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.


Student Spotlight: Hilda A.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Hilda A. I’m 32 and I was born in Iceland. I lived in Wisconsin for 7 years, then moved back to Iceland when I was 12. I spent a year in Mexico; that’s where I want to move in the future. My major is Spanish and my minor is Medieval Studies; I’m not really sure what I want to do with that degree yet, I’m just taking classes I like and seeing what happens.

It's important to me to live somewhere where I feel like I belong.Do you have any plans for after graduation?

Not yet, but I have an idea of where in the world I want to live. Mexico is my first choice, and Italy is my second choice. It’s important to me to live somewhere where I feel like I belong. In Mexico, I really felt like I belonged, even though it didn’t look like it. I fell in love with Mexico when I was there. I love the culture. I also love Italy; it’s my favorite vacation spot. I’ve been there a couple times.

What do you like so much about the culture?

They’re the opposite of Icelanders in a lot of ways. I just never fit in in Iceland. They’re all laid back. I’m not very punctual, and they’re all laid back with time and stuff. Their food is freakin’ great. They’re big on family, they’re very passionate. When I was in Mexico, it was just very easy for me to love life and love the little moments; it’s hard to describe. I felt like it was a lot easier for me to be myself when I went there. Before this I completely had no social life, hated myself, no self esteem; but in Mexico it was just so much easier to be the way I wanted to be. I feel like they’re a lot more accepting

What brought you to Augsburg?

 StepUP. I’d never heard of Augsburg or StepUP until I came to Minnesota for treatment, and ended up going to Fellowship Club. They told me about StepUP, and I came in for a tour. Originally my goal was to stay in the area. I realized I could do that if I got a student visa, and that meant I had to go to school. When I came to Minnesota, I had no idea what I was going to do. All I knew was I was going to treatment, but after that I had no idea. I never really made plans for the future, because I didn’t think I would have one. Choosing Augsburg was a way to stay in Minnesota and also get a college degree, while having a supportive recovery community – it was a future.

What is your passion?

I have a lot of hobbies, but family and friends are the most important thing to me; and my dog. I’m obsessed with my dog. I like animals in general, though, too. I’m a ball freak; basketball, soccer, snowboarding, pretty much any sport that involves a ball. I was a total tomboy growing up. I also love reading and traveling.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Going to Mexico was a really big deal for me because I was so socially phobic. Going to another country by myself, for a year, not knowing anyone, not knowing the language; that was completely out of character for me. It was one of the best things I’ve done, besides going to treatment and getting sober. I try to challenge myself everyday to do something that is kind of scary; it’s been the only way to improve my social phobia. You would not have recognized me 15 years ago; now I just talk and talk! I still get anxious, but for the most part it doesn’t stop me from functioning like it did before. I did not have a life, I couldn’t do what I needed to do. I’m proud of the little things I’ve done, like going back to school even though it was difficult, or rapping at an Indian engagement party; I still can’t believe I did that! Also, I was in the school spelling bee, which was very out of character for me. I’m proud that I do things even when they scare me, because otherwise I wouldn’t be here.

Why do you stay in StepUP?

In order to be in Minnesota, I have to go to school, because I need a student visa. And in order to be in school, I need to be in StepUP. It’s not a choice; I have to be in StepUP or I can’t be here. It’s all connected. I don’t think I’d be able to get through school if I didn’t have StepUP; I’ve spent 10 years in and out of school trying over and over again and it just doesn’t work when I’m drinking. I need to be sober, otherwise I would probably be dead now. The community I have here help keeps me sober. Minnesota has such a strong, supportive sober community; whether you do AA or not. Being away from Iceland helps a lot, but also I’ve never been intoxicated in Minnesota, which helps, too. This is the only place I can imagine being right now. I would love to live in Mexico, but if I lived there right now, I don’t think I would do well.Everyone here has positively influenced me in some way.

Has anyone in StepUP positively influenced you?

Yes, a lot of people, and the community as a whole. You can’t necessarily be best friends with everyone but I care about each person here, and everyone has positively influenced me in some way.  My roommates especially, Collins and Sarah; they help me a lot.

What advice would you give an incoming student?

Talk to a variety of different people, don’t just get caught in a clique. Try to get to know everyone. Be open to new people and new things. Ask for support when you need it; don’t keep it to yourself. I’ve gotten so much support here. The one time I kept everything to myself and didn’t ask for help, I ended up relapsing. Participate as much as you can. Embrace the community and use it for support.

Would you like to add anything else?

