Maintaining Red Road Sobriety
LoVina Louie (00:00:27):
I had saw online chat, you squeeze customer and chats, but it looks telly fast. Hello, my friends, and welcome to the native wellness Institute. Power hour today, we have a very special guest. Um, two of them, we have Lavinia Alexander and Ryan or TBS, and today they are going to be discussing the red road of sobriety and how during a pandemic they’ve been able to stay one sober and one to the work that they do. And they’re also just going to share a little bit about their lives and how they got onto this red road and, and what were the things that impacted them. But before we get into their stories, um, first of all, Levenia do you want to just introduce yourself and, and, and can you sit up closer? So you’re more in the frame. Yeah. Like, cause you’re kind of leaned back. So maybe scoot up a little closer our school. Yeah. Pull it. Yeah. Okay. All right. That’s good. Yeah. Um, my name is Lavinia beanie Alexander. My given name is saute. I was named after my great-grandmother’s Susan, Michael. She had another Indian name. Um, I grew up in, uh, we’re only for the first six years of my life and then moved to Spokane. And now I’m back, I’m back here on the Cortland reservation. Um, I am actually enrolled in my dad’s tribe, which is the Spokane tribe. Um, my mother beans Alexander, um, is full-blooded quarter lane. I said, thank you. And, and you’re also my aunt, so, and um, and so now we have Ryan RTVs. Ryan, do you want to introduce yourself?
Ryan Ortivez (00:02:42):
Yeah. Hello. Uh, my name is Ryan Ortivas, I’m a Coeur d’Alene tribal member. I grew up mostly here on the Coeur d’Alene reservation. Um, moved around a little bit. My dad has enrolled, uh, Johanna is tribal member. Um, so between here and there, um, my mom is a Coeur d’Alene tribal member and I’ve been in recovery for, uh, nine years in June. And I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to share my experience and, uh, be, you know, on here with a live feed with some amazing people. Thank you for having me.
LoVina Louie (00:03:18):
Awesome. Thank you both for joining us today. And so, um, I’m going to be paying attention to the comments and again, this is the native wellness Institute power hour, and we have been doing this is our 50th week of power hours since the pandemic started. So we’re super excited that we’ve been able to bring wellness into everybody’s homes and into their lives. And, and so we’re going to start off this power hour with, um, Lavinia or auntie beanie. And we’re just going to, I just wanted to ask you auntie, what was, what, what was it that, that made you stop using and, and, you know, you can talk about, cause I know you have a really powerful story of, of when you were using where you were and, and how, how bottom of the barrel you got. So can you kind of talk about, you know, this, like how bad it was and what it was that, that made you get sober?
Lovinia Alexander (00:04:20):
Um, so I began drinking when I was like 12 years old and then by the time I was 18, I was addicted to drugs and alcohol. Um, but in the very end, um, I had lived on the streets for four years as homeless, but you know, I wasn’t really homeless. I had family, but I chose to live on the streets and I drank every day. My health got really bad and, um, I got arrested in December, 1997 and, um, I went through some pretty painful withdrawal while I was in jail. And, um, I, I spent like a 20 TJ, 22 days in jail and like two days before Christmas, um, the judge let me go. So I stayed sober because I was so sick and I went in and out of the doctors, I had like massive appointments about it was at that time it was been a medical center.
Lovinia Alexander (00:05:36):
So I had mass appointments almost like once or twice a week to check my blood and they were putting me on medications and then they would, well, that one didn’t work. So they give me another one and give me another one. And I was taking a lot of different medications to try to, um, stay in, you know, keep alive, I guess. And then, um, on February 27th in 1998, which was about two months later, I decided to go and party and uh, uh, at the party I only drink like one beer because I was too sick. I was really sick. I mean, my body was shutting down. I was so cold and you know, I couldn’t warm up my body. It was just like my immune system was shot. And so I think I started a second beer and I couldn’t finish it. So I walked like 10 miles to, um, my, my mother’s house.
Lovinia Alexander (00:06:39):
And, um, I fell asleep and um, well, no, I didn’t fall asleep. What happened was my body started overheating. It felt like it was overheating. And then like my blood was running like hot. Like every my muscles, my bones, everything was so hot. I felt like I was burning from the inside out. And I didn’t know how to control that heat in. So I opened up this window and I stuck my feet up there because it was winter and there was snow on the, on the roof. So I stick my feet out there and I, and I just was hoping that that would cool my body down, but it wasn’t helping any, and I knew something was wrong. And, and as I laid there, it was like this, uh, um, fluorescent blue light. It was an image and it was, I don’t know if it was a man, but he was looking down at me like, like this. So he was looking down at me like this and, and I asked him, I said, am I dying?
Lovinia Alexander (00:08:08):
And he just shook. He said, yeah. And I knew that all my children were downstairs with my mom in her dune, whatever. And at that moment I prayed real hard. And I said that I would never do drugs or alcohol again. I just want to be here for my children. And then like, I must’ve like went off into a deep sleep or something. And the next morning I woke up and it was, uh, there was a phone call for me and it was from, um, the health services and my counselor, there was Brian and it was him. And he said, he said, Levenia, can you be ready for treatment in two days, we haven’t bid date for you, uh, PLM Indian treatment center. So, um, that was, um, I guess the beginning of my, uh, the end in the beginning. So I knew that when I got to treatment and I was there and I met a lot of other people in, in treatment with me, that the thing was, is that, um, that I think helped me to say clean and sober was that I wanted it. And when you want it, it helps. Okay.
