Michael Botticelli: I often say that substance use is one of the last diseases where we’d let people reach their most acute phase of this disorder before we offer them intervention. You’ve heard the phrase “hitting bottom.” Well, we don’t say that with any other disorder. So the medical community has a key role to play in terms of doing a better job of identifying people in the early stages of their disease, in doing a better job at treating people who have this disorder.

Notice that word: “disorder,” Botticelli prefers it to “addiction.” He wants to lift the stigma by changing the language as he did this past October in a rally on the National Mall.


‘Or I could tell someone the truth. Nobody knew the most important facts about my life. So really my self was a false self, it was a working self for dealing with the world, and behind that wall was total chaos, just this sort of swirling blackness, and I just found it totally unbearable, second by second, being me. So I thought, I have to stop it or get some help.’ Edward St Aubyns

mention in the moment

follow up later

smoke weed last night?
thanks for sharing. change topic – what do you want for dinner

deeper dive

consequence for driving in car with someone who smoked
not a consequence for smoking

Lifes journey

Officially, Dr. Zingerman. It was a long journey filled with laughter, stress, frustration, long nights, doubts, hopes, dreams, introspective self realizations and acceptance. There is no way this would be possible without the help and support of my family and friends, or the camaraderie of our class, which has turned into a life long network of dear friends, colleagues, and family. Thank you all for your support, friendship, and guidance on this journey. You all mean more to me than you may realize.

Teen drinking n driving


I would ask all parents to have their teenage children read this post. This past Monday, my wife and I gave three talks in Shaker Heights, Cleveland to approximately 1000 people including 9-12th grade students at both US and Hathaway Brown High Schools as well as an evening presentation to a large group of their parents. The topic was Teenage Drinking. At the end of our first presentation which was at US school, a senior student stood up and asked this one question, “If you don’t want us to drink alcohol then when are we allowed to make our own mistakes?” The question was very blunt but legitimate. My answer was this: “I don’t pretend to think that you as a teenager will never drink alcohol. But I do expect you to think about the consequences that can result from it.”
Remember, every situation that you put yourself in leading to a mistake has a direct consequence attached to it. Obviously, everyone makes mistakes in life. Yet with every situation, you need to consider the possible consequences of your action and determine if it is worth it. For my oldest son Brian, he was drinking with friends at a party one Friday night, became intoxicated, drove drunk and struck a tree at high speed one mile from our home. His consequence was dying alone in a car at age 18. In his right mind, Brian was against drunk driving. In his intoxicated state, he drove drunk. When you drink alcohol, you will do things that you normally would not do.
As a neurosurgeon, I have seen numerous teenagers who have been injured or died as a result of alcohol. Imagine being paralyzed from the neck down unable to breath or talk on your own. You are awake, sitting up and strapped to a wheel chair, as a breathing machine keeps you alive. Every aspect of your life that you once knew gone. You are now completely dependent on others to feed you, bath you and care for you every hour of every day. Or worse, you injure or kill someone else as a result of drinking alcohol and driving drunk. When you awake in the morning, you find yourself arrested and taken to jail in handcuffs. You are then convicted by a jury and sentenced to 20 or more years in jail for vehicular manslaughter. You took the life of an innocent person and you may not even remember what happened. As you sit in your jail cell alone and unable to see your family and friends, you ask yourself, “why did I drink last night.” And You Only Wish That You Had a Second Chance To Do It All Over.
These are consequences that most teens do not consider as they take their first sip of alcohol for the evening. A simple lapse of judgement for a split second can change everything.
Yes, everyone makes mistakes in life. It’s called being human. But there will always be a consequence to follow. I ask you to not put yourself in situations that can drastically alter you and your family’s life without warning. This would especially include drinking alcohol and becoming drunk. If you could stand at the bedside and witness a family saying there final goodbyes to their teenage daughter or son. A child lying there brain dead after being involved in an alcohol-related accident. To think that this loved one was fine yesterday and now today is awaiting the process of organ donation. No hope of returning to the life they once had. Only painful memories left for the family who remain.
As I concluded my answer to this young man, I asked him to consider again what happened to my son Brian. A young man who just turned 18 and was looking forward to his bright future in so many ways. He carried a 4.5 GPA throughout high school and scored a 32 on his ACT. He was three months away from graduating high school and starting a new life. He was accepted to his college of choice with the intent of becoming an Orthodontist. He Is Dead Now. Never to come back home and never to fulfill his dreams. We as a family stood over his lifeless body in the emergency department in the early morning hours of February 2, 2013 wondering how this nightmare could be happening and why? Why was Brian lying there dead on a cold gurney when he had only gone out earlier that evening to have fun with friends?
My wife and I are here today so you can bear witness to a real life story exemplifying what drinking alcohol and getting drunk can result in. In this specific case, it resulted in the death of our son. It happens! Our son Brian was a real person, with a real family and real dreams for the future. Alcohol took all of that away. Our talk to you today is not about lecturing on what you can or cannot do. You will need to make those decisions for yourself. Our talk is truly about Second Chances. A second chance to learn from the tragedy of others. Brian made a bad decision to drink the night he died and that decision cost him his life. Use our son as your second chance to make a better decision when it comes to drinking alcohol. Think of him as you are deciding to take your first sip at a party. Remember, Brian was not expecting to die that night as he started drinking with friends. He was out to have fun just like you. But you now know better that anything you’re not expecting to happen, can happen. Please be careful and choose wisely when considering to drink alcohol. Remember Brian Hoeflinger.

