Welcome to Spring!
Spring is here! This is the season of flowers that line our sidewalks with their sweet fragrance floating in the air. All of this sunshine calls for a lighter jacket instead of our heavy coats. Most of us who live in colder climates have been longing for this time of year. Some of us are cleaning out winter, sweeping our gardens readying for the new bulbs to finally burst from the ground. A little spring cleaning doesn’t sound so bad at all. It’s a great time for new beginnings. An easier time ahead, a slower time with summer just around the corner.
Dr. Low speaks of peace being our supreme value, regardless of the season. Let’s take a moment to think about what that means personally for each of us. Certainly, it’s easier to think about what it’s not. It is not about romanticizing and intellectualizing, keeping us worked up and away from reality. Realism is about being aware and trusting our basic functions. Accepting life on life’s terms and making sound decisions. The decision to keep our minds peaceful was not so easy before Recovery. We can endorse for greater improvement over former days and we can continue to keep our practice a priority. Let’s keep attending meetings, reading the literature, taking five-minute phone calls, or maybe even volunteering to be assistant leaders! All this practice will make for easier, more peaceful times ahead.
Your editors, Dave and Helen
Mark your calendars for the next BOOK STUDY!
What is a Realist? Find out in our next Book Study!! Join us for a closer look at the core concepts of Dr. Low's method.
If you received an email for the previous book study, you are on the list. Otherwise, please email email@example.com to be added to the list. You will receive a reminder email the week before. (This is a Zoom meeting. The email will have the meeting code - no password - as well as dial-in instructions for those who wish to participate by phone.)
News from Headquarters
2022 – A Year in Review
This past year has been an example of the resilience of Recovery International, as the organization began to rebound from the challenges wrought by the pandemic. We know from Dr. Low that “control of our internal environment is infinitely more important than all the possible triumphs we may be able to score over external environment.” We also know that our members, donors, volunteers, leaders, Board members and staff rose to transform many of the obstacles brought by the pandemic into opportunities.
The number of Zoom and phone meetings, and meeting attendees, have continued to increase and have allowed new participants from all over the world to find the support they need. We have members from Canada, Croatia, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Sweden, as well as the United States and Puerto Rico. Over 2,500 peer-led meetings were held last year, serving more than 68,000 participants. In-person community meetings are beginning to resume. Attendance at the new Spanish-language Zoom meeting exceeded 350 last year.
Meeting contributions have not returned to pre-pandemic levels yet, but they were offset by some very generous bequests. These funds are helping us to replenish reserves depleted by recent crises. We are even more grateful than ever to those who are able to contribute a little extra through higher-level memberships and philanthropic gifts. Every dollar helps! It is this group-mindedness which allows us to continue to provide services to those currently unable to contribute, and to work toward better mental health for all.
What is most touching, of course, are the personal stories from individuals about the difference RI has made in their lives. Events such as the pandemic bring home the importance of putting Dr. Low’s Method into practice regularly and having peer-support available through meetings seven days each week. Our hearts help to stir us to action, and to feel the difference this organization is making. Thank you for your role in serving this higher purpose, and in helping others to achieve Better Mental Health.
Nicole Cilento, Acting President
Karen Hall, CEO
Save the Date for the RI Annual Meeting
RI Members can join Board, Staff, Leaders and fellow Members to recap 2022 and hear what's new for the future. (Via Zoom )
If you are a member or current donor, you should have received an email invite to register for the event. If you have not, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Celebrating Mental Health Awareness month with gratitude for the gifts we were given by Dr. Low! We can maintain peace and calm during the trivialities of life and more challenging times as well. Mental Health Awareness Month, observed every May since 1949, was established by Mental Health America.
What is mental wellness in Dr. Low's terms? It is being a realist, and realists trust their basic functions. In Dr. Low's Column: Nervous Patients and Nervous Persons, pages 8 and 9 in Selections from Dr. Low’s Works, he writes:
When Gertrude arrived at the self-deprecating conclusion that being a nervous patient, she was less qualified for a responsible job than her co-workers who "were not nervous patients" she overemphasized certain phases of her behavior, ignoring or minimizing what was at its base. Her judgment was focused on the shifting and phasic elements of her conduct, not on its permanent and basic foundation.
