Saturday, June 27, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: MENtal HEALTH BY ALLAN KEHLER

2020 hasn't been ALL bad.

For the past few months I kept hearing the name Allan Kehler, Allan Kehler, ALLAN KEHLER. The name had been coming up in my conversations with friends like Clint Malarchuk, Health industry personnel and media folk. Allan's mug even popped up in my Facebook feed under "People You May Know". But I didn't know him.

It seemed Allan Kehler's name is a trusted one, and my friends told me he's a Mental Health advocate, motivational speaker and best-selling author out of Saskatoon. "You've gotta meet him," they kept saying. "You two'd hit it off!"

And then this week, out of the blue, I got a note from Allan saying he was going to be in my city and he asked for a meeting. As I've learned in Recovery when someone opens a door for you, you walk through it. So we set up a time to meet on Friday at the studios of my daily sports talkshow.

That in itself was a gong show and Allan would have his first "Welcome To Rod's Life" moment as he had to adjust his schedule for my antique Jeep breaking down, which threw a kink into our plans. Then he had to wade through a staff barbecue in our studio parking lot being thrown by retired NFL'er-turned-TV analyst Tori Gurley. (Allan graciously accepted a hotdog).

Once inside the IKS Media building, we closed the glass door to a nice air conditioned conference room and got down to business. 

You see when two people in Recovery and in the "helping people" business connect, you get to the heart of the matter real fast and the conversation can last for hours. The rest of the world doesn't *get us*, so we cherish the few who do.  ("Why would you help somebody else with no expectation of a return?" is the popular refrain from the earthlings). 

Anyway after briefly sharing our stories and scheming how best to team up our services, Allan handed me four copies of his latest book MENtal Health - It's Time To Talk, with the foreword by famed broadcaster and Mental Health speaker Michael Landsberg.

I promised Allan I would read it over the weekend but in truth, I crushed it by noon on Saturday. That's a testament in two ways: 1) I couldn't put it down, and 2) The book is framed in small, bite-sized chapters which makes it easily digestible. If you have a passion for this stuff, you'll blaze through it too.

And what's different about Kehler's fourth book is that it's tailored specifically to men. It examines the stats on men's Mental Health issues versus women's, how they affect each gender differently (inward versus outward reactions), and much, much more.


With Allan Kehler (left) at IKS Media
There are a host of short stories from men from all walks of life sharing their struggles. You want to hear from the guy running through downtown barefoot in a hospital gown and wonder why he did it? That guy tells you in this book. You want to know why farmers are among the most stressed and anxious blue-collar workers and how they deal with it (or DON'T deal with it?). You'll hear from one young farmer - who's also a junior hockey coach - on how we've been looking at it all wrong our whole lives. You'll also hear from the First Responder whose PTSD led him down the wrong path before he turned his life around with the proper help.

And that right there is the biggest key. I'll admit there's a tornado of stories encapsulated in the 181 pages which can be a lot to absorb in one sitting. But one key message kept coming through over and over:

You need to reach out for assistance if you're struggling. Nobody can do it for you and once you're tired enough of living in the storm, it's up to you to take the first step. And if a door or two gets slammed in your face, don't be discouraged. Try another door. Keep trying doors until the right one opens because you'll find it.

The publication is also rife with little nuggets that'll stay with you forever, like: "You are the author of your life. But the universe is the editor". That one came from the guy who was running barefoot downtown in a hospital gown. Maybe he's not so crazy after all.

MENtal Health is a collection of stories from the winners who kept fighting and came out on the other side. They didn't give up no matter how much adversity was shoved in their face.

Who doesn't love a good comeback story?

And one other thing about 2020 not being so bad. There are have been countless horrible things go on this calendar year which are largely out of our control. However we are also in the midst of the digital age and no matter where you live in the world - no matter how remote or even how congested it is - you can find all the resources and the "right door" online.

Shame, embarrassment and stigma are no longer viable excuses for not getting help.

Allan Kehler's book gives you the keys to get your life back.

Bravo.

Order yours direct-to-home from Allan's website: https://www.outfromtheshadows.ca/shop/mental-health-its-time-to-talk/
or at your local Indigo/Chapters.

