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The Weekend … The Whole Story

DSCF3287We departed Montreal early Friday morning. Myself, my sponsor and another friend, who is also a sponsee of my sponsor. It took a few hours to get to the other side of Vermont, in a round about way, we traveled 4 hours out, only to retrace our route 90 minutes back to our final destination of Mad River Valley in Waitsfield.

The weather was gloomy. cloudy and raining. We arrived mid afternoon and parked in the lot adjacent to Bill’s family home. The house is a working bed and breakfast space for members and visitors who come to visit. While we were there, a group of women from all over the U.S. were there to sit a Women’s Intensive Step Weekend. While we were there we spoke to the folks who run the house, anticipating that our men’s group may eventually host a weekend at the house. The house sleeps 18 on the second floor, there are two sitting rooms, one with the family piano. There is a full dining room that seats upwards of 140 people in one sitting. A full kitchen, meeting hall and fireplace lounge in the same space in the back.

We had our obligatory cup of coffee, because who else can say they had a cup of coffee in Bill’s family home? It was very special for us to visit this place.

After our visit we traveled up the road to the graveyard where Lois, Bill and many others are buried in simply marked graves, well kept by a caretaker. A group of the women from the house were already there and they asked if we would like to join them? We shared time together, and they gave each of us a St. Francis prayer card. We joined hands and said the prayer together, followed by a quick share from those present at the graveside, speaking about something that meant something to them. We closed with the Serenity Prayer.

I left my Twelve Year Chip on Bill’s headstone, pictured above. There were a few chips with BIG numbers on them, and a couple with a short amount of time. I almost got a 14 year chip that was there, but one of the women beat me to it, so I left without a chip. I was the only one to leave a chip for the next visitor.

Two hours had passed since our arrival. We got back on the road and made our way to Waitsville, and the Mad River Barn for our Men’s Intensive Weekend. This weekends group was half the number we had attending this past May. There were several factors that attributed to the low numbers. One, the price went up $40.00. Things have changed at the Inn that did not bode well for the weekend. Tempers were on edge all weekend between the host staff and the guests who came from as far as New York City, Vermont, and Canada.

I stayed in the annex building this time around. The annex was still under construction back in May. Both the guest rooms in the annex slept six people. We were twenty five in number this trip. The weekend did not go off without problems.

We got to see some old faces and a number of new people, who were either making their first weekend, or had come at other times. The food was good. Some thought that the meals served to us were sub-par, ala Chef Boyardee … But I ate well, for certain meals, and not others.

In the end, this would be our last visit to Mad River Barn. After twenty years of coming, our group elders voted for finding a new location that would serve us better. The bottom line is full fare paying guests, who stay, eat and DRINK ! They don’t make a whole bunch of money on twenty five sober folks who don’t drink. And it was apparent that our stay was more pain than pleasure, and the owners were to blame for the lack of cordiality, kindness, and the attitude several of us got from the couple who now own the Inn.

It rained all weekend, which made it kind of miserable. Getting out early to jog, or walk the paths up the mountain were muddy with puddles from the rain, so for the most part we all stayed in for the duration.

We departed at lunchtime. The Inn did not offer a last meal for lunch on Sunday. And by that time people were itching to get the hell out of dodge. We took the scenic way home from Vermont to the lake district of Quebec, where we crossed the border at a one man shack border crossing.

I arrived home around 3, and went to set up the Sunday Meeting at 5. We sat a full house and my friend and I, from the weekend shared our experience with the people. It was amazing. We read the Twelve and Twelve and Tradition Ten.

The reading was short, the room was packed. And we concluded the share by ten after seven, which left plenty of time to have cake from a 23 year anniversary celebration.

It was the most amazing weekend. If you ever get to make the journey I highly recommend it.

More to come, stay tuned …

Men’s Intensive Weekend – Bill W. House East Dorset, Vermont

DSCF3269East Dorset is about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Montreal. This sign stands outside the home where Bill W. was born.

DSCF3270This is Bill’s family home – they can house 18 guests on the second floor of the house, and an additional 85 in a motel setting that is about 1000 yards from the house here.

DSCF3271This is the meeting room in the back of the house, There is a sitting room adjacent to this space, that has couches, tables and lamps, a full working fire place. We met some very nice folks from all over the area and visitors from other places. Notice the license plates from all over the United States. There are many more tacked to the rafters all the way around this room. There is never ending coffee, a pop corn maker, and comfortable places to sit during the day when you visit and for the guests who are staying and the guests that come for meetings in the house.

DSCF3272The living room/piano room. Lots of literature to read, and a really great space to enjoy your special Bill W. cup of coffee. We did … enjoy the coffee. How many people can say they had a cup of coffee in Bill W’s home?

DSCF3275This is the side view of the home.

DSCF3277Signs on the front of the home

DSCF3278DSCF3280

DSCF3271The meeting space. It can quite comfortably seat upwards of fifty people for a meeting.

DSCF3282Your author standing behind the “chair.”

DSCF3283In one of the dining rooms, there are photos of the house as it was built, family photos on the sideboard below the pictures on the walls.

