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Sunday Sundries … Words .. Experiential

tumblr_nevv18edhk1sl7p6vo1_500 freshieCourtesy: Freshie

We are sitting at (-14c/-23 w.c.) It is COLD.

I got ready to go and thought I was properly layered, but when I got downstairs, and went outside, I turned around and came back up and put another layer on, just to be safe. I have this odd problem of always leaving my scarf at home, then regret leaving it behind, once I get outside.

#First World Problems

The U.S. is bracing for a record breaking blizzard over the next few days.

I’m reading all these, “End of the world, Armageddon like reports” threat to human life, dangerous conditions coming … Don’t get caught out in the storm kind of warnings.

Here in Canada … Ah, just another snow storm … We live for them. At least some of us do !!!

Once again, Montreal is sitting in that sweet spot. Environment Canada is not calling for snow, except for a couple days this week, but no storm or accumulations are in the forecast.

It was a quiet weekend. Last night, hubby went to bed as usual, and I stayed up to watch a Nova program and at 2 a.m. on the nose, I was sitting here and darkness fell. Once again, the power went out and we were plunged into darkness. No heat, no water, no electricity.

And I said to myself, it will be a quickie and the power will come back on. Twenty minutes, tops. Well, twenty minutes turned into forty, and forty into sixty minutes. No Joy.

I had plans. Mother Nature had hers, guess who won?

I had the light from my phone. After waiting for an hour in the dark, I resigned myself to the fact that No, indeed, the power was not coming back on any time soon. I got myself ready for bed, took my pills and covered the bed in blankets, because we had no heat. And I went to bed.

At 4:30 a.m. in the morning, the power came back on.

The T.V. the computer, the radio, and the clocks all whirred back to life. I got up and adjusted the clocks, rebooted and shut down the computer, and went back to bed.

We seem to be on a different circuit than the rest of the neighborhood, because the streetlights in the neighborhood did not go out, and the rest of the buildings that sit next to ours all had power, while we were sitting in the dark. My friend who lives two blocks from here (East), went dark as well, so a big section of this section of downtown, went dark again.

I left early to meet one of my guys for our Sunday read and discussion.

We are reading the Big Book together, and we are on Chapter Six … Into Action.

This section covers steps five through ten, that’s as far as we went.

None of the words in this section of the book have been changed in seventy six years. Yet, I am reading the book actively again with someone else. And we read through the Ninth Step Promises and a new word came to me, as I explained what they meant for my guy.

Sobriety is all about perception, and the changing of our perception. It is also Experiential as well.

Reading the Promises people usually zero in on:

“We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.”

For a program that is so “forwards thinking,” we sure do spend a great deal of time, dwelling on the past. In order to move forwards, we need to learn from the past. It is in getting rid of the wreckage of our past, cleaning house, working our steps, and helping others, that true freedom will come.

I’ve seen promises come true in my life, and in others lives.

Sometimes quickly, Sometimes slowly.

Some promises, seemed, to be unapproachable or unattainable in my life. But after years and years, the one that dogged me to the end of the earth, finally came to pass.

I said to my friend tonight that the Promises are Experiential. That was the first time I had ever said that word, in relation to reading them. And I caught the use of the new word. And they are …

We get the book in the beginning. And someone reads it with us. This is, in my opinion, time sensitive.

We don’t read on the first day and expect any of it to make sense. But when the time comes, we (read: Sponsors and Sponsees) know when the time is right to start reading.

We’ve read the first five chapters. And we begin our steps. Meanwhile we are reading through the book from the beginning each week. Are we putting the cart before the horse ??? No …

At first we read through How it works, and up to Step Three. That is when I introduced Step One to the one who is ready to start. Meanwhile we are reading. We had the discussion about adding prayer to ones day. Steps Three and Seven Prayers, every day. From the beginning. And we see how that is working on a weekly basis.

We’ve now read up through Step Nine. And the homework is to read pages 84 through 86, covering Step Ten. Now we have begun the book, introduced prayer, and we now add a daily review, from the start. The Tenth Step.

This is where I deviate from process and tweak The Work.

Having something to look at and write on a daily/nightly basis, gives us something to talk about. If you get used to writing right away, as practice, and use it as a tool to see ones progression, that’s a good thing, Yes ?

We might not have eyes to see in the beginning, and we may not have ears to hear, in the beginning, but if we introduce “things to do” in the beginning, then we cultivate those eyes and ears.

Getting sober is all about experience. We have had experiences, some we may wish to forget, and in time we get to see/learn about the wealth of those experiences, and in time, we learn that wisdom.

Every time we look at specific situation and stories we get to look at them, with the eyes we have “in the moment, at that time.” And every successive look we get, over time, we have new eyes to see and new ears to hear with. The cyclical nature of time and the past repeats, hence the wisdom of:

Not regretting the past nor wishing to shut the door on it.

This ties directly into the reading for tonight. January, Month One, We read Tradition One.

“Our common welfare comes first, personal recovery depends upon A.A. Unity.”

There is wisdom there. And it comes over time.

How does an organization run properly and well, if there are no bosses, no money and no real organization and nobody in control? They ask …

Take a rag tag bunch of drunks, give them a coffee pot and a church basement, and see what happens. I’ve spent thirteen years getting sober in St. Leon’s Church basement.

When I came, there had already been over fifty years of experience in that said hall. A lot of people, a lot of experience, tried, tested and proved. I walked in not knowing anyone, not knowing anything, and needing help. They welcomed me, they gave me simple jobs to do, and I sank in.

That unifying presence welcomed me, took me in and taught me everything that I needed to know, on a need to know basis. When we walk in the door, and down those twelve steps (yes, there are actually twelve steps down into the church basement) whatever is going on outside stays outside, and the purpose of the rooms become clear, if we stick around.

We know that we can’t do this alone. And we also learn, that once we darken the doors, we are no longer alone, that we don’t have to be alone any more, unless we want to hold onto our misery.

The unifying purpose of the rooms is to welcome the newcomer and share the message of recovery with the alcoholic who still suffers. Only an alcoholic or a drug addict, can help another. Because we have shared experiences. Where else can you go and listen to people share, and realize that hey i was there once, I did that, they were there once, and they did that too !!!

Each group has its ways and means. Passed down through the years from those who came before us, and we carry them forwards, tweaking them as necessary, to serve the greater good. We rely on the goodness and faith of a power greater than ourselves, God as he speaks to us in our group conscience.

I’ve never had to leave the security of the A.A. Circle for any of my needs, in more than thirteen years. Because I was taught that if I had a need and if it was necessary, that I should take it to a meeting and speak it, I did that, the rest, they say is history.

I came to the rooms knowing not much. And for many years I sat in the warm and safe nest. During that time I made a lot of meetings, and did service. Two years ago, after eleven years of nesting, the fire was lit and my quest for MORE began.

What alcoholic isn’t obsessed with wanting MORE ???

I listened to people tell me about More, They told me how to get More, how to practice attaining More, and told me that if I did these things, MORE would come.

Then miraculously, I’ve been working on MORE. And More came. I was then ready to step up and be able to share the message with the alcoholic who still suffers. You just don’t step into the fray from the beginning and have everything you need to do and share The Work off the bat …

Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got !!!

It took me more than eleven years to see that wisdom. And now the fire of More burns.

The sisters of recovery and the brethren of New York live in this solution based fire of More.

I get to share this with my guys, and they get to share it with their people.

It’s freaking amazing.

Unity, Recovery, Service … The Three Legacies.

We come, We come to, And we all come to believe. Each in our own way.

The goodness of the rooms are fortified in that, for every human being there is experience. No two people are the same. How useless we would be if we were all the same. But we are unified under one common purpose to recover from a hopeless state of body, mind and spirit.

Rooms are everywhere. We are everywhere.

Where else can you go in your life where people are genuinely interested in your welfare, without the expectation of personal gain, who only want to see you succeed and will go to any length to help you get there ?

The world is a busy, noisy, wonderful and terrible at the same time, place.

But once you step in the door, you will find calm in the middle of the storm, a place that you can go to unload for an hour and recharge your batteries for a pittance.

All the money in the world won’t get you freedom from pain and misery.

All the money I spent on drugs and alcohol, I can never get back; and I wasted a ton of money drinking and drugging myself into a stupor. Today my loonie goes a lot farther in my recovery, than it did when I was using.

We have a solution. That works.

It is what we do.

More to come, stay tuned …

Friday … Our Nightly Review … a.k.a. 10th Step

tumblr_mz3e3aHkI71sv37tvo1_500 cameronjohnCourtesy: Cameron John

Sometimes the image speaks to the message I will write, and sometimes, it is just an image.

We are sitting at (-2c / – 9 w.c.) at this hour. Not as chilly as other nights, and they tell us there might be flurries, maybe that is a stretch…

I went to bed a little late last night, and I spent some time reading before bed as usual. I did not have anything pressing that needed to be done today, but I woke up and knew that I wasn’t going back to bed again, like I usually do. I don’t watch daytime t.v. and I can only sit in front of this box for so long before I want to pull my hair out, so with nothing to do, I usually nap …

Not the case today.

I did some supermarket safari, early. I usually do it on my way home from the meeting. I’ve been waiting for several packages to come in the mail, so there were excessive trips down to check the mail throughout the day, because our mailman comes at his leisure and not on schedule.

No Joy today.

I got ready to go early, which meant I departed early, I needed to pick up a script at the pharmacy and it was on my way out. I got lucky all my trains were prompt and running for that matter. When I got to the church a friend told me the green line had been down the entire rush hour period.

Honestly, trains ONLY go down during rush hours. Totally Predictable.

I did not see anything on social media prior to leaving. I made my transit and I have hours and hours of music on my phone, and I listen to certain songs over and over – In a certain order, by single selection. I have a collection of dance hall mixes that I like, and if I had the equipment, I would seriously consider mixing my own sound files. Alas, no mixing board here.

My little phone does amazing things. It also has a mind of its own. Androids do funny things. If you upload a tune, in a specific folder, my phone will sort that music by itself, and shuffle those tunes into the select screen, in the order it wants, and not necessarily the way I want. It knows where music comes from and how to sort it. I’m not sure how it knows this, but it does.

