September is National Recovery Month.  Created by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration  this month is devoted to celebrating and publicizing the fact that people can and do recover from substance abuse and lead successful lives.

While Recovery Month is sponsored by an organization whose policies I don’t always agree with, the premise is a good one.  Recovery is a beautiful thing.  It isn’t about lack, limitation or denying oneself things one wants.  It’s about opening up into a new way of living that is vastly more rewarding than anything you could imagine.

I’ve been in recovery for 31 years.  I’ve seen a lot, done a lot, studied and researched a lot, and witnessed a lot.  Life happens in 31 years.  Through it all I’ve learned a few things.

My area of expertise lies in the 12 steps, taken from a New Thought perspective.  I’ve written a short little book about it, called A New Thought Journey through the 12 Steps.  You can purchase it here.  A workbook is in progress.

I’ve been blessed in my journey in recovery because people took the time to teach me simple things every step of the way.  I went to a treatment center and came out with two takeaways, in addition to being clean for the first time in 20 years.  The first takeaway was that alcoholism is an allergy.  I will always be allergic to alcohol and any other substance that alters my mind.  This removed the shame that is typically associated with addiction.  Because I was not ashamed of my disease, I didn’t hide it.  We are only as sick as our secrets and that was a secret that was well and thoroughly outed, brought into the light to heal.  My other takeaway was that living life without alcohol was not only possible but desirable, and that to do so, I needed to incorporate the 12 steps into my life.  Once I began attending meetings and talking with folks to learn about those steps, powerful wisdom was shared with me every step of the way.  It was pointed out to me that if I did not think I was powerless over alcohol, I was free to allow it back into my life.  With the same results.  It was pointed out to me that if I did not think my life was unmanageable, to just do a quick little review of recent events.  It was pointed out to me that it did not matter that I could not agree with the way those first three steps were worded.  Agreement was not necessary to recovery.  Work was.  I was to work those steps, and incorporate them into my life.  Comprehension could come later.  I did and it did.  This was how I got through those first three steps. ...continue reading

“The eternal inquiry concerning God is an inquiry into the nature of our own being.“. Ernest Holmes, Living Without Fear

”We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found.”  Alcoholics Anonymous textbook

”...enter into the inner secret communion with that great Reality, which is our Universal Self—God...” Ernest Holmes, Science of Mind textbook

When I first entered recovery, I was not religious.  I never understood the concept of a God separate from me, which is what most religions teach, at least on the surface.  I never cared to explore such things, instead preferring to explore the nature of this substance or that, and how it effected me.  When I stopped exploring substances and began to explore the nature of God, I was very frightened.

I was frightened because I did not want to drink, and what the steps seemed to be telling me what that I had to believe in some sort of outside God in order to not drink.  It wasn’t the belief in God that was bothering me.  I got the concept that it was a God of my understanding.  It was the belief in a God separate from me that did not make sense to me.

Today I know that belief in a God separate from me is a sort of Religion 101. It’s beginner religion.  I accepted that outside God for a while, which is probably a good thing for a newcomer to do.  My mind was still a dangerous neighborhood back then, and not only did I not know how to explore that unknown territory, but I was afraid to do so.

But the steps set me up to do inner exploration that I continue to this day.  Back then this exploration was also a bit surface, but it was a beginning.  Today, inner exploration means deep communion with God.  The Great Reality is indeed deep within me. I will never forget how much fun I had when, in my research, I realized that both Bill W. and Ernest Holmes used the same phrase to describe the same thing in their writings.  I do not know who got it from whom, but it is important to me to know that two wise spiritual teachers used the same phrase for the same concept.

Inner exploration is a beautiful way to live.  By going within I commune with God as well as discover the nature of my own humanness.  Daily I realize new insights, discover new aspects of spirit, and feel the presence of a power that feeds me with faith when I would feel fear, with peace when I would be agitated.  This daily practice also is a source of no small amount of humor as the opportunities to laugh at myself are endless.  This Inner Presence allows me to know the right things to do, and when to do them.

Today I am so grateful for the 10th and 11th steps.  The 10th encourages me to continue that daily practice of inner exploration.  The 11th encourages me to continue to explore how God works in my life. Taken together, these two steps provide a strong and unshakeable foundation for successful living.

