I don’t chase my clients anymore: Guest Post by James M. Wilson

I don’t chase my clients anymore:  Guest Post by James M. WilsonWilson HeadshotB&W

My first job in the counseling field was with LRADAC. I was hired on December 16, 1986. I was very green. I was only two years clean and sober from my own addiction. I had just graduated from USC with a Bachelor Degree in Psychology and Religion. What I lacked in knowledge and experience I tried to make up for with enthusiasm and faith. I would not hire myself today in the shape I was in. All my clients were instructed to attend self-help groups. They had to meet me where I was at, not where they were at.

The Involuntary Commitment Act went into effect on January 1, 1987. Nobody knew how this was going to work out, but it was now the law. There was a lot of confusion, but we were determined to make the best of it. I had been on the job for about 2 weeks when I got a call from a client’s mother. The client I will call Bob (not his real name) had knocked out the picture window in her house. Bob had an appointment with me that morning. She wanted me to keep him occupied while she had him committed, and the police to pick him up at my office. Neither she nor myself knew how this process worked, but we were determined to get him into treatment.

Bob was an interesting client. He was very likable. He had huffed a little too much gasoline in his day, and probably also had a mental health diagnosis. Bob was a pretty good guitar player. He had been in detox at LRADAC on several occasions, and also into Morris Village. He was happy to dry out in treatment, as long as he could take his guitar to treatment with him. However he was not willing to go to treatment that day. He was on a good binge, and had no intentions of stopping drinking on that day.

He showed up at my office on time. We were having a pretty good session that went over an hour. I had already started to repeat myself, and he was getting tired of the conversation. I’m sure he was anxious for another drink. I was hoping the police would show up soon so we could get him into treatment. After a while Bob started to get the feeling that something was up. My office was on the 3rd floor of the old LRADAC building on Hardin Street. Bob suddenly got up and ran down the steps which were right beside my office. Not knowing any better, I chased him down the steps. In front of the building was a parking lot. With me in pursuit, Bob ducked behind the cars. His head would pop up here and there as I continued the chase. Two of my co-workers, Ms. Kay and Ms. Jean, who were also in recovery, were in front of the building hollering out directions of where Bob was. I have no idea what I would do if I caught him. Bob had a lot of street in him, and would have probably whipped my butt. He finally headed down Hardin Street towards 5-Points and the bars in that district. I gave up the chase. He was too fast for me.

Later that day Bob called me from a local bar. He was half drunk. He took great delight in telling me how slow I was. This “therapy session” was the start of a long relationship with Bob. He was in and out of treatment with me for the next 20 years or so. During this time my fellow counselor Cleo Morris and I would go out to eat and listen to live music on a frequent basis. We often ran into Bob. He would be playing a local gig, or he would just be hanging out listening to the music. He would always have a Budweiser in his hand and a grin on his face. The last time we saw him he had a bleached blond girl friend that was driving a Firebird. He was playing “Brown Sugar” by The Rollingstones on lead guitar and vocals. He was very happy.

Bob died a few years ago. Over the course of his life he might stay sober a few months at a time. He never did take to self-help meetings. Bob taught me a lot about addiction and recovery. He was doing the best he could. He enjoyed life to the fullest. And I’ve learned to never chase a client. I just meet them where they’re at (most of the time).

James Wilson, MRC, CCS, NCAC II

Categories: addiction, Faith/Spirituality, Family, Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


We didn’t talk so much about mentors when I was growing up through my teens, twenties and thirties. I like that term and I also like the word “elders.” Every culture, from the Navajo to the Kurds had and has elders, men and women who invest time and energy in intentionally training, educating, demonstrating, forming, and mentoring those who are younger how to grow older. Here is my list of friends, more or less chronologically, who gave me knowledge of what it means to mature, to grow up. Some of these souls are no longer with us, and I don’t want to lose any more before giving a public Shout Out to…

Julian Bugg

Jerry and Jane Howington

Larry Abernathy

Herman McGee

Fuzzy Thompson

Charlie Shedd

Bob Stevens

Vernon Grounds

Horace Hammett

Henlee Barnette

Glen Stassen

Paul Carlson

Bob Mulkey

Howard McClain

Shelden Timmerman

Bill Bishop

Beth McConnell

Loretta Gunter

Ted Godfrey

Joe Darby

Randy Wright

I have great gratitude and Thanksgiving to those who influenced me immeasurably as a young adult and to those who are still making a difference in my life.

