Commitment is the Cure

by Guest Author on November 24, 2013 · 5 comments


So how do I do it? Well, it's been about four years now of being clean and sober. I can't say it has been an easy road, but the last two have been pretty smooth sailing.

I've managed to keep a good part of my focus and time dedicated to an incredible project: Chaser Eight, a band I'm the drummer for. Prior to being asked to join Chaser Eight, I of course had other tools to manage my sobriety: keeping myself around positive people, the support of my wife and family, a great guy who has become my best friend, and a quest for spiritual guidance.

The day I was asked to join Chaser Eight everything changed and it helped my journey for continued sobriety and success. I knew it was a full time commitment with a group that is on its way up. My opportunity for creativity, opinions, and challenges were here and it was my time to step up my game. The days of playing along with compact discs or jamming with musicians that have absolutely no commitment or drive to do more than play in a basement were over.

It was now my chance to work with a dedicated group of fantastic musicians who push for the best from each other! Chaser Eight has consumed so much of my focus (in a good way!) to writing my drum parts, weekly rehearsals by myself and with the band, and live performances to sold-out audiences. My free time consists of a few nights a week to spend with my family, and the occasional Sunday golf round.

The drive I have to work on our music is incredibly positive and very exciting. It's a great channel to focus my energy. Of course we all have our moments of frustration, but it's a good frustration. It means what you're doing is important. All in all, I have to say Chaser Eight has and is a very important part of who I am, what I do, and keeping a great outlook in general.

Pete Giannini is the drummer for fast-growing female fronted rock band Chaser Eight. A few years back he was struggling with a terrible addiction, but through the love and support of his band mates and family he was able to overcome his problem. He is  now living clean and sober while creatively contributing to Chaser Eight’s new EP “At the 426”, available now! To learn more about Pete Gianni and Chaser Eight please visit:

Austin's Loving and Caring Music Community


What's it like to live in a community of musicians and music fans who care and support each other? I can testify on that.

Meaux Jeaux, my wife and bassist extraordinaire, live in the boonies near Austin. When not touring, we play music in Austin sometimes 8 or 9 times a week, never less than four times a week.

On February 24, 2012, after the Jitterbug Vipers, my band, played at the Elephant Room, our second gig that night was at the Gypsy Jazz Jamboree at Volstead Lounge at Hotel Vegas on 6th Street. If you've heard much about Austin, you've heard about 6th Street. It has so many music clubs that the streets are barricaded from 9 PM 'til 2 AM to protect the club hoppers who walk down the street. But the Volstead Lounge is way out on the East Side and the streets aren't barricaded.

For what happened I'll say only what I remember then fill in the blanks. I had put my guitar and amp in the car and decided to load Meaux Jeaux's stand up bass, a nice hand made Czech bass. My next memory is waking up in the hospital.

So here's what happened. I was run over by a big SUV. There were lots of witnesses. The witnesses I talked to said it was a Ford Expedition. The witnesses Sarah, vocalist for the Jitterbug Vipers, talked to said it was a Cadillac Escapade. All agreed it was a big SUV, It was a hit and run accident. Several persons tried to step in front of the SUV to stop it and had to jump out of the way to avoid being run over. The SUV had paper dealer tags, with lots of small numbers and letters. The back tags were flapping in the wind. The car or driver was never identified.

So this driver left me in the street for dead, unconscious and bleeding. The bass was splintered and was said to have saved my life. Sarah was the first band member to reach me. She held my bloody head in her lap and told me that Meaux Jeaux was there and I needed to come to. I don't remember any of this, but I opened my eyes tried to raise up and asked if I had been hit by a car. I apparently asked it several times.

Fast forward. While I was in the hospital, there was a benefit held at the Volsted Lounge. This was one of the few Jitterbug Viper gigs I missed though I was pretty messed up with a deep gash in my hear, a brain concussion, injured right knee and hip and cut up hands. No broken bones but the long term results were loss of hearing and a slight loss of vision in one eye. But I walked as soon as I got out of the hospital. Because of the brain concussion, I had a balance problem. It was hard not to look drunk when I walked. Ha! Friends would ask me if I was back 100%. I avoided the long detailed answer. Sarah would say, he never was 100%, and I would just smile.