Buy the book, A New Thought Journey through the 12 Steps here on my web site, or on Amazon




I’ve often wondered about the word “moral” in the AA text book.  It implores us to make a “searching and fearless moral inventory.”  The word “moral” is mentioned 34 times in the text.  If we look at the word as spoken in some of the stories, it does seem to imply that most people’s understanding of the word is about behavior.  But the good Dr. Silkworth speaks of “moral psychology” and the chapter to the agnostic suggests that there might be something different going on with that word.

Something deeper.  I always ask sponsees, when we get to the part in the book where it speaks about a moral inventory, what they think the word moral means.  I am not so much interested in their definition as I am in getting them to think about it and what it means to them.

I think moral is more about our own enlightenment...our own awakening.  I’ve never felt comfortable with other people or societies prescribing what they think is good behavior for me. It feels disempowering and a bit insulting.  I’d rather know myself and what is and is not acceptable for me, and then walk my talk.  This, to me, is what the inventory is all about.  Learning our talk, and then either walking that talk, or changing it if needed, without shame or blame.

If we go to Ernest Holmes, specifically the Science of Mind textbook, there is one mention of moral, and it speaks to what I am describing:  “We realize, however, that to attempt this self-expression at the expense of society or other individuals is to defeat the very purpose for which freedom exists, for back of all is a unity. Hence we find that the laws of necessity and not of theology (of which all religions and ethics and moral and social systems are but feeble lights) do ultimately compel experience into the path of true righteousness.“

He goes on to explain, “The criterion for any man as to what is right or wrong for him is not to be found in some other man’s judgment. The criterion is: Does the thing I wish to do express more life, more happiness, more peace to myself, and at the same time harm no one? If it does, it is right. It is not selfish. But if it is done at the expense of anyone, then in such degree we are making a wrong use of the Law.”

So, moral is more about our own personal freedom than about behaving according to other’s rules, as long as we harm no one else.  And we get this freedom by introspection.  Personal inventory in AA speak.  Which leads to righteousness, or right thinking.

George Washington said, “Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”  I believe he is also speaking to this.  We have a moral duty to ourselves first...we must know ourselves, and accept, or...change with love, that which is not acceptable.  Only then can we experience happiness.

I know the writing is hard to read in this meme, but if you enlarge it you should be able to see it.  It is written by David Ault, and I believe this declaration of personal independence speaks beautifully to happiness and morals.

And, to conclude this post, I have another meme for you......and wish you a personal liberation and freedom from limiting thoughts on this 4th of July!

Today marks the three year anniversary of publication of the book!  That's pretty exciting to me.  I've been a published author for a long time, but I honestly never thought I would publish a book.  The writing of the book itself was easy, I had something to say and the words flowed effortlessly from my mind, through my fingers to the key pad.

It was the editing, design of the cover and finding a publisher that took some doing.  I did a self edit by running the manuscript through Microsoft Word.  Then I had some people read and edit the manuscript for me. A final check was made by the publisher, Balboa Press, but mostly, they checked to make sure I wasn't violating any copyrights and listed my sources properly.

I knew what I wanted for the cover, it was just a matter of finding the right kind of steps to photograph.  I wanted an illustration of a set of steps leading up through the clouds and into the sunshine.  I already had the background photo, just needed the stairs.  At the suggestion of another friend, I journeyed one day to Amador County, California, where my friend said there were a lot of stairs to choose from.  Sure enough, after wandering around for a while, I found the perfect set of stairs......they were leading up to a cemetery!  LOL!  You'd never know it by looking at the cover.  Once I sandwiched the two images together the stairs didn't look right.  I had the help of a graphic designer, who gave me the feedback I needed to get them the way I wanted them.

I also had to solicit some folks to write some cover blurbs, and I have to say I was so pleasantly surprised by what they had to say!

Then came the publishing.  Balboa Press kept me informed every step of the way, and sure enough, one day I woke up and there it was, big and bold:  my book for sale at Balboa Press and on Amazon!

