Problems, Solutions, and Opportunities in Recovery

crop hillisdeMuch of what I have done professionally over the past several decades has been because of problems.  In my most recent job, (from which I will retire in eight months and twelve days, but who’s counting) I was hired because of problems.  I am the director of a small museum that in 2007 had reached its lowest point in a sixty-year history.  I was charged with either making the institution work or it was going to be shut down.  Eight years later we are operating in the black and have developed a national reputation for our creative programming.  Although my bosses don’t really appreciate the fact, the success over the past near decade is a direct result of the principles of addiction recovery.  Here are some of the things that have guided our work at the museum since 2007:

  • although we assess the problems and difficulties, we live into the solutions.
  • we live life on life’s terms
  • our staff of paid employees, students, interns, and volunteers form a team that support each other with their experience, strength, and hope.
  • the work at our museum is an ongoing process and not singular event.
  • we practice progress not perfection in all that we do.
  • and quite importantly, everyone – whether visitor or staff – is treated with respect and worth.

Sounds a lot like what you hear in an AA meeting!

I find that all of this takes a good bit of work, but the results are certainly worthwhile and life changing.  Student graduate assistants from our small museum go on to successful employment, win fellowships to the most prestigious museums in the country, and/or are accepted into PhD programs at top universities.  We receive visitor comments filled with enthusiasm after a visit to our facility – a good bit of which directly acknowledges our excellent student workers.

Sounds a lot like folks who keep coming back in recovery programs as well!

As I wind down to my formal retirement, there are three other “problems” that I have begun to work with – one in Peru, and two in Louisiana.  I look forward to these opportunities to live into solutions.  I will be eternally grateful to taking that First Step in recovery on August 4, 1984 when I admitted I was powerless over alcohol and other drugs and that my life had become unmanageable.  Addressing that problem provided me the opportunity to find a solution to my addiction and served as model for everything in my life since.