Two Steps Backward, One Step Forward

In my last post, I mentioned two of my favorite women from N Street who recently left the recovery program.  But today, I delight in the fact that another one of the women from my N Street choir is eligible to graduate from the recovery program!

Lisa has been singing with me for about 6 months, always positive, never ashamed of her voice, full of contagious laughter, and up for our outings and performances.  This past Thursday, my choir was asked to sing for N Street’s Night Sessions event – a new event that was put on to seek interest from “DC’s Young Changemakers”… always looking for new tag lines to get the same old dollar bills.  The event was held at the Rock and Roll Hotel – not actually a hotel at all, but a bar and music venue.  If you’re quick on this, you’ll already be thinking, How does a choir of women in recovery perform at a place with alcohol? Good question, and I’m still not quite sure.  With tons of staff support, we carefully made sure the women stayed back stage away from the alcohol until performance time, when we were welcomed onto the main stage with bright lights shining down on us.  I had the opportunity to introduce the choir before we sang Fever and Lean on Me.  The crowd of around 200 actually quieted down as each woman said their name and how long they’d been singing in the group: “My name’s Lisa, and I’ve been singing with the group for 6 months.”  “I love you Lisa!!!!!!” was the tipsy response from one young changemaker.  As you can imagine, I was a nervous wreck.  How would these women in recovery handle a room full of alcohol in support of N Street Village?  Well, somehow, the staging, the lights, the crowds, and the applause lifted them up to a place beyond the alcohol.  It was a huge success.  The changemakers roared in appreciation and the women felt proud and happy beyond belief.

…Lisa among them.  When individuals come into the recovery program at N Street, they are assigned a level number – typically 0 or 1.  As they progress through the program and meet all of the requirements, they are eligible to move up a level.  Today, Lisa made a presentation in order to receive her level 4.  In order to do that, she had to present her autobiography to staff and friends, who then had the opportunity to make comments and ask questions.  Afterwords, the community voted on whether or not she should receive her level 4.  Now that she has achieved level 4, Lisa is eligible to graduate from the recovery program altogether.  And me?  Well, I just sat there and cried the whole time.  Lisa invited me to come Thursday night after our performance, and though I’m packing for France and going crazy, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.  I am so proud of her and so honored to sing with her.

When you think about taking two steps back and one forward, you realize you’d end up further back from where you started (unless you were taking giant steps forward!).  But I think that too often, we don’t celebrate the one step forward enough as we mourn the two steps back.  Today, I celebrate Lisa’s achievements.  And I invite you to do the same.

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