Lean In


There is one thing I have learned in my 16 months of sobriety that stands out more than anything else… LEAN IN. My sponsor talks about this frequently and I so incredibly grateful for that. When things get tough, lean in.. My understanding of this? Let others support me. Lean into their guidance, lean into their love and lean into their heart.

This week, there was much heartbreak in the world around me. Unable to grasp onto any feeling of normalcy, I decided to lean in. I spent time with friends and family… I was able to voice my fears and shed tears. WE walked through it all together, and will continue to do so. When you have friends who accept you for the hot mess that you are… you know there is a level of love and trust that will never be broken.

I have a pendant of the tree of life that has a beautiful inscription on the back: Life is but a journey to find our way back home, but we are not created to journey all alone. Those words I will carry with me today and always… knowing that together, WE will get through the good, the bad and the ugly. I am thankful for these moments of clarity, knowing that love has a depth deeper than any valley of pain.

Kylee Christoffels

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Recovery Art Show

Near the beginning of my sobriety I worked hard to find things to do to keep myself busy. I was used to the old patterns of work (when I could hold a job) and using. There wasn’t much in between.
Part of my early sobriety was filled with trial and error of things I had once done that helped ease my mind and finding new things to fill the empty hours. Outside of meetings and work (I’ve had steady employment while in recovery) I needed to find out what I enjoyed. Art has quickly become one of my joys.
I am by no means a talented artist, but I enjoy putting a brush to canvas from time to time. I also enjoy admiring art and seeing what pieces speak to me. Well, my sponsor is an amazing artist and talented woman. This evening I was able to be a part of “The Tallgrass Recovery Art Show”. This experience was unbelievable. Not only was I able to take in some beautiful art, I got to experience something so much bigger than myself.
All of these people throughout our community came out to see the art, meet friends old and new, and be a voice of recovery. There was a time in the not so distant past that I was unable to appreciate another human being for what they had to offer… Even if all they had was themselves.
Tonight I stood in awe, talking to a friend about the magnificence of not only the event, but of our community… Of recovery. I am a blessed woman to be able to share this journey and experience these things, clean and sober. And this is not the end. September is recovery month… The weekend has just begun.


10636773_10203639328721544_1723437499349590576_oTHE BEGINNING
As a person in long term recovery from drugs and alcohol, I seek to become a better version of myself on a daily basis. As part of that process I talk to other people in recovery. During one conversation with my sponsor, she asked a simple question, “Why don’t you write”?

The year 2014 has been all about embracing life and choosing to say, “Why Not”?! Why would I not write? This is something I love and it is a great personal outlet. So, this blog is born. Here we go…

“The beginning” of this journey was really an end. On a Sunday night in October of 2011 I made a phone call that would change my life. After being “out” for several hours, searching for a high that wouldn’t come, I went to the home that I had known for the last three years. I was an opiate addict living in the basement of my then boyfriend’s parent’s home. Our welcome there was quickly fading and for the first time in what felt like forever, I became honest. I wanted to go home, to MY family. I wanted to get clean. I wanted to live, not just exist.

I was 500 miles away from my parents and brothers and even further from my sister. I had no job, no money, no phone and no car. I used the family’s phone to call my dad and by Thursday afternoon, He was there. He took me home… and then to treatment. This is the same treatment center that I had lied about being on a waiting list for for months to avoid reality (God has a great sense of humor). And so it began.

Opiate withdrawal is one of the most painful experiences I have been through, both physically and emotionally. By ten days in, I was ready to give up. I wanted to leave although I had no where to go. It took a lot of work from not only the amazing staff where I was, but from my dad. I stayed. I completed the program, but remained sick. It took another year and a half (and a whole lot of turmoil) before I fully surrendered.

Today, I have 476 days clean and sober. More accurately, I have 24 hours of sobriety before it all starts over again tomorrow. There is so much more to share about what happened between that day in October of 2011 and what happened the day that I surrendered… Even more so from that day to today, but it will all come, in time. For now, I end with this:

“No matter how many mistakes you make, or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying” -Unknown Author.

