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Just For Laughs . . .



Slices Of Serenity


Winter Fortification

“Challenge yourself to build and arrange your emotions, relationships, your thoughts and expressions, in a manner that will stand strong throughout the longest and worst moments of winter, of life itself. Despite the weather, eternal spring is your reward for creating happiness and beauty all around you,” says Steve Johnson. Steve built the pictured dry-stacked stone wall last summer from solid reclaimed Pennsylvania blue stone; no stones were cut or trimmed. The wall is 25 feet long, 4 feet wide and 4 feet high.

Send your Slices of Serenity to The Phoenix for publication. Email high rez photos to juliaedelman@gmail.com and receive a free subscription to The Phoenix Spirit!

Exuberant Life!


The road to recovery is difficult for everyone whether you’re at the beginning or well into your journey. Incorporating wellness practices like good nutrition, exercise and improved sleep habits into your routine make your recovery easier and more successful.

Easier? You might think that sounds like extra effort when you’re already working so hard. Yet, for people in recovery, a healthy lifestyle is especially important for several major reasons. First, substance abuse causes damage to the body due to excessive stress. Second, alcohol and drug abuse can cause general malnutrition as well as specific nutrient deficiencies. Third, improved health increases your physical and mental strength which makes recovery more approachable and sustainable. Continue reading

Letter to editor:

Mary Lou Logsdon’s reflection on the ginkgo trees that line her street (“Letting Go,” November/December, 2014) was a reminder that many meaningful life lessons are gleaned by observing nature.  Her comments about “letting go,” based on the metaphor of trees losing their leaves in the fall, were not only thoughtful, but lyrical, as much akin to poetry as prose can get.  I’m saving her piece, so that I can share sections of it as the opening words for a future service at our Unitarian Universalist church.

Dear Editor:

Though I regularly find useful and supportive advice and information in The Phoenix Spirit, I was shocked by the tone of John Driggs’ latest column, which, in defending parents, came across as very blaming and shaming of (adult) children.

Here are a couple quotes that were especially troubling: “… no matter how problematic our childrens’ childhoods were there is absolutely no justification for their rejecting us today from their lives.  If they do so, they are doing so out of their own spite and cluelessness, not because they were harmed in childhood. ”

“All of us are obliged today to forgive our parents.”

I have never heard forgiveness characterized as an “obligation,” nor have I heard such blanket judgments about family circumstances, circumstances that John Driggs does Continue reading

Eleanor Leonard

Mahatma Gandhi said: “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” He was voicing ancient wisdom that goes as far back as the first century BC when the Roman poet, Virgil, wrote: “The greatest wealth is health.” Today we say, “If you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything.”

We seem to want good health. The majority of New Year’s resolutions center on the physical body: exercise more, quit smoking, eat better. Fitness clubs offer state-of-the-art equipment; Continue reading

john driggsUnspeakable:  When our Adult Children want Nothing to do with us

You know, e v e r y holiday and birthday is like a dagger in my back. Sometimes I just lie on my bed and cry my eyes out. I adopted Maria when she was two-years-old as I couldn’t have children of my own and had no husband. Her mom died of a drug overdose. She was the cutest little girl and loved following me around. I became her everything. Every time I left the room without her she would scream for attention. It took a long time for her to be a relaxed, regular child. She was quite popular with the other kids at school who thought she was charming and smart. Continue reading


Finding balance in our daily lives can be difficult in today’s fast-paced, smartphone- driven society. Five days a week, my smartphone leaves me feeling as though I am a critical- care neurosurgeon; on-call and always accessible. Without real private time, or privacy. Whether it’s work or family needs, all too often we are encouraged to play the role of the First Responder; always standing ready. Reports tell me that approximately one in five American women are on antidepressants, that tens of millions of our fellow Americans find themselves relying on food stamps, that the most prescribed drug in America is an opiate (Hydrocodone). The yin and yang of modern American Life appears to be stress and self-medication. Continue reading

We seek to live whole lives in recovery and wellness, but it is so easy to find parts of our lives that get compartmentalized or ceded away from recovery principles. Personal finance is one of those areas where the wisdom and tools of recovery could help, but many people get overwhelmed, and doubly so when debts are part of the picture.

Debt has become a new norm in American life. Think about how credit cards have become a part of everyday life. Fewer than half of consumers pay their credit card balance off in full each month, and the average debt load that is carried month after month is over $15,000 (at the typical 18% interest rate, that’s over $200 of interest paid every month). Continue reading

soriety_high - Copy……a large part of it at least, you live in a place designed to make you overweight and unhealthy. It was not designed this way on purpose; nonetheless, that’s the effect.

Sidewalk-less suburban cul-de-sacs keep you from walking. If you do walk, you face having to cross a four-lane highway to get to a store. Once at that store you are presented with a mile long row of boxed options disappearing into the horizon, all of them packaged with bright, distracting colors and most of them containing a great deal of sugar and fat. If this becomes overwhelming, as it often does, you just scuttle home, get in your car, drive to a Mickey D’s or TGIF’s, Continue reading

DrMichaelCotton518x395Many of us have heard of higher brain living — but what is it? Some brain researchers advocate energizing the pre-frontal lobes — the higher brain — to help us lessen the impact of unproductive “lower brain” stress responses.

Directly or indirectly, medical researchers believe that up to 90 percent of all medical office visits are a result of stress.

Our primitive survival brain, or lower brain, is the part of our brain physiology that is responsible for survival. It is a reactive part of our physiology that keeps us in the grip of stress, fear, anxiety, reactive impulse, addiction, and frustration. This region of our brain is resistant to change, because change comes with uncertainty, even when that change is positive. Continue reading

Why it’s so Hard for us to Keep our Resolutions

With another New Year under our belts, up to half (48 percent) of us made New Year’s resolutions. Only eight percent of us actually achieve the goals we set for ourselves. So why is it so hard for us to keep our commitment to our self-made promises?