Parents Carlton and Allene Aldridge, wife Sally Craig Aldridge, daughters Jenna and Julie, as family, have all taught me more than words can say and are in a league of their own.

Thank you.

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November is National Novel Writing Month, thus, Nanowrimo. Nanowrimo is all the reason or temptation anybody needs who has been making excuses about why they don’t write. I write non-fiction rather than fiction, but I’m using Nanowrimo to motivate me to write a book during the month of November. Wish me well.

This past weekend, I went to a writers’ conference and was alternately motivated and discouraged by conversations, workshops and meetings with agents, editors and other authors. Since I retired about a year and a half ago, I have been a part of two writers’ groups in Columbia (they are all over South Carolina). Here is the link to South Carolina Writers’ Workshop:


The groups usually meet twice each month where they read and critique one another’s writing. I love it. Good and interesting people. I like having a deadline. During the discussion, I figure out what I’m good at. I also learn the weaknesses of my compositions. My tastes are eclectic. I can write about baseball one week and the Civil Rights Era the next. As you can tell from my blog, I may write about addiction, then yoga, then a favorite vacation spot. Books, however, don’t get written by jumping from one interest to another.

So, during November, I intend to invest a lot of hours and energy into writing a book. For my purposes, that will be about six to ten pages each day. Wow. That’s intimidating. Wish me luck. Pray for me. I won’t be posting my blog until the month is over, so, you’ll hear from me next in December.

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

The Past: A Different World (Guest Blog by My Favorite Romance Writer–Elizabeth Boyce)

I read exactly one romance writer–Elizabeth Boyce.  Elizabeth is a great writer and her topic is Romance, not my usual genre.  But remember the subtitle of this blog:  Exploring Worlds I Know Little About…”  Elizabeth Boyce is, I repeat myself, a very fine writer–and a good human being.  She has a new book coming out on October 27–today!  Enjoy her blog, then buy and enjoy her book.  Marion Aldridge


The Past: A Different World
by: Elizabeth Boyce

First of all, a big thank you to my friend Marion for inviting me to write a guest post for his blog. It’s lovely to be here!

When I was thinking about what to write, I was inspired by the subtitle of Marion’s blog: Exploring Worlds I Know Little About. In many ways, that’s exactly what I do as an author of historical romance.

The past is a world we know little about. Consider what you learned in your history classes. Big events, like wars and elections; notable social or technological advances, such as Hammurabi’s Code, or Gutenberg’s printing press, are covered. The nitty-gritty of living day-to-day in any given time period is often overlooked. There just isn’t room in the curriculum to delve into every aspect of a given historical era—much less every aspect of every historical era.

Where do you live? Not just your country, city, or state. Consider the land on which your home or workplace sits. What was there before the current building? Who was there? What were their names? How did they live, work, and die? What did they do for entertainment? To whom did they turn when they were sick? What foods did they eat, and what hardships did they endure? Now, who were the people there before them? Once you start thinking in terms of history, you’ll discover unexplored worlds right under your feet.

You see, every life, every era, is a world I know little about. I focus my writing on the Regency period of British history, 1811-1820. I have spent nearly a decade intensely studying these few short years in a fairly specific location. Still, the more I learn, the more I realize my own ignorance.

If we were to be suddenly transported to the British Regency, we 21st century dwellers might get by with our English. The language spoken at that time wasn’t so very different from our own. But we cannot conceive of what it was like to actually live at that time. We women would find ourselves stripped of all rights of citizenship and property ownership. You gentlemen who were not born into the aristocracy would find yourselves struggling mightily to support yourselves, not to mention a family. The clothes we would suddenly have to wear would change how our bodies move. Our freedom of travel would be reduced to a radius of a few miles around our homes.