On the other hand, her co-workers, when passing judgment on their own qualities, were inclined to play down their phasic defects and to play up their basic merits. They did not deny their disturbances and defects. They knew and did not blink the fact that they had occasional palpitations and air-hunger.
But that did not suggest to them the wild idea that their circulation and respiration were basically damaged. Instead, they were certain that the present disturbance was merely an occasional or momentary phase of their basically sound behavior. … Whereas Gertrude indicted her basic functions her coworkers put the blame on some phase of their conduct only. Basically, they approved of their behavior. If they condemned at all, their condemnations were directed at some of its phasic portions only…
What she and all my patients will have to learn is that nervousness and nervous symptoms are universal and average and that to get well means to become again an average nervous person who experiences nervous reactions in many phases of his life but has implicit confidence in the trustworthiness of his basic functions.
During the month of May, if you have the book Selections read and study this writing and practice Trusting Your Basic Functions! Following that, come to the June 4th Book Study we will delve further into this topic.
Stories of Hope
I was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was 23. I am 72 now and a Recovery leader. Even after all these years, I am self-conscious that my behavior may appear maladjusted. For example, when I lead a meeting, I think, "I should not have said this or that, but the members are too kind to tell me." I read Celinda's story in the "You Are Not Alone" section of the Leaders' Guide and learned that she also had schizophrenia. When I took the leadership training that she and Angela gave, I looked forward to meeting Celinda. She led the leaders training with such confidence that she inspired a new confidence in me. I hope I can share that confidence with others. The Recovery Method works when you work it!
Janice G., Area 145, Cleveland, OH
Gary W. has been our group leader for one year. He has transformed from being an average member to a confident, inspiring, and enthusiastic leader. Because he is group-minded, even before becoming a leader, he brought us through the pandemic by setting up the duo platform so that we could continue as a group. Most importantly, we are the only evening Recovery meeting in Suffolk County (St. James). Gary attended Recovery group leader training and is constantly learning new concepts, like the Big Five, and incorporating them into the group. He is flexible with members that are struggling with the concept, allowing them to focus primarily on the four-step process. He is sensitive to the feelings and needs of the group members, always encouraging them by acknowledging their progress.
Gary leads the meetings in a caring, upbeat, and organized manner. It’s like having an evening out with friends! But our goal is to help each other in achieving better mental health and decreasing symptoms. He encourages participation by creating an environment where members feel valued and accepted. He is generous with praise. Our members are getting well and we thank Gary for that!
Area 131, St. James, NY
I am Dr. Rujuta Kasle from India. I am currently pursuing an M.D. in microbiology. I experienced emotional turmoil in the form of a psychological illness seven years age. I came to know about the self-help group Eklavya Foundation. Being an introvert, I was reluctant to join and share, but after 1-2 meetings, I became comfortable because of volunteers and fellow group members.
I learned about Dr. Low, his tools, and self-help groups from groups that ran in the U.S. I am very thankful to Dr. Low for his tools and for initiating the idea of a self-help group. I am grateful to the Eklavya Foundation volunteers, and fellow group members for the beautiful meetings. And I used 5 minute phone calls to Chinmay, a great friend and always ready to help and share information, Manjiri Maam, Smita Maam, Vartak Sir, and Pallavi Maam. I got extended family in the form of this group. Recovery tools and a self-help group helped me cope with my stressful life and emotional turmoil. I can describe Recovery tools as a lifeline. I would like to add that my parents and younger brother were the stronger backbones throughout the journey. For survival, we can focus on many good things out there, and Dr. Low’s Method is one of them. Thank you.
Stories of Hope Audio Series
There are no hopeless cases
Recovery International’s Lisa Garcia is featured in the Wednesday segment of the article "72 hours: Inside San Diego County’s Mental Health Crisis" by the San Diego Union Tribune, April 16, 2023. Click here to read the full article.
Click the image to play the video
Wisdom of Dr. Low
When Agnes threw her tantrum, she engaged in the romanticist game of staging a scene full of excitement, danger and drama. She played, with coarse and boisterous dramatization, the role of one threatened with death and destruction, posing as the helpless victim of a fatal emergency, all the while striking well calculated terror into the minds of husband and mother. A theatrical performance of this kind, being grotesque and ridiculous and utterly illogical, cannot be maintained convincingly unless the actor or actress blind themselves against the protest and cynical smile of logic and reason. Shut off reason and you can be a romanticist; employ reason and you must become a realist.
