Ending the Insanity


I read this paragraph just now in A Course of Love (the sequel to A Course in Miracles). It’s a beautiful description of what happens when you first hear the still small voice breaking through the chaos of addiction:

A door has been reached, a threshold crossed. What your mind still would deny your heart cannot. A tiny glimmering of memory has returned to you and will not leave you to the chaos you seem to prefer. It will keep calling you to acknowledge it and let it grow. It will tug at your heart in the most gentle of ways. Its whisper will be heard within your thoughts. Its melody will play within your mind. “Come back, come back,” it will say to you. “Come home, come home,” it will sing. You will know there is a place within yourself where you are missed and longed for and safe and loved. A little peace has been made room for in the house of your insanity.


Long before I had anything to be desperate about, I used to play this song over and over again. Years later, the words of the song seemed to perfectly describe my own separation from love, and into more harmful things instead. From the lyrics: “These things that are pleasin’ you can hurt you somehow.”
Here’s a link to a recording (no official videos when this song was popular).
Desparado by the Eagles.

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
You been out ridin’ fences for so long now
Oh, you’re a hard one
I know that you got your reasons
These things that are pleasin’ you
Can hurt you somehow.
Don’t you draw the queen of diamonds, boy
She’ll beat you if she’s able
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet
Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can’t get

Desperado, oh, you ain’t gettin’ no younger
Your pain and your hunger, they’re drivin’ you home
And freedom, oh freedom well, that’s just some people talkin’
Your prison is walking through this world all alone

Don’t your feet get cold in the winter time?
The sky won’t snow and the sun won’t shine
It’s hard to tell the night time from the day
You’re losin’ all your highs and lows
Ain’t it funny how the feeling goes away?

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate
It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you, before it’s too late.

Love Yourself Now


During one of my drinking days in one of the darkest periods of my life, I remember being crushed under the weight of guilt and shame because I had, once again, despite all of my resolve and great intentions, had too much to drink. I can’t remember what had triggered this awful state of mind … maybe I’d fought with one of my children or my ex-husband, but I felt completely defeated. I locked myself in my bedroom, and took out the journal I had hidden in the drawer of my bedside table.

As I lay on the bed, pouring my self-loathing onto the page, I suddenly felt the unmistakable presence of someone surrounding me with love … some wayward angel sent to comfort lost causes. But the feeling was powerful … much stronger than I’d felt before. The loving energy overwhelmed me, running through my mind and down into my hand holding the pen.

Love yourself now, the presence urged. I felt a wave of compassion wash over me, and I was overcome with the meaning behind the words.

Love yourself now, when you feel least worthy, when every indication from the outside world shows you that you are nothing, when you feel no one could love you in the condition you’re in, when you doubt that even God, if there is one, could forgive you for making such a mess of life — yours and those entrusted to your care.

Love yourself now.

Through the eyes of this incredible compassion, I saw myself as filled with light … as beautiful and as innocent as a child. I could see how wrong I was to ever judge myself as lacking or injured or inadequate or not enough. I was wrong to see myself as anything less than a perfect loving child of God.

I am here because I have been called. I am here because this is where I am supposed to be, and the only thing I need to do at this moment in time is to gently lift myself up, open my heart, and let the truth of who I am be received by me.

Drinking Friends


I’m posting this excerpt from the memoir I’m writing because it sums up what happened to me again and again when hanging out with drinking friends. (I was 23 days’ sober at the time.)


That evening, I sat on a friend’s back porch, watching her smoke and drink the wine she’d poured from a bottle chilling in a bucket of ice. She’d bought my favorite kind, though I’d told her I wasn’t drinking.

She was completely at ease, stretched out in her chair, swirling her wine in the glass. In contrast, I was restless and jittery, as if I’d had way too much coffee. Even the cicadas’ insane trilling jarred my nerves.

Our conversation, so effortless while drinking, was now stilted, full of fits and starts, as if we’d just met, though we’d been friends for years. Drinking buddies, actually. Hours could pass and we’d barely notice, laughing and drinking under the huge oaks trees in her backyard. But now, I didn’t find her stories nearly as funny, and she could feel my impatience to leave.