I have a few sorted files of dance hall mixes, all single shot pieces. They aren’t on an album, but I’ve pulled them singularly, and sorted them where I want them. On certain files, my phone makes no distinction, but on others, it auto sorts music the way it wants to.

  • You get the album sort screen.
  • You get the artist sort screen.
  • You also get the “single” screen, where it lists every song alphabetically
  • Then you get a “playlist” screen – Those you create on your own

My phone creates playlists by itself. I am not sure how it does that, but it has pulled certain music that I listen to often, and sorted it into playlists. I finally decided to create a couple new playlists, one is dance hall mixes and the other is my Annie Lennox massive mix. Very cool …

Those playlists will cover an entire transit from one end to the other.

Tonight’s fare was a reading from A.B.S.I. and the Nightly Review, a.k.a the Tenth Step.

Steps are merely suggestive. At some point or other, you do them, in the order they come in, with a sponsor, is your best bet. Listening to others from other places, there is wisdom in doing certain things, and in my opinion, there are things I ask my guys to do, which fall out of order. Some old timers have told me that I am wrong in my approach, my sponsor, on the other hand says that, if it works, then keep doing it.

A nightly review, for anyone, is something we learn to do later on in the process. I am of the mind that if you start with prayer and you learn to write, from the start, it becomes second nature. Writing a list gives us (my sponsees and I) something to talk about nightly. So they write. I write as well.

The calling every day, is something that is a tall order for some. It is something that does not come easily, and for years, I did not do that either, until I was shown how that worked, by people who were doing it themselves. I adopted practices from many, into one set process that is my sponsor model.

My sponsor gave me certain things I must do every day and for that matter every week.

  • Call me every day
  • Make a meeting with me once a week
  • Work your steps
  • Help others

I do this every day and every week. I had to practice, myself, these things, before I could be able to share them with others. “Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got !”

Everybody has their comfort level as to what they can or will do to stay sober. And I think about this thought, most of our folks went to the round ups in 2013, and 2014. They heard the same messages I heard, and we all go to the same meetings every week. I can see now, two years later, where those messages got me, and how I applied what I learned and made it my own. And also where my fellows are in this same time period.

I also know, now, that people with considerable time, are comfortable, dropping anchor in a familiar meeting, doing service, and navel gazing. They don’t feel the need to spice it up, or crank up the heat in any way, that would shake their equilibrium. And I wonder why ?

There is a reason my old sponsor is not my sponsor any more. He was comfortable sitting in his chair and not going to the round ups as we all did. It was also the way he spoke to me that cranked me up in a negative way. I don’t allow people to shit on me no matter how much time they have.

Last night I heard him share. I did not get to speak to my sponsor at great length today because he was busy entertaining guests at home, so after the meeting tonight, I spoke to another friend who’s got twenty five years as well, and he is in a different place than other folks with the same time.

I explained to him my observations. He knows me personally, and he knows how I do my thing. He knows my guys and we hit the same meetings week in and week out. He does meetings across several spectrum meetings, A.A. C.A. and such in two languages. French and English.

He listened to me talk, then I listened to him talk. He explained to me how he sees things, and what observations he has himself. He went on to explain how he sees life at his twenty five years and what he does, and how he does it.

This is a program of action, that is merely suggestive.

You either take the action or you don’t. It’s very simple.

At some point I was fired up to do something MORE. I wanted MORE. Some people are comfortable with doing just enough. And doing nothing more than what they believe is what they should do.

And nothing more.

I’ve had more than a decade to figure this out. And it has been a fact finding, and practice inducing activity. In the beginning, I sat and listened, and did what I was told. I sat in meetings, did my steps, did service and got comfortable, until the ladies came and shook up my world.

That changed my entire trajectory.

Listening to New Yorkers talk, just fired me up to want to do more and to push the envelope as far as I could in The Work. When my guys came, we spoke of what we could do together, they wanted to get clean and sober, by any means. So The Work became their work as well.

I’ve talked about giving my number and expectations.

My sponsor explained it this way.

  • If someone approaches ME and asks me to help them, I offer them my plan. I ask of them the same things my sponsor asked of me. They get my number and they follow the plan. It is their decision to step up and do the work, or they don’t. They came to me.
  • If I approach someone and offer to help them, and give my number, then I cannot expect any return on my investment. They did not ask me, I offered. Again, it is their decision to either do or do not do something. I can say, call me every day, and we know how that turned out. Calling every day is a tall order for many people. I went to them.

For every human being in the program, there is a way to do it. No two people are the same, and no two people do the same thing, unless of course you follow the suggestions of your sponsor.

In New York, you do The Work, as it is given to you, the way it is given to you, by the book. They have rules for their meetings in New York. Something we have never done here, to the extent they do it there, so when they came here and told us how they did it, most people tuned out to the severity of just how hard they work at it and share that message with others.

Things are way laid back here.

I had never heard of these methods until I met folks from other places. Even when I go to Vermont and I listen to folks there talk, they don’t do it the same way either. The path I choose to walk myself and with my guys is an amalgamation of the methods they use in New York, with a tweak here and there.

How it Works says … “If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.” I have my method. My guys chose to follow them, and they are all the better for it. And I am as well. Thanks to New York and my sponsor.

It is the weekend. The weather is looking up. Everybody is sober and happy.

What more can you ask?

More to come, stay tuned

Thursday … The Story So Far

tumblr_lhm3taXmPm1qbk0jto1_500 thrashcoreCourtesy: Thrash core

It has been on the cold side. as of late. Tonight we are sitting at (-10c/-17c w.c.). Yes, it is cold and people were muttering tonight that an early spring would be nice. However, it isn’t as bad a last years winter cold.

Rewind back to Tuesday for a few moments. After my emotional melt down over the past week, I had dinner with my sponsor Tuesday before the meeting, and I shared with him everything that was going on in my head. His thirty years sober yields much wisdom from his perspective.

Blessedly, the nightmares stopped. Working ones steps actively, comes with the warning that over time, we get to review the past, or certain memories from the past, in greater detail, which usually coincides with brain overdrive.

I’ve never really sat down and talked about portions of my story, because I just haven’t. And I’ve been pondering other fanciful stories that are sitting on the front of my brain tonight.

Among other stories is this one …

I once had a job, at the Port of Miami, working for Royal Caribbean Cruise lines, during their Sovereign class release. Those were really good times. The job I had prior to this stint, was in a travel agency, where I was manager. I was a young and vibrant alcoholic. In the office we drank, openly, and shared it with clients.

Funny, almost all of those folks I worked with later got sober, including myself.

Working at a Cruise line was Top Drawer employment. Every ship that was put into service, brought with it the employee party on board with open bar, as much as you could drink so forth and so on. That was always a fiasco. Every good thing that happened to the company was shared with the employees, ten fold. It was not uncommon to get a champagne lunch frequently.

The bar I drank at sat halfway between the port and where I was living during this time. I would leave work and hit happy hour for starters. I would drink and then drive home, usually eyeballing the road. I would change my clothes and return to the bar for the night shift. I drank my weight in alcohol, and it was good to be “in” with the bartenders, and the bars use of “drink tickets.”

Every night the “drink tickets” would go out, but the colors changed every night. You bought a drink, you got a ticket. We all had “drink ticket” boxes in our cars, where we could go to get the tickets we had collected over the weeks, every night we went out to drink.

It was not pretty, I could have killed someone. This was not a joke.

I only lasted there for a couple of years. Then things got really out of hand. I was renting a room in a mansion owned by a good friend. A woman I loved and respected. When I was kicked out of my parents house again, because I was gay, she took me in. And I took advantage of her terribly.

By this time I was commuting to drink. I wasn’t happy with Miami drinking, So I would drive to Ft. Lauderdale to drink, and then drive all the way back to Miami on a full stomach. My ability to find the worst deadbeat friends and boyfriends was my specialty. I was a total failure.

I was drinking away my rent money. I was either late, or I had none to pay out. Which ended up with me coming home in the middle of the night drunk, and finding the door locks changed and her son at the door, telling me that I could not come in until I had the money to pay for rent. Which landed me back in Ft, Lauderdale, commuting from there to work, I finally made the rent, and was asked to move.

What I did not know, at that time, was that the woman I lived with, and had worked with at the travel agency for so long, was getting sober. Much to my surprise. I was the alcoholic tornado running wild through her life. If you read the Big Book, there is a prominent story about me.

Years would go by, and when I finally got sober that first time, after a few years in, I had moved from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami. One afternoon I decided to hit a meeting, so I walk in the room and who is sitting IN the Room was my lady friend. Needless to say I had some serious amends to make to her.

There are little, read it in the Big Book stories, I can tell about my life.

Some of them are funny, but the moral of the story is this … Nobody asked or said Stop.

I’m not sure I would have been ready to turn it over and stop anyways.

We are listening to Joe and Charlie on Tuesday nights. If you never heard them before, they are an experience. It is hit and miss with our folks. Many did not make it past the first night. And they did not come back. This week we heard all about the Big Book.

Writers write books all the time. Every story has its method, its storyline, and its form. The Big Book has its method. You can drill down from the book, to the chapters, to the paragraphs, and even down to the sentences. The Book is a manual about how to get sober. Each chapter is written to tell a certain story, and share with you certain truth. Each chapter leads from Chapter One through the first 164 pages of the book.

  • Each chapter speaks to certain information, which leads into the following chapter.
  • Chapter One talks about the problem.
  • Which leads into Chapter Two, There is a Solution,
  • Which leads into Chapter Three, more about alcoholism.
  • Chapter Four, We Agnostics,
  • And into Chapter Five, How it Works,
  • Chapter Six, Into Action,
  • Chapter Seven Working with Others, and so on.

Within each chapter is written stories, with words written that string together.

  • You can read the Book
  • You can read a chapter
  • You can read a paragraph
  • And, you can read a sentence.

In other places, this coming from people who traveled far and wide, Certain meetings run on the Big Book, and all its derivations. These four choices are the stuff of meetings in many places.

