Monday, October 30, 2017


"Laugh, when you lose all your money, Or you can't find your shoes, to cover your feet... Laugh, at the things that are wrong, if you think it's this song, then laugh." ~ "Laugh" The Monkees, Phil Margo, Mitch Margo, Hank Medress, Jay Siegel

Do you people-watch? I do. As we approach the Holidays my people watching skills become ramped up to a heightened degree in preparation of the parade of souls we all will soon see on Halloween, Thanksgiving and the myriad of theologically-based (and other) observances occurring through January.

This may be premature but I would like to wish everyone a happy and joyous Saturnalia!

I have mentioned, even very recently, the coffee house I frequent prior to starting my day. Visited by the old, the young, elementary, high school and college students, their teachers and professors, professionals, laborers, blue, gray and white collars, cops (and perhaps an occasional felon) and even a few community builders who try to remain anonymous but to those of us who know them or remember them from local news stories years before, this place is an absolute cacophony of personalities, facial expressions and I'm certain, ongoing life stories.

Let me catch my breath.

I never know what is behind the smiles, frowns, far away gazes, sidelong glances and even sometimes a mien that betrays a person with the weight of the world on his or her shoulders. It's none of my business, and many if not all of us have been there. As parents of addicts we have been at one time or another members of that exclusive club of those at odds with The Universe, struggling against ourselves to find some peace amid the craziness.

Conversely, I am sometimes witness to unabashed joy, treated to bursts of laughter from some of the young women from the high school up the street. I see expressions of delight blossom as they review their social media posts. I wonder if the joy I am witnessing is a function of being so early on in their life journeys, then I remember the delight can often takes a hiatus at final exam time. Of course, many of us parents of siblings of addicts know even kids are not totally immune from life's devastating upheavals.

Everyone has has ebbs and flows, ups and downs, even teenagers. Nobody can maintain a complete level of euphoria 24/7, but we MUST allow ourselves to take the time to SEEK and most importantly SEE the joy when it is there, when it is presented to us. This is the joy that comes from a contented and centered heart and soul and not the kind borne of negativity, sarcasm or the misfortunes of others so, so prevalent in today's entertainment.

It is the joy that surprises us, that sneaks up on us along our journey and stays with us, not for a little while but then again, not so long as to spoil us into thinking this is the way life is all the time.

It is the joy that elicits laughter for no logical reason at all. We can find the joy, the laughter, whether we're 13, 30, or three times 30. The joy, the laughter is out there - or IN there, inside all of us. It starts with being grateful at the start of every day for the little things, then going out there to conquer the world.

It's a simple strategy: be open to The Joy, find The Joy, then LAUGH - oh hahaha!

. . . keep coming back

"It's not so hard to see exactly what I'm after. Sometimes a tear should fall but I require giggles and chuckles..." ~ "Laugh" The Monkees, Phil Margo, Mitch Margo, Hank Medress, Jay Siegel
"Laughter is carbonated holiness." ~ Anne Lamott

Friday, October 20, 2017

What's Our Hurry?

"Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it." ~ Soren Kierkegaard
I spend many weekday mornings at a local Starbucks that has an interesting vibe. Nestled in a decidedly leftish-of-center middle to upper middle class community and fueled in part by a girls high school and a university, both up the street within walking distance, this coffee shop is a meeting place, the Marktplatz of the area in my town called Old Orchard.

In an effort, I guess, to carve out yet another slice of the population to become Starbucks customers the caffeine giant recently launched a new service. You may be one of the many who have succumbed to this latest siren call of the Starbucks mermaid. Patrons with the 'bucks app on their phones and tablets can now pre-order their frappuccino and croissant which will be magically ready for pick up upon arrival - no waiting in line, no eye contact with anyone necessary, no conversations short of the obligatory thank you required. 

I think it's sad.

I was struck by this just the other day as I watched a woman navigate like a roller derby jammer through the throng of folks awaiting their orders. In her her haste she almost flattened one of them and making no apologies darted left, then right, to reach the counter where her order lay waiting.

She was gone before you could say "no whip, no foam, no fun", as those who had not called ahead remained, many engaged in short conversations with friends, others chatting with those who were heretofore perfect strangers.

Once again The Universe was tapping me on the shoulder with a reminder: you've got places to go on your pathway, you can see that beauty awaiting in the distance but it really is OK to pause and look around to see the beauty all around, even if the place where you are now may not be where you're going, or where you want to be.

