to handle, so close guidance from the counselors was really helpful.

Is there anything else you want to share?

I just want to tell everyone that I’ve talked with and connected with in StepUP that the conversations and experiences I’ve had with everyone I’ve met here have been really important to me. From the smallest conversation to the deepest one, that human connection means a lot to me. I’m grateful for all the experiences I’ve had with the people here in StepUP.

Forgotten December Holidays

Did you know there is a holiday almost every day of the month in December? We all know the religious-type holidays this month very well, but what about the forgotten holidays? Holidays like National Chocolate Covered Anything Day or National Flashlight Day. I personally feel as though these holidays don’t get enough credit. Below, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite holidays this month, to bring awareness to these special “forgotten” days.

December 1st – Eat a Red Apple Day:

It seems a little out of season, as winter is descending on us. But as we all know, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and today is no different!

December 3rd – National Roof Over Your Head Day: Brownies and coffee.

We take the roof over our head for granted more often than we should. Sit for a moment and truly appreciate that you won’t be outside in the cold today.

December 4th – Wear Brown Shoes Day:

One of the best days of the year! I’ve been waiting a long time to finally break out my new brown shoes. Thank you for this opportunity.

December 8th – National Brownie Day:

The list of things better than a day dedicated to eating food is pretty short. The list of things better than a day dedicated specifically to eating warm, delicious brownies is even shorter. I trust that you all will celebrate this day accordingly.

December 10th – Human Right’s Day:

Due to current events in America, I truly do appreciate this day. The timing seems appropriate. A day to remember that every human has equal rights, and should be treated equally.

December 14th – National Monkey Day:Two monkeys.

Remember when you were a kid and loved seeing all the different kinds of monkeys at the zoo? Now that you know about National Monkey Day, you can spend the second Wednesday in December celebrating the life of Harambe (or any of your favorite monkeys).

December 16th – National Chocolate Covered Anything Day:

I genuinely can’t think of a more perfect National Day. A 24-hour period dedicated to chocolate covered anything. Feel free to bring such items to the StepUP office this day, I’m sure there would be no complaints.

December 19th – Oatmeal Muffin Day:

I love muffins. I do want to celebrate this day, but oatmeal muffins aren’t necessarily my muffin-of-choice. I might “accidentally” mistake an oatmeal raisin muffin for a banana chocolate chip choice. But it would be an accident, so it would still be considered celebrating.

December 21st – Look on the Bright Side Day:

A good day to remember there is an equal amount of good and bad in every situation. We have the power to focus on the good or bad in these situations. This holiday brings to mind a saying my principal quoted over the loudspeaker every single day of my high school education: “Make it a good day or not; the choice is yours.”

December 21st – National Flashlight Day:

Is it a coincidence that Look on the Bright Side Day and National Flashlight Day are on the same day? Hmmm…

December 24th – National Eggnog Day:Child singing.

I included this one, not because I have a passion for this traditional drink, but because every year since I can remember, my grandma saves a glass of eggnog and a cookie for the night of Christmas Eve. It’s so sweet. She’s probably been doing it her whole life. She’s the greatest woman I know and my biggest support, so I felt inclined to give her a little attention.

December 31st – Make Up Your Mind Day:

Thinking about dropping a bad habit? Pursuing a singing career? Starting a clothing line? Stop procrastinating and do it then! Or don’t, I guess. At least make up your mind about it, though.

Annual StepUP Thanksgiving

dsc_0277Over 70 StepUP students, alumni, and friends gathered together on the evening of November 20th for the annual StepUP Thanksgiving dinner. All the food was cooked by the students, for the students. The delectable dinner featured creamy mashed potatoes, cheese covered hash browns, macaroni with bread crumbs, homemade peach pie, Thelma’s ice cream sandwiches, over 100 pounds of turkey, and much more. It is very clear that we have some very talented cooks amidst the community.

 

I ate light all day to save my appetite for the dinner. As they say, if you didn’t eat too much on Thanksgiving, you didn’t do it right. Well, I definitely lived out that legacy, and am certain I wasn’t the only one. No regrets, though.

 

dsc_0265

A GoPro mounted in the corner of the room captured video of the entire event in chronological order: set up, waiting in line, eating (a lot), clean up, and food coma. Also, one delightful student had an additional GoPro bound to his chest, catching attendees at their very best and very worst moments of the night. It was funny until it was you he caught on camera taking a larger-than-average bite of food. Thanks so much, Chad!

