Recent Posts

Sunday, December 31, 2017

As the New Year comes upon us, I thought I'd share the remainder of the story of Patrick's 
life, a life renewed and changed over many years.

(Please forgive the letters being cut off/moved to a different line. I couldn't figure out what iscausing that and or fix it).

Part 2: At the close of the two weeks of withdrawing in his mother’s basement, Patrick’s uncle drove him to a sweat lodge where all the toxins were removed from his body. After being clean and sober for four months Patrick lied about how long he had been clean and enrolled in university for counseling sciences in order to give back to a community he had once tormented. The manager at his job encouraged him to attend school, but Patrick says he enrolled only to prove to the manager that he was dumb. However, Patrick finished at the top of his class. His first job while in school was working during the day with people with schizophrenia who also had drug and alcohol addictions. At night Patrick worked in harm reduction: talking to kids as they were high, providing a needle exchange, and making sure the kids were alive. Many of the youth were children of those he had once done drugs and committed crimes with. After graduation Patrick worked in family services. Because of Patrick’s jail record he needed a letter from the state to work around kids. After graduation he worked in family services. Then, he went back to Saskatchewan to his reserve, where he worked in many different avenues of child protection. Since starting his employment journey he has been a children protection worker, counselor, cultural facilitator, spiritual advisor in corrections, and a correctional programs officer where he helped inmates deal with their trauma. . Additionally, he established the first aboriginal healing unit for maximum security inmates, where he sang songs with the inmates, held a native ceremony, made moccasins, and led a sweat (not previously allowed in a max before). He also worked with active addicts, teaching them a sense of self, and provided employment assistance training.

Patrick loved being an aboriginal correctional officer, but was forced out because an inmate that he did time with in prison recognized him and an assistant warden didn't think ex inmates should be working in prisons. However, two officers who hated him as a kid saw his life change. In 2002 the officers called him to their station, requesting him to sign paperwork. He was worried, wondering how he could be in trouble again. But they presented him with a pardon application. Both officers wrote glowing recommendations for him to have a full pardon as they had seen him befriending and working with youth.

Patrick and one of his professors in school who worked for BC mental health teamed up together to design trauma programs. Patrick designed the cultural part, while the prof designed the mental health portion. They created best practices for aboriginal families as well as healing aboriginal communities. They also helped set up youth aboriginal treatment centers. However, Patrick’s work changed when he and his current wife decided they didn’t want him traveling out of town so frequently, as they had a blended family. Patrick then created the organization Blackhorse 361 which consists of program development, public speaking, and cultural workshops. Blackhorse 361 teaches the facilitators, who have been chosen among the community members as the community will already have a trustworthy relationship with them. "In order to connect with a group or individual you have to relate it to something they understand and are hopefully passionate about so I use metaphors to teach. I create a lesson using activities such as gardening, mechanics, or an event or hobby they have experience with​.”

When I asked Patrick how he incorporates native spiritual practices into addictions counseling, he said he doesn’t phrase his interactions with people as “addictions counseling,” especially because people have preconceived notions about what that means. Patrick works with them to deal with the problems underneath, the poison and root causes of the problems. He uses simple means, such as connect​ing​ them with animals or walking to a river or trail with someone as they talk and share. This keeps the body activated so the mind is less likely to overthink or filter what they are sharing. Using visualizations, he helps the adult remember the child that he was,  then helps that child as an adult would so that the person feels a sense of accomplishment. This also allows the adult to differentiate what his child self did and what his adult self can do now. Patrick teaches them to write letters to past people in their lives then they burn them without sending. Patrick also encourages them not to make any big decisions until going into ceremony four times, which teaches them to think for a period of time, delayed gratification and patience.