-Kylee Christoffels


IMG950318When asked to write about what my life feels like in this moment the only word that came to mind was FABULOUS! And with that, I smiled and laughed at myself for two reasons. One: Early into my sobriety, my first sponsor told me, “Pick a word. Even when you don’t feel it, you say it”. I was so stuck in a world full of self pity and self loathing, that I was unable to recognize how I felt or understand any gratitude for the life I was given. So, when anyone asked me how I was doing, one of my standard answers was, “Fabulous”… The other part of this was to learn that some days I just needed to ‘fake it til I make it’. Soon enough, I began to feel not only ok or good, but some days I felt fabulous. I laughed this morning because for the life of me, I could not remember why I had this safety word. I knew there was significance behind it, but I had to text my friend and make sure I remembered why she had me do this in the beginning. What started out as a simple tool, has slipped away as I have learned to let go of self pity and self loathing and replace it with acceptance. I have been blessed beyond words. When challenged at the beginning of the year to write down my blessings everyday and put them in a jar, I thought my friend was crazy. Today, 3 1/2 months into the year, that jar is almost full. The point is this… today my life is nothing that I had expected it to be. Recovery has given me more than I could have ever dreamed possible. While my life is not perfect, I can work with the flaws, and I’m happy to do so. I don’t want a perfect life… I just want life. And that I have!

Kylee C.
Tallgrass Alumnus


ben-sq Today.

Today I drove to one of my “places”. It would make for a better story if this place was five miles up a logging road, traversing streams to arrive at the top of a mountain… but its not. The actual location of this place is a mile out of town. Turn left off the highway and you get to a park. I have been coming here for over 6 years during my recovery. I’ve written 4th Steps, prayed, meditated and sometimes just cried. This place holds a certain power to me. it always seems to have the first green grass after winter… and so many things have been let go here.

This place has a small creek that runs through. I don’t know if it has name and frankly it doesn’t matter or maybe the fact its nameless makes it even better. There are a number of trees. Big ones, small ones and inbetween ones, all keeping a seemingly respectful distance from one another.

I love the creek. From my vantage point on the right is an old bridge. Its made of concrete and quartzite. It seems to be in a perpetual state of falling apart. Most of the mortar is gone from between the sharp, man chiseled rocks. it creates dark gaps of empty space. The rock above and below these gaps lean towards the earth making the bridge appear to fall infinitely slow back to the earth.

On the left is a natural outcropping of the same rock. As the creek ran into the hill eons ago, it revealed this rock from where it had resided. At this point of intersection, the creek bends softly left. Although this rock’s nature is to be edged and angular, this tiny little creek with no name has softened the edges of this hardness. This little bit of the worlds softest most formless element has gently shaped this hard nature into steps. Into spaces. The angular became curved, the sharp became soft from this tiny bit of water.

This water shaped rock looks inviting. You want to run your hand over the smoothness. You want to sit in the gentle curves and dangle your feet over the creek. In the spaces made by water there are tree roots striving to follow their course, tufts of grass and plants reside in every space made. Its only a small spot on this earth… a small place but it feels very true.

A simple realization occurs. That bridge is of no use anymore. It was forced into place by man with good intentions to cross the creek. It served a purpose for awhile… many have crossed I’m sure. But now it falls slowly. Not with great crashes or ferocity but simply sinks back into the earth. These rocks came from was the earth. Maybe its in there true nature to always return there.

The symbolism was easy from me today in this place…

How many bridges of good intentions have I made to cross the stream? Maybe my journey is to simply wade in that creek or river. To feel my true nature and myself in this life. When I put aside my resentments, my fears, my perceptions, my ego… I can let this river soften my sharpness, let my edges be rounded and to create spaces in me for thriving. Maybe this is me in the flow of life.. to allow… to be… to just realize, right here and right now, the truth of this moment. That I am okay and I am where I am supposed to be.

In this spot the water will always soften the hardest things and that this grass will without fail always turn green again.

Ben Sagmoe