 

It is refreshing to have at least one night a year where the whole community can get together, converse, eat, and have fun. It was a fine opportunity to take a moment and remember who and what I am truly grateful for. Gratitude always leads me to happiness. On that note, thank you to the Leadership Team for coordinating a beautiful, harmonious evening. Another thank you to everyone who cooked and helped make the night so, so flavorful.

 

-Connie K.

 

Student Spotlight: Connor J.

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Connor Jabin from Oak Park, Illinois, which is a suburb of Chicago. I’m a junior here at Augsburg and this is my third year in StepUP. I’ve been sober for a little over three and a half years. I’m a marketing major with a minor in business administration.

What are your plans after graduation?Connor J. pictured with mother.

The plan is to get an internship at a marketing or consulting company, next summer, and then work for a few years after graduation. Five or ten years from now I see myself starting my own business. I have a couple plans in mind but I’m not sure where I want to take them. I want to talk to alumni, friends, and people who have their own business for ideas and advice. I’m hoping one day to have a successful business.

What is your passion?

When I’m not busy with schoolwork, I like to participate in intramural sports. I’m currently the captain of the StepUP flag football team. I like hanging out with friends, going to football games and going to the gym. Another big passion of mine is caring about other people. I enjoy being selfless and seeing other people smile. Giving freely of myself to people without expecting anything back is truly rewarding for me.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

My biggest accomplishment has been making it through each day sober. I’m glad to wake up knowing that I didn’t hurt anyone the day before. My sobriety has given me the opportunity to have a new relationship with my family, friends, and girlfriend. Waking up knowing it’s going to be a good day no matter what, because I’m sober, is a priceless feeling.

What brought you to Augsburg?

I came to Augsburg to be in the StepUP Program. I couldn’t imagine going to college without a sober community. I was sitting in my room at 2 AM one night, searching “Sober Colleges” on Google. Information about Augsburg and the StepUP Program kept showing up. I ran downstairs to show my parents that Augsburg was where I wanted to go to school. Shortly after we set up a tour. I loved the campus, the college, and the location right in the middle of the city. The community felt so much like home; I could see myself making real friends and maintaining long term recovery in StepUP.

Why do you stay in StepUP?

The community is the biggest reason I stay here. It is so unique to be involved in a program where over 90 people are striving for the same goals as me. I feel like I can open up, be vulnerable, and share my problems with others. If my problems feel too big or I don’t feel comfortable talking about them with my friends, I know my counselor is always willing to listen. Together, the staff and community create something special that I am so grateful for and never want to take for granted.

What advice would you give an incoming student?

Go to class, immerse yourself in this community, and try to meet new people. My first year, it was good for me to make friends outside of StepUP as well. Augsburg has a lot to offer. Make friends outside of the StepUP community who are still a good influence on you.

Anything else?

StepUP gave me a second chance at life. I wanted to go to school like other college students who aren’t in recovery, but in an environment that would be safe and supportive of me. That’s what StepUP provides me.

 

“We create pathways to graduation and lifelong recovery.”

 

2016 StepUP Gala

This past Saturday, over 500 students, staff, alumni, parents, and supporters gathered in Augsburg’s Si Melby Hall for the renowned StepUP Gala. We celebrated the StepUP program with an evening of inspiration, entertainment, and fellowship.

 

StepUP Gala 2016 at Augsburg College Saturday Oct. 29. (photo by Courtney Perry)

Barbara and Skip Gage and family were honored with the Toby Piper Labelle Award, a prestigious award given out each year to a person or family that continuously supports young people in recovery. The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation received the inaugural Keystone Award for their 20 year partnership with the StepUP program. Senator Amy Klobuchar shared her experience and knowledge about the opioid epidemic in a special guest appearance.

 

The highlight of my night was the alumni speaker. StepUP graduate Peter H. did a great job of conveying how supportive and loving the spirit of our community is. He also showed the whole room an example of a great success story of a StepUP graduate. Peter’s story was inspirational and had many people in tears.

