Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A to Z Gratitude List

I saw someone mention an A to Z Gratitude List online and thought to myself, Why not? With tomorrow being Thanksgiving and all, I thought this would be a good exercise. So, here we go...

A = Anne Lamott. Her writing inspires me. It makes me laugh. It makes me cry. Her books are my owner's manuals for life.

B = Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction, by David Sheff. I still consider this the best book I've ever read and the book that literally saved my life. When I read this book, my life was a mess. I had been taken over by my own son's addiction. Beautiful Boy made me realize that I had to stop being addicted to my son's addiction and start working on my own recovery.

C = Cats. Our three cats--Mickey, Ryan, and Elliott--bring so much joy into our lives. They are members of our family and there are no words to describe the therapeutic effect they have had on all of us.

D = Dad. We had an almost non-existent relationship for years, but I'm so glad that I was able to forgive him and reconnect with him during the last few months of his life. I miss him every day.

E = Edwards, Kathleen. Her music has been such a huge part of my life from the moment I heard her first record. They say that music is the healing force, and Kathleen Edwards's music has been there to help me and my wife through a lot of difficult and painful times, when we needed "A Soft Place to Land." To top it off, the woman has such a good soul. There have been other musicians who have helped us heal, too: Rickie Lee Jones, Jim Bryson, Matthew Ryan, Ryan Adams, Hannah Georgas, The Bergamot, and a few more. But Kathleen is at the top of the list.

F = Friends and Family. Despite what a lot of people may think, I'm kind of an introvert and don't have a lot of friends I hang out with. But I have some great ones, both locally and abroad. I also have so many incredible online friends, some of whom I've never even met. (Someday, people. Someday.) And what can I say about my family? Such support and compassion from all of them.

G = Grace. I have experienced grace to the nth degree over the last few years. "I do not understand the mystery of grace--only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us." --Anne Lamott

H = Hope. If it wasn't important to me, I wouldn't have the word tattooed on my left forearm. "Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up." --Anne Lamott

I = In-Laws. My wife's parents have been so helpful to us over the years. They are both so kind and generous. If it wasn't for their support and generosity, we probably wouldn't have the house we're living in. Or the car we're driving. Or pants. (Just kidding about the pants, but you get the idea.)

J = Josh. My younger son. He is such a bright spot in our lives. He's intelligent, funny, a great writer, and has a heart of gold. He's been through so much in his almost 18 years, including a lot of stuff he didn't sign up for. But he still manages to have a great attitude. And he still says, "I love you, dad," followed by his trademark phrase "Forever and ever. No matter what."

K = Kathy. My wife. The most amazing woman on the planet. My rock. My best friend. The glue that holds our family together. The girl I knew I wanted to marry from the first time I saw her. I am so lucky to have her. Twenty-five years of marriage and ready for twenty-five more.

L = Leelanau School. What can I say about the best high school on the planet? If it wasn't for the Leelanau School and its incredible teachers and staff, I don't know where my younger son would be right now. Finding this amazing school, which specializes in teaching kids with ADHD and other learning disabilities, has been such a blessing. (It doesn't hurt that it's located in one of the most beautiful spots in America either.)

M = Mom. My mom is also a pretty amazing woman. She's 82 going on 52 and has always been supportive of me. No matter what I do or what curve balls life throws at me, my mom is there to tell me it will all work out. And she's usually right.

N = Neighbors. This one sounds kind of simple, but we have such great neighbors. On both sides and across the street. Great neighbors are sometimes  few and far between. Trust me. We've had our share of horrible neighbors over the years. So it's really nice to have great ones.

O = Openness. I am so thankful that I've been able to go through my son's journey with an openness and transparency that allows me to share my experiences with others. Keeping my emotions bottled up inside would've eaten me alive.

P = Pizza. I love pizza. A lot. I could eat it every day for the rest of my life. I don't eat as much of it as I once did because I've been watching my calories more closely over the last few years, but I still love it. Pizza makes everything better.

Q = Quotes. I love inspirational quotes. I comb the Internet for them and highlight them in books that I read. I also post them on Facebook and Twitter and in my e-mail signature. Reading a good inspirational quote can help me get through a tough day or just make me think about life.

R = Recovery. My son's recovery is one of the greatest gifts I've been given. So is my own recovery. And my wife's recovery. And our family's recovery. We are living in the moment, one day at a time.

S = Sam. My older son. He's so smart, talented, and caring. I can't imagine going through everything he's gone through over the last eight years or so. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. But I am so proud that he has come through it and is in recovery. He's one of the strongest "kids" I know. I'm so happy that he has a job and a girlfriend who is head-over-heels in love with him. He's come such a long way.

T = Treatment. If it hadn't been for the treatment my son received for his addiction, it's hard to say where he'd be right now. Treatment works. Maybe not for everybody and maybe not the first time, but it works. I'm grateful we had access to it and wish that everyone who wanted/needed treatment could get it without the issues that so often make the process so incredibly difficult.

U = Up North. The beauty of northern Michigan--"Up North" to Michiganders--is so stunning that unless you've seen it in person, you can't truly appreciate. To be able to get away to see such beauty on a regular basis makes me feel so fortunate. It's so great to have friends and family who live up there so that we can visit without breaking our budget. And the fact that my younger son goes to school up there? Icing on the cake.

V = Volunteering. Being able to volunteer for organizations like The Partnership at, as part of their National Parent Network, allows me to feel like I'm giving back to the addiction/recovery community. I've developed a passion for helping others who are experiencing what I have experienced.

W = Writing. I know I'm not the best writer in the world, but writing is therapy for me. This blog has helped me so much over the last few years. Getting my "stuff" out into the open, knowing that maybe someone out there might benefit from reading what I've gone through. That's huge to me.

X = X-Ray Vision. Okay. So I don't really have x-ray vision. But I don't have a xylophone either. And I couldn't think of an "X" word that I'm grateful for.

Y = Yarn. My wife is a power knitter and crocheter. She gets such joy out of creating things from yarn. And she donates a huge percentage of what she makes to charity. There is yarn everywhere in our house: in closets, in drawers, in the freezer. But that's okay, because it gives my wife such pleasure.

Z = Zoloft. Interesting that the last thing on my gratitude list is a drug. But I suffered from major depression for many years and tried just about every anti-depressant out there. None of them worked. Until I tried Zoloft. I've been on it for a few years and it's really helped me.

The cats: Mickey, Ryan, and Elliott.

1 comment:

  1. I love this! 1) a lot of my friends on Facebook take part in the daily posts of things to be thankful about during the month of November, and while I enjoy seeing their posts, I find it hard to keep up daily on traditions like this, but I like your idea of just giving a list from A to Z. 2) I'm always looking for new and different things to post about on my own blog page, and I like your idea for possibly next year! I hope you won't mind. ;-) Keep up the great blog posts...I love following you on your journey with your son and family!