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What brings you joy?

I found myself thinking about that this week, after profiling Intensive Outpatient counselor Amy Sawyer, who was recently named to the State of Tennessee’s Faces of Opioids campaign. Amy and I are Facebook pals, and one thing I’ve admired is seeing how she’s embraced the things that spark light in her life.

Her granny taught her to make fried apple pies the other day; last week, she shook up some homemade butter and declared, “Old lady hobbies make me so happy!”

It’s amazing, I reflected, how the things that bring us such joy were things we once wouldn’t have thought twice about. Chris Rowe, for example, put his first garden in this year, and you could feel in his words and see in his pictures the contentment he found in plucking a ripe tomato or pulling a cucumber off the vine.

Some of the people I’m closest to in this extended family are ones who have outlets on the outside of Cornerstone that help give them fuller, richer lives. Whether it’s Cindy Connor, painting the walls of her new home … Wil Wright, composing music … Danyelle Smith, landscaping her yard … Steve McGrew, playing pickle ball … I see these people and think, they’ve figured it out.

“Do not let making a living prevent you from making a life.” That’s a quote attributed to John R. Wooden, and it’s one that all of us in this business need to take to heart. We burn the candle at both ends, sometimes, to meet the needs of those who come to us for help and take care of the ancillary tasks that come with our jobs. Some of you, I see, arrive when the sky is the bruised orange color of dawn and leave after it sets. You give and give and give … but I hope you take the time to give back to yourself, too.

If you’re in recovery, go to a meeting — and not just because you’re accompanying patients. If you’re not, spend some time feeding your spirit, whether it’s in church or a sweat lodge or in a hammock beneath a shade tree, staring at the sky and reflecting on your own worth and value.

Be good to yourself, in other words. I know of no better way to do that than to take up tasks and hobbies and interests that bring you joy.

It’s ironic, in a way. In my active addiction, I craved excitement and danger and chaos. The idea of going home while there’s still plenty of daylight left in the middle of summer and getting out in the garden seemed, at the time, to be one of the most boring ways I could ever spend my time. Now, I crave it. When I’m on my knees, pulling up weeds and staking up tomato plants and burying my fingers in the damp, warm earth, I feel a connection to the land and to God that’s peaceful and comforting. When I’m running boards through a table saw, slowly putting together a piece of furniture by hand, I feel a connection to my late grandfather, who used to do the same.

These passions don’t just ground and connect me, they give me a sense of purpose and an identity outside of what I do to earn a paycheck. They’re accomplishments that I can take pride in. They’re ways to take advantage of the freedom that recovery provides — to, in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”

We can do anything we set our minds to, whether we’re recovering or not. And the more we make time and take time to do those things, the more fulfilling our life becomes.

So find something to love, friends, and make it a part of your life. Let it become you and bring you joy.

Here’s your Friday motivation.