As our conversation neared its end, Patrick explained about the 7 sacred teachings of his tradition. They are: wisdom, respect, courage, love, humility, truth, and honesty. “Is what you did or about to do or say in accordance with these? When you get up in the morning, think about what you are going to do for your spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental health. When you go to bed at night, recognize what you did or didn’t  do to honor those aspects.” Patrick commented that as humans we tend to talk twice as much as we listen “which is opposite of what the creator intended for us; he gave us two ears and one mouth so that we could listen twice as much.” An old teaching says, “you can only keep what you have by giving it away and you can only keep peace by sharing it with others. You can only keep knowledge by giving it away."

When I inquired of Patrick about what has helped him to change after being involved in addictions and incarcerated, he said that moving away from Vancouver was necessary or he knew he’d use again. He moved to Abbotsford with his mother, where his sister also lived. Additionally, a buddy in school with him, Jackson, was part of his support system. His uncle kept him involved in traditional ceremonies, as well as involving him and empowering him to facilitate groups for offenders being released from prison. Patrick worked with their families to prepare them to know how to help their loved ones getting out. He also continued to correspond through letters with his uncle still in jail.

As a result of seeing his mother being abused  during his childhood, Patrick swore he would never hurt a woman- but he in turn became the victim as an adult.  He was involved in volatile relationships and addictive behaviors during his first marriages but he himself was not physically violent. One of Patrick's eye sockets was cracked and a woman broke his nose. An ex also hit him with a telephone and injured his face.

The person Patrick identifies as his biggest support now is his wife, who herself came from a 20 year abusive relationship. She is the first person he processes with. They have “rules of engagement” for how to communicate and deal with conflict. The only emotions Patrick knew or understood as a child were anger and depression. Patrick says that he intellectualizes everything. His wife helps him understand his emotions and he helps her with the logic aspects of life and their relationship.

Patrick came from a rocky childhood and regrets many of his actions from his past. Now, he is in a stable, loving relationship with his wife, serves and loves children in foster care who are under the care of him and his wife, and is involved in teaching and learning from his community and an extensive network through Blackhorse 361.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

It has been years since I've posted, but I'm reviving this blog to share the following story.

Part 1: As an 18 year Patrick van Loosen arrived at another man’s home, attacked him, and left him for dead. Four months after the attack, while Patrick awaited trial, the other man died in the hospital. While Patrick awaited trial for aggravated assault in Oakalla prison in the cow barn, a segregation unit, his charges were raised to second degree murder. Patrick plead guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 4 years in prison.

A couple of months ago I met with this man over coffee for an interview and to snap some photos of him. I was moved throughout our conversation by his life and how he has been transformed. As I sat down, he explained that the night before our meeting he had driven from Chilliwack, BC, then spent the evening in downtown Seattle, talking to people late at night, hearing their stories and photographing them if they were willing. He also gave out sandwiches.

Patrick’s interest in photography began in childhood, where he kept a box under his bed of pictures he had shot. When he wanted to feel good about life he would pull the photos out and look through them. Life growing up in East Vancouver was very tumultuous, with a violent, alcoholic stepfather and a mother who drank heavily and abused prescription drugs, while running poker games in their basement. Patrick also experienced sexual abuse at a young age. He remembers that his first experience with alcohol came as a result of his mother teaching him to bartend at age 9 so she could spend more time playing poker. What he saw the adults doing intrigued him, so occasional sips eventually turned to hiding bottles in his bedroom. He blacked out for the first time during that same time frame.

As a teenager Patrick moved between hotels in Western Canada, or stayed in apartments where people could meet him to buy drugs. When he was 15 years old Patrick was involved in a large fight and suffered three broken ribs from the police officers who picked him up. Patrick escaped from the officers and was found by a friend. He went to his sister’s home because going to the hospital would alert the police. In terrible pain, Patrick’s brother in-law gave him the only thing he had to treat it and so started Patrick’s addiction to IV drug use that lasted 15 years.