Rod Pedersen
Pedersen Recovery Inc./The Recovery Hour

Saturday, June 6, 2020

TOP 10 BEST THINGS OF A SOBER LIFE

Nine times out of 10 when someone I meet learns that I no longer drink (1,957 days as of this writing), they say, "Boy it must be great not having to deal with hangovers!"

Of course it is, but in truth that's about the 10th best thing I've discovered from leading a sober life. So for this week's blog post, here are my Top 10 Best Things of My Sober Life after hitting rock bottom on January 26, 2015:

1 - NO FEAR: The rest of these points really are in no particular order but this is my clearcut #1. Why? Because imagine being paralyzed by fear so much that you're afraid to look at your phone, you shudder in a cold sweat each and every time a text or call comes in because you assume you're in trouble for something you did or said while drinking (and most times you don't even remember doing it). Imagine having to tiptoe around your boss's office to avoid his angry glare for your drunken antics, or constantly worry about "who's talking to who" about the drama you created about yourself.

Now, all of that is gone and that's the biggest relief in the world.

2 - EXPERIENCING LIFE: A week long trip to Mexico seems like two weeks, or a 2-day road trip seems like a 4-day adventure because you're not drunk half the time and hungover in bed for the other half. Somebody just asked me this week how I handle so much life on the road without drinking and he said "What's life like?" Well, it was exhilarating to be sitting in a Starbucks in downtown Toronto at 7:00 am last Saturday when Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter walked in. The old me would've still been in bed sleeping it off. On this morning, Carter and I chatted, took a photo, and I soon learned he's in long-term Recovery too. That's one of hundreds of examples of how nice it is to be "with it", and finally enjoying the real side of life rather than getting loaded in a dingy bar.

3 - FREEDOM: It's a real thing. Not having to take the long way around a checkstop never gets old, and it's empowering to drive by a cop and look him in the eye. This may seem elementary to you if you're not an alcoholic, but hardcore drinkers will nod their heads like a bobblehead when they read this. Above all else, it's nice to be able to rent a car on so many of our trips and know Blood Alcohol Level won't be a problem. Travelling across borders is effortless and free. Sober living is win, win, win.

4 - TRUST: This has to rank up near the top, and it's wide-ranging. But the big one is the security that my wife and family feels about me now when I'm off on my own. There are no worries that I'll get into trouble or injure myself. A scrape on my shin or hands is easily explained - and believed - rather than the elaborate lies I had to cook up in my old life. That was exhausting. Now it's all gone. My family knows I'll be doing the right thing, all the time, when I'm gone or when they're gone.


Photo by Larry Mueller
5 - FINANCES: This shouldn't be surprising, but it's bigger than you think. It's one thing to ring up high bar tabs for yourself and buy the whole tavern drinks just so you have somebody to drink with (pathetic I know, but it was a regular occurrence). But what about this: lost sunglasses, cell phones, VEHICLES, and every other material possession you could think of. It didn't take very long into Recovery for me to see my bank account go up, up, and up. In fact, I bought a Jeep with money I've saved in sobriety and it's a reward I enjoy every day.

6 - RESPECT AND SELF-RESPECT: Did you know the most important things on this earth, you can't buy? (Love, respect, trust, dignity, health). I'm literally years into Recovery and still digging myself out of the 25-year hole I created while wallowing in the disease of Alcoholism. It's a day-by-day effort to restore respect and dignity and it only comes by proving yourself every 24 hours (hence our favourite saying, One Day At A Time). However the days stack up into weeks, months and years and I've met a lot of new people who have no idea about my past. They say I'm a nice, respectable, admirable person and some even call me Mr. Pedersen. I never thought getting to this point would ever be possible. Again, what a reward for sobriety.

On the flipside, as an addict you allow people to treat you like garbage because you think you are garbage. Because of your dirty little secret, you don't think you can have nice things. However once that secret is out in the open and dealt with, life becomes a whole new world. Put it this way: if you mistreat me now, you'd better be prepared for a fight.

7 - CLEAR MIND: They call it the "Alcoholic Fog" and it too is a thing. Booze really takes over your brain and clouds all of your thinking. That, I feel, is why 90 days in Recovery is a real milestone because by that point, you should be coming out of the fog, detangling your mind, feeling 100% better physically, and realizing a sober life is the ONLY option for an alcoholic. There were times on my radio show where my mind would just "freeze" because of my drinking and I literally could not think. That is not optimum on live radio. It was absolutely horrible.

