Wrapping Up 30 Days of Gratitude

Midwestern Mama counts her blessings this Thanksgiving season with “30 Days of Gratitude.” Among her most grateful reflections? Relationships, Community, Family, Friends, and her son’s Sobriety & Recovery. Thank you for joining us in a celebration of #Gratitude2014

Thank you for reading along as I gave great consideration to all that is good, all that I am grateful for this season. What I truly realized it that I am grateful for far more than one thing each day, far more than 30 things in one month. I am blessed to have multitudes of things for which I am eternally grateful. The more I thought about things, the more I realized I could put on the gratitude list.

In sharing some of these thoughts with my husband, he shared a wonderful realization that he’d recently come to: He shared that since our son’s commitment to recovery, he is beginning to think about the future and is no longer dwelling so much in the past.

I, too, find myself better able to look forward. For so many days, months, years, it has been all we could do to just focus on the here and now, taking things one day at a time (sometimes even one minute at a time). We would replay the past. We would long for the good ‘ol days.

Now, we are excited to see what’s next for our son. And, our son is excited, too. He’s working part time with hopes of a promotion and perhaps finding an even better job. He’s registering for spring-semester courses at a local college. He’s appealing academic suspension by writing an honest and sincere account of his young-adult life and showing that he’s ready to be a drug-free, committed student. He’s turning his life around, and we are so happy for him.

Here is a quick recap of Days 21 – 30 of #Gratitude2014.

Day 21: I am grateful for information sharing and gathering. Smarter is better, when it comes to addiction.

Day 22: I am grateful for truth even when it’s difficult.

Day 23: I am grateful.

Day 24: I am grateful my son is alive in spite of so many past situations that could have killed him.

Day 25: I am grateful for how far my son and our family have come since last year – it was getting bleak; now it’s full of hope.

Day 26: I am grateful that family and friends will gather in our home to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Day 27: I am grateful my son is here to help me make the cornbread stuffing for our Thanksgiving meal!

Day 28: I am grateful for leftovers. Today, I am making turkey soup to warm the soul.

Day 29: I am grateful for the upcoming holiday season

Day 30: I am grateful all year round – Thanksgiving is more than a day, more than a month. It is a way of life.

All the best,

Midwestern Mama


Let #Gratitude2014 Continue!

Midwestern Mama recaps the past week of #Gratitude2014 posts. 

At this time last year, our son was in desperate shape, and it was getting worse.  At age 21, he was several years into drug addiction, and he was homeless, penniless and jobless.  He was, however, softening to the idea of treating his depression and anxiety, and a wise, young counselor directed him toward in-patient dual-diagnosis treatment as the first course of action. Fortunately, when funding became available and a bed opened up, our son went and this time he stuck it out for the recommended time.  While a terrible relapse occurred a few months after that, he got back to treatment and recovery this summer.  As you can imagine, the transformation and positive possibilities ahead fill us with gratitude.

Here are some of the things I’ve identified this past week as part of Our Young Addicts “30 Days of Gratitude.”

Day 13: I am grateful that my son is starting to open up with us about his feelings and experiences.

Day 14: I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story with you.

Day 15: I am grateful that my son has nutritious food, a warm bed, a clean shower and fresh clothes these days.

Day 16: I am grateful that we recognized our son’s struggle and did everything we could to get him help, even though he resisted.

Day 17: I am grateful that my son’s siblings are a strong support system for him.

Day 18: I am grateful that my son is building a sober network of friends even though social anxiety makes it difficult.

Day 19: I am grateful that we are part of our son’s recovery, now and forever.

Day 20: I am grateful for all the stories that others have shared with me and the encouragement offered.

Please join us in looking for gratitude even in the darkest days.  Keep hoping and praying, and know that there is a community that cares.

Midwestern Mama

A Heartwarming Phone Call on a Cold November Evening


Midwestern Mama gets an unexpected phone call that warms her heart on a cold November evening; her son is making amends, recovery is in progress!

It may only be November, but winter is already upon us in Minnesota. The snow and freezing cold temps started about a week ago, an earlier and more frigid start than usual even for this part of the country. We’re craving comfort food to warm our souls. We’ve donned down jackets and mittens, and yes, we’ve already had to shovel the driveway – several times. And, yes, we know that this is only the beginning.

At a time when the seasons are in transition and one year begins to wrap up, it seems my son’s addiction and recovery are also in transition. This time, it feels like a new beginning even though it means trudging through snow and navigating slippery roads.

The hard work underway is welcome. The challenging conditions are welcome. This is indeed the time to express gratitude, to celebrate the season upon us. An unexpected phone call last night reinforced that the hard work and challenging conditions are just the right events at the right time.

Usually when the parent of a young addict mentions a phone call, it conjures up scary and unpleasant things. Even for the parent of a son in recovery, a phone call can trigger all kinds of emotions. This phone call, however, was the best kind of surprise – unexpected and heartwarming.

My son had spent the day with one of his childhood, sober friends. This friend has stuck by him all these years and was part of a family intervention about six months ago. They hung out, played video games, had lunch together, talked about their jobs, you know, just regular stuff that’s popular with 22 year olds.

The phone call I received that evening, however, was from the friend’s mother. (She’s been privy to my son’s addiction and has been a supportive family friend. ) That afternoon on her kitchen counter, she found three twenty-dollar bills and a handwritten note of apology from my son. He said he was sorry for stealing from her and was grateful for how wonderful their family had always been to him.   The mom told me the incident had happened a few years ago and she never knew until now that it had been my son, although she’d had her suspicions. In tears, she said she was so proud of him. By this time, I was teary-eyed, too.