There are wonders, beauties and mysteries everywhere, even in the darkest of rainforests or the most forbidding and desolate wastelands - really! You just have to be willing to take time to notice, take in those hidden gems of splendor, then keep moving. It may often require a pause along your journey pathway and rather than remaining steadfastly focused on the end game goal of that next horizon take your eye off the prize, for a moment at least. Look around.

Amid the darkness of our children's struggles are glimmers of their REAL, their true selves. You may have to look hard, but it's there, buried beneath the muck of The Addiction. We can take heart they are still there, as beautiful as we remember and as we acknowledge this beauty we are once again  affirming our love for our children.

So slow down, it won't hurt.

What are you waiting for?

. . . keep coming back

"Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there someday." ~ A. A. Milne

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Signposts, Angels and Gratitudes

"When we are lost in the woods, the sight of a signpost is a great matter." ~ C.S. Lewis
"I'm trying to shut up and let the angels speak to me and tell me what I'm supposed to do." ~ Patrick Swayze
Sometimes the Universe can try and try to get our attention and we just don't get it. We become too immersed in ourselves and overly fixated on the pathway. Yes, this can happen. Life as we know it as parents of addicts and those in recovery can be hard, with current times and events exacerbating feelings of despair and discouragement. As a result just when we think we're turned on and tuned in, all we've really done is to drop out of life.

In the end The Universe just can't take it anymore. It will never give up on us any more than we will give up on our children, and it just might get impatient, even annoyed.

Yes, after multiple attempts to draw us out of ourselves and back to the life we need to live to survive, the Universe, our Great Creator, might throw a barrage of positivity and inspiration our way just to see what happens.

Will this snap us out of our self absorption or just piss us off?

It is, as with everything else, up to us, is it not?

This happened to me recently. Not that I had succumbed to despair or hopelessness. I had simply ... stalled.

Recently, over the span of a couple of days I noticed The Universe had had just about enough of me and my inactivity and complacency. It came after me with an annoyed persistence. Even I couldn't help but notice:

Day One: I had finally scheduled the doctor's appointment I had been putting off and very very early the day before, I stumbled into the clinical lab to have my blood drawn. The phlebotomist was cheerily welcoming, almost off-putting. I wasn't there for a morning coffee with friends after all. I was there to have someone stick a needle in my vein and draw blood for the full range of tests my doctor would need to confirm I was operating on all cylinders.
Digression warning: I love that word as it is associated with blood tests. There's no drawing involved here, no crayons and paper are provided. They're sucking, siphoning, pulling, four vials of my essence from my arm - but I digress ...
To put it mildly, this draw-er of blood was my first hint that something special was afoot for the next two days. This was a Dickens-like "you will be visited by three ghosts" moment. The woman was spiritual in a walk-the-walk sense, so much so I actually thought to myself, "Normally I would say, 'thanks but no thanks' but this time, let's hang in here and see what happens."

I can't even remember exactly what she said, but her messages, her signposts, were originating from somewhere outside the little room where countless arms had been presented for piercing and countless souls had been given the choice to receive or ignore this woman's grace.

"Are you a minister?" I asked.

"No, I get that a lot," was her response.

I left the lab a bit lighter of hemoglobin, red and white blood cells and platelets, but buoyed and receptive to what The Great Creator would soon place squarely ahead of me along my pathway.

Day Two: My first visit would be in the form of our lead marathon trainer, coach and sensei, who is a brilliantly buoyant motivator and angel-mentor for all of us crazy enough to think we can actually train for a marathon much less finish one. Each week she posts a video of our instructions for our Saturday long-slow-distance (yes - LSD) runs. She reminds us of important things like at which park or trail the run is being held, the mileage, how to pace ourselves and the importance of these slower weekend events with 250 of our closest friends. This time, she threw in a zinger. She mentioned the importance of writing down at least three gratitudes each day in a notebook or journal.

Are you kidding me?

Of course, a proper mindset is key when attempting to run a 5K, 10K, half marathon or marathon, whatever your goal or ability. I've seen how negative attitudes can destroy a runner half way through a long run or even worse on race day. But I hoped her ah-ha-moment-like endorsement of something as Zen-ish as this didn't fall on deaf ears. It certainly didn't for me. Her reminder [directed by The Universe squarely at me of course] was a message meant to shake me out of my complacency. It was totally unexpected, but knowing this person as I do, I should have seen it coming.

I have since been hyper vigilant about writing down my gratitudes.

