Author Archives: Starting Point
As part of The Starting Point Ongoing Education Series, our Executive Director Loretta Depka and Starting Point practitioner Gary Dock met recently to discuss “Anger Management — what is it and who needs it?”
Episode 1 of this new Podcast series is now available on The Starting Point YouTube channel. See below for the link and other details.
Gary is a licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor with over 25 years of experience providing various mental health and addiction services. Additionally, he offers training on various topics such as trauma and addiction, stages of change, medication assisted treatment and anger management. His work is guided by the belief that each day brings with it new opportunities of hope and redemption.
YOUTUBE PODCAST LINK:
Join us this Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 3:30pm for a live podcast. Our Executive Director Loretta Depka will be joined by Starting Point practitioner, Pat Obst, MSW, LCSW, to discuss Myths and Misconceptions about Grief.
Over the past 20 years Pat has managed a thriving private practice as a therapist and life coach, working with adults and couples. Her area of specialization is in grief and loss therapy, with particular expertise in working with parents who have lost children. Pat has presented lectures and workshops at The Starting Point on topics of grief and loss, and embracing self-empowerment. Currently she is co-founder and co-facilitator of Afterwards, LLC, a program designed for those 1-5 years out from a significant loss who want to re-build their lives.
The recorded podcast will be available on The Starting Point’s new YouTube channel within a few days. Click on the subscribe button and you will receive a notification any time something has been uploaded.
ZOOM INFORMATION FOR LIVE PODCAST:
Topic: Myths and Misconceptions about Grief
Time: January 28, 2021 at 3:30pm Eastern Time (US and Canada)
To Join the Zoom podcast:
Meeting ID: 885 2586 9599
Part of The Starting Point, Inc. of New Jersey Education Series.
Part of The Starting Point, Inc. of New Jersey Education Series.
Come join us for our February workshop on Love in honor of Valentine’s Day!
C.S. Lewis speaks of four types of love – affection, friendship, romance and unconditional love. Join us as we discuss these different types of love and how to cultivate relationships in our lives that allow us to experience these different types of love.
Presenters: Anna Marie Hrivnak and Cort Hrivnak
Updated Meeting Details
OR Dial by location: +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 848 1784 8874
OR Dial by location: +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 892 5376 1873
To the entire Starting Point Family, We miss you and hope that you are well and remaining safe.
Please join us for Vince’s weekly lectures live on ZOOM each Wednesday at noon and 7pm (Zoom links and topics listed below.)
Many of Vince’s previous lectures can be found on Vince’s YouTube Page. Please take a few moments each day and visit Vince’s Facebook Page and The Starting Point’s Facebook Page for more of Vince’s content.
WEEKLY LECTURE SERIES SCHEDULE ~ 2021
Jan. 6 ~ Codependency, the Root of all Addiction
Jan. 13 ~ Isolation Addiction (drugs & alcohol, work, relationships, anorexia)
Jan. 20 ~ Fantasy Addiction (drugs & alcohol, sex, relationships, power, bulimia)
Jan. 27 ~ Caretaking Addiction (drugs & alcohol, control, anger, compulsive eating, relationships)
GRIEF, LOSS & SEPARATION SERIES:
Feb. 3 ~ 5 Stages of Grief
Feb. 10 ~ Denial, Anger & Bargaining
Feb. 17 ~ Sadness and Acceptance
Feb. 24 ~ Grieving & the Process of Change
Mar. 3 ~ What is Codependency?
Mar. 10 ~ What is normal? (Family Systems)
Mar. 17 ~ How to Play & Have Fun
Mar. 24 ~ Codependency & Relationships
Mar. 31 ~ Roles of Codependency
April 7 ~ Six Stages of Recovery from Codependency
April 14 ~ Self-Parenting & Affirmations
April 28 ~ Inner Child Work
THE TWELVE SPIRITUAL WORDS SERIES:
May 5 ~ Acceptance
May 12 ~ Faith
May 19 ~ Trust
May 26 ~ Honesty
June 2 ~ Sharing
June 9 ~ Humanness
June 16 ~ Humility
June 23 ~ Forgiveness
June 30 ~ Healing
July 7 ~ Reflection
July 14 ~ Prayer
July 21 ~ Service
July 28 ~ How to Apply these Words to Life
NEW Law of Attraction Workshop This Saturday at 1PM : Playing Hop Scotch on the Emotional Guidance Scale
When: Saturday, Jan 23, 2021, 1:00 to 3:00
Facilitator: David Diamond
Cost: Free to all. Please consider a Love Offering for The Starting Point Inc. of NJ at startingpoint.org/donations
For more details, see rebrand.ly/LOA-meetupp.You can also RSVP at this site, in order to attend this
transformative workshop and obtain the Zoom link to join this meeting.