 

I also really enjoyed the alumni video about HOPE. A current student, Ricky T., did a tremendous job putting the video together. Seeing my friends and former students talk about their success stories gave me goosebumps. It is clear that StepUP has been a powerful experience for many.

 

If you didn’t have the opportunity to attend this year, take a moment to read some reflections on the event from staff and students:

 

“The Gala was absolutely beautiful. It was encouraging to see so many people there who were not a part of StepUP or even Augsburg College, but were there to show support, like Senator Amy Klobuchar. I had a lot of fun and I can’t wait to go again next year.” -Bridget D.

 

“My Mom was able to come for the first time in 3 years. It was brilliant to see her meet my favorite professors whom I have told her so much about.” -Dan M.

 

Alumni and current students joined Patrice S. on stage at the Gala.“The StepUP Gala is always an incredible experience. It reminds us of the reasons why the StepUP program is essential and benefits the world. Also, hearing from an alum (Peter H.) about the everlasting support the StepUP program gives feels very reassuring when I think of my own future.” -Blake H.

 

“I attended the StepUP Gala for the first time this year, and as a new counselor, I can say that it was a very powerful experience for me and my husband. It was great to meet so many students’ parents and family members, as well as StepUP alumni. The most moving moment, for me, was Peter H.’s speech. It was so powerful, inspiring, and courageous. There were many tears shed around me, including my own. The event was a fun experience and it was great to see so many supporters and advocates for the StepUP program.” -Thenedra R.

 

Listening to the speakers on Saturday night and witnessing the incredible support there is for StepUP made the Gala a powerful experience. It is easy to forget how lucky I am to be a part of this community. Even though today might seem like just another day of classes and homework, it’s also another opportunity to further realize that recovery and college life can coexist and feed off each other in truly beautiful ways.” -Chad B.

 

Many people put a lot of work into making the night successful beyond expectations. Thank you to everyone who came out the night of October 29th to support the StepUP program. See you next year!

 

-Connie K.

 

Largest StepUP Gala Ever Celebrates Hope

The StepUP® Gala on Ocotober 29 was a night of celebration for the StepUP Program, with a record-capacity crowd, a special guest appearance by Senator Amy Klobuchar, and generous support for StepUP’s students and the future of the program.

This year’s Gala generated nearly $500,000 for the program in one evening – with $150,000 raised from the Fund-a-Need. Thank you to the StepUP Board, the Gala committee, and co-chairs Gina Gage and Cindy Piper, for an evening to remember, which included some notable highlights:

• 500 guests in attendance
• 100+ StepUP Program alumni and students
• Barbara and Skip Gage and family received the Toby Piper LaBelle Award
• The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation received the inaugural Keystone Award
 Alumni speaker Peter Hubbard ’10 shared his experiences connecting students with alumni

Thanks to all who attended and made the event such a success!

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

          When you look outside this week, you are sure to notice the bright yellow, orange, and red leaves illuminating the trees around our beautiful city. The transition of the leaves symbolizes the transition to winter, which brings it’s own share of ups and downs. Winter means snowflakes, Christmas, skiing, ice fishing, and so much more, but for some of us, winter will bring a much different struggle. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is estimated to affect over 10 million Americans, and it’s said that the farther north you live, the more likely it is to affect you.¹ Considering we live in the northernmost state of the lower 48, I have a suspicion that some of you might relate when I say, I feel a little more down than usual in the winter.

          For me, my SAD brings along symptoms like lowerTwo people holding hands. energy, sadness, fatigue, low motivation, and poor appetite. For others, it can look like hypersomnia, oversleeping, weight gain, difficulty concentrating, irritability, isolation and anxiety. The cause of SAD is not known, but it might have something to do with complications caused by the lack of sunlight during the winter months.¹ Becoming aware of the possible diagnosis of SAD in myself has helped me think more in depth about what I’m going to do this winter to take care of myself. My body is already starting to feel more drained than usual, and my mood just a little more down. Luckily, as always, there is hope. It’s hard to see when depression seems consuming, but we’ve made it through winter before, and we’ll make it through again.

          I think something that will help me this winter is making sure I have events and activities to look forward to. I always look forward to Christmas. I love all the decorations and all the family time, but right after Christmas is the time when things start to get worse for me. It seems like the next thing my subconscious gets excited for is when the snow starts to melt. Instead of being miserable for those months in between, this year I’m going to challenge myself to fill that time with productive, fulfilling activities, instead of isolation and depression.

