Why The Great Outdoors Are Essential For Recovery Survivors

Outdoors

While there’s a standard protocol one with a drug or alcohol addiction must take in order to heal both mentally and physically, incorporating activities that last beyond a 12-step program can increase the odds of maintaining sobriety for the long-term that includes spending time outdoors, for example.

While any form of exercise has been proven to reduce cravings, alleviate stress and anxiety, and boost self-esteem, spending time in the fresh air has also been connected to  improving one’s mental outlook. Even a short, 15-minute walk can boost one’s mood while providing a much-needed dose of vitamin D. Studies show natural light can also improve concentration, energy levels and sleep, three necessities that a recovery survivor was previously robbed of. Unlike other aspects of recovery, spending time in the sunshine is an everyday, functional activity, so it’s a “treatment” that also helps individuals reclaim normalcy in their lives. It can be difficult to find the motivation to get dressed — let alone leave the house — when starting the recovery process, but even small steps can make a big difference in terms of overall progress.

Start Simple

Anyone who struggled with drug or alcohol abuse can tell you that exercise was not top of mind, which can make it all the more difficult to rally in the beginning. Despite symptoms of withdrawal such as anxiety, nervousness and fatigue, spending time outdoors can actually help reduce these side effects. Added health benefits from simple walking include improved heart health, regulated blood pressure, decreased risk of dementia and cancer, improved circulation, increased lung capacity and stronger bones and muscles.

Consider Team-Based Sports

While it may take a substantial amount of time to regain enough energy to get through a more rigorous workout, graduate to a team-based sport such as tennis, volleyball, baseball, or soccer when both body and mind are ready those can have numerous benefits for a recovery survivor. Aside from being an excellent form of exercise, team sports provide a social outlet, boost morale, teach the importance of working together, provide stress relief and force one to push oneself to support the group. One caveat is choosing a group of like minded-individuals as to not be tempted by post-game beers. Recovery group coaches or hospitals may have leads on sober leagues in your area.

Find A Spot To Meditate

Spending time outdoors doesn’t always have to equate to working out. Finding a grassy knoll or sitting along the beach to meditate, reflect, or simply collect one’s thoughts is a simple, yet, effective exercise. Learning how to be quiet and enjoy time alone without having to rely on drugs or alcohol is an important part of the recovery process.

Outdoor Safety

Any time spent outdoors should be done responsibly, so that means liberally applying an SPF (minimum 15) and reapplying every two hours — sooner if sweating profusely or going into the water. When going into the woods or areas where there are a lot of bugs, spraying a DEET-based repellent can reduce the risk of getting bites. Appropriate dress includes a good pair of shoes, moisture wicking clothing (layered depending upon the weather), and accessories such as a hat with a brim and sunglasses.

The road to recovery is a long one that may have some roadblocks along the way but incorporating something as simple and accessible as spending time outdoors is something everyone can get on board with. Regardless of the copious benefits it’s important not to go gangbusters with exercise while in recovery as the body is still adjusting and detoxing. Checking with a doctor prior to starting any program can ensure short- and long-term safety.

 

Content submitted by Michelle Peterson of recoverypride.org

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Pick Up Your Burden, and Bear it

Everyone has burdens to bear. Everyone has a cross to carry. Knowing this fact is what drew out and shaped the Lombard Ranger values.  It is out of respect that we aknowledge and seek to understand the burders of others. It is out of a sense of responsibility that we carry our own crosses, and help others to bear the weight of theirs. It is through toughness that we persist. And through toughness that we pick our selves up when our burdens drag us down.

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It is burden that gives comfort meaning. It is pain that gives pleasure meaning. It is suffering that gives love meaning. In order to respect or appreciate anything in the world it is necessary to understand fully what makes everything so worth appreciation.

In viewing the world this way the only appropriate way to act is to set out to respect the world for what it is, take responsibility for what you must do in the world, and be tough in the face of challenges. The choice to do so is of your own free will. Every moment is an opportunity for choice. An opportunity to bring potential into being. An opportunity to shape the future into moments with less suffering. Choose to not be resentful or bitter. Choose to do the little things, the small improvements which exist in every moment that transform potential into a less sufferable reality.  It is the responsibility of men to set the example which teaches young men this amazing power we all have. And to show them by using this power the suffering in the world will be reduced.