Join Us For a NEW Onsite Weekly Meeting:
The Recovery Support Group
The Wishing Well Recovery Support Group provides a
social support network for those looking to explore their recovery goals.
By: Vince DiPasquale
Welcome to a brand new year – 2021! May God bless you and your family in the New Year. Take time to reflect on 2020 and try to see the lessons we’ve learned through our experiences. Even the negative experiences are our teachers. The Indian culture tells us to listen to Mother Nature. It is the barometer of life. I always remembered the slogan, “You can’t fool Mother Nature.” This past year we have been given a clear message of destruction. From the storms that wreaked havoc on the gulf coast to the fires in the west, our weather patterns have been wacky and different. Maybe we need to take a look at our attitude towards the environment. If we continue to misuse it, Mother Nature will misuse us. To the ancients, the land was sacred & to be honored so that it would nurture them. As we start the New Year, let us ask some questions that are connected to nature.
What is our attitude towards nature? Do we treat nature as our friend? How can we help? Take time to recycle and respect the land we live on, eat foods that are grown from healthy farms, conserve energy, walk more – drive less, don’t litter, protect our trees and plants, respect our wetlands and honor our oceans and lakes. Just keep life simple. If we treat Mother Nature with respect, she will respect us.
Life is supposed to be enjoyed, and I truly believe that if you keep life simple and do service to others, you’ll be rewarded a hundredfold. We all need the spirit of family so that we can learn and grow from each other. During this New Year, be open to learn and grown. Let’s all have the spirit of humility. Reach out and do service to yourself as well as others. Remember that each person that comes into your life is your teacher. God tries so hard to bring his message to us through our neighbors and family. Each one of us is a gift. God gave us life and we should develop the gift by learning to love ourselves and getting to know others; don’t be afraid to share your gifts. Believe me, you’ll be rewarded a hundredfold. This is the motto of the New Year. Remember that when you share your gifts, talents, and generosity, they will come back to you. The more generous we are, the greater the rewards. Life is special. Each one of us is unique. Thank God we are different from each other. Diversity is the key to life. During this New Year, renew your commitment to live, learn, respect, and honor yourself. Remember, whatever we do to ourselves, we do to others. Our energy will be passed on to the people we touch. This is the circle of life. Be part of it. Don’t be a spectator. Let’s all make 2021 a year to be proud of.
By Vince DiPasquale
Well, we have reached the end of another year. We are given so much to think about during the month and there are so many ways to celebrate life. We have Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve and Day; and within these holidays numerous ways to celebrate. The world comes alive with lights and family gatherings. The world turns this special time into a crazy whirlwind time of shopping, preparing food and, for some, a chance to make money.
Let’s pause and take a moment to look inside to see the real meaning of the season. Let’s meditate on the struggle for personal freedom, the simplicity of a child, and the abundance of God’s gifts. These are summed up in each of us embracing the spirit of life. This season is not about external or material things. This season is about faith, hope and the simplicity of a child.
Mothers understand fully what I am trying to say. As a child gets ready to leave their mother’s womb the pain and struggle of birth is not easy but is followed by the energy of love. During this season, try to understand why fear and love go together. Many times, in life we have to face our fears, work through them, and receive the powerful energy of love. Our Creator gave us this beautiful energy at the moment of our birth. Yet we must walk the journey of life, though our fears, to tap into the energy of love within us. Life is such a simple journey.
The feast of Hanukkah tries to give us this message- go within, listen, and know that we are being led. Our egos and our fears make us think we are in charge. We’re not. Let’s learn to stop, listen, and learn.
The feast of Christmas reminds us that there is the simplicity of a child inside all of us. Little children function on energy. They are true lovers because they are still connected with their Creator. The child in us is trying to teach us to live in the moment. In Alcoholics Anonymous there is a piece of literature that says “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” Yesterday is over and becomes history. Be open to its lessons by learning and growing from them. Tomorrow is not yet here so don’t worry, be happy and live just for today! “A child shall lead us.” Children don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow. They live for today!
Kwanzaa reminds us to face our history, embrace it and acknowledge our history in the spirit of love and growth. Share the abundance of your gifts and love and you will receive them back a hundredfold. Always remember history is your greatest teacher.