Since the publication of the book, it has been translated into Russian for use in the Ukraine by Temenos Center for Spiritual Living.  I have traveled all over parts of the western United States giving workshops based on the book, and I'm currently working on a downloadable self directed course also! that I'm over the initial write/publish a book hurdle, I'm working on two more!

I created this meme as part of a project for grad school. I spend a significant portion of time most mornings in a delightful exploration of the inner. Awareness of and communion with self and Self.

And yes, there is indeed a time and a place for inner work, and a time and a place for action.  For me, if all my action is based on what came of my inner work, I can trust that my actions were the right thing to do.

In recovery, I first learned about inner work through steps 1-4.  It was said to me that steps 1, 2 and 3 were two conclusions and a decision.  This implied to me inner stuff, not outer.  It also implied to me that I only needed to come to those two conclusions one time, and I only needed to make that decision one time.

As I progressed in my recovery, I began to remember that I had never really believed in a god that was separate from me.  I grew up hearing New Thought wisdom, the result of which meant that god was within me, a part of me, working in, as and through me.

As I progressed on my journey through the steps, I was told that steps 10 and 11 were where I would “live” for the rest of my life.  They aren’t just maintenance steps, they are growth steps.  And I learned that I got my power back in step 10.

As I continued to research and study the literature, I realized that the text book of AA, also known as the Big Book, was written for newcomers.  “Substantial sobriety time” was two years.  Check out the Foreward to the Second Edition, where it is talking about the first group having been formed in 1935, the second in 1937, at which time “the number of members having substantial sobriety time behind them was sufficient to convince the membership that a new light had entered the dark world of the alcoholic.”

This means that steps 1, 2 and 3 are for newcomers.  It was good to realize that I wasn’t doomed to a life of victim hood, being powerless over everything.  It was good to realize that the sanity referred to in the seconde step meant sobriety.  It was good to realize that I only need to make a decision one time, and that immediate action was necessary to cement that decision.  It was good to realize that steps 10 and 11 are for a deeper dive into personal self awareness and communion with god.  A way of living that increasingly allows me to feel and know the presence of god in everything I do and feel, and a way of living that not only allows me to know what I am thinking and feeling, but to be ok with all of that, and to change what I am thinking and feeling if it no longer works for me.  Can you say “no more unworthiness?”

In New Thought we advocate and teach about inner self awareness.  Meditation, journaling, affirmative prayer, looking at belief systems, values and thought patterns are all ways to go within and discover just what makes us tick, and what used to make us tick that no longer serves so well.  And likewise, those same practices also allow us to go deeper with that god stuff.

For me, Steps 10 and 11 are where the true power of the program lies, and it is also where the power of New Thought lies as well.  I find that I am much more at peace and joyful when I can spend a little bit of time each day in inner exploration and communion.

Buy the book A New Thought Journey through the 12 Steps here.

I’ve just had something serendipitous happen!

I get a texted daily meditation from a good friend of mine, who is also a New Thought/program person.  The other day she quoted Ernest Holmes and I loved the quote so much I asked her where she got it.  She said “365 Days of Richer Living.”  It is the daily inspiration book created from Holme’s writings.

I wanted to investigate this quote, because it so happens that Face Everything And Recover is my motto in sobriety.  See, I was paralyzed with fear when I first got sober.  I couldn’t drive in the snow, couldn’t talk, couldn’t do much of anything.  Fear was an overwhelming presence that took over my life.  And until I began working the steps, that presence had a lot of power.  The good news is that with each step, more of the fear went away.  By the time I got to steps 10 and 11, I was basically living a fearless life.

So....I went to investigate the quote, and discovered that the passage was written on my sobriety birthday, November 27.  Isn’t that cool?!?!?!?!

I love things like that!  They tell me that I’m on the right track.  They reaffirm my faith.

