15 September 2012

Yesterday’s Misery, Today’s Gift

Many urban African American communities are adversely impacted by illegal drugs.  The jagged circular saw of drug introduction, addiction, peddling and incarceration leaves broken minds, bodies and spirits in its wake.  These urban environments are defined by discrete boundaries delineated by blight and the presence of law squads curiously trolling the streets for prey to feed the prison industrial complex.   The inhabitants of disfavored urban areas do not receive fair treatment nor do they enjoy protection from environmental and health hazards.   The birth of disorder in urban African America was woven into the fabric of the U.S. ultimately to deny access to and influence on the structure of the American republic.

We may regard urban dwellers mired in drug addiction as ‘others’, ‘them’, ‘those’, ‘not us’.  However, we fail to realize the ‘otherness’ of those in our own suburban and rural families.   It is all about location and selective enforcement.  It is much easier to find a needle in a haystack than a farm field.  Drug dependence and substance abuse is all around us and none of us is immune to the effect of substances on our lifestyle and environs.  Drug abuse is an environmental justice issue.  As long as a community is corroded by the effects of drugs, the powers that be will not ensure a safe and healthy condition.  So, what do we do; what is within our power to change; what is the first step?  It starts with me; the individual.  We cannot wait for the world to change, we must make that change.  Our personal action can ripple into a movement of waves with an energy that erodes away the rot on the face of our society.

Black Organic is honored to share the truth of one man who is leading the way.  Mr. Clarence Brown is a recovering heroin addict; 27 years immersed in the culture of consequence, every activity controlled by craving and avoidance of severe physical and mental distress.
“I’m beginning to receive so many opportunities, help from friends.  God put these people here for me.  With his help, I’ve surmounted some serious odds and I believe that I can do great things, but none of them are going to be for me, per se.  I will not end up with a big house or a big car.  I will get what I need to help those people who come behind me.” “Maybe I could stop somebody else’s kid from starting because I’ve been there.  General knowledge will help people decide, who are on the fence.”
When did you start using drugs and what lead you to start using?
I started when I was 20, messing with cocaine and weed.  It was straight curiosity, no peer pressure, nobody egging me on.  What was in the 10 dollar bag?  It must have been about 1981.  I kept seeing it on TV and saw my friends doing the stuff; they spent money on it.  It was just a bag of leaves.  Then I realized okay, it’s kinda fun and thought everything else would be more fun.  I did not get into heavy drug use until I got to Baltimore at 22 and I stated seeing stuff; people preparing needles and I was like wow, I want to try that.  I was never middle class, just lower, lower, lower middle class and my parents were proud of us going to college, but they thought and imparted to us that we shouldn’t jump too high because you’re gonna get smacked down.  I went off to Radford University and met a woman at University of Virginia and followed her to Baltimore when she got sick.  I was just hanging around Baltimore and was dippin’ and dabbin’.  I dated a woman for nine years who, we thought, could not get pregnant.  We had a daughter and I was not ready.  I disappeared; fell off the face of the earth.  I was making lots of enemies in the streets and I didn’t want anyone looking for me, but finding her.  In the midst of my heroin addiction, I was able to work in security and made good money.  I held it down.  I was at the Latin Palace on Broadway for five years and then ended up on The Block on Baltimore Street for another 10 years.  I just wanted to find out what’s up with the drugs.  Once I got the feeling, I just wanted to do it more and more.  I thought nothing could hurt me, that I couldn’t be stopped.  I soon realized that I had no shield; that  I was open. 