My heart was warm. It remains warm. This was such a big step forward. This was such a sign that recovery is taking hold.

Midwestern Mama

A Day-By-Day Gratitude Journal

Midwestern Mama continues 30 days of gratitude, days 7 to 12.  What a delight to find there is something to be grateful for every day! 

Each day as I think about what to post during 30 Days of Gratitude, it is becoming easier and easier to identify the good things.  Even in the depths of my son’s addiction, I would take time each day to give thanks for what was good.  Call it praying, call it meditation, call it whatever you want — pure and simple it is an “attitude of gratitude” that others would tell me about and that I soon discovered as a powerful way to find strength even in trying times.  Now, when I pause to give thanks, I find my list is growing.

Here are some of the recent things for which I am grateful:

Day 7: I am grateful that we continued to set boundaries for our young addict so that he could find his way to treatment and now to recovery. #Gratitude2014

Day 8: I am grateful to other parents who have shared their experiences with me. Through them, I know there is possibility and hope for our young addicts. #Gratitude2014

Day 9: I am grateful my son is alive, has survived addiction and several relapses. For the past 100-plus days, he is choosing sobriety. #Gratitude2014

Day 10: I am grateful for Our Young Addicts on Twitter and Facebook. #Gratitude2014

Day 11: I am grateful for medication-assisted treatment and recovery, especially Suboxone. #Gratitude2014

Day 12: I am grateful that we are rebuilding trust with our son. #Gratitude2014

With gratitude,

Midwestern Mama

30 Days of Gratitude – Join Us!

Hello, friends!

Each day during November, we are Tweeting about something for which we are grateful.  We are also including these on the Our Young Addicts Facebook page, and have decided to provide updates on the blog every few days. Follow along and share some of your #Gratitude2014.

After all, when you care about and are concerned about a loved one’s substance use, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by negativity.  Understandably so.  Yet there are so many things – important things – that we can’t ignore.

For me, gratitude centers around relationships.

Day 6: I am grateful for opportunities to connect with other adults who care and are concerned about the young addicts in their lives. Together, we are making a positive difference.

Day 5: I am grateful for MidAtlantic Mom, who partners with me for Our Young Addicts.

Day 4: I am grateful that our family dog has been such a wonderful presence for our son during addiction, treatment and recovery.

Day 3: I am grateful for all the caring people we have met during our son’s addiction – counselors, parents, and more.

Day 2: I am grateful for my home, and even more grateful that my son is no longer choosing to be homeless.

Day 1: I am grateful for my husband and our three children

With gratitude,

Midwestern Mama

Detroit News Column- Cloud 9, and stopping the synthetic drug shuffle

It’s so important to stay current on drugs. You never know what your young addict is using. Keep informed – it’s part of your parenting power in what seems like a powerless situation.

Margaret Farenger

Originally appeared in  The Detroit News, October 10, 2014.

Sales and use of Cloud 9, a synthetic drug gaining popularity in Metro Detroit, have led to several dozen hospitalizations in recent weeks. Most of those harmed are teenagers. It’s not a new problem, but a different version of an ongoing problem. These emergencies are preventable but require committed and cooperative action on several fronts.

Cloud 9 and Hookah Relax are the newest versions of synthetic cannabinoids created to mimic the effect of THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana. As a retail product, Cloud 9 is a clear liquid sold in vials and eyedropper bottles. Cloud 9 can be ingested using an e-cigarette, hookah, or by dropping it into marijuana or energy drinks.

Teens underestimate the risks of using synthetic drugs. They’re perceived as natural and relatively harmless, but are neither. Cloud 9 is a synthetic compound created by…

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An Attitude of Gratitude

Our Young Addicts is celebrating Thanksgiving Month by posting 30 Days of Gratitude. Let us know what you’re thankful for. Midwestern Mama starts us off with the first three days of November.

It’s Thanksgiving month. By far and away, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday – perhaps because it’s all about an attitude of gratitude celebrated with family and friends enjoying a delicious meal.

Three years ago, I penned my first column about being the parent of a young addict. I often go back to this column which reflects a difficult realization, but one that also is grounded in gratitude. Here’s an excerpt:

I’m not sure if my son will be at our Thanksgiving table this year. And, I need him to be. He always helps make the cornbread stuffing.

“Mom! How could you even say something so ridiculous?” my son likely would respond with disbelief.

But it’s shaping up to be the hardest thing I’ve ever expressed to date. While I could never say he’s not welcome, it’s honest to say his drug addiction is not welcome. He is the son we have always loved, and will always love, but he is not the son we have always known.

There are actually several reasons why he might not be there – from the unthinkable (drug-related death or disappearance) to the hopeful (he’ll have admitted himself for drug treatment).

He’s on his own with his life choices these days. Notice, I didn’t say the choice to be addicted. He didn’t choose addiction; he is its victim and we are the witnesses.

As you know, my son is now more than 100 days sober and is sincerely making efforts to turn his life around. How far he has come! Gratefully, 2014 is a far different year than the ones that preceded the inaugural column. All the same this year has had its ups and downs with addiction and recovery, which inspired me to share 30 days of gratitude via Twitter @OurYoungAddicts this year. Join MidAtlantic Mom and me in sharing what you’re grateful for!

Day 1: I am grateful for my husband and our three children.

Day 2: I am grateful for my home, and even more grateful that my son is no longer choosing to be homeless.

Day 3: I am grateful for all the caring people we have met during our son’s addiction – counselors, parents, and more.

Midwestern Mama