“The Past No Longer Exists, It’s Just A Thought” Special Guest & Article Share By Lifestyle and Wellness Coach Kaden James…

Hey Recovery Posse, Friends, and New Visitors,

I am very excited to welcome my friend Kaden James who I have known and networked with for several years now. Kaden is a fantastic lifestyle coach, speaker, podcaster and so much more. Actually, he kind of has his HAT in many different entrepreneurial realms. He is a fellow author and writer as I am, but most importantly, his life and business coaching has helped me tremendously while I move forward in my recovery journey and lifestyle.

When I visited his website a few days ago, I came across this Special Article I asked him if I could share. Because it touches many topics and areas we all face while maintaining recovery. It taps into some areas to ponder about our past and gives readers a more positive and refreshing way of looking at the many outside influences that can make our journey a little difficult and overcome some of the inner self and unprocessed pain, trauma, abusiveness, or even a shitty childhood.

So, I hope when you read the article something may resonate or help you as it did me. I encourage you to check out the links at the close of his article to his books on Amazon, connect with him on social media, and give his website a visit and see just how he may able to help you!

But, first, who is my buddy, Kaden James. Let’s find out. . .

About Kaden James

Kaden is a bestselling author, writer, and business consultant. He is the founder and owner of Fulfilled Foods, and Spirlit Coaching. “I help companies and individuals become greater forces for good.”

With several published books to his credit that include; “The Daily Playbook” “Coach Yourself” and “REFLEKT,” all available on Amazon online. Kaden always had a zest for life. After having a difficult childhood he studied the most highly successful people he came across and applied their methods and helped others reach their dreams. Through his learning, he came to understand that real success is feeling good about who you are and what you do. Born in California, Kaden was moved to a small town in Idaho at the age of ten, he came from humble beginnings, was focused, and grounded at a young age. He made his way to Los Angeles after graduating early to pursue his dreams.

As the author says, “It’s not about where you come from, what you have, or what you have done, life is about who you become.”

When arriving in Los Angeles, Kaden became a rising star as a singer-songwriter. Frequently featured on MTV, he recorded music for MTV’s ‘The Real World,’ while writing and performing the theme song to both ‘The A-List: New York and Dallas.’ He enjoyed the music ride but was maturing in a new direction and had more he wanted to share.

Since fitness and living a clean, healthy lifestyle are some of his passions, in 2017, he began studying with “Robbins-Madanes Training,” (the official Coach Training School of Anthony Robbins). He became certified as a life & wellness coach with Expert Rating. He began writing unique self-help motivational books and started his life coaching business. With the gained wisdom and the thirst to help others, his coaching business took off. He continues to be an Instagram Star and influencer as he shares his coaching tips for all, and advice through poetic thoughts and inspiring words to reflect on.

When the author is not writing or coaching clients, he enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, working out, cooking, and reading. His favorite authors are Gary Zukav, Brené Brown, and Marianne Williamson, to name a few. Keep an eye on this author as his “Star is still Rising and Shining Bright.”
Kaden resides San Deigo, CA.

The Past No Longer Exists, It’s Just A Thought

Today I’m so happy to be back home. I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately and it’s just been a whirlwind of a year. I’ve literally flown so much overseas, more so than I ever have in my entire life. I’ve visited so many cool places from Italy, to France to Germany, to Dubai, and I just recently went to DC.

I planned a trip with my parents. It was a Christmas gift and it’s been so beautiful to be able to give gifts like that, like experiences. So, I sent my parents on this treasure hunt basically at Christmas. Where there are all these little notes all over the house, including one in the washing machine. It took a while to find that one, but it was really meaningful, and it ended with this cabinet that my grandfather made out of wood and it’s one of my mom’s most prized possessions and that was where the final clue was. There is a picture of my grandparents that led them to look inside that cabinet and they opened up a file that showed the Cherry Blossom Festival that was going on in DC a few years ago and then they found their hotel stay for this big trip.

And the second part of the surprise is my dad didn’t know that I was going to join my parents in DC to go and see all these amazing places. My dad and mom were eating at a restaurant at the hotel we were staying at and we just walked out to them and surprised them. And it was one of those things we’ll never forget. Another really cool thing about DC is all of the museums are free. So you can go to the Natural History Museum. You can go to the zoo. You can go to the Air and Space Museum, which I really loved and my dad really loved too. And you get to go to all these national monuments from the Washington Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial.

And I arranged with my congressman to have really good tours for all of us when we got there. So we got to see the White House. We got to go on a private tour of the capital. It was really, really out of this world. So, I want to talk about the past, and, specifically, the fact that the past no longer exists. It just exists in our minds right? There’s no real past going on. We just have the present moment. The past is just memories. It’s things we remember and things that we bring into the present moment that affect what’s going on in your life today.


The interesting thing about this is I was just with my parents, and my parents are a huge part of my past and for most people listening, that’s going to be you too, right? Our parents raised us with their beliefs, with their rules, with their ways of looking at the world, and not to get into politics, but my parents have different views than I do. Their views stem from their past, their background, how they were raised, their beliefs, the people they’re friends with, you know. So, our beliefs are shaped by our environment as well, but we choose them and we can choose which beliefs serve us, and we can choose to let go of the ones that don’t.

For a lot of people, especially people who are not really aware of this, they look to their past and they will find pieces of their past fragments if you will, and they will blame their current situation on that past. But we are adults, and we choose the baggage we take with us. It might not feel like it’s a choice, and we might not be consciously aware of it, but when we become conscious of it, we have power. Because we can choose not to think about that situation that happened or not to dwell on a time when we got it wrong and feel shame and guilt about it. We can let it go. We can let anything go and we don’t have to take those fragments from the past and cut ourselves over and over again on those shards from our past.

Every time we talk about a situation that wasn’t desirable, or a time when we got it wrong, or when someone cheated on us or someone betrayed us or someone abused us in some way. And I’m not saying like if it just happened a week ago, or two weeks ago, or a month ago, or even three months ago. I’m saying if this was years and years ago, if we bring it into the present moment, we relive it. To some degree, we are reliving it every time we tell that story, every time we dwell on it, every time we think on it, and every thought that we have is having an effect on us. So when we have a thought, it can cause us to feel a certain way, and then that feeling can cause us to behave a certain way. And if you notice really moody people, right, it’s because they have these negative thoughts in their heads become a loop, and then they feel a certain way and then they kind of treat people not so great because they’re kind of “moody”.