To learn more about Brian and our mission, please visit our website at: and read my book titled, “The Night He Died: The Harsh Reality of Teenage Drinking” which can be purchased through our website or through Amazon. I promise you that the read will be worth your time.

Brian Hoeflinger

as parents not alon

Hey xxx

Susan and I really enjoyed the road trip with xx! Cold as it was, terrific fun to see Joanie and John, Steve, Jodi and meet some of the Raider faithful. Good to get hugs from Jake and Grant. And always great to watch some live lacrosse. Then good to great as Susan got off scott-free with a friendly warning for her lead foot! xxxx and I remained silent as mice as Susan weaseled her way out of it (the spotless driving record may have had something to do with it).

xxxx shared xxxx’s adventures with drinking and subsequent close encounter with LEO and the southern Ohio judicial system. Susan and I have been passing in the night but she mentioned she had reached out to our legal eagles in Cincy. Sounds like our friend found you the “guy”. Admired your decision to have Will make the call himself!

My trigger in writing this isn’t because I have any insight and opinion one way or the other about the situation Will finds himself in (not my place to take another person’s inventory as we say in AA). This is just one dad sharing with another dad my experiences with cooper and michael (and to a lesser degree, max).

As this video link highlights, xxxx on his gap year discovered he had clinical depression and was an alcoholic drinker on the way to being a classic alcoholic. (could take 20 more years like me) He goes to AA now. Through his behavior while impaired in blackouts, he subsequently got to seei his shadow with us, his brothers, friends, girlfriend, her parents and a family counselor, Mic realized he had a problem – and that that problem was a genetic/chemistry issue, not a character defect. A key discovery as the self-loathing was growing inside him as he was repeating his mistakes even when he tried to limit himself to “just one drink”.

In keeping how genetics can sometimes play a role in addiction, xxxx is battling an addiction to weed. He has a desire to stop but can’t. Fear of getting found out by political adversaries on campus as the president of the student body and co-founder of mental health initiative has prevented him from seeking help and attending his first AA meeting. He has plans post graduation to get help. He will look back and discover this was a silly conclusion as AA has a fairly big foundation construct in anonymity.

xxxx has started experimenting with weed and to a lesser extent alcohol (outside lax season). We know this because he told us. He is cognizant of the genetic component that runs deep in our family. A challenging role for Susan and I to play as we encourage self-reporting but do not ever want to even hint that without consequences from his parents that we somehow condone what he and his buddies are doing. We don’t. xxxx joins his parents in sharing with xxx the perspective you run the risk of harming yourselves at this age as their brains and bodies are still baking….as well as the potential consequences with LEO and HHS.

Most parents keep this stuff well hid and so Susan and I were honored you guys reached out and shared what was going on and sought some experience sharing. And by way of this email, you may take some comfort in knowing the three of you are not the lone wolves as you navigate a winding road.