LoVina Louie (00:10:23):
Thank you, auntie. And you know, and, and I, I totally remember that time. I remember me and Yaya, when we went over to pick you up from treatment, I was the one that actually got to drive you. I, uh, and, you know, we sat in that circle and in the treatment center and, and you had your graduation and, you know, it was really a powerful moment and, you know, Yaya was so proud of you for completing treatment. And so, you know, that, that definitely, you know, was, was saved your life. And so I’m just, I’m really proud of you auntie for, you know, especially having lived on the street, you know, hit rock bottom. It wasn’t until years later that I even knew that, that you, you were that, you know, that because we, yeah, we had such a loving family, you know, but, but I just, I’m so thankful to creator that, that you changed and that you were able to find your way. So Ryan, will you tell us your story now and just share with us what happened with your
Ryan Ortivez (00:11:37):
Yeah, absolutely. So, um, a little bit similar to DNA, um, you know, I had to come to a place, a dark place in my recovery before. Um, I was able to have that, that moment where I realized that I needed
Ryan Ortivez (00:11:54):
To make a change. And for me, it started at, um, about 12 years old when I started using, um, a lot of the older, older, um, peers around me were using, uh, drinking, smoking, Wade, uh, making it look cool. Um, and that’s what I wanted, like when we’re younger, we want to be cool. Right. Um, so I was, I was partying a lot. Um, my mom, I, I grew up in a single parent household. My mom raised us, she worked a lot. And so, um, you know, we, we didn’t have a lot of supervision cause my mom was working sometimes until 11, 12 at night. Um, so we would run around and we live in a very small communities. We’d run around with our friends, you know, uh, you know, drinking and doing whatever, you know, whatever we want and kind of, um, and I, I made my first visit to a incarceration at 12 years old.
Ryan Ortivez (00:12:50):
Um, and it, and it really wasn’t that big of a, of an impact. Um, because a lot of my friends, my friends were all going with me. So every time I went to juvenile, there was my friends. Um, they were also getting caught up in drinking and drugging. And so it was kind of like a little break. Um, and you know, that, that kind of escalated, you know, into my, into my teen years. And in the back of my mind, I always told myself, you know, I’m just going to use, you know, party around while I’m young. I still got plenty of time to sober up. Um, I started getting in more and more legal trouble getting pulled over, um, getting arrested for, you know, things related to my, to my alcohol and my marijuana years. And, uh, it started to affect my school and I loved school growing up.
Ryan Ortivez (00:13:36):
Um, but it was affecting my school because I was, you know, paying more attention to hanging out with my friends and wanting to party around and stuff. And it started affecting my grades, um, coming to school, hung over all the time. It started to affect my attitude towards, you know, the staff and my teachers. And, uh, eventually I dropped out. Um, and you know, I D I just started using, started start again, you know, drunk drinking and driving, um, ended up relocating to, you know, uh, family members and in lap way. Um, there lasted, you know, very short, short time and I started getting in trouble there. Um, and, and, and into my, into my adult, in my, into my adult life, um, I was in and out of jobs. I would work jobs for a couple of weeks long enough to get a paycheck, so I can put some, put some beer in my fridge and put some, a little bit of food in my belly.
Ryan Ortivez (00:14:29):
Um, and essentially I ended up living out of my car. Um, I had, uh, bought a vehicle with my 18 money and I was, had my bags packed and my, my alcohol in there. And, um, at the time I thought, you know, this is, this is okay. Um, you know, I’m still young. Um, and eventually I was in and out of jail. Um, I would be doing like five, six months at a time in and out of jail still didn’t really feel like it was that big of a problem because I wasn’t in the big leagues going to prison. Um, I ended up getting an a, in a bad crash, running from the cops and, uh, hurt some people. Um, when I was 20 years old, I ended up in prison. Um, and I, and I just like jail and juvenile, I kind of adapted.
Ryan Ortivez (00:15:15):
And, um, at the time I still didn’t feel like I was at my rock bottom, even though my freedom has gone. My relationship, my relationship with my family members has been damaged. Um, and I spent, I spent a few years there. Um, about three and a half years, I got released, um, told myself I was totally done. I knew, you know, I didn’t want that, that lifestyle for myself anymore. Um, got out. I, uh, lasted eight days. Um, then I relapsed again. I ended up, uh, making it about a month and then I went back to prison. Um, and we always tell ourselves, you know, when, when we get, um, I do these, uh, these programs inside of the treatment, I’m fully convinced, you know, that I’m gonna, that I’m going to be done. Um, got released again, didn’t make it very long. I got some new charges went back.
Ryan Ortivez (00:16:09):
Um, but the, the second, the third time it went back to prison. Um, I feel like the biggest, you know, there’s a couple of factors that really played into, um, switching my mind, you know, I’ve, I’ve lost my vehicles, I’ve lost my freedom. I’ve lost my, um, my, you know, some family members I’ve lost, uh, you know, um, all these things. Um, but, but what it really took was, um, when my child was born, um, I had a daughter who was born in 2010 and prior to that, nothing, nothing had really convinced me that going to prison was that big a deal because I, like I said, I kind of adapted. Um, but I remember in, uh, in November of 2000 and, uh, 11 having a conversation with, with my daughter and, you know, she’s just barely talking, you know, just, uh, she’s like, you know, one years old, little over one years old.
Ryan Ortivez (00:17:04):
Um, but I remember thinking to myself that I, that I can’t have that kind of pain in my life anymore. That’s a pain I’ve never experienced of being away from my child, um, because I’ve never had a child due for a while. I was in prison. Um, I kind of made up my mind that something has to be different. Um, during this time, uh, in 2012, while I was incarcerated, I lost a close relative of mine, uh, Beau Nikolai, and, uh, many lots his life, you know, while he was incarcerated while he’s drinking and driving. And, and that really hit home for me, that really made a big difference in my life. Um, and it was that point where I told myself that I’m not going to allow that to happen to me. I’m not going to allow myself to become another statistic two to, you know, move forward with that because out of respect for him, no, it doesn’t make a lot of sense if I, if I’m witnessing somebody who I care about somebody who I grew up with, he’s like my brother, um, to witness him lose his life.