If we stop thinking about the things that happened in our past that weren’t ideal. Then we no longer bring it into the present moment. When we can wipe those thoughts from our head or replace those thoughts with a better narrative, something that feels empowering. And I know that this is probably sounding really simplistic. I know that this takes work, and I’ve done it. I’ve done this work. So I don’t want anyone to think that this is just like, “oh, just think a different thought. Like it’s so easy”. No, I’m not saying that it will take time. It takes repetition. It takes creating a habit, a new belief. But if you’ve had really challenging things in your past, then that means you’re very strong. It means you’re resilient. It means you’re a survivor And not only a survivor, you’re a thriver.

So do you see how just shifting that, from victim to victorious? Sometimes that’s a big jump to make, but we can. We can move ourselves closer and closer to that victorious feeling. So we could go from a victim to feeling really good about the fact that we survived that, and not only did we survive it, we learned a lot from it. And not only did we learn a lot, we became kind of an expert in that area of life. And we can help a lot of people with that, see how it’s moving us closer to feeling good about whatever happened in the past. Even if it wasn’t desirable. Because when we can take something really negative and use it to fuel ourselves and to help light other people up and help them find their way through this life, we get to feel good about it and we get to be a source of inspiration.

The most inspiring people to me,  are the people who have gone through the most. I get so inspired when I hear a story of somebody who really struggled and then kicked a**. I was just watching something on Netflix where a woman lost her leg in a car accident and then she started doing these marathons that were six times longer than a normal marathon. And I just thought, this is incredible and she was doing it through the desert. She was just showing how far she could push herself and it was really inspiring to see, and no, I will not be running any crazy marathons! Like, that’s really not my thing but I really appreciate people who do.

Something I find really interesting too about the parent-child dynamic is, our parents often think our childhood was one way and we think it was a different way. But they’re literally just thoughts. So their collection of thoughts is different than my collection of thoughts. It doesn’t make their collection wrong, it doesn’t make mine wrong. But there are probably some that you know are a little sugar-coated or embellished and pushed a certain direction. For whatever reason, our minds just tend to do that.

But if you’ve ever even been in a relationship too, and you thought the relationship was going really well, and then all of a sudden, like, the person gets upset with you about something and then has evidence that, like, something they don’t like about you, right? It could be, “oh, you’re really messy”. And you’re like, “I’m not messy at all. I’m super clean, like you’re the messy one”. But then they’re like, “no, you left your dishes out that one day and you had your laundry on the floor and I had to, like, put it in the hamper”. Or, you know, they have all this evidence. You’re like, wow, they see me totally different, than I see myself. Interesting. And you can just take that in and you can learn from it and you can take in that feedback and work on yourself if you want to. But it’s just interesting to see that everybody has their own perception and perspective.

If you have siblings or you do this with your coworkers and you just ask them about their experience with the same environment and see what their experience is and how it differs from your own. Because we all pick up on different things. And our brains are super powerful, they can be used to find the negative in just about any situation like you could think about anyone or any situation and you could find the negative. Our brains are so good at spotting the negative and it’s kind of the default. It’s really easy for our brains to pick out what we don’t like about things. Like we’ll eat a sandwich and we’ll be like, oh, I didn’t like the pickle inside it or I didn’t like this, or I didn’t like that or the bread was too hard. Maybe everything else was wonderful inside that sandwich, but we just picked out the negative.

And it’s the same when we get feedback online, right? We could get a lot of really positive comments, but we’ll remember the negative a lot of times. The negative just has this power because our brains are looking for what’s wrong, oftentimes. But we can train the mind to look for what’s right. You know, when you get a thought in your head that is negative, maybe you don’t like your car. You can replace that thought with three positive things. I love that my car gets me where I need to go. I really like the color of my car. You know, my car smells really good because I just put a really good air freshener in it. So you can think of positive things to replace the negative thing with. But I really love my car actually. I just got it and it’s just so nice. I’m very thankful for it, but I’m just using this as an example. You know, it could be your house. It could be, you know, somebody you deal with at work. Maybe you can only see the negative in somebody, like a co-worker.

Start picking out the positive in that person because you’re going to start to train your brain to see what’s good, what’s right. And you’re going to see more opportunities and you’re going to have a higher vibration. People will react to you differently when you do this. I’m telling you, it’s like magic and you’re thinking positive thoughts about a person. There’s just an energy to that. They feel better in your presence and feel less judged. And it’s like, we all have body language. So if you’re thinking a negative thought, it’s very hard to cover that up with your body language. So if you’re thinking it… it’s showing. It could come out in your tone of voice, could come out in your eye contact. We don’t want that. We want to be positive. We want to really be loving.
Because when we put love out there, that’s what we’re going to receive.

And what’s interesting about our bodies and the research that has come out through Joe Dispenza and a lot of other great researchers out there. They have shown that our minds are so powerful that they influence our body and our bodies don’t know the difference between thoughts and experience. So if we are thinking or visualizing something, our bodies are reacting. A good way of knowing this is to think about if you’ve ever seen a really scary movie. Your body tends to you jumped when things jumped out at you, Your palms were sweating, you know, you might have even been shaking a little bit, or your eyes were really wide. Your body was reacting to what it was thinking because you weren’t actually in that situation. You weren’t in danger and logically, you knew that it was on the screen and not in real life, but it was still affecting your body because you were thinking about it.

So our thoughts are affecting our bodies. So we want to think thoughts that will affect them positively. So if we do the opposite, we visualize our success and we visualize ourselves as confident and having all the things we want, we’re going to put on that energy. And then throughout our day, we’ll carry some of that energy throughout the day and it can be very powerful. When I first met one of my close friends, she was telling me about her husband cheating on her and she was saying it was so much emotion; I had literally just met her, so I didn’t know anything about the story. She was telling the story and she was tearing up and she just was feeling it so heavily. And I was consoling her and talking her through it. And at the end of the conversation, another one of her close friends came up and I was like, “oh it’s so horrible that she was cheated on.”

