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Serenity Every Day

S 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...

The Yin and Yang of Living

1 From Each Day A New Beginning, April 8: “’Life is patchwork—here and there, pleasure and despair, Joined together, hit or miss.’ ~Anne Bronaugh As you look ahead to this day, you can count on unexpected experiences. You can count on moments of laughter. And you can count on twinges of fear. Life is seldom what we expect, but we can trust that we will survive the rough times. They will, in fact, soften our edges. Pleasure and pain share equally in the context of our lives. We so easily forget that our growth comes from the challenges we label “problems.”  We do have the tools at hand to reap the benefits inherent in the problems that may face us today. Let us move gently forward, take the program with us, and watch the barriers disappear.” If we remain steeped in sorrow, are we receptive to joy? If all goes well for us, are we prepared for the valleys? There will always be a mix of both in our lives. The trick is to find a balance and not be overwhelmed by either emotion. To be able to say, “Okay today was not a good day, but I’m confident tomorrow will be a good day.” I have found that when I look for joy, I find...

Just Love Them

J From Hope for Today, April 1: “Growing up in an alcoholic home gave me ample preparation to become a perfectionist. Almost nothing I did as a youth was ever right. Inside I felt rage at never meeting my parents’ expectations. I promised myself I would do things differently. By the time I reached my thirties, however, I could hear my parents’ critical voices speaking through me. I knew I was using the same words spoken to me.” I could have written that myself. And I’m so grateful for the awareness I’ve picked up from my years of recovery. In the early years of my daughter Angie’s addiction, I was oppressive in my attempts to get her to “buckle under and shape up.” What? Would I use those words if she had cancer or any other disease? I got quite an education in the rooms of recovery, first of all in accepting that drug addiction is a brain disease. The American Medical Association has been saying that since the 1950’s, but who was listening?  With that awareness, there was no room in my heart for judgment  or criticism. Only compassion, understanding, and love. Now, if I have any interaction with Angie, all that I say or do springs from the heart of a mother. I love my child. Some things are beautiful in their...

The Comfort Of Faith

From Each Day A New Beginning, November 24: “’If onlys are lonely.’ ~Morgan Jennings “The circumstances of our lives seldom live up to our expectations or desires. However, in each circumstance we are offered an opportunity for growth or change, a chance for greater understanding of life’s heights and pitfalls. Each time we choose to lament what isn’t, we close the door on the invitation to a better existence… The experiences we are offered will fail to satisfy our expectations because we expect so much less than God has planned for us in the days ahead… I will breathe deeply and relax. At this moment my every need is being attended to. My life is unfolding exactly as it should.” I’ve wrestled with my faith most of my life, always too self-reliant for my own good. But as I’ve watched my daughter succumb to heroin addiction, it has been a great comfort to me to learn how to harness a newfound belief in the power of something outside of myself, something I can turn to in my despair and know that something beautiful will come out of it. And it has: my whole life, and how I choose to live it now, is a...

FEAR: False. Evidence. Appearing. Real.

“In Al-Anon, the answer to ‘What if?’ Is: ‘Don’t project! Don’t imagine the worst; deal with your problems as they arise. Live one day at a time.’ I cannot do anything about things that haven’t happened; I will not let the past experiences make me dread the unknown future. ‘It is a vain and unprofitable thing to conceive either grief or joy for future things which perhaps will never come about.'” (One day At a Time in Al-Anon pg. 193) In another recovery book is this quote: “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow; it only saps today of its strength.”  A.J. Cronin said it better than I ever could. If I choose to put my foot in the future and worry about things that haven’t happened yet, both my feet are no longer planted in the present, and I’m not focused on what’s happening right now. The present, whether good or bad, is the only thing I can genuinely experience. So I owe it to myself to live it, learn from it, benefit from it, and go to sleep. Tomorrow will come soon...

Remembering Angie

  Today is my daughter’s 39th birthday. She made this tapestry for me after her first rehab. She was always interested in Oriental art and designs. I think the simplicity fascinated her. For a long time I couldn’t look at it. In my early recovery, I was still wedded to the “If onlys.” But over time, I’ve learned to let go of “might have beens” and appreciate what is. I hang the tapestry proudly on my wall now. It’s one of many of my happy memories of her. I had twenty-one years with her as my daughter before addiction hijacked  and transformed her. I’m grateful for the good years I had with my daughter. I love...