A mom wrote to me: My son is miraculously almost a month sober thanks to some guardian angels in AA, who are showing him there is a better way. He has been to many rehabs, but never fully bought into the message of AA. This time he has been embraced by some very good people, and this has been the missing link all along. The program has done for him what no amount of love, effort, or money has been able to do before.

My reflection: My son was also in dozens of rehabs, half-way houses, and detox centers, and I’m sure they made some difference, like drops of water on a rock. But for fourteen years, he continued his decline into a life of drugs, ultimately heroin, until he was almost dead.

Today’s Promise to consider: We can love, cajole, weep for, and finance our loved ones as they suffer the consequences of their disease, but they are the ones who need to make the final decision to live in the solution. They have to want it and have the courage to fight for it. For my son, the good folks in AA made an undeniable difference. There he found his ‘angels,’ who understood his trauma and supported his many steps along the path to wellness. They had walked-the-walk, and they helped my son find his way out of the chaos of addiction’s grasp.


A mom wrote to me: I know we are not alone, but I hate answering questions about my children. In fact, I avoided a gathering at my mother’s house with some dear neighborhood friends because I didn’t want to be asked how my sons were doing and have to pretend all is well. My dad has passed and his dearest friend asked me how I was doing with my boys. I answered honestly, “Not the best.” He replied with kindness, “I’m sorry. I see you are struggling.” He understood and didn’t judge me. I am blessed to have shared a few minutes with him.

My reflection: The Big Book of AA says that addiction can only be defeated through rigorous honesty and the help of a power greater than ourselves. There were many times I lied about my son’s addiction and our family problems. After much time and even more failed attempts at hiding the truth, I finally decided to respond honestly. It wasn’t easy, but I released myself from worrying about what people thought of me.

Today’s Promise to consider: Today I will listen to others without judging. I will respect their right to share their truth and I will be there for them, just as others were there for me. When I’m ready to answer questions about my child’s struggles, I will, but I won’t feel coerced into responding. I’ll listen to my gut and follow my heart. I will pray for wisdom.


2018 International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission, Dragon Boat Festival

A mother wrote to me, When my son was in active addiction, my mother always said to me, “Hope when there is no hope.” I have repeated this over and over again through the years, and it has always brought me comfort. She also said, there is no sense worrying – it doesn’t help anything, it doesn’t change anything, it just makes us miserable. Give it all to God. Hope when there is no hope. Amen.

My prayer for today: Today, let us join together in solidarity as we face the crises that confront us individually and as a global community. Today, let us help one another and reach out our hand in love and unity. Today, let us give our burdens to our Higher Power, the God of our understanding, because worrying doesn’t change anything. Today, let us hope when there is no hope. Amen.

Misconception #9: Service is not an important part of recovery

From my son, I learned: Living in sobriety is about giving and receiving. Reaching out a hand to help another person strengthens both the addict and those he tries to help.

My reflection: When my son was in the midst of recovering, I was afraid that others would lead him off track and divert his attention. I thought it best if he spent time dedicated to self-care and to his personal recovery program. Fear drove me.

Today’s Promise to consider: True recovery is learning how to have healthy, meaningful relationships and how to interact with others, without drugs. Service – reaching out a hand and helping another person – gives the recovering addict a sense of purpose, an opportunity to regain a feeling of self worth, and a forum to engage the world in meaningful ways. Today, I will encourage my recovering loved one in his efforts to contribute. It is in giving that he receives.




Photo Credit: Davood Madadpoor

New York Times, June 5, 2017: Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50. (Josh Katz, Drug Deaths in America Are Rising Faster Than Ever)

My reflection: Heroin is the cause of many overdoses, but numbers of deaths are increasing due to heroin laced with the illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Worse yet, there is now a substance called carfentanil that is used to tranquilize large animals like elephants and is 1,000 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 times more potent than morphine.  

Today’s Promise to consider: The opioid epidemic is claiming young lives and it seems unstoppable. We must all join hands to educate our loved ones. Children need open and honest forums to talk about their experiences and to learn about the massive dangers of drugs. We must stay close, help our loved ones in need to find good recovery centers, work with legislators on stronger health care, and pray.



Photo credit: Mikele Roselli-Cecconi

Photo credit: Mikele Roselli-Cecconi

A recovering addict wrote, Things couldn’t be better for me. I’m almost nine months sober, very active in a 12-step program and working at Apple. Life is drama free and I’m keeping things as simple as possible. No sex and relationships for a year! I volunteer to be of service, and I even pray and meditate daily – most days that is. Life has finally smoothed out. No more daily pain and depression. I’m involved and present with my family and loved ones. I’m well, content! Can you believe it?? It took long enough! But I was blessed with the gift of desperation…finally! And I was ready for change. So here I am!

