Since the age of five, it was clear that there was something different about the way Kallie interacted with the world around her. At school, Kallie was extremely particular, needing special attention to ensure things were done in a way that she agreed with, but otherwise generally well behaved. At home, her mother remembers her behavior as anything but good mannered with Kallie spitting on the floor, throwing furniture and demonstrating other aggressive, angry behaviors that were shocking to see from such a young child. Kallie’s mom struggled with how to react and sought help from a therapist. Continue reading
Chotsie Barnes was well aware of the dangers of addiction from a young age. Her parents, Mary and Wade, met at Valley Hope, an addiction treatment center located in Cushing, Oklahoma. Married shortly thereafter, they packed up their life and moved to Dallas, Texas for a fresh start. Despite the change in location and the addition of a baby girl to the family, their struggles soon resurfaced and derailed any hopes of lasting sobriety. As their addictions grew, Wade began to disappear for days at a time without telling his wife where he was going. A week after Chotsie’s first birthday, there was a knock on the door from a detective. Her father had been found dead in a hotel room of a morphine overdose. Continue reading
At the height of Tyler Barnes’ addiction, he died of a heroin overdose. He stopped breathing long enough for those around him to believe there was no coming back. Tyler regained consciousness with half of his body hanging outside of a window. Another user was in the process of dragging his lifeless body out of his residence so that the cops wouldn’t discover it on his property. Despite the near death experience, Tyler continued using heroin for the next three days even as his body was rejecting food and water due to the harm that the overdose caused. Continue reading
Brian Paul has lived a life dedicated to serving others. As a member of the Oklahoma National Guard, he worked hand in hand with the FBI and ATF at the site of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building bombing in 1995, receiving both the State Activation Medal and the Army Humanitarian Medal for his work. Following his service in the National Guard, Paul became a volunteer firefighter in Kansas City, eventually working his way up to a full time firefighter and EMT in 2012. Continue reading
Part I: It’s A Match!
It was the Monday night before Thanksgiving and I fell into the couch to start my nightly routine of finding the next big thing on Netflix. After ten minutes of fruitless searching, I pulled out my phone and got to work multitasking with a quest for love that millennials know best by the name of Tinder, Bumble, or countless other apps that act as my generation’s best hope at finding an elusive soul mate in the digital age. I had been on a couple of dates since I had moved back to Oklahoma City three months prior, but neither slapped me in the face with cupid’s arrow and demanded a round two. Both were far from terrible experiences but I was left yearning for that excited feeling that lasts into the next day after a really great date. Continue reading
There is an oft quoted phrase in self-care circles that borrows from your favorite airline stewardesses’ pre-flight announcement; “In the event that there is a sudden loss of cabin pressure, yellow oxygen masks will deploy from the ceiling compartment located above you…Please make sure to secure your own mask before assisting others.” It is easy to carry this concept over into one’s daily life. How can you be expected to meaningfully and sustainably help others if you don’t have your own affairs in order? This analogy was on my mind a lot as I approached October 10th, my three-year anniversary of becoming sober. As I look back, those first two years of sobriety are perfectly embodied with me struggling to put on my own mask; to take the time and effort to focus on myself, my recovery and all that entails. I’ve written in detail about those struggles here. However, in the last year I’ve found myself in a place that allows me to give more of myself to others. I find this to be true in my relationships, at work and in the community. Continue reading
Just over two weeks ago, I moved back to Oklahoma after four years spent in New York City. Like many changes, it brings mixed feelings. The move makes some friendships easier to maintain and others more difficult; some opportunities easier to pursue and others less probable. It’s hard to complain when choosing between two good things, but that doesn’t make the loss of one of them any easier. I’m not the first to leave New York and won’t be the last to lament the loss of a home that offers 3-star Michelin restaurants and 24-hour Seamless delivery, the Metropolitan Opera and grungy Lower East Side underground concerts, or fashion icons in Soho and the pigeon man in Washington Square. It’s a city for anyone and everyone, but can paradoxically be one of the hardest cities to find your place. For me, it was a city that brought great personal change and one of the most difficult things about moving is that I finally felt close to finding mine.