Review: Comfort Detox: Finding Freedom from Habits That Bind You

Comfort Detox: Finding Freedom from Habits That Bind You
Comfort Detox: Finding Freedom from Habits That Bind You by Erin M. Straza
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Simultaneously challenging and encouraging. The author doesn’t resort to guilt tactics, rather she inspires the reader to a deeper, more meaningful life than seeking personal comfort and avoiding risk. This is one to read slowly and “chew on.” I’ll need to return for a second or third read; I feel like there’s much more wisdom to be gained, here.

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Why I’m Voting for Claire Ball

(Part 3 of a 3-part series on the 2016 election.)

This is probably the easiest decision in the 2016 election for me–Claire Ball for Illinois Comptroller. According to the Illinois Constitution, the Comptroller’s responsibility is:

The Comptroller, in accordance with law, shall maintain the State’s central fiscal accounts, and order payments into and out of the funds held by the Treasurer.

The highest accounting position in Illinois is not, and never has been, held by an accountant. It's time we elected one. --Claire BallIn other words, an accountant. And yet, the position has never been held by an accountant. Claire Ball is a CPA with 10 years of accounting experience. Imagine, in Illinois of all places, electing someone who actually has the credentials and experience to do the job!


This position has been used as a political reward or career stepping stone by the people running for the entirety of its existence, and that needs to end. --Claire BallWhen you talk to Claire, it’s clear that she enjoys accounting and actually wants to do the job. She’s not just building credentials to run for governor, or put in place to help facilitate other politicians’ agenda. That’s how you can tell she’ll do the job and do it well.

I am someone entirely disconnected from the two-party powerhouse, and isn't that exactly the kind of person you want managing your state funds? --Claire BallOf course, one of the key principles of accounting is separation of duties, and Claire understands that. It’s why she doesn’t support merging the Comptroller’s office  with the Treasurers. And, as a Libertarian, she’s not beholden to the two-party system, so she’ll be open, transparent, and above all, responsible to the people of Illinois.

As a Libertarian, I don't care who your father is, and I don't care what you can do for me.I don't care what letter follows your name. If you try to play games with our money, I will call you out on it. --Claire BallFinally, she’ll help to bring accountability to local governments as well by reviewing and following up with payments at that level as well as opening the books so everyone is held accountable. And, let’s be honest, couldn’t the state of Rod Blagojevich, George Ryan, Rita Crundwell, and many others do with a some transparency and accountability?

Bottom line, if ever there’s been an ideal candidate for an office, it’s Claire Ball for Illinois Comptroller.



Why I’m Voting for Gary Johnson and Kent McMillen

(Part 2 of a 3-part series on the 2016 election.)

In Part 1, I described why it’s important for me to vote for an alternate party. Here I’ll get into actual policy reasons why I support the Libertarian Party national candidates–Gary Johnson for President and Kent McMillen for U.S. Senate.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

All Men are Created Equal

This is foundational to me as first a Christian and also as a Libertarian. Because I believe that everyone is equal, I believe that everyone’s most basic rights deserve to be protected equally. This is government’s purpose, and I believe  Johnson’s and McMillen’s platforms most closely reflect that.


Here is where I’m probably going to make people from all sides angry. But I’m a Libertarian, so I’m used to that–here goes. When I say, “pro-life,” I mean it much more comprehensively than just anti-abortion. I believe that protecting life is the highest calling of government. That’s why we shouldn’t send troops into harm’s way for endless wars and nation-building. It’s why we need police trained to deescalate situations, not armed to go to war with their own communities.

Specifically on abortion, I will vote for Johnson because he’s the most pro-life candidate on the ballot. I don’t buy the line that Trump is suddenly pro-life. He literally changed his position three times in one day, after being loudly pro-abortion for years. And nothing about him tells me I should trust him. Further, his misogynistic comments and defense of his own sexual assault bragging help to enable the demand for abortion (I believe it’s as much about men as women). And Clinton’s support for expanding abortion (even abandoning the “safe, legal, and rare” policy) is completely abhorrent to me. At least Johnson’s position of allowing abortion up to the point of viability of the fetus is a moving target given medical advances (it’s already gone from 30-some weeks down to 20-some weeks).

Regarding military intervention, both Johnson and McMillen will oppose using our military for purposes other than defense. They also believe that the war on drugs, which all too often pits police and their communities against each other, is a failed policy that needs to be brought to an end, treating the drug problem as a public health problem rather than a criminal justice problem.

Because of these policies, I believe these Libertarian candidates are the best candidates for securing the right to life.


If Libertarians aren’t good on protecting liberty, we’re in trouble. Libertarians have long sought to keep government out of places where it doesn’t belong. Regarding marriage, the LP is the only party that affirms the Biblical view that marriage is not the federal government’s to give or take. Similarly, the LP is the only party willing to take the Fourth Amendment seriously and be willing to end the mass surveillance foisted on us by the Bush and Obama administrations.

Pursuit of Happiness

I take the pursuit of happiness to be about ensuring a level playing field. Again, the issue of the War on Drugs and mass incarceration come up. These, combined with the results of slavery and Jim Crow, have created a situation that keeps down poor communities, and especially people of color. Ending the War on Drugs would be a big step toward addressing this.