When Agnes, a year after her gruesome midnight performance, had a similar experience with torturing symptoms, she turned REALIST, did a good piece of sound, logical thinking, and the developing tantrum was aborted in the space of seconds or minutes.
“Blindspotting and Spotlighting,” Selections from Dr. Low’s Works, p. 24-26.
Whether my life is one of frustration or fulfillment depends on how I manage my expectations.
Recently, I sent emails to my congressional representatives, but I did not get much of a response. That's when I got worked up.
My symptoms included feelings of being ignored, experiencing preoccupation with what I wrote, self-blame for having quit as a leader – thinking I could have made a difference, feelings that I have to be right, processing my thoughts over and over again, experiencing an impulse to argue, and feelings of helplessness to do anything.
I made the following spots: Temper is, among other things, blindness to the other side of the story; I might be wrong about my feelings and thoughts, I had the courage to make a mistake; I became group-minded as they must get a lot of emails and mine is just another opinion to them, if they even read it; and helplessness is not hopelessness.
Before my Recovery training, I would have continued being preoccupied with what I wrote, experiencing regrets over my past, and feeling anger at leaders for not listening to me. Now, with my RI training, I’ve been able to apply the RI tools I’ve learned and enjoy inner peace. I endorsed myself for having had the courage to express my feelings calmly and for speaking up. I also endorsed for being open and honest in what I said.
Douglas M., Harrisburg, PA
Don't Work it Up!
After visiting the doctor office previously, I was informed the doctor wanted to run a few additional tests. I immediately then started to "work it up." My original complaint about some minor heartburn turned into fearful thoughts about a diagnosis of stomach cancer. Well, it turned out to be nothing, but I noticed on subsequent visits, I started to focus on my minor symptoms again, processing them into the deadliest diagnosis possible. Thus, I was starting to connect a routine office visit with impending disastrous diagnoses. By learning to spot this thinking, I prevented another potential anxiety symptom from taking hold.
Jim C., Northern KY/Cincinnati
Step 1: I am a teacher. On my student’s birthday, he gave chocolate to his friends but not to me.
Step 2: I felt very sad. I felt angry at what he did. I wanted to complain a lot.
Step 3: Maintaining inner peace is my primary purpose. My inner peace is more important than my anger. I endorsed myself for how I handled it.
Step 4: Had I not known these tools, I would have kept insulting him all day that he had treated me like this. But this time, my vexation quickly subsided.
Help provided by other group members:
- I should lower my expectations.
- Excuse rather than accuse.
- Feelings are not facts.
- I don’t have control over my external environment, only my internal environment.
Anonymous, Pune, India (From a recent Eklavaya Foundation newsletter)
Click on the icons below for more examples and stories from RI members.
Roaming the Globe
Area 141 (S. Central OH and KY) Annual Party
The RI Area 141 team got together for their Annual Party at a favorite location they've made a haven and a well visited venue for over a decade! The Courseview Restaurant and the Great 18 in Mason Ohio, on the renowned Grizzly Golf Course grounds, provided us a day of laughter, song, food, remembrance and camaraderie. Area 141 has hosted annual parties and events for well over a decade. We warmly welcome all new RI members and offer open opportunities to those who will join us in the months ahead.
Happy Leadership Anniversary, Elizabeth!
I have been a leader for RI for one year as of April 1st. It has not been easy. I’ve had my challenges, but I never gave up. I find being a leader to be very rewarding. I love helping other people in Recovery. I watch people get better and grow. I also love attending the nationwide Leaders meeting the first Saturday of each month. I get support, learn new things, and listen to other leaders’ challenges – which are like mine. This all helps me become a better leader. This is the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life and I'm glad I never gave up.
Elizabeth B., Area 131, NY
Las reuniones en español
¡Las reunion en español de RI celebran un año!