It has taken me years to see this wisdom. I’ve read the book, several times. I’ve been to meetings over the years where all we did was read the book. But it was only when I saw the women reading the book together with their sponsees, week in and week out, that that was something I wanted to do as well.

I don’t read the book with my sponsor, but we are actively working our steps.

I learned what I needed to do to step up my game in sobriety. And I did that.

Tonight I heard my OLD read: Former – sponsor speak at the Thursday night meeting.

I heard the message. I’ve heard it before. He did not say anything new to me. His story is unique, and he was my sponsor for a long time, until the fire was lit for me. He talked about his story, and when it came to the words … I Worked my Steps, or I am working my steps, I did not hear that.

At twenty five years sober, he was trying to Live the steps. He has three sponsors. One, his higher power, a Second service sponsor, and a Third, who lives in East Asia.

There came a point in our relationship that I knew I had to do something different, and I did that.

It is all well and good to go to meetings, find a home group and give back. Read: Do Service.

That is all well and good, and can take you along for a while. Sobriety offers us a wealth of work and a wealth of experience, if we fire up and find someone to feed that fire, I did that.

I could not sit still any more, after hearing New Yorkers tell me how they do it and WHY?

Today, I work it like New York.

It begins with prayer. And runs into the Book. And into Meetings. And then working with others.

I read the book with my guys, every week. All three of them, at different times, get to read the book with me, and I get to see the book through their eyes and through their understanding, along with mine.

The one thing that the speaker said tonight was … “That if I lived to be 150 years old, I could not repay what A.A. has given me.” With that sentiment I agree. That goes the same for myself.

My sober journey is different than all my friends. Not many people can commit to hard core working it for all it is. A friend I know, who has been to all the meetings I have, and to round ups as well, got sober for a while, over the holidays he drank. He came back and I gave him my number and said, call me every day, because his sponsor was out of the country.

People balk at Call me every day …

I told my sponsor about that the other night. And he gave me direction with what to do now.

I did that tonight. I said hello, I shook his hand, and that was it. He did not want to have a conversation with me past hello. And that’s fine.

I reach out to folks, I give my number, but usually, if you don’t use that number within 48 hours of getting it, you won’t use it at all. On Tuesday night, I put my number in a Big Book for a newcomer, my phone has yet to ring.

Ah well… what can you do ???

This afternoon I had to make the trek to the other side of the city to see my doctor. A health issue arose a few days ago, and was causing me intense pain and discomfort, I called him on Tuesday, I got to see him today, Thursday. The pain has subsided. But the problem still exists.

I thought that the removal of my piercing was the issue, and the healing process that went awry? That was not the case. Diabetes is a little monster. It seems I am having issues with my body in relation to my diabetes. That was a surprise. How often do you get to show your dick to your doctor?

That was a first for me in all the years he has been my doctor.

He told me what to do and he prescribed medicine to treat the problem.

I only get away so far, before my body revolts and does something totally out of left field.

Diabetes will do that to you.

On the Great side, I lost 9 pounds. And I lost two inches on my waist. My doctor is pleased.

I was very pleased to see him up and around and able to walk.

The last time I saw him, he could not walk without a cane, or holding on to furniture. He got old very quickly when his body turned on him. He has since had hip replacement surgery, and he says now, he is made of plastic, and titanium. My good old bionic doctor that could…

It was a good day. All’s well that end’s well.

More to come, stay tuned …

This is what Religion has done to Us.

5057 Take a look at these horrific images that depict two men thrown from the roof of a building as a crowd watches them fall to their deaths, and they purport to show the bloody Islamic State (ISIS) carrying out public executions before an audience in Iraq’s Nineveh province. And the two victims’ alleged crimes?

They are believed to be GAY.

5058This is extremism at its WORST. Ideology that dictates this kind of atrocity is not religion. Once again, we see that (1) If your religion tells you to go into a public place with a gun and kill people, you need to find a new religion. And (2) If your God tells you to toss a human being off the roof in front of spectators, that is NOT God speaking to you.

These are unequivocal. There are no two ways about it.

I repeat myself when I say that killing an innocent for any reason is a crime against humanity when it is grossly dictated by someones ideology. This is utterly disgusting and repugnant.

These people, need to be stopped.

What do we capture them and send them through War Crimes tribunals, or do we administer vigilante justice and just kill them outright. Crimes such as these warrant the biblical punishment of an Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth.

This is just how this kind of atrocity makes me feel.

God – NO GOD – demands human lives for glory or Jihad. NO GOD !

Where is God while all these kinds of atrocities are taking place? If God did exist, He should act definitively and without mercy. Let the punishment fit the crime.

Smite these men into eternity. No virgins, No redemption, and NO mercy !!!

Sunday Sundries … “Entirely Ready”

tumblr_ln5vibOhgK1qcy8x7o1_500 theworldshavocCourtesy: The Worlds Havoc

We’ve gone from minus double digits over the past few days, to a balmy (+2c) today, and at this hour we are sitting at (-2c). They are saying 5 to 10 cm of snow will fall over night, But me thinks that is pushing it, seeing it is warm outside, and rain is falling. Not sure how cold it needs to get for that rain to turn to snow.

And last week, when they told us that a significant snow event was coming and that we should be prepared, that never happened. That’s the second miss in as many weeks.

It was a good weekend. All of my peeps are home from vacations, or it was the first night (read: Friday) that we were all in the same place at the same time. However, I’ve noticed that we are missing a number of folks that I have not seen in more than a month. hmmm….

I departed early to meet folks at the church for our study hour, so I cranked out chairs and tables, and made coffee and as I was finishing up my guys arrived. Everybody is getting back into the swing of things, and we have set out plans for the coming weeks.

Today’s reading … Step 6 “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

Having been relieved of the obsession to drink, wouldn’t you want God to remove our most glaring character defects? Some say, I don’t want to let go of this one right now, and others say, I will never let this go…

I am on this step as we speak. My sponsor has given me homework to do and I sat down yesterday and started the book section of the questions. The second phase is a review of Steps 4 and 5 to see what I am still holding on to, and that is as far as I got.

So We read from the book, and the discussion began back around with me. In the reading the book mentions the seven deadly sins … and what caught my attention was this:

… Else why would we consume such great amounts of time wishing for what we have not, rather than working for it, or angrily looking for attributes we shall never have, instead of adjusting to the fact, and accepting it? And how often we work hard with no better motive than to be secure and slothful later on – only we call that “retiring.” Consider, too, our talents for procrastination, which is really sloth in five syllables. Nearly anyone could submit a good list of such defects as these, and few of us would seriously think of giving them up, at least until they cause us excessive misery.

When I got sober this time around, it was a few months in, I had De-fogged a bit. And from out of left field these thoughts came into my head, and I even listened to them, and had the audacity to speak them to people I did not even know at the time.

I’m not sure where my sense of entitlement came from, But I expressed it. I was mentally twisted way back then, and I am not sure I am all that mentally figured out now. I had lists for God to fulfill. I wanted things I was entirely not ready to receive. I “Expected.”

“Expect” is a dirty word. Just like the word “plan” is a joke.

Not that I wanted shit handed to me on a silver platter, I just wanted things. Things I later figured out that I HAD to work for. God whittled down my list of wants, to nothing. Meanwhile, He gave me everything that I needed, on a need to have basis. Just like information, early on, was on a need to know basis. Everything had its time and its season.

Nothing was easily gained, without a lesson attached to it, for greater measure. A very long time ago, on this very blog, if you know where to look, is a post on the Seven Deadly Sins. The path was, in hindsight, ordained. I would ask a question, or read from the book. We would discuss it, and then have time to think about that discussion. Finally, God would give me situations that I would get to work out those questions/answers/discussions in real time.

That is how my sobriety worked. And still works today.

When I wrote my 4th step, it was short and concise. The discussion I had on step Five was intense.

When I look back at them, It isn’t about what am I holding on to at the moment that is blocking me from moving forwards. Hence, Six and Seven.

I was warned early on that my brain would do a number on me. My sponsor has said, while working his steps in tandem with me, with his sponsor, that once we start working, the brain goes on over drive and shit happens.

Brief pause for a long distance conversation…

AND WE’RE BACK !!! (10 points if you can guess that reference)

Another door in my brain has opened up.

The beautiful lotus flower has turned into a ratty pile of shit.

Over the past decade, my aunt has collected photographs of me at various points in my life, with various people, events, places, holidays, and I have them here to look at. Some of these photos I look at and for the life of me I cannot remember them. I mean, the photos prove I was there, but I can’t seem to locate that specific memory.

I’ve always been afraid that my alcoholism and drug use in the past has caused some serious memory damage. But then that was yesterday, in the grand scheme of things, and this is today.

When I got sick I was treated by a psychiatrist. And I had to seek that help again.

Because when the hamster gets on that wheel in my brain, he runs at 90 mph. And he just keeps going and my brain goes into over drive and I don’t know how to make it stop. And for as long as I can remember, I relive certain memories continuously. I hear certain people say things, they once said to me. I relive the feeling those words elicited and the pain and fear become palpable.

I have recurrent dreams, and the same nightmares over and over.

As of late, like I said above, another door in my brain has opened. And I am not enjoying what I am reliving; Memories I haven’t thought about since they happened, shit I haven’t thought about since forever. It is like Groundhog Day.

I’ve said before that my twenties was the worst decade of my life. But as bad as it got in the end, there was one bright spot amid all the calamity and death that was going down around me. Amid the hurricane that was my life, I had periods of time in the eye of the storm.

I’ve never really spent time dissecting the past. And any good alcoholic will tell you that the mind is not some place one goes without a hardhat and certainly not alone. Recently, God, in His infinite wisdom has brought me a list of all the stupid, irresponsible, most painful, pitiful and terrible things I did in my twenties.

The longer you are sober, the harder you work your program, the time is going to come when the floodgates open and you get to seriously look at all those shitty things you did while drinking. I’ve not had this opportunity, YET ! I’ve never really thought about the things on my present radar screen.

It’s a really good thing that when I go to bed at night, I have assistance.

