Earlier this year a friend shared a terrific article titled Creating While Clean, personal stories of eight musicians who thrive creatively without drugs or alcohol.

Although we’re separated in age by several decades — and one of us cannot carry a tune — I was stoked to learn that Memphis-born singer songwriter Julien Baker (profiled in the article) and I have both been sober a similar amount of time. One of my favorite quotes in the article is from Julien:

"There's so much value in reminding people that they can change the trajectory of their lives."

Last month I celebrated six years of living in the Sunlight of the Spirit. (Fellow Texan Brene Brown refers to it as Sober and Sparkly, and she just celebrated 23 years!) However one refers to it, the essence of recovery is all about transformation: a profound shift that leads to lasting change. As a way to honor my recovery, throughout May I shared via Instagram six transformative shifts I’ve experienced during my journey.

 At some point we all experience a wall that negatively interrupts our trajectory. When that happens, my wish is for you to experience one or more of these shifts. Or, perhaps you’ll experience one that isn’t listed. If you do, I hope you’ll share it with me. We heal in community, and I am profoundly grateful for everyone who has — and continues to be — a part of my community. Thank you!

Note: To read the full Instagram post, including comments left by others, just click on the card image!

I once experienced fear so debilitating it blocked my superpower: my ability to GSD (Get Shit Done). I woke up every day running down the list of everything I was sure I would lose that day. What changed? Six years ago I stopped trying to ‘figure it out’. In that moment of letting go I experienced what Richard Rohr describes as “an initial opening of my heart and mind space.”


Early in my recovery journey I was holding on way too tight to hurt, shame, fear, and more. I was not, as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Sitting loosely in the saddle of life.” Turns out I had to be willing to let go of who I thought I should be in order to show up in life as I really am. In that moment I began to experience what Brene Brown terms “the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, and of love.”


One of the many things addiction (or any major life interruption) does is tilt us toward scarcity. And when we’re in a scarcity mindset, things only get more scarce. A consistent way to move from scarcity to abundance is to remember that every day we make a decision to get up and take action, we will experience tailwinds — the positive forces at our back — that propel us forward.


Any journey is about going from to going to. One of the many transformative shifts I’ve experienced over the last six years is going from a state of feeling directionless and not grounded to one that’s grounded in a True North — or orientating point for life. My True North is meaningful relationships, meaningful experiences, and meaningful work, in that order, always.


Any time we hit the wall, we are susceptible to feeling disconnected and feeling “a part from.” There’s a line in 12 Step literature that refers to being “isolated and alone in self-constructed prisons.” That’s the best description of the disconnection I felt during the most challenging periods of my addiction. Today I’m grateful to once again feel a part of — and connected to the relationships, experiences, and work that give deep meaning to my life.


Being in active addiction to anything — work, relationships, sex, alcohol, drugs — is hard work. Being in recovery in hard work, too. The difference is the outcome we experience based on the path we follow. In active addiction my life dramatically contracted. In recovery it has dramatically expanded.

As always, thanks for stopping by! We hope you found this helpful, and I’d love to hear from you! You can email me at ben@thebenkikergroup.com, or connect with me via Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash