Sunday, February 12, 2012

Don C... Four Seasons of Recovery

Don C, all grown up.  I can't believe that I have not taken time to go see him.  Maybe he's been down to Pueblo and I didn't even know.  He couldn't live 50 miles from me. 

I like the way he describes the seasons of our recovery. 

Hopefully Jim will weigh in on this.  He has a common sponsor, I believe.


  1. I must have missed this chapter in the Big Book. We carry the message where i come from. I respect the guy's length of sobriety, but couldn't disagree with him more on his annual season's of recovery theory and the 16 year cycle. Too funny.

  2. He's a Native American and he doesn't give a shit whether you disagree with him or not.

    One of his first sponsors was Big Frank... and he would probably agree with you.

    I would not do what Don C does because I'm not a Native American. I don't pray to Wakȟáŋ Tȟáŋka... unless I'm in a 75+ rock sweat and I'm sweating my fucking balls off.

    You could say he does something besides A.A. Why? I don't know. Maybe it's more effective with his people.

    Is this a threat to you?

  3. God Bless him and whatever program he is working. My experience is different. I would suggest the forgiveness prayer for anyone feeling threatened...

  4. Ah how nice. Good timing. The fodder for our next topic.

  5. Agreed, I doubt whether he cares if you agree with him or not. As another old-timer said "You can argue with my opinion but you can't argue with my experience." As to whether or not what he does is AA, I can assure you that Don C. is a Big Book AA'er. Besides, and this is more about where I'm currently at, what is "AA?" More on that later.

    Don C. got sober in Denver in 1977. As has been noted, Big Frank McK. was his first sponsor. We share a common sponsor in the sense that Don P. was also one of his mentors. Don P. was my first sponsor's sponsor.

    After he moved to Colorado Springs, he found another teacher, an old Indian guy named Johnny LookingCloud. Johnny LookingCloud was sober a long time and walked The Red Road as well as being a practicing Catholic. From what I gather, Johnny LookingCloud was a holy man of a sort. He showed Don C. how to arrange the 12 Steps in the circular fashion, after the Medicine Wheel, which is the four seasons and the four directions. Don went on to found The White Bison Council, a non-profit dedicated to bringing recovery to the tribes. Out of that grew The Wellbriety Movement, which is growing in popularity among the Native people. There is a workbook called "The Red Road To Wellbriety" if you'd like to learn more. It is widely used in the Native chemical dependency programs and we use it with Native clients in our residential program where I work. It can be ordered from the White Bison website.

    Patrick you said that Don C.'s approach might be more effective among the Native peoples. That seems to be true. I've known more than a few Natives who just could not get sober with "white man AA."

  6. About the Four Seasons, as Don C. calls them. Someone called it a theory. Maybe it is a theory to you if you haven't experienced it. My bet is that you have experienced it and were just not awake to it. And maybe some of us experience it to a greater degree than others.

    There are seasons to life and to the spiritual life, just as there are seasons and cycles and rhythms and ebbs & flows in Nature. It was written about in Proverbs, "A time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to live and a time die, a time to reap and a time to sow." (don't know if I got that right).

    The phenomenon called The Dark Night Of The Soul has been written about. Mystics from all traditions have been writing about the four seasons for centuries. Given that the 12 Step path is a path of spiritual unfoldment, it would only make sense that we would experience the cycles and seasons of the spiritual life.

    One mistake a lot of AA's make is when they are in winter they try to "fix" it with more step work or service rather than just accepting it as a natural part of the journey when everything is resting and dormant.

  7. Thanks Jim.

    I think having g respect for other methods has benefitted me more than being rigid on one with regards to looking at other folks who have gone before me.

    Part of what Frank used to inspire Don was his anger. Frank told Don that Indians don't stay sober. So Don went to Frank at a year sober and said, "Look you old sonofabitch, I'm sober."

    It seemed to have helped him out.

  8. Be quick to see where religious people are right...The red road is the religion of the native american peoples and it parallels christianity quite nicely. As a big book devote, I have been practicing them both for quite some time now and they fit very nicely with the 12 steps. I'm really glad you shared this because I was aware of and had been experiencing the 4 year cycles. Looking back, I also experienced the 16 year shift, although until today, I couldn't have described exactly what it was. I have often talked about this period in my recovery but, I have never been able to express it as clearly as Don did on the video clip. As I think back on my sobriety, My experience has paralleled Don's teaching exactly and I'm coming up on what should be my second shift. I've noticed the same types of changes that I did back in the 14-15 year time frame and I've been talking to to my sponsor about them, trying to get more clarity. I now have it...Thanks.