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James Abrams

Lic. Addictions Counselor
Lic. Prof'l. Counselor Cand.


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James Cole Abrams, LAC, LPC   720.432.5680

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recommended poems, books, films, tv, and songs


Out Beyond Ideas of Wrongdoing and Rightdoing

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase "each other" doesn't make any sense.

    - Rumi (Coleman Bark, Trans.)

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

    - Rumi (Coleman Bark, Trans.)

Rhotic Asphyxiation

The safest place to bury a body
is in another body,
is in your own body. Is your own dead body
inside the one you present to the world, the one that still talks and walks
across Pangea because that is how old it is,
that is how old faking is. You were born fake as your body
came out another fake body, you drank amniotic fluid shots
in the belly of the body your mother swallowed when the world told her so
and you breathed true breath then
and only then. A Russian can't write a book without nesting dolls;
burying ourselves in ourselves is in our blood, our mother's blood.
We birth, we bury, we swallow tongues down the body
buried inside the body. Tongue is a delicacy
you can serve at a funeral. The safest place to bury a body
is at a funeral.

    - Sonya Vatomsky

Barn's Burnt Down

Barn's burnt down
I can see the moon.

    - Mizuta Masahide


CivilWarLand in Bad Decline: Stories and a Novella
George Saunders
This deeply kind collection of short stories shows, in exquisite detail, the struggle that people on the edges of comfort go through to retain their humanity in the face of overwhelming economic and social pressures.

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Get in Trouble
Kelly Link
This incredibly sharp and insightful, not to mention stunningly well written, collection of short stories details the kinds of wrenching internal decision-making that forms the backbone of growing up and learning how to be the kind of person you want to be, as well as how to handle occasionally falling short of the mark.

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Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom
Rick Hanson
An extremely readable and helpful guide to the functioning of the human brand. This book explains what's going on in our brains when we panic or give in to anger, despair, and anxiety, as well as how to begin training our brains to react more constructively to our emotions. Essential reading.

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Mencius; D. C. Lau (Translator)
This record of the ancient Confucian sage Mencius' travels and teachings is a foundational work in the study of how to live a life of meaning and fulfilment, even when worldly pressures are coercing you not to. A uniquely kind, and surprisingly funny, look into how to be the good people we can feel we are even when it seems impossible.

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Go Now
Richard Hell
This semi-autobiographical account of a heroin addict in 1970s New York trying anything to get clean shows the incredible difficulty and depravity that can be induced by addiction. An excellent resource for anyone trying to find some kinship or understanding about addiction and just how difficult it can be to kick the habit.

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Inside Out
A kid-friendly but still entertaining and intelligent look at the internal process of decision-making, growing up, and facing depression in the midst of change. Told from the perspective of the base human emotions that govern those processes, this movie is an excellent introduction to the power of introspection and self-awareness.

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A beautiful and slow meditation on loss, nihilism, and finding meaning in a seemingly uncaring world. Though it takes a while to unfurl, the payoff is worth the wait and is utterly, unflinchingly inspiring.

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The Wackness
The story of an upper-middle-class high-school drug dealer realizing he needs to figure out who he is and what he wants if he's ever going to snap out of his funk and depression, and then going through that process. An honest look at what it means to grow up in the modern world, with a killer soundtrack to boot.

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This movie tells the simple, short story of a sex addict's tightly-controlled life unravelling into panic and self-loathing when his routine is interrupted by a surprise visit from his sister. Though not easy to watch, Shame does an incredible job of showing the dangers of 'high functioning' addictions, even when they aren't substance based.

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Martha Marcy May Marlene
The story of a young woman who escapes a cult and tries to reintegrate to her family and old life. This captivating film brilliantly portrays the pervasive feeling of being lost that so many young people face today, and how it stems from systemic issues and leads to real danger.

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You're the Worst
Though the first season of this show was a fairly typical sitcom, the second and third seasons looked realistically at dealing with depression, anxiety, addiction, and PTSD. An excellent and kind show about mean people trying their best to do right by each other, plus it had the best TV representation of psychotherapy of any show in 2016.

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Freaks and Geeks
This show about a sister and brother making it through high school in the 80s does an incredible job of showing the joys and difficulties involved in growing up, as well as the increasingly complex task of raising children, in this modern world. The show's wide cast of characters demonstrates what it takes for all sorts of kids to make it through high school.

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Jessica Jones
Netflix's adaptation of Marvel's Alias series of comic books, about an alcoholic and self destructive private detective/super hero. This show does an excellent job of detailing the necessity and difficulty of maintaining meaningful support when going through recovery, as well as showing the power available to those willing to face their demons.

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When I Grow Up - Fever Ray

Get Free - Major Lazer

Just Be Simple - Songs: Ohia

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