Best – DC


It all began with a few stolen sips,” Harrison wrote in the piece, titled “A Man’s Guide to Drinking,” in the October 2001 issue of Men’s Journal. “The first time I got drunk was at seven in the evening on a New Year’s Eve. My mother made me get in a hot bath, where I vomited my thirteen-year-old heart out.

“In my forties, I turned to wine with a passion,” he continues. “I tested 34 Côtes du Rhones in search of a house wine I could afford … I could have become a wine snob, but didn’t. The escape was narrow, but my salvation was several near-bankruptcies …. I will not be stopping on the way home from the office for one of the syrupy California ‘cabs’ so favored by nitwits …. Money can distort the buying and drinking of wine just as it distorts art in the gallery and auction businesses.”

The Essential Jim Harrison: A Reading List
But above all, it seemed the virtue Harrison most wanted to extol to readers was that of moderation (no, really).

Jim Harrison’s Principles of Moderation

Quite some time ago I turned a corner with the emotion of wanting more consciousness. The following list had a wondrous, albeit slowly evolving, effect on my life. These are relatively mild pointers, though the consequences of ignoring them are as fatal as shooting yourself in the head in a curious time warp wherein the bullet takes many years to reach its inevitable target. -Jim Harrison

1. Drinking causes drinking. Heavy drinking causes heavy drinking. Light drinking causes light drinking.

2. The ability to check yourself moment by moment has been discussed at length by wise folks from the old Ch’an master of China all the way down to Ouspensky. This assumes a willingness to be conscious.

3. The reason to moderate is to avoid having to quit, thus losing a pleasure that’s been with us forever.

4. We don’t have much freedom in this life, and it is self-cruelty to surrender a piece of what we have because we can’t control our craving.

5. Measurement is all. A one-ounce shot delivers all the benefits of a three-ounce shot. A couple of the latter turn one into a spit-dribbler. Spit-dribblers frighten children and make everyone else nervous.

6. With any sedative there is a specific, roomy gap between smoothing-out and self-destruction. There is no self-destructiveness without the destruction of others. We are not alone.

7. Naturally there are special occasions. When you get older like me, it’s once a month, if that.

8. It’s hard to determine pathology in a society in which everything is pathological. The main content of our prayers should be for simple consciousness. The most important thing we can do is to find out what ails us and fix it. Often we need outside counsel, for clarity and to speed up the process. (I’ve had more than 20 years with my mind doctor).

9. A lot of overdrinking comes from feeling bad physically. One over-drinks to feel better in physiological terms. This can be avoided by vitamins, exercise, and a reasonable diet. Again, it’s a cycle: Overdrinking causes overdrinking because you feel bad.

10. Another source of the problem is the unreasonable expectations we get from others and ourselves. Unreasonable expectations can be removed by thinking them over. They can’t be “drownt” pure and simple. Everyone can’t get to the top, or even the middle.

11. Oddly enough, our main weapons in controlling drinking are humor and lightness. The judgment of others and self-judgment (stern) are both contraindicated. When we fuck up, we mentally beat ourselves up. It doesn’t work at all and has to be expunged. The reason to slow down is to feel better, and it works real good.

12.You begin by cutting it all by a third. After a few weeks you go down to a half. After that your soul will tell you, when you listen. Often it is simply a matter of one drink too many.

13. We need always to separate the problem of virtue from the problem of lack of control. Certain countries — France, for example — drink more alcohol but have fewer problems. This is partly due to the predominance of wine, which has less of a stun-gun effect on behavior, but also because drinking isn’t connected to virtue or nonvirtue. It is a practical problem. Drinking has to be strictly self-controlled the moment it negatively affects our character and behavior.

dr don perspective on generation

Don’t worry…Academics related. I have attached the prompt for your review. But here is some context and then a few questions to help me write this paper.

We are study Generations and the labels, assumptions, stereotypes, characteristics, etc that come with them. Additionally, the course is comparative in nature with moments for reflection after, so painting a picture of the differences from your perspectives is important.

