Anything is Possible!

With Love, Hope, and Perseverance


How To Learn a New Skill


How long does it take to write a book? Apparently, it takes a long time, for me anyway. I’ve always been a slow reader, so I guess it makes sense I’d be a slow writer. But good things take time, right? I thought I knew how to write, and I did well on  college papers and in journalism. Creative writing is a whole different animal – with wings, and squawks, and smells, and feathers, so it must be a bird of a different color.

But how does one become a writer, or anything else?


Writing is a skill like any other. Some people may be naturally better at it than others, but with practice, we can improve at anything. I’m terrible and learning to tie knots and things mechanical, but that just means I need more practice at those things than the average person – if that’s how I want to spend my time.

I spent a lot of time as a substance abuse/mental health counselor, at least 30 years as you may know. Asking how something happened, like a relapse for example, was important. What was the chain of events, or thoughts, that led to the relapse? Many of my clients desperately wanted to stay clean, but didn’t know how. You can tell someone to stop doing drugs, or stop eating potato chips, or stop smoking, in all kinds of ways. But some people really need skills. Skills like self-soothing (without illegal drugs) and assertiveness, self-care, meditation and relaxation, going into a new support group, applying for a job, helping family members or friends understand why they don’t want to be part of the drama anymore, and accepting when they still don’t understand – just to name a few.

How long does it take to learn new skills?

It depends on how often we practice.

Changing thoughts is a skill. I can still get caught up in ruminating about things I should have done better, or worrying about how someone is going to react to my boundaries. It takes a conscious effort sometimes to pull my mind back to the present moment. Asking myself, “Why do I keep doing that?” doesn’t help as much as, “How can I stop doing that?”  Or better yet, How can I catch myself sooner and re-direct my thoughts?

Sometimes I use sticky notes to remind myself to be in the present, or think positive. Sometimes I ask God to help me stop thinking about something that isn’t doing me any good to think about. One of my favorite things to ask God is, “How do you want me to handle this?” Sometimes I get an answer, like, “love her,” like when my daughter was 13 and melting down. Or sometimes the answer is, “wait.” Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be an answer, but I know God is going to help me work it out somehow.


Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt is the word, “how,” brought to us by Linda G. Hill at who instructed us to “Start your post with the word “How.” Bonus points if you end with it too. Enjoy!

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!


Making a Difference When We Think We’re Not

christmas-carols-37539_960_720 pixabayThe two Christmas Caroling adventures I joined in this season were light on planning, almost impromptu. A few members of my church choir decided to go to the homes of people who can’t make it to church very often. Some of houses we stopped at had no lights on. Maybe they were out or had gone to bed. We wanted to make it a surprise, but maybe we should have called, or started earlier in the evening or afternoon.

But some people were home. A few days ago, I got a sweet thank you note in the regular mail from the couple we sang carols to. They’re an elderly couple who have been members of our church for a long time. Mrs. N wrote how touched they were that we came a caroling to their home.  She said her husband was talking about it when he woke up the next morning, saying how much he enjoyed it. Their grandchildren, who were there that night making Christmas crafts, enjoyed it too.

The neighborhood caroling plans were made on line with a couple neighbors I had not met in person. It was a joy to meet these three other women, two of whom said they couldn’t sing, but they really could.  We started at 4:30, walking through the neighborhood with the plan to stop at homes of people we knew or brightly decorated homes.  A few of the people we wanted to sing to were not home. A couple neighbors said, “no thanks, not right now,” to our offer. It’s understandable that they were busy, and we hadn’t called ahead.

But one elderly woman was so pleased we had come to sing for her, she invited us in and kept us there for a while. She told us about her family and her faith graciously enjoying the visit. One couple on my block said they’d been out shopping earlier and were frustrated by the traffic. They said we made their day.

It’s like my job as a substance abuse counselor. Some of my clients think coming to see me is an inconvenience. Some are in denial and angry. But there are those who keep me going. Like the one who left a small hand-made cross key chain for me and the note that thanked me for helping him “get through some of the darkest times.”

The lesson I want to remember is that when things don’t go as well as we had hoped, and even when we think our efforts are are in vain, we can make a difference. Even if we help one person smile, or feel a little better – even if it’s we who feel better – our efforts are worthwhile.

tiny star




Double_Rainbow_-_US Fish and Wildlife service

Sometimes I get really tired.

I’ve been a substance abuse counselor for about thirty years now. I’m not so much tired of helping people fight addiction, as I am the bureaucracy and the paperwork layered deeper and deeper every time I catch my breath, even if it is more electronic than paper…..

There are people who I have felt privileged to work with. It has been an honor to witness growth and small victories that sometimes turn into large victories. But there are those who don’t make it, those who don’t get that you need more to grab hold of than a slender thread, to save you from being sucked down into the cunning, baffling, and powerful jaws of misery.

Sometimes I wonder how much longer I can keep doing this.

And then today I got a phone call from someone who thanked me for being her counselor. And today, another client gave me a small but meaningful gift of appreciation. And today my group paid attention, and learned new skills, and supported each other.

And today, leaving work, for the first time in my life, I saw a double rainbow.

Is it possible that was for me? Would it be narcissistic to think that?

Several years ago, I was a single parent going through an awful situation with my teenage daughter. I didn’t want to go to work, but I had to. When I got there, a vivid rainbow arched over the building where I work. I knew it was a sign that things would be okay.

I’m happy to share the rainbows with anyone who needed them today. One thing I’m sure of is that we are not alone.

I believe I can keep doing this a while longer, with gratitude.


(I left my phone at home and wasn’t able to capture the double rainbow, so I used one from Wikimedia taken by someone at the US Fish and Wildlife Service.)

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Making a Difference In spite of the system


I’m not really surprised that the new Health Care plan website is not user friendly.  I’ve spent many years working in a health care field at the mercy of a growing bureaucracy. It doesn’t matter what political party is in charge. Those at the top with big ideas don’t have much understanding of how things work on the front lines. Trying to help people in spite of the “red tape” is often challenging.

Some of my substance abuse clients were not showing up for their appointments one rainy afternoon, so I got to wade through the abundant “paperwork” that only moves toward getting caught up when I have no shows. When the front desk person told me someone was there to see me without an appointment, I didn’t ask who it was. I was willing to talk to anybody.

It turned out to be a former client who I had not seen in years. He said he just came by to tell me he was moving to a different state. He told me he wanted me to know that I had helped him, that I had given him hope and had helped him see things as not quite as depressing as he thought they were. He was not a “success story” by the usual standards, but the fact that he was still walking around on this earth (and  even able to give thanks) was a miracle.  Since this person was not currently enrolled in the program, he could not be counted under my productivity for direct services for that day. But he still counted. I had made a difference in his life.

My vistor reminded me of the starfish story of the boy/girl or whoever throwing starfish back into the ocean. A passerby pointed out that there were hundreds of starfish stranded on the shore and that no one could possibly hope to make a difference. The hopeful soul tossed another starfish gently back into the ocean and said, “I made a difference for that one.”

There are so many ways we can make a difference. Big ways and little ways. We plant seeds with the hope that they will grow. And some do. Sometimes slowly and sometimes without our knowledge. Sometimes it seems like people aren’t listening to us, like we’re not getting through. If you parented or worked with teenagers, you know what I’m talking about. But we can continue to be an example of hope. Don’t stop believing. Keep giving those encouraging words, even when it seems like they aren’t being heard. Keep planting seeds of hope. And thank people who have made a difference in your life. Your gratitude will make a difference.