          I’m not sure exactly what that will look like, but I can brainstorm a little with you right now. As for filling my time with productive, fulfilling activities, it’s difficult because most things I like to do involve being outside, but being outside in the cold is miserable for me. I love hiking and walking on pretty trails and near waterfalls, so maybe I’ll push myself to still do that, even in the cold. I’ve loved snowboarding since freshman year, so I’m going to try to do a lot more of that this winter. I think I would enjoy going to open mics at different locations around the city, as I love music. I’m going to try to paint and draw more in my down time, instead of sleeping. I could attend more meetings, as I always leave them feeling better than I came. Spending time with people I love will help a lot, too, especially if I replace the time I spend isolating with time with my family or close friends.  

           Hands holding ripe strawberries.Maintaining physical health is very important as well. Continuing to get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week will be a must; by the way, did you know that regular exercise can be as effective as depression medication?² Another essential is treating my body right by not eating processed foods and incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into my regular diet.

          There are many things you can do to help reverse the effects that lack of sunlight has on our bodies, as well. Vitamin D deficiency is common, especially in people living at higher latitudes or who get little sun exposure. Doctors recommend that taking a Vitamin D supplement could help reduce health problems that come along with living in a state with little sunlight, including SAD. Another highly recommended treatment and prevention strategy is use of a light therapy lamp or “happy lamp”. Light therapy lamps have been linked to a decrease in depression in 85% of cases.³

          It is estimated that 1 in 10 Minnesotans experience seasonal affective disorder. Remember that although you may not be able to cure it completely, there are always things you can do to reduce symptoms and improve your well-being. You can take my ideas or leave them, I just hope that something I’ve said has sparked a thought that will help you this winter. Surround yourself with people who love you, and find happiness in the little things. Thank you for reading!

 

-Connie K.

 


[¹] Seasonal Affective Disorder

[²] Prescribing Exercise to Treat Depression

[³] Seasonal Affective Disorder Treatment: Choosing a Light Therapy Box

 

New StepUP Counselors: Meet Thenedra and Shane

THENEDRA R.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.Thenedra as a kid with a bunny cake, then as an adult with the same type of cake.

My name is Thenedra Roots. I studied human services in college for two years in Austin, MN, then took three years off to travel the country. When I returned, I graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Science in alcohol and drug counseling.

What are some of your passions?

I love traveling, I want to travel the world. I want to go to Africa and see the elephants. I love high end restaurants, I love hole in the wall restaurants, I love all different kinds food. My winter activity is crocheting, I’m getting excited to get some yarn and crochet this winter. Also, I love people. You could say I’m a social butterfly. Part of the reason I want to be in this field is because of the people; everyone has such an interesting life and an interesting story.

What kind of music do you like?

I truly do like all music. I could be in my car listening to The Current one minute, then classical music, then I could be jamming out to Kanye West; it just depends on my mood. Usually when I’m driving home from work I like rap music, and on the way to work I’ll listen to classical music.

Why did you choose this field?

I was born into an alcoholic and addict family. I have several family members in active use and it has greatly affected me throughout my life. So that is how I developed an interest in this field and in recovery.

What’s your favorite part of working at StepUP so far?

My favorite part has been meeting all of the students and working with students who are very motivated in their recovery. It’s been fun getting to know people. It’s really cool that when my door is open, people will just come in and talk with me. I still get amazed every time I hear someone say they’ve been sober for consecutive years. Seeing people live their lives of recovery; that’s what I love about this environment.

What are you looking forward to about working here?

I’m excited for the Gala and to see what that’s about. I’m also looking forward to  learning how every semester is different, and how my job changes as the semesters change. I’m excited to start going out and telling others about StepUP, and spreading the word about the program.

Anything Else?

I’ve appreciated everyone that’s come into my office and introduced themselves. I’ve appreciated everyone that has taken the time to get to know me, and allowed me to get to know them. It’s made this transition really easy.


SHANE J.

Shane J. with his daughter on a snowy trail in the woods.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Shane Jensen. I’m from Vermillion, South Dakota. I went to school in Mankato, where I received my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Then I fulfilled my internship and began working as a counselor out at  Wilderness Treatment Center in Montana.

