What Are Your Successes, Great and Small?

Painted Background 021My friend and courage coach Tess Marshall asked me a question earlier this week.

I had described for her one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  It was the first day of my brand new job with The Partnership at Drugfree.org.  I was in New York City for the organization’s annual fundraising event at the Waldorf Astoria and that night, in the hotel’s main ballroom, I breathed the same air as Barbara Walters, Tom Brokaw and Diane Sawyer.

So Tess says to me, and I’m paraphrasing, “Do you have any idea what it took for you to get there?  Have you really thought about–I mean, really thought about all the successes you had in your life to arrive at that moment in time?”

Uh, I guess so?

The same question for people in recovery

Tess’ question really got me thinking.  Then yesterday, during my journaling time, I found myself writing about my recovery and all the successes that brought me to today, April 3, 2014.

I teared up as I wrote:

I love everything about life right now.  Money in the bank (thank you, God, for that decision!), work to do (work that I love!), dreams to share, love and laughter to give . . . It hit me just now that none of the things in my life–yes, material things, but also attitudes, beliefs, relationships, dreams, goals–none of those “things” would be available to me without recovery.

Like many of us in long-term recovery, the years tick by and regular, everyday experiences are often taken for granted, even shrugged off as no big deal.  Think about it though.  Isn’t it the seemingly insignificant daily details that pile up one on top of another that allow us to step off into a huge success?

Every single flippin’ daily success–letting the person with two items go ahead of you in the check out line, showing up at a 12-step meeting and greeting a newcomer, or volunteering on Saturdays at your local animal shelter–is a BIG deal.  Each success matters and is cause for celebration.

Think about your successes

I kept a gratitude journal last year.  Each night before I went to bed, I typed five things in a cute little iPhone app.  Since I didn’t roll the practice over into 2014, I think I’ll replace it with a daily success journal (anybody know a good App?).

Since 1991, April and May are the two months of the year when I really focus on the good in my life.  My “belly-button” birthday is in a couple of weeks and my recovery birthday is in mid-May.

Here’s what’s on my mind this year:  In the last 23 years, there have been a hell of a lot of events and people and circumstances that delivered me from one successful point to the next.  Sometimes I think my heart will explode with gratitude.

Recovery paints my life with breathtaking tints and hues.  Each brushstroke is necessary in this mosaic of life.  There is nothing more magnificent, and for me, nothing more successful.

What are your successes great and small?

Photo courtesy of Natureworks

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  1. Hi Beth! Funny thing about those success stories. Oh, we got ’em; however, unless our recall is challenged we most often let ’em fall by the memory-lane wayside. I sure appreciate your appreciation of yours – and your enthusiasm. Heck, no doubt – Brokaw, Walters, Sawyer. Nice company – congrats. Hmmm, now to answer your closing question. You know, I’m thinkin’ going back to get my master’s and grabbing my counseling credentials in my early-50s will do it for me. Don’t often give myself credit for the accomplishment, which is really very unfair. But, hey, I’m thinkin’ you’ll understand. Thanks for your bright work, Beth…

    • Beth says:

      Heck yeah, Bill, getting all those credentials in your early 50s is a tremendous success! Wish I could give you a real pat on the back. So glad you remembered that story because without it, what would you be doing today? You don’t strike me as a shoe salesman or a financial analyst (not that there’s anything wrong with either one of those undertakings). Selfishly, I like you right where you are! Thanks, as always for your generous response!

  2. Hey Beth,

    Love to hear about your success stories, and of course the one about your first day at The Partnership at Drugfree.org., as well as the celebrities that breathe the same air – fun. The daily successes do seem amazing from the small to the big. I think for me it has been talking to so many interesting people through my interviews.

    When would I have ever had a chance to talk to Christopher Kennedy Lawford or even David Sheff. Always good to get a perspective from a larger place. But then things like getting my garden planted bring me much joy as well.

