GRATITUDE

The following excerpt is from the final pages of The Only Life I Could Save: A Memoir

For forty years, I stepped into the shoes of my words—shoes that belonged to the world of memory, empathy, chronic pain, alternative medicine, storytelling, and spirituality—but I always circled back to the addiction shoes. They fit me; they fit my life. In some ways—in so many ways—I think the shoes I wore directed my pathway in life.

But now, in this moment in this life of mine, I am ready to walk a different pathway. I don’t know where it will take me or what adventures, grief, sorrow, and joy lie ahead of me. Every journey is a pilgrimage. With each day, there is a night; with each dawn, a twilight; and, gift of gifts, on the darkest nights of all, the stars shine through.

Good and evil exist out there in the world, and they reside also inside me. I do the best I can. I lean toward the good. When I make mistakes, I do the next right thing. I do not expect perfection, for then who would guide my next steps? And why would I want to keep moving if I have achieved all there is to accomplish in this life?

I seek out gratitude, for gratitude will not find me if I do not go looking for it. I cultivate forgiveness, for forgiveness is a garden that requires a gardener. When life seems meaningless, I turn my head, fighting my fear, and look into the abyss, where I see beauty and the fragrance of a rose staring back at me. When help is offered, I accept it, and when someone, friend or stranger, needs support, I try to be there to extend a hand. I seek to live by grace, which a great friend and a wise old soul defined as “waking up every morning and making the commitment not to judge anyone.”

We are all of a piece. We cannot get through this life alone. To be whole—to be wholly human—we need others to join with us, to tell us their stories, to listen to our stories, to help us, to allow us to help them.

It is all of a piece, this joy and this sorrow, this loss and this gain.


Below is my website “Gratitude List.”  It joins with the many people I thank in my Acknowledgments, all of whom helped make The Only Life I Could Save a reality.  This list will keep growing, as will my endless appreciation for the people who have guided my footsteps in the past, who help me in the present, and who inspire me to believe, and in my own small way create, a more meaningful future.  

Travis Vance, who designed this website and endured endless questions with patience and a wonderful sense of humor.

Steve Lenz, photographer, who allows me to use his stunning photographs of the Pacific Northwest and, especially the Walla Walla valley, on this website. 

Ben Spencer, who helps me on a daily basis with questions about social media, hyperlinks, the meaning of life, and all that jazz.

Chloé Prusiewicz, product marketing manager, and Lindsey Kennedy, senior publicist at Sounds True – a dynamic duo leading me into the unknown and rather terrifying territory of publicity and marketing.