What are some of your passions?

Anything outdoors, I absolutely love the outdoors; that’s what I’m all about. A huge part of my spirituality is being outdoors and being in nature; hunting, fishing, hiking, boating, canoeing, etc. Living in Montana, there’s obviously a lot of outdoor pursuits out there, which I miss dearly, given all the mountains, lakes, and wilderness. I enjoy anything outdoors, anything hands on, and anything that keeps me active.

What kind of music do you like?

I would say one of my favorite bands is the John Butler Trio, but I like basically any kind of music. I can usually find the positive in most kinds of music.

Why did you leave Montana?

I loved Montana, I still love it, but family takes priority now. My wife is from the Twin Cities area and having our kids closer to family is important. We have a Daughter (Edith) who is 20 months and a Son (Everett) who is 6 weeks old.

Why did you choose this field?

I was going to school for Psychology. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it at first. I did an internship, and started working with young people in very early recovery. It was awesome to watch the change happen. It was very rewarding to see what recovery has to offer young people.

What’s your favorite part of working at StepUP so far?

My favorite part has been seeing young people that are living a life of recovery, experiencing the promises, and contributing to society. It’s been really rewarding meeting young people that have years of sobriety as opposed to kids that really only have a couple months. It’s really cool to see young people in recovery giving back.

What are you looking forward to about working here?

Helping young people in recovery see more of the solution, what leads to a fulfilling life, and what leads to them feeling good about their life.  There also seems to be freedom in my position to run with whatever I am passionate about and that is really exciting.

Anything else?

I’m open to talking to and working with anyone. There’ve been a couple people that have trickled in this week who asked if I’d be open to working with them, and the answer is yes, I’m open to working with anyone. I enjoy learning through the experiences of others and hope to do some teaching through those interactions as well.

9 Things To Do This Fall

          September 22nd officially marked the first day of fall. I’ve always loved the cool air, changing leaves, and pumpkin spice lattes that come along after summer ends. Many of us know, the transition to autumn means the blistering cold and snowstorms of winter are not far behind. I took some time to make a list of things that we canTall tree with orange leaves. all do to celebrate fall and enjoy the beautiful weather before it’s too cold to be outside. Some items that made the list are traditional fall activities, but I tried to incorporate some activities in the area that maybe you’ve never heard of, to encourage new experiences. If you ever find yourself not studying for tests, reading textbooks, or writing papers, you may find yourself wanting to participate in one of the following fall festivities. Here’s nine things you should do this fall:

1. Scarecrows in the Garden. 

September 16th through October 31st, Minnesota’s Arboretum places hand-crafted scarecrows, by experts from Bachman’s and the Arboretum’s staff, throughout their fall displays. I might label it something of a “Scarecrow Art Gallery.” There are more scarecrows made by visitors and staff surrounding a pumpkin house decorated for the season. A few blocks away, there is also a sculpture garden that you could check out. The Arboretum’s website has all the information you need on the event.

2. Renaissance Festival.

The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is a long-standing tradition in Minnesota, this being it’s 46th year. The live armored jousting, 7 themed weekends, 16 stages of live entertainment, 250 artisan booths, food fit for a king, mermaids, fairies, and more, attracts an annual crowd of over 300,000. It’s open through October 2nd; which is this coming weekend.

3. Fall Leaves.

Everything green is soon going to be all different shades of red, yellow and orange. People come to Minnesota from all over the country to see the changing autumn leaves. We have tons of walking trails, state parks, and waterfall locations that are perfect for experiencing the transition of the trees. Minnehaha Falls would be my go-to spot, living in Minneapolis and all, but some other places in the area I would recommend are Shadow Falls Park, Witch’s Hat Tower, and a trail in Minneapolis called “Quaking Bog.” Also, here are some places to check out that are a little farther drive; Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Taylors Falls, and Willow River Falls.

4. Bake.

It’s the season of apple pies,  banana bread,  caramel apples, and pumpkin everything! Pumpkin pie, cookies, bread, lattes… You could bake with your family, bake alone and share with your friends, bake with your friends and share with the beautiful people that work in the StepUP office, etc., etc.