The doctor's appointment went well. My counts were all better than good, each one a signpost telling me to continue on my journey to eat better, train better, live and love better. And this time my internal medicine doctor didn't tell me not to run. She seemed pleased, almost delighted by my health. [Signpost saying "CONTINUE ON =>".]

The last angel I was given witness to on the second day was one whom I had met months before but hadn't seen in quite a while. She is a third-grade teacher in a local school district who can infuse a room with positivity as soon as she enters. This gift from the Great Creator walked up to me and gave me a huge hug - never did THAT before - I believe, simply to ensure I had not only gotten the message, but that the message had been received, internalized, and not leaking out of me somewhere.

I got the impression after this last encounter The Universe was no longer impatient with me. I got it, finally. The annoyed persistence had paid off.

I am back now. I saw - no I SEE!

And just in time too. I've got things to do, including a marathon to run next month.


. . . keep coming back
"Gratitude can turn common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings." ~ William Arthur Ward
"It's not about what it is, it's about what it can become." ~ Theodor Seuss Giesel 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Perhaps We Are the Journey

"When you do things through your soul, the river itself moves through you. Freshness and a deep joy are signs of the current." ~ Jalaluddin Rumi 
"Most people focus on doing things as the way to make a difference. What they don't realize is the most powerful way to make a difference doesn't require you to do anything at all! You start by changing YOUR world. You end up changing THE world." ~ Aman Motwane

So often, there it is, right in front of us - the answer. We are getting better at recognizing the pathways to recovery by noticing the obvious and the not-so-obvious signposts pointing the way. It is certainly the Great Creator, God, the Universe and not us, positioning the clues in strategic positions for us to find. We're simply following along as best we can, trying to keep up.

But have you ever felt something deep inside, some sort of receiver through which we can sort through what is true and what is bullshit to reach our most REAL we can be. Some call it instinct, others intuition or even street smarts.

Perhaps there is something within us that goes deeper than learned behavior. Our hearts and souls have been sorely effected over the years by The Addiction and what it has done to our babies. We have been changed to the core. What has happened to us has caused a fundamental shift in our thinking and way of life.

At some point we transcend being mere spectators in our recovery journeys, simply following the loving and caring lead The Universe provides. At some point we begin to understand the journey is more than a passive reaction.

At some point, we will, or have BECOME our journeys.

What exactly does this mean? It means we internalized The Good that comes our way and have built-in defenses against The Bad. We surround ourselves with exuberance: people, places and things, and eschew the negative. In fact we find ourselves running like the wind from negativity. As I've mentioned before this doesn't mean we become the village idiot who plods along dum-dee-dum as the world around us turns to the shit. Yes, shit happens. We simply stop looking for it, expecting it and subconsciously hoping for it because at one point along our pathways the shit had become our comfort zone, our way of life we settled into with our children.

We learn our greatest gift to our children and ourselves is to embrace the journey we have become. We truly become that beacon that shines through the ingrained pessimism The Addiction pours over our babies to conceal from them The Possibilities. When we recognize that we have become our journey our lives are then infused with a muscle memory that encourages us to SEEK and SEE our grandest vistas and horizons.

When we recognized we have transcended to a plane of existence different than what we may have lived under the thumb of The Addiction we want that feeling every day and guard against slipping again into the vortex of lives poorly lived.

It's inside of us, our Journeys. There it is.

Go for it!

. . . keep coming back

"There is a force within which gives you life - SEEK that. In your body is a priceless jewel - SEEK that. Oh wandering Sufi, if you are in search of the greatest treasure, don't look inside, LOOK within and SEEK THAT! ~ Jalaluddin Rumi 
"Face your own complexity." ~ Mark Gerzon 

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Fable of The Beangstieg

"If we stay where we are, where we're stuck, where we're comfortable and safe, we die there. ... New is life." ~ Ann Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

The cave, with its muted darkness dimly lit in the daytime by sunlight bounding through its narrow opening and small cracks in the rock face, and by night, with oil lamps he found upon his arrival and the moonlight illuminating, gently blanketing the cave's interior with its ever-searching moonbeams became the perfect safe haven for the man. He had travelled so far in not a small amount of time. His journey had taken him from the abyss.  The life changing, life-saving passage had given him so much, had given him his life back, yet had taken so much out of him.

It was a courageous, exhausting, long, strange trip. He was tired, and frightened.

The Beangstieg, his nemesis, was still out there - he knew it. He had defeated the Beangstieg but not vanquished the beast.

"I will stay here, for a while," he thought. "I must. I must wait out the Beangstieg."