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Lombard Ranger Values: How Responsibility Forms Rights

Individual rights come from individual responsibilities.  Thomas Jefferson’s drafting of the Declaration of Independence boldly outlined the rights of man, stating  “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness….”

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What Jefferson was simultaneously declaring was that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable responsibilities.  The only way in which rights are formed is by the acceptance of men to uphold their own personal responsibilities. It is each man’s Personal Responsibility to act in a way which does not divide others from their Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness.  Notice the extreme care taken by Jefferson in his word choice; “Pursuit of Happiness”.  Not “Happiness”.  There is no right to Happiness, just as their is no right to any outcome.  But every man has the right to pursue happiness on their own chosen path.  That path is formed by the active choice of others to take responsibility, tailoring their own actions so as to not separate others from their Life, Liberty or Pursuit of Happiness.

It is the duty of men to pass on this truth.  To demonstrate to boys and young men the immeasurable power of responsibility.  Responsibility generates meaning, it produces success, it provides for the needs of the world and it forms the rights of others.  Responsibility is the burden worth carrying.  It is the cross everyone must bear and be defined by in order to be a virtuous individual.

Lombard Ranger Values: Finding Purpose in Responsibility – part 2

What happens when responsibility is avoided?  What does life look like for someone who does not follow a purpose or take responsibility?  Many of us have witnessed people living in this state. A state of wasted potential.  Living stagnant without direction or motivation. Avoiding the future and letting opportunity slip by.

The most concerning factor of a person living in the state of wasted potential is they usually are aware of the changes they need to make, yet they continue to justify their current behavior. They assign blame and reason to external factors which justify their failing to live up to their potential. But these external causes provide false justification and cause the person and those around them to suffer while they ignore personal responsibility.

The last post explored the idea of positive motivation behind being responsible.  That which is most valuable is discovered when we live a purposeful and responsible life.  This post will explore the negative consequences of avoiding responsibility and how that avoidance creates a downward spiral of mental suffering associated with wasted potential.

A search of ancient wisdom provides countless stories which explore this topic.  One of the most common and oldest of these stories is Jonah and The Whale.

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While there are many versions of this story, the common theme is pretty consistent.  Jonah is a timid guy who tries to live a good life by God. The neighboring society is corrupt and destroying itself. God speaks to Jonah telling him to warn the people within the corrupt society to change their ways before it destroys them. Jonah half-heartedly attempts to convey this warning to the people but he is ridiculed for his efforts.

God continues to tell Jonah to take on the responsibility in front of him and warn the corrupt people of their need to change. Jonah avoids his responsibility and runs away. He attempts to flee on a boat and work among the crew, avoiding his responsibility but God sends a terrible storm upon the boat and Jonah determines his presence is putting the crew in danger so he offers to leave the boat and float off into the ocean, drawing the storm away from the crew.

Jonah departs from the crew and finds himself alone in chaos avoiding his God given responsibility. Floating aimless over the unknown abyss, Jonah is then swallowed by a monsterous whale which comes up from the abyss.

After three days in the belly of the whale, Jonah finally excepts responsibility and begins taking steps toward living up to his potential. Jonah is quickly cast out of the depths of dispair and onto dry land, where he picks up his burden and carries it back home, taking responsibility for his task.

As we followed Jonah, he observed a problem which if left unattended would have catastrophic effects. Jonah made a feeble attempt at addressing the problem, and when it proved to be a difficult task, he ran away further and further into loneliness and chaos until he found himself completely swallowed up by darkness and dispair.

The take away from this ancient archityple story is that when a person  runs away from responsibility, there is a tendency for all aspects of life to be dragged down a spiral into despair. Respectfully accept responsibility and remain tough when carrying that burden becomes difficult. This is the groundwork for the Lombard Rangers core values.

Lombard Ranger Values: Finding Purpose Through Responsibility

Why is it so common for boys and young men to lack direction?  Their potential seems limitless, yet they just can’t generate the motivation to get off the ground.  So often I run into father’s and grandfathers expressing how they are at the end of their rope with a young man in their life who “doesn’t seem to get it”.  They waste time on apparently fruitless or even destructive activities.  Prioritizing; video games, time with friends and possibly even drugs and alcohol over responsibilities in their lives.  No matter how much suffering they seem to cause in their own life, and for others, nothing seems to break the cycle.  When asked what they want to do with their life, they painfully respond “I don’t know!” This is extraordinarily common, and the positive truth is that in most cases, these young men do want to find motivation to make something of themselves.  The problem is they are searching for motivation in the wrong place. Material motivation.

