What made you start BIGVISION NYC?
My son Isaac passed away from an accidental drug overdose in 2014. He was 23 years old. Isaac struggled with addiction for years. He had been living in a sober living facility in NYC a few weeks before he died. They had promised to introduce him to a great sober world in NYC, but the only thing he found were AA meetings, and the program just didn't work for him. Basketball and all types of exercise helped keep him on a good path, but he couldn't find new friends, and a community of people like himself to hang out with. He would work out late at night because he couldn't hang out with his old friends, who were all going to bars and getting high. Life was very challenging for him and he ended up relapsing, and ultimately overdosing. After the 7 day "shiva" (mourning period after the funeral), I committed to do something to make meaning of Isaacs short life. I came up with the idea to create a community of sober young adults like Isaac and helping them find ways to have fun in their sobriety. Isaac didn't know how to have fun once he got clean. My "big idea" was to create a safe place for these young adult, post treatment, a place they can come and hang out and find their passions in life, and be with a community of people like themselves. And that's what I did.
Since starting BIGVISION NYC do you thing you have changed people’s attitudes towards sobriety, if so how ? - I think that people are starting to understand that you can have fun being sober! We do all types of activities, such as indoor go-karting, rock climbing, knitting, mini-golf, laser tag, trapeze school, theatre workshops etc. etc. People show up and they can be guarded, and cynical, but at the end they tell us they never had so much fun without being high! They didn't realize it was possible. At times it is challenging for us to find spaces for our activities, because so many things revolve around alcohol. In our society, no matter where we go, whether its a wedding, or a dinner, or even a sporting event, there is alcohol served. Its very triggering for someone in early recovery to be around other people drinking. I have committed that all of our events will be substance-free, so even an event like bowling is tough, because it is often more about the bar than the actually bowling! Because of all of our social media posts, many of my friends and people who may not be in recovery, are learning more about what life is like when one cannot partake in any substances. It makes them more aware and more compassionate for those who are struggling.
Do you knit ? If not why not ?
I started knitting when I was about 10. My mom taught me, and she is the reason I introduced knitting to BIGVISION. It is a monthly activity at BIGVISION, and we have brought many, many new knitters into the world. You would be amazed if you came to one of our knitting nights. Its a very diverse group of young adults who show up, and everyone learns to knit in the first hour. After a short period of time, , the room goes silent and all you hear are the clicking of the needles. It really is a form of mediation and helps people relax and overcome their anxieties. Its really magical. I love to knit. Right now we are all working on blue hats which we are donating for an anti-bullying campaign 'Hat not hate" here in the states. My daughter Beatrice, has been coming to our knitting classes now, and it makes me happy to see her and her friends getting into it.
What does faith mean to you? I do believe that there is a power greater than us. I am not sure I know exactly what that looks like, but after Isaac died, I started to believe more that things are just not in our control. I have to believe that Isaac died for a reason and that he had accomplished what he needed to here on earth. It helps me get through the day. Isaac was such an amazing, beautiful person, inside and out. He was non-judgmental, accepted people for who they were, was kind and compassionate. We are just continuing with his mission to help other people, and that is what we do every day with BIGVISION.
What makes you happy? Seeing people come to our events for the first time, seeming fragile and insecure, and then seeing them transform into productive human beings full of life and hope. And, seeing my daughter, Beatrice, happy, and seeing her grow into a beautiful woman, working hard and accomplishing what she sets out to do
Favourite food? I am a vegan, so anything plant based, but right now I would have to say my favourite food is the delicious avocado toast my amazing husband, Neil, makes for me in the morning!
Favourite animal? Dog
How do you enjoy spending your time? - I love to play tennis, practice yoga, golf, read, knit, and binge on great Netflix shows!
What goals do you have for the future? - To keep moving forward with BIGVISION, find great partnerships, put on as many events as possible, and find our space where we can create the BIGVISION clubhouse. That has been my dream from the start, and it will happen!
Dear Lord, please pray for all those who are hurting from addiction
help them see that you love them unconditionally
and give them the strength, to seek help and support,
to heal and recover, on a daily basis.
We thank you Lord for hearing our prayer
Here is a picture of me and my friend Juliet at Race for Life where we finished a 5k obstacle course to raise money for Cancer Research. Thanks to all who sponsored us including: Deb, Chris, Paul, Linzi, Ruth, James, Sandra and Elizabeth to name but a few.
There are a number of studies which have shown the positive impact of knitting for health and well being. The beauty of knitting is that you do not have to be an expert. It is more about the process that helps you concentrate and focus on something creative. The following website http://stitchlinks.com/your_health_matters.html offers some useful information on how knitting can help with a number of health issues.
Another good resource is the book by Betsan Corkill - Knit for Health and Wellness, this book is a great guide for people to look at how their knitting can help them, with their own health and well being. Having bought the book myself, I highly recommend it.
Sobriety means different things to different people. For some it means looking at things from a sober perspective, for others it is a way of life. As someone who has been sober for over 21 years, sobriety for me is a way of life and I have discovered many blessings in my life as a result. On this theme I would like to introduce Eve Goldberg an inspiring woman and founder of BIGVISION an excellent organisation, which provides both support and social events for people choosing to live sober.
A huge thank you to Ms Russell's class for coming across some important information, about the dangers of binge drinking for adults and young people alike. A special thank you goes out to Abby and Kaira for finding this link https://www.dwiminneapolislawyer.com/binge-drinking/ - I believe you guys have earned your pizza xxx
Here in the UK the NHS are promoting Every Mind Matters which looks at raising awareness for everyone, to look after their mental health.
As someone who is passionate about mental health I believe we can all educate ourselves and others, towards a better understanding of mental health in general. We need to be kinder to ourselves and others, we need to realise that everyone is different, and we all have different ways of looking at life, and of coping with problems that come our way.