Today I am grateful for other people's insights into the human desire and need for stillness. (In this case Pico Iyer and Krista Tippett in an "On Being" podcast.) I am also grateful for the fuller understanding of honesty that I am continuing to learn.

Honesty is an essential and loaded word. Essential to deeper living and more fully realizing our own potential. Loaded because we can be masterful deceivers of our own thoughts and feelings.

Inability to be honest with ourselves can be fatal to alcoholics and addicts, perpetuating use and continuing the downward spiral. There is no cure for addiction, only ongoing recovery/remission or eventual death.

Rigorous honesty helps brings us out of the sick thinking and spiritual malaise that is really, in my opinion, at the heart of this disease. It helps brings us out of the powerless victim mentality into the light of solution-focused living.

It takes hard work. It takes the help and support of others. And their honesty with u…


Today I am grateful for the awe of stars in the morning sky and how that sense of awe helps me feel connected to a wider universe.

Grandiose is the "g" word on my mind today. It can be defined in a variety of ways. Excessively grand and ambitious. Bold. Overambitious. High-flown. They all fit. I especially like high-flown. It fits the elusive feeling I sought with each drink I took.

Alcoholics and addicts are grandiose in our thinking, especially when we are using. It may not last long, but it's a powerful grandiosity when it hits. It usually hit me a few hours into my drinking and not long before I bottomed out or passed out or blacked out, or all three.

My drinking days were well before cell phones and social media, and I am most grateful for that for a variety of reasons. But I was known to pick up the phone and call a few select people when I was in that grandiose mindset, late at night.

I had it all figured out and I wanted to talk about it. "It" was perha…

Forms of Freedom

Today I am grateful for my grandmother's holiday cookie recipes and the enjoyment of making them with my family yesterday. I am also grateful for pauses in my day, to be present and pay attention.

I used to think freedom came in a bottle or a can. Escape into alcohol and intoxication. Freedom from my loneliness, fears, limitations, and inhibitions. Freedom from the reality that I existed in but that fell short of what I wanted. Freedom to let go and be more social. Freedom to pursue what my shy self may not have been able to.

I looked forward to this escape, this freedom. But somewhere in there, before I even left high school, it turned on me and enslaved me. The freedom became necessity. The escape became more of a prison. We fought for a few years, alcohol and I. There were times I thought I might have the upper hand, but I was only fooling myself.

With defeat and surrender, with lower lows, I became more teachable, more open to the idea that my drinking was not the answer. It w…

Experience and Effervescence

Today I am grateful for a pleasant day experiencing the holiday spirit yesterday. It started with a chilly but satisfying run with Darcy and included a little gift-wrapping, holiday letter sending, time taking in the holiday decorations and lighting at the Mall of America, and classic holiday TV viewing.

I am also grateful for what my life's experience has taught me. Drinking experience didn't make me a better drinker, it made me more obviously a problem drinker. In my drinking days, my experience was literally showing me the progression of disease. Some of that I could only figure out in hindsight.

Some became obvious in the deeper pain I was feeling and trying to numb, more concerns in my own heart and more raised by others who care about me.

Experiencing anguish and turmoil helped me reach a point of surrender and seeking help. I wouldn't be in recovery today if I hadn't been in that dark spot then.

Another "e" word came to mind as I considered alcohol: ef…

Discipline Directed at this Disease

Today I am grateful for our dog Oliver and how he joyfully takes off running sometimes. (Though this morning he may have just wanted to get back in the house out of the cold.) I am also grateful for good actors in good TV shows. (In this case I am referring to "Mom.")

As far as diseases go, I do believe I am powerless over alcohol, but I do have some say in whether or not my alcoholism is active or in remission. Active alcoholism or active recovery? I can influence which is active with my choices, thoughts, and actions. But I need help too. Plenty of it.

It takes daily discipline directed at the disease, and daily guidance and direction from recovery friends, spiritual advisors, the Great Spirit in my life. And also from those closest to me who aren't on this recovery path, but who support me on mine.

Day in and day out diligence and vigilance. Practices. Prayers. Exercises of the mind and soul. Spiritual growth. Writing. Working. Sharing. Serving.

It is different in way…

A Clear Head, Clarity, and Thankful Contemplation

Today I am grateful for the soothing color and glow of our Christmas tree lights, and for the opportunities to say thank you to others at work.

Sobriety starts with getting a clear head. No more drinking and no more hangovers. I had many tough hangovers physically. I would sometimes force myself out for a run to sweat out the residuals. I treated the physical symptoms as the price to pay for the escape and "freedom" I got.

Recovery takes more than just a clear head though. It takes clarity of thoughts and feelings as well as spiritual clarity... the ideas that I am not alone, that I need help. When I do daily work for my daily disease, moments of clarity come. Not every day, but they come. And they are my best teachers, teaching me what I need to know for ongoing recovery. Surrender. Acceptance. Hard work. Humility. Feeling fully. Patience. Gratitude.

Moments of clarity can touch me to my core, to my very soul. It is when I truly know that recovery works, that right actions …

From Beer and Binges to Just Being

Today I am grateful for sweat and endorphins to help center my mind and body to start my day. I am also grateful for some morning conversation with my husband Darcy.

Beer. It was my drink of choice. Cheap for a high school and then college student. I pretty much would drink anything with alcohol in it, but beer was the most readily available so it was my go-to. It also fit the way I liked to drink. Once I started, it was continuous and in significant quantities. That wouldn't have gone well with more highly concentrated alcoholic beverages.

Pause. Plenty of gratitude that I didn't succumb to alcohol poisoning. There were certainly times I could have.

Now, in today's culture, there is such a trend of microbreweries. The community we live in has a new brewery downtown. Even in the rural area where I grew up, Winneshiek County, Iowa, there are three breweries. One is already internationally known.

Part of me is a bit jealous of this and the popularity of trying all these brew…