And he was like, that happened seven years ago. And I was just blown away because she was telling the story as though it had just happened. And he proceeded to tell me that when it happened, her body kind of shut down. She had to go to the hospital. She felt it so deeply that she actually physically shut down. And she was continuing to tell the story with so much emotion that you could feel it. I could feel it in my body and everything. And then when I found out it was seven years ago, I was like, what?

So it isn’t just like, “oh, like thoughts don’t matter that much” or “I don’t have to really monitor my thoughts”. No, you have to monitor your thoughts like your life depends on it because in certain cases it does. And if you want to have an abundant, amazing life, you have to change your thoughts. Now, I didn’t know this for the longest time. I didn’t know how important our thoughts are, but they literally create everything in our experience.

I’m going to go through this again- Our thoughts create our emotions, which influence our behaviors, which get us our results. And then the cycle continues. So if you have negative thoughts, and those negative thoughts give you horrible emotions, emotions that you really don’t want to have, and then you take actions from those negative emotions. Let’s say, like you’re really insecure, you’re nervous, you’re paranoid, all those types of things. You take poor actions. Maybe it’s at work, or maybe it’s in your relationship. Imagine having that fear and that anxiety and that worry, and then you take action.

You’re gonna repel people away from you, so you get those results, and then you maybe think that people just don’t like me, or I’m not good enough, or I’m not talented enough, or I’m not smart enough, or I’m not whatever enough. Or there’s something wrong with me. Imagine how that thought can change your entire life if you believe that something is wrong with you, like, inherently wrong with you. Like, I’m not talking just an imperfection. I’m talking like you deeply believe that you’re not good enough, you’re not worthy. If you believe that and you start to feel that emotion that leads to depression, that leads to deep uncertainty, that leads to a lot of pain, and a lot of sadness. And I’m telling you, I know this from personal experience. I have been there. It is really an awful feeling. But how amazing is it that we can change our thoughts and thus change how we feel, change how we act, how we show up in the world, and the results we get.

So just by having a good thought, the best thought you can possibly have. In many different areas of your life, it’s going to change everything dramatically. There was a time when I didn’t think so highly about myself, and that just got me terrible results, right? But then I started to think better thoughts about myself. I started to believe that I was worthy. I started to believe that I was good enough. I told myself I was enough. I love myself.
I gave myself self-love, which I think is the cornerstone of a healthy, happy life.

You gotta get that muscle strong because once you do that then you’re gonna have more confidence and you’re gonna feel better. So put on some music that makes you feel powerful, work out, or move your body in ways that feel strong to you. Love yourself more. Treat yourself like a great friend. Practice being a good friend to yourself and as you do that, everything will start to change and you just keep repeating the pattern by picking even better thoughts.

A great way to really notice this is with finances. There were many years that I was dead broke. I made nothing. Literly was just so broke, just barely getting by. For years I did this and I thought it was hard to make money. I had these thoughts that you know, money doesn’t grow on trees, money doesn’t matter. Like I don’t do this for the money. All these thoughts that really negative. And it kept me broke. To get wealthy, you have to believe you’re worth it and that you don’t have to give it all away to be a good person. That’s the core belief.

So I’ve worked really hard on this and that’s why I’ve made a lot more money. You know your relationship with money based on how much you have. Right. So if you have a really healthy relationship with money, you probably have a lot of money in your life. And if you don’t have a healthy relationship, you don’t have much money in your life. You give it all away. You sabotage yourself. You don’t save. You don’t find ways to make more money. You don’t put yourself out there. You just kind of settle for what is, right? And that’s all based on thinking as well. The reason I bring up money on this topic is because you can set a number in your head that you want to reach. If you’re a coach or an entrepreneur or somebody who has a side hustle, even an Etsy account, you could set a number that you want to reach, right? And you could believe that you’re going to reach that, like. Yeah, I could make an extra 500 bucks this month.

Sure. I believe that. And if you believe that you can achieve that, right. And you might even make 700 and then the next month you can make it a little higher and a little higher and a little higher and a little higher and you’ll notice that maybe when you used to believe that making money is difficult. You’ll now start to think, oh, making money is easy, This is such a breeze. And then you’ll start to see more of it flow into your experience because you believe it. You have better thoughts that cause you to have better ideas as well, but they also give you better emotions and you feel really good, so you take better actions and you get better results. So it’s really that simple.

So whatever thoughts that we’re telling ourselves over and over, whatever that story is, that’s what we’re going to see in our lives. So if you’re saying something like “I never picked the right men”, that will be a self-fulfilling prophecy until you catch it and break that thought pattern and start to pick better thoughts. Now I’m not telling you just lie to yourself because if this is a long-held pattern and a belief then you want to ease out of it. You could just say, “I’m really enjoying the dating process. I love having fun with different people and getting to know them. I keep seeing good qualities in all the people I go out with” and do that thing we talked about earlier where you’re picking out the good, even if you see a negative, you replace it with three good things. If you’re doing that, then you can say these things and you can mean them.

And when you’re dating, I want you to remember that for most people who want a monogamous relationship, you’re looking for one person. So you don’t need everyone to be perfect and wonderful in it to be like fireworks. You’re looking for one person, so don’t make it so hard on yourself. Have fun with this. Enjoy the process and then when that person comes in, if you’ve had a rough time, it’s going to be even more meaningful. If we’ve gone through struggles in our lives, it makes it easier to really be thankful for the good when it flows in. If you have been thirsting for a long time and it’s been a drought, when that rain comes, you are gonna dance in it. You’re gonna just be so joyous in that rain. When we can carry that appreciation and gratitude through our lives without having to go through more negative experiences, that’s really, really wonderful.

So when we think about our thoughts, a lot of times it can be kind of like the movie Groundhog Day, which is a movie with Bill Murray where he wakes up every day and it’s the same day that he’s going through and he makes different decisions that affect that day, but it’s like every day is the same and our thoughts are like that. So if we continue to have the same thoughts, which most of our thoughts are the same from day-to-day, if we keep having those same thoughts, we’re gonna get similar results. And it’s going to feel like, oh, here’s the same old, same old, and if we’re having thoughts that attack our self-esteem, we want to address those right away because those ones have the biggest impact. Sometimes we don’t even know we’re doing it.

