There is a need within addiction treatment centers and the recovery community for creative therapeutic outlets that allow people to process their mental, emotional, and social turmoil. The mission of Project Dandelion is to directly address that need and to help provide a solution.
Substance abuse is often the result of said mental, emotional, and social turmoil being left unprocessed, allowing it to fester inside of us and turn our lives upside down. The problem isn't the substance itself; the problem is the pain and suffering that we are trying to numb and avoid. A saying I often use is "I don't have a drinking problem, I have a thinking problem." I am a walking poster for this truth. My personal struggle with both internal and external turmoil has been lifelong...and so has been my battle with substance abuse. I'm a child of alcoholics, I was forced to take Ritalin from age 7 to 15, and at age 16 I became an adult making my own choice to abuse alcohol and weed... so I truly mean life-long.
All throughout, one of the few constants that has always provided me with a mental, emotional, and socially wholesome space has been my creativity. Arts, crafts, and writing. Creative expression. Within that space, my mind can wander about in a healthy way. All the therapeutic qualities guiding my thought processes as I create something pleasing and beautiful. The wonderful energy naturally guiding my most innate inner workings towards resolving any inner turmoil, at least for a time. It is hard to let unhealthy forces hold weight when such a delightfully powerful mental affair is in progress. Troubles simply slip away. Especially anxiety, sadness, and anger. When you forge a connection of goodness between your mind, body, and spirit, the benefits have no bounds. It creates a realm where healing, growth, inspiration, enlightenment, and empowerment can all take over and enhance your well being. Unfortunately, active addiction casts a dark shadow that prevents these bright truths from being realized. During my active addiction, the functioning intellectual within was non existent. However; In each of my periods of active recovery (spanning 8 years, 7 inpatient rehabs, 4 long-term residential programs, and an 8 month jail term for DWI) I reintroduced into my life the power of creativity as a therapeutic tool, regaining and enhancing not only my intellect, but every other quality, old and new, that I allowed myself to explore. When I was in county jail for DWI, I taught myself how to skillfully draw, at age 31. The 5 elements of Project Dandelion coming to fruition even when I was locked away.
Unfortunately, during those 8 long years, I also discovered that any time dedicated to the arts within addiction treatment centers is few and far between; rare even. Project Dandelion plans to raise awareness of this fact AND help provide a direct solution; We will help people discover their creative haven and take full advantage.
Transparency is a key component of Project Dandelion. This is a communal project of the people, for the people. I am just the messenger, it's not about me any more than it's about all of you. I have put forth my best efforts to include all details about Project Dandelion on this website. Keep in mind that it will always be an evolving work in progress as we continue to pump it full of life and watch it grow! If you still have any questions after looking over the site, just ask! After becoming a member you have access to The Dandy Discussion Board, where we can all connect as a community, sharing ideas and supporting one another.
The 3 critical components of pulling through and surviving drug and alcohol addiction are honesty, open mindedness, and willingness. If you practice those 3 character traits within a professionally guided, peer supported, recovery program, and add to it the right "tools" for success (such as creative therapy), the 5 elements of Project Dandelion will be in your grasp before you know it. As is true for the resilient seeds of the dandelion, the sky is the limit!
This entire project has been born and bred from life experience and hard earned wisdom from within the walls of recovery programs. Through thick and thin. Through highs and lows. I am right there with everyone else fighting the good fight of recovery. I believe in myself, I believe in the power of recovery, I believe in Project Dandelion, and I believe in all of you and the power of peer support. Recovery is a liminal space; an uncomfortable, transitional space between two stages in our life when a person is on the precipice of something new but not quite there yet. It is a realm where our most impactful growth takes place. Project Dandelion can be a tool for all of us to get through this stage of our life and become the best version of ourselves that we can possibly be.
The following is my entry for publication in our book...
This Liminal Life
Am I here? Am I there?
In this realm, it’s hard to fare.
In this realm that’s in between,
An unknown future and routine.
Within life’s journey, I have wandered.
For the reason, I must ponder.
Why am I in this liminal space?
Where is my guide for direction and pace?
Mysterious forces are at work.
Devotion and faith slow anxieties that lurk.
This liminal realm, where the winds of change blow.
I remain open and willing; the only way to grow.
Into the person I was meant to be;
Fulfilling my purpose, enlightened, and free.
Rivers of dreams,
Dreams now goals.
Completely at peace,
Mind, body, and soul.
James W. Ouderkirk
Creator of Project Dandelion
My kindest regards,