Sifting Through The Bones Of My Existence


It’s snowing out right now.  Fat flakes are blanketing the ground, muffling the sound of whooshing cars and buses.  I’ve got that fuzzy glow one gets from awaking from a nap. There is coffee at my side, and I’m listening to some gentle music.  I am alone in the house and taking in my breathing, the sound of clicks on the keyboard, the heat coming from my mug.  I have to leave for work soon. My bike sits outside ready for duty.

My body is sore.  More than normal.  My legs feel like refrigerator doors. I now have tendonitis in both my elbows, which makes shaking hands or even using my phone or computer mouse painful.  My IT band and lower back are strained. Knees protest at most activities. I am still weak and dizzy at times. I have had to cut runs short. Or cancel them.  But I am healthy nonetheless.  My dad is halfway through radiation, so who am I to complain about some dents in my armour?

I am 44 years old. Sure, sometimes feel like I’m 75 – world weary, creaky and crusty.  Other times I feel like a child – ebullient, naive, vulnerable, spellbound by simple things.  I chomp kid’s cereal at the grownup’s table in many ways.  I am no better nor any worse than anyone else.  I do my best to remind myself that I am no more important than the man beside me on the bus who has wet himself.  I am no less important that the actress who wins accolades from millions of adoring fans. My judging mind likes to tell me otherwise, but deep down, stripped to the bones of our existence, we are the same.

I write a blog. I connect with others, as much as my introverted nature will allow me to do so.  I do this recovery thing. I do this running thing.  I do this parenthood thing.  Some folks have loftier goals and more ambitious lives.  That’s fine.  It’s not for me.  They don’t have my kids.  Or my aches and pain. Or this coffee I’m slurping.  Those things are mine to wear and take pleasure in, and I am glad to wear them as my offering to He who has given me this life.

And what of these digital doodles I scribble here? I have been somewhat reflective in where I’ve been and where I’d like to go, both in my life in general and here, distilled, in the blog.  Many of the bloggers that I admire started out with recovery at top of mind, chronicling their own journeys, and have now shifted to a wider canvas, a broader frame of reference. Recovery is a muted but essential tone in their stories but often out of sight.  Tales of parenthood, work life, family, pain and pleasure, life’s follies, etc. are front and center.  And I think that’s important.  I know because that’s the shift I have been moved to follow, but resisted for some time. That motion to go forward only gains momentum from within.

Many astute and wise readers have commented on the more general nature of the blog lately.  Many of those not in recovery have graced these pages and have helped shaped some of my opinions and outlook on many topics.  And I believe that this journey I am on is not so much of a man in recovery, but of a human on a healing path. I can see now that recovery from alcoholism was the catalyst for my voyage. It’s not the whole deal.  Life is the deal, and how I respond to it. I am recovered so that I may discover life again in a whole and vital way.  To enjoy and give back to.  To learn.  It’s my choice whether I decide to make that trek or not.

As I nestle into this new way of living, I have to remember what got me here.  I honour the steps that have brought me here, and I also honour the tradition of passing it on to others.  I also understand that I am also showing by example, and that even when no one is in the room, I comport myself in a way that brings me peace at the end of the day.  I don’t always succeed, as I am a creature after all, but I learn from my errors.  As we all do. We are perfectly imperfect.

So where does this lead me?  I don’t know.  I have no hook for this post, no real epiphany to hang my hat on.  And that’s fine. This blog, something that I cherish and at the same time try not to cherish at all, is just a place to reflect.  I have no answers, I just seek.  I am often blind to what’s in front of me, and writing it out sometimes removed a layer of haze from my vision.  Commentary is often where I find some truth, and for that I thank everyone who contributes here.

You might see some changes here.  Or not.  I haven’t decided.  Something calls me to action, but it’s a vague notion at the moment. I do feel the need to open up the windows for a breath of fresh air, toss the pasta on the wall and see what sticks.  We are meant for growth, and in the past I raged against it. Growth meant change and change never suited me.  It meant getting out of my comfort zone.  And it’s only when I leave that bubble do things happen.