I find that most people when they stand in front of a mirror, they realize. What their mind is actually saying about them physically and it can be brutal. So I would recommend that to anybody. Stand in front of the mirror and just see what comes up in your mind, Stick through it, and then at the end after your mind has kind of gotten quiet, look into your eyes and love on yourself say, “I love you, I see you. You are worthy of love and I’m going to treat you better.” And then hopefully you’ve taken note of all those negative insults that you threw at yourself. I want you to replace them with positive ones. I want you to say nice things to yourself.

Whenever you catch yourself saying something not so nice and this will change your self-esteem. This will change the way you vibrate out there in the world. Because honestly, some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen in my life, you know, have wrinkles all over, have white hair, in their 80s, 90s, and beyond. But they just have that energy, a vibration of beauty. And it’s, it’s intoxicating. I mean, I’ve seen men that are in their 70s, 80’s, bald, and they just smile and they light up the room. They’re so beautiful. That is beauty.

And we can redefine what beauty means. It doesn’t have to mean you’re a 20-year-old, you know and with a lot of my clients, this is something that they come to me with. They come to me wanting to be younger. This anti-aging industry is huge and it’s OK to put your best foot forward and to dress in a way that makes you feel confident, that’s wonderful. Or to, you know, do your hair makeup in a way that makes you feel good and to take good care of your skin and yourself. But there can be a time when it’s too much when it becomes an obsession.

And to be honest, if you are living into your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 100, and beyond. Wow, what a gift to be here for all these years. What a gift and you can be beautiful at any age because beauty is not about looks. It’s really what’s going on within you because I’ve met many people with beautiful exteriors, but the energy was not the behavior was not right. I think we’ve all had those encounters. I know, from living in Los Angeles, I saw it a lot. And, you know, I just think it’s really important to remember what truly matters, which is who we are, our soul. You know, and to be honest, like eve that, even talking about like, you know, beautiful versus not or good person versus not, I mean really, it’s all perception. Maybe they were doing the best they could. And that’s a thought I think often, people are doing the best they can.

I don’t know what happened to them that day. Maybe they are behaving in a way that isn’t beautiful because they are hating on themselves. Or maybe someone hurt them. We are all trying to get our needs met and we all want love. You know, it’s not my place to judge. I’m here to love. In my opinion, that is the core reason I’m here. It doesn’t get any more simple than that. And so how can we do that with our thoughts? My perception of them is just a thought. We just choose better ones. We continue to improve them. We keep working on it. And let’s think about it on an even deeper level. You know criminals who get wrongly accused and incarcerated when they’re released. They could hold on to that anger and upset for years, for the life that was stolen from them.

Or they can choose to use that painful past to see the world in an even more vibrant way, and they can appreciate their freedom even more because of what they went through. There are of course, victims in this world, and every child who goes through some trauma is a victim, but it’s our choice in going forward as we grow up to remain a victim or grow through it and become victorious over it. Then we can help others who are current victims because we have left that pain in the past. This is not to say that we don’t feel what we’re feeling or give ourselves time to grieve a loss or heal a wound. I’m just talking about the times when we tell that old story like it’s still here with us.

Now I want to give you a tool that you can take with you, and it’s something I came up with when I was thinking about this podcast. And it’s called “Lawyer for Your Life”. Now, I want you to have fun with this, but I want you to argue that you had a horrible childhood, prosecution. So you’re going to prosecute everyone who made your childhood horrible, even if it’s not true. So just think that you are, you know, a lawyer and you just have to fight this case. Then after you’ve done that, I want you to argue that you had a wonderful life and an amazing childhood, defense. You’re going to defend every situation that was harmful to you, everything that you just listed as the prosecution. I want you to defend your case that you had this amazing life. All the things that you learned, all the things that you gained, the person you are today because you went through all of that. Build that strong defense, that’s a strong case.

So Who Will Win? You get to decide because you are the judge.

This can go with your relationships, with your work, with anything. You can put a case together about why this isn’t the right person, or this isn’t the right work, or you can put a case together–why it is what it is, given you, what you’ve learned from it, or even a breakup. You can go back and do a postmortem on a breakup. You can think of all the things that you gained from it, and you know, like ease off all the negative that you’ve probably thought about a lot of times. When you think about that ex or you think about that relationship. Think about all the things you gained from it. Think about what’s right about it.

And I’m going to give you one last tool because you all are so awesome and I just love this work so much.

So, the other day I was talking to a guy who had just turned 21. He was telling me about his birthday party.
He went to a club with his friends and they were drinking and partying, and it was getting kind of late but he was still having so much fun and at one point some people from the club came up to him and they were escorting him through the club and he was like, “oh, I’m going to like a VIP room”. That’s going to be so cool and then he was like, “wait… why is this so cold?” They had kicked him out of the club. So we talked for a little bit and I told him about reframing and he was like, “okay, now I just got escorted out of the club. After a wonderful night partying with my friends until 1:30AM and I had the best birthday.” And he has a great story, a funny story to share for the rest of his life which is awesome.

So it just shows the power of reframing, right? You could say you got kicked out and feel really bad about it, or you could be like I got escorted out afterward. So, I got in my Uber and you know, got home and had a horrible hangover the next day -which was awesome because I earned it. So it just shows how you can reframe anything. Anything. Even something just funny and silly and simple, just have fun with it. Reframe something. Pick something in your life that wasn’t fun and reframe it in a way that makes it lighthearted fun or something that is just way more positive.

And some final things you can think about are what do you want to feel about your past? What do you want the thought of a past relationship to bring up for you? What do you want to think about your parents? What do you want to think about someone who hurt you?

When I heard Eckhart Tolle say “If her past were your past? Her pain. Your pain. Her level of consciousness. Your level of consciousness. You would think and act exactly as she does.” That quote was really transformative for me. I’m going to read it a different way just for the sake of taking it in. “If their past were your past. Their pain, Your pain. Their level of consciousness. Your level of consciousness. You would think and act exactly as they do.” My mind was blown when I heard that quote because I realized it could be applied to everyone. Everyone who had ever been in my life. Everyone who had ever hurt me. “If their past were your past and if their pain were your pain. If their level of consciousness was your level of consciousness, you would think and act exactly as they do.”