Material motivation may seem like it is the highest priority in a young man’s life.  They are constantly bombarded with the logic, “clean yourself up, so you can get a job and buy nice things! Once you have a job and nice things a girl might tolerate your worthless butt!”. While this contains some truth, and is seemly consistent with what the young man wants, I can assure you it is not all he is looking for.  What he is looking for is purpose.

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Purpose transcends the material motivations they are presented with.  Purpose is a reason to exist which is valued and respected but can not be bought.  Finding a woman because you have money or a job is far less meaningful than finding a woman because you are virtuous and respectable and have earned money and a job because of those things. It is not the possession of material things that will bring you happiness. Young men have been led by carrot and stick throughout their childhood in school and at home. This tactic has made them resentful and rebellious.  What they want is something intrinsic and meaningful to lead themselves by.  This is why they often seem so ready to tell you where to shove the carrot and stick when you are trying to motivate them.

Instead of material motivation, consider presenting grand in scale concepts of responsibility to young men. Big picture, non-physical questions of virtue and meaning are what the young man is searching for answers to.  And it is their responsibility to seek those answers to better themselves, and it is the responsibility of experienced men to guide them in finding those answers. Every young man must also be taught there is way more to them than they think there is and they have something necessary and vital to contribute to the world, and if they don’t contribute it things will happen that aren’t good, and the world will become a worse place. Young men are starving for this message.  Stop being a victim and become the hero of your own story.  There is a reason that for the entirety of human civilization the hero story has been formatted the same way.

Countless stories, plays, works of art, and religious texts convey the metaphysical truths men seek.  A good place to start could be with classic stories of good and evil.  Let’s examine the story of St. George for example.

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Our hero St. George lives behind the walls of a sturdy castle.  His castle represents order and stability.  All is well until a dragon shows up out of the unknown wilderness and jeopardizes the order of the castle, capturing a virgin and flying off with her into the wilderness. The wilderness from which the dragon comes, represents the chaos of the unknown world. The virgin represents that which is of value to St. George. And the dragon itself represents what is dangerous and unpredictable living in chaos.

In search of that which is of value, St. George must leave the comfort and safety of the castle and venture out into the wilderness.  He finds the dragon guarding the virgin and must slay it to be victorious and claim the virgin.

Now, dragons and virgins aside, the story contains objective truth which men have been attempting to convey and pass on since before there was written word.

The true purpose of every young man is to take responsibility in bringing order out of chaos in his own life.  In order to obtain that which is most valuable and cannot be bought, he must leave his comfort zone, venture out into the unknown and confront what is causing chaos in his life.  In many cases, it is himself and his dragon is of his own making.

I’ll admit, this isn’t always the case.  Certainly, the destructive nature of the world can come from out of nowhere. Being blindsided by betrayal or by unexpected tragedy can also bring chaos into a young man’s life.

What is most heroic and respectable is not that St. George found a women.  What is most heroic is how he did it. He left his comfort zone, ventured into the dangerous unknown and made order out of chaos.  Because of that he is valued.  It must be conveyed to young men that the virtue is in the journey and what is extracted from it.  How a young man carries himself through the journey is what makes him virtuous.  Being respectful to all, finding purpose through responsibility, and displaying toughness when met with challenges is what makes a man masculine.

 

Lombard Ranger Values: Respect the Lion

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The first time I came across this profound quote as a younger man, I thought, “Right, the world is not fair, screw the world! I’m gonna attack it before it attacks me!” But, soon I realized how wrong I was in my interpretation.

As stated in last week’s Lombard Ranger post ,“Combating Arrogance and Resentment”  actions and words brought on by arrogance,  combined with those brought on by resentment are objectively bad for the world.  Certainly, “screw the unfair world” is an arrogant and resentful way to look at things and therefore an objectively bad way to go through life.

So, in what way should this quote be interpreted to avoid being objectively bad?  Well, lets start with applying the Lombard Ranger Values; Respect, Responsibility and Toughness.  First, respect the lion. The lion in the quote represents the world. Respect the world. The existence of the world is more complex, more meaningful and more wonderful than one can perceive.  Without the world existing as it has, order does not exist. Love does not exist. Consciousness does not exist. And you do not exist.