Sober, it turns out, I couldn’t sit for hours, doing nothing but talking and watching her smoke. Wine was the glue that held us together, and we became strangers without it.

She went to top off her wine, and then reached across to fill the empty glass in front of me, as if by habit.

“No thanks,” I said.

She swatting at a cloud of gnats. “Why not just one glass?”

Eve, in the Garden of Eden.

I didn’t answer her. I just stared off into the trees, wondering why this was so hard.

I shouldn’t be here.

In the silence, I could sense her frustration with me for not being what she wanted … for not playing my role. I felt a flash of anger.

But you’re free to leave,I reminded myself.

Years later, I could recognize when a friendship faltered without the wine, and I’d have no trouble walking away the minute I felt like it. But on Day 23, I could only watch her drink — gesturing with the glass, refilling it again. I saw only that a drink could solve everything that was wrong in this moment — the discomfort and loneliness and anger.

As I sat across from her, my resolve melting like the ice cubes in the bucket, I felt just a whisper of pain —familiar and heart breaking. Betrayal.

Not hers, but mine.

As I reached across the table for the wine bottle, sweaty and slick with condensation, she took a long drag on her cigarette, eyeing me appraisingly. She blew out the smoke, snuffed out her cigarette, and smiled.

“Welcome back,” she said.

Where Sobriety Begins


Sobriety begins in the mind.

And by mind, I mean the conscious part of you that thinks and loves and dreams, as opposed to the physical brain. One can survive the other.

Over a decade ago, I started the first of a dozen journals with the idea that by writing down my pledges to give up drinking for x amount of time, I could hold myself accountable. Or at least recognize where I was failing over and over again.

I bought a beautiful, gilded journal from a bookstore with an odd illustration on the front. I learned from a description on the back cover that the image was from the Book of Kells, which I’d never heard of. I did an internet search and discovered it was a medieval manuscript written in Ireland — a decorated version of the four gospels relating to the life of Jesus Christ. The image on the cover of my journal was called the Chi Ro monogram: the first two letters of the word Christ in Greek.

Interesting, I thought, and somehow fitting. It made me feel like my journaling would be a sacred process. So for the first time in ages, I began to write, using motivational quotes and doodling in the margins. Here’s my first entry:

March 1, 2005

“All appears to change when we change.”   — Henri Amiel, 19th century Swiss writer 

When we change — all else changes. I’ll try to do my part, and it’s up to the universe to prove this to be true.

Reading this now is kind of funny, because the universe shocked the hell out of me. It did its part in spades. And I did my part, now and then. I would journal for two weeks straight and then drop out of sight for a week or a month. But something about the process seemed almost magical. I was drawn back to the journal, with its promise of sacred text, again and again.

What I found out is that writing is sacred. It gets you in touch with a much deeper wisdom within your own mind. The voice I heard was wiser and kinder than the voice I was used to hearing, day in and day out. And what flowed across the page became a conversation with a part of myself that I didn’t recognize.

But this higher self, or better angel, or Christ-Consciousness, or Buddha-nature, or Spirit had the answers I was looking for. When I listened to this voice, and not to the voice of the ego, a door was opened, just a crack.

This voice spoke of power and self-love and forgiveness. The more I listened, and the more I acted on this awareness — this divinity within me — the more my world began to change. Dramatically.

Here is a miracle I could only see in hindsight: In the first sentence on the first page of my first journal, I was given the keys to the kingdom:

 All appears to change when we change.


“The Good Ole’ Days”

shawna wine

A friend just sent me a photo from the good ole’ days.

I can see that my eyes are puffy and my skin is dehydrated, because I’m way too young here to have so many laugh lines. (Well, there is that whole sun exposure thing. Have I ever mentioned that I lived in St. Thomas for a year?)

Those days weren’t that great.

But right now, I’m getting ready to go hiking through my favorite mountain top. Later on, I’ll get some work done, go have an incredibly healthy dinner, and then call some people I love.

These are the good ole’ days.