It is during the day, when I try to nap that becomes a nightmare. Totally unscripted, unaided attempts at sleep. I can shut the hamster down at night, but during the day, I am powerless.

I had this partial conversation with a friend during the break, and he said that there must be a reason these things are coming up at this specific time, and it is up to me to figure out why ???

If you’ve ever read the book “Experience, Strength and Hope,” that is the compendium of all the stories that appear in Editions One, Two and Three of the Big Book. Reliving my twenties is like rereading those stories.

The First edition is riddled with the lowest bottom stories, because in the thirties, men were down and dirty low bottoms. The second and third get progressively better, ever so slightly. And the fourth has a mixture of all of them, and a few new additions for good measure.

My drunk journey played out in reverse order. All the losses that usually come at the end of ones drinking happened to me within the first ten years of my rampant and flagrant drinking career.

By the way, as I’ve written this post, it is indeed snowing right now.

I have to figure out why these memories are coming up now, and thinking a bit, I was Totally stupid. Totally self centered. Totally consumed with how I was going to keep drinking at the rate I was drinking and have the funds to do so, to my mind, indefinitely.

There wasn’t anything I would not do to guarantee alcohol.

My excuse, what did I know about responsibility? I had no clue. I did not have the knowledge that would have said, “maybe you shouldn’t be doing this right now, and maybe you should not be so dishonest and flagrantly self centered!” Do you see a pattern here ?

Ah, the lies we tell ourselves. I was not responsible. I didn’t have the capability.

I know for a fact that my father and mother were burdened by my alcoholism. Even though alcoholism was rampant in my family, three generations back, they seemed to skate by with nary a word about it, nor do I ever remember losses in their lives, like they hit me. But everybody took notice when I drank, but nobody said a word against it. They just rolled with it. At their expense.

I lament, Not One Person ever said STOP until Todd did at age 26.

By then it was too late. What was done was done, There was no changing fate.

When I learned I was going to die, Todd stepped in and turned my life around.

Against my suicidal tendencies, I had to take responsibility for my life, at long last. It was either become responsible or DIE. There were no two ways about it.

The rest is history.

Why my brain has focused on this particular section of my life I don’t know. the worst of my drinking was the first half of my twenties, and ran up to age twenty five, the second phase of my drinking started there and ended at age twenty six. I was supposed to die.

God had other plans for me.

My father once said to me that “Once you speak words, you can never take them back.”

He never took his own advice, and neither did my mother.

I can add to that, once you do something unforgivable, there is no going back. Once the action is done, it is done. There are no do over’s. You can’t take an action or a word back.

Where man fails at forgiveness, God forgives. Totally, 100%.

Jeremy says that “If you give God everything, God will forgive everything.”

But as humans, we tend not to believe that God forgives all, and we hang on to shit that we could easily let go of, and let God get rid of it.

My life played out the way it did. I can’t take any of it back. Tucked into all that insanity were moments, hours and maybe a few days of beauty, some good people who had a good influence on me, and created genuine memories.

But King Alcohol had its grip on me in any case.

There is no excuse. I drank. And whomever I had to railroad to keep drinking I did it.

Not proud of that truth, but it is what it is.

I guess that’s the lesson here.

I am so glad that I never have to drink again. Because I could end up right where I started.

I think I am done here for tonight.

More to come, stay tuned …

Thursday … Loosing an Anchor

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Not So Much tonight …

At this hour, the weather is holding. They tell us that snow will fall overnight, then temps will drop into the (-20c’s ) tomorrow night. Brrrrrrrrrr.

Over the last year and a half, I have told you the ongoing story of the redevelopment of Alexis Nihon Plaza, the mall just up the street. The entire West end, this section of downtown, has been under construction for a long time. We have new sidewalks, new bus stops, a new park is going in, a brand new condo tower is in the prep stages, they are tearing down an old building to make way for a new build, and the mall is still a work in progress.

I would imagine that probably over a million dollars or two went into the mall redevelopment program. We were getting a brand new anchor store … That was Target. They spruced up the floors ( read: they re-tiled the entire mall in flashy white tile) they refurbished all the columns and carpeted them and put all brand new signage in the mall, they painted and moved stores from their original locations to where they are now,  and redesigned the foot print of the entire mall, all in prep for Target. They put in a glass elevator so people could get to all floors because there was no access for people who needed that ability in the past. That cost some bucks.

I forgot to mention the million dollar LED signage that went up outside the building itself, top of the line signage that flashes and dances according to the weather outside. That must have cost One Pretty Penny to put up. The mall needed all the flash and bang it could afford to welcome this new anchor store to the mall and do it properly.

They tore apart the mezzanine level where the pharmacy, IGA and other brand new stores are located. They took out a staircase that fronted Zeller’s when they closed. And in its place, they erected a huge monstrosity glass ceiling that extends from the ground floor to the mezzanine in quite the fashion. The ceiling looks down into Target and the Starbucks that is in the store itself, like they needed the extra draw of a Starbucks coffee shop to get people in the door to shop. It sits in that very important IMPULSE location you see in every grocery store on the express cash aisle.

The entire building lends itself to Christmas decorations that are hung from the very pinnacle of the building itself over Target, and one HUGE Christmas tree was put up in front of the store. It was quite the spectacle.

And the IGA was rebooted, rebuilt and more than doubled their footprint.

We were all excited to have a Target in our neighborhood. It came in with a bang. Canadians had high hopes that the U.S. retail chain would give us all those frills and cheap prices that they gave us, when we traveled to the U.S. to shop in the very same store.

Cross border shopping is still the “thing to do, because prices here are still too high.”

You can’t really run a store that has empty shelves. And you can’t run a chain of stores when your pricing is higher than normal, and not offer customers something for their time and purchase dollars. Yes, I shopped at Target, and I still shop there today. I have not been 100% thrilled with the goods, but it is what it is.

Today Target announced that it is closing all 133 Target stores in Canada. ALL OF THEM !!!

All that work they did to get ready for this Anchor Store to come in and change our lives was a waste of time, treasure and talent. In the end, they could not offer us, what they offer the U.S. by way of stock, pricing and customer satisfaction.

The entire ground floor was designed for the purpose of bringing people to the store, having them shop, then hang out in the mall. A new Starbuck’s, Tim Horton’s, Dagwoods, Frozen Yogurt, Joogo Juice, and a good amount of seating for people to congregate there in front of this anchor store, was built.

Yes, they built it, and the people came, they just weren’t shopping enough at Target.

There will be a very big empty space when Target closes. It looked pretty, was all shiny and it attracted lack luster numbers,

Target in Canada is a failed venture.

I was at the mall earlier today. There were liquidation signs all over the store. But I got a good deal on jeans, that I sorely needed. They had what I wanted. And I had never needed a fitting room before so I did not know where it was. I picked up a couple pair of jeans and walked through the store looking for a fitting room, it was stuck in an area that I never walked through before.

So, yeah, I bought some jeans. Size 34 waist – 30 length.

A few months ago, my doc changed up all my medications because I was getting fat. What I did not know at the time, (I was on those drugs for more than two years) that they caused considerable weight gain, so I was promised 10 to 20 % weight loss with these new drugs, Janumet and Invokana.

Today I put on jeans that were slimmer than the ones I had on. I’ve lost 2 inches on my waist and a good ten pounds off the top to boot !!! Woo Hoo !!!

We’ve been customers of Pharmaprix for years. Today when I went to pick up my medications, my check out girl told me that due to a million dollar budget cut, staff and services were going to be cut, and that our medications are going up in price. We already pay a pretty penny for pills on the Quebec insurance program. She had a petition for us to sign, everybody was signing it, so I signed.

It seems there is a theme going on city wide. Better yet, Canada wide …

The pension program cuts the province wants to make is causing strife amongst city workers, people are pissed off, store chains are closing, budget cuts are coming across the board, the STM raised its transit rates this month, which makes it more expensive to buy passes and tickets. Provincial companies are cutting staff and raising prices at the same time.

The Provincial Government introduced austerity measures that have not gone down well with the population, and the employees in the province, and the city, We are also on austerity measures and that is also problematic for citywide workers, trying to make a living, AND get a pension, that they rightly deserve for the work they do, however shitty they are paid, and are asked to go above and beyond their duties, and they get pissed off, they go to work, pissed off, then get into scrums with passengers on trains and buses, it really isn’t a pretty picture at all.

The Canadian government, under the Conservative Party is not doing ANYONE any favors.

It is a very long and complicated story. Provinces get help, transfer payments based on natural resources and their production value from the government, that is paltry. it’s just a really bad scene.

We need a new government that will work for the people instead of fucking them all over.

Out in the oil patch, the price of oil is still falling, and Canada is scrambling, trying to figure out what to do right now, thousands of workers are loosing their jobs, budgets are in free fall, the economy is dancing around the word “recession.” It just isn’t a very pretty economic picture here at home, or across the country tonight.

And far far away, people are dying at the hands of religious extremists.

We learned the other night that our very own Canadian Home Grown Isis fighter Abu Ibrahim Al-Canadi is dead ! He popped up on social media some time ago, in a slick new recruiting video, touting his Canadian upbringing and called other Canadians to join the fight against the west.This bright, educated, Canadian Young man was seduced by isis to go to Syria and fight in the war against the West. With his bright face of young years, wearing a flak bomb jacket, he went over to the dark side, and now he is a martyr for the cause of Islam. What a fucking shame…

What are becoming of our young people world wide. So much hatred. We have pissed off all the right people, after years and years of unjust war, torture allegations out of the U.S. and they way the world sees Islam, and paints everybody with ONE WIDE BRUSH STROKE.

We’ve made more enemies than friends since prior to 9 -11…

Abu Ibrahim Al-Canadi … He is dead … He was once one of us, and even if he turned over, somewhere deep down, I don’t think he forgot where he came from, since he spoke so warmly about it in his propaganda video, but what can you say about religious disillusionment ?

The problem with religious extremism is that it has nothing to do with Islam, however hard they want you to believe that all this terror and killing, all in the name of Allah, is called for in a Holy Book.