Here is the meditation, copied in its entirety, from “365 Days of Richer Living” by Ernest Holmes:

“TODAY my heart is without fear, for I have implicit confidence in the good, the enduring and the true. Fear is the only thing of which to be afraid. It is not the host encamped against us, nor the confusion around us, that we need to fear; it is the lack of confidence in the good alone which should concern us. Through inner spiritual vision, we know that evil is transitory, but good is permanent. We know that right finally dissolves everything opposed to it. The power of Spirit is supreme over every antagonist. Therefore, we should cherish no fear, and when we neither fear nor hate, we come to understand the unity of life. I put my whole trust in God. I know that the Spirit will gently lead me and wisely counsel me. I know that the love which envelops everything flows through me to everyone, and with it there goes a confidence, a sense of joy and freedom, a buoyant enthusiasm for living, a zest for life. “For all thy ways are ways of pleasantness, and all thy paths are peace.” I realize that fear is not Godlike, since it contradicts the divine presence, repudiates limitless love and denies infinite good. Therefore, I know that fear is a lie, a fraud. It is neither person, place nor thing; it is merely an impostor that I have believed in. I have entertained it so long that it seems as if it really were something, and it attempts to make me believe that two and two are seven, that the earth is flat and that God is limited. Today I repudiate all fear. I renounce the belief in evil. I enter into conscious union with the Spirit. I accept the good as supreme, positive and absolute. With joy I enter into the activities of the day, without regret I remember the events of yesterday, and with confidence I look forward to tomorrow, for today my heart is without fear.”

I hope you enjoy this little serendipitous moment as much as I have.

Thomas Moore: “If you need to demonize someone, your heart is blocked with emotional and spiritual plaque.”
Edwene Gaines: “No one can steal from you unless you are a thief. No one can cheat you unless you are a cheater. No one can gossip about you unless you are a gossip.”
Alcoholics Anonymous 12 and 12: “It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us.”

While I love the quote from the 12 and 12, I have a major problem with the word “wrong.” There is never anything wrong with us. Never ever. However, the wisdom of the statement is true and strong. Anytime we are speaking in terms of them versus us, or gossiping out someone, or judging someone, or pointing the finger of blame outward to someone or something else, it is a signal. That signal is really a deep inner desire, on the soul level if you will, to address something within that wants to be brought out to the light, revealed and healed. In my daily practice of introspection, I watch for areas in which I judge others, or blame others, or am thinking in terms of myself versus them. That is separation and duality at its worse, and it will harm no one but me. When I find those things, I know it is a signal for me to stop and take a look at myself and discover what is going on that needs changing. This is usually about behaviors or ways of thinking that I developed early on as defense mechanisms. The only problem is that there is no longer any need for defense. The circumstances under which the behaviors and ways of thinking developed simply don’t exist anymore. Those ways of thinking and behaviors are now simply limitations. And we argue for them when we continue them. Stop arguing for your limitations. Use the daily practice of introspection to become aware of those thoughts and behaviors which would hold you back, and change them.

This is the latest entry for the daily meditation book that I am writing.  If you would like to be a part of the creation of this book, and have access to things the general public doesn’t see, I would love your support!  Go here to check it out.

Ernest Holmes: “Turning from everything that denies this and quietly contemplating the Perfection of the Inner Man, who is an incarnation of God, we meet the Great Reality in the only place we shall ever discover It, within our own hearts and souls and minds.”
Alcoholics Anonymous textbook: “We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that It may be found.“

In my research I have found more than one example of common language between Ernest Holmes and Bill Wilson.  This is evidence that those two chatted, and I have a lot of fun imagining what those talks must have been like!

This concept of going within to find a Higher Power is one of those paradoxes that we frequently find in spiritual teachings.  Surrender to find strength they say.  Give up to find a solution they say.

This concept of going within to find a Higher Power is also a paradox, and can also be quite scary.  I’ve had newcomers tell me that the idea of using something within themselves to get sober simply does not work for them.  I get that.  When we are first in recovery, our insides are scrambled.  Perceptions are skewed, ideas put it bluntly...a bit “out there.”  It truly is a dangerous neighborhood inside.

But it does not stay that way forever.  I believe that the Big Book was written for beginners.  You can find evidence of this throughout the book.  The “great reality” statement is in step two of the book, which tells me that it is a good idea to begin to change our beliefs of where God is found sooner rather than later.

I can tell you that it was only when I began to contemplate the idea of a great reality deep within me that I was able to move from a consciousness of victimhood to one of personal empowerment.