DSCF3285The Graveyard where Lois, Bill and many others are buried. The headstones are very simple and humble markers. They sit side by side.

DSCF3286This is Bill W’s grave. You can see chips that have been placed on the headstone. There is only room for 11 or 12 chips. When you come, you bring your chip and leave it for someone else to take, when THEY come to visit the grave. My 12 year chip is now sitting here, along with many chips with anniversaries in the high 40’s. When too many chips appear on the headstone or on the ground surrounding it, the caretaker collects the chips and stores them in a shed on the property.

DSCF3287The CHIPS

Thursday – Canada, Strong and Resolute !!!

parliament hill

The week is coming to an end in a very dreary fashion. It is chilly and spitting rain. We were in for a real soak, so they said, but we just got pissy little rain and it is a bit blustery out. Nothing a warm toque can’t handle.

It has been a difficult week for us here in Montreal and the past couple of days as a Nation.

Yesterday’s shooting and killing of a soldier at the National War Memorial – at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the subsequent storming of Parliament by the same gunman, took Parliament and the nation by surprise.

One person was injured in the attack, who was said to make a full recovery, The Sergent-At- Arms for Parliament dispatched the gunman in short order and saved many lives. He is an honorable, humble man, who, when called to duty, stepped up and took care of matters of security.

We are indebted to him for his courageous actions.

Needless to say, I think people, who are out and about, are mindful of their surroundings, at least I am. We might be connected to mobile devices while traveling, but with this weeks events, paying closer attention to your surroundings is good sound advice.

Soldiers have been advised from this point on, NOT to wear their uniforms outside of work while not on duty. Uniforms are only to be worn on base and upon beginning a shift. The fear that other military service personnel may be further targets has pushed command to make this decision for our troops to protect them from further harm.

This just adds another layer of security for our men and women in uniform.

This evening it was reported from NYC that a man attacked a group of police officers with a hatchet, injuring two, one with an arm injury and the second was hit in the head and required surgery for a fractured skull. This may be an isolated situation, but authorities in NYC are investigating the situation. The hatchet wielding man was subsequently killed by officers in the attack.

One must be vigilant about ones person out and about.

We offer our prayers and condolences to the families and friends of those who have died in the two attacks here in Canada. And as Canadians, we support our men and women in uniform. And all those who work to protect us on a daily basis.

Canada stands strong and resolute. We will not bow to terrorism, not now, not ever…

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

Tuesday past, we continued our journey through Step Seven. The major take away from the reading was the word Humility. We sat a nice group of folks. It was a great evening.

Tonight, Thursday, we read from the Daily Reflections, since this is the tenth month, all the readings for October center on Step Ten. “Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.”

The reading speaks to the fact that “Continued” does not mean occasionally, or frequently. It means throughout each day. It was common to hear that few people are on step ten tonight, and we also heard someone say that he didn’t have a proper definition of what an inventory would be?

It is a practice that I have learned from the women to write. To begin taking an inventory at the end of the night, and every person is different. It is with guidance that my guys work their steps the way they do, with specific instructions in what they should be doing on any given day.

I get my guys writing early and frequently, so that they get used to writing now, instead of later. Each of them have issues that we deal with daily, and the lists are simple observations, or thoughts, or problems, that we can discuss when we speak on a daily basis. You don’t have to be on Step Ten, to take a simple inventory at the end of the day.

  • How was my day?
  • Had we been selfish, dishonest, self seeking or frightened?
  • Did anything notable happen during my day?

The further my guys are in their steps, more questions are added to the daily inventory list.

It is something we practice together. If we aren’t working our program actively every day, then we might be missing lessons that may be skipped over or lessons not learned. And there is always something to be learned every day.

It looked early on that we may only sit a few folks, pleasantly, a solid group of folks came out, even in this inclement weather. It is a known fact that when it rains or when it snows, people usually choose to stay home.

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

Tomorrow morning I depart with my sponsor and a fellow for Vermont. Our morning journey will take us to Stepping Stones for a visit to Bill’s home where he and his wife Lois are buried. Then we will make our way to the Mad River Inn at Mad River Valley in Waitsville Vermont.

Due to changes in the program and a serious hike in the fees for this particular retreat at this particular location, half our number decided not to make the journey. For more than thirty years this location has been the B&B of choice for the Men’s Intensive. But after our last weekend in the Spring, things have changed.

The Mad River Inn has been renovated to very high specs, and the pricing for the weekend had been kept low for the benefit of the men who came, but the price was not sustainable for future weekends. One has to pay the bills and run a B&B properly in order to make money. In the end it is always about money. And low numbers speak volumes to just how much people have to spend.

A discussion of where we go next will be on the table. And this prospect is tedious at best.

Spending over $150.00 for a two night B&B stay is steep. We had to make special arrangements to be able to send me on the weekend. With all our bills that have to be paid and still have money for staples and spending money for each of us, $200.00 off the top is not something sustainable for the future.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate. I will be off grid until Sunday. I will have photos and lots of stories to tell you about then.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … Another Chance

tumblr_lguex92boy1qgplzqo1_500It is Sunday Night. We had a little rain, and today the temps dropped into single digits. We are sitting at a cool (5c) at this hour.