Howe and Strauss are referenced in the prompt. Feel free to look of there hypothesis. It breaks down into a four part cycle between all generations.
Civic Generations, the Hero
Adaptive Generations, the Artist
Idealist Generations, the Prophet
Reactive Generation, the Nomad
Mainly, please help me answerer these questions and others you deem appropriate. This is due tomorrow so a quick turn around would be much appreciated 🙂
What generation do you consider yourself? Mature – senior citizen – how unbecoming.
What are unique characteristics of your generation? Sizeable majority willing to put selves on the line for political and cultural movements – civil rights, opposing the war in Indochina. Probably made a difference though of course those older than us called the shots. Jail, physical abuse and attacks, verbal abuse and shunning, financial and educational sacrifices, some deaths. Don’t see the same potential in the upcoming generation now in their 20s, despite causes worth fighting for and perhaps more – the systematic destruction of species, environments (mangrove forests, ocean reefs, rivers and watersheds, farmland, tropical forests, temperate forests, aquifers, the atmosphere, lakes and indeed oceans); the cynical use of faiths and creeds as cover for sociopaths to pursue power through cruelty and murder; the obscene robbery of property, value, culture from the great many to the tyrannical self-absorbed tiny minority facilitated by their well-kept political and media prostitutes in the guise of patriotism and progress and in the service of greed never before seen; the pharmaceutical/medical/political cabal that swallows up the lives and livelihoods of the many while depriving them of health care and health; the bombing of hospitals and mosques and churches and schools by US, Russian, French, Canadian, British air forces and the whole obscene concept of “collateral damage” – and the systematic numbing of minds with hours per day on video games, endless narcissistic facebook, twitter, twattle and other mindless and meaningless postings of what I think about that fashion or that iPhone or that actress and her affairs or that musician’s drug use or that hair style or that latest diet and exercise and supplement and self-actualization guru or….
What are unique characteristics about yourself? Well-read. Passionate. Giving. Interested in what you say and think and not just in turning the conversation over to what I say and think. Willing to act as if the planet and our species has a hope in hell when there’s lots of evidence to the contrary, instead of “oh, well” and making feeling good a justification for living. Opinionated for sure but do the work to study and learn. Trust that God is Love and that anything that contradicts that is BS, period, that love conquers all fear and that fear is the enemy of love, of God, including the fear spouted from pulpits and other stages to scare people into behaving themselves to avoid going to hell instead of inspiring people to trust in the transforming power of love so we are enabled to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.
Are you mainly similar or different from your generation; are you mainstream or abnormal? Not unique but statistically I think I’m highly abnormal in many of my beliefs and ways of living; prior to recovery I was wildly abnormal in drug use yet sadly normal in self-centredness, selfishness and self-reliance.
What are your opinions of my generation? I know many young people whom I admire very much and who inspire me immensely. They seem to me to be highly abnormal as well in that they don’t devote themselves to hedonistic escapes and self-indulgences and turn their backs on reality and the terrible processes and events around them; they are curious, open, confident yet humble, enthusiastic, willing to be vulnerable despite being betrayed and let down, willing to sacrifice for others without expectation of return, eager to learn, well-read, amazing to me and I want to protect and encourage and comfort and inspire them all. Sadly, I think the majority of this generation has been cowed by fear of not measuring up to the expectations of others/financial insecurity/not looking good enough or having enough or controlling enough or being numbed enough. Not surprising. It’s a scary world in a scary time and the value of oneself is no longer defined by one’s character and hard work and compassion and wisdom but by baubles (human and otherwise) and bombast and the reification of stupidity and ignorance, which is not accidental – how better to subjugate and to profit from the overwhelming masses than to disparage anything they can achieve by their hard work, character, diligence and sacrifice and exalt image and possessions and power as the only qualities worth living for?
Do you see trends in generations as we progress through time? Generation before mine – loyalty, hard work, endurance, don’t object to status quo, stay fed and sheltered and clothed and keep your kids fed and sheltered and clothed, excessive obeisance to authority and trust in leaders. My generation – mix of noble motivations and perspectives with degenerate “feel good” drug-induced and other escapisms but still each of us responsible for our own lives and effort. Not so willing to trust in leaders including religious authorities. Not so willing to sacrifice or determined to make a difference. Not so automatically devoted to offspring, including not so willing to endure the emotional pain of teaching them values and responsibility and consequences – many exceptions and probably not the majority, but my generation was the first to reject parental responsibility – and marital commitment – openly and even flamboyantly. Not against progress or change. Just against irresponsibility and self-indulgence and disrespect of the spiritual principles exalted for at least 5,000 years in every culture and creed and faith.
Biggest moments of your generation? Legal victories in Civil Rights Movement and their transformative effects in the lives of millions of people. Assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King. The Filmore West, Otis Redding, Phil Ochs’s suicide, the US destroying democracy and hundreds of thousands of lives in Latin America and elsewhere, the cynical fascism of the USSR in Angola, Cuba, Afghanistan, eastern Europe; the fall of the Berlin Wall and dissolution of the USSR, the US deposing the government of Iran and installing its puppet Shah, the US giving Saddam Hussein the means to wage gas warfare and other weapons in an 8-year war against the Soviet-backed Iranian despots and funding and arming the mujahedeen in Afghanistan vs. the Soviets who then became the Taliban who then bombed the World Trade Center after which the US invaded Iraq which had zero weapons of mass destruction and no role in 9/11; the Chilean 9/11 of 1973 in which the US deposed the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende and replaced it with the fascist Pinochet regime that murdered its poets and union leaders and workers and made Chile safe for US business, Victor Jara’s life and music and heart and spirit and his murder in the National Stadium in Santiago, Greenpeace, the end of commercial whaling, CITES, abortion made legal, the refusal of the UN (due to the refusal of the US to call it genocide) to prevent 800,000 brutal murders in Rwanda because after all who really cares about black people, the genocide in the Balkans, AIDs and advances in its treatment, Biafra, liberation theology, the Six-Day War, the music of Phil Ochs and Leonard Cohen, Amnesty International and Mededins sans Frontieres and Oxfam and Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey and Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela…
What big moments did we share? The Big Short. The end of Apartheid. The debacles of Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, the Congo, the Ukraine. Disasters in Nepal, Indonesia, New Orleans. People actively caring for each other without expectation of return, forgiving the unforgivable, sacrificing comfort and possessions and security selflessly, coaching kids in their neighbourhoods, staffing food banks as volunteers, cleaning up toxic spills, restoring wetlands, rescuing and treating injured wildlife, ecumenism, tolerance, love.