No, it is an aberration…

Europe is smack dab in the middle of a multicultural fight between East and West. Borders are porous, getting to and from the Middle East/Iraq/Syria/Yemen so forth and so on, back into Europe is easier than getting from North America, back and forth.

I also failed to mention the atrocities that are West Africa. Crimes against humanity, the killing of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, Christians and others. The kidnapping of school children to marry off to terrorists, the conscription of KIDS to kill human beings. That is a terrible atrocity.

We’ve seen in the Middle East that kids there have been conscripted for killing human beings as well. Such unimaginable horrors. And we are powerless to stop it. How do you deal with so many flahs points of terror and killing … ?

It looks like things are going from Bad to Worse over there. Shit is also going down in the U.S. unlike we have seen in a long time. Here in Canada, and Montreal, for that matter, we are safe. People are wary, when they are out and about, because like we have seen, Canada is not immune to what is going on a world away.

It is very sad that 2015 has started with such a terrible BANG…

But what can you do? We must stand our ground and fight for what is right and good.

I was in a local news shop today, and the discussion about Charlie Hebdo was going on when I walked in. It seems they will be carrying the newly printed edition, and sales start tomorrow across Canada. It is going to be a mad house for sure.

Pope Francis has said there is a limit to freedom of speech, when that speech crosses religious lines. Many folks are at odds with that statement. For myself, I don’t see the good in inciting anger across religious lines. I guess that comes from my religious education and my belief that you don’t make fast friends when you cross that invisible line of discretion, freedom and speech.

There will be more to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … Wisdom Comes Over Time

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Over the last calendar year, Sunday has been the best day of the week, as posting goes. I completed 52 weeks of Sundays which is a good run. So let’s keep up that momentum.

We are sitting at a balmy (-5c) at this hour, and snow is on tap for tonight into tomorrow. And twice, in as many days, our local tv weather presenter is warning us of an impending storm coming for the end of the week where we should expect “SIGNIFICANT” snow fall. Remember the last time they spent a week warning us of impending doom, it never really materialized.

The end of last week saw the reunification with my guys who have been away for the holidays. We all gathered at the Friday Night Meeting, where we, once again, spoke about God, as we understood him, which parlayed into thinking about Step Three.

You can’t force the God concept on people, one must allow them their process, and coming to the same meetings over and over, people have moved in one direction or another, which is a good thing. The post holiday, “getting back into the swing of things” is taking place.

I had an appointment with another of my guys tonight, so I departed uber early to meet him at the church. After last weeks meager showing we sat a good crowd tonight. We did a little reading of the Book, and we have commenced with “THE WORK” for another human being. Chapter five in the Big Book begins with How it Works, which runs into Step Three. And before we hit step three, we have to get through one and two.

The reading tonight, from the twelve and twelve, was Step Five. In a room full of people, there were many, “haven’t gotten there yet, and a few, doing my step four now, and many who haven’t touched pen to paper in some time, which leads to the following … “my life is unmanageable and I am miserable, I haven’t been working my steps, and I really should, at some point…”

Since the Round Up in 2013, when the fire was lit for me I’ve been on the journey of a deeper sobriety, starting with the book, a little prayer, and a new sponsor. Over the last calendar year, I attended two men’s retreats, which book ended my steps four and five, respectively. After months of working on myself, and working with my guys, It came around to me. I’m currently working on my Step Six.

This past Summer, I wrote my fourth step and at the beginning of the Fall, I sat with my sponsor and did my fifth step. They say, or I heard it said, and I think it came from Oprah, that

“It takes a long time to understand and see the wisdom of ones life …”

Or something to that effect.

It is suggested, that once you’ve been in for a while, you start your steps. There is wisdom in that thought, but experience has shown us that people need their process, and when they are ready, they are ready, everyone’s process is different. With that said, I’ve done my steps several times since I got sober this time around.

But it wasn’t until this round, that I had sufficient perspective on my story, how it unfolded and where I was then, and where I am now. What ever made it to paper then, was what it was, and we dispensed with it accordingly. But since I am really pounding The Work, I’ve allowed the lotus flower to blossom a bit bigger.

“Instead of peeling a stinky onion, sobriety is like a lotus flower, a beautiful blossom.” Lorna Kelly said that when she spoke here a couple of years ago.

The process that I undertook with my sponsors guidance, was impressive. It took a while to complete it, but when it was finished and we talked about it, I listened to my sponsor tell me some of his stories and in the end, I knew that everything was forgiven.

Jeremy speaks about forgiveness: We might have something on our hearts and we turn to God to give it away, and God, forgives everything, right then and there. Then we have a choice, we can allow the ever cleansing forgiveness to wash us clean, or sometimes we think in shades of forgiveness, that everything is not totally made clean. And we tend to hang on to stuff we really should let go, forever.

In The Book it tells us that God is or He isn’t. He is Everything or He is Nothing !

If God is everything, than He knows all, loves all and forgives ALL.

End of story …

And that is the wisdom that I have learned in my step work this time. I’ve said before that life and sobriety are cyclical. Every time we look at the past, we see it in a different light, depending where we are in our process. I haven’t committed any grievous acts, and the past is the past. I haven’t racked up many terrible resentments, fears, or guilts either, but I had a few. (that were old to begin with)

“Taking this book down from our shelf we turn to the page that which contains the twelve steps. Carefully reading the first five proposals we ask if we have omitted anything, for we are building an arch through which we shall walk a free man at last.” Is our work solid so far? Are the stones properly in place? have we skimped on the cement put into the foundation? Have we tried to make mortar without sand?”

That’s what we all want, that New Freedom.

I may not see it every day. Or feel in in my heart, all the time. I am a little bit freer that I had been in years past. And this specific insight, I have realized, is important to my progress, because I get to apply this insight with my fellows.

The evolution began when I turned forty. Things began to make sense to me. I can’t explain it unless to say that when we turn forty, we have forty years of experience behind us, to be able to look at our pasts and say, “yeah, I’ve been there and this is what I know, and truly understand and be able to relate that knowing to ourselves and to others.”

The next phase of life, in my estimation, begins at forty.

In the Gay scheme of things, forty is over the hill. To any twink or young gay out there, forty is past the prime and becomes unimportant or useless. We are too old to relate to the youngsters, and that is true, but for those of us who survived into our forties, having lived through the crisis of AIDS, we are certainly important to the history of us all. Our lives matter, however hard, some seem to dismiss us from the greater life conversation. Because we are forty or older.

Youth tends to ignore us, opting for young and hip.

This has become a many layered life. I’ve seen progress over many areas of my life. And it all comes down to being sober, and doing the work, talking to my sponsor and working with my guys.

I could not ask for more, I have everything that I need today.

What else is there to say?

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …

Are You Who You Want to Be ???

loveThe World is battling the greatest fight of its spiritual life. And we as its people must stand and declare ourselves ready and willing to battle the darkness and proclaim the Light as loud and as Hard as we can. We cannot allow the powers of darkness to win this battle, no matter where this battle is taking place. We must stand up for Justice, Freedom and for Life.

There is no middle path. This IS the path.

Many words have been written about recent events taking place a world away from us. Many of my contemporaries have written words extolling the virtue of a free press and the ability to express ourselves as we wish, in our respective countries where the rule of law is Democratic. Yet, no one I know and have read, approaches this subject matter as I have done so.

**** **** ****

It was another cold day, snow fell, but it was much warmer today in relation to how cold it has been earlier in the week. I could not reach my friend who usually travels with me on Thursday night, his phone was busy all day, he did not respond to email, and he is elderly, so I worried.

I half hoped that he was just busy and would meet me at our designated spot to catch the bus, but that did not happen. I got to the park side stop and the bus followed soon after. I arrived at the church and spoke to another friend who attempted to reach our friend by cell at the meeting.

We came to figure out that the power has been out at his building, which is only 1 block away from us, all day long and was only restored around 7:30 this evening. He was trapped in his building. They had no water and no generator to operate their elevators, so the entire building was held hostage all day long into the night.

I knew several days ago who our speaker was going to be this evening. When I got there, the chair asked me to thank the speaker. Little did I know what was going to be said.

Every story is different. We are all different. But there may be shared events in our lives that cross the identification line. I heard several threads that I identified with.

There is something to be said for people who find themselves trapped in a body that is not theirs, and realizing this problem, find a solution, then grow into the people they are meant to be. I speak here for the courage and trials of someone who is transgendered.

I’ve known our speaker for as long as I’ve been sober. We’ve crossed paths over the past decade or more but I’ve never heard her full story until tonight.

She mentioned things that I really did not think about before, but were parts of my own story.

My father fought in a war, loved another man, lost that man in war, and came home and created a life and named that child after the man he lost in the war. In hindsight, I could never fill the shoes of the man I was named after. I was living a life stuck between great love and great hatred.

Our speaker was born into a family that lost a child, and she was the replacement, but she could never fill the shoes that had been left empty by death.

My extended family loved me hard and fought for my survival for years. Where all my father wanted to do was destroy me and kill me, and repeatedly told me that I was a mistake and should never have been born.

She spoke about grievous death.

Early in my life, I suffered grievous deaths, when I lost my father’s parents to strokes, that in the end took their lives later on in my life. But at the time, as a teenager, I worshiped the ground they walked on, the loss was acute. I had lost my greatest protectors. And I faced a much worse threat of imminent death, had my father succeeded in his desire to see me finished.

Those two events took a serious toll on my father and the family by extension. Loosing the people who loved me in opt for parents who did not love me as they should have, left me at a great disadvantage.

I knew early on that I was different, that something was off. I could not name it, but my survival and listening to my folks talk amongst themselves and friends, told me exactly what my problem was and what I had to do to escape.

Alcohol was the vehicle I used to get me where I thought I was supposed to go. And for a decade or more, I never thought about the love I had lost and just how much that loss affected me in my soul. It was like I had entered a time of suspended animation, what was going on inside of me was put to sleep by the repeated use of alcohol.

When the other shoe dropped and I lost the only other human being that cared for me more than the mother who bore me, and was denied the right to attend her funeral because of my homosexuality and my sickness from AIDS, I was devastated. That was a terrible blow when I was newly sober the first time. My parents believed I was insignificant and that I did not matter.