There are really four main reasons why people aren’t able to achieve their annual goals,” says Joda Coolidge, health counselor. “From setting too many or just finding the time to work on them, most people fall into one of these common resolution traps.”

Resolution Pitfalls

Lofty Goals

People want to believe that as they enter a new year, habits will magically change overnight — but this just isn’t the case. Big arbitrary goals, Continue reading

“Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.”  —Paul Theroux

Winter is upon us. Daylight is sparse. Dark extends from late afternoon well into morning. The air is cold and houses warm. Long nights encourage long sleeps. It is slow-down-time, mid-winter’s gift. The rush, the energy, the holiday festivities have ended. The silent nights finally arrive. And what a gift they bring!

Winter forces me to slow down. If I don’t alter my winter driving I invite a fender-bender that would slow me even more. The prelude to winter walks includes gathering boots, hats, mitts after I’ve layered long-johns, sweaters and scarves. No dash out the door! My pace meets the sidewalk conditions. Slowed down, I am more apt to see a world hidden by the blur of activity. Eagles soar over the river. Crows congregate. Turkey families forage in underbrush. Continue reading

Eleanor Leonard

“Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.” — Lin Yutang

Hope for successful recovery exists today because millions of people have worn a path over the gravel and stones of addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous alone has helped more than two million people recover from alcoholism. Results of ongoing scientific and medical research are helping remove the stigma of addiction and improve treatment options. Still, the stories of recovery include stumbling, falling and relapses; and the harsh reality is that some addicts never do recover. So how does hope become success? Continue reading

1TopLeftThe Ties That Bind

I’m heading home for the holidays. As I get off the phone with my travel agent, I feel nothing but joy and good will toward my family. But the closer the departure date looms, the greater my worries grow.

My anxieties start with what to wear. I look through my closet and imagine my mother narrowing her eyes and frowning. Do I own anything she’d approve of? “That’s a nice dress,” I hear her say. “Why don’t you wear that one?” I’m just going for the weekend, yet my bag might as well contain a 50-pound turkey. My clothing needs are few, but I’m packing a lifetime of resentments. Lingering grudges, stale spites, and smoldering indignities jostle for space among the toiletries and socks. Continue reading

1TopRightAt a recent work meeting, a female employee grabbed a Cookie Cart cookie from a box, held it up in anticipation, then stated emphatically, “Cookies make everything better!” Most people would agree, cookies make many things better. But can cookies change lives?

Stacy Schleeter, Bakery Program Manager with Cookie Cart would argue that cookies can—and are—changing lives for teenagers they employ. Cookie Cart, a non-profit, urban bakery, provides teens ages 15-18 meaningful work, life and leadership skills through experience and training. Continue reading

john driggsTo thine own self be true and be set free

Too many of us today have almost no idea who we really are. Nor do we even know that we have no idea. We simply exist without a clue and hope for the best. If we ran into some sharp corner of ourselves we wouldn’t know how to round if off. Nor would we even have the foggiest notion of how to bring out the better parts of ourselves or how to recognize those better parts that already exist inside of us. Modern people — us — often lack self-reflection. We may function well but live in a fog. Often we’re strangers to ourselves. Despite all of our self-preoccupation and technical savvy we really don’t know ourselves very well. Continue reading

Last night after I left Paul’s at 1:30 in the morning, in the car, in the snow, in the silence I found myself crying all the way home.

We had spent the afternoon and evening at our son Paul and Kaitlin’s house. She had an all-night affair that she was going to with her sister. Paul was working until one o’clock in the morning at the airport as a Customs officer.

Our daughter, Kate, and her son, Gib, joined us for supper and then left around six so Katie could put the baby down at her house. Jan was to follow Kate later, and stay with Gib for the night if Kate was called in to work at the hospital.

This was the first time we had ever babysat for two-and-a-half-year-old June at bedtime. Jan put her down around 8:30 PM. By nine o’clock, I heard them upstairs. The baby was crying. Continue reading

By Dr. Louis Gonzales

People recovering from addictive behaviors frequently cite spirituality as a helpful influence. But what is spirituality? More and more people are understanding what a critical component spirituality is to long term quality sobriety.

But how do we get there? For some, a sponsor serves the purpose of mentoring and support. Yet, some people feel they could benefit from something more. For them, recovery coaching can show the importance of spirituality in recovery.

Evidence shows that the relationship between spirituality and recovery cannot be ignored. Anecdotal and focus group studies with recovering alcoholics and addicts point to spirituality playing a critical role in their recovery journey. The role of spirituality in facilitating successful addiction treatment outcomes is now well known. Continue reading

By Margaret Paul

“No matter what your life situation is, you can always share your love with others.“

Being alone is a challenge for many people. This challenge may loom especially large during the holidays if you are single or newly divorced and without family around you. Holidays are a time to share love, and many people end up feeling depressed when they do not have people around with whom to share love. If you are in this situation, what can you do to make the holidays joyous rather than depressing?

The key phrase here is SHARE LOVE. Too often people think in terms of getting love rather than giving and sharing their love. They don’t realize that it is the act of giving their love that is so very fulfilling.

Gail had grown up very lonely in an emotionally distant family, with parents who did not freely give their love and relatives who were also cold and distant. Continue reading





Happy Christmas (War Is Over)
by John Lennon and Yoko Ono

So, this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Lets hope its a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The road is so long

And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let’s stop all the fight Continue reading