What was your lifestyle while using drugs?  What were some of the things you would do?
It was a gradual thing.  I started off living with my daughter’s mother and we worked; moving forward.  But there was no way to do that because I was taking money.  I would snort, snort, snort all weekend.  It happened until I moved away when my daughter was 3 years old.  I lost all contact with her when she was 7 and just got back in touch with her this year.  It got to the point where the pull of drugs was so strong, I didn’t care and I became a full time drug user, became a hustler; I didn’t have a good game, my speech was not quite what it needed to be.  I was good at generating sympathy.  Go to the bus stop and say I needed to get to a job interview and people would offer five more for lunch.  Then I would go up the street and get more money, get enough money to do what I needed to do.  But the whole time, I was able to hold down a job.  It was possible to make four or five hundred and night and still be a bum.  I didn’t have any food and could not pay rent.  It was easy to sustain addiction because I was getting paid every night and I lived as if I always had money.  Yes, you do… and then you don’t.
What was your worst moment while on drugs?
My absolute worst moment is when I got locked up about the seventh or eighth time.  It got to the point where no one would have me at their door because I was doing all that slick stuff.  I was running for the girls.  A guy gave me 60 bucks and of course, I was getting something for me.  A cop caught me and I had six pills, dope.   I put the pills in my pocket, which was full of candy wrappers and thought they couldn’t find it.  Anyway, I get locked up and I’m so sick.  I was already quite a bit sick when I went to get copped.  I had still had one pill still down in that pocket.  I thought I would stick my hand in my pocket, pull the sweatshirt over my head and pull the pill into my palm.  I dropped it.  It went clack, clack, clack.  I was naked.  The guard said, “Are you serious, really?”  I asked, “Can I do it?”  He said, “No, put it in the trash.”  The guard said, “You a little old for this, ain’t you?” I was about 46.  I said, “Damn.  I am.”  That’s when I finally got the sense of time flying by.  I almost died.  I was so dehydrated, diabetic and had high blood pressure.  I didn’t know it.  The infirmary asked me who to contact, because I was almost ready to die.  The lady started singing a song to me.  A black lady, she was so motherly.  It was so weird.  She kept me awake.  Once I felt hydrated, I started to think that I could get out of this.  I’ve had other occasions.  Once I was sick, this old man on the street woke up and said to me, “What are you doing out here?  You don’t belong here.”  He could have been talking to a mouse, but he was talking to me.  He went right back to sleep.

God will give you a lot of rope to go and do and see and learn and he’ll drop parachutes and set up situations to attend, but you have to go do it.  I’ve had so many different opportunities in my life that I walked past while I was doing what I was doing.

Was there any particular event or revelation that pushed you to decide to quit drugs?
It is hard to say that.  There were a bunch of different revelations.  The situation with the drunk guy, going to jail.  It started to trickle down.  I went to treatment and came out of that and used.  That was what stopped me.  I went through the six months and thought I was ready.  I’ve got my certificates and I’m going to get a job and do right.  I walked past a spot that had some good dope and I knew it.  Physically, I was a clean slate, but my mind was still dirty.  I hadn’t prepared my mind enough.  I thought, so what, let me go get this blast.  It felt like it always did, but I didn’t like it anymore.  There was no clarity.  There was no point to doing it.  Why am I doing it?  I left it alone and started to find different places to help me and I went to Baltimore Community Resource Center, the Courage House is one of their houses.

Please describe the effect of drug use on your life.  Include how you believe your history has impacted your current status.

Well, um, the whole thing about using all that time, you are not able to see the time passing.  You are working.  I never really was out of work, maybe about a month.  I didn’t use the money for anything but getting high.  There was an accumulation of time and money that disappeared.  Whatever I accumulated at that time is gone.  After 26 years, I have nothing.  I’m 51 and I am now doing what I should have done when I was 21.  I’m coming into my talents.  I knew when I was 21 that I was a pretty good writer.  I always talked about maybe one day I was gonna write a book.  People on drugs always talk about what “I’m gonna do.”  No, you can’t you sittin’ here with us.   When I look back, technology took us through typewriters, word processors, huge oversized computers, then laptops that all passed me by before I sat down to do what I said I was going to do.  That goes to say that you could be the brightest, most intelligent person, but heroin pulls a veil over your head.  You don’t receive and you don’t radiate. 
Even at my worst addiction, I always felt like God was knocking.  Are you ready?  You are ready now, c’mon now.  There was never…  

It was always very loving.  I kinda reached these points, getting a little recognition from my writing.  I felt very alone.  I know that I’m not alone, but it is hard sometimes to remember that you have friends, that people are concerned about you.  The thing about addicts, you always feel like you have to get things done; that you have to make up that time.  The most dangerous thing an addict can do is dwell on the past, what I could have done, what I should have done.  You get overwhelmed.  That can send an addict back out there.   An addict is most excellent at saying, “Fuck it.”  It is a lot easier to be oblivious.  It’s not like you don’t have responsibilities, “Fuck it”.  That’s what you say.  To suddenly be clean and try to live a productive life, you sometimes say, “Is this why I stopped getting high?”  You run around and nobody wants to give you money (pointing fingers), “You’re a druggie.”  It’s my fault.  “Oh, you were an addict.”  No, I am an addict.  It doesn’t go away.  You’re damn right.  You should have been taking care of this and that.  Just because I am an addict, does not mean I don’t recognize.  Your mind says, “I did this.”  I did this to myself.  If someone wants to buy me lunch, “ I say, I did that.”