That theme was echoed by our woman tonight.

I would experience several more grievous deaths, and insist that I had to drink to escape the visual and emotional damage those deaths had caused me. How could I live with the vision of a dead boy on an autopsy table, half there and half not, for the rest of my life?

it would take the threat of death to stop my suicide by alcohol.

I had forgotten what it meant to be loved. I had forgotten what it meant to be comfortable in my own skin, because for as long as I could remember, I was never comfortable in my own skin, because growing up, I was a mistake and that I did not matter. I guess the alcohol soothed that ache.

But I never attributed my alcoholism to those factors. I just drank.

Because that what I was told to do to become who I wanted to be.

I spent a little more than a decade, drinking and searching for someplace to BE.

I did not find it because like they say, where ever you go, there you are.

You can’t escape yourself, you carry your baggage with you where ever you go.

I could not escape myself no matter how hard I pounded the alcohol.

This self realization our speaker spoke about in her life, happened to me at age twenty six. Someone loved me in my rawness. Saw that I needed to be loved and cared for, and that was the cathartic experience I needed to begin to build the life I wanted. I had two good years at self realization.

I lost the calm, loving hand that guided my life and was left to pick up the pieces, which did not go so well, and I returned to king alcohol.

The turning point came when I put down the drink the second time. I was broken and delusional, like I have shared many times before. I had a choice to make and I made it.

The changes I began in early sobriety the first time, were completed the second time I got sober.

I set the stage for where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do, and why…

My father believed that extended family was useless, that they must be eradicated from out nuclear family lives because they did not fit in with his worldview of complete domination and control. He succeeded in alienating every living person who cared about me in any way.

In the end, when I moved to Montreal, it was an entirely spiritual decision.

My Grandmother, the woman I adored more than life itself, my mother, who had lived here most of her life, until she married my father lived here in Montreal. And later as I learned from my mother in one of our final conversations, I learned of another human being connected to my past.

I came here to connect to the spiritual root of my family. I came here to connect to the spirit of those women whom I adored and were blessed to have in my life, for the short period of time I had them.

That decision was a direct stab to my father’s heart of hearts. I knew that.

I had executed three knife hits to his heart, those hits were unforgivable in his eyes.

I really did not care. How can I respect a man who would never respect me?

The time was ripe for me to grow into the man I was meant to be. And that is when my life intersected with our speaker tonight. I met her in familiar places. We spoke together and we shared together.

We are spiritual beings having a human existence she said. And on our journeys, we are gifted by God to share a bit of the journey together. As we find ourselves and grow into the men and women we are meant to be.

I’ve come through the crucible of hatred and bigotry and homophobia. I’ve come through the crucible of AIDS, and I survived and I live today to tell that tale. My friend who spoke tonight lived through her own crucible being born into a body that was not hers, and she undertook the steps to rectify that problem. And today she is a shining light of love, perseverance and hope.

I did not realize until tonight, just how much the loss of certain people in my life so early in my life had truly cost me. But I did learn about unconditional love. I learned about family, what family really meant, because my family did not live that way in reality.

The kernel of love, faith and family was planted in my garden well before I needed it.

It took me until I arrived in my mid thirties to realize where those kernels were in my soul and I had found the place to plant them, here in Montreal. Once I was settled here, the kernels were planted by God, and I lived one day at a time, and one by one, those kernels sprouted into the life I live today.

I am reminded of just how much I was loved by those who I deemed most important.

I am reminded of just how great a loss it was when they departed my life.

And I chose, by coming here, to honor those women who gave me love and life.

When I crossed the northern Border, there was no turning back.

To be who I wanted to be cost me a nuclear family.

Any L.G.B.T.Q. person will attest to this, that at some point in our lives we are faced with a choice, to live inside a closet or inside a body that is not ours, always looking for who we are meant to be while battling those around us who demand we remain in the boxes they put us in for their own sakes and not for ours, or we break free and we create the family we want with the people who mean the most to us.

Too many teens have died because of this lack of care and love. We MUST break that cycle of abuse and death, if there is to be a future for our young L.G.B.T.Q. people.

I did what I had to do. I do not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it, because even today, I see that life, as it was lived, in a different light, once again.

Sobriety, like life, is cyclical.

Every time we get to review the past, we find further insight to it.

I find it amazing that my friends constantly give me food for thought on any given night.

All it takes is a little time, and a bunch of drunks sitting in a church basement to realize life changing truth. The truth we all share, as we become the men and women we are meant to be,

One Day At a Time.

Freedom, Expression, Discretion

tumblr_m187ytnKBN1r3fvxmo1_500 thedarkblueCourtesy: The Dark Blue

Freedom is a notion that was put forwards when nations began. People moving from one locale to another to find Freedom. Because where they were, was not what people wanted. So they moved to new worlds, new continents, they sometimes took over places that were already full of people, and we all know how that story turned out.

Here in Canada, as in most Democratic countries, freedom is a privilege. I was born in a nation that prided itself on freedom. I was raised and taught about how my father fought for the freedom that we, his family, were privileged to live. But that freedom came with conditions.

Living under my father’s roof, I had to follow prescribed notions, beliefs and family gospel. This freedom, in the end, turned me inside out and I struck out to find my own kind of freedom.

I really did not find it. Because I was sunk in the bottom of a bottle.

Moving on in life, I was saddled by sickness and impending death. And I decided to make some changes that would, in the end, bring about “freedom” as I understood it, at the time.

Those changes brought me here to Canada. Montreal became my oyster. I had an opportunity to learn about a new country, a new city, new values, new codes and mores, I was, for all intents and purposes, free of the past, which I chose to shut the book on.

We come here, as tourists, as immigrants. To get in, you have to follow the rules. I followed the rules. And I earned my place at the Canadian table. I was struck by just how passionate people were to certain ideas and beliefs. I cultivated my life in living here, going to meetings, attending University, and living along side other people, who seemed to want the same freedoms I wanted.

The two topics you never talk about over Thanksgiving dinner are Religion and Politics.

You learn, through books, lectures and world events, where we all came from. The media, daily, pummels us with all kinds of information, we must choose what we take in and what we leave behind.

What’s good for one people may not be good for other people.

What’s good for one religion, may not be good for another religion.

What’s good for one country may not be good for another country.

We all have our rules, dogmas, taboos, mores, cultures and beliefs, practices so forth and so on.

Freedom to one to do, say, write or express ones self, may not be agreeable to another.

Like in Canada, we have a law that states, Hate Speech is not something, we as Canadians, entertain. There are world events that are non-negotiable. They happened, we can prove it, and to speak against such world events is taboo.

I’ve learned over the years, that there are topics that I won’t touch, with a ten foot pole. They are usually topics, that I know little about, educational wise, but I know about them, a bit. And I know just enough to know that I won’t write about them or discuss them in my community.

I paid a pretty penny for my University Education. My education has caused me grief over the years with certain religious groups, who assailed me daily with ridicule and apocalyptic threats to my person and my way of life. But I was steadfast, because I learned more about my field, and had enough education under my belt to stand my ground.

I found that certain people think they know things about a certain topic, and they believe they have the definitive last word, even though they never read anything farther than their bibles. And then they came here to condemn me and preach gospel, that I was well versed on and studied for over a decade. They eventually stopped bothering me, and went away.

THANK GOD !

I am versed on major world religions, to a point. I’ve studied them. And my area of concentration is Western Religions, Christianity, Judaism, Eastern Traditions to a point, and a bit on Islam. The only unit of study I failed in University was Islam. I did not get past the final paper. I had to attend remediation for weeks after that fiasco.

But during each unit of study I participated in each religious practice.

I went to Shul during my Judaism section. I attended Friday Prayers during my Islam studies. I was going to church regularly on Sunday’s,  so forth and so on. I did not just read a book or two and listen to lectures. I actually participated in religious practice.

The world sees religion through various lenses. For every human being on the earth, there is a version of their respective religious tradition.

We have our Holy Books. We have our traditions, our beliefs and our ways.

Living where I live, the leaders of our city, and for that matter our country, respect all religions and traditions.

TO A POINT.

If your religion tells you to go to a public place with an automatic weapon and kill people,
You need to find a new religion.

I cannot talk about the Middle East, but to a point. I don’t live there, I know basic history. Certain sections of the world have been embroiled in turmoil for centuries. And It would not be very wise for me to even think about entertaining discussion about those topics.

We have seen how certain countries in the world view certain religious topics. And how they take the notion of freedom, maybe, well maybe more, a bit too far.

We celebrate the freedom to speak, and the freedom of the press, and the freedom to think whatever we want to think, believe and to a point act on.

The world knows, and has known for centuries how certain religious people read, believe in and respect their Holy Books. The world is well versed in taboo, respect of tradition, and how that all boils down.

Then there are those who’s only goal is to push their holy books down our throats and kill us because of them. Not everybody around the world respects the other very well, or not at all. Somebody please show me the hadith that says that killing is a Godly action?

In the Hebrew Bible it is written that you shall make no graven images of G-d.

Christians across the world know what God looks like, what Jesus looks like, and the Cross of Christ Crucified is a tangible sign of our belief. Some wear the cross on their sleeves like martyrs.

Every Religion has their laws, proscriptions and taboos.

  • I am 100% against the killing of innocents, ANY innocents
  • I do not subscribe to the thought that I am an infidel
  • There is no religion that states that killing is a Godly action
  • To believe that the Prophet, peace be upon His Holy name, asks Muslims to kill, is a crime against humanity
  • If your religion asks you to go to a public place with automatic weapons and kill people, you need to find a new religion

I don’t understand why countries allow freedoms to cross that invisible line of decorum and discretion. I don’t understand why people write words or paint pictures or speak words, that they well know, will incite anger. Incite REAL ANGER.

Freedom is not really true, because we believe certain things, and we do or do not do certain things, because they are either wrong or incendiary. In media there are censors, on tv there are censors, and even in print media there are censors. But as we have seen, people continue to break social norms and crank out incendiary media which goes out even faster today thanks to social media.

I agree that we must be free to be able to express ourselves as we please, within the confines of proper speech and discretion.