5. Apple Orchard.IPhone taking a picture of fall leaves.

Fall is apple season, and there is no better apple than an apple fresh from the orchard. In my experience, apples from the orchard are bigger and tastier, and there is a huge selection of apples you may have never even heard of. I grew up in Lindstrom, and one I always went to was the Pleasant Valley Orchard. A Minneapolis website put together a list of apple orchards near Minneapolis.

6. Pumpkin patch.

Pumpkins are the mascot of fall, and going to a pumpkin patch is a tradition you don’t want to miss. Picking out your pumpkin, decorating it, carving it; it’s all a part of the spirit of autumn. There’s also a matching list the pumpkin patches near Minneapolis.

7. Football.

We do have that new U.S. Bank Stadium you could go catch a Vikings game at. Although, I heard tickets are super expensive so it might be cheaper to order chinese and watch the game at home. Also, Augsburg’s football season runs through November. You could attend a game to show school spirit and watch some football. The Auggie’s football schedule and stats can be viewed on the Augsburg Athletic’s website.

8. Stock up on sweaters.

It’s time to put the bro tanks and crop tops away; it’s sweater season. Sweaters are quite literally the perfect outdoor fall attire, while simultaneously being the perfect indoor winter attire. You could go pay full price for a nice sweater, or you could do what I do and go thrifting. For some reason, thrift shops always have the biggest, comfiest sweaters. Don’t wait too long to update your fall wardrobe, all the good ones might be gone!

Close up on several pumpkins.9. Haunted House.

It is a little early for Halloween, but it’s never too early to pay for people to scare you. Minnesota has tons of attractions that do just that. The Soap Factory’s haunted basement starts September 30th and runs through Halloween night. It’s in downtown Minneapolis and I’ve heard it’s the best haunted attraction in Minnesota. Some others include Valleyscare, Pine Haven’s Haunted Hayride, Trail of Terror, and Fright Farm.

 

-Connie K.

 

September is National Recovery Month!

          It’s Recovery Month! As defined by SAMHSA, “National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) is a national observance held every September to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life.”

Caleb K. speaking at National Recovery Month's spirituality breakfast. Photo by Ricky T.
Caleb K. speaking at National Recovery Month’s spirituality breakfast. Photo by Ricky T.

          This week, I reached out to students in the StepUP community to uncover different perspectives of what recovery means to different people. We have a lot of amazing students in our community with amazing stories, and it was a good opportunity to learn more about some of my classmates. Here is what the community had to say:

          “Recovery, to me, is an essential part of my life; I strongly believe I would be dead without it. Recovery means becoming close with fellows and becoming a part of a family you will never forget. Recovery most of the time looks like love, serenity, and freedom. Although I do have my bad days, I would never trade what I have today for anything.” -Emma S.

          “Recovery, to me, is being able to participate and be a role model in society. It means living a spiritual life and adhering to my buddhist vows. It’s also not relying on any external sources for my happiness; like people, drugs, or grades.”-Kaleb N.

          “The healing gift of hugging my grandparents without feeling like a fraud; the quiet joy of sharing a genuine smile with a passing stranger; this deep stillness in an ever-turbulent world– how could I truly say what recovery has done for me?” -Chad B.

          “Recovery to me is not just being sober. It is bettering myself and improving my self awareness. I also see recovery as being a part of a bigger picture in life, and I need to be of service to that larger picture as best I can. Under the watch of my Higher Power I need to be helpful, insightful, loving, and understanding to and of all other things in my life, so I can live life happy and on life’s terms.” -Matt K.

No one should have to choose between recovery and a college education.
Patrice S.’s (Program Director) quote about recovery.

          “When I first got sober, I liked to think of recovery in the most literally sense of the word.  I am living in a such a way where I am recovering from this disease of alcoholism that I have.  Recovery isn’t about just stopping the use of drugs and/or alcohol.  I realized very quickly after I got sober that even when I am not drinking, I am still a very sick individual. Until, that is, I applied the principles of AA into my life.  The biggest thing recovery has done for me is giving me a completely different perspective and outlook on life.  Before I got sober, my life was very black and white, I always had an excuse for everything, and it was always someone else’s fault.  I never took responsibility for anything in my life.  If something bad happened it was quite literally the end of the world.  Today, I have the ability to be less reactionary to the things that life throws at me. I have the ability to take a step back, assess, and make rational judgments and then actions for what I am experiencing in that moment. Recovery has also given me the ability to show up in life.  As a daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, student, employee, etc.,  I no longer feel the need to hide from life, but enjoy being a functional member of society.  I have been sober for almost five years, and my recovery is definitely not perfect and has ebbed and flowed.  When I am working a program, it is going to meetings, working with my sponsor, being of service, and showing up in other aspects of my life that don’t fall into the category of recovery.” -Elle A.  