Really take that in. And if we have this level of consciousness, to be aware and to understand a quote like that? We are very fortunate because we understand our own power and we can choose to make our lives very harmonious instead of wreaking havoc and having a lot of chaos in our lives. And if we just look at others with a lens of love and realize the things that they’ve put into their mind for all these years that’s why they’re behaving this way. We are so fortunate that we know the truth and we can choose better thoughts that will create a completely different reality for ourselves and for everybody around us.

So have fun with this. Pick thoughts that feel really good, think them over and over, write them on post-it notes then put them in places you’re going to see them. Write them in a notebook and read them to yourself and just allow yourself to feel really good.

And I want to hear about your success stories with this, so E-mail me at Kaden@kadenjames.com … or let’s connect on social media and you may DM me or reach out to me in some way because I wanna hear all about these stories. I think it’ll be a lot of fun.

So, have a great day, and remember to do the things that light you up.!

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Thanksgiving Wishes and a Special Guest Article of Hope, Uplifting, and Serenity. Only One I Know Does It Well, Author and Advocate, Sandy Swenson …

Thanksgiving Wishes and a Special Guest Article of Hope, Uplifting, and Serenity. Only One I Know Does It Well, Author and Advocate, Sandy Swenson …

Wishing all my recovery friends and readers a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving Holiday!

I wanted to post something special for a few days who may mosey here as I begin my Holiday Watch and Blogging for the Holidays so anyone looking for help from gambling or any addiction will know someone cares and they are not alone through the Holidays! Leave a comment or EMAIL me: lyonmedia@aol  and I’ll be checking both many times a day!

Now, please meet Sandy Swenson! A longtime friend of mine through social media recovery communities is how we met. I have not shared a post of hers in a while but she is the ONLY person I would have and share at Holiday Time as she has been through it all and can uniquely write about how it can be a tough time when you either live with or lost an addict. SO I’ll let her get to it and Y’all go visit and signup for her newsletter too!



Nov 21, 2018, / Sandy Swenson

Mom to Mom: Thanksgiving (when your child is addicted)—Filling Not Stuffing



Mom to Mom: Thanksgiving (when your child is addicted)—Filling Not Stuffing

When my boys were little, they hovered about the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning, eager to get started with stuffing the turkey. We tied on aprons, washed our hands, pushed step stools over to the kitchen counter, and discussed who, exactly, would need to touch the pale and pimply turkey flesh.

My oldest son dumped bread cubes into a large bowl and his brother stirred in the onions and sage; they took turns scooping stuffing into the hollow center of our holiday bird before it was slathered in oil and popped in the oven. Our home was full of pleasant aromas and anticipation and things to be thankful for.

Norman Rockwell picture-perfect.

But things changed once my oldest son became addicted.


Thanksgiving became a day stuffed with unspoken disappointment, anger, and fear rather than too much pie and good cheer. His younger brother, dad and I would wait for my son to show up—or not show up at all—while our turkey and sweet potatoes shriveled away in the oven. Retreating to different parts of the house, we avoided the sad festivities and phony smiles until tradition beckoned us to sit down at the table across from my son’s very empty place. Thankful, I was not.

It has been ten years now since my son even pretended he was coming home for Thanksgiving dinner. (I don’t know where he has turkey. Or if he has turkey.) I’ve had time to adjust to Thanksgiving the way it is and stop wishing for the way it should be, but time hasn’t taken away the hurt—or the hole where he should be. I suspect it never will. Instead, over time, I’ve grown stronger. Over time, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me to get through and even enjoy the holidays again.

1. Make room for your feelings and let go of old expectations.

I’m now strong enough to face the hurt rather than stuff it away (more often than not), and I’m strong enough to fill the holes in my life and my heart with things that make the day better, not worse. That means facing reality, not trying to re-create what can’t be re-created, starting new traditions, and spending quality time with some happy old memories.

There’s a lot wrapped up in this big day that rolls around one short day a year. A lot of hopeful hopes, fears, disappointments, and stress—when holiday tradition and expectation meet addiction it can be madness. But it’s possible to look at things differently, to do things differently, especially if the whole family is recruited to open their eyes and minds. And when the spirit of things leading up to the big day is giving thanks, that spirit is contagious.

Thanksgiving is meant to be a day for gathering together with loved ones and having fun. So simple—and beautiful—if left simple. A performance, it is not. And living up to unrealistic expectations, I will not.

I no longer spend weeks leading up to Thanksgiving trying to pretend that everything is fine, that addiction hasn’t consumed my son (and therefore my whole family), and that we can still pull off a pretend-perfect performance.

“I no longer stuff down my sadness, putting on the dressing of normal life in the same way I shove myself into my jeans after a big meal—by taking a deep breath, swallowing the pain, and pasting on a smile.”

Instead, I plan ahead. I take the time to face my feelings—I take the time to grieve and cry for what was and what isn’t—and then, acknowledging the pitfalls I don’t want to fall into, I figure out ways to make the holiday work. And one of those ways is to ask for help—from friends, family, a therapist or counselor or any of the hundreds of support groups, like Al-Anon, Families Anonymous, or The Addict’s Mom.

2. Celebrate those who are at the table and let go of perfection.

I have Let Go of thinking that I’m the only one who can make the day (any day, actually) perfect, for anyone. Or that I can please everyone. Thanksgiving is made all the better with family participation—which means asking for everyone’s hands and hearts to be in the right place at the right time. Together we can prepare and adapt to the fact that our addicted loved one might not show up (or worse).

But, who is not at the table shouldn’t take up more space than the people who are.

There is no end to the room I have at my table. And in my heart. But both my heart and home have rules. Before the big day, I set my boundaries (and set up escape hatches), knowing that it’s possible that not everyone who shows up is going to behave. I can’t control the actions of anyone else, but what I can control is me (and even that is no easy task.). By facing reality, my actions don’t need to be reactions. My boundaries don’t need to be rough, they just need to be strong.

3. Try something different; open your heart to something new.

When the holiday hurts, maybe it’s time to try something different—something smaller, or bigger, or somewhere new. The meal, the menu, an old family recipe, the way (or the place) that we’ve always celebrated Thanksgiving…. the little traditions mean nothing compared to the meaning of the big tradition itself.

