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Hi everyone!

My name is Wendy Van Buren, and I work with Kendall and Rachel in the Alumni Department. I have 28 cumulative years of sobriety, and as some of you know from hearing my story in meetings and IOP sessions, I experienced a relapse a few years ago. I chose the topic of self-love to write to you about. For myself and so many of us, developing a trusting relationship with ourselves and the ability to forgive our actions can be daunting at first. Practicing self-love is not only a path that those of us in recovery share, but all human beings. We struggle with the barrage of thoughts and many self-criticisms that can derail our efforts and cause us to feel hopeless and not capable of being successful. As the Four Agreements teaches, we can learn to separate fact from fiction and turn misguided understandings into authentic truths about our innate divinity, strength, and sense of higher purpose. For me, living a sober life, being unafraid to face my shadows, and loving all the parts of me, not just the shiny ones I show to the world, enables me to use challenges as learning opportunities. Sobriety continues to teach me that recovery is a sacred path. It asks me to be open, lay down my protective weapons, accept others as they are, be responsible for my words, thoughts, and actions, and welcome the magic that surrounds and supports us.

Of course, this is not always a straight line, but recognizing that I am human, messy, unpredictable, and always complete brings me deep serenity and the courage to move forward and live a life of my choosing. Living a sober life opens the doors to new connections, trusted allies, happiness, and a deep reverence for the simplicity of life.
My mind, body, and spirit opened in their own timing, without my needing to push, control, or manipulate them. I have learned to surrender to the moment with grace and be confident that my actions align with a higher truth and understanding. I believe we are the leaders of a way of life that requires honesty, courage, commitment, and endurance. A way of life that is a profoundly powerful example to those around us who still struggle with their own shadows and self-doubt.

I attended my local women’s AA group the other night, and an elder said, “As I live aligned with my higher power, I no longer feel the need to promote or defend myself.” I found it to be such a perfect definition of self-love.

Universal love has asked me to shed my ego, be rigorously honest, nurture humility and compassion for myself and others, show empathy for my fellow travelers, and keep celebrating my journey one moment at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time. My heart is filled every day knowing I share this journey with all of you. That we move mountains and create a world founded on our sobriety and chosen from love, freedom, and truth.

Always from love,

Mountainside Chelsea Presents: Fireside Chat with Don Miguel Ruiz Jr.

This September 13th, Don Miguel Ruiz Jr., author of The Seven Secrets of Healthy, Happy Relationships and son of Don Miguel Ruiz, author of New York Times bestseller The Four Agreements, will be hosting a chat at Mountainside’s New York City Hub for Recovery. During the event he will dive into the fundamentals of his work and answer questions from the audience. A book signing will follow the fireside chat.

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Staff Highlight: Erin O'Neil

Hi Mountainside Alumni! Erin O’Neil, Program Manager for Outpatient Canaan, here! As summer winds down and the world starts to change (again), this is a reminder that you are capable of and have made a tremendous change! In the words of Tony Robbins, “Your past does not equal your future.”

I am pictured in my clinician’s chair, my favorite place on campus, because this is where I have had the tremendous honor to witness and be a part of your change. Thank you!


If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Mountainside can help.
Click here or call (888) 833-4676 to speak with one of our addiction treatment experts.