In the end, this space is about sifting through those bones of my existence, to make sense of things, to demarcate light and dark.  It’s not for everyone, and perhaps folks are here to bear witness, but again, I am okay with that now.  I no longer need to dig for external validation.  I see the snow falling and I know things are well.  When I see my kids laughing and running about, I know things are well.  Validation can only come from within.  That I know, even if I struggle with it daily.  But I know it to be my truth.  I know it my bones.

Let us sift, my friends.

Thank you for being here.


43 Comments Add yours

  1. “Validation can only come from within” is something I forget almost every day. Beautiful post. Just what I needed today.

    1. Thanks Jillian for this…I appreciate the kind words 🙂

  2. mishedup says:


    1. Progress not perfection eh? lol

  3. mishedup says:

    “And I believe that this journey I am on is not so much of a man in recovery, but of a human on a healing path. I can see now that recovery from alcoholism was the catalyst for my voyage. It’s not the whole deal. Life is the deal, and how I respond to it. ”

    Having always done a “life” blog that encompasses my sobriety, I really respond to this. We are all so much more than sober, right? Sure, we do the work, we help others, we will write about sobriety often, but life is calling. A life I know I hid from for a long time. Here’s a second chance at…what? something, something. It’s fun to find out.
    And I think this gives others a different kind of hope…that it won’t always be about counting days and sitting in meeting after meeting, that this incredible gift of sobriety can be a part of us, our lives, informing it all as we live each day with ease (or some semblance of is LIFE after all! 🙂 )

    Love this Paul

    1. “And I think this gives others a different kind of hope…that it won’t always be about counting days and sitting in meeting after meeting, that this incredible gift of sobriety can be a part of us, our lives,”
      I like this a lot, Mish. I know that the day counters certainly like to see hope. I know because I craved that and hung my hat on it when i was counting days, my hand sweaty around my desire chip. I guess it’s transition time from strictly sober to general life. I have already done that in my day-to-day…time to show it elsewhere.

      Thank you for your wise and insightful words.

  4. ainsobriety says:

    Recovery is absolutely the catalyst. How long it takes from there is irrelevant. We wre on the journey of life and we are living it with an open heart and open eyes. Remembering that there is an alternative that now looks pretty unfavourable beside today.

    I look forward to seeing how things sift for you. My own winds of change are still quiet. I am enjoying the peace and joy of my new life as is.


    1. I understand sitting in that calm, Anne. Sat there for some time and enjoyed the view. Still am, in some respects, but things are just *busier*…ha ha. So my reflection time wanes.

      Enjoy your peace…I can certainly sense it in your words here and elsewhere.


  5. Bea says:

    Paul, I love how you write and I gain great comfort from reading your thoughts. Whether they’re about recovery or about life in its bigger setting, your words convey truth and honesty and always matter. However the winds of change move you, I hope you will continue to find joy and healing in the voyage.

    1. thank you Bea…I am so touched by your words. I am always glad that things resonate with others. I think that is part of this blog – conveying things and having people respond back in a way that shows me that I am not alone. And that’s a big thing for folks like us…who ever we are 🙂


  6. Throw that spaghetti on the wall!! The great part? If you don’t like what sticks, you can unstick it and throw it again! It’s YOUR life!

    On another note…I’m sitting here, prepping my own blog post, TV is on, dog is running around like her usual nutso-ness, dinner is cooking…and while reading this post, all of that was muted. It was amazing. Thank you.

    1. Aww…that’s one of the coolest things I have read here…thank you. I am glad this resonated with you! And hell yeah, it’s my life! Let’s have fun with this, shall we? We are not a glum lot 🙂

      Thank you for being here, as always, my friend 🙂


  7. REDdog says:

    I look at my teenagers amongst their peers and no longer hold such goals as less lofty than those of others.

    1. Deep thoughts dipped in love, brother. Thank you for this. You’re a good man 🙂

  8. Helena Hann-Basquiat says:

    Paul – you say you have no hook for this post, but for me, so much came through. You own your life in a most zen-like way, and it was calming and comforting to me — it reminded me that I am who I am and I can be nothing more or nothing less. To take pleasure in this cup of coffee or this moment to “talk” to you. Thank you. (BTW… sent you a postcard, darling! Hope it reaches you well!)