Finally, we celebrate the New Year. I would like to invite all of us to take part in a simple tradition as this year ends and a new one begins. Take time to reflect and make New Year’s Eve an occasion to meditate on the spirit of gratitude. Reflect back on the year. Try to look at everything that we experienced, the positive and the negatives, as teachable moments. This should be a day to think and reflect. What a beautiful way to start the New Year by being open to God’s will. Thank God for the season of joy and love. Say goodbye to the old year and welcome the new.
However you choose to celebrate this season, have a happy, blessed and peaceful holiday season. Relax and be happy!
By: Vince DiPasquale
As we get ready to celebrate the wonderful month of Thanksgiving, we pause to reflect on three very special beautiful words: Gratitude, Acceptance, and Love. I consider these the most spiritual words in our language. Growth can only take place when we can develop the attitude of gratitude. Someone who views life in the spirit of gratitude becomes open to accept one’s self and the lessons of life’s journey which then allows us to view life in the spirit of love and healing. Let’s look at these special words as they apply to our life’s journey.
Gratitude– to be grateful is to live each day as a gift from God. The first prayer I say as I awake is the prayer of gratitude for the gift of life for one more day. Each day is so special as I get older and hopefully wiser. I try to view each day as a chance to do service to others and reflect on how precious and how wonderful life is. I pray I do not take things for granted and to say thank you to God for even the little things in life. I feel that I have been given so much on this life’s journey. I thank God for my family, my upbringing, all the beautiful teachers in my life, especially my wife, my stepdaughters, and my grandchildren. I am grateful to be called “Papa”.
I feel gratitude for my recovery family, for the 12-step program and for all the direction it has given me. I am grateful to each and every person God has sent onto my path, for the struggles I have undergone, and even thankful for the negative experiences. They may one day be my strength. Hopefully I’ll not take for granted the gifts He has given me and I will share them with others. God has given me so many rewards- they are my real riches.
Acceptance– Such a simple but powerful word. To come to acceptance of self is to be at peace. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”. To be powerless is to be powerful. This is the secret of the first and third step. Powerlessness leads to surrender which leads to acceptance. Learning to let go of control is such a gift. It takes a great courage to work on yourself. The core of spirituality is acceptance of self. We are not an accident we are God’s creations. Only when we can accept the reality of who we are can we grow onto what we can become. We are all on a special journey that one day will lead us back to our Source, our Creator. Acceptance of self and life allows us to live and enjoy each moment. “Courage to change the things I can”, tells me that if I focus on my own personal journey, the positive energy I receive will flow naturally to others. We carry this message by example. “The wisdom to know the difference”, and the wisdom is experience. Each experience I’ve gone through in life has brought me strength. Our experiences were necessary for us to grow and learn. Don’t run from life, rather we must accept each day and the situation to bring us closer to our Creator.
Love – Gratitude and acceptance are powered by the divine energy of love. What a special word. I’m convinced that in our world it is the most misused and abused concept. We are told in the scriptures that a little child will lead us at the moment of our creation to God, who will give us the power to love. We are told by God that we were to enter the world as his messengers. Our world with all its chaos and craziness can only be healed and brought together by this special energy. Greed, fear and ego are the opposite of love. Mother Theresa tried to teach us that only when we live by the rule of life will we learn to love ourselves and then be able to share this special energy with others. Remember there is only one Higher Source and the rest of us are equal. We are God’s children bonded and connected to each other. Love is the energy of healing. Let’s stop looking for the answer in politics and all external things. Empires come and go but the healing energy of love and service are forever. Try to live each day with the positive energy of love and hopefully you’ll be able to share your gifts with another.
This Thanksgiving, take the time to pray a prayer of gratitude. Open your heart to the Source of all love. Reach out and touch someone and know that by giving you receive back a hundredfold. Enjoy this special time of gratitude, acceptance and love.
With all my love and prayers, Happy Thanksgiving!
ACOA 1:30 Wednesday Meeting will be a phone meeting starting March 18th until further notice
Dial in number: 646 558 8656
Meeting ID: 293144633
by Vince DiPasquale
October is the month to renew our relationship with our Creator, the God of our understanding. All of us are on a spiritual journey. We already know our Creator, but on the journey of life our ego (Ease God Out) conflicts with our spirit so we have to continue to rediscover the spirit of our Creator. In the understanding of the Tao we are told our relationship with our Creator is rediscovered such as we meet in each moment of life, each circumstance, each person, and each situation we experience. We find our Creator trying to help us in our humanness to discover our potential and be open to the message that we are being taught. We are learning that God is in our pocket. We can call it faith. Sometimes we have to lose something so that we can once again discover it. In my personal history God has given me so many people who came into my life to be my teachers.