StepUP literally gave me a second chance at life. If I had gone back to Iceland after treatment, I would be drinking again. If I hadn’t had something to get up in the morning for, I might be drinking again, too. I’m really grateful StepUP accepted me, even though I’m older than most students. StepUP isn’t perfect, but nothings perfect. I’m just really,really grateful for StepUP, Augsburg and everyone here. Most importantly, I’m grateful for having a second chance at life. It’s corny, but I’m just really, really grateful to be here.


Thanks, Hilda!

4 Valuable Things I’ve Learned This Summer

          This has truly been a summer of growth for me. I can’t pinpoint exactly what has been different, as many things have changed. This is my first summer with a job (two jobs even), my first summer actively working with a sponsor, and the first summer I’ve made the decisions and effort to want to grow. Last summer I was sober and in recovery, I was just living out of state with my sponsor still living here in Minnesota, and I was still stuck in a deep depression. With this summer looking up for me a little bit, I decided to take advantage of my heightened energy and more optimistic outlook on life.

Here’s four things I’ve learned this summer on my quest for personal growth:

A bed with white blankets under a large window.The importance of not sleeping too much (or too little).

This is a big reason I’m grateful I got hired for the student position in the StepUP office. Upon hire, I agreed to come to work every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 9am. In my years of college, I had been accustomed to going to bed late and waking up even later. I would oversleep almost everyday, and spend the rest of the day feeling fatigued, probably due to oversleeping. It was a very bad cycle to be caught in. Here’s a cool article that supports my thought that constantly oversleeping is not a good thing. But as I realized how much I enjoyed coming to work, waking up at 9am got easier and easier. It also made me get tired earlier, which means every night I’ve been getting about 8 hours of sleep.

The simple task of changing my sleep pattern has changed a lot for me. I no longer feel drained throughout every day, I have tons of motivation to do things I love, and it has lifted my mood drastically. The point I’d want to stress is my increased motivation to be productive and do the things I love. I am extremely grateful for this change in my perspective, which I directly associate with not oversleeping all the time. I’ve also learned, though, the importance of getting enough sleep. I have had nights where I stay up really late and go to work early, on only a few hours of sleep. Those days I spent intellectually foggy, overly irritable, and mostly out of it. Learning to get the right amount of sleep has truly been life changing for me. I know to some it may seem like a simple thing, but anyone who has struggled with depression knows how hard it can be.


Four girls laughing in a green house.The importance of human connection and perspectives on personal growth and happiness.

What I mean by this is, I realized the importance of meeting new people, spending time with an array of different people, and having genuine conversations. We spend so much of the day having quick, surface level conversations, with people we don’t know very well. To me, there is great value inhaving a genuine conversation. On days I have a genuine conversation, I noticeably feel more happy. Seriously getting to know someone, I believe, is one of the most important things you can do in life. Learning about their interests, thoughts, and perspectives, can give you new perspective on your own life. In your mind, all you know is your own story, experiences, and thoughts. But you can open that gate and learn from what’s going on in other people’s minds. Along with this, it has been important that I spend time with an array of people.

I get hesitant to make plans with people I don’t really know, or old friends, because I get anxious when I don’t feel 100% comfortable with a person. I’ve pushed myself this summer, though to hangout with old friends and make plans with new people; even family that I don’t spend much time with. I’ve learned a lot from every person I’ve spent time with this summer. It’s hard and scary for me at first, but in the end it is always a good experience. Every person is unique and has something different to offer. It genuinely makes me happy to learn more about people; it could be a personal thing, but I think that everyone can benefit from getting out of their shell. I also believe that my higher power has a way of working through people, and the more people I’ve interacted with, the more opportunities I’ve had to experience God.


A human heart pained on the side of a building.What self-care looks like and how to maintain a balanced approach.

I don’t think anyone has ever told me what self care looks like; not that it has ever been anyone’s responsibility. In the past, I have looked at in a physical way: Self-care is exercising, eating well, and sleeping enough. Then when I would do those things, I would get frustrated when things wouldn’t start to get better. But just recently I read a super insightful article, thanks to Kristin, which explained clearly that self-care is more than physical aspects. It involves spiritual,emotional, physical, intellectual, and relationship needs. After reading, I wrote a list for what MY self-care looks like in each category, because everyone is different.

Overall, it involved things like praying consistently, attending regular AA meetings, spending time alone, spending time with family, exercising regularly, setting boundaries, having a regular job, helping others, etc. Writing it out helped me a lot, because when it was floating around my head it seemed like a bigger task than it actually was. Plus, sometimes I feel “too busy” to be taking care of myself, when in reality I’m really not. Also, having an addictive personality, it has been hard for me to live a life of balance. I either do too much of something (i.e. exercising), or too little. So it’s been important for me to work on my self-care in a balanced way. It’s only been a few weeks, but it’s already started to make me feel a lot better.


