It is amazing what can happen in one year! 365 days to live, breathe, create, grow, sit and do nothing, or sit and do everything. On this day last year, October 12, 2014, Red Mountain Sedona officially opened its doors and my vision of some 15 years became a reality. I remember the day clearly. Maureen and I, along with two staff we had asked to be part of the first day, were nervous and excited, as all the hard work was about to start paying off!
We took the potential first student, whom we will call Thomas (not his real name) and his parents on a tour of Sedona and then to the apartment where he would be living. He looked around with curiosity, and then walked into the kitchen and opened up the fridge to see what kind of food he could expect to be eating if he were going to stay here.
He seemed satisfied, as did his parents, and then they got in the car to head to Prescott where they said Thomas had some things in storage. The four of us waited patiently for a few hours, not knowing if they were going to even come back. Of course they did, and we officially had our first student. And thus, the first chapter of Red Mountain Sedona began.
Since that day, we have grown steadily from four staff members, one student, and a van, to all-together 20 staff members, 12 students, a few vans and numerous success stories. I recently even got to see one of our students receive their 1-year chip at an AA meeting, which was one of my prouder moments this year. I look forward to seeing that more and more as time goes by.
We celebrated our first birthday with a pizza party at lunch, and we had a special guest speaker, renowned artist and personal friend David Kimball Anderson, after our morning meditation. David was also celebrating 31 years clean and sober today. David shared his personal journey and coached our students on health, meditation, and the connections between creativity and a happy, sober, emotionally healthy life. I am so glad that our students were able to have that experience with him.
Each day at Red Mountain with a morning meditation, usually between 15 and 30 minutes, and then break into small groups to check in and set intentions for the day. Today was a special day for me – for all of us, really – and during meditation I found myself feeling grateful that the students are really engaging in the mindfulness and taking it seriously; I believe meditation is an important practice for our residents’ overall health and well-being.
I found myself appreciative that all of our students who are in the transition phase either have jobs or internships, or have enrolled in school. That is one of the most important steps, moving toward self-sufficiency in a healthy, mature life.
And finally, I reflected on the relationships that were broken and/or unhealthy for students upon arrival, and how I have witnessed some amazing transformations between students and their parents, siblings, and/or close friends. I am especially thankful for this aspect of treatment at Red Mountain Sedona; seeing a student who used to never want to tell his or her parents anything now not only able, but willing and wanting, to tell them everything proves to me that we are doing things the right way here.
So, Happy First Birthday to Red Mountain Sedona, and here’s to many, many more! Thanks!
-Josh White, Founder / Executive Director