Sunday 22nd May 2022

Women Of Courage Series. #46 Christie Hawkes. 53/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #46 Christie Hawkes. 53/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

I am pleased to say I have another wonderful blogging friend join us today from the USA for this series. I ‘met’ Christie Hawkes, who is 58, via a regular blogging link up called. Mid Life Share The Love here. We have read each others’ blog posts over the years and I felt quite a connection to the way in which Christie ‘tells it as it is’….and THAT is from a place of courage. I am honoured too, that she is sharing a story that may bring some sad thoughts to the surface in doing so…but I will say no more. Here is Christie and she can tell it her way.


What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

Like most women who reach middle age, I have faced a number of circumstances that required courage:

  • moving out on my own,
  • getting married,
  • having children,
  • going back to school,
  • applying for jobs,
  • getting divorced,
  • getting remarried (creating a blended family with four teenagers!)…you get the idea.

But the thing that comes to mind for me as the most challenging was facing an adult child’s drug addiction and knowing that I could not fix it for her.

Not only that, but I would have to ask her to leave my home, not knowing where she would go or if she would be lost to me forever.


How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

Perhaps most important, I gained a new confidence in my ability to deal with adversity, and I learned to release things I can’t control. (Well, I’m still learning that one: practice, not perfect.)

  • I learned that I can survive something that initially felt so all-consuming that it might literally destroy me.
  • It did not.
  • I discovered the power of breathing, meditation, and grounding myself in the present moment…rather than projecting into an unknown future.
  • I learned to focus on what I can control.
  • And I learned that you can feel joy even in the midst of the most difficult of times.
  • Flowers still smell sweet.
  • Sunsets are still beautiful.
  • Music still touches you.
  • Coffee still tastes good.
  • These are all invaluable lessons I carry with me today and tools I put to use on a regular basis.


Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

All the things I listed above, but to simplify, take one breath at a time.

Know that this crisis will not last forever.

It will either pass or you will make adjustments and settle into a new normal.

You are so much stronger than you think.

If you are still breathing, you are succeeding.


Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

Definitely. As I mentioned previously, I have gained confidence in my own abilities and I have developed tools for resilience.


Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

Embrace the small joys.

Take care of yourself physically.

If you become overwhelmed, pause and breathe deeply, refocus on those things that are within your control.

Release everything else to the Universe…to your God…or to whatever higher power is out there.


Do add anything else that you think would help others who read your post.

I would like to share that my daughter is sober today, working as a nurse, recently remarried, and raising her three beautiful children. We remained in touch throughout her journey to sobriety.

I did not lose her forever. I know not every story has a happy ending, but if I had let this crisis…the incredible fear…consume me, I would have missed all the joy, all the growth.



Thank you Christie for opening up to share this story of courage within many part of your life where courage was also needed. I am glad to read of your daughter’s continuing good health and her life as is now. Mostly too, for many of us, that through reading a story like yours, I am again reminded of controlling what I can control. Only me.



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Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends.

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  1. Christie it was lovely to read your story. I could understand your feelings at the time but I love how your courage enabled you to think of the positive. I’m so pleased that your daughter came through this and is living life in a better place #MLSTL Sharing

    • Thank you Jennifer. It was such a dark time, but it is absolutely true that the most growth and getting to know yourself comes from periods of struggle. I am happy to say that my daughter has just started her own blog…to tell her story of rebuilding her life and to help others who may be rebuilding after trauma. If you’re interested, it is

    • Christie’s story is a hard one to read because she ‘lived it’ but she got so much from the experience she has turned it around to know more about herself.

      Thanks Jennifer.


  2. Hi Christie – another facet of you that I didn’t know about – it’s so hard when our children take paths that we wouldn’t choose for them, but I’m so glad your daughter found her way back again – and that you made it through too. Maintaining a relationship through such a difficult time certainly speaks highly of you both and the value you place on family. x

    • Thank you for your kind words, Leanne. It seems our greatest joys and our deepest sorrows come from being mothers. I guess that speaks to the depth of the love we feel for our children. It was during this struggle that I learned the power of meditation, mindfulness, and releasing things that are out of my control. I think I’m an accidental Buddhist!

    • I agree Leanne, as mothers all we want to do by instinct is to protect, save, and nurture…but as adults they have to take their own paths.

      I sure understand a lot about this from my own parenting life.

      The value of sharing our stories is we know we are not alone.


  3. So glad to get to know another part of you, Christie, and so glad your daughter has come through this. It’s a real testament to your character that you maintained a relationship with her throughout. #MLSTL

    • Thank you Joanne. I realize now that it took courage to let her find her own way and still maintain a lifeline of love for her to tap into. To trust myself to connect without enabling and without losing myself. Somehow it worked. If you are interested in her point of view and her journey to rebuild her life, she just started her own blog at

    • So true, Jo. Yes it’s a hard one to be a parent to someone who is not living the life we might prefer or wish for them.

