Tuesday, December 31, 2019


The new year (2020) begins for those in the US's Eastern Standard Time Zone at midnight (EST). It is different all over the world, but one thing is the same: New Year's resolutions. What's it going to be this time? Losing weight? Making it to the gym? Stopping smoking? Reading more books? Taking that course? Studying more and upping grade point averages? Eat healthier? Rekindle old friendships? Get and stay clean?

Speaking just for myself, new year's resolutions never worked for me. A year is a rather large chunk of time. To eat healthy and in moderation, in other words: uproot and rearrange my entire life for twelve months was a goal that became compromised then tossed out after only a few days. My resolution to quit smoking tobacco lasted four hours and sixteen minutes. I had taken all my pipes and tobacco out in my back yard, burned them, and in mere hours was back in the local drug store buying it all back, plus adding cigars! I was facing an entire year of no tobacco, and the deprivation blues were too much.

I eventually did stop smoking, but it was for thirty minutes. At the end of that thirty minutes, I asked my HP for another thirty minutes smoke free. I had added nicotine to my list of drugs in NA, and if I smoked another pipe or cigar, I'd have to pick up a white beginner's key-tag and start my clean time all over again. At the time I had two years in the program and was very proud of that time. At the end of the day, I was still smoke free. The next morning I took on not smoking for another day, but this time an hour at a time. Then I had two days. One day at a time I lasted a month at the end of which I realized when I went to bed, I had gone all day without thinking of smoking. Yesterday marked my 38th year clean from mood altering drugs, and my 36th year free from tobacco.

Tackling problems one day at time works, and I'm not just referring to drugs, alcohol, nicotine, or overeating. That garage or basement that is cluttered with junk may seem too overwhelming to clean. But take one little part, throw away or sell the stuff, clean the surfaces, then look at it the next day and decide again. Clean another little patch? Why not? The first one was no big deal. Clean another little patch, then the next day another, and one day you will look up and the whole place will be clean.

Do what you need to do, one day at a time, get the help you need, and understand and use the principles of the Serenity Prayer: "serenity to accept the things I cannot change and courage to change the things I can."

Happy New Day everyone, and may you have many more.

Thursday, December 12, 2019


I just had occasion to reformat my novel Saint Mary Blue and make it available again as both Kindle and trade paperback. To do that I had to read it again. It is the story of a group of patients going through treatment at Saint Mary's Rehabilitation Center in Minneapolis. I wrote it one year after researching this novel the hard way and graduating from Saint Mary's. That particular rehab is now owned by Fairview Rehabilitation Services. That may have changed but inside it's business as usual: putting down the stuff and relearning How To Be A Human.
Working on the republication of this work brought it all back from my nightmarish flirting with suicide, the intervention, my foggy sick arrival at rehab, and my stumbling first days fencing with the disease of addiction, with the rehab staff, with my fellow group members, and even with myself. The work is fiction but there is nothing fictional about it. In a few days I will be celebrating my 38th anniversary clean and sober. I owe a very large part of that success to rehab and to its follow-up program.

There are all kinds of rehabilitation facilities, and of all degrees of quality. If you want to get clean, if you want to get sober, and if you want to stay that way, a professional treatment center can give you one hell of a good start. An incompetent treatment center is often worse than no treatment at all. At the time I thought rehab was the worst thing that ever happened to me. Through a lot of pain and much humility I found that it gave me back my life, my family, my career, hope, tears, love, and laughter: A good deal at any price.

California Clean and a Brief Peek at Reality

  Denial, that old Egyptian river. It is the principle symptom of active addiction. This is why addiction is often described as the disease...