A fine guitarist, jamming buddy and friend, Greg Harkins, played at the benefit at the Volstead Lounge and subbed for me at a gig in Houston. I played my first gig after the accident at Jo's Coffee, siting down this time! There was a high profile gig coming up in Dallas at the Kessler Theater. Meaux Jeaux was set on my not playing, and I was set on playing. I played a 4 hour gig at Z Tejas to prove I could and she relented. The Kessler gig was just one set and the ride was a little tortuous but otherwise the gig not that challenging. Except, after the sound check I lost my balance and fell off the stage. I knew how to fall and wasn't hurt. Luckily, Meaux Jeaux was in the green room and missed it. She would have had a heart attack!

But this story is about the Austin, Texas community of musicians and music fans who care and support each other. I had medical bills for the hospital, EMS, doctors, anesthesiologist and the ongoing doctor bills after I got out. I think we paid EMS first and started on the hospital bill which was about $55,000.00. Did I say we had zero insurance. That's true enough although our car insurance eventually was some help because of my uninsured motorist option, which they stretched to take care of a new bass, my leather jacket and some odd bills.

Friends, Ted and Linda Branson, organized a benefit at Threadgill's that was huge. Eddie Wilson said he hadn't seen so many hippies in one place since the Armadillo closed. There were other benefits and everywhere I played, for a while, folks would give us money. And a famous Austin cartoon artist, Jeremy the Artist, who saw the accident, made a hip drawing of me in a super man shirt with the caption, "Takes a Lickin' and Keeps On Pickin'". We used the drawing to make posters and T-shirts and raised oodles. And all my medical bills are paid for.

Local news video of after accident.

Article shared by Slim Richey, guitarist for the Jitterbug Vipers.


Do you ever feel that being good at what you do – as a professional, a parent, a partner – takes up so much of your time and focus that it seems sometimes as if that’s all you are? Of course it’s important to strive to be the best we can at these aspects of life. But we also shouldn’t neglect our own passions and interests. Whether it’s painting, scuba diving, or swing dancing, hobbies can enrich our lives and bring us great satisfaction and rewards.

Some hobbies have the benefit of being educational and sociable at the same time, such as wine tasting. It’s fascinating to learn about a new subject in great detail – different soils and conditions that produce different grape varieties, and identifying the different flavours and aromas of wines. Not only do you learn a lot, you also become that valuable friend who’s an expert at something.

Other educational hobbies like learning a new language or a musical instrument can not only provide you with expert skills but bring a sense of achievement to your daily activities. Setting your mind to a goal, and being determined to achieve it can in turn boost confidence and make you feel more fulfilled.

There are a great variety of hobbies and interests out there – definitely something for everyone. It’s worth trying a few different things to see what sparks your passion. Or think back to when you were growing up. What kind of activities did you enjoy as a child? Did you spend hours running up and down a track, writing poetry, or sketching butterflies? Re-awakening these interests is often a way to get in touch with aspects of your personality that you’ve neglected and forgotten about over the years.

This said, try to avoid taking on too much. It’s better to start with one new element in your schedule, or one change to your life, as this will be easier to maintain in the long-term. After all, it can take a couple of months to form a new habit, so if you find it hard to stick at something, try starting one new hobby and building from there, rather than lots of different things at once.

You may or may not fall in love with a new hobby, but either way you’ll benefit from the experience of pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, meeting new people, and improving your mind. And with a bit of luck, you’ll discover a passion that will sustain you for a lifetime.

Ginette Harper is interested in all aspects of mind and body wellness, and frequently blogs on topics from self-hypnosis to life coaching.

Image by Jennifer Rensel, used under Creative Commons license

Life is hard. It doesn't matter if you're living in a huge mansion or standing in line at a soup kitchen, the truth of the matter is, not many of us are given the tools while growing up to cope with the many stressors in our lives. But, there are people out there who seem to have an idea of how to stay optimistic in these changing times. I spent much of my adult life perplexed by their good natures, and even more confused by their good will, until I learned that there were principles — and, by principles, I mean universal truths — that I could apply to my own life and literally change how I felt, not only about myself, but about the world around me.