The Beangstieg was a fearsome beast with its vile anger and hypnotic spell it had cast on him and all who dared to engage the monster in battle. Fighting and at the same time for some reason embracing it had overtaken his life. Somehow the Beangstieg became his focus, a dance that had consumed him and led him away from his family, friends and his future.

Of course he had to flee his former life. Otherwise the Beangstieg might sink its teeth into those the man held dear.

What he did not notice, or, what he didn't wish to know, is the creature had for a time laid waste to his family and threatened the very fabric of the community of which he had been a part. He had noticed his loved ones had seemed to overcome the Beangstieg, had somehow prevailed and moved on. He had not.

What he had come to realize is the Beangstieg is a being borne of the self loathing and insecurities of its victims, feeding on a diet of those victims' despair, fear and attempts to defeat and vanquish the beast.

"The Beangstieg," he thought as he sat alone in his cave, "might be invulnerable," acknowledging his own self doubt.

Outside the cave, the Beangstieg was waiting, feeding on these thoughts. The monster was growing stronger and unknown to the man was still the overwhelming force in his life. The Beangstieg WAS his life.

The man had seen the fate that awaited others who had ventured out of their protected zones alone. Eventually the Beangstieg would prevail in a final and gruesome battle matching its superior physical and psychological combat skills to the fading and fruitless efforts of friends who naively thought they were a match for it. In the final battle the Beangstieg would enlist allies familiar to the present foe - friends and family appearing to assist would only get in the way, and weapons formerly effective against the creature would vanish into dust.

So the man would stay in the cave, "for a while," he thought.

He soon noticed his thoughts drifting into recollections of the abyss he had fled which now seemed, incredibly, to be encroaching into the space he had chosen, the safe, secluded spot away from the teeth, claws and appetite of the Beangstieg. It became evident, at least to the man, the monster was somehow reaching through the rock as if to say, "if you do not come to meet me, to face your fate, I have other ways to defeat you. I will devour you in your nothingness."

"Am I losing my mind?" the man wondered.

And he was running out of the precious lamp oil, and food.

The man began to ask himself what would be the worst that could happen if he ventured out to recapture the remainder of a life that seemed a lifetime away. He could die, certainly, at the hands of a foe he had once evaded and nearly defeated. At the very least he might plummet again into the abyss the Beangstieg wished for him, caught in an everlasting web of self loathing, where the creature would slowly drain the life from every fiber of his body and soul.

It was then he began to hear the other voice. This was a kind, gentle voice emanating from the cave's entrance. He turned to face this voice and saw an ethereal being, exquisite in its translucent radiance.

"Are you an angel?" he heard himself ask the being.

"I am what you need me to be if you have the courage to accept me as a gift from The Universe. I am now, yet have been in your past and am in your forever. I am but a guide to a future of your own creation if you are only willing to dream, want, seek and see more than what you have now," said the light.

"What do I need to do," he finally said after what seemed hours.

"Write down where you see yourself in your most cherished future," was the reply.

"But I have no pen or paper."

"Write it on the wall. Use the rock of your cave as your pen, the walls of your cave as your medium. Make it real. Make it permanent. Your heart and soul shall lead you along this path."

As he finished the laborious task of carving his dreams for a future he had never before dared to imagine and how he might get there, stone to stone on the far side of the cave, similar carvings appeared covering the eastern portion of the cave in which he had spent hiding. There they were, carved in countless languages, the hopes and yearnings of what seemed to be hundreds who had come before him in that little space.

He asked the light, "Were all these people fleeing the Beangstieg like me?"

He turned around. The angel was gone.

The man looked around, smiled and felt a teardrop trickle down his cheek landing precariously on the corner of his mouth. He knew what he had to do. He had to leave that cave. He now had dreams. He now had somewhere he knew he needed to be and it was no longer THAT CAVE. He had a life to live.

"But what about the beast?" he thought. He reached for his sword which had served him well, but not well enough, in his battles against the Beangstieg. He grasped the hilt and once again experienced the deadly power of the long leveraged blade in his hand and how savagely lethal it felt. He had been a warrior against a deadly foe for so long, battling bravely against certain death. He had prevailed for a time where others had failed.

He placed the sword against the stone wall beneath the carving he had just completed and proceeded to the cave's entrance. He knew he had to devise a new battle plan.

The man exited the cave. As he had expected, there IT was, the beast, the Beangstieg, waiting, its claws deployed, its fangs dripping with anticipation of its next feast. The man could feel the roar of the beast and smelled its putrid breath as he passed closely by. To the man, the Beangstieg was no longer an obstacle. It was now a gatekeeper to his most cherished future. 