Ryan Ortivez (00:18:04):
Um, and, and he don’t have a second chance. You don’t have another chance to get sober. You don’t have the chances that I have to, you know, go to this treatment program and engage, and you have to ultimately change my life. And, um, so, so, so I had the choice, you know, I could, you know, do this treatment program while I was in prison, um, and choose to make a change for the better. Um, and, and, and that’s ultimately what, what I had to do for myself, for my family, uh, for my higher power. And I feel like that’s really what changed it for me is really understanding that that in order for my recovery to be successful, I have to recategorize everything. Um, prior I would say, okay, I gotta stay free. I gotta, I gotta be off probation. I gotta make my, my parole officer happy.
Ryan Ortivez (00:18:49):
I gotta make my bosses happy. Um, everyone else happy, but really what it has to be for me, um, is my creator myself, and then everyone else. And once I put my, once, I realized that that’s the order of priority in my life. Um, my recovery since then has been so much easier. Um, I, I put everything in my, in my creator. Um, then I take care of myself, you know, my, my happiness, and then I’m able to make my kids happy. I’m able to make my, my relatives happy. And my, my coworkers and everyone else I’m able to give them, you know, feed up to, to feed out of a full cup. Um, as before, you know, I was, I was worried about everything else first. Um, and really, like I said, w what’s helped me last is keeping things in that order, um, pain, putting my efforts into my treatment program, um, reaching out for help from, uh, individuals like, like beanie.
Ryan Ortivez (00:19:42):
She’s been there since the very beginning of my recovery. I’ve, I’ve utilized her, um, novena. Like these are my, these are my mentors. I call them in my recovery and I, and I have to have mentors in different directions in my life. And I come to them for, for advice and I reach out and, and they’re, they’re ultimately responsible, you know, for, for guiding me in my recovery. And I think that’s, what’s really, you know, helped me make it this far, otherwise, you know, doing it my way. I probably wouldn’t even have made it, you know, another year might still be incarcerated. So, I mean, that’s the, that’s the gist of my story, you know, how I came to where I’m at today.
LoVina Louie (00:20:17):
Awesome. Thanks, Ryan. You know, one question that I wanted to ask you is, you know, like when you, like, I feel like so many people who have are, are on, on this red road and who, you know, make this decision, like I’m going to quit drinking, I’m going to quit doing drugs. Like, they’re, they’re really like, they they’re determined, but then when they relapse, it’s like, ah, they just feel so horrible. And, you know, but, but how, like when you relapsed Ryan or when you like, where’s going to quit, and then you, then it didn’t work. How did, how did you do that? Like, how did that feel when you, you know, when you thought you had it, you were determined and then it didn’t happen.
Ryan Ortivez (00:21:03):
So it’s kind of interesting how that happens in it. And it’s really, um, it really boils down to just, uh, the way we treat ourselves, the way we take care of ourselves. Um, when, when I first got out and I only lasted eight days on, um, on, I think it was day like four, maybe I got a small, uh, driving infraction and I’m like, okay, life, like they’re coming for me. I’m done for, um, and then we just beat ourself up. And, and so when, when we just hammer on herself for that, for that, that little mess up, and I’m like, okay, heck with it. I’m just gonna do what I’m used to doing, because that’s how we took care of ourselves before. Right. That, that’s how I was. Uh, that’s how I deal with my emotions. That’s how I deal with my frustrations, my pains, my depressions, my anxieties is I would, I would start using.
Ryan Ortivez (00:21:48):
Um, and it’s funny because I talked to my mom when I went, when I went back to prison, my PO was like, man, that’s crazy. Why would you do that? He’s like, as we would have data, just how do you take care of it? And you would have been back, you know, doing your thing. Um, but, but really, um, it’s because I allow that small little speed bump in the road to veer me off into Neverland instead of saying, Oh shoot, I gotta slow down. And, uh, you know, gather myself and then keep going. I’d hit that speed bump. And I’d be like, Whoa, way out there. And that’s really what happened every time. Um, and, and so what I changed about, about that behavior when I, when I was released and when I started my recovery journey, this time is understanding that I know for a fact that these things are happening to other people, these things are happening to everyone who is in recovery, but that in order to get past it, that I have to just, like I said, reach out for that help reach out to those mentors, to those advisors, to the sponsors and say, Hey, freak, I messed up.
Ryan Ortivez (00:22:44):
I need to figure out how to get back on the road. And I wasn’t doing that before, because as, as, as a, as a human, as a, as a man, as a module or whatever, I don’t, I don’t like to reach out for help. But what I understand now, and what’s different now is that I know that that is not as, not as key, that if I had all the answers, I wouldn’t have to have go in and out of jail and prison and all that. So what I really have to do is be able to trust in other people and reach out and be able to accept that advice, even when, even when it’s what I don’t like, um, Levina knows, I’ve come to her and she’s gone out to me and said, Hey, this is what you need to be doing. You’re crazy. I’m like, okay. Okay. Okay. And we’d go back and forth. I’m like, all right. All right. All right. Okay. I know what I need to do. I got to do it, even though I’m not happy about it, but, but that’s what we have to do. I think, in order to, to change the direction of our lives to change the, the outcome is to change our behavior.
