My gratitude list (2015)

SunriseAround the time of the American Thanksgiving holiday, I think about the things I am grateful for. I have found the “alphabetical gratitude list” to be a useful tool in cultivating an attitude of gratitude.

A — I am grateful for Age. Youth was fun, and there are times I wish I was young again. The perspective, experience, and, yes, wisdom that come with age are irreplaceable.

B — I am grateful for my Brother. He inspires me with his joy and engagement in life. He has faced challenges, setbacks, and disability with grace and acceptance. And yet, he continues to engage and celebrate what he has.

C – I am grateful for Children. I am grateful for my children, who have brought so much joy and challenges into my life. I am grateful for others' children, who are our future, and who keep my life from stagnating.

D – I am grateful for my Dog. He loves me unconditionally, but is also straightforward about making his needs known.

E – I am grateful for Electricity. It makes my life comfortable, and I wouldn't be able to do most of what I do without it.

F – I am grateful for Fall.

G – I am grateful for my Grandparents, who are no longer physically in my life, but who were a big part of my childhood, teaching me to appreciate the outdoors, and who loved me and supported me in a way different from my parents.

H – I am grateful for my Health. While I have issues, I am able-bodied and generally healthy.

I – I am grateful for Ice Cream. I enjoy its cool, smooth texture, and its melting deliciousness.

J – I am grateful for Junk. I am starting to be able to get rid of the junk I have accumulated in my life, and that is a good thing.

K – I am grateful for my Kitchen. I love to cook, to create wonderful flavors and to provide for my needs and those of my family.

L – I am grateful for Love. It is a gift to both give and receive love, and to be able to love myself whole heartedly.

M – I am grateful for my Mother. With her aging, she is teaching me to accept the now, rather than wishing for what was.

O – I am grateful for Others. Life would be easier without them, but it would also be infinitely more boring.

P – I am grateful for Podcasting. Doing the podcast has deepened my recovery and my appreciation of life. It has also brought some amazing people into my life, who I would never have met otherwise.

Q – I am grateful for Questions. As long as there are things I do not know, or do not understand, I continue to grow. When I have no more questions, I will be dead.

R – I am grateful for the color Red. It is bright and cheerful.

S – I am grateful for Silence. In the silence, I can hear that still, small voice within. In the silence, I can calm my “monkey mind”.

T – I am grateful for Transitions. Change is life, and life is change. Transition can be uncomfortable, but is also inevitable. I can reject it and be miserable, or accept it, live into it, and revel in it as I move into a new phase of living.

U – I am grateful for Underwear. It makes my life more comfortable.

V – I am grateful for Vision, both literal and figurative. My vision enables me to enjoy the lovely sunrise this Thanksgiving morning. My vision enables me to look ahead and to envision a new future.

W – I am grateful for Water. Water to drink is a necessity of life. Water as stream, river, lake, or ocean connects me to something larger than myself.

X – I am grateful for Xerography. Without it, there would be no copy machine, no laser printer. It also reminds me of a family friend who worked for Xerox, and who was a model for me in my professional life.

Y – I am grateful for Yams. We will enjoy this sweet, orange vegetable as part of our Thanksgiving dinner.

Z – I am grateful for Zest. A bit of lemon zest adds sparkle to a dish or a drink. A bit of zest adds sparkle to my life.

Holidays – A meditation

peace and loveHolidays can be difficult times for many of us. Each of us has our own reasons why. For some, our families are the reason we're in recovery. For some, our families just “push our buttons.” Family members can ignore our boundaries and dig under our skin. Sometimes, when we “go home,” we revert back to childhood roles and behaviors.

Holidays can be difficult because of expectations engendered by our past, or by society and the media. The holidays are “supposed to” be times of joy, happiness, and togetherness. If, instead, they are filled with loneliness or conflict, we can feel resentful or sad. We may never have the holidays of our dreams, we cannot capture the innocent enjoyment we had as children (if that was ever true for us.)

In recovery, we can find new ways to spend and even enjoy our holiday time. We can set aside expectations and live for the day, one day at a time. We can choose not to put ourselves in situations that trigger old feelings and behaviors. We can choose not to spend time with people who threaten our serenity.

A listener asked for suggestions of past episodes of The Recovery Show for the holidays. Here are my suggestions. If you have your own favorites, please email or comment here.

  • 62 – Changed Attitudes. “We believe that changed attitudes can aid recovery.”
  • 45 – Chaos. Are your family holidays full of chaos?
  • 5 – Choices. I don't have to follow others wishes, but can make my own choices.
  • 12 – Detachment. Other peoples behavior doesn't have to drive my feelings and actions.
  • 6 – Expectations. When I let go of expectations, I can enjoy what comes.
  • 54 – Family of our dreams. “We may never have the family of our dreams,” (How Al-Anon Works, p. 47) but we can live with the family we have.
  • 7 – Letting go. See “expectations,” above.
  • 34 – One Day at a Time. We can get through almost anything one day or one moment at a time. If we must spend time in uncomfortable situations, this slogan can help.
  • 39 – Self-Care. Taking care of ourselves can help us get through.
  • 92 – Triggers. Does your family trigger you? How do we reduce our reactions to triggers?



faith over fear – a meditation

how much love?



“Today, I am choosing faith over fear”



Recently, a friend shared in a meeting, saying,

Growing up in an alcoholic home, I learned to fear change. I have lived my life in fear. Fear has driven my decisions. Because of fear, I thought I had no choices. Today, I know that I do have choices. Today, I do not have to have fear as my constant companion. Today, I can choose faith over fear.