Please describe how you pushed forward to recapture your life?

It is dangerous to try to recapture your life.  You kinda have to start from where you are.  You have to start almost as if you are a child and you have to learn everything new as if it is new to you.  Addicts will say, “Fuck it.” Or “I know”.  That is a sign of an addict; that they are on the way to relapse.  You cannot live as a regular person.  You cannot act as if you’ve done it before.  Your past has to stay back where it is.  Everything has to be face forward.  If you think back, it is a trigger.  It puts you right back to where you were the last time you had a blast.  You have to look forward.
What encouragement can you share to help others dependent on drugs or recovering from dependency?

I have to be careful with that too, because I don’t want to come off like a NA guru (Narcotics Anonymous).  Those type of people have a way of grabbing on to the NA program and make it their life.  What are they going to do when they have to step out and deal with people?  I will say, continue to pray and ask God to help you with things you have difficulty with and to continue to move forward.  It is not lack of fear; it is going on in spite of fear.
How did you meet our friend Bob Jones?  What did he do to help you move toward your current success?

I met Bob at Healthcare for the Homeless at a writer’s group that was established there.  It wasn’t so much what he said, but his energy.  I just watched him.  He was moving around.  Everything was a grand sweeping gesture.  It was inspiring because I wanted to move, but not.  He asked me about my poems.  He gave me a poem and told me to write a similar poem without copying.  He was impressed by it.  It wasn’t anything so much what he said, but how he said it, his energy.  “Oh, wow, we need to sit down and write a book”.  It was matter of fact, like we just wrote books all the time.  I was overwhelmed with his certainty.   How can you be so certain?  “Oh don’t worry about that, let’s just do it.  This is what is going to happen and how it will happen.  You will do it and then I’ll take a look at it in a year.”
Bob was like the energy and Neil was like the direction.  Professor Neil Hertz of Johns Hopkins and Bob Jones supervised the writing group.  During the time while I was trying to get something done with the book, Neil Hertz was in Palestine, but he spoke to Clarinda Harriss with Brickhouse Books at Towson University.  Professor Hertz sent her a manuscript and it sat with her for a month or two.  She got back with him very energetically saying she wanted to do something with the book.  The book was published in January 2012.

Your book, Needs, is based upon your experiences.  How did those experiences shape the characters in the book?

I ran across many people who actually are the characters in the book.  My sister and brother-in-law.  Brenda is an amalgamation of a bunch of different women.  Brenda is named after my oldest sister.  All the dancer, pimps and drug dealers were all people I encountered in the streets.  They are all a little of each.
What are your goals within the next five years?

I want to become a drug counselor, an addiction counselor.  I need to have my hands in the situation in order to help.  It will be hard to help if I was in an ivory tower type of situation.  It is not that I intend for one of my books to be a best seller.  I almost feel like I’m being punished.  I cannot divorce myself from the drug community, not if I intend to help.  If I win the lottery, I’m out.  That says something to me about God’s will.  I am an addict, three years of pain.  If I won the lottery, I would overdose.  That’s the thing about being an addict, you want to do the drugs.  The battle is not to do it.
Part of what keeps people clean is the lack of resources to do drugs.  If you were rich, you would be eccentric.  If you were rich, the consequences don’t come down.  If I popped up rich right now, not having to worry about going to jail, being sick or what my significant other thought, I would just buy a new girlfriend.  A lot of what it is about an addict is whether or not you are socially acceptable, society’s perception.

How do you feel?
Hopeful, determined.  Really, just full of wonder because there is a lot that I didn’t notice opening out around me right now. It’s weird and I know that striving to achieve society’s perception of social acceptability is a short path to relapse. 

Black Organic supports Mr. Brown’s efforts to live well and achieve his goals.  Mr. Brown’s first novella Needs is on sale now.  You may also find Mr. Brown in video.  The book is an awesome read; shocking, disturbing and heart rending.  Mr. Brown takes you deep into the streets of Baltimore, Maryland, a “view from the gutter looking up through the grates” - Mr. Brown.  The book is also a learning experience.  Readers will never look at the streets of Baltimore the same way again.