Hace ya casi 3 años que empecé a participar de las reuniones de Recovery International después que una amiga compartió conmigo un buen ejemplo de como mantuvo la calma ante una interacción irritante con una persona conocida. Pensé que ese método que ella estaba practicando me podía ayudar a lidiar mejor con mi estrés diario. La asistencia regular, la participación en las reuniones, las lecturas y práctica del método de RI me han ayudado a no dejar que las irritaciones triviales de la vida cotidiana me causen tensión. He aprendido a reconocer (“spot”) mi “temper” temeroso y enojado y a utilizar las herramientas que me ayudan a mantener la calma. Algunas de estas herramientas son “No tomar nuestro querido “YO” tan en serio,” “Las personas hace cosas que nos irritan, pero no necesariamente para irritarnos,” “Ser líder de sí mismo y no dominado por el “temper” ni los síntomas.”
En febrero acabamos de celebrar el primer aniversario del grupo de RI en español que se reúne por Zoom donde Rex es el líder y yo soy su asistente. Nos reunimos todos los viernes a las 2:00 pm EST, presentamos lecturas de los trabajos del Dr. Low y damos ejemplos de la vida cotidiana donde utilizamos el método de 4 pasos que aprendemos en RI.
Es muy emocionante y alentador ver como personas nuevas a Recovery, en pocos meses participan en las reuniones, comparten sus ejemplos, ofrecen herramientas para ayudar a otros y podemos notar como han logrado tener más tranquilidad en sus vidas.
Los exhorto a que nos visiten los viernes a las 2:00 pm EST y vean como a través de la práctica persistente del método que aprendemos en RI, ustedes también pueden lograr Mejor Salud Mental. Pueden visitar www.recoveryinternational.org/Spanish-materials para registrarse y asistir. ¡Los esperamos!
RI Spanish Meeting Celebrates One Year!
It has been almost 3 years since I started participating in Recovery International meetings after a friend shared with me a good example of how she kept her cool in the face of an irritating interaction with a familiar person. I thought that the method that she was practicing could help me better deal with my daily stress. Regular attendance, meeting participation, readings, and practicing the RI method have helped me not to let the trivial irritations of everyday life cause me stress. I have learned to recognize (“spot”) my fearful and angry “temper” and to use the tools that help me stay calm. Some of these tools are "Don't take our dear selves so seriously," "People do things that annoy us, but not necessarily to annoy us," "Be the leader of oneself and not dominated by the" temper "or the symptoms."
In February, we just celebrated the first anniversary of the RI group in Spanish that meets by Zoom where Rex is the leader and I am his assistant. We meet every Friday at 2:00 pm EST, present readings from Dr. Low's work, and give examples from everyday life where we use the 4-step method we learn at RI.
It is very exciting and encouraging to see how new people to Recovery, in a few months participate in the meetings, share their examples, offer tools to help others and we can notice how they have achieved more peace of mind in their lives.
I encourage you to visit us on Fridays at 2:00 pm EST and see, how through persistent practice of the method, we learn in RI that you, too, can achieve Better Mental Health. Visit recoveryinternational.org/Spanish-materials to register and attend. We are waiting for you!
SHARE! (Self-Help and Recovery Exchange)
Since SHARE! began preparing people for the peer workforce in 2016, we have required participants to attend RI meetings and integrate the method into their practice, in part to improve their ability to weather the stresses of work as well as their ability to refer people to RI. People are impressed with the ingenuity of Dr. Abraham Low who developed this method at a time when few understood the value of peer support. We have been a proud recipient of the Ada Davis Spirit Award for our efforts to support RI.
Many people have told us that going to RI is one of the most meaningful aspects of the training, and some continue to attend long after the training is over. One participant said, "I'm so grateful to have found RI. It's such a useful approach that anyone can use. I can't believe I had never heard of it." It has helped him cope with family issues and medical setbacks. A favorite tool is, "Don't take your own dear self too seriously."
Another participant found that the RI method helped him control his temper, which had previously led him to use crystal meth. He learned that "Temper is frequently uncontrolled, but not uncontrollable."
Recently, a group of RI members helped put together a wonderful video introducing the RI method and offering two examples. We are very excited to incorporate the video into our training, and hope that RI will continue to grow and offer many more people peace of body and mind. To all who have been part of the Recovery International fellowship, thank you and endorse yourselves for making RI what it is today.
Libby Hartigan, Los Angeles area 15
Go to the SHARE! blog/video featuring RI.
