“If you are reading this, it’s likely that you decided to create a healthy, rewarding life.”
And so begins the 365-day journey A New Day, A New Life: A Guided Journal Blending Science & Spirituality, A New Model for Success in Early Recovery, by William Cope Moyers. Moyers, a recovereing alcoholic and drug addict, calls on his experiences on the road to recovery to establish a full calendar year worth of writing exercises that include “adult learning, relapse prevention, and long-term recovery models.” Using this journal, those who have courageously entered into Alcoholics Anonymous or other similar alcohol- and drug-related recovery programs will find another avenue of support.
A New Day, A New Life opens with a preface by Moyers that details how the idea of a journal came to mind. After a visit from his mother during a stay in the psychiatric ward of a New York City hospital, Moyers was given a blank notebook in the hopes he would fill it with his thoughts and experiences. Like most journals or diaries, the notion of jotting down one’s own thoughts and personal experiences each day seems rather useless and time-consuming. Moyers proves that the power of the written word can also be cathartic.
Several years of treatment later, Moyers had made record of every step of the way. From thoughts on the ups and down of his recovery to lists of personal fears and emotions, Moyers found the journal to be an ally in his uphill battle against addiction. Even to this day, in full remission, he uses his journal to reflect on milestones in his and his family’s life, as well as to jot down whatever is going through his mind each day. He eventually published his memoirs, Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption. A publishing deal for your life story is unlikely for all who decide to commit their personal journey to paper, but those who commit to this process will find it rewarding nonetheless.
What makes A New Day, A New Life truly stand out as a journal is the specific exercises that are chosen for each day. Following along the 12-step process from Alcoholics Anonymous, Moyers created 365 entry topics that follow along the path a person might be on in their recovery process. Even before the first day begins, there is an introductory section that acts as preparation for the actual journey into recovery. The intro advises to “create a safe space,” “find a 12-step program,” and “find a sponsor.” Each of these is a step toward starting anew with a drug- and alcohol-free environment, as well as a strong support system.
Sections of the journal are broken up according to each step of the 12-step program. From admitting that you are powerless over alcohol, establishing a healthy lifestyle cycle, gaining trust, and preventing relapse to making amends and thinking of becoming a sponsor, Moyers’ journal takes on the role of life coach. Not a day goes by where the person recovering is lost without an idea on what to write. Moyers even provides examples of what to write for each section or asks the reader questions to provoke meaningful thought. After the 365 days are over, the reader will hopefully have successfully completed the 12-step recovery process and will have a journal chock full of the memories they endured during their long battle to be sober.
It is certainly tough to review a book of this nature when I have not gone through such a recovery process nor experienced any relatable addictions. I could never truly understand what is going through the mind of someone who is combating a terrible disease such as alcoholism or drug addiction. What may seem like fun, self-reflective exercises in my eyes are actually long, hard looks in the mirror for those on the path toward recovery. The reality of the situation is that by utilizing this journal, one is able to establish structure among the many thoughts and emotions that they experience in a day. A New Day, A New Life is an opportunity for the reader to release the floodgates of their soul and pour everything they have to say onto paper so it is not buried deep inside. For a person with addiction, it is a moment of “me time” that allows them to release the stresses of the day and to record their metamorphosis into being completely drug- and alcohol-free.
Of course, this journal is not for everyone, but meant to be a companion to the infamous Big Book that is utilized in the Alcoholics Anonymous program. Most of the terms and phrases are plucked straight out of the 12 steps and the majority of exercises are relevant only to those who have battled addiction and are familiar with the program. Moyers has created another source of support and creativity that is sure to be a great tool for those looking to turn their lives around and embrace sobriety.
A New Day, A New Life: A Guided Journal (with DVD)
By William Cope Moyers and Jodie Carter
Hazelden Publishing: June 2008
Paperback, 432 pages