LoVina Louie (00:23:35):
Yeah. And, and I think one of the things about changing your behavior is changing your friends and how much like, so anti, like, you know, of course you had all these, these friends, you know, that, that were happy to come party with you, you know, do drugs, do whatever help you get that next, that next high, you know, but did you find that after you went to treatment, were any of those friends still there, or what did you have to do to maintain your sobriety when it comes to friends? Cause I hear that all the time is that, you know, like I can, you know, if I go back into that environment, it’s just like, you know, when, when the, when, when the, the story about the baby that’s coming down, you know, all these babies are coming down the river and they’re dirty. And then the, you know, the people, the village takes them and they clean them off. And, you know, and they’re like, well, where are these babies coming from? You know, like what, where is the source of the problem? And, you know, so, so what is it that like, like our friends, that’s one of the questions that I wanted to ask is how much, how much do you have to change your life once you become sober in, in friends, family, you know, how do you have to do that?
Lovinia Alexander (00:24:56):
Well, one of the things, um, you know, besides friends was my own cousins. I mean, I just loved them, you know, and had so much fun with them. You know, at least thinking I was having a lot of fun and they were so close to me and, you know, and my friends too. Um, but while I was in treatment, I had a counselor and, um, her name is Bernadine [inaudible] from, uh, the Colville tribe. And she had me working on scenarios of what I would tell each one of my friends, each one of my cousins when I, um, came in first contact with them after treatment. And it was, it wasn’t like for every friend or every cousin, but it was like for the main, you know, my main peer pressured cousin or my main peer pressured friend. And so I played out these scenarios and when it came to that time, it was not easy.
Lovinia Alexander (00:26:14):
It was not easy because, uh, uh, um, I started getting anxiety. I started, you know, my, um, my blood pressure was going up. It was hard for me to say no to my cousin, to my bestie. You know, it was hard for me to tell them, no, uh, I’m in recovery, I’m done, but I guess acting it and having a scenario and knowing what I was going to say, um, help, help me a lot. And, um, I, I always knew that I loved them, but I knew that I couldn’t be around them. And that was really hard. And, um,
LoVina Louie (00:27:01):
How did it make it like, so when you said what you needed to say, like, can you give me an example? Like, like tell me, like, if I was that cousin or if I was your, your, your wild and crazy niece, and I was like, let’s go party. You know, like what, how, how would you tell me?
Lovinia Alexander (00:27:22):
Well, because, you know, you feel like you you’re like, like Ryan said, you know, you’re like all macho with that, with that cousin or that friend. And you’re just all macho and like, you know, you want to be real cool and all that, and just, you know, be on, you know? And so, uh, with, uh, when my cousin, it was like, I got home from treatment, like, like around, I dunno, around midnight or something. I went to bed, woke up that next morning, ate breakfast, and I was doing dishes, well, my cousin pops up she’s she didn’t live that far away. And she showed up, she knew I was home. She goes, she went like this to me. She goes, and I was like, you know, and I had already played this all out. So I knew exactly what I was going to tell her, but it wasn’t easy because at that moment I was like, pretty shook up. It was hard. It was hard to not be cool. I don’t know what, but I did. I just, I just told her, um, no, I don’t do that anymore. Um, I’m in recovery and I really didn’t, you know, I always heard about what recovery was, but I knew right then and there, and she just kinda looks at me and she goes, Oh, okay, well let’s just ride bikes. I was like, okay. So we went for a bike ride. That was just one, one cousin.
LoVina Louie (00:28:51):
Right. So, so what about you, Ryan? You know, cause I know what guys, you know, it’s like, yo bro, and you’re, you know, you got all these, these bros that probably this pressure view.
Ryan Ortivez (00:29:04):
No. And, and, um, it’s painful. And what I, what I really had to understand is that recovery is so selfish and we have to be okay with that. We have to be okay with saying, Hey, I love you. I care about you, but I have to take care of me. Um, one of my very first encounters was one of my good friends and he said, Hey, I’m going to come grab you, uh, tonight. And we’re going to, we’re going to go chill. And I was like, ah, and I was like, ah, my daughter’s here though. And he’s not welcome. Get you when she gets picked up. I said, actually, you know what? I started in about that anymore. I said, I can’t come chill. I said, if you want to come hang out, um, we can that if you want to, you know, go to a meeting or something, we can do that.
Ryan Ortivez (00:29:45):
And, and there, there was animosity for awhile. There was, uh, you know, he, he, we weren’t friends for, for a good year. Um, and, and I have to be okay with that. I have to be okay with knowing that, um, not everyone is going to be, you know, excited about my new lifestyle as I am, but then we have to pick ourselves up and keep moving because we have got to take care of ourselves. We have to take care of our families. Um, and, and so something, something that, that, um, I had to play over and over and over in my head as I’m, you know, moving forward in my journey is to show me your friends and I’ll show you your future. We have to surround ourselves with people who are thriving with people who are, who are chasing that dream. And I had to tell myself all the time, show me your friends.
Ryan Ortivez (00:30:29):
I’ll show you a future. If I’m hanging out with people who are, um, you know, doing stuff that the chain that I’m running away from, eventually it’s inevitable. I’m going to go back to that. But if I’m surrounding myself with people who are doing the things that I love, the things that I see myself doing, which is helping people, and that’s exactly what I did. I surrounded myself with people who are giving back to our community and I got the opportunity to see their magic work, to see their, their blessed them blessing, uh, other people in their community. And so I got to sit back and watch all those things happen. And then eventually those, those same energies started to, um, be instilled within myself. Um, and, and it’s really just because we, we are who we hang out with. We are who we surround ourselves with.
LoVina Louie (00:31:14):
Wow. That’s really powerful. Ryan. I love that. Like, show me your friends and I’ll show you your future. Like that should be the title of your book that will be coming out in 2022. That is so, so, so true. And, and so now I kind of want to, I wanted you guys to talk a little bit about, and I haven’t seen any questions, but if anybody has any questions that, that are watching, you know, put them in the chat, I’m watching the chat and I’m trying to, you know, um, type in a little bit of what everybody’s saying. Um, but so what, what do you do now? So you, so add to beanie, how many years of sobriety do you have now?
