|Credit: Sarit Photography|
Name: Chris Grosso
What is your job? Author, Public Speaker, Musician
What social causes are most important to you? Addiction/Recovery
What non-profits do you support – and how? There are so many great non-profits out there like Reciprocity Foundation, The LoveMore Movement and so on, but the one I’m most aligned with is Toivo by Advocacy Unlimited in Hartford, CT.
Why do you have a passion for this one in particular, is there a personal tie? Toivo is an initiative that includes statewide classes/workshops and a mind-body focused wellness center where people can engage expert facilitated yoga, meditation, fitness and strength training, creative writing, expressive art, walk/run groups, nutrition workshops, drum circles and much more. They represent a celebration of the human experience in all of its forms and a belief in the unfathomable power of looking within for direction. They also believe that no one should be denied the benefits of yoga, meditation or any of our offerings based on socioeconomic standing, psychiatric history and/or experiences with addiction. So their values and passion are completely in line with mine, which makes it an honor for me to work with them on both a consulting basis as well as periodically teaching in-person workshops. I’ve personally struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and spent many years in and out of places like emergency rooms, jail cells, detoxes, rehabs and psychiatric hospitals. So to not only have survived all of that, but to have the opportunity today to be of service to others, and collaborating with a group such as Toivo, is truly an honor.
Is there a particular way you would want to encourage readers to be involved? Well, if you’re in the CT area do yourself a favor and stop by Toivo to check out one of the many classes they offer for completely free to the public. If you’re not in the area but this sounds like something that resonates with you, why not start something similar in your own area? God knows we could sure use it.
What does social responsibility mean to you? Well I really think Bill & Ted nailed it when they said, “Be excellent to each other.” Being a human being is fucking tough. There’s so much pain and sorrow and beauty and joy and terror and that can be a lot for anyone to try and navigate alone… so why not try and be the best possible person you can be each day, and not just for others, but yourself too. I’ve seen so many people get burnt out on caring for others but not including themselves in the process. I admire their commitment, but we are just as worthy of our love, care and attention as anyone else, so finding a balance, I believe, is very important. Give yourself some time each day to meditate or exercise or read or go hiking or skateboarding or do yoga or whatever it is that helps nurture yourself. But in the spirit of balance, be sure to make time to be of service to others. Some may be called to do things like volunteering in hospice, or in a soup kitchen. Maybe you’ll be inspired to start a non-profit like my friends at Reciprocity Foundation who help homeless, runaway, and foster care youth from all five boroughs of New York City. Maybe it’s writing a blog post that vulnerably shares a difficult experience you experienced and how you got through it. Or maybe it’s something as simple as paying the toll for the car behind you, or holding the door for someone while giving them a smile. Maybe that sounds corny, but man, a simple, sincere smile towards another can truly go a long way. So I believe our social responsibility is to help lift one another up, in whatever way we’re able to each day, and doing so with a bit of love in our hearts. In Ghostface Killah’s song Love he says, “Love, lift us up. Take us higher, like every ghetto flower.” So I mean, if Ghostface can get down with it, I believe we all can.
Do you have any tattoos that relate to your social work? I do… so, so many. Too many to name actually but here’s two for you: A pocket watch that reads “Today We Live” in a banner underneath. That’s in honor of those who are in recovery today (and not just from drugs, but anything that’s caused suffering in their lives) and being of service to others in the world. I also have the words “Living Kindness” tattooed across my hands representing a practice that’s rooted in the Buddhist tradition and helps us in cultivating love, compassion and kindness for both ourselves and others.
Quick list of tattoos - artists if you’d like? It’d be easier to say I’m about 75% covered. Full sleeves, back piece, chest, ribs, stomach, hands, knuckles, legs etc… I have a lot. The majority of my work has been done by David Nielsen at Phoenix Ink Tattoo in Plantsville, CT and Chris “Beaner” Rinaldi at Liberty Tattoo in Berlin, CT.