Recently I had the privilege to experience a very special young lady who just made the journey back to her Creator. She struggled and suffered from cancer. Her attitude through the disease was so positive. She chose to face life and live. She prepared for her journey by cherishing and celebrating each minute of her life. She taught me that every moment of life should be lived as our last. In our recovery program we are taught, “One day at a time.” We try to face adversity with a positive attitude, always remembering that God is in our pocket. Our Creator travels with us though life. We are taught to let go and let God and we go along for the journey. All of the people in our life are with us as God’s teachers. In life we all experience a balance of negative and positive. Always remember for every negative there is a positive even though it may take time to discover it. We are taught to “trust the process” which will help us to live our journey on the earth in peace and serenity.
At some point your relationship with God will become like this:
Next time you meet Him in the forest or on a crowded city street
There won’t be anymore “Leaving.”
That is, God will climb into your pocket.
You will simply just take yourself along!
People often ask me if I regret my past and my answer is no. Each experience from my crazy, wonderful Italian upbringing to the journey of my life today is a privilege for me to have been given this journey by my Creator. I would like to share this part of it with you. I have been privileged to have many special people come into my life to be my teachers. My first teachers were my parents and my family. They gave me love and shared the God of their understanding with me. I always joke that my Italian heritage gave me a Ph.D. in fear and guilt. I thank them today however for all the lessons I learned in dealing with life. They taught me the value of sharing, how to let go of control, the gift of faith, and to be able to be open to God of my understanding. They, like me, would win awards for dysfunctionality. As a result, I am more open to look at this word, dysfunctionality, as a normal part of life. Don’t be afraid to face it, embrace it and let it become your teacher. Thank you to my family for all the lessons I have learned.
Thank you to Morgan and Jack who were my mentors when I was introduced to recovery and the 12 Steps. They were my spiritual teachers. Even with twelve years in the seminary and degrees in theology, I learned more from those two beautiful men about spirituality. Thank you, God, for the gift of their wisdom.
God also sent me a very special lady in my life, my wife and best friend who helped me to change my whole direction in life. She helped me to become open to new areas in health service. She had allowed me to experience three wonderful stepdaughters and seven beautiful grandchildren, all of whom are a special part of my spiritual journey today. Thank you, God, for these special teachers.
Finally, my Starting Point family, who over the 42 years, God has given me the privilege and honor of touching and being touched by so many people. I thank God for the gift of being able to be of service to others. Thank you, family, for your love and trust. Thank you, God, for these special people.
All growth takes place in family systems, not in isolation. I would like to thank God for all the families I have had the privilege of being part of over the past 80 years of my life. Remember each one of us are God’s creations. Try to look at each situation in life with the energy of healing and love. October is a time to renew our connection to our Creator in our pockets. Let’s live this month with the spirit of gratitude and openness and be grateful for our history, for the day and to be open to whatever the future will bring us. Enjoy the fall season!
God bless us all!
Below are the pertinent details about how-to access the virtual meetings for the Monday evening CoDA group:
Day: Every week on Mondays at
Meeting link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82495696099?pwd=ZEYyL1NFaE5JaTJtNEdjZngxYjZGQT09
Meeting ID: 824 9569 6099
By: Vince DiPasquale
In growing up as a small child, my Dad had some powerful lessons he tried to teach me that I’m finally beginning to understand. He used to say, ‘Have patience, little boy.” “Relax, take your time and enjoy the little things of life. Remember that everything happens in God’s time, not ours.” He would say, “enjoy each day, each moment as if it is your last”. He truly was a man of wisdom due to the struggles and experiences he had to endure in his life.
During the month of September, we reflect on the gift of Fall, the season of change and growth. It certainly does not mean we can do whatever we want. Patience is the gift that reminds us that true freedom only comes through struggle, sacrifice and just being open to a constant process of change. We live in a world that thrives on instant gratification. In many ways we have been spoiled by getting too much, too soon. Change and growth is a slow process. We have spent too much time blaming institutions and wanting them to legislate and solve everything. We are the architect of our own life. Change and growth come from each of us. Let us ask ourselves some simple questions. The ultimate question is, Who Are You? Have you taken time to look at yourself? You know that sometimes you have to lose things to truly appreciate them.
Life is short. When you are young you think you’re going to live forever. Today I am grateful for everything I had to struggle and work for. Today, as I write this, I am 80 years old. As I look back on my life’s journey, I’d like to share some key moments.
My childhood: We lived a simple life in a little row house in Camden, NJ. Our only heat was a coal stove in the kitchen. I was so excited in 1947 when we got radiators! We were also the first family to have a television. It only had one channel.