There was a time when I would spend weeks shopping and chopping, mixing and rolling, cleaning and decorating, for a meal that, for all of its hype, actually took less than thirty minutes to eat (not counting the time spent talking). But I enjoyed all the creative chaos. Until things changed. And then I didn’t. I felt a bit guilty at first, serving store-bought pie or stuffing from the deli, but the reality is, that isn’t what matters. And no one ever noticed—or if they did, they didn’t care.

4. Share your gratitude and give back.

Who is at the table is more important than what is on the table (or where the table is). In the holiday hubbub, it’s easy to forget what the holiday is really about.

“Giving thanks.”

So I’ve learned, having grown in my own recovery, to make every effort to live in the moment. To give thanks for the moment. To give thanks for those around me—those people who matter, and who deserve to feel like they matter, no matter what else is going on. I take the time to soak in and appreciate everything I have to be grateful for. Of which there is a lot.

My need to fill the hole that addiction has left in both my heart and life is big. And I’ve found that helping others keeps me moving forward. It may be overwhelming to add one more expectation to a day already laden with so much, but giving thanks by showing thanks doesn’t have to fall on one particular day in the fall. I’ve got 364 other days of the year in which to do what my heart needs to do. It helps me to help kids whose moms, for whatever reason, are unable to do mom stuff for them right now. And maybe someday someone will do the same thing for my son.

5. Accept what is, one day at a time.

Yes, I’m finally strong enough to fill the hole in my life where my son should be with things that make the holiday better, not worse. I’m strong enough to face reality—to accept what is—to start new traditions, and to spend time with some happy old memories; those are mine to keep and enjoy, forever.

Old memories still have the power to bring tears to my eyes, but I’m finally able to treasure my memories for what they are: gifts. I am blessed to have had so many years of such happiness, and not even addiction can take that away. After everything that has happened, I still have my sons’ smiles, the sounds of their voices, and the feel of their hugs, no matter how far away they may be. So, in giving thanks, I take the time to remember what was before embracing, fully, what is. I laugh, I cry. I allow the movies in my mind to fill my soul.

This year I will visit my 91-year-old mom in Memory Care, then my dad and I will have our Thanksgiving dinner at the home of the friend I grew up with and her parents, people we’ve known for about 55 years. Friends like family–I’m immensely grateful for that.

Many years ago my oldest son sent me this message:

“Happy Thanksgiving, Mom. Hopefully, someday I’ll give you a reason to be thankful for me. I love you. Thank you for still loving me.”

No matter what, I have always been thankful for both of my boys. And I’m thankful for what I have now. And I’m thankful that they both know how much they are loved.

This is me filling, not stuffing.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with things to be thankful for, too.

Please recovery friends, go visit Sandy on her beautiful and helpful website and her Amazing Books make excellent Holiday Gifts!



Dandelion Shop for Moms with Addicted Children, Sandy Swenson


Facebook, Sandy Swenson

Honored To Share This New Guest Article I Am a Part of To Help Others From Gambling Addiction.

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends and Visitors,


 Some months back I had the honor and pleasure to be interviewed and talked in length with MAIA SZALAVITZ, a New York Times Best Selling Author of her book;  Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction.

She is also an award-winning author and journalist who covers addiction and neuroscience. And currently a bi-weekly column for VICE on drugs and addiction. From 2010 to 2013, she wrote daily for TIME.com and she continues to freelance there and for other publications including the New York Times, Scientific American Mind, Nature, New York Magazine online, Pacific Standard, Matter, Nautilus, and The Verge.

She came across my recovery blog and found my phone number from my book promotions website. She called to tell me she was doing an in-depth article for the distinguished publication “The Nautilus” and “Time.com” about the neuroscience behind gambling addiction,e to be interviewed for the piece. I said sure, and I had spent an hour or so talking with Maia about my addiction to gambling. Here is the result from our talks and correspondence. I can not tell you again how honored and humbled that she shared some of my story and experiences so others can have more answers as to how this disease progress’s and how our brains can become manipulated by many factors of this addiction as a whole.


‘Addicted to Anticipation ~ What goes wrong in the brain chemistry of a gambling addict.’

Catherine Townsend-Lyon, 53, started gambling excessively when she was 30. As a result, her 40th birthday wasn’t much of a celebration: She was hospitalized, shortly after a suicide attempt. She’d tried to slit her wrists the day she’d missed her best friend’s funeral, after stealing money from her job at a credit service to play the slot machines.

That was just one part of how bad it had gotten. She would arrive at casinos at 7 a.m. and wear bladder control underpants. She didn’t want to have to get up—even for a quick bathroom break—if she was on a winning streak. At one point she hoped to win back enough money to stave off foreclosure on her home.

“It’s where I could find stress relief,” she says of her gambling, which she detailed in a book titled “Addicted to Dimes.” “I didn’t have to worry about anything—whether it was my past, whether it was the money I’d spent. You don’t think about any of it. It’s like you just go there and you’re escaping into a whole different world,” she says

Szalavitz_BR_LyonTILL DEATH DO THEY PART: “When we got married, he took his vows seriously. I mean, I put this man through everything,” says Catherine Townsend-Lyon (right), of her husband Thomas (left), who supported her throughout her gambling addiction and recovery.

Gambling Addiction stands out for its destructive power and pull. With substance problems, people can blame the chemical activity of drugs and argue that addiction occurs when repeated exposure physically alters the brain. But gambling causes life catastrophes that are at least as extreme—sometimes more—without any kind of foreign psychoactive chemical getting under the skin, indeed, without any apparent “substance” at all.

“First you get that euphoric feeling, that rush and excitement,” Townsend-Lyon says, “Once you become addicted, then you get to the point where you don’t care about anything. You’re in a zone and you don’t realize what’s going on around you.”

“The high is in expecting an outcome, desiring it, imagining it, not in its fulfillment.”

Problem gambling is addiction stripped to its core—compulsive behavior that persists no matter what the negative consequences. Compulsive gamblers risk their homes, their cars, their children’s college funds, their jobs, even their lives in what looks to everyone around them like completely willful, selfish, and utterly destructive behavior.

Understanding why and how gambling can become compulsive is to recognize that all forms of addiction are a form of aberrant learning. But addiction doesn’t primarily affect the kind of learning we associate with school, or with studying for tests and trying to memorize theorems.

