Forty years ago I started writing about addiction. I got hooked. The more research I did and the more I wrote about the subject, the more impassioned I became. Myths and misconceptions about addiction persist, preventing people from getting help. When people don't get help, they suffer. Some die. Too many. Families are torn apart. The suffering is unimaginable. So I keep plugging away.
All writers are storytellers. I've been privileged to work with several people who trusted me enough to let me help them tell their stories—William Cope Moyers, Elizabeth Loftus, Arthur Ciaramicoli, Chris O'Dell, and Mel Pohl, MD.
Ernest Kurtz, my coauthor on Experiencing Spirituality and The Spirituality of Imperfection, introduced me to wisdom stories which use words in ways that go beyond words to speak the language of the heart. These stories help us explore the most basic human questions about meaning and time and life itself. As we write in our book, "stories convey the mystery and the miracle—the adventure -- of being alive." I will feature many of these stories and the influence they have had on my life in my Blog, along with "real-life" stories that invite us into the experiences of others and help us understand that beneath the surface, deep into the invisible regions of the heart and soul, we share the same dreams, desires, fears, and hopes. In those invisible spaces that define what it means to be human, we are all made of the same cloth.
"Twenty-three million Americans are living proof of recovery" (Faces and Voices of Recovery) Addiction is only one part of the story and recovery is the continuing day-by-day experience of living each moment with courage, strength, and growing wisdom. The Serenity Prayer captures the ongoing nature of change and the need to accept our limitations and imperfections while trying with all our might to become the human being we seek to be. When my teenage son was struggling with addiction -- seven long years -- I repeated the Serenity Prayer over and over, gaining moments of peace amidst the chaos and a sense of balance in an unbalanced world. Ben recently celebrated ten years of recovery and yet I still come back to the Serenity Prayer when life gets a little wacky and I need some common sense -- and a spiritual lift -- to regain my equilibrium. A counselor once told Ben to choose who he wanted to walk on each side, shoulder to shoulder -- because that choice would guide the way he walked through life. We all need support in "recovery" -- recovering our balance after a misstep and continuing forward. "Do the next right thing" may be one of the wisest bits of advice ever offered, as these words acknowledge our flaws and failures while offering a way forward.
In 2002 I organized a group of community members in my town to begin the process of creating a recovery community organization for youth and family members -- one of the very first of its kind in the country. Trilogy Recovery Community became a reality in 2009 and flourishes today with the help of hundreds of people who know, from their own lives and experiences, that compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, and gratitude carry all of us forward into a more hopeful future.
I love my family and friends. I love to read. I love photography. I love gardening; roses are my favorites but sunflowers and dahlias come close. I love to play hearts, euchre, charades, and any game that makes me laugh. I love walking, hiking, kayaking, star-gazing and all of the outdoors. I love golf which reminds me of the 3 Spiritual "H's:" Humility, Honesty, and Humor. I love to travel but I love, even more, being home. Writing leads me to live a sort of hermit's life, which suits me just fine. I'm married to Pat Spencer, one of the kindest men in the world. Pat teaches geology at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. We have 3 wonderful children, Robyn, Alison, and Ben and an amazing extended family.
Ben and Miriam's wedding, July 8, 2017