At 18 years of age Patrick lived with roommates where they hosted a drunken Christmas party. One of his roommates’ girlfriends arrived with a torn shirt and bleeding lip. She admitted to him that her foster father had been raping her since she was a child.  This was the man whom Patrick attacked and whose death sent Patrick to prison, where he was held in a segregation unit 23 1/2 hours per day, slept on a steel slab, and had a 5 gallon bucket for a washroom. Oakalla was so disgusting that the landowner’s wife later shut it down after she toured the prison after her husband’s passing.

Eventually Patrick was transferred to what is referred to as BC’s “Club Fed,” a medium security prison island off the coast of Victoria. In order to protect himself from other prisoners and fearing that he’d be roughed up, shortly after getting there Patrick took the offensive and smashed a man with a ketchup bottle and received 3-4 more years added to his sentence. He also began to use drugs again. Fortunately, a biological uncle whom Patrick had never met, a fellow inmate, sought Patrick out when he heard he was in prison in order to provide Patrick with some protection. After meeting his Uncle Blair, he spent most of the time with the Lifers in prison, where he learned the ropes of how to do time in prison and how to protect himself. Patrick was a quick study in prison survival and to protect himself in the case of a stabbing, he put on what is known as “prison armor,” stuffing his clothes with magazines. His uncle once said to him, “There are two ways to do time in prison: Let the time do you or you can do the time. Essentially, you can feed off the hate and rage of other inmates and end up doing a life sentence or you can learn as much as you want. If you don’t like the system, go to school.” So Patrick began his educational studies within the prison.

Although Patrick requested a prison transfer, he was refused. As a result of beating up a man, Patrick was on the next plane to another prison, only 45 minutes away from his mom, who had previously been unable to visit. Patrick had received parole on two occasions but they did not last long due to his intolerance to being told what to do by parole officers. On one of his paroles Patrick was brought back to prison and charged for another murder. Patrick pled self-defense and beat the charge, as  the other person had stabbed Patrick first in the liver and bowels. After seven years in prison and as his sentence drew near to ending, he considered committing another crime in order to stay locked up. The idea of being in society and not knowing how he would handle it scared him in comparison to the relatively routine life in prison.

Upon release, Patrick quickly began using drugs and selling again because, coming from the streets, chaos was comfortable. Heroin was his drug of choice, but to stay awake he often used crack, or dabbled in cocaine, uppers, or downers. During a delirious state from drugs his associates had given him, he showed up at his mom’s home and she noticed his nine millimeter and bullet proof vest as he leaned over the sink. It was only then that she truly realised just how violent life had become for him.

On January 27, 1999 at 2pm, two armed men burst through the door of his apartment, and told him he was out of business "if he knew what was good for him." Patrick chased the men out of his apartment with a gun and followed them for 4 blocks in his boxer shorts in midday. Eventually he returned home, looked at all the drugs on his table, and wondered why, after being clinically dead 10 times from various acts of violence and drug overdoses, he was still alive. At the end of that day he realized that there had to be something more he was meant for and was ready to be done.  Previously when he quit using, he had moved away but kept all the things he had bought with drug money. Soon he would realize that whatever he wanted to buy was worth a weekend of drug sales, so he would go back to dealing which always ended up with him using again. Patrick admits to being too scared to kill himself although he had unsuccessfully tried a few times over the years to get the police to shoot him to death.  On the day he quit he showed up at his mother’s home and she asked, “How are you going to quit?” This resulted in him heading down to his mom’s unfinished basement, where he asked his mom to lock him in, and not unlock the door no matter how much he protested. She complied. Only when he was sleeping did she bring him food. He suffered through two weeks of excruciating back spasms, convulsions, night terrors, and other withdrawal symptoms.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Streams in the Desert and A.B. Simpson

One of my favorite devotionals lately has been Streams in the Desert, which often quotes A.B. Simpson. Before falling asleep last night I read the following and was mightily encouraged and my spirit lifted.

July 20

"Seeing then that we have a great high priest...Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."(Heb. 4:14,16.)

