How are you? I Own A F$#&ing Coat

He sat across from me in the booth. We were half way through breakfast. James asked, “So, how are you?”

I paused.

I reflected.

I realized.

It had been 20 degrees for 2 weeks straight. The trivialities of my life flashed before my eyes.

Earlier in the week I attended a memorial for a friend, Chriss. He died at 40. He won the cancer lottery. A rare and highly lethal cancer he’d beaten once, came back.

He never complained. He radiated hope and optimism regardless of the pitch of the hill before him. He reflected light and faith. He taught me something.


The power to choose.

He chose to fight with dignity. He took the high road in his fight. In a worldly sense, he lost the battle. In the heavenly sense, he won the war. He demonstrated we can choose how we respond emotionally and spiritually even when we are powerless physically in this world.

“I own a f@%&ing coat. I’m great!”, I responded to my friend, James, across the booth.

“I have car that start and runs reliably. I own a house that has heat. I have a wife who is on my side and who is supportive of me and who fights to protect and preserve our marriage. My kids are healthy and love me. I’m awesome!”  I could focus on the trivialities of my life.  The minor struggles and frustrations could be magnified.  But what good would that produce.

There are days when I want to answer differently. I reflect on my friend, Chriss’ strength of attitude. I choose.

“I own a coat. I’m great!”

Are You In Danger of Being Understood?

Advertisement for curing morphine addictions f...

Advertisement for curing morphine addictions from Overland Monthly, January 1900 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I don’t feel safe,” Izzy said. The court appointed agent looked around and told her, “This looks like a pretty safe place to me.”
Izzy was at her mom’s house.  She’s at the beginning of a court negotiated recovery like what Tiger Woods is using to clear his record.   Izzy is working through addiction issues.  Her family is working through their issues with her addiction.

Safe did not mean safe.  It meant understood — or not judged.   The problem with being an addict  is that your behaviors don’t fit the norm and in an unhealthy way.  The people who understand you are not safe for you.

Our ego perceives judgment as an existential threat.  This is why we get so defensive when we feel wrongly judged.   The problem with addiction is our personal judgment is off (i.e.- sensibility and sense of responsibility).  We can’t trust ourselves when we’re addicted.

This creates a cyclical problem.  Our faulty judgment makes us unable to correct our behavior.  We see those who love us as judging us.  They don’t understand.   They’re attacking us. They’re not safe.

Years ago, someone taught me something simple but profound.   If you look around and everyone you see is an asshole, you’re probably the asshole.  This maxim can be adapted to fit addicts.  If you look around any everyone seems to be judging you wrongly, you’re probably demonstrating wrong judgment.

We seek solace and support from those who make us feel safe because they understand us.  They don’t judge us.  We misconstrue the absence of judgment as love and support.  There’s a problem here.  These people don’t love us.  They love that we’re broken like they are.   They love our addiction because it validates theirs.  They don’t challenge us to do better because they don’t want to change.

If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.  If you’re not improving your skills at your job, you’re falling behind.  If you’re not sharpening your mind, it is getting dull.  If you aren’t maintaining your physical flexibility, you’re losing range of motion and strength.   If you’re not fighting your addictions, you’re losing control to them.

I am confident that if you’re reading this, you have an addiction.  I’m not judging you.  I have mine, too.   Addictions run the gamut beyond drugs and alcohol.  They range from using mobile devices, social media, sugar/fat/salt, exercise, sex, porn, shopping, needing to be liked, etc.

We need understanding more than ever.  We all need help.  We want to get better in some way.  This doesn’t happen with blind eyes turned away.  It comes with honest support and gentle confrontation from those who know us and love us.

If you’re seeing a consistent message from those around you challenging your judgment or behavior, you’re probably the challenge.

The first step is acceptance.   After we accept, we can begin to understand.  Then we can face the danger of being understood.



Can You Get Better By Grace?


T The blood drained from my face.  I felt ashamed. I thought she was texting.   I snarled, “Is that related to what we’re working on now?”   Michelle looked up.  Taken aback and off balance, she replied , “I’m taking notes on what you’re saying so I can remember later.  I didn’t want to […]

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You Think You’re Present Until This Happens

Embed from Getty Images I start each day with a thimble full of patience.  The thimble was empty. We decided the day would be TV free for the girls – we have twin 5 year olds.   Instead we’d listen to music, sort out the Legos and the playroom and review language and letters.   […]

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Change Is Gonna Come

I read the quote nearly every day.  It dangles at the bottom of his emails.   Each time I read it, I feel a flush of regret of the inertia in the past and present; the dread of a future where the truth of the quote compounds with interest. The quote reads:    “Every day […]

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Here’s What You Can Control


Embed from Getty Images Ellie’s face turned maroon.  “I’m angry!,” she screeched.  She was playing a board game with her twin four year old sister, Evie. Ellie gets intense.  I’d never seen her this irate.  Why was she angry?  No other reason than her sister was ahead of her on the board.   That was […]

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Lighting Matches on a Windy 4th of July

Mystery Reader

I closed the last book. They sat there awkwardly. Some looked at me blankly. Others’ minds and bodies wandered off.  Mrs. Bush said, “What do we say?” The class mumbled, “Thank you … ,” not quite in unison or unanimity. “What dooo we saayy?!,”  Mrs. Bush repeated with greater expectations. The kids screamed, “THANK YOU!” […]

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Are You Leading Learners? Sink or swim

Embed from Getty Images Ellie stood at the side of the pool.  “I want my floaties!”  I told her she wasn’t getting her floaties.  I needed her to be brave.  She melted down like a Bomb Pop in the Texas summer sun.  I walked to the edge where she stood.  I encouraged her to just […]

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Today Is A Good Day for No Words

Three strangers hugging

Reid said, “I normally don’t have a loss for words.”   I replied awkwardly, looking for something to say.   “Today’s a good day for no words.”  Reid was at the Peace Rally the night before.  He drove out of the parking garage, where one of the snipers was setup, 25 minutes before the assault on […]

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Are You Free? The Captivity of Choice


I spent 2 days in Huntsville.  Standing on concrete.  Hands through the bars that secure 7’x9′ rooms containing two bunks, a small seat and a steel toilet.  I heard stories from men in their  20s  through their 80s.  Black, latino, white. All putting their faith … possibly in blind desperation … in God.  A Vietnam […]

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