God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
~ Reinhold Niebuhr
I had a poster of the Serenity Prayer on my bedroom wall when I was a teenager. I think it was nestled in between my Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA and my Charlie’s Angels posters. Back then I was attracted to the artwork. It was various shades of pink with gold lettering and captured the beginning of a sunset. I bought it at the local Ben Franklin five-and-dime because I thought it was pretty.
I liked it then.
It feels like my survival now.
I designed this mat for myself — and for anyone else who might appreciate having the Serenity Prayer as a part of their yoga practice and intentions.
This past fall we experienced a family crisis that I felt almost certain I wouldn’t survive. If you follow me on social media you probably saw the MISSING CHILD posters that were all over the internet asking for help in finding our 17-year-old daughter.
She was seen walking out of a residential treatment facility and then she was gone.
She didn’t have a phone, money, identification — just the clothes on her back. Not even a winter coat.
I wasn’t thinking too much about the Serenity Prayer in the 48 hours she was missing. I cried a lot. There was nothing working in the rational section of my brain. The only emotion I was experiencing was fear. Bless my friend Margo for sitting with me and encouraging me to give all of my emotions a name. I said what my imagination saw, I articulated what was gripping me from the inside. I let the fear talk, I surrendered to it. She was missing — and in the most painful moments, I had to accept I couldn’t bring her home by wishing and willing it to be so.
We’ve been making progress… and we’ve experienced setbacks. Good days and bad days are to be expected. The real challenge is taking things one day at a time, not getting too far ahead of ourselves, to allow ourselves to be guided by the Serenity Prayer so that we recognize what we can change and accept what we can’t.
Everything most teenagers do is documented, recorded, and discussed. I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to have your every mistake — your every choice you might one day regret on the menu of options for your peers to discuss. I believe history will look back on this era and will not be kind or forgiving. While these are generalizations, this is what I’ve experienced and observed lately — we’ve created a culture of wormholes and spaces to disappear and hide, we live looking down at our phones and not up at the person right across from us, our kids don’t know how to entertain themselves without the assistance of technology. Many have lost their ability to self-soothe, many have lost or never found their ability to find validation from within. We’ve changed the fabric of our society. It’s not real or valuable until someone likes, comments, or shares.
My child was significantly hazed as a member of a sports team. The hazing was captured on film and uploaded to social media. She was told by numerous young people that she should kill herself because of a misunderstanding in a love triangle. She’s had strangers reach out to her offering her money for nude photos. She’s had lewd comments made about her physical appearance. She’s been called all kinds of names by all kinds of people.
My child’s experience, while sad and challenging, isn’t unique — it’s common.
My child is beautiful — inside and out. She’s smart, funny, loyal, passionate. She is a process-oriented deep thinker. She is a varsity athlete, an honor roll student. She has parents who are engaged — who have set limits and boundaries who have provided safety and security.
Addiction doesn’t happen to any one kind of person — it happens to every kind of person in every pocket of our communities.
As a student of yoga, I believe we need to find our way back to Serenity — to listen to the humble and simple words of the Serenity Prayer.
Acceptance is not laziness.
It takes courage to change.
Hardship can be good for you.
Letting go requires courage too.
Happiness is attainable now and in the future.
In the months and weeks since she was found the spectrum of my emotions has been vast.
I’ve been reading Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change. I believe kindness is my superpower.
I’ve been actively studying the 12 Steps so I can understand what my child is working to learn and absorb.
I’m attending Alanon meetings and working to keep my oxygen mask on before helping others.
Yoga is helping us through this time in our life — just as it has every other time we’ve been challenged to find our way.