Seminary: In 1954 when I went away to the seminary in Connecticut, I was only fourteen and had to learn how to live on my own. I was scared and still learning how to grow up. In 1957 I was uprooted and transferred to Mother of the Savior Seminary in Blackwood. It was time to start over again. Even though I didn’t know why I was being transferred, at least I was close to my family. My life was a constant process of change and adjustment. In 1962, I was transferred to Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., where I would finish college and do four years of training in theology. My father’s word of ‘patience’ was getting stronger. I realized that my life was not going to go through the normal process of growth. Everyday had so many expectations that I had to live up to. I had no idea ‘who I was’.
Ordination and Ministry: In 1966 I was ordained a priest and everybody, especially my family, was proud. I now had an identity. I was a priest with more expectations. Later I was sent to my first parish in Vineland, NJ. I went from the frying pan into the fire. The priest I was to live with was very sick. All of a sudden, I was running the parish alone. What a scary adjustment! Over night I was an administrator running the show. Thank God for my experience in the seminary of being the stage manager for some great plays. The next three years, I found myself playing so many roles – priest, administrator, youth program director, teacher. There was no time to sleep. The positive part of this is that my eyes were opened to where God would lead me. My ID was work and that I was always available. In 1969 I was sent to a poor inner-city parish in Atlantic City. My ‘Savior’ identity crisis went into high gear. I was becoming the rebel, going against society, running around & becoming a thorn in the side of all. From working in the prison system, the civil rights movement, to running the parish, I was a one man show.
The Starting Point is born: In 1977, I was tired and took a leave of absence. I went to Philadelphia and on October 17th opened a half-way house and soup kitchen for alcoholics. This was the birth of The Starting Point. It was also the beginning of a new journey, which would lead me to make some major decisions. In time, I would get married and start my life as ‘Vince’. It only took me forty-four years of not knowing who I was.
With Dad’s spirit, an open mind, and a lot of help from my wife’s family and the recovery community, I’m now on the journey of just being me. Now I understand that patience is a virtue. As Dad would say, everything in life will find its way. If you embrace patience and stay open to God’s will; all things will come. Thank you, Daddy, for your guidance and direction. I pray that I will continue on my journey.
May God bless and guide us in the spirit of gratitude, humility and love. Thank you, God, for each day.
ABA – Anorexia and Bulimia Anonymous
Now Every Wednesday at 5:30 pm (via Zoom.)
Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous (ABA) is a fellowship of individuals whose primary purpose is to find and maintain recovery in our eating practices, and to help others gain recovery. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop unhealthy eating practices.
Vince DiPasquale (856-854-3155 x102) and Anne Cavaliere (856-266-3487)
Below are the pertinent details about how-to access the “virtual meetings:”
- Time: 5:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
- Day: Every week on Wednesday
Join Zoom Meeting
- Use the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89499038381?pwd=RU5QNlQ0U093YUVpRFFOcHlqM3BxQT09
- Meeting ID: 894 9903 8381
- Password: 988218
- Optionally, Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/tZ0pfuCorTMpEtW2TKY7xNFh-_WfFgZnWhV5/ics?icsToken=98tyKuGhqjIjGtedsxGGRpx5Bor4XfTztlxej7dqzivOOndLTCX-e911NJR4Ktbn
By: Vince DiPasquale
August is a time to kick back and reflect. We have all been through so much these past months.
A friend of mine put together some quotes of mine from the lectures I do. I would like to share them with you as food for thought.
- Look at people the way they are and not the way you want them to be.
- Attitudes are learned so all attitudes can be changed.
- Self-esteem is another form of spirituality.
- We came into this world for a purpose.
- Acceptance is facing the reality of what is.
- Never deny anyone their pain and struggle. No pain, no gain.
- If you keep it inside it becomes a mountain. Share it; let it out and it gets smaller.
- Share with someone who won’t give advice, but just be there for you.
- For every defect there is an asset. From the defects you discern your assets.
- What you can do, you do. What you can’t do, don’t do.
- Make peace with yourself.
- The grieving process begins anytime you end something.
- When you meet someone who is obnoxious remember they have come into your life to teach you what obnoxious is.
- Sometimes you must wallow in the mud until you begin to realize, it’s “mud”.
- We don’t want closure. We want to hang onto something that so we can place blame.
- Self-esteem comes from the inside out.
- Good healthy growth is 10 steps forward and 8 steps back. That’s progress!
- You have no control over anyone else.
- Nothing happens by accident.
- The sun comes up even on a cloudy day.
I hope these quotes help you see how simple life really is. Enjoy these beautiful days. Make sure you always celebrate life in the spirit of gratitude for each day!