OUR great Helper in prayer is the Lord Jesus Christ, our Advocate with the Father, our Great High Priest, whose chief ministry for us these centuries has been intercession and prayer. He it is who takes our imperfect petitions from our hands, cleanses then from their defects, corrects their faults, and then claims their answer from His Father on His own account and through His all-atoning merits and righteousness.

Brother, are you fainting in prayer? Look up. Your blessed Advocate has already claimed your answer, and you would grieve and disappoint Him if you were to give up the conflict in the very moment when victory is on its way to meet you. He has gone in for you into the inner chamber, and already holds up your name upon the palms of His hands; and the messenger, which is to bring you your blessing, is now on his way, and the Spirit is only waiting your trust to whisper in your heart the echo of the answer from the throne, "It is done." --- A. B. Simpson.

The Spirit has much to do with acceptable prayer, and His work in prayer is too much neglected. He enlightens the mind to see its wants, softens the heart to feel them, quickens our desires after suitable supplies, gives clear views of God's power, wisdom, and grace to relieve us, and stirs up that confidence in His truth which excludes all wavering. Prayer is, therefore, a wonderful thing. In every acceptable prayer the whole Trinity is concerned. --- J. Angell James.  - Referred to "Streams in the Desert" July 20

Monday, May 19, 2014

Raw and Wise

Reposting from

My Tenderness Alert Level is at a Nine today. Level Ten requires my bed, but a Level Nine means that since I am close to skinless I must arrive at a blank page and write an unedited essay which will likely contain some profanity. Please, I’m sorry. It’s not me – it’s Level Nine. Whatever is said is out of my control from this point on. What IS in my control is that instead of landing inside my pantry – I came here, to write it out instead of eat it out. And so I’m already wildly proud of myself. For those offended by my unedited self- just imagine that this essay is a matter of life and death and that I’ve just decided to use Any Means Necessary to save myself. Because that is absolutely 100% true. Grace, please. When I use profanity- it’s because I am absolutely dedicated to honestly expressing myself and I can’t let (what would be fake) piety to get in the way of that.
Here’s what happened.
This past weekend I travelled to my alma mater, James Madison University, to talk to alumni and current students about, I don’t know- LIFE and Kindness and womanhood and things such as this. It was the first time in fifteen years that I’d been back to campus for something other than a court date. I arrived on campus with Sister, my head held high, guns blazing, TRIUMPHANT – ready to reclaim my non-existent school spirit and prove to myself and to JMU that I had actually made something of myself (whatever the hell that means) – something other than the drunk, bulimic, flailing, fighting, nasty mess I was during the (many, many) years that I was there.
My head was held high for about four minutes.  Then, as I walked those familiar hallways and concrete paths and passed by bathroom after bathroom (I puked in that one. And that one. That one, too.) And parking lot after parking lot (I was arrested in that one. And that one.) And passed my sorority house- (where this announcement was made at a sorority meeting by the House manager: “You guys- If you’re going to puke, at least flush the toilets. It looks really bad when people visit our house and there’s puke everywhere” and also this one, directed to me: “You guys, if you’re going to court- don’t wear your sorority letters. It looks bad for us.”) And there’s the building where I told the Women’s Studies professor that no matter what I did, I couldn’t shake my bulimia, and there’s where I told an entire team of my education professors that I was losing everything to alcohol. I TOLD people. I told people. I fucking TOLD people. (Oh, there’s the townhouse where I sat in the basement and wondered if killing myself might just be tidier for everyone. I was so tired.)