    1. Helena! Long time no see, my friend!
      First and foremost I DID receive your card. Still hanging here! I was delighted to get it – very much surprised in fact! so thank you very much for that. Very cool.

      And thank you for the kind words here. We are who we are and as I get a wee bit older I am finding that the more I fight the authentic me, the more stressed I get. When I go with the flow (and accept…ugh…myself..ha ha), the more things seem to line up for me. Life is still gonna roar, but at least I have my own voice to roar back.

      Big hugs to ya 🙂 (and Penny!)


  9. So much about this post was calm and comforting to me. You have such a great way of making me think, making me laugh and making me smile.

    “And I believe that this journey I am on is not so much of a man in recovery, but of a human on a healing path”

    For those willing and able to listen, this is a message that’s timeless and true for so many.

    As I sit here and read, I’m capturing the last quiet moments before the day gets hectic. The whirr of the heater, the warmth of tea, clicking of the keyboard and a reread of my message in a bottle.

    Thank you, Paul 🙂

    1. Thank YOU, Michelle. Hope your day wasn’t too hectic in the end 🙂


  10. Paul says:

    Excellent post Paul. Love the line about a human on a healing path. It’s interesting, isn’t it? To heal you first had to accept that you were different and then eventually realize that under the differences, we are all the same. We all come to the same place from different directions. Oddly enough, we carry those differences with us to the commoness and use the strengths and insights we have achieved to benefit all.

    I find my life (and often individual days – like a fractal) organized automatically around a simple repeating pattern – I call it “do-be-do”, not to be confused with Scooby do. In this pattern, I will keep my head down and focus on my goals and tasks and timelines; and then I will lift my head from my present and look around to see where I am and what I need to do next; then I focus again on that which is close in time and accomplishment.

    We seem to repeat this fundamental pattern in many ways, whether it is swimming across a lake, or navigating a car through unknown roads, or managing our careers. It does not surprise me that you are “being” right at the moment Paul, having accomplished a major goal you are now regarding the future to see how you are going to employ your new self-knowledge and peace in the coming time. Bringing your knowledge and discoveries to the commonness that defines us all, would be a major positive force.

    The big question, of course, is how and where do you apply yourself to maximize your abilities – both in helping others and in achieving personal fulfillment. Ha! I’d say = may the force be with you , and yet I do have one suggestion. This part is truly as individual as you are Paul, so no one can really do more than tell you what worked for them. For me, once I discovered there was a commonness, my solution was to investigate that commonness to see what it was in order to determine how I could best lend myself to contributing. And I found an answer that basically blew me away and made my course clear in direction but much more complex in application. So, my suggestion, and what worked for me , would be to explore the commonness and your direction will reveal itself.

    Excellent post Paul. Thank you for the thought provoking words.

    1. You know Paul, you were to true catalyst in this movement of mine here. You said something many posts ago that someone else recently reflected upon and it really got me going. You had mentioned that we are all on a spiritual path, and we all come to the paths from different ways. And yet we are all the same – there is that commonness that you speak of here now. I had to chew on that for a while. You had also mentioned about expanding my horizons. And that too stuck with me for a long time.

      I had originally drafted something about being a recovering human being. Wasn’t being flippant of course, but it had me on this track that my circumstances may be a bit different than some, but really, we are trudging together. We all have our crosses to bear, and yet we all seek the same thing – serenity, centerdness, a place to softly land. Spirituality existed way longer than drunks, so human kind has always been a clan of seekers, in so many ways.

      And so you and I and billions out there continue seeking. I am intrigued by how your found this commonness, Paul! I fear asking what it was you found, as you would just reply – you gotta find your own path! But there is something about you that I believe in you 100%. That’s the laws of attraction at work. And many are attracted to you aura and vibe. So you’ve found something that I hope to find myself one of these days.