Instead, it involves changes in deep emotional learning, the sort of learning that makes first love far more memorable than algebra or verb tenses. From a neuroscientific perspective, learning is a brain change that associates experiences with each other and affects behavior. A critical part of emotional learning is changes in brain circuitry that respond to reward and punishment and link them with actions and the environment.


The best way to see addiction may be as a learning disorder—one that occurs when punishment or other negative consequences no longer deter the addictive activity. As Yale researcher Jane Taylor and her colleagues explain in a review paper focused on substance addictions, these conditions “enhance positive learning and memory about the drug while inhibiting learning about the negative consequences.”1 Brain scans of compulsive gamblers suggest that the same processes are at work.2

In Townsend-Lyon’s case, her gambling persisted despite terrible financial losses, despite losing all her friends and becoming depressed enough to attempt suicide more than once. She describes losing jobs because her gambling began cutting into her workday. “When it was the worst part of my addiction, I was going before work, I was going at lunchtime, I was going after work. It was outrageous. I was just so out of control.”

While much time has been spent debating whether addiction is a disease or just a bad choice, recognizing how learning goes awry is the best way to improve treatment, prevention, and policy.

B.F. Skinner, who laid out the fundamental principles of learning through reward and punishment in the mid 20th century, recognized their relevance to gambling right from the start, says Natasha Dow Schull, author of Addiction By Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas and associate professor of media, culture, and communication at New York University.

Skinner told people that slot machines were basically human versions of the famous “Skinner boxes” he made for rats and pigeons. “People often think it’s a heavy-handed metaphor to call a slot machine a Skinner box, but in fact, he was calling Skinner boxes slot machines way back,” Schull says. Like the animals in their cages, slots players would pull a lever and wait to either receive a reward or not.

Early in his research, Skinner accidentally discovered an important factor that makes gambling addictive. One day, while working in the lab, he began to run out of rat treats. Since the treats were time-consuming to make and he had to do it himself, he didn’t want to stop the experiment. So instead of rewarding the rats every time they pushed the lever, he did it only once a minute. To his surprise, the intermittent reward made them push more, not less.


CASINO CONDITIONING: B.F. Skinner, seen here in 1948, said slot machines were basically human versions of the “Skinner boxes” he made for rats and pigeons. Slot machine players, like animals in the boxes, pull a lever and wait to either receive a reward or not.  (Apic/Getty Images)


In his behavioral experiments across species, Skinner found that the pattern of reward that created the most robust response—and the most stubbornly persistent learning—was not providing treats every time an animal pressed the lever. It was rewarding them at random: exactly like a slot machine.3Like human gamblers, pigeons began to do peculiar repetitive behaviors at the lever. It was as though they were superstitiously repeating a behavior that they associated with past “luck.”

But why would animals, including us, be more responsive to what Skinner called “intermittent reinforcement” than to getting rewarded every time you do the right thing? This is the paradox of the learning that is at the heart of addiction—whether to gambling, cocaine, shopping, or heroin—and it offers clues about what’s going wrong in the brain.

Over the course of evolution, many situations have required animals to persist despite negative outcomes; for mammals and particularly humans, finding and keeping a mate and rearing needy and demanding offspring are among the biggest such challenges. If we didn’t have a mechanism that pushed us to persevere in these pursuits, our species never would have survived. “The brain’s reward systems evolved to motivate us organisms to do things that we should do,” says Larry Young, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University who studies social bonding.

Addiction is involved the sort of learning that makes first love far more memorable than algebra.

When working properly, our basic motivational systems drive us to seek partners, despite rejection, fights, fears, and other challenges. They set our priorities, pulling or pushing us toward what their calculus determines is most likely to allow us to survive and reproduce. Our emotions, in fact, are fundamentally algorithms for rapid decision-making, which may have been shaped by the history of what actions best-promoted survival and reproduction.

The same system also makes babies seem unbearably cute, motivating parents to tolerate their noise and their constant, relentless demands—and even enjoy doing so. (Puppies and kittens often hitch a ride on this attachment system, making us want to care for them, too.)

“There’s a lot of shared neurochemistry between love and bonding and attachment and addiction,” says Young. “Basically, it uses the same neurochemistry. But love is an association in the brain that this particular individual is associated with that reward.”

In addition, the paraphernalia, the slot machine or crack pipe, becomes the focus, rather than a person. And when intense drive and a feeling of biological urgency get directed toward a drug or activity like gambling, serious problems can occur. It’s hard to make choices when the machinery that guides choice is itself misdirected.


Young’s research on monogamous and non-monogamous voles, which are a type of field mice, shows how neurons form new connections when bonding with a mate. In monogamous voles, the release of hormones like oxytocin links the reward regions and the reduction of stress with the presence of their mate. These chemicals help the brain associate the release of natural heroin-like neurotransmitters—endogenous opioids—that enhance the bond with a specific partner. But this connection isn’t made in promiscuous voles, for whom many partners are attractive and whose reward regions don’t get rewired to form pair bonds during mating.4

The hormonal bonding process—whether with a baby or a partner—is a type of learning, one that ultimately makes our stress systems responsive to our most significant others. It lowers blood pressure and creates calm when we’re together and safe, but raises alarms when there is distance or a perceived threat of harm to the person or the relationship.

Similarly, if your brain “decides” that a drug or activity is somehow essential to your emotional survival, it begins skewing your choices and changing your priorities to put this behavior first—in the same way that people in love obsess about their partners, make time together the center of their lives and often ignore other friends or work that used to be their focus. In fact, oxytocin has been shown to reduce symptoms of heroin and alcohol withdrawal and is being studied for a potential role in addiction treatment, in part as a result of these parallels.


Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that signals exhilaration, is critically involved in love, sex, and all addictions that have been studied. “Dopamine is the chemical that seals the deal when something special happens,” says Young. Research by Young and his colleagues shows that dopamine levels rise in monogamous voles during sex—and this type of dopamine peak is also seen when people with gambling addiction are about to bet and people with cocaine addiction anticipate snorting the sparkly white powder.5

Dopamine is also involved in the prediction of reward. While initially it rises just as a reward is received, once associations that predict the reward have been learned, the biggest rise comes not when the dice are rolled or the coke is snorted, but when the person walks into the casino or first sees the packet that contains the cocaine.6

However, if the predicted positive outcome does not occur, dopamine levels in certain brain areas drop—not just to normal, but below baseline. This punishes the bad prediction and ordinarily it makes people change their predictions and their behavior. We call the experience disappointment. But in addiction the relevant update to the prediction is not made. And so the behavior continues.

