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Jul 25, 2022

More than the absence of

Rachel McCrickard, LMFT

CEO and Co-Founder

This past weekend, my sister, Becca, and I took a quick trip to Martha’s Vineyard to celebrate her 40th birthday.

Becca is an American Sign Language interpreter and she’s always wanted to go to Martha’s Vineyard because the island has a rich and interesting history of sign language.

If you are curious, you can read about the Vineyard’s sign language history here but, in short, in the 18th century, hereditary deafness led to a disproportionately large population of deaf residents on Martha’s Vineyard. This prompted the entire island to learn sign language – a language they called Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language (MVSL). Because of this act of inclusion, deaf residents had the opportunity to work in a variety of settings, attend island events, and participate in the larger community in a more wholistic way. 

Becca and I had a wonderful trip – learning about the history of the island, eating great seafood, and enjoying some much needed sister-time. On Saturday, while I was perusing a local book store, a book called Through a Sober Lens caught my eye. 

Through a Sober Lens is a coffee table book, filled with beautiful images of Martha’s Vineyard captured by Michael Blanchard. Michael is a recovering alcoholic and talented artist who uses photography and writing to raise funds for addiction and mental health treatment in his local community.

As I’ve mentioned here before, I have a few people in my life who are members of the recovery community and I always feel drawn to their stories of hope, heartache, repair, and resilience.  I knew I had to own the book!

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It’s my kind of book because it’s mostly pictures – with a lot of inspirational vignettes intertwined. I read most of it on the plane ride home.

I enjoyed every vignette, but my favorite one was when Michael wrote, “I have discovered that sobriety is more than the absence of alcohol; it’s the presence of love, hope, faith, and contribution.” 

I’ve heard this phrase before “more than the absence of” and it has always resonated with me. To me, it conveys a powerful message that those who are both inside and outside of the recovery community can benefit from. The message is that it’s not just about the thoughts and behaviors we leave behind as we grow and evolve, but it’s also about the new ways of thinking and courageous new actions that we incorporate into our life as we seek balance and peace.

I particularly love Michael’s inclusion of the word “contribution” in this vignette. Several of his reflections emphasize the importance of helping others. Michael wrote, “I learned that I could shine a light with simple care and concern and that the gift of caring grows inward as well as outward. These moments were so important to my own self-healing.” 

Michael’s reflections prompted me to think about the qualities and characteristics I want to incorporate more intentionally in my life, rather than only thinking of the behaviors I want to leave behind. 

For me, these are things such as more patience toward others, assuming good intent, and listening to understand rather than respond.

I’m curious, what behaviors are you working to incorporate more of in your life? If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them.

Rachel McCrickard, LMFT
CEO/Co-Founder, Motivo

Each Monday, I’ll share my perspective on topics that mean a lot to me: growth, resilience, relationships, and leadership.

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