Hands making a heart surrounding the sun.There really is so much to be grateful for.

When life starts to get hard and I start to feel down, it gets very hard for me to find things to be grateful for. I have started doing daily gratitude lists with a friend. At first, it was hard for me. As I continued daily with this, it got easier. I started to realize there was an equal amount of bad and good in every situation, and I’ve begun to be grateful for the good. Seeing my friend’s list every morning has gotten me closer to her, but also helped me realize more things that I should be grateful for. It’s important for me to recognize what I’m grateful for because when I’m grateful, I’m happy. And when I’m happy, I can help people more, and I can spread my happiness to others, which ultimately is my goal.


I hope that in some way, my experiences this summer have helped you, as yours have helped me. Thanks for reading!


Meet the Artists of StepUP

While brainstorming an idea for a blog post, the thought of art continued coming up. I wasn’t sure how to incorporate it into a blog post that the whole community would enjoy, though. Then I realized how many talented artists there are in the StepUP community and I thought making a post briefly showcasing everyone’s art would be a really cool way to get to know everyone a little better. I told everyone interested to send me 3 pictures of their work and a brief artist statement or paragraph about what art means to them. So, here it goes. Meet the artists of StepUP!


“I am so grateful for the ability to embrace creativity and produce art.  Art allows me to wind down after a long day, process my thoughts and emotions, and challenges me to discover my boundaries and limits.  Art has taught me lessons of patience, acceptance, and gratitude.  I hope to learn much more about myself and others through art in the future.” -Lindsay E.

Gold head and orange autumn leaves sculpture.    Lindsay welding pieces of a metal flower.    Lindsay holding up a welded metal flower.    Drawing of a skull with five red roses on top.



“My name is Ricky. I am a junior at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN studying film, graphic design and photography. Over the years, and project to project, I am finding my approach change. As a photographer, I am a silent observer; snapping shots of tiny moments happening around me. As a designer, I resort to 90s era street art, old wood block prints and flashy colors with big letters to draw the viewer in. As a filmmaker, I want to pull my audience in with gripping stories and moments sublime.

Not only do I study these three areas, but I have some training as a drawer, painter, printmaker, different positions in front of and behind the camera and as a student of art history.” -Ricky T.

Ricky has a website with all of his work.

  Photograph of a rubber duck with a dinosaur arm coming out of it's right side.  Black and White photo of a girl.  Photo collage of Ricky with a caption: "Dream Big Kid".


“I am a musician living in St. Paul. Music seems to be the thing that holds me together. My drinking had destroyed me as a person and my creating of music. I thought it was over when I got sober because my addiction was so intertwined in music, but my music just blossomed when I followed the 12 steps accordingly and used patience instead of attacking my dreams with addict-like drive. I even wrote a song about it called “Loop.”” -Isaac H. (Alumni)

Isaac also has a website with all of his music. 

Isaac singing into a microphone.


“During my time at Augsburg College I have reignited a passion for creating artwork. This has allowed me to investigate personal and interpersonal issues. Amongst other mediums, photography has become my primary source for exploring personal issues through artistic expression. The three photos showcased are excerpts from a larger body of work, STILL, that centered around the emotional struggle that ensues at the height of mental illness episodes. Through documenting and creating visual narratives from past and present struggles, my goal as an artist is to process personal issues while fostering dialogue with my audience. I am currently working on a body of work centered on femininity, innocence, and family lineage as it pertains to becoming and being a woman.” -Audrey C.

   Black and white photo of a person tangled in sheets on a bed.        Black and white photo of a person laying in sheets on a bed.        Black and white photo of a girl laying in a bed.


“An important part of my road of recovery, self love, and finding a purpose in this world was, and continues to be, finding things that make my heart happy. I’ve always enjoyed art and creating things, but during my use and my depression, I lost the desire to do anything I loved. This year, I’ve opened up my heart again to my love for art. Creating art is one of the few things that comes very natural to me, and makes my whole body feel comforted when I’m doing it. I get lost when I’m in the midst of a painting. I really appreciate learning about other artist’s and understanding every individual’s unique style. Pursuing creativity has been one of the best things I could have done for myself.” -Connie K.

A painting of a yellow face.  A painting of a man with an afro.  Painting of a girl crying with flowers.     