LoVina Louie (00:31:59):
Um, February 28th, I have 23 years,
LoVina Louie (00:32:02):
23 years. And Ryan, how many years of sobriety do you have
Ryan Ortivez (00:32:06):
On June 12th? It’ll be nine years.
LoVina Louie (00:32:08):
Nine years. So we have like a lot of years of sobriety in this power hour. And so after, um, anti-beauty, what, what do you do now? Like what, what direction did your life go in, as you decided to go on this journey of being sober?
Lovinia Alexander (00:32:31):
Um, well, I guess I would say I had, um, a job, my first job that I actually kept. And to me it was a washing dishes, but to me that was a positive thing and it kept me at it trouble and I was paying bills, which was so exciting when you first get into recovery. For me, it was, I mean, I went and paid my first bill and I was like, yes, you know, and it was like, people around me were like, you know, why are you so happy? Just paying bills, you know? But it’s awesome. It’s an awesome feeling. Yeah. So where am I?
LoVina Louie (00:33:23):
That, that, that, that is so awesome. You know, like I think because one of the things I’ve also heard is that if you don’t, if you don’t do something to stay busy in a positive way, it’s really easy for your mind to start wandering or, you know, for, you know, to start thinking about, you know, things that you is things that will take you down the bad road. Right. So, so that’s awesome. Like just getting a job and, and, and so what about you, Ryan? What was one of those, some of the first things that you did that, you know, after you became sober?
Ryan Ortivez (00:33:59):
Um, so it’s kinda, it’s kind of a crazy little road when I first, uh, entered into recovery. Um, I didn’t, I didn’t know where I was going. Um, I always, I knew for sure is that I love my kid and I wanted to take care of her. And now I know that that’s my responsibility. I’ve introduced, uh, a human, another human being into this world. And that’s my responsibility now. Um, I remember my first job I got when I got out was, um, scrubbing floors at the casino and I loved it. Like, that’s the first job I’ve ever been, like, you know, happier. And, um, I thought it was going to be there for the rest of my life. Like these, uh, these leadership positions were coming open. I’m like, Oh man, I worked so hard. I’m going to squeeze right in there. Um, and I, and I got fired from that position.
Ryan Ortivez (00:34:45):
And, and again, like I thought like, Oh man, uh, life is rough. And like, we go into that pity mode and I’m like, that’s screwed up. No things are working against me. But, um, I already knew, you know, like I said before, like I have to reach out, I have to ask for help. I have to, um, get, get some support on this because I don’t know what to do. Um, these are things that I don’t that are, that I just go straight to the bottle for it. I don’t, I don’t deal with these. I don’t know how to deal with these things. I’m just barely growing up. Um, so, so, you know, I, I talked to some mentors and they’re like, just wait, you know, pray for it. Um, you know, it’s, it’s gonna come. Um, and then this community meeting started and, um, you know, I just started going, cause I’m like, I don’t have money.
Ryan Ortivez (00:35:25):
So like me and my kid, that was a highlight of our, you know, our week. And I’m like, Hey, let’s go out here. It’s free food. And, um, got to hear some amazing stories, some, some, uh, influential people. Um, and ultimately, like I pulled one of our leadership, Charlotte Nelson. I pulled her to the side and I was like a little bit of embarrassed still at this time. I’m like, I know I’m like pretty new to recovery. And I said, but there’s this, this journey I want to go on. I want to, um, provide, you know, uh, healing to our community, but from a, from a cultural perspective. And so her and I just kinda like back and forth a little bit. And I was like, I’m a little bit scared. She’s like, you know what, just sign up for this, this training. We’re going to get you there no matter what we have to do, fundraisers or whatever.
Ryan Ortivez (00:36:08):
And that was my first little glimpse into what I do now. Um, and, and after that, everything just started falling in place. And of course there’s, there’s bumps in the road, but again, like what I do now, when those bumps hit is I gather myself, I reach out to my mentors, to my advisors and I say, Hey, um, I’ve had this bump in the road. What can I do now? Um, and, and through guidance and through support through people advocating for me, Levina has advocated for me on so many different occasions. Um, and these people blessed me because they know that I care. They know that I’m here for the right reasons. And, um, and what I, what I do now is I, is I work for a program that offers services at a peer level. So I’m not a counselor, I’m not a judge.
Ryan Ortivez (00:36:49):
I’m not a probation officer, but what I do now is I kind of help navigate people through their recovery. Um, so when they’re coming home, I jumped right in there. I help, I help them navigate through those resources and things that I did on my own. The things that, that I felt like I was so lost in, like, uh, things are as simple as like filing for food stamps, getting my driver’s license back, um, you know, getting, uh, you know, park park custody of my kid. Like, I didn’t know how to do those things. So I just like tuck my tail and I kind of went along with the flow in the beginning. Um, but, but that’s, and that’s what helps me keep accountable for my own success, um, is, is giving back, giving back to my community, giving back to my people, um, and seeing them them, like, there’s no better gift than in this work.
Ryan Ortivez (00:37:33):
And then to see somebody smile after you watched them go through so much darkness, so much pain, and then to finally see them muscle through and push out a smile. That’s what is it? That’s what I’m in it for. And that’s really what helps get me moving. Um, even in my career, I’ve had a lot of, you know, ups and downs and, and whatever, what keeps bringing me back to my roots is just to be able to see people smile, to be able to work with amazing individuals, like, like Levina and beanie, and to see them giving back and, uh, delivering that cultural component and helping teach me that stuff so that I could pass it on, um, is really what helps me, um, through prayer, through sweat lodge. Um, we do things like, you know, walk for sobriety and things like that, like really engaging in, in recovery services and cultural services is really what helps me stay on top of my game and keep me grounded in my recovery.