poppie perspective on generation

#1 We are the silent generation. #2 Conformity during formative years post ww2, peace, jobs, TV, happiness, cars,rock& roll, civil rights movement, women stayed home to raise children, if they worked it was as teacher, nurse or secretary. men pledged loyalty to their employer, once u had a job it was for life. Marriage is for life, divorce and and out of wedlock babies were not accepted. Big band swing music.#3.Disciplined,self sacrificing,polite,respect authority,belief in God. #4. I am mainstream.#5.Your generation is self absorbed, lacks respect for authority, too casual in attire, too casual when it comes to drugs,alcohol,sex and very short on religion.Pro sports athletes and entertainers are your role models and most emphasis on instant gratification. All of the latter results in making our culture more crass.#6. Trend lines blurred. Major value systems,culture, religion national character have been dumbed down. Our generation traits that were important were duty,honor,country and they have been supplanted be the me,me,me generation currently.#7. Biggest moments 1925-1945, won WW2, capitalism spurred the rise of the middle class.#8. Share love of Country, industrial revolution, cure polio, medical breakthroughs- cures for measles,chicken pox,diptheria, open heart surgery, fast foods,bottled water, joint replacement. Pet supply stores, big box stores, full service gas stations now self service, specialized medicine Vrs family doctor.Cloth diapers Vrs throw away diapers today. Microwave,hot tubs exercise facilities.Internet. Let us know your grade on this report.Cheers, Poppie


Chapter 2: Helicopter vs Free Range Parents

Helicopter Parents vs. Free Range Parents
Its not an either/or. Its a little bit of both Middle ground –

Didnt want to choke you on a bunch of extra-curricular activities but Rule #1 in HS is 3 sports Freshman year and then you can dial it back from there; however, if not playing a seasonal sport, you gotta be involved in something substantive.

Feel the burn. Stove
Feets dont fail me now. Cleats
Be late

Chapter 1 – Foundation

Great Papa Charlton – His #1 life lesson after living 100 years – Attitude is Everything.