“My name is David Baboila and I am a photographer born in, and based out of the Twin Cities of Minnesota. All of my photography is on medium format film. It’s shot, developed, and printed by me in a darkroom in Minneapolis. I am extremely passionate about photography, not in a commercial sense but in how it can move people and can evoke a great diversity of emotions, from whimsical and humorous to lonely and scared.

All of my photographs focus  on an aesthetic of the void or vacancy in everyday life in Minnesota and largely the greater Twin Cities metro area. To me photography is a fine art based in concepts.  Currently I am extremely interested in the vacancy of landscapes and buildings as it relates to more rural or suburban areas as well as the death of industry as it was in the 20th century. The area of this I focus on is vacancy in places that used to be occupied but are now idle and disengaged. On a very surface level I personally am inspired with the history of these places and the past occupancy of them and really enjoy presenting them after this period of time. It reminds me of death and the way we sit idle after passing. The stark transitions these places have made create dialogue not only from my personal life to the viewer but also draw on one’s own experience and with this subject matter. My work is very personal but I hope to present in a broader sense what happens societally when we consume and do so too much. It is a sad yet humorous challenge to the way we have been known to operate as Americans.” -David B.

Black and white photo of a brick house.  Black and white photo of a taken apart car.  Black and white photo of an old car wash.


Student Spotlight: Owen H.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Owen Harrison. I’m from New Hope, Minnesota. I’m 19. I’m double majoring in Social Psychology and Studio Art.

What is your intended career path with your double major?

I would do one of two things. After Augsburg, I would either go to grad school and eventually end up in art therapy, or I would go into advertising. I don’t think there’s many colleges that offer grad school for art therapy in Minnesota, so I would probably go out of state. NYU would be my first choice. If I decide on advertising, I don’t really have a plan for that yet.

How do you think you will decide on art therapy or advertising? Do you think it is something you will figure out along the way?

Yeah, probably. Part of it is that in advertising, you make a lot of money, and art therapy has a significantly lower salary. It will eventually come down to how much the money means to me. And as for I really like art. I love taking art classes. I really like doing hands on things.advertising, I don’t know how long I would survive in an office setting. Before graduation, though, I’m going to attempt to hold two internships. One in art therapy and one in advertising, to give me a taste of what that might look like.

What is your passion?

A lot of things. I really like art. I love taking art classes. I think that was kind of the idea behind art therapy or advertising; there’s a lot of art involved. I really like doing hands on things. I work for grounds crew, so getting to go out and mow or landscape; I really enjoy that. I like to be outside. Also, just spending time with people. I like hanging out with my friends. I love to go out with them over the summer; like barbeques, games, whatever.

What brought you to Augsburg?

StepUP. I had a number of friends here beforehand. I had applied to both Augsburg and the U of M. I had already done a year and a half of PSEO at the U of M, so I was questioning whether or not I wanted to continue at a larger institution or go to something smaller. Augsburg offered me the smaller class sizes that the U of M just couldn’t. The more individual attention was a bonus, but StepUP was the icing on the cake. My parents loved it, too. Along with that, all the people I knew that were already current students seemed to really enjoy it, so I thought it was worth a shot.

What was your experience like in college, before StepUP? Were you sober when you were doing PSEO?

I wasn’t sober the first semester I started PSEO. I was living at my parents house, commuting everyday. That first semester, I was barely going to my classes, my grades went down pretty quickly, and I ended up taking a medical withdrawal. The next fall I started back there again, sober this time. My experience with college before Augsburg was very isolating. There was anywhere from 60 to 600 kids in a class. Professors don’t know your name, they don’t take attendance, and you don’t really have to show up. It was super easy to sit in the back and skate by, because no one really cared. But here, it’s not that easy, because there’s 20 kids in a class. Everyone knows each other, the professor knows your name, and that helps me show up. It helps me keep a higher GPA.

What accomplI know that what I have now is so much more compared to the nothingness I had when I was still using.ishment are you most proud of?

My sobriety. I was 16 when I got sober, so I didn’t know how long it was going to last. I didn’t know what I was trying to do, but I knew that if I kept using, I was going to die. I didn’t know if I wanted to live or not. Then, I starting doing just enough to feel better. I started working a program, and I started to feel a little better. I didn’t know what the rest of my life was going to look like, but getting sober and working a program started to show me that there was another way. Now I’ve been sober for two and a half years, and I have so much more now than I’ve ever had. Even on my worst days, I know that what I have now is so much more compared to the nothingness I had when I was still using. I now (most of the time) live my life with a sense of ease , and I don’t have that when I’m using. I’m proud of who I am today, especially compared to who I was then.