LoVina Louie (00:38:25):
Wow. That’s awesome. Ryan, thank you for sharing that, what you’re doing. And, and so what have you been doing at TBD? Like I know you work in career renewal and so, you know, what, what are some of the things and what are, what are some of the things that help people, you know, to be able to get back on their feet? Again?
Lovinia Alexander (00:38:49):
I would say one thing, um, in the beginning when I was, I was a chemical dependency counselor, I think that, um, if they’re looking like looking for like, they want to go to treatment, um, one of the things that I like to refer them to is to, um, to get that assessment or get a refer, uh, evaluation right away. And I know that, um, Ryan has helped in many ways with, with many people getting them into treatment and it’s not, um, sometimes when we go on our, try to do it on our own, we get into these roadblocks and then we turn around and say, no, but Ryan, Ryan puts it like, there’s this, um, timeframe like here you are right here. I want to go to treatment. And then you have this much time to get that person into treatment. And so for me, I would refer somebody to Ryan or somebody in their re-entry program, because I know that they have the tools, they have the skills and that’s what they’ll do. They know that they know that time timeframe, that the person wants to go to treatment. And they, they know they have to get that taken care of before they like run into some barrier and say, okay, and then we lose them. And they’re off the grid.
Lovinia Alexander (00:40:22):
I think that in those, in those times, like, um, like if you’re, um, you’re falling off and you’re really trying is, is not to, to give up and reach out to, to the people out there that are, are available to you, um, where I’m at right now. Um, I work with people with disability, with disabilities to, um, find employment as successful career, you know, put them through training if they’re going to go back to college or even if they just want to work just to be working and alcohol and drug abuse is a disability. And I would say in our community, it’s, uh, it’s huge. It’s, it’s one of the main disabilities that we deal with in career renewal. So, um, we have a lot of services that we offer that are related. Um, um, getting that job, going to school, um, getting training, uh, we can pay for a lot of the services, um, like we’ve paid people’s tuition for school.
Lovinia Alexander (00:41:55):
Um, but we’ve had them worked through things like, um, make sure that they did all these comparable benefits. Like did they, did they apply for an appeal to the college to see if that, if that appealed and it goes through, then we would take that denial as a part of a comparable benefit that they are, they were trying, they’re trying to get their tuition paid other than going through us. And if, if it comes to it and then, um, we can pay for, um, tuition, or if somebody wants to go to, um, training, we’ve had people, um, get their CDLs. And, um, again, like if there’s, um, there are programs and research resources out there that will pay for, um, uh, getting your CDL, you know, driving trucks, driving, um, um, transportation vehicles. So, um, so with getting a CDL, it’s some, some places it costs quite a bit. So then, um, some tribal, some tribal Terrell’s will help in paying for that, depending on what tribe you’re from. And there are some, uh, resources that are not tribal that will help pay for some of the costs. And when we reach out to those people, then if there’s other costs that need to be taken care of, like, um, work, clothing, work, boots, things like that, we can get that for them tools. We can get that for them. If, uh, there’s a balance on the tuition, we can, we can help with that too. Um,
LoVina Louie (00:43:53):
Wow. That’s awesome. That’s like, uh, that’s yeah, that that’s part of, you know, like there’s a lot of, of programs that are within tribes and within cities that can really help people to get back on their feet and, you know, start their lives. One question I wanted to ask is how, how important is it for people like to attend meetings? You know, is that a big part of, of your sobriety? And, you know, like I know not, not everybody, you know, like, especially during this pandemic, right? Like how, you know, most were, were used to going to meetings like person to person and, and getting that support from their sponsors. And so, so how, how have people adjusted and what have you guys been able to do?
Lovinia Alexander (00:44:47):
I know like when, when I very first got into treatment before pandemic and things like that, I know the first thing I did was, uh, 90 days 90 meetings. So every day I was going to a meeting and, um, some of those meetings, I was able to bring my children. So I was really excited about those meetings because then I could take them with me. And at that time I had six. So I take all six of them with me to the meeting. And you have, and, um, I’m not saying you have to, but you can choose one of the meetings as your home group, out of all these 90 meetings that he attended, uh, chose one of them as my home group, that would be the meeting that I would attend. And the people there were my support. And I chose a meeting that was called felony flats in Spokane, and it was, um, elders they’re kind of older.
Lovinia Alexander (00:45:54):
And I, I, I really enjoyed them as my home home group. And plus they didn’t mind that I brought my children with me. So, and like, um, they had like, uh, events, you know, like, okay, we’re all gonna meet at the park and we’re going to have a recovery, you know, hot dogs and, you know, games and things like that. And it was, it was pretty neat to be there. And then when you get there, there’s like hundreds of people in recovery there and their families, it was just, it’s pretty awesome. So each meeting offers something and for each meeting, even if you don’t participate or say anything, it’s always something that somebody says in that meeting, that’s gonna touch your heart, touch your mind, or it’s going to help you. And, um, uh, one of the, um, one of the things about now that it’s in a pandemic, um, so far, no, I know a lot of people are getting on Facebook and they have like, um, groups. And so there are some, um, online zoom meetings that they can attend and in a Spokane right now, they have meetings that are, that are opening up to, um, the public.
LoVina Louie (00:47:25):
Uh, yeah, well, that’s really good. And one of the things that I loved about, you know, what Ryan started was warrior up and, you know, I feel like, like, like your daughter and to beanie, it’s like, she uses working out, like she’s like a working out machine and, you know, and that is helping her in her sobriety. And, you know, and I know even for so many people that, you know, when you, when you can put your energy into something else that that really helps. So Ryan, can you talk a little bit about warrior up and like, like, what is that and what, how did you guys start it? And, you know, what’s, what’s going on with that.
