• Hazelden Renewal Center

Being Our Brother’s Keeper: A Road to Hope

brother's keeper

These days many of us are having a hard time finding hope. Some of us are overwhelmed by serious personal problems. Others of us live with a foreboding sense of an uncertain future for ourselves and our children. Looming climate change, increasing inequity between rich and poor, and massive dysfunction in our government all add an eerie shakiness to our lives as if we were in the middle of an earthquake. For safety’s sake we don’t know what ground to stand upon. Adding to our gloominess is the increasing ennui and detachment of modern living where friendships are only experienced … Continue reading

Mindfulness and Equanimity: A Way to Stay Steady in Hope

mindfulness

We know we can’t save anyone from their pain and suffering. We know trying to rescue or change someone in the throes of addiction drains us to the point of depletion; it becomes a never-ending cycle of feeling hopeless and helpless. We desperately want to maintain hope and feel guilty if we give up. The good news is, there is a way to maintain hope without burning out, and it starts from inside you. Having worked with clients with eating disorders, chemical dependencies and other addictions, as well as their families, I understand that hearing, “Well, you can’t change them,” … Continue reading

Do the 12 Steps Lead a Person to a Specific Religion?

12 steps lead to religion

The quick answer to the question posed in the above headline is no. The 12 steps are a spiritual program developed through Bill W and others’ experiences of being in the grip of alcoholism. Bill W. was not the first, but was himself the beneficiary of another recovering alcoholic’s testimony of the power of working a spiritual program for recovery from alcohol. Bill W. explained in The Big Book (aka Alcoholics Anonymous) that before recovery he was not an atheist and did not believe many people really were. It was his assertion that atheistic belief would mean, “…blind faith in … Continue reading

Facing Fear

facing fear

Fear stalks our world, brazen and shameless. I expect fear to occasionally sneak in and out of alleys, but to see it parade through public streets as though a welcome visitor is…..frightening! There are public and private fears; they embolden each other. Like bullies on the playground, they compete for space and power. Who will be the scariest today? Fear is dangerous because it paralyzes, like the sting from a scorpion. It stops my thinking and problem solving brain. It lights up my reptilian brain – the one that responds with fight, flight or freeze, the one developed for survival … Continue reading

Laura’s Story

first person testimony

I grew up in a house with both parents and my older brother. Overall, I was a happy kid who liked school. But there was an undercurrent of pain, a secret I kept: I was abused as a young child. I never told anyone. I learned to hold onto that secret. I was introduced to weed and alcohol when I was 15 years old but since I was the good girl no one suspected me. The secrets kept building. I blamed my parents, I wanted to be a rebel. I moved out at 18 and danced in bars and nightclubs … Continue reading

On Hope

Not my typical morning ruminations, but this morning I woke up wondering about people in cars in ditches. Here’s the context: I’m on a trans-continental road trip with my 22-year-old son, destination Los Angeles. We opted for the southern route versus the Rockies to avoid Bad Winter Weather, and somewhere around Faribault, MN we encountered a raging snowstorm that blew us all the way to Enid, Oklahoma, 11 hours later. People plan, God laughs. As we passed car after spun-out car in the ditch, I felt myself becoming increasingly uncomfortable. Some people had clearly been rescued from their now abandoned … Continue reading

With a Little Help from a Friend

help from friends

It was the last day of a graduate class I was teaching on the Spirituality of the Twelve Steps. I asked the class what was most striking to them from the lectures and conversations we’d had. As though she had been given the question earlier, a woman immediately shot her hand up. “I learned again and deeper that the most important word of the Twelve Steps is the first word, WE.” All of us in the room gasped a bit. She had said it. WE is absolutely foundational for our recovery. The gift, the grace of recovery is given in community. … Continue reading

Managing Money Before it Manages You

“Wealth is the number of things we can do without.” Leo Tolstoy More and more people aren’t managing their money well.  Often their money is managing them if not completely overwhelming them and their families. Besides work, money is the leading stressor in the richest country in the world-America. Things are getting worse with our financial habits. More citizens are filing for bankruptcy, foreclosing on mortgages, losing their homes, accruing record credit card debt and living in la-la land with money. Moreover, too many of us see no way out of our miseries but just more of the same. Far … Continue reading

Black Hole in Space Not Unlike Energy of Subtracter’s on Earth

subtracters

I just had a personal encounter with a black hole, It was the strangest thing; I bought a tube of lipstick, tucked it into a small pocket but when I went to retrieve the tube, it had vanished. Once again I purchased another tube, stuck it in the same purse pocket, and theorizing the lipstick had spilled out the top of my purse, I mindfully zipped the zipper to seal it shut. This went on several more times, until I finally happened to pick up my purse from the bottom, and felt several strange bumps. When I inspected my purse … Continue reading

How to Keep Your Sanity During the Holidays

how to keep sanity during holidays

I hate the holidays. I know that seems like a strong statement, but — even at nearly six years sober — I still find the holidays incredibly challenging. It’s a time loaded with expectations, increased tensions in relationships, competing priorities, stress, and good old family dynamics. As if that isn’t enough, we can start to feel sensory overload in every direction: sounds, crowds of people, flashing lights, food everywhere. Conscious of my limitations and sensitive nature, I just want to crawl into a ball and hibernate at this time of year. That said — like anything in recovery — we … Continue reading