All posts by Don Miller

About Don Miller

A lifetime Las Vegas resident and father of three grown children, Don spent 15 years as a licensed psychotherapist and speaker in private and hospital practices. Prior, he was part owner of an award-winning family advertising agency. Having fallen into addiction to crystal methamphetamine several years ago, losing everything to the drug, he has been clean since 9/4/11 and more sober about life with each passing day. The stories and content of this site are the accumulating epiphanies of his journey into sobriety, shared here to inspire others, especially those who remain embroiled in addictive battles of their own. LifeMeansSoMuch, the song title by Chris Rice (and you are highly encouraged to download it on ITunes or YouTube,) is the lyrical inspiration for the content of this site. Don is currently a life coach, author, speaker and Senior Programs Manager at a non-profit, HopeLink of Southern Nevada.

Happy Birthday to me!

One more revolution ‘til I’m fresh out of fifties,

And enter the decade of Medicare sixties.

A little less hair, a little more fat

But by now I’m totally okay with all that.

No one to impress me, no one to undress me

I’m a solitary man with myself.

Not lonely, not desperate, nor ready for respite

Not ready to be put on a shelf.

Fifty nine? Who’d have thought?

The farm I’ve not bought

By now I should be six feet under.

So bring on this year

If God still wills me here

Or snatch me up into glory and wonder!

Reunions

Ain’t seen nor spoke in many years and here we meet again,

Reunion weekend’s at our door, it’s good to see you, friend.

So many things on which to chat and follow up with you,

Like kids and family, where you’ve been and how life’s treated you.

Let’s talk of old and reminisce and laugh out loud at stuff,

Swapping stories, jokes and pics we’ll never get enough.

The hundred bucks we paid for this is worth it all for sure

No talk of pains and politics for which we have no cure.

We’ve a history that unites us and memories to upend,

Our weekend here together so glad we all can spend.

And when we part, say our goodbyes and vow to keep in touch,

Our takeaways of high school days again will mean so much.

a good disposition

It started with my cheerier-than usual “good morning” and ended 30 minutes later late to work but with a new best friend.
Miyisha was working graveyard on just two hours sleep as fill-in for a sick coworker, but our last magical half hour in the empty convenience store where I went for coffee left us bonded like reunited siblings. I don’t usually click with people less than half my age , but we shared details of our years without edits, sang together to a song on the radio and showed how badly we could dance to the surveillance cameras.
We vowed to meet again without too much passing of time and hugged a happy Friday to one another before I drove off to start my workday while hers was ending. The power of a good disposition and a genuine interest in the life of a stranger reminded me of how church should feel, with free refills.

Travel

Visit places you can’t live, in hotels you can’t afford, eat foods you never would, do things you never should, with money you don’t have, on time you had to borrow, for pictures you won’t forget, of times you’ll always remember, with those you’ll always love.

youth

I returned bottles for coins, did yards for dollars and cleaned windows and sat young children to save for the better things in life. I’ve since realized that doing things for others were the better things in life and money is now a much weaker incentive. A little hard work in my youth taught me the most about what it means to be a decent adult.

What will matter?

When you die what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured? What will matter is not what you bought but what you have built. Not what you got but what you have given. What will matter is not what you learned but what but what you taught others. What will matter is your every act of integrity and compassion, your courage to sacrifice, to enrich and empower others by your example. What will matter most is not your confidence but your character. What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel the insatiable loss of your departure. What will matter is not your memories but those that live on in the ones who loved you. What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom, and for what.
A life lived significantly is not by circumstance but by the everlasting gift of the choices you made while you were here.

What would you take?