Some of them seem like common sense, but you need to understand going into the exercise that reading these principles and actually practicing them in your day-to-day lives are two entirely different things (and that the latter requires vigilance and willingness). The phrase, "easier said than done" applies here. But, the truth is, if you're reading this, then chances are you're in the same place I was when I first discovered these practices; and that means you're ready.

Here are the 12 Spiritual Principles I try to live by on a daily basis:


    There's this thing called The Serenity Prayer which goes something like this: God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference. What painful, awful thing in your life are you accepting that, in all truth, you can actually change? Once you deeply accept that only you have the power to move forward in your life, then you can take the action to do it. But there are also things that you cannot change, and the work here is to accept that you can't manage that situation or this person or that thing. There is power in powerlessness also, because it frees you from conflict and allows you to enjoy the rest of your life with real aplomb.


    You'd be surprised how many lies I told myself and how many times I suffered because of them. Indeed, the lies I told myself fed into the lies I told other people and left me isolated when all I ever craved was connection. Can you believe that? My cure for loneliness was isolation. But I changed all of that when I started to speak my own truth and gave the people around me the opportunity to truly know who I was and what I stood for. We live in fear of what other people will think or say about us, but do you really want those kinds of people in your life today? Tell your truth; embrace who you are and let the naysayers know that, if it's going to make a difference as to whether they love you or not, then it should start making a difference Now.


    I have a friend who, for one morning every month, pretends to be blind. He wakes without opening his eyes, fumbles his way to his kitchen to make coffee then heads off to the bathroom to shower and brush his teeth. He eats a bowl of cold cereal and dresses himself and doesn't allow himself to open his eyes until he gets behind the wheel of his car to go to work. And he does this so that he can live in gratitude of the many gifts in his life, least among which is the gift of sight. I try to practice gratitude also, although not with as much verve as my friend; but I recognize that, in today's world, it is easy to become entitled and walk around with a sense of indignation and lose sense of the things that really matter, and fall away from gratitude. Everything in your life is worth exploring, whether it be the fact that you can walk and run or the knowledge that, if it ever gets to be too much, the world is designed to accommodate you and help you not feel so abandoned or alone.


    We come into the world, each of us, with our own baggage (sometimes it's an abandonment issue; sometimes it's simple trust issues, etcetera). We acquire these as children, but we discover that these lessons no longer serve us in adulthood, and we become forced to re-parent or reeducate ourselves. Part of this means learning how to trust our friends and partners and spouses. These relationships are important and you need to think of them as a carefully concocted stew of love and patience and understanding. When we distrust the people closest to us, what we are actually doing is adding negative ingredients to the pot — jealousy, possessiveness, suspicion . . . of course, they are going to react in a negative fashion. And we are often shocked when conflict arises, but it is conflict that could have been avoided if we'd made a conscious decision to come from a place of love than one of antagonism and unrest. People are sometimes going to let you down. This is a fact of life. But it is our responsibility to not create an arena for them to do so.


    My wife is an amazing woman. I am in awe of her, but still got a bit resentful one night when I did the dinner dishes and didn't get so much as a thank you when all was said and done. It was then that I realized that I was looking for a payoff for simply being of service, and that was when my life changed. It isn't an act of kindness if you expect something for it, and once you remove the payoff from the equation, you will find yourself catapulted to the next level of true selflessness, and that is the understanding that the reward for loving is loving; the reward for being of service is being of service. And the self-esteem that comes from reaching out and helping other people is invaluable. Because it gets you out of your own head and helps you not feel overwhelmed by problems or other concerns. It helps you feel connected.


    It never ceases to amaze me how sensitive I am. People who care about me — who I know absolutely love me — will sometimes point out one of my idiosyncrasies or talk about something stupid I did in mixed company and, for a long time, it would hurt my feelings and I would over-react. Granted, we all need to monitor how we are perceived (you don't get a second chance at first impressions), but learning how to laugh at yourself can help build stronger relationships. You family and friends should not be made to feel as though they need to walk on eggshells around you; it's up to You to create a safe, non-judgmental space for those around you because it is only in this space that you can experience the joy of authentic laughter. And, the fact of the matter is, I can't possibly be the only one to leave a public restroom with toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my shoe.