And so as I passed the shiny stadium and all the beautiful buildings and grandeur and spirit I just felt myself getting more and more confused and afraid. This place is not safe for you, Glennon. And then I got angry. Angry to the point that I had to plaster a fake smile onto my face and not answer anyone’s questions directly because I knew if I opened my mouth I’d crumble and cry. Or maybe yell. I didn’t know, I just knew it was going to be a scene. And my job there was to create a scene- but it was supposed to be a scene of HOPE and TRIUMPH- not despair – but I just didn’t feel like performing all of that shit. I just wanted to say WAIT A MINUTE. STOP. EVERYOBODY JUST STOP. WHAT HAPPENED HERE? WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO ME HERE? Because I CAN FEEL the ghost of me here- and she’s wandering and lost and hurting herself and asking for help in a million different ways. Why didn’t anyone help her? I DON’T WANT TO INSPIRE YOU- I WANT TO DEFEND AND PROTECT HER.
And why was I sent here in the first place? I was still sick. I was really sick and this type of sickness doesn’t work itself out by a teenager girl. It just doesn’t. It gets worse. Of course it does. And so all of this is starting to feel like a bit of a set up because what the hell else was going to happen to me here?? I was young and sick and lost and addicted to food and so wasn’t it just inevitable that I’d find the booze and the drugs and the people who would make me feel like booze and drugs and bulimia and casual sex were OK? Cool, even?
OH MY GOD. I am angry.
I am really angry. I am just angry I just want everyone to take better care of themselves and everyone else. I just really want to us to quit worrying about CRAP like straight As and status and cool and start worrying about folks dying around us in a million different ways. I just want ignoring pain to stop being so goddamn acceptable and normal.
And you guys- all of this was crashing down around me in waves- like beating me into the concrete- and then I had to go on stage to speak to the alumni. This crowd turned out to be mostly Monkees –and so I forced myself up front and I felt the Monkee Love and I was okay. I turned back into my adult self because I was talking to adults and it was good. It was okay up there.
But then I had to speak to 600 sorority women.
I had an hour between speeches. And you guys, my heart is beating so fast as I’m typing this right now. I just COULDN’T DO IT. I could NOT get on stage in front of 600 college girls and tell them…WHAT? Tell them WHAT? That all will be well, eventually? That puking and drugging and drinking yourself into a jail cell is actually not funny or normal and here’s how to fix it….I DON’T KNOW HOW TO FIX IT.
My sister could see that I was disappearing into myself and so she told our hosts that I needed a room of my own. That’s what we all need – thank you, Virginia. So I got my room with an hour left to go before the speech and I turned off all the lights and I curled up into a recliner until I was in the fetal position swaddled up in a soft blanket – shaking and crying. Like a freaking newborn baby. I felt like a baby. Completely powerless, utterly vulnerable, ultra- sensitive to light and sound and touch. I asked my sister to play my Ted Talk on the computer and I watched myself and listened to myself and tried to remember THAT’S YOU, TOO, GLENNON. YES, THIS LITTLE BABY GIRL CURLED UP ON THIS CHAIR IS YOU, BUT THAT WOMAN ON STAGE IS ALSO A VERSION OF YOU. YOU CAN DO THIS.
And my Sister sat outside of my door and prayed for me.
And then it was time, so I walked through the crowd of 20 year olds to the stage. And my friend, Paula, did my introduction and said things about New York Times Bestseller and blog and 100 thousand women non-profit and the Today show  and I tried to mesh the woman she was describing with the mess of me in that chair. That didn’t work. But she finished her introduction and it was time.
No, that is not what happened. That storyline is often bullshit. That is NOT how it always works. Sometimes you are not amazing. Sometimes just showing up is amazing enough.
And so I became this THIRD version of my stage self that I’ve never been before. I did not stand up on stage. I couldn’t stand because I was shaking. As a matter of fact- I couldn’t even CLIMB UP on stage because I couldn’t find the energy- so MY SISTER HAD TO LIFT ME ONTO THE STAGE. In front of 600 women. And I didn’t even care.