Ryan Ortivez (00:48:05):
So, um, that was actually, um, Billy Billy’s little, uh, his endeavor and really what it is like, what you said is, is just to offer something because fitness is, is beautiful. Fitness is amazing. It helps you create that positive energy gives you a sense of accomplishment. It gives you, uh, helps fill in that time when you, when you have downtime, um, and you can do it anywhere. Um, so, and a lot of people use that as an outlet. Like you said, it’s easy. She’s, she’s doing amazing souls around, like, they do amazing things with their fitness. Um, but, but the, the, the purpose of that, of that group was to gather, again, like-minded people, people who are in that, in that same journey, because a lot of the times what, what the biggest hesitation is, there’s a lot, I’ve never been in that gym before.
Ryan Ortivez (00:48:54):
I’ve never been a part of, um, a workout group. I’ve never been a part and I don’t want it because it’s, um, sometimes it’s shameful. Um, but what that created was it was a, uh, open space for people to come in and be with, with people who are on the same path or on a similar path. Um, there, again, surround yourself with like-minded people and it brings down the tension brings down that the anxiety, and it makes it so much easier just to step, make that first step through the door and say, Hey, I’ve never done this before, but, um, I’m willing to learn. I’m willing to check it out. Um, a couple of my friends from recovery are also going there, um, and doing things like that is really what helped change, um, change the game of, of recovery. Um, and meetings are awesome.
Ryan Ortivez (00:49:35):
Meetings are amazing. That could be considered a meeting belt. Um, sometimes we’ll move when we use the word meeting. Um, everyone, uh, thinks that we meet that it has to be a, or has to be an, a, those things are awesome, how less, those things are amazing meetings, but there’s also things said, like, like that, where up, um, there there’s things like, um, we do a sobriety and commitments. We do, uh, um, honoring dinners where we just come together and honor, uh, individuals who are in there, the milestones and the recovery. Maybe it’s a year, maybe it’s their six month Mark. Maybe they’ve been in recovery for 20 years. Um, we, we come together to honor those things, or we do talking circles. Um, and it’s really anywhere that you can surround yourself with people who are on that, on that same pathway, on that similar journey, um, that we want to create a healthy lifestyle.
Ryan Ortivez (00:50:25):
We want to create a healthier version of us. Um, so, so there’s, there’s so many different opportunities and what, what we, what we need to do. And what we have been doing is creating these, these spaces where people can come together and network, um, where there could be somebody in, in, in a situation where they’re sober for. Um, they’ve been sober for maybe two months, and then they get in the same room with somebody who, um, like beanie has a couple of decades under her belt where she’s able to offer that, that experience, advice, and say, Hey, you know, I’m, you know, I might’ve been in recovery for this many years, but, um, here’s the, here’s really what helped me out. And that might help somebody click that might help somebody have their aha moment if you will. Um, so that they can seek that advice. And, um, we, we create those, those healthy relationships. And that’s how we, we surround ourselves with people who are successful. Like we want to be in recovery.
LoVina Louie (00:51:19):
Yeah. And well, and, and one of the people that made a comment talked about wellbriety, and I remember even, you know, back before when I first moved over here and we used to have wellbriety meetings and go through the book and, you know, like I just, I mean, even, I mean, it helped me a lot just going to the wellbriety meetings because they were just like, so awesome.
Ryan Ortivez (00:51:45):
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s, and that’s actually where I, where I started my journey is, um, going to white bison, like getting, getting involved with wellbriety. And that’s what opened my open, my whole window of opportunity to get involved in cultural healing, um, is because I didn’t know anything about that kind of stuff, but I wanted to, I was hungry. Um, but being new to this, I didn’t know where to go. So I look to individuals like you guys, um, and with a mix of everyone, um, I was able to bring it here. We, we, we’ve done wellbriety trainings here in our community. We’ve offered, we still offer those services. Um, and we’re going to, we’re going to continue to offer more, um, as long as it’s because it’s effective. And I think it is, it might not be a swarm of individuals who want the wellbriety or the cultural services, but there will definitely always be a need in our community because that’s how we relate. And even if it’s just opening that door, using that cultural component, opening that gate and saying, Hey, here’s, you know, um, people who have experienced similar traumas, similar, similar, um, you know, experiences, Zio, we have similar pain in today’s world that, you know, that we can all begin to heal together. So, yeah, it’s definitely wellbriety is, has been an amazing component in my life and in so many other people’s lives
LoVina Louie (00:53:03):
And we only have like five more minutes left. So, you know, I think what I wanted to have you guys end with today is, is, you know, if you, if you could speak, you know, cause we have all kinds of people who that watch our power hours. And if there’s somebody watching that struggling right now, like what’s, what’s a word of advice that you could give them are, you know, is there any last things that you want to say to, you know, everybody watching and everybody who’s going to watch, do you want to go ahead and start entertaining?
Lovinia Alexander (00:53:40):
Okay. One thing I know, um, for in recovery is like, I liked the way Ryan put it that, like, you know, you want to know, like, he, you want to know about your culture and you want to know, you know, how to go about getting involved in those things and stuff. And I know that like, um, I chose, like I wrote it down, I wrote down 100 things that I wanted to do in re in recovery that were cultural related that were sacred things that, um, some traditions and values that we’ve, um, lost and that we didn’t pass down. And so I wrote down like 100 of those things, so that those things would be the things that I would be, um, doing. And it’s, and like, um, like Ryan said, it’s like, how do you go about that? How do you like, you know, because like I’ve never swept before.