    Your past is inescapable, your future is unavoidable, but your present is forever unrestrained. We sometimes spend more time obsessing over things that have happened and dreading some unforeseen future that we forget the simple truth that, right now, in this moment, we are okay. No matter what is happening, even now — reading this — you are okay. Take a breath. Enjoy this one, perfect moment, because it is yours. You have plans and obligations, sure, but we're not there yet; right now, it's just us, living in this wonderful moment, and reveling in the fact that, in and of ourselves, we are complete, we are worthy of connection, and we are enough. When things get hectic, remind yourself of this and get centered. Only in the moment are we ever our perfect selves.


    This was a hard one for me to learn. But then I realized that a lot of the conflict in my life was of my own design. I had to adopt a new way of relating to other people. I had to ask myself, "Does this need to be Said?", then, "Does this need to be said Now?" and finally, "Does this need to be said By Me?" The three simple questions, in one fell stroke, eliminated so much pain and drama in my life that it left a huge space in my life that could only be filled with a new influx of love and understanding. Not only did people suddenly want to be around me, but the problems that I thought could only be managed by me seemed to work themselves out on their own. I had, for lack of a better term, inadvertently learned how to get out of God's way.


    This one's a hard pill to swallow, because I'm not a huge advocate of "Turn The Other Cheek"; I believe that you have to talk about (and really process) some wrongs that have been done to you before you can get to the part where forgiveness is possible. But, I also believe that it gets easier every time you do it, and that the emotional work involved is worth the effort it takes to get there. Some transgressions are unforgivable, true. But most aren't. Bear in mind, I am not telling you to run out and forgive everyone; I am telling you to LEARN to forgive, because that's where the spiritual growth will come from: it will come from the journey toward forgiveness.


    I have a friend who is a huge naysayer when it comes to new concepts and ideas. The simple truth is, he's so busy seeing THROUGH everything that he can't See ANYTHING. And, sadly, as a result, he will always be right where I left him, because his capacity for growth is stunted by his inability to embrace new ideas. But this doesn't have to be YOU. Allow yourself to have an open mind. Accept that even the worst-dressed person at the party may have something interesting to say to you and put your hand out to say hello. Rediscover your sense of wonder. No matter how old you are, the world still has a lot to show you. We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having very Human experiences. Avail yourself to each and every one.


    I cannot tell you how much time and energy I wasted searching for some sort of outside "thing" to fix me. And everywhere I went, the answer was always the same: We're Perfect. In and of ourselves, we are whole and complete. Inner Peace comes from accepting this as Your Truth. Granted, there are things about ourselves that we can change, and there are outside things that we can acquire that will enrich the quality of our lives, but none of those things are the destination of any spiritual journey; every spiritual journey is designed to help you find yourself. Because it is only when you've found, accepted, and learned to love Your Self that you are capable of connecting with anything else, whether it's other people, your family, or a God of your own understanding. Believe it.


    Maya Angelou is a celebrated American author and poet who once taught that Courage is the most important of all the virtues because, without it, you cannot practice any of the others consistently. It takes Courage to Love. It takes Courage to be Honest and to speak your own Truth. It takes Courage to Forgive. It takes Courage to Reach Out and Help Other People. The list goes on and on. I had to learn very early on how not to let Fear dictate my behavior ; I had to learn how to not let Fear inform my decisions. You can do this, too. I promise you. It's in you. If you're reading this, then you're ready to take a few chances and truly Grow. And, if worse comes to worst, keep this in mind: A Turtle cannot walk — it cannot move forward — unless it sticks its neck out.

Author Bio
Howard C. Samuels, Psy.D.
, author of Alive Again: Recovering from Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, is an internationally renowned recovery expert. He is the founder and president of the prestigious The Hills Treatment Center in Los Angeles and he appears regularly on national TV news shows about the challenges of drug addiction.

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