Having not set foot on the property for eight years, I wasn’t sure how I would feel going back to Hazelden, even though I knew this time would be for a happy reason.

My brother Tom was tonight’s alumni guest speaker.

As we pulled up that old familiar, winding road, my stomach was filled with eager butterflies, much more welcoming than that old familiar pit in my stomach I carried around with me weekend after weekend I had traveled there so many years ago with a mission to support my brother, learn as much as I could about alcoholism, and heal myself.

Walking into that old familiar auditorium was surreal. THIS was the place I cried having finally understood addiction through a powerful speaker’s message in 2009. For a moment there, I was 28 years old again, and memories flooded my brain.

Memories of fear, hopelessness, and anxiety.

This time though, I wasn’t sitting in a seat next to my brother, waiting for that evening’s speaker. Instead, I was led to a front row seat, and my brother walked up on stage.

I had the privilege of sitting in that hall for the next 38 minutes, listening to my brother share his experience, strength, and hope with the patients.

I am honored he wanted me to be there. I am so proud of all the work he has done. I am so so happy he is not only still with us but also such an asset to the recovery community. I’m proud of his courage to have been so vulnerable and giving.

And for the first time in years, I left this place of miracles without a pit in my gut. I left with literal sighs of gratitude and peace. I kept turning to my brother on that drive back to Minneapolis and saying “I’m so happy”! We shared a laugh of amazement and appreciation.

Sometimes that’s the only way you can express something so amazing.

It works. There is always, ALWAYS hope! 🙏🏼♥️