Discretion is the better part of Valor, they say …

The world is sunk in a war that will not end if we all agree and we stop fighting and we all get along.

We all don’t agree. We all won’t stop fighting. And We all won’t get along.

Militant fighters are hell bent on creating havoc, to kill the infidel and to eradicate populations of people off the face of the earth all in the name of The Prophet, peace be upon his holy name.

Religious factions are split down irrevocable lines.

What does one do, when there are entire warring factions of fighters out there, who’s only goal in life is to Kill Us, and attain martyrdom and inherit seventy two virgins when they die? The battle over who lives and who dies is a terrible problem. And we are no nearer a solution today than we were decades ago.

Innocent people have died around the world because of this taint on religion. Hundreds of thousands of people over generations have been wiped off the face of the earth because of hatred and jihad.

There is no salvation in the killing of innocents.

But what do you say about those people who knowingly cross those invisible lines of freedom, expression and discretion? They knew what they were doing was incendiary, and they pushed the buttons anyway. Were they just expressing their freedom or were they knowingly fanning the fires of hatred and jihad, and today twelve people are dead because of such actions?

I 100% do not agree with crossing incendiary lines. If you want peace with those who want to kill you, for God’s sake, stop the presses, and curb your speech. Stop pushing religious buttons, just because you think you can, and get away with it, without repercussions.

God does not condone killing in any fashion for any reason.

Only God should be able to take a life.

But I will state again, if you kill an innocent. a child, a human being, for the sake of your God, we will hunt you down, and we will kill you. I have said this once before, the day militants killed innocent children in Pakistan, and I will say it again.

This Holy War will not end with the eradication of the infidel from the earth. You will never achieve nirvana or salvation in this war of Gods and beliefs. There is no salvation in killing innocents.

As long as the world has to live with the constant fear of someone walking into an office, or a school, or a sky scraper, or a Parliament building with the intent to kill us, we will defend ourselves.

If you kill a child or an innocent, then I state my belief that the bible says an Eye for an Eye and and Tooth for a Tooth. Killing innocents is a crime against humanity.

We know what the extermination of human beings looks like. And we are seeing it again in modern times.

This must stop.

But how ???

Je Suis Charlie

o-JE-SUIS-CHARLIE-facebook - quebec huffpost ca

Courtesy: Quebec Huffington Post . Ca

As a writer, I must stand in solidarity with those who died for what they did for a living.

And to offer my prayers and thoughts for all those who have died today.

Eternal Rest grant them and may Perpetual Light shine upon them.

Tuesday … Much Better than Monday !

tumblr_ln3takPnYT1qemrxpo1_500 dyingwontkillyou

Courtesy: Dying Won’t Kill You

Today it was much warmer than it was yesterday (it is still cold) and last night. As I said over the weekend, things would get worse, before they got better. With the wind chill last night, temps dropped to Minus (-26c) over night. It was windy, and brutal. The shelter buses were running all over town gathering the homeless to take them to sites that had beds for them.

And I actually heard one of them say, on the news last night, that “some homeless folks won’t take shelters up on a warm bed and hot food and coffee, because of pride, and obstinacy.” Sadly, they would rather sleep in a snow drift, or in a cardboard box, or under a bridge instead.

The metro platforms across the city are choice sleeping sites because they are warm, BUT they aren’t open all night, and will eventually have to be vacated, so they end up outside in any case.

No matter how hard we try to work with those who have nothing, some choose having nothing rather than accept help. Kinda makes you throw up your hands …

All the snow that fell in the previous week, has turned to ice. They have not plowed several streets near home or in NDG tonight. So all those snow drifts that exist, are now ice castles. it was a dangerous trek tonight, with sidewalks and streets covered in ice, and then snow fell this evening to top it all off … This cold snap continues through the week, and we will see minus twenties again.

After my Sunday event of trying to get from home, to the church and back home with dry feet failed, I had to do something. My favorite pair of boots failed on me again. I had a hair appointment Monday afternoon. Afterwards I went to “The Tire” to check out pro style rubber boots. I must say that they aren’t cheap. Fifty dollars later I had a pair of my own.

I had a conversation with a friend last night and told him about my trek and purchase, and I learned something from him … “Never let your feet get wet and cold” because that will kill you fast !

I’d never heard that before. But I never had a problem with wet socks and feet up until now. I always managed to get around slush puddles well. It was just terribly bad on Sunday. They had cleaned up that mess overnight, don’t know how they did it, but the puddles were all gone today.

I made the trek out this evening. When I got to the other end, it was slip and slide all the way down the hill to the church. People were lined up like penguins following each other step for step, managing the slick ice covered sidewalks.

We began a 35 week survey of the Big Book, with Joe and Charlie. Joe and Charlie are two sober members that host Big Book Weekends. I don’t know if they are still alive today, but we have the tapes, nonetheless. Once you get past the southern accents and the drawl speaking, and some don’t, they go over the book section by section. But they don’t just go over the book, they tell stories around the section of the book they are on.

Reading a book on any given subject is good. Going to university to learn about a topic or subject is good. You have a book to read, lectures to hear, and papers to write in the end. But I found over ten years of study, reading books that lie “around” my subject was also a good decision.

I have all kinds of books in my library that touch on many areas of let’s say religion, or theology, or spirituality … and on and on. Then I have books that I’ve collected that I have read to broaden my reading into other, familiar areas. I call that “Side Literature.”

The Big Book, is a stand alone read. It tells us about the problem, what doctors and others say about the problem, as it pertains to them, then it tells us the method on how to get sober, and offers a solution to our three fold problem, that being bodily, mentally and spiritually.

You can get sober if you read the book, hopefully with another set of eyes, to help you along. I’ve been reading the book for more than thirteen years, and to this day, every time I read from it, something new comes to light, even if the words are still that same.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve read all the historical books: A.A. Comes of Age, Dr. Bob and the Good old timers, Language of the heart (Grapevine articles), and Pass it On.

Aside from the main story told in the Big Book, the “side literature” speak about all those involved in the very first years, decades into today. It is good reading. The broader view of the main players in the fellowship give insight to how it all happened.

Now I listened to the first section of the tape tonight, and I heard the guys talk, and I knew what they were talking about and the who, what, where and why, because I added the side literature. This is all added knowledge for the guys I work with.

For a long time, I skimmed the surface. And that was sufficient to a point. And I thought tonight, that yes, I read the books, worked my steps, and did all that was told to me. And that was all well and good, again, for a while …

But I witnessed people doing something different, and I wanted to do it too. And I stepped up and joined the party going on around me. I went to round ups and listened to new people tell me how they did it, and what happened because of that work, again, I wanted that too. So I stepped up my game, and I did what they told me to do, and that made all the difference in my life.

There is a wealth of information to be had, if you know where to find it. All those books you see on the literature table at any given meeting, are meant to be read, not just meeting decoration on a table nobody really pays attention to. Yet we put it out at every meeting.

Pamphlets and literature are what keeps up going in between meetings.

This is merely a suggestion … Read the Books.

A new study method was introduced tonight. Not everyone was pleased with that choice. Hopefully they will come back for more, because this is a long haul project.

A good night was had by all. More to come, stay tuned …

It was a good night. More to come, stay tuned …

The Pride of Canada … Juniors Win GOLD against Russia

canada-10_635x250_1420519026.gifAfter a drought of years, Canada’s Men’s Junior Hockey team rose to the occasion.

The Final Game Canada versus Russia, was a hard fought battle and when it came to an end

Canada won !!!

Our Young men can be proud of their achievement tonight. We are all so proud of you.

You did the Country Proud. Well Done.

Forgiveness Changes Lives.

Do you believe in Love Lifted from Jeremy – Don’t Eat Trash – Originally posted on Sept. 15, 2011

Since we are in Steps across many meeting, I thought this reflection was appropriate.

I treat Gods forgiveness like that stanky dish cloth that doesn’t merely spread the dirt around, it adds to the dirt. Or some kind of dish washer that makes us feel nice for a couple of minutes – the boiling hot sterile water. But then when we get taken out of the washer later, there is still the crusty pasta baked on the side.

Gods forgiveness is complete.

It is deep and wide, and like steel wool it scrubs back to the original intention.

Watching myself and close friends through life, it saddens me to find that we struggle with the same sins for years and years because we don’t let His forgiveness liberate our souls. Often is the time when I have been asked if there’s anything I need to confess and I always go back to the same confessions only later to realize God has forgiven me of that. Also watching how that subtle condemnation sometimes goes full circle, and is used by the enemy to take me out.

The subtle whispers, the mistrust. Of not only ourselves but of other people. It all becomes an environment of disunity, suspicion and un-forgiveness.

If our view of Gods forgiveness is that it’s not complete. That it’s only partial and needs repetition. – what kind of model does that set up for us?

When I am wronged by a brother and I only forgive him partially, I leave open a huge door for resentment to walk through, resentment when watered into bitterness can end up in destroying relationships. Revenge becomes a normal response, we second guess everyone’s motives and end up dividing everything, because we haven’t forgiven completely.

Take the bleach of forgiveness and clean everything with it. I have wronged God most, if not every day of my life. I have rebelled and walked completely away from him for weeks and years. I have besmirched his name by living like a butt-head whilst hoisting his name on a banner.

He has forgiven me. He has wiped my slate clean. He has bleached my soul – I am rescued and forgiven. Gods example of forgiveness frees me to forgive similarly. If I forgave everyone – freeing my heart and mind and if everyone forgave me and if we held short accounts with each other…..

We would be unoffendable. We would all understand that we are all fallible, we are all imperfect at present, and we need each others help to stay on top of everything.

How communities would change and improve.

Now a little difference between bleach and forgiveness. Bleach is powerful and shouldn’t be drunk. Bleach smells and makes its presence known. But a lot of the time God’s forgiveness is subtle, loving, gentle – not looking for attention. Outside of Christs death, that was more gruesome then theatrical – Gods forgiveness of us is genuine and quiet.

So should our forgiveness. We shouldn’t trumpet it around. We shouldn’t make banners.