Next is responsibility.  What does one have control or influence over?  In this quote, expectations seem to be the fatal factor. Something awful happened when it wasn’t expected or prepared for. The world was being treated fair, but then it ate you anyway.  If the world is observed for any amount of time it is clear that violence and catastrophe exist naturally and though can’t be totally predicted but must be prepared for.  The better one understands the wisdom and logic in being prepared, the better one can withstand catastrophe.

Lastly, there is toughness. The world is going to challenge you.  The lion is going to chase you. You will be devoured. This was true from the moment any of us entered the world.  The power of indomitable will is truly boundless. Remain vigilant in being respectful, and responsible no matter how difficult things get.  If these values are adopted, it will never be the world you blame for the things that happen to you. Train your mind to be alert, on guard for catastrophe while constantly seeking a better understanding of it.  Train your body to be prepared for catastrophe, healthy and strong, while arranging the physical belongings in your life in a way they won’t act as weights or obstacles when catastrophe strikes.  Train your soul or spirit to except and appreciate the gifts of the world in order to transcend the challenges in it.

Respect the world. Except your responsibilities in it. Be tough in the execution of both. It isn’t the Lion’s purpose to eat you, it is just part of it’s nature.

Lombard Ranger Values: Battling Arrogance and Resentment

What is the purpose for instilling values in young men? Where are these values drawn from? In my personal life, my years of combat experience and my work as a police officer, I have observed evil at many levels. I have observed it in regular people, my adversaries, within myself and those I love. It is clearly identified by the effects that it has on people. The person enacting it, and the people it is being enacted on. I believe it exists within each of us. It is enacted by everyone at some point at some level. I believe the purpose of adopting values is to have a reliable set of tools to battle that evil within ourselves.

When I speak of evil I am referring to acting (and speaking) in a manner which brings harm to another or yourself based on arrogance and/or resentment.  From as small as avoiding responsibility in your day to day activities, name calling, lying in your interactions with others, to as large as imposing violence and death on others. All of these are done based on justifying the act to ones self first.

“Because I am a victim of ________, I can/will do ________.” This is the essence of victim mentality.  Arrogance and Resentment. Victim mentality is what produces evil at all levels. From petty theft, to adultery, to mass murder and genocide. “Because the world has caused me suffering, I am justified in comforting myself, even if that causes suffering to myself or others.”

Victim mentality is what the Lombard Rangers seek to combat. Replacing pride with humble respect, blame and avoidance with responsibility, and weakness with toughness.

Recently, I have been reading, researching, and engaging in long discussions with people who hold drastically different views from my own. I have done so in order to earn a greater understanding of why I feel the way I do about the values I strive to adhere to.

One resource I found especially enlightened was a speech given by Dr. Jordan B Peterson of the University of Toronto for CBC ideas entitled, “A History of Violence”. In it he speaks of evil as described through the ages, Cain in the Bible, Titus Andronicus the Shakespeare play, Mephistopheles of Faust, the devil in Paradise Lost, and finally to the eye opening similarities of Eric Harris, one of the teenage shooters in the Columbine massacre.
Each of these cases speak with a similar inflated arrogance in which they know what God knows and place themselves superior. Each professes their justification for destroying existence based on their own resentment of it. Dr. Peterson boils the concept down to; “the ultimate in intellectual pride, everything I know is sufficient, and there is nothing transcendent beyond that.” That ultimate intellectual pride (arrogance) paired with a deep resentment for existence, is what pushed them toward pure evil. Because the world is unfair, I am justified in destroying it.

It appears the worst horrors experienced throughout history were caused by this pattern of thought. These truthful and literary stories from the past must serve as examples as to why pride must be given up to something transcendent, not to the self. They also reveal how resentment should be discarded in exchange for preparing yourself for reality and accepting it.

Work daily to mind your thoughts. Stay humble and do not allow yourself to adopt a victim mentality. Focus on improving your reactions to things and people in your life. This will keep you from acting in a way that victimizes others.

Rangers Prep for Camping Trip

Camping can be one of the most fun and educational activities boys can participate in. The great fun of camping is balanced by the responsibility of fending for themselves in the great outdoors! Packing and carrying their own clothes, sleeping bag and equipment, establishing their own shelter, and cooking their food over an open fire are all skills learned in camping.