Has anyone in StepUP positively influenced you?  

Coming in, it was Blake. He was involved in everything, and he was my StepUP mentor. I knew a lot of people up in the flats, and a couple people downstairs, but helped me connect with the rest of the building so I didn’t feel like I only knew people on the fourth floor.

Why do you stay in StepUP?       

It’s my safe place. I don’t have to worry about coming home to drunk roommates. I know that whatever happens during the day, at the end of the day, I have somewhere safe to go with people that care about me no matter what. I have a lot of really good friends here. It’s the people keep me here.

What advice would you give an incoming student?

Get involved outside of the StepUP community as well. You hear it a lot, but it’s really easy to get stuck in the StepUP bubble. There’s a lot of other people on this campus that have a lot more to offer. I got an on-campus job, where I get to interact with normies, outside of classes, and those are some of my bestMore than anything, it's the people that keep me here. friends today. For me, I have to learn to interact with people who are not addicts and alcoholics because I know I don’t get to survive in the StepUP bubble forever. So getting to learn how reach out, while still having StepUP, has worked really well for me. So, try it out and learn while you have back up, essentially.

Anything else?

You know when you asked why I’m still here? Sometimes I question that, because Augsburg is expensive and the U of M is significantly cheaper. But at the end of the day, I realize, I wouldn’t trade my experiences here for anything. I have friends here I never would have met at the U. There’s a comfort that comes from living here. I always have someone to talk to. If for some reason or another things start to get rough; there’s always someone. And more than anything, it’s the people that keep me here; and I think that’s important to know and to recognize.

40 Hours on the Road

I got home yesterday night from a road trip with a good friend of mine and her daughter. It was a good opportunity to step outside of my daily routine and let my mind rest for a few days. A 40 hour round trip car ride leaves a lot of time to think.


I thought a lot about family, friends, and life.


Why am I so mean to that one friend of mine?

Why did that person hurt my feelings?

Why don’t I spend more time with my dad?

Why do I care so much about the little things?

How am I going to get everything done that I need to get done?

Do the people in my life know how much they mean to me?

Do I mean just as much to them?

What can I do to help with world issues?

Why do people like the things they like?

How can I be more patient with other people?

How am I going to arrange my new apartment?

Who’s going to help me move?

How do I become more confident with being me?

Why am I so shy sometimes?

Should I get red Adidas or save my money?



I think I take my best friend for granted sometimes, she’s one of the nicest and most loyal people I’ve ever met.

Life is about people and experiences.

I want to learn about people and perspectives more.

I’m so much happier when I’m nice to other people.

I need to help people more often.

I love to learn new things.

I should read more.

I’m not looking forward to starting my summer class.

I am blessed with such a loving family.

I love my family so much.

I love my friends so much.

I love my mom.

My grandma is the most beautiful person I have ever met.

My cabin is my favorite place on earth.

Coffee is the best invention on the planet.

Life is so beautiful.

Music makes life beautiful.

Art makes life beautiful.

I’m so happy I’m sober.

Seriously, I’m so grateful I got sober.

Thank you for the life I have.


-Connie K.

Sober Things to do This Fourth of July


          It’s time to make some new, sober traditions for the holidays. The fourth of July can be hard, but keeping busy is sure to make the day go by smoothly. If you don’t have plans yet, here is a good list of things you can do to keep your fourth eventful, exciting, and sober.

1. Spend the day at the beach.

Bring food, friends, and sunscreen. Soak in the vitamin D. Get a group together to play beach volleyball, or throw a frisbee with a friend. As of right now, the weather report forA beach with clear water. July 4th is sunny and 85 degrees; a perfect beach day. Some beaches in the areas have rentals, so renting a kayak or paddleboat could be really fun. Some beaches in the area include Lake Calhoun North Beach, Cedar Lake East Beach, and Lake Nokomis Main Beach; if you type them in on Google Maps it will give you an address.

2. Try a more adventurous water activity.

Going to the beach is a very calming activity, but if you’ve had a few energy drinks and you feel like driving a little further, you could do something more entertaining. Get a group of friends and go to the quarries in St. Cloud; a place with cliffs and a lake where you can safely go cliff jumping.

3. Red, White, and Boom.

Red, White and Boom is a celebration hosted by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. It is free and open to the public. There is live music, family activities, and food from 6pm-10pm. There’s three different places where there will be live music; Mill Ruins Park, Boom Island Park, and Father Hennepin Bluff Park. For those of you who don’t know, these are all on either side of the Stone Arch Bridge. Each year the celebration ends with fireworks at 10pm, which will be very visible from the Stone Arch.