My sister and brother in law rushed to evacuate their home in the 1,000 acre Tenaja Fire path last night not knowing what remains they may find when it’s over. While I know they’ll be safe, limited time surely forced a quick assessment of that they deemed they couldn’t afford to lose to the flames, would constitute the entirety of contents of their two cars, and would undoubtedly be their choice remains with which to begin a new life elsewhere. Between news updates, I laid awake in bed arguing scenarios with myself about what I might pack in the same predicament and why. My dog, some clothes, meds and a few toiletries made the short list of course, but what with which to fill the remaining few square feet of space before I drove away in a Kia and a panic? Ultimately what I got was an unsettling question of my values, priorities and reasoning abilities in a crisis, a shameful preoccupation with my accumulated possessions, and a very long, sleepless night.
I should be better at a task like this.
While deliberating, the fire arrived long before I filled the rest of my car, and I drove off with extra space and only the essentials. I realized that all the cherished objects I’d originally considered necessary for preserving memories were already etched in my mind and preserved in my heart. Stuff is stuff and as we know, millions of disaster victims don’t go unscathed, but have restarted just fine more humbly and with much less.
Choices may be painful, but given too much thought, maybe too often unnecessarily so.

My story and I’m stickin’ to it.

[If there’s one thing addicts do well, it’s telling stories. But after 8 years clean, they’re usually not lies anymore. Tonight at my meeting, I’ll share the most important part of how I did it once again as I share each year on this day.]

Someone asked me recently how I did it. How I got off drugs, meth of all things. Undoubtedly tonight at my meeting I’ll be asked once again as is the tradition for anyone getting another annual chip. My eighth.

I’ve given a lot of thought to the question. Less to the mechanics of my leap into sobriety, but more about which of my words might just trigger another addict in attendance to turn on that light upstairs, illuminating them to the possibility that they, too, despite their past, deserve a future.

You see, it’s not so much the quitting of drugs that’s important. Equally necessary is the installation of hope and belief that you are worth far more in this world than the lonely company of any drug or its cohorts. It’s about having been utterly blinded by the stupor of a drug and its false promise of contentment that blocks out hope or vision there’s really anything more to life. To that end, we are all addicts. We all have something we’ve allowed to remain which blocks our hope and blurs our vision. Something to which we remain bound.

“Clean and sober.” It’s almost cliché these days.
The distinction between the two, however, is perhaps the most important thing I learned in my years of recovery so far. I got clean once, but I get more sober with each passing day.

The truly recovered are not recovered at all. They are recovering. And the truly recovering can instinctively tell the difference. A recovering person hasn’t simply stopped using, they have started living. It’s evident that a clarity of mind, purpose and a place for God was birthed at some moment, and rarely is that moment a single epiphany, but the commencement of lifelong epiphanies which, strung together, create the continuity of recovering.

It’s the high I get from my ongoing little epiphanies of life these days. They continue to escort me down a much more beautiful path. And when you find yourself in a much prettier place, hope is much easier to find. In fact, it seems to find you.
And isn’t that really the definition of God?

So for the addicts in all of us, I say to you, we are here in this world for one reason only: Be that hope for someone today. Be clean. Be sober. And most of all, live like you deserve to.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Remembering September again.

Though I try my best to remember

the months and years I can never forget,

every time it’s the month of September,

I most often remember regret.

Regret for the times I was never…

Regret for the times I was lost…

Regret for my lack of endeavor…

Regret for all that it cost.

But regrets now take no lead,

because from them I’ve been freed.

Regrets may bring strife,

but remembering brings life;

An incredible distinction, indeed.

September the fourth it was over,

Now it’s September the fourth of nineteen,

eight wonderful years I’ve been sober,

eight sobering years I’ve been clean.

But I’ll always remember September

and thank God I survived to regret

the lost years I’m alive to remember

And the best still ahead of me yet.

Saving the fatboy.

Two years ago this morning all my jokes stopped. Hospitalized with septic pancreatitis, I began the three most painful weeks of my life where nothing was funny anymore. The doctors didn’t know if I would live or die. I was pumping more fat through my veins than blood and lived on a morphine/saline diet for two weeks without food or water. I lost 40 pounds and the carefree lifestyle of abusing my body with a fatboy diet rich in carbs and poor in life span. With today’s anniversary looming, I woke up anxious that I might not. But I did, and apparently so did you. You get one body and one lifetime to take care of it. Today, I no longer eat all I want, I’m still smoke free and thank God I’m still about 40 pounds down. And though I have terrible genes onboard fighting against my efforts I’m still working at it because you don’t always wake up from a wake up call, healthy life habits are no joking matter, and you can’t blame your parents for everything.