Homeless for the Holidays

On a cold December evening in 1962, I was walking home along Nicollet Avenue enjoying the elaborate holiday displays when I saw a man leaning against a store window. His wellworn wool coat was fully buttoned against the cold air and one boot was slit open to accommodate a bandaged foot. He held pencils in one hand and a metal cup in the other. I put a dollar into the cup and accepted a pencil. He spoke softly, something I couldn’t make out. I leaned in and asked, “What was that?” Louder he said, “Thank you; God bless you.” I … Continue reading

The Holly- Frazzled Parade

Emily Roiphe Carter

It’s that time of year already — the gatherings, the food, the family — and, what I’m personally looking forward to most of all. The resentments. Gathering over the Thanksgiving table, around the Menorah, the Christmas Tree, the Harvest Spruce, whatever, is the perfect time to take out all those unresolved little wounds and give them a polish. After all, there are relatives around you may not see again for another year, some may be older, some may be living overseas and who knows when you’ll get your next chance. Of all my most cherished resentments my favorite could be … Continue reading

Tell Me A Story

A young mother in residential treatment uses her words to share her story with her 3-year-old son I am Michelle O., a 23-year-old recovering alcoholic, and mother of a three-year-old little boy named Cooper. During my time in residential, my counselor gave me one last treatment assignment: He asked me to write a book explaining my addiction in a way that my son would understand. Although this seemed intimidating at first, as I began to write I recognized more ways that I could personalize the story in a way that would be familiar to my son. I found ways to … Continue reading

From the Publisher: Uber Proactive

Julia Edelman

We’ve gotten uber proactive in our culture. Kids learn about sex and drugs at earlier and earlier ages .  This is good, I thought, until my son’s seventh grade sex-ed assignment was to go to Walgreens and buy a condom. This wasn’t so good. We teach them at school, at church, and synagogue about the hazards of tobacco and obesity. We tell them that weed really is addictive and then launch into stories of second-cousins twice removed that 20 years later still mow lawns in the neighborhood. They lost a toe one year due to a combination of illegal substances … Continue reading

Forgiving Yourself When Your Children Suffer

John Driggs

Imperfect as we are, parents today deserve all the credit in the world for raising children in challenging times. Many of us fret over how we’re doing as parents. Examining our part in our children’s pain can be the most painful thing we do in life. Seeing our kids suffer today due to our own failings is often more than most of us can bear. We can hardly stand to think about such topics. It’s especially hurtful when our children are aloof from or conflicted with us today due to the wrongs we have done them in years past. Often … Continue reading

Gratitude? Yes, Please

“Enough is a feast.” — Buddhist Proverb One rainy afternoon while I sat reading in the den of my home with a warm mug of coffee to one side, and a purring cat on the other, I came across a little gem of a story. It spoke to me about resiliency — the ability people have to bounce back after tragedy or trauma. It was also about Abraham Lincoln, and an account documented in the early years of the Civil War: A young man living in Kentucky had been enticed into the rebel army. After a few months he became … Continue reading

Living in the Wake of Addiction: Lessons for Courageous Caregivers

Many people in recovery from a substance use disorder (SUD) say that being restless, irritable, and discontent began long before they ever tried to medicate those feelings with their first drink or drug. Until they experience recovery, these emotions can sometimes make the person feel like everyone else but them has received a different instruction manual for life. But what about the person who is in a relationship with someone with a SUD? How do they learn to handle the extreme anxiety, stress, worry, and need to control that they might feel when their loved one experiences SUD? Where is … Continue reading

Holiday Poems

Poetry by P.A. Trebnick and Mary Cowette Crossing the Bridge My Bridge of worry, fear and fret, I need courage to beget, To cross that Bridge that seems so far away, Yet, here I cross it every day. Early each morning, nature beckons me. The birds, the city still awakening, I strap up looking forward to another roll. Sunlight shining, the crisp fresh air, I say, Thank You Dad! Thank You Day! How much I appreciate this time to reflect while I play. My favorite is passing over the bridge. I pause to capture the reflections upon the lake, The … Continue reading