      Thank you for your wisdom and insight, Paul. I can’t tell you how blessed I am to have run into you out here. You have helped me in more ways than you can imagine.


      1. Paul says:

        Thank you so much for your kind words Paul. You too have made a considerable impact on my thoughts. As I have followed your posts describing your battle, I have realized how much stronger you are than I have ever been asked to be. I once went 6 weeks without any food – in the hospital and they were giving me all the nutrients I needed through an IV. Even though I was not at all hungry – the nutrients were very complete – the withdrawl I went through from food was mind blowing. It gave me some small indication of what it must be like to face what you have faced – and only a small indication, because ultimately I wasn’t hungry and I knew I would eventually get food again. Still, I craved food 24 hours a day. I couldn’t watch TV because the food commercials would would bring such mental stress, I couldn’t watch others eat (and I soon realized that people eat everywhere and all the time) and even my sense of time became twisted as I no longer had the routine of mealtimes to organize my life. I craved food in a way that is unexplainable – the taste, the consistency, the feel of it in my mouth and in my stomache. I dreamt about food and woke myself up with my cravings, so I couldn’t sleep. But again, here, I had it a lot easier than you as I had a drain tube through my nose and into my stomache (the human digestive system actually produces about 8 liters of fluid a day – food or not – and when the system is shut down, that fluid has to go somewhere), so I couldn’t physically eat anything, it was not possible to get food past that tube in my throat. As great as my desire was, I knew it was only temporary and I was in a controlled environment and I couldn’t physically act. It gave me a small inkling of the psychological forces that anyone addicted must go through to battle an addiction. Just a small taste (please pardon the pun).

        So, when I read your posts and i see how strong you are ( and remember, strength is like bravery – it ain’t about what you’re thinking,it’s about what you DO) and I have had only a very small glimpse of what you have gone through, I shudder at the challenges that you have overcome. Believe me your words have made a difference in my life and I admire not only your strength in taking on the monster but also your openness and honesty in sharing it with the rest of us. You are inspirational.

        Anyway, that being said, I recently did a guest post over at Cordelia’s Mom – – and it will give you some indication of what i found (in the process of finding it). I hope you enjoy it – it’s an easy read.

  11. Well done. We are all humans on a healing path. Just beautiful.

    1. Thank you Sharon for this. Glad to have run into you on our paths 🙂


  12. byebyebeer says:

    Yep, I relate too. When I started my current blog, I was new to sobriety and there was plenty of fresh angst and change to write about. I have much less to say about that now, and there are plenty of new bloggers to cover it better and more passionately. There’s always been this fear of complacency in sobriety, and yet incorporating sobriety into a meaningful life was always my goal. I still look for natural ways to write about being sober into posts, and I know you do that too and very well. I love it when I find out a writer or musician or artist is sober because I think their creativity is a testament to recovery. It will still always be front and center in our minds and hearts, I hope, but how we reflect that to the outside world would seem to evolve. I look forward to seeing where you go. p.s. be careful on your bike in that snow! You are one brave mofo.

    1. You were certainly one of the folks I mentioned in the bloggers I admire part of the post. Your posts are seamless in their beauty and how you subtly (or not at all) weave in a touch of the sobriety. Like Robert mentioned in the comments to your latest (and best) post – it’s almost a disconnection between the title of your blog and what you actually write. But that’s growth. You have grown in leaps and bounds, in so many ways, and I cherish when you write something. It’s magical. (okay, enough ego inflating!)

      thanks for the kind words… 🙂


  13. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Beautifully put. The others ahead of me already said it, but it so much more than recovery. I am here for whatever you dig up next.

    1. Thank you J. Means a lot to hear this from you. I am blessed to have you here, as always 🙂

  14. k2running says:

    Paul, what a reflective, beautiful post. I love your line”Validation can only come from within”…..aint that the truth, definitely not easy at times though~
    I am blessed to “know” you in the blogging world, your posts inspire me & remind me that (when I’m having a pity party) I am not on this journey alone, none of us are:)
    Thanks Paul!!

    1. Thank you Katie – very blessed to have run into you as well here. We certainly are not alone on these journeys…we need one another. I too need the reminder (daily, frankly) about validation. I unconsciously and consciously seek it externally and I suffer for it. The more I can let go and look within, the more serenity I have.

      Thanks for being here 🙂


  15. To reiterate what has been said so beautifully in the comments above, you could choose to write about your opinion on paint drying, and I will look forward to reading it! It will come as no surprise to find I am in a similar space (there’s only so many synonyms for SOBRIETY ROCKS), so I am excited to see how you will inspire me next. Take care of those aches and pains 🙂

    1. Thank you Josie – I have been inspired by you and many other bloggers in how I see things. You are very honest in your posts and your life – you are transparent and that is amazing. We see that recovery is just a part of our lives, not the whole deal. So thank you for sharing so much of you – it really does impact on us 🙂


  16. Michelle says:

    i liked this post a lot. I started my blog so long ago and had no real idea or purpose. Most days I was embarrassed to express myself. Shy and clumsy. As you have seen – that is no longer the case. I find as each blog I write and each moment I spend In the moment – my inner voice gets louder. It’s usually the things we take for granted that seem to end up being the message that inspires someone else. Don’t rush things. Your voice will come, and the direction will find you as much as you find it. “Keep coming back” 😉

    1. Ah Michelle!! I am so excited to see you here!

      “It’s usually the things we take for granted that seem to end up being the message that inspires someone else.” Wow. Incredibly true and something I need to work on. To extricate this further, it’s usually the things we dislike about ourselves that inspire others! Lots of wisdom in your words.

      I enjoy your voice, and it’s clear, strong and consistent. That’s what I really like about you (and the fact you are one of the most badass runners I know). Your words reflect that…and your actions.

      I will continue to seek my voice and hopefully I can make it as strong as yours…in my own way 😉



  17. Your writing makes me want to cry. I find your words warm and wise in equal measure and so, so touching. I read this post this morning and it made me late for my lift to work. Tut tut. Home now, and after a re-read my mascara’s in danger of running….x

    1. Awww….thank you for the very kind and warm words. Sorry I made you late…lol. We are all in this together, my friend. No one is more nor less important than you. It’s still something I struggle with, but when we can find that place, we see that we’re all in this together.

      Glad you’re back with us 🙂


  18. sherryd32148 says:

    I’m not sure how I missed this in my blog roll on Monday but this is, simply put, just beautiful. I don’t know if it’s the vision of snow falling but I felt a sense of peace settling over me as I read this. A quiet in the storm of my day to day working world.

    Thank you for that moment of peace and know, that no matter what you do, I will always be here supporting you.


    1. Thank you Sherry…I appreciate the read and comments as always.


  19. sillymelove says:

    I just love and look forward to your posts. You write beautifully… I am always left to think after I read them… “We are perfectly imperfect”. so true… thank you !

    1. Awww..thank you. So very kind. Perfectly Imperfect…still wrapping my head around that. Thank YOU for being here.


  20. jenkirk72 says:

    Beautiful post, once again. You have such a way with words and your posts are so insightful. It’s refreshing.

    1. HI Jen – thank you so much for this. I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. So happy to see you here.

  21. This post really spoke to me and made me think of my blogging journey as well. I started in 2006 as a recovery blog, moved into a blog about me dealing with realizing my mother was a malignant narcissist and then into a blog about me coming into my own (which I’m still doing at 44 myself — I suspect I will be until I’m 100+, which I fully intend to achieve, lol). I still have a few followers from my early blog days, but I, also glad it’s expanded to more regular folk because I don’t want to be defined by my broken aspects of self.

    Anyway, I’m really glad you shared this and your own evolution.

    1. My apologies in the delay getting back here, Judith.
      Thanks for the comments and it’s funny – I am a recent follower of yours and only know it to be a runner’s blog…lol. Of course there is the recovery aspect of it, but it doesn’t seem to come up that often. Amazing how what we see and what others see in the same thing. I am the same age as you and am going through the same. Just a bunch of folks getting through, eh?

      Thanks again for this.

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