There he stood, within a sword's length of the monster and awaited his fate, his transcendence to a life he had never imagined before the angel appeared.

"Hold fast," a voice within him whispered.

It was the angel.

The Beangstieg in its battle stance saw the man had no weapon. It became perplexed, then enraged at the audacity of this puny being thinking it had any power to withstand the inevitable mortal blow. The beast propelled its claws toward the man's jugular. This would be a simple nick to the artery to begin a slow, weakening flow of blood, bringing its victim to his knees once again before its master.

"This human needs to be taught a lesson," reasoned the Beangstieg.

The claws met their target and the monster felt the brutally satisfying blades-through-butter sensation it always felt when bringing down its victims. It waited to watch for the inevitable buckling of the knees, the look of despairing horror of another brought back under its control.

The man stood, unflinching.

The beast swung again, and again to no effect. Feeling only wisps of putrid air passing across his face the man had no response to the attacks, there was no need. He would no longer be a pawn to the wishes and pull of the beast's enticements. He would no longer feed the Beangstieg's insatiable appetite for other's lives, at least not his own. Slowly the monster tired, and became weak with exhaustion. It's knees buckled, a look of perplexed horror crossed its visage.

The man watched as the beast began to transform into nothingness. At this transformation a black putridity left his body, causing him to lurch. The man fell to one knee, his right-hand fist on the ground, eye level to the dying evil being.

"I am done with you," shouted the man with a strength he had not felt in years.

The monster breathed its last.

The Beangstieg, defeated and vanquished, disappeared, leaving only a small dark remnant on the ground before the man.

"I did it," thought the human, who felt a strength return to his body he had not felt in years. He turned to look toward an unknown but exciting future, an adventure he knew would be both exhilarating and sometimes terrifying. In the far distance he saw what he thought at first was a hallucination. As he walked toward the vision he realized what he was seeing.

"It's the hundreds!" he cried out loud in his amazement.

And leading them was the Angel.

At the feet of the angel were three gifts from those who had gone before: a compass, a walking stick, and, his sword.

As he held the last gift he looked at the angel curiously.

"To make your way through the thick brush and hedgerow should you become lost," the being said with a gentle smile.

The man turned and made his way through the hundreds who began to slowly vanish as they seemed at the same time to follow him. He was heartened to see his family and friends among the multitude, smiling, encouraging.

This would be his journey to embrace but at that moment he realized he would never be alone. As he looked back at the cave, his heart leapt with excitement and a strange sense of melancholy. Returning his gaze to the opposite direction toward which the angel, the hundreds and his family and friends had escorted him, the man took a quick glance at the compass.

"That way," he said.

And so it begins.

. . . keep coming back

"My will for you is not harsh or unpleasant. It is gentle and perfectly tailored to your unique needs. Do  not fear my direction. I am your heart's happiest guide." ~ Julia Cameron, Answered Prayers: Love Letters from the Divine

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Hold On Tight To Your Dream

"Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind" ~ Mick Jagger, Keith Richards - "Ruby Tuesday"
Author J. K. Rowling is quoted as saying, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." This is profound insight from one of the most prolific and imaginative authors of our time. When I first read this while preparing for this chapter my first thought was she must be downplaying the power of dreams. When I reread the quotation I hoped she was allowing for dreams, perhaps just not the overly obsessive fixation on these to the extent that one would become catatonic and forget to keep moving.

Often as parents we are confronted with obstacles borne from our children's struggles. One doesn't have to be a parent of an addict to know this. Our children are our greatest treasures, the most significant gifts of our lives. As parents of addicts these obstacles can seem to move with us, a constant in-your-face reminder of the what might have beens before The Addiction planted itself firmly in the path of our babies' maturation.

It's like a hedgerow on rails, or more like an army defending its boundaries.

It can be disheartening at best, at worst, a relentlessly deflating dream crusher.

Our sons and daughters may in some subconscious way wish to be the absolute focus of our lives. We know, of course, it is The Addiction driving the need as it does with so many of our children's priorities. What they don't always realize is much of our attention is, and has been for months, years, or decades devoted to their disease. They just don't always see it  - except for those brief moment of clarity when The Addiction temporarily loses it grip on our babies.

What we don't see, always, is the loosening of our hold on our dreams, our hopes and wishes for ourselves. When we let go of our dreams to devote more than is necessary to fixing our children, rather than what is needed to show them our undying, unequivocal love for them, The Addiction has won, and our children get the message they are incapable - of anything.