These are just a few of the changes we’d experience. Truly, the past is a whole other world, with customs, laws, and beliefs that are totally foreign to us. I choose to explore it, because it fascinates me. I’m fortunate to have found an audience for the tales I spin, which are always inspired and informed by my little discoveries.

My newest novel, Honor Among Thieves, delves into the Regency medical underworld to uncover the fine line that existed between criminal dealings and scientific advancement. I hope you’ll find this a compelling look into a world you know little about.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23314651-honor-among-thieves

Categories: Book Review, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Take Me Out to the Ball Game


During my childhood, the three great influences of my world were family, church and sports, in varying order, depending on the season and the day of the week. The first open rebellion of a lot of seventh-graders was sneaking portable radios into school so we could listen to the 1960 World Series between the Yankees and the Pirates.

Not having money for new bats and balls, we fixed what we had with electrical tape until the abused equipment could be repaired no longer. If we were alone, we hit rocks with a stick.

The boys in our community played pick-up games. We created a baseball diamond in the woods behind our house. We also played in organized leagues from about the sixth grade until high school graduation. I was a catcher.

We loved baseball cards. We played indoor games with them, hitting what amounted to a spitball with our favorite player’s card. We bent a lot of cardboard that way. We put the cards in the spokes of our bicycles to hear the noise the made. We destroyed a lot of future income that way.

No Major League team had made its way South yet, so everybody picked a random team and said they were his favorites. Always for the underdog, I pulled for the Washington Senators. I read the box scores every morning. Harmon Killebrew was my hero. Augusta had a minor league team, a Detroit Tigers affiliate, and I remember going to their games a few times.

My favorite baseball these days is the college variety. Watching the Clemson Tigers on a spring afternoon feels pretty close to heaven. I get over to a few Atlanta Braves games most years, and when I travel to a Major League city, I try to see a game, thirteen cities so far. I spent a week at Spring Training one year. I’ve been to Cooperstown twice. I’ve been to one All-Star game and to zero World Series games. That could be on my bucket list. But it’s October and I expect to be in front of the television set every night for the next few days watching San Francisco battle Kansas City.

Batter up!


Categories: Baseball, Family, Holiday, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ten Most Influential Books in My Life

You gotta be kidding me? A limit of ten? But that’s the challenge going around Facebook these days. You are supposed to create the list without overthinking it or trying to impress anybody.

More or less chronologically, here are some of the volumes that wowed me, but I cheated and there are twelve:

Man-Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett

The New Testament in Modern English translated by J. B. Phillips

Black Like Me by James Howard Griffith

The Deep Blue Goodbye by John D. MacDonald

Moon and the Sixpence by Somerset Maugham

Til We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis

All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley

Raney by Clyde Edgerton

Codependent No More by Melody Beattie

Falling Upward by Richard Rohr

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Categories: Book Review, Faith/Spirituality, Lists/Top Ten | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Boundaries: Where the Pavement Ends

IMG_2891 I have a love/hate relationship with boundaries. On the plus side, they protect my family and me and all that I care about. Years ago a friend said, “Your right to swing your arm stops where my nose starts.” I like that. Some limitations make sense. If you own the property, you have the right to say No Trespassing. Why should I not conform to your instructions? You are allowed to protect what belongs to you.

On the other hand, boundaries can be unnecessarily limiting. The name of this blog is Where the Pavement Ends, meaning that the world does not stop where the street stops. Beyond the barriers that would restrict us, an endless creation jam-packed with fascinating life exists. I’m glad that explorers, scientists and philosophers pushed the limits, or life as we know it would not exist. Those who reduce their curiosity to what their parents told them was permissible when they were children are boring people.

Back and forth: Of course, a lack of boundaries can cause problems. Two types of people without boundaries are rapists and prostitutes.   The rapist says that he can have any part of someone else he wants. He literally enters another human being, attempting to merge with and claim what is not his. No boundaries. The prostitute says that anybody can have her. Again, no boundaries. No limits.

