Excursions – Embracing the Challenges and the Triumphs of Recovery


I am one of those people who likes to experience the thing I am touting. No false advertising here. So when Sanford House set out to launch an online, lifestyle magazine for people in recovery, I did some soul searching – head and foot. We organized several meetings, where Sanford House staff unearthed what recovery meant to us. We talked about all aspects of the journey – the challenges, the science and the triumphs. And when we decided on the title “Excursions” and the masthead photo of Empire Bluffs, it became clear to me I was working in the exact, right spot to serve as Editor-In-Chief.


Metaphors and Movement…

As a writer, I am enamored with the potential metaphor. After all, recovery from substance use disorders is like a widening path. The overwhelming joy of sobriety after the long, rocky road of addiction is like looking out over a spectacular vista. And Sanford House addiction treatment centers are in Grand Rapids, Michigan. What better image than the top of the Sleeping Bear Dunes over Lake Michigan as its banner?

As a hiker, I was compelled to get in my car on a Saturday morning and drive three hours to Empire to experience the walk. I had no idea that getting to the top of the Bluffs would mean climbing straight up through thick woods. With those steps carved into the landscape that are just too wide or just too skinny to navigate without executing giant, stretched splits or prancing like a highland pony. It is not an easy, breezy walk. My heart pounded. I needed to stop for water. But when I reached the top, it was worth the effort. It took my breath away (what was left of it that is…).

As a person in long term recovery, the difficulty of the climb is also symbolic. When we asked people what the word “excursions” meant to them, just about everyone said it seemed like something physically difficult. They said they envisioned climbs to the peaks of mountains, treks along unbeaten trails and laden backpacks. A blister or two and navigation by stars…


We Like that Mental Picture…

Recovery is, in so many ways, like a rigorous hike. When we designed our online magazine, we wanted it to represent everything from baby steps to the peak of the mountain:

  • The preparation

  • The decision to go the distance

  • The selection of the properly trained guide

  • The striking out for new experience

  • The plodding and the pitfalls

  • The pounding heart

  • The “Eureka!” moments

  • And the great feeling at the end of the trail…



    Excursions is a free online resource for people in every stage of recovery. We have rounded up an august group of contributing writers from around the globe. They will bring you up-to-date articles on: health and fitness; scientific breakthroughs; reader’s questions (and Sanford House Founder, Rae Green’s advice); clinical insights from our counselors; editor’s picks, photos; videos and more.


    Those of us who have experienced active addiction, know that the things that define us become compromised: family, relationships, career, hobbies, and physical activity. Recovery gives us back our uniqueness; the limitless options and the fresh look at old interests. Excursions is designed to broaden your horizons, widen your paths and provide an unbroken vista of new possibilities in recovery.


    I can’t wait to see what happens next…




    Would you like to take the next step and get help?

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after marilyn head shot bio

Marilyn Spiller is a viral writer, recovery coach, and recovery advocate. She is the Marketing Director at Sanford, responsible for written and creative content, website design, new media, promotions, subscriber outreach, and SEO. Excursions Magazine is a particular source of pride; it serves a wide range of readers, and “excursion” has become part of the company vernacular, describing Sanford’s signature experiential outings for those in treatment. She also developed and hosts the podcast Anatomy of Addiction and is Vice President of the Board of JACK Mental Health Advocacy.