In all of my room-mate relationships, I’ve had to ask forgiveness a few times and all of my room mates have been very quick to forgive. The ways they gently and no-questions-asked forgiven me, means I’m even quicker to say sorry the next time, I’m quicker to run to get that bleach on me. If our view of God is that he is doom and gloom, incomplete at cleaning and overtly condemning, why would we remotely be near him?

Can we forgive each other like God does?
Can we run after perfection and purity, whilst having the ability to run to God quickly for forgiveness when we need to?

Is your picture of Gods forgiveness one of bleach or the dish cloth that does nothing?

Sunday Sundries … City Under Seige …

tumblr_m6mdjyafaO1qcv34vo1_500 splitminded

Courtesy: Split Minded

It is Very Scary out tonight. People are invoking the memory of the Great Quebec Ice Storm. And tonight, it is looking very likely that conditions are going to go from bad to worse over the next forty eight hours.

We are sitting at (1c) at this hour. But let’s go back a couple of days.

Friday night it was cold, a little too cold. But we all traveled to the meeting. It was a mega packed house. Everybody is back from coming and going. Almost all of our youth stayed sober over the holidays, save for a couple.

The lesson here: Family is a good thing, in small doses, when we are in early sobriety. Not having an out or a meeting to get to is fuel for the fire. Spending too much time with your family can really fuck up ones sobriety, as was proven by some of our folks.

The government website, and tv people and everyone else has been waving the “WARNING” flag for the last week, warning us that a storm was coming. We expected snow to fall all day Saturday and we would then have a ton of snow on the ground.

Snowfall did not start until around 6 p.m. Saturday evening, and it snowed into the night, with just enough snow to create havoc on streets and sidewalks. I had shopped like a madman so I wouldn’t have to go out unless it was an emergency, because they warned us a BIG storm was coming.

Well, it never came.

Saturday night came, it was snowy and very cold.

Early in the evening we got a call from my in laws, hubby’s grandmother, his father’s Mother, had died early in the evening. She had Alzheimer’s for many years. In reality, she left the building ten years ago, when she lost her ability to remember us. She was in an assisted lock down care facility, because she was a wanderer. Several times in years prior, she found ways out of the home in the dead of winter on several occasions, and it was good thing that she didn’t get killed or freeze to death wandering around Ottawa in her nighty.

She ended up in palliative care last week, and in the end, they doped her up to make her comfortable. Once you introduce sedatives, morphine or dilauded to the mix, death is not far away. Nana gave up her body after years of being absent to her body. A sad end in any case.

So that happened early Saturday night.

Somebody was on a plow late Saturday night a few blocks from us East, and they hit a gas main, and it exploded. Which plunged our section of the city into darkness. The power went out just after 11 p.m. as the news was starting.

When the power goes out, we loose heat, water and electricity, in one swoop ! We were on the Western edge of the blackout. And thanks to text messages we figured out how far to the East the blackout extended.

My neighbors on our floor began to panic. Really, it was the first time I have seen my neighbors all at the same time. Nobody knew what to do because the lights went out. Like the super was going to be able to turn the lights back on just for the asking … um, NO !

We have an emergency generator that operates the elevators in case this situation occurred.

Someone was stuck in the elevator that is not served by the generator. We have two elevators. One gets juice the other does not. We got the car to ride down to the ground floor and those folks got out. And like good frantic people, some had to go out to see what happened.

I was like – it’s almost midnight, It’s freakishly cold out, and you want to go outside and find the damage? WTF ??? Why not stay inside where it is relatively warm and safe ?

I eventually went downstairs to talk to people on the ground floor to see what they knew, and I found a bunch of folks who lived farther east of us, from their dark buildings, sitting in the darkness in our building, hoping to find electricity and when they got here, we were dark too. So they sat in the dark for hours until the power came back on around 1:15 a.m. in the morning.

We decided that there was nothing to do but to sit in the dark and stare at a single candle burning. Just after midnight we went to bed, the heat had been off for a while, and it was starting to get chilly, so I piled extra blankets on the bed and we went to sleep. Only to be woken by the sound of appliances coming back on, the computer, and finally water being pumped up to our floor and to the ones above.

Massive amounts of people all over the city and far and wide went dark since last night, and crews are working double time to get them all reconnected.

I had an appointment with one of my guys early so I was up and ready to go before I needed to go. It had warmed up enough that the snow that fell, melted. Which in turn created standing puddles of water at every intersection. Water, Water Everywhere …

The house of slush and puddles …

I really need a pair of rubber boots. Because even with my winter boots, my socks got wet.

Imagine folks stranded on street corners not knowing how to ford the lakes of water without getting their feet wet, and trying to get around mounds of snow that had been plowed creating these lakes all over the place. The trek out was tedious.

I got a couple of emails from folks who were not going out. So I opened, chaired, collected the kitty and closed the church. My peeps helped out in between.

Step Four was on the table. Lots of good stuff.

I was afraid nobody would show up, because the weather was frightful. The ice and snow that had collected on the roof of the church fell in great bangs to the ground while we were inside. I could not shovel the walkway, because the snow had turned to ice. Everything was covered in ice. I could only shovel the stoop in front of the doors, so people could get inside.

A handful of hearty weather goers showed up. The hardened “In sleet, rain, snow or ice, nothing will keep us from a meeting” crowd.

Temps warmed up, snow is melting, there is ice covering cars, sidewalks, streets, etc …

We will drop to Minus (-10c) by tomorrow, and (-20c) on Tuesday. Anything that is not iced over right now, will be iced over very soon. Then things could get really dicey.

Getting home was a challenge. It took a bit longer than I had expected because of lakes, puddles, ice and snow. Freakish weather. A lot freakier than it was last winter.

It has been a freakish, sad, and tedious weekend to say the least.

More to come, stay tuned …

January 1 – Day One of 365. The Blank Book is Open…

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Courtesy: Cris Art 2014

With the New Year upon us, the book of life is open to page one. What will you write on this first day of the new year? How will you begin this chapter of your life story?

Snow has been falling since last night, not too much to be a problem, but just enough to blanket the city and/or everything that will stand still is covered in snow.

After the ball fell, we washed the flutes and crated them away for another year, hubby got into bed and I decided to crate the tree and the decorations. The tree box is over a decade old, and is falling apart, it seems every year we box the tree, the smaller the box gets, that it came in. I can never get the branches to shrink, no matter how good I compact them, to get them into the box so they will fit, hence, the tree box is wrapped in layers of tape to keep it closed.

The closet we keep the decorations in, can only fit the boxes we have, which is why we don’t buy new decorations every year, because there is just no more space to store them.

Eventually I got to bed. And then I spent the day in bed because hubby had the day off.

It was a bit blustery and chilly out and like I said, it was snowing. The city has put back our local bus stops on the park downstairs, so we don’t have to walk three blocks to get the bus, which was good, had it not been so bitter out. With the construction going on, they took away the enclosed bus shelters so one has to stand in the open while waiting for a bus.

We had a full house at the meeting tonight. Where else would one be, on the first day of the new year, but at a meeting with friends. I seem to remember that on January 1st, 2014, we also hit a meeting on that night.

I listened to the message, and it got me in the end.

One night, in the first days of our speakers journey, she arrived at a meeting and the hall was empty of people, and there were several couches in the hall. And our speaker thought, “Well, I am a sick a suffering little girl, I might as well lay down and take a nap!” Our speaker was only 16 years old.

A woman walked up to her and said, “get up, you can’t sleep there. What if someone comes in the hall and sees you sleeping on the sofa? What would they think? What kind of message are you sending to the others that will show up here tonight, if they see you sleeping on the job?”

YOU MATTER … We all matter.

You might not notice you doing anything for anyone, at a meeting, but just from your presence, to how you present yourself at a meeting is noticed by others, if not noticed by yourself. We might not pay attention to the newcomer coming in the door, or that someone might need a kindness or a hand shake or a cup of coffee as important, but it is …

Our presence is required. And we should notice and pay attention.

That’s why we join a group, to do service. We get there early to set up, we make coffee and we get ready to shake hands as people come in the room, because you never know just how much you can impact someone in their first hours or days, merely by your presence and how we greet others, or how we “Don’t” greet others. That is entirely up to us.

She was like, or the gist of the message was … Don’t get caught sleeping on the job, so to speak.

I see certain people, who always stick to the fringes of the meeting. They hang outside until the very minute the meeting starts, they sit in the back row, and at the end, they may or may not stay for the final prayer, and can usually be found standing outside alone.

That is when the iron is hot, when I step outside and speak to them, to make sure that they are noticed, and that they matter, because it looks to me like, nobody noticed them, again tonight.

Then there are those who come to the meeting and make a spectacle of themselves, they arrive late, and clatter, clatter, clatter … They talk the loudest, and at the final prayer, have to be the only one that you can hear, amid the entire room full of people, yes, we see you, and we totally hear you as well, you really don’t have to shout or make a scene like you do every week. That really puts people off and they in turn ignore those folks. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Tolerance for those with different struggles.

When you go to a meeting, you might not get it in the beginning, or understand what it means, but we are happy people, who have “been there and done that,” and “we get you, even if you don’t get us,” our girl didn’t get that in the beginning, but someone paid attention to her on that first day, and that made ALL the difference.

Itty Bitty bad girls in early sobriety at the age of 16 is a daunting prospect.

How many kids in their teens, come, look around and stay? They don’t usually.

Because we are not usually present or think that we matter to someone new who just walked in the room. We are too occupied with ourselves to notice others.

Our girl knew that she had a problem. And at that point she realized that her “problem” was not her solution. And had presence of mind at sixteen to realize this, to know she needed help, and she actually asked for help and got it.

Ten years on now, she has found the “Solution.”

The newcomer is the most important person in the room, and it is our job to see them, to welcome them, and to make sure we present ourselves as ready for that job, every night.

You matter, to every person in that room, even if that word is not spoken directly, which turn back to this thought … We show up so that YOU will show up.

If we remember that, it all comes back around.

What will your first days of the New Year look like ?

In the end there was coffee, and cake and a twenty five year anniversary.

A good night was had by all.

Happy New Year. More to come, stay tuned …

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