Back and forth: Too many boundaries are a problem. These people live in fear, rigid, self-restricted, which is a terrible way to live. Too few? Too many? I like the word “appropriate.” Marion Aldridge

“When you feel yourself becoming angry, resentful, or exhausted, pay attention to where you haven’t set a healthy boundary.” Crystal Andrus

“Appropriate boundaries create integrity.” Rae Shagalov

“The more severe the dysfunction you experienced growing up, the more difficult boundaries are for you.” David W. Earle

“Boundaries aren’t all bad. That’s why there are walls around mental institutions.” Peggy Noonan, Patriotic Grace: What It Is and Why We Need It Now

Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Family, Health, Quotations, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

My Writing Life

My Writing Life

Marion D. Aldridge

(I need to get this off my computer or I will never get any writing done.)









Stare out the window

Make sure paper tray is full





Bathroom break

Get coffee

Check Facebook status

Check retirement account on-line


Start over




Consider doing actual research

Reject the idea of actual research

Take a nap

Start a different, mindless project, such as this one








Change chairs




Resist temptation to turn on TV


The end

Categories: Humor, Lists/Top Ten, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

At one time in my life, I believed each of these statements…


  1. Dogs were males and cats were females.
  2. Pregnant women had eaten a watermelon seed, and the watermelon was growing inside them.
  3. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy were real.
  4. My mom and dad were better Christians than our pastor and his wife because my mom and dad only had two kids which indicated they had had sex (whatever that meant) twice, and the pastor had four children which showed they had had sex four times.
  5. Saying the word “pregnant” was wrong. If the “condition” required a word, “expecting” was preferred.
  6. As a young entrepreneur, I thought I could sell two pieces of penny bubble gum for 3 cents. I learned I was wrong when I sat in front of our house on a busy street all day long and sold none.
  7. All Russians were bad.
  8. All Americans were good.
  9. Black people were somehow inferior to white people.
  10. You can trust people to do what they say they will do.
  11. Having an “official” forum (radio, television, pulpit or print media) suggests you must be right. People would say, “I heard it on the radio. It must be true.”
  12. North Augusta, South Carolina, was the capital of the world, and its geographical center.
  13. Schoolteachers do not curse.
  14. All families have a mother and a daddy.
  15. Powerful and important people (especially those in the church, the school, politics and the military) are good and are right and are to be respected and obeyed.
  16. People who drink alcohol are immoral, wicked people.
  17. Marriages should forever be full of romance and continuously happy. If married people argued, something was wrong with the marriage.
  18. My religious heritage provided the only right way to be in good standing with God.
  19. Foreigners or Immigrants who have difficulty with the English language are not as smart as “normal” people without accents.       (It did not occur to me, until embarrassingly late in my life, that the person who was struggling with English was at least bi-lingual—many immigrants speak or understand three or four languages—and I was the dolt with limited linguistic skills.)

(From Chapter 9 in my book, Overcoming Adolescence)

Categories: Book Review, Faith/Spirituality, Family, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

My Favorite Religious Movies

By religious, I mean movies about faith, not necessarily Christian or so-called family values. Sometimes, the movies ask tough questions. They are not always inspirational. I have never particularly liked movies about Jesus, because, in my opinion, no movie even comes close to depicting Jesus as I understand him. I suspect the Jesus of history does not resemble the Jesus of motion pictures.

For religious movies, the bar is pretty low, but there are some classics. These are in alphabetical order, not in the order of my preference.

A Man Called Peter

  1. A Man for All Seasons
  2. Amazing Grace
  3. Ben Hur
  4. Brother Sun, Sister Moon
  5. Chariots of Fire
  6. Dead Man Walking
  7. Eat, Pray, Love
  8. Elmer Gantry
  9. Entertaining Angels
  10. Fiddler on the Roof
  11. Gandhi
  12. Going My Way
  13. Lilies of the Field
  14. Malcolm X
  15. Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  16. Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  17. Saved
  18. Shoes of the Fisherman
  19. Song of Bernadette
  20. Soul Surfer
  21. The Bells of St. Mary’s
  22. The Chosen
  23. The Hiding Place
  24. The Mission
  25. The Nun’s Story
  26. The Passion of Joan of Arc
  27. The Robe
  28. The Scarlet and the Black

Which movies would you add to this list?


Categories: Book Review, Faith/Spirituality, Family, Lists/Top Ten, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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