      Thanks for your kind words,


  4. Thanks for sharing your story Christie, it must have been incredibly hard. Your family is lucky to have you and your advice is very relevant to me at the moment. I particularly liked the one about the fact that it will either pass or you will make adjustments and settle into a new normal. I needed to hear your words and so I thank you. I’m so glad to hear your daughter is doing well!Thanks Denyse for sharing Christie’s story with us. #mlstl

    • Thank you Debbie. It was incredibly difficult and such a shock. Ashley was always an overachiever in her schooling and career and a wonderful mother. She was also hiding a lot of pain and anxiety. During the worst of it for me, the thing that saved me was reminding myself that I would not always feel this way. Intense fear and sorrow cannot maintain itself. I did a lot of deep breathing and meditating. I like to say I became an accidental Buddhist. The interesting thing is that Ashley turned to Buddhism to help her heal. I attended some sangha gatherings with her and really love the peace and beauty there. I’m glad that my words offered some comfort to you. May you feel at ease.

      • That is really interesting about your ‘accidental’ buddhism because in my worst days of transitioning through the grief of retirement, leaving our family etc, I attended a day workshop on anxiety at a Buddhist centre.
        I learned so much that I did not want to leave that kind of understanding and awareness of the fleeting nature of ‘moments’.
        I then found Headspace for Mindfulness Meditation…and have listened to and read many books by Pema Chodron, Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield and of course, Jon Kabat-Zinn.

        I will check out your daughter’s blog too Christie.

        • That is interesting Denyse. I guess there really is something to the peace associated with Buddhism. If anyone is curious, I’m reading a book called No-nonsense Buddhism for Beginners. It is so easy to understand, answering many of the questions I had.

          • Thanks Christie…I guess the thing I am learning (over and over again) is this is all we have..the present moment…and we can choose to remain present. I do like that we women can continue learning, growing and changing too!


  5. Having read your blog for awhile now, I was unaware of all this. I think this is a great post and I really saw much more depth in you here today. Life is infinitely more complicated than we are lead to believe and I think we start on the back foot while we shake off the ‘I can’t believe this is happening’ feeling. I think you are spot on with the advice that while you are in the think of it, focus on the small pleasures that you can – the sunsets, music, etc. It’s amazing how therapeutic they can be.
    I also love Denyse’s last line – the thing I can control. Only me.
    Great post.

    • Ah Lydia, as I write those words I do my best to remember them. The reason the mindfulness meditation is called ‘practice’ is because that is all I can do…practise.

      Getting some of it right but not all. I have learned so much that I wished I had known ‘back then’. Life, teaches us what we need to know I suppose.

      Thank you for sharing and commenting on Christie’s post.


    • Thank you Lydia. For a long time, I did not talk about this experience much. For one thing, I felt it was Ashley’s story to tell and I didn’t want to publicly out her, and on a deeper level, I think I was afraid that people who didn’t know her wouldn’t realize how amazing she is and would judge her…and if I’m perfectly honest, judge me, as the parent. Then Ashley made the brave choice to share her story and help others who are trying to rebuild their lives, and I realized I had something valuable to share as well.

      I too love Denyse’s reminder that the only thing we control is ourselves.

      Thank you ladies!

  6. What a strong woman you are Christie and I can’t imagine the pain of firstly seeing your daughter battling her addiction but also having to ask her to leave. As a mother I can only begin to imagine how torn you felt. It is so good to see her turn her life around and that you have been able to maintain relationship. Like Deb mentioned in her comment I liked your advice ‘Know that this crisis will not last forever. It will either pass or you will make adjustments and settle into a new normal.’ Thank you Denyse for sharing Christie’s story of courage with us at #MLSTL and you have reached so many women with your Courage Series, thank you. xx

    • Thank you Sue. It’s pretty powerful realizing how resilient and strong you are. We’ve all faced things we could not have imagined when we were young and just starting out. Each time you survive something and figure out how to grow and thrive, you get a little more confident in your ability to weather the next storm. Denyse has done a wonderful job with this series helping women to recognize their own courage and sharing those stories with us.

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to share your thoughts. xo

      • I am humbled and impressed by the women who have trusted in this process and written their stories to be shared. That the series is still going more than a year later is amazing..and there are more to come from women of courage.


  7. “And I learned that you can feel joy even in the midst of the most difficult of times.” Look up, look out, look beyond – as you say, even in the depths of despair there are pauses (like beautiful sunsets, great tasting coffee) reminding us that joy and even familiarity is still there giving us hope and strength even though it’s obscured by the obstacles we face. I’m inspired by the lessons you have gathered and embraced throughout this time. You are indeed a woman of courage – and so is your daughter.


    Sandra. xx

    • So many takeaways from these women, including you, we get from the stories shared as women of courage.

      Thank you Sandra.


  8. Thank you Sandra. We can learn so much from each other and take comfort in the love and support of each other.

  9. Thanks, Christie, for sharing such a personal part of your life with us. It’s amazing, isn’t it, how such adversity brings us so many positive lessons which we can apply to other parts of our lives. So pleased that your daughter is sober and living a healthy life, with you still in her life. 🙂

  10. Christie – thank you SO much for sharing your story and thank you Denyse for giving Christie this space. I often think about “what if” my own children turn to substance abuse and I just don’t know what I’d do. But hearing your story, seeing your perspective, knowing that your daughter made it through the other side, warms my heart. Well done to you for staying so strong and a HUGE well done to your daughter who is also a Woman of Courage.

    • Yes, Leanne, I agree Christie’s story is a powerful one and one which, for all the reasons she wrote about, worked out OK in the end.

      And yes, credit to her daughter is in order of course. We “cannot” really change or do anything for our kids once they become adults.

      Thanks Leanne.