In New Thought, we teach that there are 4 levels of consciousness:  life happens to me (victim), life happens from me (beginning to sense our own power), life happens through me (I am a channel for God), and life happens as me (I am One with God).  In the steps, this process begins in steps 2 and 3, continues through 6 and 7, and is deepened and enriched in steps 10 and 11.  We get our power back in step 10, and in step 11 the Big Book encourages us to strengthen our connection with a God of our understanding by exploring other spiritual paths.  By the time we get to step 10, going within should no longer be a frightening place to go.  We truly do find that Great Reality deep within us.

This means that what happens “out there” no longer has the power to affect us, because we have an inner strength upon which to draw.  It is a great way to live.

Explore the deep reality deep within you by joining me on a group camping retreat in Death Valley.  March 6-8.  Details and registration here.



Here we are again, back with this word:  power.  Do we have it?  Or not?  If you have read my book, you know that I believe that the 12 steps, as they are laid out in the textbook of Alcoholics Anonmous, are for beginners.  It was never an intention for us to go through life powerless.  Yes, we are very much powerless at certain times in our lives.  But that isn’t a bad thing.  Think of powerlessness as a doorway, through which we can step into and thus walk experiencing lives of power.  We get our power back in the 10th and 11th steps.

In New Thought this week, Centers for Spiritual Living all over the world are following a #100YearsOfScienceOfMind theme, based on the Ernest Holmes book Living the Science of Mind.  This week’s entry is titled “Thinking Affirmatively” and begins with this quote:  “THERE is a Power for Good in the Universe greater than you are, and you can use It.”

Just like in the steps, there is a process to get to the place where we can use this power.  Ernest Holmes describes basically a three step process:  1.  Oneness.  We are One with this Power for Good.  2.  The trend of our thoughts and beliefs will either attract or repel good in our lives.  3.  Change the thinking and the beliefs if what you are attracting is not pleasing to you.

The process is a bit longer in the steps, and a bit more detailed, but basically the same:  1.  admit, or discover, there is something in life not to your liking.  It isn’t working anymore.  2.  Find and develop a higher power.  3.  Take personal responsibility for your life by discovering yourself, your fears and how you react to those fears.  4.  Clean up the mess.  5.  Begin to live life based in spiritual principles.  6.  Continue to do introspection and develop a sense of and connection with a higher power.  This is where you get your power back.

Combine the two teachings, and I can tell you that life gets better than you could ever imagine!

If you want a jump start on creating more good in your life, consider going on retreat with me, to Death Valley in March.  Here is a link with more information.


There are a lot of folks out there who like to bad mouth the 12 steps.  They offer all kinds of way to get sober and stay sober.  I’ll admit it, I haven’t tried any of those things.  There are also all kinds of folks out there who claim to be atheist.  They also bad mouth the 12 steps.  And yet, I see they do believe in something.  Very strongly.  That isn’t atheism.  If you believe in science, you have a belief.

My book isn’t about bad mouthing the 12 steps.  It is, admittedly, a different take on the 12 steps, which I happen to adore.  I took the basic teachings of the old timers in AA, researching volumes and reams of books and pamphlets and anything else I could find.  I talked with old timers.  I studied the literature.  Then I took the wisdom of New Thought and metaphysics.

And out popped this book.  Twenty five years of study, all wrapped up and condensed into this little book.  Short read, but if you take the steps (meaning incorporate the into your life), I promise you that you will have a live more wonderful than you ever imagined.

What do I get out of this?  Not much, admittedly.  I’ll be honest here, sales of this book are not what I had hoped for.  Which I fail to understand.  And when it does sell, royalties are small.

I just want to help.  Really.  I see so many people struggling.  Some refuse to incorporate the 12 steps into their lives, for a bunch of reasons.  So they continue to live lives filled with misery.  That isn’t necessary.  Don’t struggle.  Check it out.  The book is available from me directly, or on Amazon and Balboa Press.

And......I have some offerings for you.  A workshop.  About expectations. know  that phrase “expectations are premeditated resentments.”  Yeah, that one.  I cringe every time I hear it.  So limiting!  Check it out, a different way to view it.  The workshop is online, and it is coming up quick, this Thursday.  Register now so I can send you the link to attend.