My reflection: This young man’s renewed enthusiasm for life is inspiring. He wrote that he was blessed with the gift of desperation which is something The Big Book of AA points to as a profound turning point in many lives. The desperation of drowning in pain caused by active addiction is a powerful force and provided him the willingness to make some crucial changes.

Today’s Promise to consider: Addicts are not the only ones who are blessed with the gift of desperation. When my son was at his worst, I, too, was desperate, and it was at that moment that I learned to surrender. Today, I pray that all our loved ones, who are suffering with addiction, will be gifted with the strength to start on the road to a healthy life. And I pray for all of us, who love them, for our peace.



Son Jeremy, Granddaughter Iysa, Libby, son Jeff

Son Jeremy, Granddaughter Iysa, Libby, son Jeff

An Italian friend wrote to me: For six months now, two or three days a week, my mother goes to my brother’s recovery community and helps the girls design and make bags. In this way, my mother has the possibility to ‘stay close’ to my brother without ‘staying attached’ to him. When she works on the bags, it feels like all the suffering was not so important: we live “Hic et Nunc”, Here and Now. We are able to joke, smile, laugh, cry, be happy and above all be HIC et NUNC! How many times I’ve prayed to be able to live ‘here and now’ and not think about all the ifs, buts and whys. My family has found the possibility to grow in spite of sorrow. We are understanding how to stay close without being dependent.

My reflection: When Jeff was in active addiction, living in the present seemed impossible – my mind was a constant wash of regrets, past hurts and disasters yet to come. This didn’t serve me well and it didn’t serve our family. Jeff’s 14-year addiction is teaching me how to live “Hic ed Nunc” – to be mindful of the moments, the little victories. When I’m able to live in the present and without the ifs, buts and whys, life is more steady.

Today’s Promise to consider: Today, I will live ‘Hic et Nunc,’ the Latin term for ‘here and now.’ I will let go of yesterday’s sufferings, and I won’t obsess over the future. I will work toward staying close without staying attached. I will be grateful for the moments.

ONE LIFE AT A TIME: 41 years strong


Harry: A 22 year love affair with drinking, 17 years in the Navy, and now a drug/alcohol counselor celebrating 41 years of sobriety on March 23, gave me this poem:         

A little boy walked carefully along a crowded beach

Where starfish by the hundreds lay there within his reach.

They washed up with each wave, far as the eye could see

And each would surely die if they were not set free.

So one by one he rescued them, then he heard a stranger call,

“It won’t make a difference…you cannot save them all.”

But as he tossed another back towards the ocean’s setting sun,

He said with deep compassion,
”I made a difference to that one!”

My reflection: Harry has dedicated his life to helping those who are suffering find recovery. In his journey, he made a profound difference to my son and has made a difference to many others. Our family will be eternally grateful for his work.

Today’s Promise to consider: The Talmud says, “He who saves one life, saves the entire world.” Alcoholics Anonymous was started by one man: Bill Wilson. From there, countless lives have been saved. Great change can start with one person. Today, I’ll reach out my hand and help someone else. We can all make a difference – one life at a time.




IMG_1082A recovering addict wrote to me:
27 months.
Upward, outward.
Freedom, Choices.
The miracle of contented sobriety.
From the fiery wreckage of one life, the sprigs of a new life emerge…
for me, for my family, and for those around me.
Hope is available through God-dependence and service to others.

My reflection: This young man’s words are full of promise and gratitude. His chains of addiction now broken, his life is an example of sobriety in action. This is powerful and reminds those of us who love addicts that a sober life is indeed possible.

Today’s Promise to consider: When we feel desperate, at our wits-end, and ready to give up, let us remember that where there is life there is hope. For today, I’ll hold on to this recovering addict’s words, “From the fiery wreckage of one life, the sprigs of a new life emerge…Hope is available through God-dependence and service to others.”



Jeff wrote, This is the first year that my New Year’s resolution was crystal clear: contribution. I need to do more for my community, to give back in bigger, more consistent ways – roll up my sleeves every week and offer my time and experiences to the people around me. The Big Book says, “To keep what we have, we need to give it away.”

My reflection: For years, I scoffed at making New Year’s resolutions. I felt silly resolving to do something I knew I would abandon after a few weeks. When Jeff told me his resolution, I thought I’d try again to resolve something because I, too, knew what I needed to do to be a better person. I will commit time each day to reading, praying and becoming more centered in myself and with my God.

Today’s Promise to consider: Even though I may not be a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, this year I will try. Jeff will contribute more to his community. I will grow stronger in my spirituality. Maybe we’ll all take some time to reflect on what is important to us. Happy New Year!