06 May 2012

Household and Personal Products – Hereby Warned!

There was a study titled Endocrine Disruptors and Asthma-Associated Chemicals in Consumer Products recently published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences that quantified chemicals in cosmetics; personal care items; and cleaning products.  The study analyzed chemical classes and the uses of these chemicals in products including preservatives, anti-microbial agents, additives, solvents, enhancers and fragrance.  Of course, industry groups took issue with conclusions of the study, citing concerns that the public would be alarmed unnecessarily by the presence of these chemicals.  Although studies have not absolutely linked these chemicals directly to ill health effects, there is reason for a certain amount of fear.
Many homes have dangerous cleaning products, polishes and outdoor products stored within the home.  Most people take care with the products that are labeled toxic, but many products contain damaging chemicals that are not included on labels and thus are dismissed as safe.  We just love sweet flowery scents and pretty colors.  We use personal care and cleaning products on a daily basis without considering the cumulative effects of chemical build-up in our dishes, clothes and bodies.  We are what we eat, touch, and inhale.  Everything that enters our bodies has an effect; beneficial or adverse.  Therefore, we need to be more careful about the products around us.

The risks of adverse effects from exposure is hard to guess because products contain many ingredients that are known and unknown and the variety of combinations is difficult to assess.  Household products can impact the immune systems of children and the elderly.  The products can cause behavioral and developmental problems as well as exacerbate health conditions associated with illness such as asthma, allergies and cancers.  When we dispose of leftover products by pouring down the drain; dumping in the street sewers; or putting out with trash, we pollute our environment and affect not only humans, but the ecosystems of plants and wildlife.
Every year, a range of products are found to be so dangerous that they are taken off the market.  Regulatory agencies carefully study products prior to making a decision and the entire time products undergo such study, consumers use the hazardous products without full understanding of the potential dangers.  We willingly consume unsafe manufactured items because of the influence that industry and the media have on our society.  We must stop.

Precaution can be taken during use of certain products, including implementation of safety equipment and proper ventilation.  However, for the majority of residential use products, there are safer alternatives that are less expensive and more environmentally friendly.  Black Organic strongly recommends you use them.
Thanks: publicdomainpictures.net

30 April 2012

Seriously Ladies...

Black hair is a multi-million dollar industry thanks to some Black women.  Unfortunately, thanks to some Black women, the return to the Black community is less than 1% of the industry and we have no one to blame, but some Black women.  Black women support Korean families.  They use funds from Black families to send their kids to college; to assist their relatives in coming to America; and to take over Black-owned businesses.  It’s some Black women’s fault.  Some Black women are so accepting of the Eurocentric dynamic that some of them give extreme amounts of Black wealth away to Asians to show off their low Afro-esteem.  They swagger with the fakery, thinking they are making themselves more acceptable to those who don’t give a rat’s behind about them.  Some Black women are more comedic relief than anything.  How many times have you received those ‘Black Prom’ emails or the ‘Walmart Shopper’ pictures?  We laugh, shake our heads and keep it movin’.   There is no hatin’ on the Koreans.  They have taken advantage of the opportunity because we have allowed them and have shown support for their business acumen.

We feed the beast because we have not put a stop to it.  We complain so much about the loss of wealth, yet we are the ones watching some Black women throwing money straight to the pockets of Hell.  Tell them to stop it! The Koreans dominate the market and work tirelessly to push Black business out or keep Black businesses from entering the market; fair business practices be damned.   The blame lies on the shoulders of those Black women!  You will not be scolded to stop supporting Korean hair businesses; just know that your decision has dire consequences for your sisters and brothers.  One of those consequences is the jobless rate.  If you notice, Black folk don’t work in Korean owned shops.

It is ironic that some Black women buy weaves and wigs that are made from every other ethic type of hair but African.  They even purchase animal hair, you know, the tail that gets shat upon on a regular basis.  Those weaves and wigs that some think are cute are in fact, extremely dangerous.  The wigs and weaves permanently affect the hair follicles and the glues and other chemicals damage skin and internal organs.   We have seen those Black women with their hairlines back to their ears; the missing kitchen; the bald spots; the tortured ends; and thinned out manes.  The fact that these conditions were created by conscious decisions is disturbing. 