When we hold on tight to our dreams and pursue those aspirations we may have put aside to concentrate on perhaps literally saving our children we become sherpas to our children's journeys. When we go for it, when we dig deep and look inside ourselves for those talents, drives and passions we have denied ourselves our lives open to extraordinary possibilities. It's modeling on a grand scale, a lighthouse beacon nobody can be blind to.

Write down what you have been denying yourself for too long. Find a book to set your course (mine was The Artists Way by Julia Cameron), try something you said you could NEVER  - an awful word to purge from our vocabularies - accomplish (mine was the marathon).  Take a pathway the Great Creator, the Universe is beckoning you to try. This may be the greatest adventure of your life. You will awaken a spirit within, continuing that journey to becoming that complete, REAL human being we all strive to be.

And ya' know what? It might just be fun!

"Things are only impossible until they're not." ~ Patrick Stewart as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard - Star Trek, The Next Generation
"When you get so down that you can't get up... When you're so downhearted and misunderstood ... Hold on tight to your dream." ~ Jeff Lynn - "Hold On Tight To Your Dream"

. . . keep coming back 

Monday, July 31, 2017

El Capitan of Our Children's Recoveries

"Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory." ~ Ed Viesturs, No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks 
We are all on various stages of recovery, from the tar pits, cloud forests and primordial stews of our initial crawl out of ours and our loved ones' vortices, to views from peaks and plateaus of what our lives can be if we continue to SEEK and SEE our own true REAL. Our children too are traveling their own pathways, winding in and out of THE ADDICTION'S grasp, battling with it and their personal demons of self doubt, negativity and isolation.

For our children in recovery, for those who have come to the realization they cannot and will not continue to live lives dictated by THE ADDICTION, their journey may seem almost complete. They are, it would seem, on a path to those vistas we have hoped and prayed they would enjoy someday.

It's a nice thought to believe they're on their way. While I like to think of a parent's journey as one with many uphills, down hills, twists and turns with breathtaking flora and fauna along the way (kind of like a marathon), our children's recovery, once begun, is a shock to them.
"OK, I've made my decision to take back my life, so now what the hell do I do?"
I'm not a trail runner, rock or mountain climber. I do not have the inner ear, or maybe even the cojones for either. So when I was searching for ideas for this chapter I had to research the whole climbing experience from the top down. It was then I happened upon the quotation above:
"Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory."
"That's it!" I thought. This encapsulates the journey of the recovering addict, or at least what I have seen from a parent's perspective.

Finally getting to that peak exhilaration of life out of the vortex' pull must be to the addict like the adrenaline rush of the mountain climber as he or she ascends to the top of a chosen summit.

But what goes up, must come down, the challenge isn't finished until it's finished. The mountain climber looks down, says, "OK, here I go," and begins the descent. There's no chopper awaiting to whisk him off the precipice, no wings to become grounded, safe and secure from et montem istum to terra firma.

It's daunting, terrifying. Looking down to the relief of solid ground and the steps, possible missteps, slips and unsecured finger and toe holds to get there, it's no wonder many of our children in recovery go clean, then stall, remain stagnant, and pause.

Sometimes they pause for a long time.

Moving down that mountain requires baby steps, a skill their recently drug-ravaged brains don't yet possess in their grey-matter arsenal. We can help with words of encouragement or even by offering a temporary place for encampment on the peak. But temporary is a relative term and can become just another roadblock on the pathway. It's just not safe up there, forever.

There's a storm coming for sure. Get off that mountain - NOW!

Have you seen the movie Everest?

We can step in by asking where they want to be in a year or six months and how they're going to get there. They know, they already have a plan in their heads on how to get down off that mountain peak. They're either waiting for that chopper that's never coming (parent rescue) or are convinced the descent must be immediate, a dangerous impossibility. The baby steps are the oxygen tanks they'll need along the way and the bivouacs for much needed respites on their journey.

They prepared their way during the ascent. It's all there awaiting them, the oxygen canisters, the outcroppings on the vertical cliffs.

It's just that first step that's a doozy, the commitment to value themselves above THE ADDICTION. What they don't realize is that once they begin the descent there's no turning back, and each step will build on the next in a cascade of increasing self worth and self love.

Now, where was that last toe hold?

. . . keep coming back

"Rob, you've gotta get moving. You've gotta come on down." ~ Jan Arnold to husband Rob Hall  - Everest The Movie