But before camping can begin the ranger’s equipment must be inspected to ensure it is mission ready. Checking that all parts are present and everything is undamaged is a huge part of  making sure the time at the campsite is as fun as possible. The more prepared the Ranger, the easier the trip.

 

IMG_20170717_153110051_HDRFind out how to join the Ranger’s in all of their adventures! Email lombard.rangers@gmail.com

 

Teaching Boys The Core Values

The idea behind establishing the Lombard Ranger values; Respect, Responsibility and Toughness was to provide a solid foundation for which all lessons and guidance could be built upon.  These three immensely strong yet simple values, which I believe to be universally understood, act as easily discernible beacons in which to reference while navigating any lesson or challenge.

After being taught through my childhood the “6 Pillars of Character” then right into the “7 Army Core Values” of my young adulthood, as well as countless other values training platforms from every organization I have belonged, I felt overwhelmed with the foggy and overlapping terms of virtue by which I was supposed to live. After giving thought to the words in the Pillars of Character, and the Army Core Values, I found myself associating terms without being convinced they were different enough from one another to all warrant mention. Duty and Responsibility for instance in the Army Core values.  Respect, Fairness and Trustworthiness from the Pillars of Character.  These terms can certainly be reduced without being over simplified.  I started feeling like these organizations were more concerned about coming up with clever acronyms (T.R.R.F.C.C. for Character Counts, and L.D.R.S.H.I.P. for the Army) then actually passing on the generational wisdom of our culture.  Now, I’m sure years of psychological and behavioral research, committee meetings and approval processes are behind these two programs, but that just leads me to think they are probably too complex and convoluted to be as effective as the organizations think they are.  My goal was to boil down the ideas behind these terms into what I view as the most useful virtues one can have, in service of overcoming the ultimate challenge, self improvement.

When referring to self improvement, I am speaking of soul work, true dragon slaying, the spiritual battle inside every one of us.  It is a concept unbound by culture, religion or geographical location.  It is a concept that underlines the very existence of civilization.

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Teaching boys and young men that this struggle is the one that sorts out all other struggles is not easy.  Most problems in our lives initially appear to be external things that we are victims of.  This is not the truth.  When a person sees their self as a victim, they put their self at the mercy of chaos in exchange for temporary sympathy.  When a person learns to respect chaos for what it is and understand the things they can and can’t control, they seem to find a calm within their self.  This is the universal goal, inner peace, transcendence, balance.

Through my experience I have found the most effective values to anchor oneself to are Respect, Responsibility and Toughness.

Respect is how you think of things.  It is the mind. Thinking of all things in a manner which gives them dignity, with positive energy towards their right to exist is completely under a persons control. All things must be offered this type of thought, whether you agree with them or not.

Responsibility is how you choose to act. It is the mind manifested in the physical world. It is body.  It includes speech as well as action. Choosing to speak and act in a manner that is consistent with how you think of things, with positive energy and respect, is also completely under ones control.

Toughness is what carries you through the journey.  It is spirit.  It is the power of indomitable will.  It takes toughness to be resilient in maintaining positive thought. It also takes toughness to push your body through difficult physical action.  How tough a person is again is completely under their control.

Be respectful to everyone and everything, because you are responsible for your actions no matter how you feel.  Be tough, accepting responsibility for all your actions, good and bad, it won’t be easy.

It is the responsibility of men to teach these virtues to boys and young men.  The way to teach them is not only through word, but more effectively through deed.  The goal of the Lombard Rangers is develop virtuous character in men and boys through service to the community.

July Bike and Hike!

The Lombard Rangers conducted their first Bike and Hike event on 7/8/17.  Included was a 1 mile bike ride that brought the Rangers to the East Branch of the Dupage river, followed a 1/4 mile hike in the surrounding woods.  While in the woods, the Rangers participated in; a basic map reading class, a first aid class for treating minor injuries and creature identification.  We wrapped up the event with a discussion about our three core values; respect, responsibility and toughness and explored ways we called upon those values during our trip.  Each ranger was respectful of each other, the environment, the trails we used and the other walkers, joggers and bikers using the trail.  Each ranger was responsible for his own equipment on the trip and made sure they kept accountability the entire time.  Since it was hot and kind of a long ride for our littlest Rangers, toughness was needed to get us all the way home!

If you are interested in joining the Lombard Rangers, feel free to email lombard.rangers@gmail.com for more info!