What Doesn’t Kill You…

Gene and I are over seventy. I guess that makes us officially “old.” But we’re not. Except for the arthritis that’s hurts most days, we’re still very active and engaged in our community. But we were tested a few days ago when we went hiking around Mt. Baker.

On our last day, we went on a hike without reading about it first. Heliotrope Ridge took a while to get to by car. But the views of Mt. Baker made it worth it. We were so uplifted by the calm beauty all around us that we were inspired to stay there and go hiking. But we should have read the book first.

It was grueling from the beginning. A hiker on the way back gave me hope: “This is the worst part!”

I thought she meant just this stretch, but I soon found out she meant the whole two miles in. Mostly up.

Gene and I walk almost every day. Nice relaxing flat walks on our beach or along the peaceful road on Camano Island. But we can’t do much elevation, certainly not 1200 feet. I have COPD and his lungs are even more shot than mine.

It took us a long time, but we made it. I was pretty miserable huffing and puffing all the way up, and so was he. Even coming down I was in a bad mood, this time complaining about my knees and my broken toe.

Well, I learned the difference between happiness and joy. I was not happy by the surface discomforts of going on a strenuous hike. But I came away feeling joyful: joyful that I pushed ahead without turning back; joyful that I accomplished something difficult; and most of all, joyful that I could dig deeper into my core and convert a challenge into a valuable lesson.

What did I learn? That I’m stronger than I thought I was. And I still have lots of living and growing to do.

Because We’re Worth It!

From Each Day A New Beginning,May 27:

“’As the wheel of the decades turns, so do a person’s needs, desires, and tasks. Each of us does, in effect, strike a series of “deals” or compromises between the wants and longings of the inner self, and an outer environment that offers certain possibilities and sets certain limitations.’” ~Maggie Scarf

People change. We all do. Life continues to happen. And, as they say, we learn to roll with the punches. I began my recovery journey seventeen years ago. And my reason for starting it has morphed into something else. I joined 12-Step recovery to save my daughter Angie from drug addiction. In time I learned that I couldn’t save her from herself. But I could save myself from being destroyed by the family disease of addiction. And that’s why I’ve stayed—so that I can learn to live well. And what a journey it’s been!

I wasn’t living well

  1. Obsessing about Angie and how to save her, ignoring my other children.
  2. Nearly bankrupting myself paying off her debts, sending her to many rehabs when one or two might have been enough to give her the tools she needed to choose recovery.
  3. When I didn’t call the police every time she stole from me, including my identity multiple times. It taught her nothing and saddled me with even more guilt for being an irresponsible parent.
  4. When I was so wrung out from it all that I collapsed into clinical depression and had to retire from my job.

No, before I chose recovery I was not living well. But after seventeen years of learning to let go of things I can’t control, I have learned to embrace my life with a refreshing energy that gladdens my heart as I wake up every day. Life may not have turned out to be everything I had hoped for, but it’s still pretty darn terrific if I keep my focus on taking care of myself and gratitude for all my blessings. Life is good. I’m glad I’m figuring out how to live it well!

Make Room For Love


From Courage to Change, December 8:

“As I release my resentments, I can extend compassion to the alcoholics in my life. I can love myself enough to love them too, even though I hate the disease that hurts us both.

I become so full of love and compassion that I can’t keep it bottled up inside. I need to share it with others. My compassion becomes the healing light of my Higher Power shining through me to welcome and comfort other friends and family members of alcoholics.”

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” I have observed how anger and resentment have made people I know sick. So I’ve never forgotten this quote that I picked up in the rooms. Whenever I start to feel burdened with resentment towards someone, my blood pressure goes up and I lose my serenity. That’s when I make an effort to shed it like a dog’s coat in the summer. The dog is much cooler and I feel lighter!

Serenity Every Day


From Hope for Today, November 12:

“Serenity? What is that? For years I was like a weather vane that spun around according to the air currents that other people generated… I attributed these mood swings to nervousness, lack of assurance, and whoever else occupied the room at the time. Serenity always seemed beyond my control… Where does this serenity come from? It comes from trusting that everything in my life is exactly as it should be… It comes when I choose to care for myself rather than to fix someone else…

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: I am powerless over many things, but my serenity is not one of them.”

“Trusting that everything in my life is exactly as it should be…” That’s the hard part, because everything in my life is not great. My daughter Angie is lost to me and has been, on and off for seventeen years. How does one learn to live with that? Everyone is different, but I find serenity by focusing on my blessings. They’re all around me: my other children, my grandchildren, and nature. The honeysuckle just blows me away with its fragrance, and the Spanish broom is an explosion of bright yellow in my back yard. My friends and my partner Gene are my daily supports. And God—he pilots my ship. In spite of my loss, I find myself saying all the time, and feeling sincerely in my heart, that life is good. And I’m filled with the elevating power of gratitude.