(SHARE! is the self-help center in Los Angeles that has been promoting self-help groups and offering volunteer and work opportunities to anyone who is interested. Started in 1993 by Ruth Hollman and Libby Hartigan, they have been supporters of Recovery International since the beginning. At one time both Marilyn Schmidt and Celinda Jungheim were on their Board. And we have had a meeting at both their Culver City and Downtown L.A. locations. When the pandemic hit three years ago, they quickly moved all their self-help groups to Zoom and included all of the greater Los Angeles (Area 15) meetings. Most of these groups have chosen to stay on their Zoom platform even though a few in person meetings are being re-established. This has been such a mutually beneficial relationship.)
Our weekly Google Meet groups in India are growing. Our Marathi-speaking group in Pune has an average attendance of 12-25 people. We also have a group in Pune for caregivers that about 12-25 people attend each week. In addition to practicing the Method, we are reading from Dr. Low's works in English. Every first Saturday of the month, we have a combined meeting of the two groups.
One of our group members has taken up writing a weekly tool on a whiteboard to help her practice.
Ganesh started an English-speaking group in Chennai that meets Wednesdays at 7:00 PM India time. Last time I was there, 17 people attended. People have been coming through word of mouth.
We call our groups Eklavaya, which means "teaching oneself." Group members formed the Eklavaya Foundation to promote Dr. Low's method and teachings through a bimonthly newsletter. One of the examples from a recent newsletter is in this edition of the Reporter.
Dr. Abraham Low's birthday is 28 February. To express our gratitude towards Dr. Low's philosophy and the self-help movement, an article was written and published in late February in Sacral, a Marathi-language daily newspaper that is widely read in Pune.
Chimney is one of the Pune group members. He is now at Lamprey Goliath Borolo Regional Institute of Mental Health getting a master's degree of philosophy in clinical psychology in order to become a counselor. He plans to use Recovery groups in his practice.
He says that the Kavala group's testimonials of success are quite well accepted by the psychiatrists. In India, he would like to see the psychiatric community embrace Recovery groups.
Chimney P., Pune, India
A Tribute to Joan Nobiling’s 46 Years of Service!
Joan Nobiling, founder of RI telephone groups, attended her first RI meeting in Rochester, NY in February 1976. It was there that she met and became a close friend to our former Board President, the late Joanne Lampey. Through a series of unexpected events, Joanne asked Joan to take over the leadership role, and thus Joan’s long journey began. Over the years Joan has served as group leader, area leader and several terms on the Board of Directors and various committees. Serving as the national training director for RI, she traveled to various areas of the US, as well as Ireland, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Thank you, Joan, for your service!
After leading for twenty years, Joan moved from Rochester to the small town of Oneonta, NY. The RI meeting there eventually closed. Joan missed the RI meetings and decided to speak to the RI President about the possibility of creating RI meetings via telephone conference. The pilot program proposal was submitted to the Board of Directors and approved.
Joan asked Kathy Majka to serve as her assistant and the process began. This was all new territory and it took almost 2 years and a myriad of required steps to bring this vision to fruition.
The Telephone Meeting division of RI was established in July of 2004 when the first telephone meeting was held. Part act by part act the Introduction to RI, Literature, Supplemental, RI Discovery and Special Focus Telephone Meetings were opened and have helped countless members regain and maintain their mental health.
I was so fortunate to have Joan as my mentor thirteen years ago. Although we chat often, I, as well as our leaders miss working with her.
Administrator & Area Leader, RI Telephone Groups
Hats off, Dolores, for 54 years!
Area 145 recognizes Dolores Vorndran for her longstanding commitment to Recovery International
Dolores attended her first meeting in 1970 where she found hope in dealing with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. In 1985 Dolores became an assistant leader and in 1995 she became a leader. Even though Dolores doubted her ability to lead, she reminded herself that she could do anything an average person could do. Dolores remained the leader of the Thursday 7:30 PM meeting at St. Charles in
Parma, Ohio until 2020, at which point she became and remains the assistant leader at the 1:15 PM Wednesday meeting, also held at St. Charles.