    • Beth says:

      I knew you’d get a kick out of my Partnership story, Cathy! Wow, what an evening that was. I had some really good times there, as we all did at places where we once worked.

      But . . . time moves on. I’m so grateful to have met you through those circles, otherwise, how would I have known that you interviewed Lawford and Shef? You’re so right–those are BIG successes AND I happen to know you’ve had many more!

      You’re so right to point out how you consider gardening a success, I’m guessing because of the calming effect it has. I feel the same way about the shell art I create after getting back from one of our beach trips. Didn’t know that about me, did you?

      Thanks for all your continued support and blog post love!

  3. Herby Bell says:

    Wonderful thing when great success is accompanied by the great humility you carry and exude, Beth. You harkened me back to some places of “Oh, that’s right, I accomplished that!” As one light goes on it illuminates the way for more and man, I’m back! It just seems like a switch that gets thrown when I can lead with this mindset and what I believe the celebs you mentioned do–as they must also have the same tendencies to self-deprecate from time-to-time.

    Repetition is truly the mother of all invention. Thank you for this very cool reminder.

    • Beth says:

      Oh, how I love to harken, Herby! Thank you for the humility compliment . . . that’s one of those things I seldom think of when I think of my attributes. But yours–sounds like I stirred up a couple of memories. Very cool.

      Yes, that self-deprecating crap is for the birds, but all us two-leggeds got it. Some of us just flaunt it more than others. Ain’t getting healthy grand?

  4. What a beautiful, inspiring post, Beth! I was smiling all the way with you and can so relate. My recovery from secondhand drinking (over a 10 year period) gave me my life as I really didn’t know where Lisa began or ended, nor what she liked or didn’t like, for that matter. Reading your post, though, reminded me just how very important it is to celebrate my successes great and small – everyday – for it’s often the small ones that really make the difference. Thanks for all the great work you do!

    • Beth says:

      Thanks, Lisa, for your continued support and interest in the stuff I throw up here (figuratively of course!). Sometimes I think part of my job is to remind folks about the teeny tiny aspects of life that we’re all far too time-pressed to constantly remember. I’m grateful that you and the others have taken a moment to reflect on the ways your lives have been impacted by the successes–especially the small ones–you’ve achieved. So happy to facilitate a trip down memory lane! And thanks for your great work as well! We’re all performing this gig together!

  5. Kyczy Hawk says:

    I was just talking this through with a friend this weekend – we seldom SEE our growth, the juxtaposition of OLD self with new self – in the our current time. This current time ITSELF is an accomplishment- jail, institution or death being among the options that used to be my future. The present is beyond my dreams – my dreams didn’t have this language, this view. Congratulations on being able to embrace it and thank goodness for friends like yours!

    (ps was cleaning out a file drawer and found clippings from 35 years ago – that kind of showed me I wasn’t trash even when I was out there rippin’ and runnin’. It made me kind of sad that I didn’t know I had OK-ness inside me then. )

    • Beth says:


      Isn’t that the truth? We are ALWAYS okay . . . even when we can’t see it or feel it. For those of us who’ve felt the nip of the wringer (borrowing a phrase!), walking and breathing today is not only a success–it’s a freakin’ miracle!

      From one miracle to another . . . thanks for stopping by and sharing a part of you with the BHT community.

  6. Beth, what a brilliant idea to keep a success journal! Love it. This article is a beautiful reminder to track the positive instead of something else. Many of us keep our problems top of mind, but not all of the awesome good stuff!! Thanks so much Beth!

    • Beth says:

      Hi there Leslie! Bless you for reminding me to look for an app to track my successes! I just found one for my iPhone. It’s simple and free: Daily Diary. I think I’ll treat it like I did my gratitude journal last year; sometimes I don’t wait until the end of the day to make an entry. I like to record them all day long. Kind of keeps me centered, you know?

      I’ll all about the positivity, as I know you are as well! Great to hear from you, my dear!

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