Handling denial: for the addict (who is anesthetized) and the loved ones (who are not)

I’ve spent a good long time talking to people who have addictions, years in fact, trying to be helpful as the addiction counselor. It was always a struggle, not between me and my client, but between the both of us and the addiction. Here’s a slice of what I learned, in honor of Alcohol Awareness... Read more »

A guide to walking into your first AA meeting with an open mind

Here is some of what 30 years as an addiction counselor taught me: There are at least a thousand reasons not to go to AA. My clients have believed them all, until they no longer believed them. If you know someone who might benefit from trying out AA, especially if that person is you, have a... Read more »

Memories absorbed: Saying goodbye to my grandparents' house

My visit to Bryson City was almost over. Early the last morning I drove up Deep Creek, site of my coldest (temperature-wise, not memory-wise) childhood times. I said goodbye to the creek, recorded some birds trilling high in the trees, and walked the new wooden path along its curve. Located on the edge of the... Read more »

Memories unleashed: How I got into my grandparents' house 50 years later

I heard about it before I saw it, when my cousin Jim held up a green vase to say, “This is about the color.” Someone has painted my grandparents’ house apple green, with maroon accents. The big old white house by the river that held some of my best childhood times was now a completely... Read more »

Memories trapped inside: My grandparents' house down by the river

In 1940 my grandparents moved into their new house. It was an old house already, white, covered in asbestos shingles. It was nothing fancy but solid, warm via the wood stove in the kitchen and the bigger one in the living room, and backed by a giant garden, a chicken coop and pig barn. Grandma’s flower... Read more »

Climbing the Smokies: Taking my mother back home

I went home the other day to a place I’d never been, up a mountain, in the rain, ducking under rhododendron overgrowth, off the trail, following the Juneywhank branch, in what is now the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. When our people arrived there, in 1915, it was just land that my grandparents had managed... Read more »

A Collaboration on Leonard Cohen: The People’s Poetry of amazon.com

Leonard Cohen brings out the poet in us. One day I was on amazon.com researching which album to buy next and noticed a remarkable thing: Every listener review was poetry itself. I couldn’t help but string them together, becoming a poet myself, briefly. We, your people, would like a word. For all the years we’ve... Read more »

10 Things to Love about Leonard Cohen 2014

The other night, ChicagoNow asked us bloggers to passionately defend a guilty pleasure of ours, this month’s topic for BlogapaloozHour when we all write furiously on the same topic and post an hour later. I was a little tied up at the time, but am ready now to explain my fervent attachment to singer-songwriter-poet Leonard... Read more »

Free to Be...You and Me: The Cure for Pink Princesses?

Quick – what do Marlo Thomas, Alan Alda, Mel Brooks, Rosey Grier, and Carol Channing have in common? If you are a baby boomer, this should come easy. If you are the child of a baby boomer, it will be too. For the rest of you, all of these people and a host of others... Read more »

Grief Pitfall #1: Defending yourself against the Grief Police

If you hear something like this: Shouldn’t you be over this by now? Do you have closure? When are you going to get out of denial? then look around. The Grief Police are out there, patrolling, trained in exactly how other people should grieve. They are armed with advice and superior knowledge. They follow you... Read more »