Lovinia Alexander (00:54:42):
And I wanted to sweat when I was first in recovery, but because of all the medications I was taking, my doctor said, no, I couldn’t, but you know, eventually I got better and it’s, and the courage to just go do that for the first time. It’s like, um, I prayed about it. So then, um, and you want all these things. And I liked that idea that, um, Ryan said about wellbriety because wellbriety has a lot of answers and, and gives you that courage and shows you, you know, you, you teach and learn and, and that, um, that want, that you want, like, I want to know this. I want to know that about culture, about values, about tradition. Well, variety, we’ll show you wellbriety, we’ll teach you.
Lovinia Alexander (00:55:43):
And so, um, some of the things that I, um, I do now is seasonal, um, gathering roots and preparing and taking care of them. Those, you know, it’s always, um, I always, when I first heard about it, okay. All right. So I get out there and I’m gathering roots and it’s, it’s hard work and it’s, but you just go at it because you want it, you know, you go at it and you want it. And then after you gather them, then you gotta take care of them and then you got to clean them and you got to prepare them for, um, uh, I dunno, saving them for the, for the winter or for the year, or, you know, preparing them. Yeah. Um, awesome. I liked that writing down a hundred things, you know, even that just really cool and then check them off, you know, your bucket list. So, so what about you, Ryan? What’s what, what’s your power?
Ryan Ortivez (00:56:56):
So, uh, um, what I kind of spoke about earlier is, um, if I was to give advice, it would be to prioritize your success. I feel like a lot of people get sober for, um, their family, their wife, their boss, um, the courts, the, to get their kids back. That’s the one I heard about the most. Um, but if you prioritize your success, if you put your higher power above everything, whether that’s God, Allah creator, uh, Christmas tree, whatever you believe in, whatever is your higher power. If you put that above all of your success and you build your foundation on that, no one can ever take that from you. And it’s something that you will carry for the rest of your life and take care of yourself. And then everyone else after that, a second is surround yourself with the people who are doing the things that you love.
Ryan Ortivez (00:57:46):
Show me, your friends. I’ll show you your future. Surround yourself with successful people who are working on themselves, who are working on whatever it is that you want to be working on. Um, third is, is tell people, your goals, tell people your mission, tell people what you’re about. Share that with everyone, share with people, the medicine that you’re trying to deliver to the world, share with people, the energy that you want to come out of your success. If you let people know, Hey, um, just so you guys know I’m in, I’m on this kick. I’m getting in recovery, I’m sober. I’m here to stay. I’m not gonna change my mind. This is how I want to live my life. Then the easier people will take it. When you have to have that one-on-one conversation and say, Hey, remember, I, I was, I made the announcement.
Ryan Ortivez (00:58:27):
I’m, I’m doing this for myself. I’m, I’m in it for the long run now. So share your success with, with the, with the people who are closest to you. Um, and I feel like the most, one of the most important things is to love yourself to, to not beat up on yourself. Love yourself unconditionally. I know it’s, it’s easy to love everyone else. It’s easy to love your kids. It’s easy to love your mom, your family members, but you gotta love yourself. You gotta take care of yourself. Um, because at the end of the day, it’s your responsibility. Your journey is your responsibility. So love yourself, forgive yourself, take care of yourself and everything else comes after that.
Lovinia Alexander (00:59:06):
One more thing, one more thing here. So, um, when it comes to, when it comes to a point where like, you’re feeling like down on yourself, because somebody had said something to you, and, and that is not who you, that is not who you are now, because who you are now is not who you, who they’re trying to say. You are so much. Yeah.
LoVina Louie (00:59:31):
Well, when people attack you like that and try to like, Oh, you’re a, who do you think you are? You know, I knew you when you were blah, blah, blah. Right? Like, um, and, and I know there, you know, there’s people who are watching, I wanted to say her name, um, she, but Mildred Miller, Mildred Allen, you know, she’s like, Hey man, I’m, I I’ve been sober four months, you know, I need prayers. So, you know, I know all the people who are out there who are watching you and some of them, this is like this, this helps them so much. And one of the things that we do as Indian people is we pray. And so, you know, I just want to take this last minute to just, you know, close our eyes and, and I’ll sing a song. And for all of you who are on this red road, that our song will be, you know, to just keep you on that red road and to help you to stay focused on yourself and loving yourself and clearing away so that you can love yourself.
LoVina Louie (01:00:33):
So creator cooling, toot, and Lehman lamps, cocoons, cutsie, I for this beautiful day, and for allowing us to come together on this, this virtual space. And we just ask our ancestors to come down and to wrap their arms around each and every one of us and help us in a way that will keep us strong and will keep us on this red road and will keep us in, in a good way to help our people clear our hearts and our minds and our spirits. And, and so I sing this song and just ask it to clear away for my brothers and sisters who are struggling for my family members, work for anybody out there in this world. That’s on our mother earth, that it will help them.
Ryan Ortivez (01:01:28):
[inaudible] [inaudible] Hey, [inaudible] Hey, [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] Hey, [inaudible] Hey, aye.
LoVina Louie (01:02:13):
Lima cocoons Katia for this day for, for being here and joining us and, you know, Ryan, thank you for that smudge, you know, because that’s one of our healing tools. One of our tools is to smudge and to pray and to, to just, you know, allow that to clear the way and when we’re feeling sad and when we’re feeling down, and we’re when we’re feeling alone, that we just ask our ancestors, ask the people who have passed on, you know, help us, you know, give us strength, allow us to do good for our people and you know, for our future. And that our children will have a better life than what we had. And so we’ve just, you know, I’m so thankful and I’m so grateful for you and for all that you do for our communities and for our people. And I just pray for all of you and, and ask that the Lord bless you. So lame lamps and chest booze. Thank you everybody for joining us today. I hope you have a beautiful and a beautiful rest of your week. Bye. Hmm.