Children and adults, roadside, wearing red, white, and blue.
4. 4th in The Park.

4th in The Park is the only Fourth of July parade in St. Paul and one of the longest running parades in Minnesota. Enjoy the colorful parade and stake out a patch of grass to enjoy an afternoon of music and games. Most of the events are at Luther Place or the Langford Park Recreation Center. If you’re interested, check out the schedule for the day and more information about the event

5. Attend a parade in the suburbs.

If you will be out of Minneapolis, or want to get out of Minneapolis this fourth, there is a long list of suburbs that have events going on as well. Cities all around the twin cities are having their own firework display, parade, and festivals. A twin cities website has a list of cities, information, and times for the events

6. Check out the MNYPAA event this Saturday, July 2nd.

MNYPAA is hosting a summer cookout for young people in recovery this weekend! If you are busy on the 4th, this event could possibly make up for it. There will be food and games; volleyball, basketball, frisbee, giant jenga, bean bags, and more! There will also be a meeting at 7:30 along with a raffle and prizes. The event is from 5pm-9pm at Riverside Park (2700 S 8th St).

7. Go to Valleyfair!

Open 10am-11pm thisThe top of a ride at Valleyfair. Fourth of July. You can get coupons on admission tickets at Cub or Taco Bell; and the prices are also discounted after 4pm. I hadn’t been to Valleyfair in years until recently; I went with a group of sober friends and had a super fun time walking around and being terrified of all the rides. If you go, make sure you bring an even number so no one has to ride the rides alone. Also, they aregoing to end the night with fireworks this July 4th, starting at 9:50pm.

8. Stop by Como Zoo.

Como Zoo is free and open everyday of the year from 10am – 6pm. It’s not too far from campus and I know as a college student I love to do things that are free. They have a lot of animals and also some rides. If you have a younger sibling or cousin or something like that, you could take them. It always makes me smile to see kids enjoying their time, and they would love it! You might, too.

Large bonfire on the beach.9. Have a bonfire.

Music, friends, s’mores… A bonfire is the perfect end to your fourth of July. Since you can’t have a fire on campus, having a friend in the area would be the perfect amenity in this instant. I’ve looked long and hard online to find public bonfire pits in Minneapolis with very little results. It looks light there might be some at Minnehaha Falls, but that is not for sure. I found a ton in St. Paul, though, which isn’t too far. Como Regional Park, Crosby Farm Regional Park, Hidden Falls Regional Park, Highland Park, Newell Park, and Phalen Regional Park are some of the ones I came up with. Just bring your own firewood and chairs!


Is it really July 4th if you don’tSeveral fireworks in the night sky. watch a fireworks show? The “Red, White, and Boom” festival that I mentioned earlier is having a fireworks show at 10pm. They are getting shot off from Water Power Park, and will be visible all along the Mississippi River. Popular places to view this show are from the Stone Arch Bridge, Boom Island Park, Gold Medal Park, The Guthrie, Powderhorn Park, Lake Calhoun or any place along the river. St. Paul will have a display following the Saints Game, which will be visible from the CHS Field.

          I hope I gave you a few ideas that could help make your fourth of July fun and sober. If you’re starting to feel a little uneasy, you know you can always find a meeting pretty much any time of day on the intergroup websiteHave a happy fourth everyone!


-Connie K.


10 Little Things You Can Do To Make Someone Else’s Day Better

We all live busy lives, which can make it hard to set aside time to do something nice for someone else.

I believe the little things you do for someone can be just as helpful and uplifting as the big things. I also believe it is very important to take time out of your day for other people. When someone does something genuinely nice and unexpected for me, it always makes me stop and have an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. It’s always a good reminder to know that you are loved and cared for by other people.

Here’s a short list of little things you can do for someone to make their day better:

  • A cup of coffee.Bring coffee to your best friendI don’t think anything would make me feel better than if I woke up to my best friend knocking on my door with a fresh Vanilla Iced Nirvana from Dunn Brothers. That’s why you should do it for your best friend, because they would probably feel the same way. A fresh cup of coffee and showing your best friend that you care can be a perfect way to start your morning.




Thank you note.

  • Write a thank you note to someone who has had an impact on your life. This is a great way to show someone that you are genuinely grateful for what they’ve done for you. Handwritten notes are more impactful because it shows that you took time to do write out your thoughts about the person; while a text is quick, easy, and can be interpreted as less genuine in my opinion. Often times we take for granted people that have helped us, and their helpful spirit goes unnoticed or unappreciated. Writing a note can remind someone they are appreciated and lift their spirit, as well as yours.


