Granddaughter Iysa and cousin Leah

Granddaughter Iysa and cousin Leah

A friend wrote to me, This week, we laid a family friend to rest; it was a sudden and unexpected passing. The Reverend’s sermon was, in short, Life is a Gift.  This is something that I know to be true; however, I have not been true to it: rushing, being busy and distracted. Her sermon to me was SLOW DOWN and focus on the present.

My reflection: It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of this season, busily trying to accomplish our to-do list and allowing ourselves to be distracted. This is one of the few times during the year (maybe the only time) that people pause and schedule time with family and friends.

Today’s Promise to consider: I will enjoy this time with family, friends or quietly by myself. Life can be a roller coaster, but today I will slow down and focus on what is important and who is important. These global pauses happen infrequently and I will cherish them.


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Son Jeremy and daughter Iysa

My brother JF wrote: The Christmas of 1991 found me recently separated, and with joint custody of my eleven-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son.

After a few hours (of being together with their mother at our family home), I brought them over to my place for a nice lunch…hey, I’m Italian; we gotta eat…and more presents. Finally it was time to return them. I walked them to her door, and then grabbed myself two armfuls of children. “Merry Christmas, kids. I love you very much.” “Merry Christmas, Daddy. We love you, too.”

And as I stood there, the door slowly closed in my face, and the deadbolt clicked into place. I can still hear that click. And I became overwhelmed by the crushing realization that, for the first time since I had my little angels, they would be somewhere on Christmas where I couldn’t go. Where I wasn’t even welcome.

Now intellectually I knew, of course, that not everyone is thrilled on Christmas; that many people get together simply out of habit or obligation. I knew that. But with my emotions wrecked, at every house I passed I was certain that all of them were filled with love and beauty and children and happiness. And the homes with lots of cars out front made me feel even worse.

(The entire article:

 My reflection: The holidays can be tough times, especially when your child is an addict. I remember well the Christmas of 2006 when neither Jeff nor Jeremy came home. Our lives were chaos. I wept through most days, feeling desperate for the broken state of our family.

Today’s Promise to consider: The holidays are stressful enough without me adding all the expectations of what I think a happy family looks like and acts like. This season, I will be gentle with myself and my loved ones. Yes, I will be gentle.






941292_10151747144872869_1497866766_nA young man wrote to me, As a recovering addict, I know well that relapse happens. It took me many attempts to find sobriety. Each addict is unique in his or her own way, but for me I spent more than a decade avoiding the true problem – myself. Drugs filled the void inside me, an empty space of insecurity and anxiety (and sure a rebellious side when I was young). The road to recovery is a long one and the answer lies within the addict.

My reflection: This young man has courage: courage to face himself, courage to acknowledge his fears and courage to fight every day to live a sober life. As a parent when Jeff was in active addiction, I threatened, cajoled, pleaded and would have sold my soul for his recovery. But all my machinations were futile. My son had to find the answer inside himself, and for himself.

Today’s Promise to consider: Relapse happens. If it does, I will love my child and will remind myself that I don’t have the power to cure the addiction, fix it or make it go away. I will allow my child to find the answer inside himself.






Jeff - BKA mom wrote to me, My son relapsed, again. After eight months of sobriety, his love affair with drugs overpowered his strength to fight the urge to use again. After I received ‘the dreaded phone call’ that unfortunately we all know too well, I was strangely able to remain calm…that is only after I heard his voice and knew he was safe.

What is a mother to do? His father and I offered him a safe environment for the night and life resumed with the clear expectation that in the morning our son would return to work and come clean with his boss. All we could do was to tell him what we would offer him and allow him to make his choices.

There was no chaos, no yelling, no blaming or judging…no ‘drama’ this time around. In fact, my husband and I did not give our son the forum to disrupt our lives (or our other sons’ lives) as we have so often in the past. Addiction and relapse are not new to us, but this time what was new is that we did not give addiction the power to disarm us and our family.

My reflection: This mom’s response reminds me of something Dr. Kevin McCauley, Institute for Addiction Study, told me years ago, “Relapse is part of this disease and parents often respond to it with a kind of ‘I caught you’ mentality, a way of saying, ‘you messed up again, you loser.’” Instead, he encouraged me to remain calm, to give Jeff clear boundaries and to provide and options for recovery. The mom and dad above did just that. This inspires me.

Today’s Promise to consider: Relapse happens. If it does, I will respond with a calm attitude and provide clear boundaries for my addicted loved one. The fellowship of Al-Anon and my daily practice of the 12 Steps remind me that I can’t cure addiction, but I can stay close and try to keep myself and my family safe.