Dolores is known in Area 145 for her baking skills. She continues to bring delicious home-baked treats to be enjoyed during mutual aid. She credits Recovery for giving her confidence. Some of her favorite tools are, “Have the courage to make a mistake,” “Being nervous is fate appointed,” and “Humor is our best friend; temper is our worst enemy."
Special Session Series: Making Art with RI Spots
In 2022, Elizabeth S. submitted a proposal to run a series of art workshops that would incorporate Recovery spots. To-date, seven sessions were offered with 65 participants. Each session has a different focus, buy so far, we’ve learned impressionism, winter trees and scenes, holiday gifts, greeting cards, and collages – all using spots that either conjure up an image or an image that reminds us of a spot. Doing art in these sessions is fun and relaxing, still there are times our hands don’t do what our mind expects and we often use “Perfection is a hope, dream, and illusion” and “try, fail; try, fail, try, succeed” during the sessions!
Here's just a small sample of some of the art created.
Elizabeth S., Richmond, VA
Fran G., New Orleans, LA
Lynn T., Los Angeles, CA
Annette B., Coldwater, OH
Marilyn Peppin was an RI group leader for 30 years in the Los Angeles Area. She passed away on January 6th at 93. Besides being a group leader, she was a district leader and mentored many people.
Marilyn was a librarian in Sierra Madre in the San Gabriel Valley and had her group there for decades. She was devoted to RI and to helping others practice their skills to regain and maintain their mental health. In this photo, she was at the 50th Anniversary of RI at the Palmer House in Chicago.
Denise Marie Hayes Daniel
Denise Marie Hayes Daniel, New Port Richey, FL, passed away on October 30th, 2022. She fought a valiant battle against multiple cancers and other mental and physical challenges. Denise was a veterinarian for over 20 years and has been reunited with her beloved cats and dogs, especially her dog Bradley. She enjoyed planting flowers, admiring the butterflies, and the birds eating at her feeders. She spent vacations at the beach, floating in the ocean, watching the shorebirds, and the occasional bald eagles and osprey soaring overhead. She was an enthusiastic artist and loved the environment. She will be missed by all.
Stephen E. Round
Stephen (Steve) Round, a native of Canada and longtime member of RI, was a strong proponent for reading and studying Dr. Low’s works as a means to get well. Steve joined the RI Telephone Groups in 2013 and facilitated the Friday evening 7:30 Supplemental meeting until his retirement this past July. Steve was a true example of making one’s mental health their supreme goal. His leadership played an important role in helping individuals regain and maintain their mental health which, in turn, helped them to enjoy healthier, happier and more productive lives. Steve will surely be missed but will remain in the hearts and minds of all those whose lives he touched!
Submit to the Recovery Reporter
Call for Submissions!
Have you or someone you know dedicated 25 or more years to practicing the RI Method? Help us honor our longtime members here in Members Corner! We are going to feature our long-serving heroes in each issue of the Reporter.
- A photo
- A short description
- What challenge/problem did RI solve for you?
- What are your favorite spots?
- Why would you recommend RI?
- Highlight the meeting you attended (City, day, time and any leadership roles taken on)
Please also submit your Stories of Hope, Examples and local news for Roaming the Globe for the next Reporter.
We would like thank all of our contributors, without whom the Recovery Reporter would not be possible. Before sending submissions, please read the following submission guidelines.
- Please keep submissions as short as possible, roughly 3 paragraphs in length, which is approximately 300 words.
- Please identify all submissions with first name and last name initial only, area number (if you know it), town, and state or country.
- Photos: Please if possible submit clear photos whenever possible.
- Please no bold or italics.
- Please adhere to the deadlines for each issue.
- When the volume of submissions exceeds our page limits, it may be unfortunately necessary to exclude some submissions.
- Please send only submissions pertinent to the Recovery Reporter.
PRIVACY: To protect the privacy and confidentiality of all members, please use only first name and the initial of the last name of people. Please be aware that the content you submit is NOT private because we cannot control how it is shared and therefore it may be accessible to the public.
The views and opinions expressed by authors of articles appearing in the Reporter are those of the author of those articles and they are not necessarily the views and opinions of Recovery International or anyone affiliated with Recovery International.
Email your submission to email@example.com.
Mailed items should be sent to Headquarters:
1415 W. 22nd St., Tower Floor
Oak Brook IL 60523