When in Doubt Say Something Bizarre

No matter what progress we may have made in taking better care of ourselves in our day to day lives, we are in danger of leaving that progress behind when we pack for our holiday trips — whether the trip is cross country or just across town. Consider the strange phenomenon of instant age regression when you step across the threshold of your parents’ home. You may be 42 when you step onto the porch, but once inside the house your psyche automatically shrinks to 12. Or think about the certainty with which you feel that you “have to” be … Continue reading

The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion

By Elle Luna Workman Publishing In this colorful book, Luna describes the process she went through to get to her must, which is painting. Accented by her drawings and sketches, Luna provides her personal journey. This book is intended for artists; fortunately, all of us have an artist within. She describes the differences between should, what we feel we ought to do, and must, what we dream of doing. Mark Twain stated, “The two most important days in our life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Luna provides techniques to help the reader … Continue reading

A Sober Mom’s Guide to Recovery: Taking Care of Yourself to Take Care of Your Kids

By Rosemary O’Connor Hazelden Publishing O’Connor describes the many challenges of recovering from addiction while upholding the responsibilities of motherhood. She describes her own and others’ stories of use and abuse, and the guilt it brought. This is a guidebook for recovering women who have struggled with balancing their recovery and parenting. Included at the end of each chapter are “Sober Mom’s Tools” which include honest insights into her experiences and may be helpful to others. Some of her best takeaways include self-care, forgive yourself and others, and remembering, “My sobriety comes first.” Besides praying to your Higher Power, O’Connor … Continue reading

The Little Book of Love: Heart and Soul and The Little Book of Mindfulness: Focus. Slow Down. De-stress.

By Tiddy Rowan Quadrille These are really tiny books of knowledge, full of interesting thoughts and quotes. Both of these small books would make wonderful gifts for oneself or someone else.The Little Book of Mindfulness is a collection of over 150 mindful techniques and exercises to help one achieve calmness, joy, and happiness. Rowan suggests, “Be non-judgmental in your thoughts, feelings and beliefs. It is important sometimes to let things be, just as they are, and allow them to breathe without questioning or fixing.” The Little Book of Love is a collection about the topic of love, and the many … Continue reading

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

By Brene Brown Hazelden Publishing Although this book was published several years ago, it is still valuable today. Brown shares stories from her own life as well as from the more than 10,000 stories she has collected over the years. She states, “I’m basically a story teller.” And a researcher. And a professor. And a mother of two. All of which helped define her interest in how people develop and deal with shame and guilt. The book is broken into 10 Guideposts, such as #3 Cultivating a Resilient Spirit and #9 Cultivating Meaningful Work. These are not just action items; … Continue reading

One Home, Many Hearts*

by Elaine Taylor A few years ago, I was whining to my daughter about my imminent crossing of that dreaded Rubicon: the Big Five-O. “The best of my life is behind me. I’m entering the period of throat wattles and colonoscopies every five years … and uselessness. Irrelevance.” Being both blunt and wise she said, “Ya know … someone who feels as sorry for herself as you do ought to go out and do something for someone who’s got real problems.” Whoa! A knife to the heart of my pity-party. But how could I not take her advice? Two weeks … Continue reading

It’s Never Too Late for Treatment

“Too bad you didn’t get treatment for alcoholism earlier in your life,” said a young man in the discussion group after hearing my addiction story. “Let’s face it,” he continued, “your best years are behind you.” A big guy with a voice that didn’t match his 6’1”, nearly 300-pound frame, this opiate addict had a tendency of saying things that can be taken the wrong way. Sensing this was one of those occasions, and based on the bewildered look on my face that indicated I had indeed taken it the other way than he intended, he quickly added, “But you … Continue reading

WORDS from readers and writers

Poems by Francisco Narvaez and Mike A Jackson Touched by changes Impasse after impasse Cars drift by billowing smoke in the night sky Poison! Poison! We yell as we laugh inhaling the sick gas The piff pass as I sit back Demons dastardly convince me im not cashed Ask God why and Allah Jehovah puts his arm around my shoulder Not high They say son just listen You’re powerless so don’t get to no bickering I start sniffling Cus I know I know Unfortunately my mind goes and goes Back to the original plan of attack Its like my mind … Continue reading