One day last year I was sitting on the patio of a coffee house in Phoenix and looked up at the blue, cloudless sky. I thought to myself, "My mind is as clear as that Arizona sky." What a feeling!

8 - MY HEALTH: You would think this would be higher on the list, and perhaps it should be. When I got into Recovery everyone kept saying, "You're sick!" and "You're not well!" What on earth were they talking about? I was in the gym at least an hour everyday. But it was the shock of my life when my doctor said I'd be dead in a year the way I was going if I didn't change my life, pronto. Someone told me last week that I look 10 years younger. My skin is fresh and that's likely because I sleep like a baby. ("A clean conscience is the softest pillow" - John Wooden). I am preparing for a long and happy life rather than wishing I was dead, which I did just a few years ago.

9 - NOT FEELING LOST: This kind of spills into my Anxiety Disorder but it's another real thing. As an alcoholic you feel like you're on an island - except for your drinking buddies - but when you get into Recovery you meet dozens, maybe even hundreds, of people who are just like you. That's a nice feeling. And by keeping a daily journal you plant your feet on the ground rather than waving around in the wind like a balloon. I got started in this by my accountant who wanted me to track my mileage on a daily basis. Soon I was writing down who I talk with daily, where I went for lunch, family events, etc. Basically, it feels like you have your shit together for the first time in your life.

10 - NO HANGOVERS: So, yes, not having hangovers is a pretty wonderful way to go through life but it doesn't really compare to the nine other points above. Plus, when you drink as much as an alcoholic does, hangovers aren't really that bad. I see people who go on benders once or twice every year and sometimes wonder, "Why can't I do that?" However I quickly realize that I was doing it every weekend or sometimes multiple times per week. It was completely ruining my life and I'm grateful every minute of every day that I found the road out.

* If you have a serious problem with alcohol (if it's causing problems in your life), then it's imperative that you seek help. If it's deemed that you suffer from Alcoholism, then drinking can no longer be part of your life.

Hopefully this week's blog shows you what the upside of that is. It's ALL positive.

RP
Twitter: @pedersenrecover
IG: @pedersenrecovery
FB: Pedersen Recovery & Coaching Inc.

SC: Pedersenmedia

Friday, June 5, 2020

RECOVERY ADVOCATE PEDERSEN SPEAKS AT PEACOCK

(Photo: Zach Drake, DiscoverMooseJaw.com)
By: Zach Drake, DiscoverMooseJaw.com
Alcohol and drugs have never been more easily accessible to youth, and that's the reason many feel it's so important to educate them on the dangers of substance abuse early.
Former voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders Rod Pedersen now works as a Sober Coach with Pedersen Recovery INC. for athletes, entertainers, the military and more who are battling addictions and mental illness.
Pedersen spends a lot of time working as a recovery advocate and serving as a keynote speaker.
Thursday afternoon, Pedersen spoke to a group of students at Peacock Collegiate. He described what his main message was in the presentation.
"Well, the number one weapon against addiction is prevention. So if we can stop kids before they've started drugs and alcohol abuse it's a win right there. If it's an older group I talk to, I say 'it's never too late to turn your life around' but with kids like this at Peacock I say 'it's never too early'. If you're starting to experience issues with mental health or addictions/substance abuse, look into it. Don't let it take your life down the drain like it did with mine."
Pedersen also explained why it's important to educate youth, even as young as 10 years old.
"I've become big on numbers. Suicide rates have tripled for kids 10-14, and there's a variety of reasons why that is ... a lot of excuses why that is. It's an important age; it's when people start to make life-altering decisions. Again it's about prevention, the number one weapon against addiction is prevention. We're trying to get to them as early as we can, because it's easier to build boys and girls than it is to repair men and women."
Pedersen added that it only takes one person in your corner to turn your life around and that it could be as simple as a single sentence that saves your life.

BOOK REVIEW: MENtal HEALTH BY ALLAN KEHLER

2020 hasn't been ALL bad. For the past few months I kept hearing the name Allan Kehler, Allan Kehler , ALLAN KEHLER . The name had b...