• Hazelden Renewal Center

Gardening Lessons

garden with flowers

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.” Claude Monet I greet my overflowing garden each morning with amazement and humility.  My garden is a miniature paradise, the closest I get to being an artist.  In the garden I partner with the natural world, giving me a palette to experiment with wonder and delight, failure and recovery. I learn so much in my garden.  The other day I removed two trees – one an elm, the other a cottonwood.  Lest you think I have been muscle building at the gym, they were seedlings – each standing about six inches above the ground in my flower bed. … Continue reading

Think About It: The Power of Positive Thought

positive wall sign

I can’t help but wonder what in the world was I thinking when I reflect on some of the major decisions I made in my young adulthood. I can only presume that I wasn’t thinking at all. My concept of contemplation was to deal with any consequences of my decisions “Later.” Such cognitive carelessness led me to marry at 18, again at 21 and once again at 29. In essence I was choosing not to think in those moments. I paid the price for my thoughtlessness with much unnecessary hardship and heartache. I manage to get myself in all kinds … Continue reading

When a Friend Has Faith

friends and faith

I told my friend I thought my life was a waste. She shook her head no. Through my endless use of profanities, and despite my angry outbursts toward her she still believed in me. She kept calling me back to her side. She never abandoned me. Still, my spirit was raging with fear that my life would never heal from the pain caused by circumstances that were beyond my control, and self inflicted. Then one day my friend’s eyes shone with care, she smiled at me, and for the very first time I heard her gentle words of hope for … Continue reading

Tending and Mending a Wounded Heart

broken heart

Many years ago on February 13, a first year representative to the New York state assembly received an urgent telegram at his Albany, N.Y., office containing a single three-word sentence: Come home now! The day before, his wife had given birth to a baby girl. Now, as the train made the five-hour trip back to his home in New York City, the new father wondered if something had gone wrong. As he read and reread the telegram, he prayed that all would be well in his household. Walking into his home, the man’s brother greeted him with this sad lament: … Continue reading

Coping with Anger – Twelve Steps to Getting a Grip

coping with anger

Anger is probably the most poorly handled emotion in our society. From time to time we all experience this very powerful feeling. Some of the common causes of anger include frustration, hurt, annoyance, disappointment, harassment and threats. It is helpful to realize that anger can be our friend or foe, depending on how we express it. Knowing how to recognize and express it appropriately can help us to reach goals, handle emergencies, solve problems and even protect our health. However, failure to recognize and understand our anger may lead to a variety of problems. Some experts believe that suppressed anger … Continue reading

Trust: It Don’t Come Easy

trusting

“A man who doesn’t trust himself can never really trust anyone else” Cardinal De Retz My desire and ability to trust someone seemed unattainable for many years. When I first got into recovery I didn’t trust a soul, including myself, with the possible exceptions being my two young children. The two people I had been able to place my complete trust in to never let me down, my parents, had died a few years after a divorce ridden with betrayal, and I felt very alone. Like most other adults who were over 30, I had been hurt by a few … Continue reading

A Father’s Love

man with son

June is the month we celebrate fatherhood and fathers everywhere. It seems to me that Father Love is very strong—both love from fathers and love for fathers. Two brothers, ages 24 and 27, recently had a reunion with their dad. For the first time in a long time, the father flew into town and visited them in their environments. He “hung out” with them, stayed at their homes, and visited them at work. Most importantly, he acknowledged and validated their successes as young men. It meant a lot to these brothers. There was laughter, tears and acceptance. Two other brothers, … Continue reading

Parenting Younger Children: Making a Difficult Job More Rewarding

parenting young children

Raising little kids is hard. After a grueling day it’s mommy this and daddy that. And I don’t like macaroni and cheese any more. And why can’t I jump on the couch?! Then it’s scream, scream and tears because my tummy hurts. Besides I don’t want to go to bed tonight. And by the way, I need a costume for the class play tomorrow. Can’t we go to Target to get one (at midnight)? Grandma, let’s us jump on the couch! Oh, the endless joys of raising little ones! If they weren’t so cute we’d kill them! Yet having kids … Continue reading

Getting to the Heart of Retreats

retreats

“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.”  Elizabeth Kübler-Ross When I think of retreats, I imagine practicing early-morning yoga, living virtuously on a plant-based diet for two weeks while detoxing my mind and body on a beach in Mexico. Even though my shoulders relax from up near my ears and my eyes widen at the prospect of such a retreat and some desperately needed time out, as I slowly exhale I … Continue reading

Rising Above After a Breakdown

“Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, changed and rearranged to relocate us to the place we are meant to be.” Life on Purpose – Mandy Hale When I had a nervous breakdown, I was in a bad way. The world I thought I knew had fallen apart. I was supposed to be something else, someone else. Life had passed me by and gradually the world seemed strange and unfamiliar. I had spent my whole life gearing towards an acting career but it never happened. Instead, at 40, I found myself doing nothing of what I wanted to … Continue reading