A mom wrote to me, I just returned from Thanksgiving dinner. The highlight of the day was the conversation between my nephew and my son, both of whom are recovering addicts. They are in such a good place in their lives, looking and feeling human again. I marveled at their strength, courage and honesty. They had us in tears, we laughed so hard. I’ve learned never to lose hope. Heartfelt thanks. 

My reaction: Jeff, when he was deep in the throes of his addiction, once told me, “You believe in me more than I believe in myself.” He tells me today that I was right. Someone has to believe because without hope, all is lost. There is a Tibetan expression in which I’ve found strength, “Even if the rope breaks nine times, we must splice it back together a tenth time. Even if ultimately we do fail, at least there will be no feelings of regret.”

Today’s Promise to consider: I will keep believing and hoping, especially during the most difficult times. I will lean on God, reach out a hand to another and remember that it is through difficulty that we grow. I will take time every day for heartfelt thanks.




Granddaughter Iysa loving life.

A dad wrote to me: My son overdosed at the age of seventeen. I was in the E.R. with him the entire time. No one knows the fears, the thoughts, the excruciating pain that someone in this position experiences, except those of us who have been there. From that horrific day onward, I have chosen to look at the glass half full. Every day my son is still here is a wonderful blessing.  Sometimes we need to be reminded of what is truly important in our lives.

My reaction: When Jeff and Jeremy were young, we’d begin our Thanksgiving meal with a prayer and then each person would respond to the sentence starter, “Today I’m thankful for ….” Now I wonder why this was only a once-a-year routine. Maybe I should have asked this on a daily basis. Ray Haas, a dear friend and teacher at our school, once asked Dan Butler, our maintenance man, “How is your day, Mr. Butler?” Dan responded, “Mr. Haas, any day my feet hit the floor is a good day.” Mr. Butler had it right.

Today’s Promise to consider: I’ll remember what is truly important in my life, not just once a year and not just today, but every day. I’ll work to make it part of my daily routine. Every day will begin with a thanksgiving.


A mom wrote to me: In your last entry, the recovering person wrote that the worn cowboy boots reminded her, “…of the fact that something weathered by experience can indeed be beautiful again.” This idea of weathering made me think of the ‘weathering’ we’ve had with our own parents, children and life’s challenges. Those experiences, no matter how painful at times, can be sources of huge growth when met with honesty and forgiveness on our part.

My response: We all have our own personal histories when the storms of life have tossed us around and ‘weathered’ us. I’ve traveled tough roads, not just with Jeff’s addiction, but also with cancer, divorce and other difficulties. Sometimes I’ve held resentments and have been slow to forgive others or myself. Holding onto the pain wasn’t good for anyone and only prolonged the healing.

Today’s Promise to consider: I will value the weathering in my life, those times of darkness, trauma and suffering. As heavy as they’ve been, I’ve grown through them. We’ve all made mistakes: parents, children, friends and life’s partners. Today, I’ll forgive someone else; today, I’ll forgive myself.



A recovering alcoholic wrote to me: I just celebrated my three years of sobriety. What a day it was! My husband surprised me with a fabulous pair of very weathered, but beautifully hand-embroidered cowboy boots. I wear them almost every day (even if just while I’m making dinner!) in remembrance of the fact that something weathered by experience can indeed be beautiful again.

My reaction: The journey to sobriety is a hard-won victory, and I have great respect for those who have made this walk. Every day without alcohol or drugs is a success, and every month of living a drug-free life gives us hope. I learn from those who have traveled the road and fought to regain their life and freedom.

Today’s Promise to consider: Today, I reaffirm my faith that people can choose a better life, a different life, and a life of promise. I celebrate with all those who have found their sobriety, one day at a time. I, too, believe that something weathered by experience can indeed be beautiful again, and sometimes it can become even more beautiful than it was to begin with.



A mother wrote to me: I enjoy your weekly emails, but recently have begun to feel resentful and jealous of these inspirational stories. I guess that’s because after all these years, I feel powerless and hopeless. My hope has turned to fear and my love is turning to hate. I am financially and emotionally drained. My son has been to seven different rehabs and is currently in detox. He was sober for eighteen months while being monitored in a drug-court program, but started using again after he completed the program. I have no strength to go on. I am desperately seeking help, but no longer know where to turn. 

My reaction: I thank this mother for writing because I, too, know this feeling of pain and resentment. I have felt my hope turning to fear and my love on the verge of despair. I have wondered why another family seemed to be doing well and mine didn’t. Why do some kids achieve and succeed while others don’t? Why is my son an addict when many of his friends are not? I’ve learned there are no answers. And when I stopped searching for them, I found peace.

Today’s Promise to consider: Bad things happen to good people. This is a hard, but undeniable fact of life. I acknowledge that my loved one and my family are in pain; however, even when faced with hardship, I’ll work hard to maintain hope. I’ll reach out my hand for support to Al-Anon and in prayer. As long as there is life, there is hope.