I did not grow up with alcoholism, but I have often let fear drive my life. I have stuck to a job, even when it's not the right one for me, because I feared not having a job. Fear of the unknown kept me stuck in the status quo. Almost every major change in my life was forced on me, because I was graduating college, because the funding for my job ran out, or because I was fired. I have ignored opportunities because I feared rejection. I hung in the corner at parties because you might not want to talk to me, or dance with me. Fear has kept me in a cage of my own making.

Recovery is showing me that I can break out of that cage. I can take a chance, I can make a choice for me. When fear tells me to “sit down”, I can reach out to my higher power for the strength to stand up. When fear says “you are worthless”, I can look at myself with eyes opened by my inventory and know it for a lie. When fear says, “you will fail”, I can choose faith instead, and walk into the unknown, confident in the guidance and support of a higher power who loves me and wants the best for me. When pain comes into my life, as it inevitably will, faith says, “this too shall pass.” I have learned that I have a choice, that I can choose faith over fear.

How do you choose faith over fear? When has faith let you move where fear would have rooted you in place? Share your experience, strength, and hope by email to, by voice mail at 734-707-8795, or use the voicemail button on this page.

A meditation for May 22, 2014.

Continue reading “faith over fear – a meditation”

let god – a guest meditation by Karla

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100



The eagle soars away into the sky
And yet he never plumbs the depths of space.
The four seasons give place to one another,
Yet never seem to have an end or a beginning.
When the one dry tree on the hill is blown down
By the timely wind, what can one do?

“Song of the Golden Elephant” in Mudra: Early Poems and Songs by Chögyam Trungpa, page 31

By Shambala Publications

Consciously working on my third step again “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him”, especially this morning as I put the results of my daily efforts in my Higher Power's hands. “May your will be done”, I repeated, as I got up and carried on with my day. Especially because I am beginning to write the first article I will ever write as a professional, and I feel scared. The above excerpt from a poem eased my pain, visualizing how everything changes in an infinite continuum, a continuous loss and gain through the changing seasons of my life and the universe.

I lost the key to my gym locker this morning and I have to pay a fee I do not want to pay to replace it. I felt a sense of loss about not being able to trust myself sometimes when I am distracted. I stopped a moment, held my head with both my hands, and felt the subtle pain of loss through my body. I repeated to myself a quote from Courage to Change “There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in it's hands.” ~Richard Bach. Then I got up, did what I had to do, and carried on with my day.

Life does not go as I expect it when I let go and let god, but it goes as is best for me.  I don't understand what gifts are wrapped withing my problems and challenges, but I trust those gifts are richer than I expect. I am willing to enjoy soaring into the sky, adapting to the ever changing seasons of life. Every time that life asks me to face my fears and myself, I want to feel my feelings and let go, one day at a time.

A meditation for March 29, 2014.

Continue reading “let god – a guest meditation by Karla”

Choice – a guest meditation from Brian

raft of medusa



This ain't no place for the weary kind
This ain't no place to lose your mind
This ain't no place to get left behind
Pick up your crazy heart and give it one more try

Ryan Bingham – The Weary Kind


Choice matters. I chose to come to the meeting tonight. My addict chooses to use. Choice matters.

Choice either moves us forward, backward, and sometimes by not choosing…we tacitly choose to remain where we are. Make no mistake choice matters.

The irrevocable truth  is that we are always keenly remember when we make that first and usually life altering choice….that first al anon meeting….that first Martini; that first cigarette, that first kiss, that first love.

Choice matters to everyone. The only thing we don't choose is the addicts in our life.  But we choose how to deal with them by first dealing with ourselves. Al anon is inherently good on how it deals with the bad.

The haunting Melody and Lyric of this work of art..this song called Crazy Heart has become my anthem is the well worn armour shielding   me from  the  baptism of fire we inappropriately name recovery.A state that has a beginning but no end.  Choice …a terrible beauty… matters.

In the art of Crazy Heart …the steel guitars cry endlessly into the black cold night. The twang of the icy steel  strings  reluctantly yet uncontrollably  drowns  us once again    deeper and deeper  into  the ocean abyss finally arriving at the bottom …. Home again….the bottom; the bone yard .piled high   with all the broken promises and unfulfilled dreams of wasted memory.

Some of us have already given up ….some in the process of given up….some of us want to give up. Yet we continue to come. We come week after week, month after month, and year after year. We come and we come and we come.

We come bent, broken on bended knee  …pleading, begging for some or something to drags out back into the light.

The broken spirit,hammered  again and again over  the anvils  of time , is as pure in form and nature   as the cold steel of the fearless samurai's blade. Behold the true disciple; with infinite heart and courage for all.

No matter what creed, no matter the different tale of love and loss….. yet always mystically the same clear unwavering yet always compassionate voice.

No advice  is given but instead  offered

Leave  the remnants of the moral carcass  of the pain and disillusionment in histories absente wake.

Words, rhyme,courage,and reason are all generously  enmeshed in the vibrant jungles of our mind .

The choice is ours. Choice in the beginning, choice in the end but choice in the present gets its due and proper.

The hardest and most difficult thing to see…. the only thing that comes to account is the here and now..

The lonely poets tears fill the cracks of our broken hearts. The random pieces of our soul begin the long painful crawl towards the completion of this puzzle branded choice.

This ain't no place for the weary kind
This ain't no place to lose your mind
This ain't no place to get left behind
Pick up your crazy heart and give it one more try


A meditation for February 1, 2014.

Continue reading “Choice – a guest meditation from Brian”