  • A hand holding a bouquet of flowers. Surprise someone with flowers. Whether it’s your parents, grandparents, aunt, or just a friend; it will make their day to see someone they love surprise them with flowers. You don’t even have to spend money. You can pick flowers yourself and find a small vase. I don’t think it’s ever the flowers that really matter, it’s the thought that went into them. Since you’re in college now, you probably don’t see your family as much and they would probably be very happy to see you stop by.




  • A merging sign in traffic. Let someone merge in traffic. I often get mad while driving, but it’s generally very exaggerated because I’m alone in a car and I can yell if I want to and no one will know. Regardless, it doesn’t really make anyone happy when no one will let them merge, or when someone cuts them off. Instead of making someone happy directly, this is more of a way you can prevent a stranger from having negative feelings; which is an act of kindness in itself. Although it will most likely go unnoticed and possibly unappreciated, you can have a piece of mind inside that you intentionally helped someone out today.


  • A pile of several postcards. Send a postcard to an out-of-town loved one. I personally have a lot of family that lives out of town, that I don’t get to see very often, but love more than anything. It’s hard to keep in contact with people who live really far away, but sending a postcard can be a quick and easy way to send them positive vibes. Also, the mail is generally filled with bills and advertisements, so imagine the excitement they would get when they see a note from a loved one in the midst of all the other things.


  • Two friends holding hands on a dirt road. Invite someone that’s going through a hard time to go on an adventure with you.The most important time to let someone know you care is when they are going through a hard time. If they need support and help getting out of their own head, invite them to do something fun with you; a bike ride, a walk around the lake, or some hiking. Spending time with someone is a great way to let them know you care. Also, that would be a very good opportunity to ask them how they’re doing and see if you can do anything to help.



  • A woman smiling.Smile to everyone that walks by. I know it might be awkward and hard at first, but I feel like it’s a very special experience when a stranger walks by you and doesn’t act like they don’t see you or that you don’t exist. It is very uplifting when a stranger walks by and acknowledges your presence and existence, and chooses to smile and say hi. Some might not appreciate it, but I tend to appreciate it a lot; especially because it’s hard for me to do. It is such a small thing, but can be so impactful because it takes 3 seconds to do but it shines a small amount of love that you can take and pass on to someone else as well.


  • Three fingers with faces drawn on them. Reach out to an old friend. It is easy to get caught up in your new life, with your new friends, and forget about memories you’ve shared with other people. Reaching out to an old friend to meet up or just see how they’re doing is a great way to show them you still care. I always light up when I get a text from an old friend. It reminds me of where I’ve been and it’s a reminder of the huge support network I have.



  • A person in a sweater working on crafts.Make something for your parents. Paint something! Or if you aren’t artistically inclined, bake them something. Parents love homemade things and chances are, they haven’t got anything homemade from you in a long time (if you’re in college). Your mom or dad might not have a reason to bake anymore since you’ve gone off to college, and who doesn’t like baked goods. Your parents would most likely really appreciate a piece of original art from their child, as well. They would hang it with pride and think of you when they saw it.


  • A piece of paper that reads "Free Compliment" following a list of compliments.Compliment a stranger, instead of just thinking it. Stranger compliments, to me, are the most genuine, because strangers really don’t have much to gain from saying something nice to you. One time a little girl, around 5 years old, came up to me and told me I was pretty then walked away. It was completely unprompted by anyone she knew, and it made me so happy; not that she said I was pretty but that such a little kid intuitively knew the importance of doing little things to make people smile. A compliment can go along way, too, because we don’t really give them out too often.


I would like to end this post with part of a quote that a fellow student of mine read during writing class one day, that has impacted me and the way that I think. “And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same,” a quote from Coach Carter. When we show other people love, we show other people that it’s okay to do, and we start a cycle of good deeds.

Thanks for reading.


Connie K.

Student Spotlight: Bobby W.


Tell us about yourself.

My name is Robert Michael John Witt, but everyone calls me Bobby. I’m from St. Paul, Minnesota. I’m 21 years old, and I’m studying Marketing and Business Management at Augsburg. I have 3 brothers, but I grew up with my two cousins and lived with my aunt and uncle for most of my life.


What are your plans after graduation?

My main focus once I leave school is to do something in the public relations field; probably work as a copywriter for a public relations or advertising agency. I’d like to do something to get my name out there. I’ve also considered some management on the side to gain some experience. I currently work at a restaurant and I’ve already worked my way up one step, so hopefully by graduation I’ll be offered a management position. My dream is to one day open up my own restaurant. Creating my own menus, hiring people, designing the restaurant; everything like that.


