top of page

Candace Hartzler, MA/LICDC is the author of Learning to Love Differently, a healing pathway for families of addicts. Candace Hartzler holds an undergraduate degree from Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio and a Master’s degree in Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Ministry from The Methodist Theological School in Delaware, Ohio. She has been a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor since 1991 and is retired from The Ohio State University, Wexner Medical Center, Talbot Hall. She maintains a private practice in Clintonville, Ohio.  Candace was a chosen presenter at the 2012 National Conference on Addiction Disorders held in Washington, D.C., speaking on Family Addiction. She has published numerous articles on addiction’s impact and has served as faculty member at the Addiction Studies Institute, The Ohio State University.


I've been your Mother for almost 5 billion years. I hear your grief and fear while the lives you have known are shutting down. Your jobs are gone, your hospitals are full, your shops, streets, beaches and aisles are barren. Your monies are becoming scarce. Many of you are sick. And some of you are dying.

Always during times of planetary sorrow, I have held you. This period of learning has been building for decades, while you have fought religious wars, bombed towers, judged others according to their skin color, the God they worship or the person they choose to love. I have held you while you based success on the shifting sands of money, clamored for power and even while you disavowed those among you who have little access to water, food, education or health care.

I have watched you run drugs through your tunnels and into the veins of your youth. I have sighed deeply while fortunes have been made by convincing you that life's issues can be solved one purchase at a time. I wept while you raped my lands, bulldozed my trees, drilled into the sides of mountains, polluted oceans with plastic and poison.

Your disregard for nature's way has been costly. Where you once lived beside streams of clean water, worshiped the sacredness of mountains, sunrises and sunsets, you now have buildings towering high above people who stay connected for hours via technology but who fear eye contact and heart connection.

Many economies have been built on the hierarchical principles of power and greed. Happiness should be linked to the scope of your caring hearts, not to the size of your bank accounts. You don't take time to admire a Sugar Maple or stop long enough to listen to birdsong; you jog beside a Banyan tree with buds in your ears which obstructs nature's own music. You walk quickly by people living with misfortune; their tents don't have rooms like your houses, so you choose not to feel their stories. You equate quality with shiny and wealth with ownership.

COVID-19 is chasing all people, regardless of how much you shine or how much you own. The virus has crossed all lands, all races, all genders, all socio-economic levels. I hope you are listening. I invite your eyes to see and your hearts to appreciate each human story. Each inhabitant of this planet---north, south, east or west---holds a story. And each story holds deep meaning.

While countries become quiet and continue to mourn their dead, priorities are shifting. You are one world. No country stands alone. There is a wealth of high-spirited, noble, kind, intelligent, wise and creative people who are rediscovering the importance of healthy interdependence. Humanity is capable of turning the earth back into the Place of Grace it was meant to be; you are beginning to love and live differently.

But you must stop plundering, politicizing and polluting. Your life assignment includes slowing down. Be the tortoise not the hare. Learning to be content with watching sunlight stretch over the grass, the plains and the sandy beaches. Reach across aisles and across continents, celebrate your uniqueness, your innate wisdom, your ability to become better stewards of planet Earth and of one another. And above all else, remain faithful to things you cannot yet see.


Mother Earth

The photo was meant to capture sunlight falling through a window next to my art table. That was all.

But out of deep respect for these months of global fear, global grief, global love and global connection, I couldn't help but notice the amount of light versus shadow on the blank page.

COVID-19 has cast its shadow across our human family, both here and abroad. As we sit more quietly, think more broadly, feel more deeply, love less judgmentally, we are also being invited to listen.

To our lives. To our personal values. To our mode of living. To the humans we haven't met, but whose suffering brings tears to our eyes and pain to our hearts.

So as we listen, who are we in the face of a virus that looms so large and slays so many? We are creators of light. And of comfort. We are creators of light when we find our rope in the storm of this virus, when we nod at the person walking 6 feet from us on the walking path, when we consider our inside selves, and deal honestly with what we find there, sans booze, drugs, over-eating or judging others. We are creators of light when we consider ways we have survived prior storms or hard times. We are creators of light when we consider the things we've found comforting in the past: certain people, our faith, books, trees, sunlight, moonlight, birdsong, rainbows, fields of clover and corn.

We are creators of light when we surrender all the false parts of our lives, the way we have identified ourselves with the kind of car we drive, the amount of money in our bank account and when we consider the ways we have lost sight of focusing on spiritual practices rooted in just ordinary days and experiences.

We are invited to become (and remain) cheerleaders of humanity. All of humanity. Not just those who believe like us, look like us, act like us, vote like us,pray like us. Our set ideas about people are driven out by the faces of COVID-19. We need to create sacred ways of honoring all.

Yes I will stay home. Yes I will disinfect. Yes I will, as Max Ehrmann so beautifully claims in Desiderata, "be on good terms with all persons." I will speak my truth quietly and clearly and I will listen to others. And I will be gentle with myself, which allows me to be more gentle with others. And I will believe in the people of this world.

Stay on your path and continue to love differently. Love your life. Love the concept of peace and do what you can to create it. Do both as though your life and our global neighbors' lives depended on it.


Updated: Apr 15, 2022

Something I believe in: accepting responsibility for healing the life we are handed. Expressive writing is a step in that direction. Writing in a journal helps delineate your personal experiences, explore the life you were handed at birth, serves to help you understand your personal wiring more clearly.

My book, "Learning to Love Differently., a healing pathway for families of addicts," focuses on strategies for navigating life if you love someone who is addicted. It's proven to be a helpful guide for many. Journaling is a tool that can guide you whether your lives are impacted by addiction or just plain emotionally complicated. Allowing yourself to stop and think about your interior life, using big bold handwriting to express anger, fear or just plain crabbiness. Filling pages full of confusion, resentments, and to explore more deeply how and who you love, gives all those emotions a place to stand. If emotions stay underground, stay unacknowledged or unexpressed or untended, toxicity can take hold and you can bet toxicity will find a way to tuck you into relationships that hurt self and others.

Toxicity finds voice through bullying others, personal illness, self-destructive behaviors, and a myriad of other dysfunctions. And it is so possible to weave those unhealed experiences into a new tapestry! Remembering we take ourselves with us wherever we go, so it is never too late to begin accepting the challenge of becoming a higher level you.

The above picture are pages from my journals. I decided to read them all a few years ago, (a bigger job than I anticipated as journals date back to age 14!) and to discard pages that included the three R's--rants, rage and raves. I have shredded those pages and are weaving them into creations to add to my collage work. Weaving the past into art form is, I believe, what we are each called to do, to create new experiences from past confusions or hurts.

Living life includes acknowledging our light and dark sides. Living life includes accepting personal accountability for our "issues," and healing what we can. We are all weavers.

Write your story. Write parts of your story. Appreciate the strips of your experiences and the opportunity to weave them into a new story. Yes you can!

One of my favorite quotes from Rumi: Out beyond the ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there." We begin our walk to that field by

taking a look inside our own hearts.

Hugs from this end.


bottom of page