The fact that dopamine systems seek to predict outcomes also makes the patterning of addictive experience crucial to how addictive a drug, person, or experience will be. Gambling addiction rests on intermittent reinforcement alone—the experience of risk, the fact that there will be either loss or gain, creates excitement and the more unpredictable the outcome, the more compelling it becomes. With drugs, the pattern of use also matters. he more varied and irregular the dosing, the more addictive a drug will be.

Indeed, this is another reason why compulsive gamblers continue whether they win or lose—the high is in expecting an outcome, desiring that outcome, imagining it, not in its fulfillment. No win can ever be big enough to meet these outsized expectations, no loss harsh enough to dash the desire. Because dopamine calculates expectations, only a better-than-expected result can satisfy. But results seldom get better in the real world.

Brains are, in essence, prediction machines, which is why no one likes uncertainty and why solving mysteries provides such a sense of satisfaction. We seek patterns and connections, even in randomness, especially in randomness. That makes unpredictable patterns of reward—like playing the slots—into compelling puzzles that can draw us in, even if we know rationally that the odds are against us. This patterning can fool the brain into prioritizing an addiction. Townsend-Lyon’s husband Thomas used to tell her, “You love the machines more than you love me.”



Like most addictions, Townsend-Lyon’s gambling problem “didn’t come out of nowhere.” Similar to most women with addiction, she’d had a traumatic childhood—including emotional and physical abuse and ongoing sexual abuse by a close family member and another perpetrator. Also, like most women with addiction, she had pre-existing psychiatric problems; in her case, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder.

Studies of addicts show that trauma and certain genetic vulnerabilities—especially the two in combination—increase risk for a wide range of mental illnesses and a bewildering spectrum of addictions that include gambling, sex, alcohol, and opioids. The availability of escapist drugs and activities help determine what form the problem takes. But gambling and drugs themselves don’t cause addiction, a myth that often interferes with getting to the personal root of the problem.

“Everybody wants to think the object is the cause of addiction,” says Howard Shaffer, director of the division on addiction at the Cambridge Health Alliance, and an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “So dice causes gambling addictions. Roulette wheels cause gambling addiction. Heroin causes opioid addiction. The problem is that in every instance vastly more people use the object than become addicted.” Indeed, over 95 percent of gamblers and 80 to 90 percent of people who use addictive drugs like heroin and cocaine do not develop addiction problems.7

Problem gambling is addiction stripped to its core—compulsive behavior no matter the negative consequences.

Addiction is often learned when someone with an emotional or psychological problem discovers that a particular addictive behavior helps ease it—at least at first. “I’m a childhood sex abuse survivor, and what I was doing was using [gambling] to escape, to numb out,” Townsend-Lyon says.

Townsend-Lyon had little interest in alcohol or other drugs. Gambling seemed like a relatively harmless pastime, and she was excited by the possibility of what winning might mean. But the more she played, the less important winning and losing became. Instead, Townsend-Lyon played to reach “the zone”—a place where time, space, and self melt away and the cares of the real world vanish. When they’re in this realm, some gamblers find winning big to be annoying because the bright lights and bells and other jarring signals that announce it can bring them back down to earth.

The craving and the experience of losing control are identical. Townsend-Lyon and other problem gamblers describe being deeply aware of the fact that their behavior is irrational and harmful—and yet finding themselves doing it anyway. The same is true with cocaine, heroin, and alcohol addictions.

This disconnection between desire and pleasure—between what researchers call “wanting” and “liking” is reflected in how addiction leads learning astray in the brain. When drugs are taken irregularly and in varied dosing—which is what tends to happen during addiction because supplies and money to pay for them are rarely constant—drug desire escalates, while the pleasure associated with using declines.

The random nature of intermittent reinforcement produces a similar effect in gambling. The dopamine-driven desire system needs less and less of a cue to create intense craving—but the systems that are involved in the actual enjoyment of the experience become tolerant and more is needed to experience a high or just to feel normal. This contrast leaves addicted people desperately pursuing an experience that they don’t even like much once they get it.

Recovery from gambling addiction is difficult. For one thing, there’s the sheer amount of debts gamblers accrue. For another, there’s no material substance to blame for “changing the brain” or causing a “disease.” The pattern and experience of gambling come together to make the brain vulnerable to getting stuck in a compulsive loop. If it is hard to get people to see addiction to drugs as a medical problem, the lack of a chemical to blame makes gambling addiction even more suspect in the public eye.

There’s a paradox at the heart of the way American society tries to treat addiction. We think that if people like Townsend-Lyon simply lose enough or hurt enough or get punished enough, they’ll “hit bottom” and stop. But since addiction is defined as compulsive behavior that continues in the face of punishment, punishment is clearly not the best way to deal with it. Dozens of studies show that shame, confrontation, and humiliation are ineffective and can backfire when used in addiction treatment.8

Because most people with addictions are using their behavior as a way to cope with distress, figuring out the source of that distress and alleviating it in a more healthy way is the key to both prevention and treatment. In Townsend-Lyon’s case, she needed specialist mental health care to treat the post-traumatic stress disorder that resulted from the abuse she suffered, as well as specific help for her bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Finally, because addiction is misguided love, compassion, empathy, and social support are critical to recovery. Townsend-Lyon found help in a support group and through therapy, along with medication for her other diagnoses. Her husband also helped. “I was very blessed in my choice of husbands,” she says, describing how he stuck with her throughout her addiction and recovery. She adds, “When we got married he took his vows seriously. I mean, I put this man through everything. Today my life is better than before I became an addict.”

About “The Nautilus Journal” publication:

Welcome to Nautilus. We are delighted you joined us. We are here to tell you about science and its endless connections to our lives. Each month we choose a single topic. And each Thursday we publish a new chapter on that topic online. Each issue combines the sciences, culture, and philosophy into a single story told by the world’s leading thinkers and writers. We follow the story wherever it leads us. Read our essays, investigative reports, and blogs. Fiction, too. Take in our games, videos, and graphic stories. Stop in for a minute, or an hour. Nautilus lets science spill over its usual borders. We are science, connected. Nautilus is published through:

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