"I decided after I got sober this time that I was going to do everything I always wanted to do but thought I couldn't, because using always got in the way."What would your restaurant be like?

I want to do lots of different things. I want to have four different, limited menus. A Mexican menu, an American menu, a French menu, and a Mediterranean-style menu. Whatever they were in the mood for, people could always come to my restaurant. They could have a new experience each time.


What is your passion; what drives you?

I feel happiest when I’m cooking, that’s my number one thing. Time always flies by when I cook, I really enjoy it. Other than that, I like finding new things to do. I’ve been practicing piano, learning Spanish, and exploring new hobbies. I think it’s because I spent years wasting my life and not doing anything productive. I don’t feel like I need to make up for those times exactly, but I want to realize my true potential. There’s so many things I want to do that I can’t do if I’m drinking. If I stay sober, I’ll continue to realize my potential. I’m trying to realize as much I can about myself and continue to grow in every aspect; whether it be financially, emotionally, or with relationships – learning how to take care of myself and others.

What brought you to Augsburg?

StepUP. Specifically, the idea of being in a community where everybody is sober, because I never had that before and I wanted to try something new. Everytime I’ve tried to be sober before, I’ve surrounded myself with people who weren’t sober, and with my family, who still uses. I wanted to completely cut myself off from that environment, and try to embrace a new environment.

I have never been to college before Augsburg. I always thought that I wasn’t smart enough to go to school or that I would never be able to afford it. I decided after I got sober this time that I was going to do everything I always wanted to do but thought I couldn’t, because using always got in the way. I took a small step and applied for school, then another small step and applied for financial aid, then the biggest step for me was actually showing up – taking classes and figuring out that I can be a college student.


What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I’m proud that I am where I am. A year and a half ago, my biggest problem was figuring out how I could afford alcohol and rent or how I was going to manage hanging out with friends. I couldn’t maintain friendships or relationships with my family or God because of my drinking.

Now all those things don’t matter. My biggest problem today are normal people problems; making car payments, getting enough fiber in my diet, and trying to impress my boss so I can be noticed. I’ve kept a job for more than a year, which is awesome, because that was a big problem when I was using too. I couldn’t hold down a job, and now I’m doing all of those things. I have healthy friendships and I like where I’m at.


Has anyone in StepUP positively influenced you?

A friend that has really influenced me is Caleb. I didn’t know what friendship was until I became friends with Caleb. We disagree on almost everything, but we are still able to maintain a friendship through it. We spend time with together, help each other get jobs, motivate each other in school, always push each other, and he’s always there for me. It’s really amazing.

The person I look up to most, though, has got to be Blake H. He does it all; he works a good program, he’s always in a good mood, he’s nice, he’s happy, he works out, he’s got a job, he does great in school, he’s very active in StepUP. That’s who I want to be like at the end of the day.


What does StepUP mean to you?"Don't try to hide, just be yourself. No matter what, you will be accepted here."

StepUP has become my new family. It’s not my family of origin, but it’s my family circle. When I’m here, it’s home. When I’m at work I say, “I can’t wait to get home.” I’ve had a lot of houses in my life, because with my mom we were always getting kicked out, having to move, or just bouncing back and forth between my aunt’s house and my mom’s house.

It took a while, but this place has become my home and it’s where I want to be at the end of the day. I think it’s because of the people that are here; the support that I get, the comfort, and how I know how everyone is going to be sober at the end of the day. There’s a wonderful staff here that is always there if I need anything, whether it’s emotional support, financial support or someone to help remind me why I’m doing this. I’ve got StepUP.


What advice would you give to an incoming StepUP student?

Let your counselor know you. I know it’s the scariest thing in the world to open yourself up to someone that you don’t know, but ultimately they’re here to help you. The more they know about you, the more they can try to not only embrace everything you’re trying to accomplish, but also challenge you to be a better person. If you tell them everything; the good and the bad, they can help you emphasize the good and decrease the bad.

Also, let your friends know you. Don’t try to hide, just be yourself. No matter what, you will be accepted here. That was my problem when I first got here; I was antisocial and I didn’t try to connect with anyone, because I was so used to being alone. It’s a way better feeling knowing that you have people here and that you fit in, no matter what.


Any last thoughts?

I’m glad I showed up. I would also like to add that I am extremely grateful for my higher power – none of this could have been possible for me without a higher power in my life.

Thanks, Bobby!