But seriously, instead of putting those Black women down, let us uplift them and encourage them to show off their natural beauty.  Tired and lame excuses are no longer acceptable.  Lead by example.  Every single day, I feel joy when I encounter a natural beauty.  Natural is a daily event because more career women are going natural every day.   I always make a point to compliment them on their hair and I sincerely mean the tribute.  I love hearing about the stories of going natural and the search for the right product to resolve the hair concern of the day.  I am simply satisfied with olive oil, shea butter, and coconut oil or various combinations of two or three.  Yes, I realize that Black owned businesses are not the suppliers of the oils; however, I certainly see Black folks working in the markets or grocery stores where the items are purchased.  I always purchase shea butter from a one who looks like me… a natural wonder. 

Black Organic will always support natural hair and the next generation in the Black Organic family will never know the pain and poverty associated with the hair industrial complex.  Choose pay nature forward. Go natural for our mental, physical and financial health.  Go natural because it is the right thing to do.

Thanks: publicdomainpictures.net

24 April 2012

Good Looks – Green Beauty Trends

There is an array of basic ingredients that you can create innovative beauty products.  These ingredients are inexpensive and they work.   No need to run to the store to purchase the latest costly skincare products that promise miracles.  Natural products work just as well and you can take comfort in knowing the ingredients.  Here are a few ideas:


Paste of baking soda, salt and water
Lip scrub
Baking soda, water and peroxide
Tooth scrub and whitener
Coffee scrub made at home
Facial or body scrub
Apple cider vinegar
Clarifying hair rinse
Olive oil or coconut oil
Facial moisturizer
Shea butter mixed with coconut oil
Hand cream
Shea butter mixed with coconut oil or plain olive oil
Hair lotion
Coconut oil
Dandruff control
Shea butter mixed with coconut oil
Lip balm
Olive oil
Hair frizz control
Apple cider vinegar
Acne control
Baking soda, salt and water
Cornstarch, baking soda, coconut oil

The recipes can be found here.  As you can see, quite a few natural products have double duty utility.  Make either small quantities or just enough for one use.  You’ll save money and our environment. 

15 April 2012

Spotlight – Darien Essentials

Black Organic introduces Darien Essentials of Chesterfield, Virginia. Ms. Ellice Darien is a beautiful woman who considers our environment in making glamorous products using high quality natural ingredients.  Her use of food grade ingredients demonstrates care for our health and our environment.  Black Organic has used these products and attests to the pleasure of applying the warm colors with pleasing textures.  The greatest benefit was the absence of an allergic reaction.  Ms. Darien creates scented and unscented products suitable for users ranging from average Junes to Fabulous Fredas.  Although Black Organic is a strong advocate of making products at home, some things are best left to the professionals … who make their stuff at home.  In support of small businesses that consider the environment in all aspects of creating and marketing products as well as recycling and reducing waste, Black Organic is pleased to share Darien Essentials.

Provide a brief description of Darien Essentials.

Our business creates handcrafted spa and beauty products.

Please tell us the story about the beginnings of your company and why you decided to focus on natural products.

I can start with my father loving this book Back to Eden; me creating my potions as a teen for my friends’ acne, which by the way, some did work; me having a son, taking him to the library and seeing a book on soap-making; everyone loving my products; and watching a cosmetic company on television advertise four different complexions and thinking they are missing a whole lot of colors, let me learn this and customize foundation for my friends.

As a nurse, I would go into stores and think we don't need all that junk in our products, so I would create a friendlier version.  I know that the skin is our largest organ and can absorb medications, so why would I need to absorb junk that we just didn't need. 

Why should we purchase your products?

We strive to be as natural as we can and continue to keep finding ways to add products that are manufactured with the earth and the person in mind.

Please explain your statement, “being natural and being glamorous are not mutually exclusive”.

Our fans love that we customize their body butters and their makeup.  We are all different and some have allergy conditions that might mean that traditional products can’t be used; however, they want to feel and look good, so we help them.

When people think hand crafted they think hemp bag, craft paper, hippie which is cool, too; however, I see the glamour.  I think vibrant colors:  lavender and roses, and I want them to understand you can look and feel great without going into toxic shock.

What are you doing around your home to reduce your family’s impact on the environment?