And when I got up there- I stayed on the floor with my knees pulled into my chest. Because that was just the best I could do. And I didn’t wear a power dress or a precious top. I wore a hoodie. I wore a hoodie and it was all I could do to keep the HOOD PART down and not over my head. Because a hoodie is what you wear when you feel very, very vulnerable and you have no other way to protect yourself except through your clothing. A hoodie is a way to contain your scowly self and keep people out who you rightfully or wrongly believe might hurt you. I realized all of that while I was on stage. And I was quiet up there for a solid minute while they all stared at me and I considered that all the folks who tend to wear hoodies  - teens, minorities, addicts (go to an AA meeting and it’s all hoodies and Mountain Dews) are  all the folks most vulnerable in our society. Then then I came back to the moment and remembered I was on stage – and I told my story without smiling much. It wasn’t a happy story. The poor crowd laughed a few times but nothing was that funny- we were just really desperate for some comic relief so we took it wherever we could.
Looking at their faces, I realized how afraid I am of folks in college. Because I can’t relate to them. I was never one of them. I wasn’t even THERE.  One of them raised her hand and said “how did you deal with academic stress?” And I just stared, because: what??? I was fighting for my life here. I guarantee that in the six years I was here- I never even uttered the word: academics. There is a hierarchy of needs and when you can’t even feed yourself or take a deep breath- academics are not something you consider. I didn’t want my teachers to teach me. I just wanted them to HELP ME.
And with that realization- I understood that I was in front of the wrong audience.
Because these ladies were kids. They were still kids.
I needed to talk the folks in charge.
Because as I sat with my therapist yesterday and told her this story- told her about my confusion and anger about being so lost without any guidance – she said:
Okay, I said.
I don’t know. I got some friends. A degree.
I learned that people need help. And the people who need the most help are the ones too lost to ask for it.
Yes. Yes. That’s why I loved the mental hospital. And my third grade classroom. And it’s why I love my my Sunday school class now. Because those places are Nothing But Net.
And then- from me- Tears and Silence and Holy shit. Yes. Momastery is a net. Monkee See –  Monkee Do is a net. I spent the first half of my life desperately needing one and that’s why I’m spending the second half of my life desperately building one.
Well. That’s a helpful freaking narrative.
It’s a brutiful narrative. There always has to be so much brutal to get the beautiful. It’s just exhausting.
I have to go. I gotta go and put this week behind me. But you guys. WE HAVE TO CREATE NETS. In our schools and neighborhoods and our churches.  The teachers need to teach and parents are overwhelmed and can’t do it alone. We need to recruit people – MONKEEISH PEOPLE –  who will “overlook” particular groups of kids throughout the years and follow them and study them and meet to talk about what they need.  We need to create nets because the NETS ARE MISSING. We can’t go around saying it takes a village- we have to BUILD THE DAMN VILLAGE.
Online is not enough. It’s just a great place to start.
I love you.
G (little g and BIG G- together.)
 - See more at:

Monday, May 5, 2014

On One Year and New National Traditions- from Momastery

Reposting from Momastery:

Sometimes it feels to me like our national tradition in the face of tragedy is to sit around and watch people be interviewed and feel sad and helpless. We are not helpless, and sitting and feeling is not compassion. [Emphasis mine: Compassion is not your pain in my heart- that’s pityCompassion is your pain in my heart and back out through my hands. Let us – today- turn off the TV and use our pain to make some real living breathing peace in our own hearts, and then in our families and then in our communities. We should honor those lost by working. If we want Love Wins to be true, we must do the hard, holy work of making it so.  See more at:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A friend and I decided to take a walk a few weeks ago and take some pictures, in the hopes of practicing and improving our photography. She suggested we do what a friend of hers had done- take pictures that reflect hope and photograph other pictures that depict despair. Here's a sampling of my photos:

I actually didn't find a lot of scenes that caused me to despair, but here are two that I think will qualify:

Sunday, July 7, 2013

You Know Me

Majorly Slightly obsessed with this song....and Steffany's music. Trying to catch up on writing, so hopefully I'll have more on here soon..