          “Recovery, to me, is getting a second chance at life. I feel like a child trying to figure out who I am; what I enjoy and what I don’t. Recovery is trying new things and getting out of my comfort zone, failing and learning from my mistakes. It’s about bettering my mind, body, and soul. Recovery is about safety, it’s about love, it’s about giving back to what was so freely given to me. Recovery to me is living each and every day with grace and dignity. It’s about leaving this world a better place.” -Kate E.

“What recovery is to me is so much more than just solving a substance abuse problem.  It’s solving a living problem.  Being in recovery has given me the opportunity to evolve into the person I always wanted to be.  It has allowed me to express gratitude for everything my loved ones have done for me, and I’m blessed to be able to reciprocate that and show up in their lives when called upon.  Most of all, recovery has allowed me to be a son, a brother, an uncle, and a friend again.” -John M.

          “My addiction crippled my life. Everything that I knew was revolved around using. I lost myself. Recovery has helped me find myself. I took my greatest weakness and made it my greatest strength. Recovering has taught me that I am so much more than an addict and that if I can recover from drugs, that I can do anything. I am currently a Junior at Augsburg College, studying clinical psychology. I want to spend the rest of my life helping people who are suffering like I did. I have learned that I am never alone. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the people I have met in recovery. They have helped me save my own life. Recovery has given me purpose and a reason to live, and for that, I am forever grateful.” -Neil K.

          “When people ask me if I am in recovery, of course, I answer the question without hesitation and with confidence. However, it is not that black and white for me. Answering that question with a simple ‘yes’ does not rightly and accurately describe what that means to me. When I hear the word ‘recovery,’ it tickles something deep down inside of me in which I am passionate about, and words will never meticulously depict the magnitude of how imperative it is my daily life.

          Recovery is not just abstaining from drugs and alcohol, I would call that surviving. Personally, I strive to thrive in my recovery, which is so much more than just abstaining, and in my opinion I thrive in recovery every single day. Recovery touches every aspect to my life. However, it does not define me. Being in recovery allows me to be the best version of myself, and that is what I expect.

          Since making the most vital, life-changing decision I have ever made at 18 years of age, my life is nothing that I thought it would be. In fact, it is indescribable. Firstly, I have the freedom to be me. Secondly, I am able to be the absolute best son, friend, brother, cousin, role model, and student I am able to be.

          Because I am sober and in recovery, I have found hobbies and activities in my life that I would not have found if I was still using. For example, I have fallen in love with yoga. Yoga allows me to calm my mind and truly be in consciousness, and be not only physically present for my life, but also mentally and spiritually present. Also, I enjoy physical fitness, such as working out, running, obstacle races. Physical fitness pushes me to places that I hav
e never gone before mentally. The mind is incredible, but is like a muscle and it takes practice and practice mastering it.

          Recovery fills me with love, truth, kindness, affection, and some more love.” -Jordan L.

Sara M. sharing her experience with spirituality at the spirituality breakfast. Photo by Ricky T.
Sara M. sharing her experience with spirituality at the spirituality breakfast. Photo by Ricky T.

          “One night when I was a little girl, long before my addiction and depression took over, I remember praying that one day I could have a close relationship with God. I prayed that I wouldn’t go my whole life putting off having a relationship with my higher power. As a 20-year-old college student in recovery, I reflect on that night often. I was probably in elementary school when I made that prayer; it was the purest, most genuine thought I could have had at the time. I sometimes feel like my whole life after that was God answering that prayer. If I didn’t go through the terrible times my use and depression caused me, I wouldn’t feel the overwhelming gratitude for the little things today. I never would have been in recovery, which ultimately led me to a relationship with God that I could never be more grateful for. I would be completely lost in this world without recovery. It has taught me how to live, it has taught me how to love people, and it has taught me how to love myself.” -Connie K.

          “Recovery means being better than I was.” -Caleb K.

 

-Connie K.