Sensible immigration reform (removing barriers to legal immigration) also allows legal ways for immigrants and refugees to enter the country.

Fiscal responsibility also factors in, here. Balancing the budget and reducing the debt ensure a healthy economy for the future. Restructuring the tax code to a fairer, simpler system would save money and create a more level playing field for all.

Aside from the policy reasons, the Johnson/Weld ticket brings the most executive experience as well as offering a reprieve from the constant scandals that have followed both Clinton and Trump–and will continue to follow them into the White House if elected.

Why I’m Voting Third-Party

(Part 1 of a 3-part series on the 2016 election.)

Back in 2012, which now seems like the good ol’ days of presidential politics, I wrote a post and a follow-up about how I approach voting. My general approach hasn’t changed much, but some other things have. I’ve gone from a small-l to a capital-L Libertarian. I’ve also come to believe more in the importance of local politics, which led me to start a local Libertarian Party chapter and to consider running for local office (probably coming in 2017).

I still believe, and now more strongly than ever, that the only way way for my vote to count (particularly in a non-swing state) is to vote for an alternate party candidate.  I’ve been hearing for years that I should ignore my convictions and vote for someone I don’t believe in because the alternative is somehow worse. This year it is more evident than ever. The result of two-party, lesser-of-two-evils politics has come to a head–two wildly unpopular, corrupt, candidates who I’m told I have to vote for or else I’m enabling the other.

Predictably, since this year’s candidates have been past the tipping point for many, more effort has been exerted attempting to convince voters that an alternate party vote is a wasted vote. Some even go beyond the ridiculous, “A vote for [alternate party candidate] is a vote for [major party candidate they don’t like],” but in essence they all end up making the same mistake–equating a non-winning vote with a wasted vote. But I choose to play the long game. Much can and will be accomplished through those “wasted” votes.

  • Nationally, 5% of the popular vote gives presidential candidates access to public funding. That is well within reach this election.
  • In Illinois (and several other states), 5% would drastically reduce the ballot access requirements. The Libertarian and Green Parties had to collect in excess of 50,000 signatures this year to be safe from challenges, while Republicans and Democrats only have to collect less than 10% of that. 5% would free up those party resources currently spent on ballot access.
  • Membership, activism, and awareness for alternate parties are way up this year, so a respectable turnout and vote will help fuel that going forward.

However, those are all mechanical reasons why my “wasted” vote counts. I’m not sure any of those would be enough to sway me by themselves.

I vote third party because view both major political parties as evils themselves (not just the candidate du jour). My Libertarian vote and activism is against both Republicans and Democrats equally because I believe they both perpetuate a harmful system for their own power, influence, and wealth. As a result, policies are continued that actually hurt and kill people, and the status quo is maintained because breaking the status quo might mean that Republicans or Democrats might lose power, or even worse, might have to actually run on a platform of ideas not just mindless attacks and fear-mongering.

People of principle don’t continue wrongs to maintain power. They are willing to risk defeat for the sake of what’s right.


Depression and Peace 

I sit here this evening, after a crazy busy day, watching the kids play in the yard. And I realize, I’m more at peace than I’ve been in years. Not just tonight, but overall. I sense it more, I think, as I’m on the upswing from 7 or 8 years of depression and anxiety. What a gift–and yes, I’m being intentionally vague. I’m coming to see both the peace and the depression as a gift.

Over the past two or three years, I noticed that the depression I’d become aware of was trending decidedly downward and that I needed help. So I asked for help from friends, pastors, and a mental health counselor. I’m grateful for all the advice and insight, but ultimately it was a psychiatrist and an antidepressant that brought about a change. So now I’m at the point where I’m at peace; I can honestly say that my life will feel complete if I can raise my family faithfully and leave the areas under my influence a little better. I would’ve believed that on some level before, but it’s true in a fuller sense now. Emotionally as well as intellectually, perhaps.

But, if given the opportunity to go back in time and erase the depression, I don’t think I would (not that I’m eager to get back, though). Here’s a few quick reasons I could think of:

  • I now understand peace in a way I just didn’t before. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” or something like that.
  • I have a richer understanding of how we humans operate as a whole person, how intricately interwoven our mind, soul, and body are. One thing in particular my psychiatrist said really punctuated it. I said that I was struggling to understand whether this was more mental or physical, and where the line was. His response was that there is no line. There’s no way I could’ve really grasped that without feeling the intensely crippling physical effects of a mental disorder and the mental relief from a chemical change.
  • I was able to create and interact with some art. Yellow is my best attempt at explaining the mental turmoil I faced (and continue to face) in story form. I connected with a handful of songs and artists that I just don’t think would’ve been as meaningful with a different mindset.
  • I have a few hundred more reasons to love my wife, who picked up more and more slack as I slid lower. Seriously, the woman’s amazing, I can’t say enough good about her.

I’m sure there are others, and it certainly was no fun. But I’m grateful to be able to start to see some good come out of it, and I’m ever grateful to the One who is able to make all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.