Charles Swindoll’s “Attitude”.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

Einstein – “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

EO How can you be depressed? You’re the most positive guy in this group. Snap out of it.

Rich Man, Poor Man > Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Max Strategy (Experiments Never Fail, etc)
Napolean Hill

Lesson 1: Definiteness of Purpose
Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement. Without a purpose and a plan, people drift aimlessly through life.

Lesson 2: Mastermind Alliance
The Mastermind principle consists of an alliance of two or more minds working in perfect harmony for the attainment of a common definite objective. Success does not come without the cooperation of others.

Lesson 3: Applied Faith
Faith is a state of mind through which your aims, desires, plans and purposes may be translated into their physical or financial equivalent.

Lesson 4: Going the Extra Mile
Going the extra mile is the action of rendering more and better service than that for which you are presently paid. When you go the extra mile, the Law of Compensation comes into play.

Lesson 5: Pleasing Personality
Personality is the sum total of one’s mental, spiritual and physical traits and habits that distinguish one from all others. It is the factor that determines whether one is liked or disliked by others.

Lesson 6: Personal Initiative
Personal initiative is the power that inspires the completion of that which one begins. It is the power that starts all action. No person is free until he learns to do his own thinking and gains the courage to act on his own.

Lesson 7: Positive Mental Attitude
Positive mental attitude is the right mental attitude in all circumstances. Success attracts more success while failure attracts more failure.

Lesson 8: Enthusiasm
Enthusiasm is faith in action. It is the intense emotion known as burning desire. It comes from within, although it radiates outwardly in the expression of one’s voice and countenance.

Lesson 9: Self-Discipline
Self-discipline begins with the mastery of thought. If you do not control your thoughts, you cannot control your needs. Self-discipline calls for a balancing of the emotions of your heart with the reasoning faculty of your head.

Lesson 10: Accurate Thinking
The power of thought is the most dangerous or the most beneficial power available to man, depending on how it is used.

Lesson 11: Controlled Attention
Controlled attention leads to mastery in any type of human endeavor, because it enables one to focus the powers of his mind upon the attainment of a definite objective and to keep it so directed at will.

Lesson 12: Teamwork
Teamwork is harmonious cooperation that is willing, voluntary and free. Whenever the spirit of teamwork is the dominating influence in business or industry, success is inevitable. Harmonious cooperation is a priceless asset that you can acquire in proportion to your giving.

Lesson 13: Adversity & Defeat
Individual success usually is in exact proportion of the scope of the defeat the individual has experienced and mastered. Many so-called failures represent only a temporary defeat that may prove to be a blessing in disguise.

Lesson 14: Creative Vision
Creative vision is developed by the free and fearless use of one’s imagination. It is not a miraculous quality with which one is gifted or is not gifted at birth.

Lesson 15: Health
Sound health begins with a sound health consciousness, just as financial success begins with a prosperity consciousness.

Lesson 16: Budgeting Time & Money
Time and money are precious resources, and few people striving for success ever believe they possess either one in excess.

Lesson 17: Habits
Developing and establishing positive habits leads to peace of mind, health and financial security. You are where you are because of your established habits and thoughts and deeds.


My knees buckled at the sight of your mom as she stepped inside that tiny church on that tiny island. An island where we’ve made some great family memories with more to come. Mom radiated happiness and calmness as she walked up the aisle on Walter’s arm, her smile, blond streaked hair and suntanned shoulders, the beautiful hand-me-down dress from Beth, the engagement ring from your Great Grammy Charlton and the borrowed pearls from Aunt Peanut took on a magical glow as the southwest Florida sunshine flowed through the open doors and back-lit our scene. Never before and never since has something literally taken my breath away. (Well maybe with the exception of that lacrosse game against Medina when Coop stripped Shell in the final seconds for the win!) In minutes we would be married, your uncles would be ringing the church bell and that happy photo on me and mom that hangs in our bedroom would be snapped.

25 years later, Mom and I sat in the same church on Christmas Eve, surrounded by you three guys! One rounding third and heading for graduation at Michigan, one getting ready to start a gap year and another a rising sophomore in high school. This book is written for each of you.