The first thing we did was get rid of any hair spray. I started creating our household cleaning products and even when we painted we used a low VOC.  We go to our local growers for food and it is a growing journey for this family, especially with pre-teen and teens that think pizza is a vegetable.

Can you tell us some good news about Darien Essentials?

We are opening a shop and I will create from there, ship and retail.

Black Organic is grateful for your efforts to enhance beauty with consideration of our environment.  Thank you.
Picture credit:  Darien Essentials

07 April 2012

Baking Soda

Sodium hydrogen carbonate is the proper chemical name for sodium bicarbonate which we know as baking soda.  It is a non-toxic chemical white powder compound.   Baking soda is a versatile product that is inexpensive and effective for uses for the home and body.   This one product will cover personal care, cooking, cleaning and laundry.  In our home, we use it to clean all over the house and we use it for body products and first aid.  Here are 20 of my favorite ways to incorporate baking soda into health, beauty and cleaning routines.  Baking soda can be used dry or as a paste by mixing with water.  It can also be used with other ingredients to create laundry detergent and deodorant.  This versatile substance can be purchased by the 13 pound bag for a little over $5.00.  The baking soda will keep for a long time if kept dry.  I usually pour some into a large glass canning jar and leave it next to the kitchen sink.   The bag gets stored away.  With multiple uses, we manage to go through about two or three bags a year.  Let’s reject commercial chemical and petroleum based products.  We should be responsible for our own impact on Earth and help our communities send a message to industrial polluters:  “We are not going to buy your garbage anymore!”
Powder Power List:

1.       Gentle facial scrub
2.       Clean stains from coffee mugs
3.       Clean food and oils from stovetop
4.       Soothe insect bites
5.       Sprinkle on floor around toilet (absorbs wayward sprays from little boys)
6.       Deodorize shoes
7.       Deodorize trashcans
8.       Clean tub and bathroom sink
9.       Add to warm water and soak feet
10.   Soak combs and brushes
11.   Mouthwash
12.   Deodorize sink drains
13.   Clean burned cooking pots
14.   Deodorize carpets
15.   Clean and deodorize the refrigerator
16.   Extinguish fire
17.   Sprinkle on dirty clothes awaiting laundry day
18.   Deodorize vacuum cleaner bag or canister
19.   Ant deterrent
20.   Clean stains in cooking pots and glassware

02 January 2012

2012 – Look Forward

The start of the year signifies new beginnings, trends and solutions.  How about starting this year on the good green foot?  The Green Game Plan will help you sort out simple and easy ways to make a change to improve your home environment, health and vitality.

Think about some of your old habits and how you can change things for the better.  Ask yourself a few questions:  Do I let the water run while brushing your teeth?  Do I toss cans and bottles in the trash?  Do I use hairspray?  Do I use strong chemicals to clean the sink?  Do I buy something just because it’s trendy?
Consider easy things you could do to change some of your old habits into green routines.  Some of these things can help you save money, too.  Organize and reduce the chaos of clutter.  Start small with a small box of stuff at a time and move towards larger tasks as you realize success with small chores.


Research alternatives to everyday household items and body products and use them.  This blog is a start, so thank you. 

Set aside time to schedule your errands and map out your trip to save vehicle use and your precious time. 

Start recycling paper and work your way towards cans, bottles and other items.  That stack of mail is begging to join the rest of the piles of advertisements and magazines on the trip to the recycling center.

Donate rarely worn clothes, shoes and household items; they are already not one of your favorites, so let them go.

Re-purpose some of the items in your home to create a new look.  That old desk hidden in a back bedroom could make a great work space next to a window in the living room.

Stay out of the middle of the grocery stores.  Increase your intake of fresh produce; healthy meats; and lower fat dairy items placed along the perimeter of the store.

Go for a walk.  If you don’t want to walk by yourself, grab a friend and go.  Race to the local fitness center and try a new activity.    Karate is wonderful for stamina, flexibility and balance.

Take a nap.  Rest is great for the body and soul.  A tired person is more likely to make poor decisions at work and play.   If you have a half hour after work, lie down and close your eyes.  Go to bed at a reasonable hour and wake up early enough to reduce the morning stress of getting out the door on time.

Resolve to commit to your own well-being.  Make a choice to move in positive direction and away from harmful decisions.  Strengthen your relationships with family and friends.  Do something for yourself.

Live well; laugh a lot; and enjoy life in 2012.  Happy New Year!