My goal in writing this is to give you something you can “edit vs. create”. As you strive to position yourselves for personal, professional and profitable success, think of this book as just another resource to turn to. Think Gestalt – shared family stories that might help you see a way forward as you prep for a new opportunity or wrestle with a new challenge. Blessed with ADD chemistry, you know I believe in the pursuit of progress, not perfection. As such, these pages are much more reflective than prescriptive. Its a catalog of what worked, what didnt or what we simply stumbled upon as Mom and I partnered as parents.

I’ll share our philosophies, vision, mission, strategies and the tips, tricks and techniques we used to raise the three of you. Lessons learned? You bet! We made some big mistakes, boatloads more on my part than Mom. Will I take an unflinching look at my character defects? You bet.

Are they true stories? All I can say is it’s true these are stories and with age I’ve probably gotten some of the details wrong. At the end of the day, will this book be useful to you? As experiments never fail, you’ll get the blessin’s, lesson’s or both! The power of the “And”.

Love, Dad

Voice, tone, style for book

Fascinated by the process actually. Paul Rieser wrote a few advise type books about parenthood back in the day….. A little lighter tone than you might be aiming for but if you check em out you may find a little help with ‘the voice’….also if you and Susan are going to overtly share your unique takes, ‘Younger Next Year’ co authored by a physician and a patient cum advocate….they alternate chapters…while covering topics from their frame of reference. Also see Larry Czonka and backfield mate Jim Kiick who co wrote a book about their exploits in Miami, one in regular type the other in italics, so you knew the unique voice as you read…

Pay it back by paying it fwd

Jim – You’re the best! Thanks for helping a kid out! Sam promises to pay it back by paying it fwd to another kid when he’s in your position.

Sam, I’d like you to meet Jim Barsella – Jim knows my family well and I coached his high-achieving son in lacrosse way back when. Jim, I’d like you to meet a sharp kid looking to learn from other’s success, Sam Distler.

I will get out of the middle and let you two take it from here. The ball is in Sam’s court to reach out to Jim based on the days/times Jim has provided below.


Small talk

Introverts and small talk…“Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people,” she writes in her book. “We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.” People who are introverted tend to prefer substantial conversations about philosophy and ideas rather than chit-chat. In fact, introverts can get easily intimidated, bored or exhausted by small talk. They’d much rather be real with someone and talk about more weighty topics.”

I am fine with both. Small talk is what Malinowski called phatic communion: a way to signal ongoing good will.

Keeping certain secrets only validates feelings of shame

Substance abuse

Secrets kept by children and or family
Our son’s illness, when we finally became aware of it, was a magnitude 8 earthquake in our lives that came without any warning. It was a calm and beautiful day in July when I found him the first time he tried to end his life at age 21. The mechanics of saving him, calling 911, unlocking and opening the door for the rescue team, calling my husband, and following Jonathan’s ambulance to the hospital all happened on autopilot. The moments at the hospital crawled as I waited to hear whether my son would live and with what possible damage, and wondered in complete ignorance and fear what the next steps would be.

How could this possibly be happening? How was it possible that I, who had spent countless hours talking with Jonathan, didn’t realize the trouble he was in?

He made it through that episode alive and with minimal impairment to his body. Once out of the hospital he appeared to be the same Jonathan that he always was: kind, loving, caring, bright, engaging, witty. He begged us not to tell anyone what happened—not that he needed to. Of course we would keep this a secret, for so many reasons. We didn’t want to have our son labeled “crazy”; we didn’t want him to endure any comments or knowing glances from well-meaning people. We were private people who never revealed our innermost issues to anyone outside our family. And we certainly didn’t want our son to feel exposed.

Without realizing it, by keeping this secret, we validated Jonathan’s feeling of shame. Not only would he have to battle his illness, he would bear the burden of shame about it as well. From this point on, our family would have to present an outside face to the world that did not represent our inner reality. We didn’t comprehend the gargantuan weight we would assume with this decision. Would we have acted the same way had Jonathan been diagnosed with cancer, gastrointestinal illness, severe cardiac illness, or diabetes? Absolutely not. Ask me now and I will tell you that I wish I had shouted it from the rooftop, done anything, taken out an ad in The New York Times: “My son has a devastating mental illness. Can someone, anyone, offer me some advice to save his life?

Opening Up About My Son’s Suicide