It was a quiet week. Lots of meetings. Lots of reading. We hit Step Six on Tuesday, and Thursday we read from Came to Believe, and Friday’s topic was on the subject of financial insecurity. I listened carefully to our readings, and came away with some lessons.

It was a blustery weekend, like I said, a little rain, a lot of clouds, and today I broke out my winter jacket for the first time this season. Over the weekend, I crated the a.c. for the second time. And we probably won’t need it again, as the long term forecast says that temps won’t rise into positive double digits again any time soon.

The weather usually goes North just before Halloween. In years past, we have seen negative digits, and even snow on the odd occasion. We know that if it does snow before or on Halloween, that it will be a long and drawn out Winter. The kids will be bundled up in winter coats with their costumes again this year.

There is a load of construction going on in the neighborhood lately. They dug up the sidewalk in front of the Forum just up the block, and are replacing piping in the ground, which has caused a nightmare for pedestrians and the frontage shops in the Forum proper. All the terraces are rolled up because there is no place for them to be aside from the construction.

Cabot Square is coming along ever so slowly. They have yet to complete the bus lane ways that need to be finished before the first snow. And they need to sort out the bus stops for the same reason.

I was up and ready to go early today and arrived and cranked out set up before most folks showed up. We have been seeing good numbers lately, which bodes well for the future. Tonight we sat a full house again, and are one story closer to the end of the book. November 16th is our deadline.

This last section of the book, are stories that range from a few pages to a lot of pages. What else is there to talk about when you are in low bottom territory but I drank, I got drunk, I fell down, having suffered yet another black out and waking up who knows where, how much money did I loose, and what did I do last night? Tonight’s story was quick, dirty and to the point, in five pages.

“Another Chance”

I listed to the read and followed along, because I was in the chair. We got all the way around twice, once for the read, and second for the discussion. Stories like these are warnings to our young people that it can get bad, very quickly, and in short order. Some of them have already been to these places,  And most of our long time members have also visited these places.

I stopped to think about my story, and I realized that at the start of my drinking career I did all those stupid things first. All those activities written about that usually occur at the bitter end, when the drink is really bad, and the obsession is running rampant.

I guess I am glad that I had completed my list of really stupid things first. That speaks volumes to the depth of addiction I had fallen into so quickly, early on. I could not care less about responsibility, paying rent, buying food, making car payments. My vision was very narrow. All I really cared about was where my next drink was coming from, and who would participate in its attainment.

It was also very good that I only had a car for a few years in my twenties. I lost it once to repossession, and my father got it back. That was probably, and still is, in my estimation, a very real resentment my father has against me. He never did anything that stupid, not that I ever knew about. But it is what it is.

Once I had hit my last stop in Ft. Lauderdale, in my 26th year, I lost the car again to flood waters, caused by a hurricane. The car was never the same after that, and I finally had gotten rid of it. I am sure it could have gotten very worse, as I grew up. But I sort of nipped that one in the bud when I got sober the first time. Who needs a car, when you live in the big city. After that round, I stayed close, I have lived in big cities ever since. I don’t need a car here because mass transit is so plentiful.

All those things that happen at the end of ones drinking career that signal that the end is near and that maybe you should stop happened to me. But in reverse order. I had hit rock bottom several times early on but did not get the memo for a while. I just kept going, until, like I have said before, another human being said the word S.T.O.P …

It could have gone on to the bitter end, and that’s how I wanted it, I wasn’t ready to die a gruesome death, I would rather have died from the bottle rather than a terrible disease. That was not to happen.

I would face my challenge sober, and I would, in the end, prevail.

I’ll say it again. When I really needed God, He presented himself to me and saved my life. And I will take that to my grave.

The other identifying factor from most low bottom stories are the drinking bouts that end up in a black out. The Not Knowing. At the end of my slip, I had perfected my drinking to one night a week, because that’s all I could handle. One great night of debauchery.

Trying to fit in, by drinking my way in.

And in the end the night ended with someone pouring my sodden body into a taxi, and finding myself in my bed, having gotten through two locked doors, never knowing how that happened.

To this day, I cannot tell you the who, where, what or why of my black outs.

Either someone removed me by force, or someone was watching out for me without my knowledge. I don’t know, but that is one memory that keeps it green for me. The black outs, that final hangover, the admission that I was licked. The alcoholic who appeared because I asked God for one to appear.

My last drink, was my last drink. So far. To this day. One day at a time.

I’ve seen enough in my lifetime, and over the last almost thirteen years, I have heard stories from my friends and fellows that remind me over and over of just how bad it will get if I ever pick up another drink.

It doesn’t have to get that bad.

There is a solution. The women I know work very hard at working and living in the Solution.

I learned how they do it, and now my guys are doing that as well. By The Book.

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

And on an entirely different note…

Here it comes … Are you ready?

There are 67 shopping days until Christmas

More to come Stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries on a Monday Night … Thanksgiving Week

918

It is Monday night and the internet has been restored, thankfully !!!

“Before any dream can come true, there must first be a dream.” B.B. pg. 527

It was a pleasant week that was, lots of meetings, lots of discussion, lots of thinking about what is to come. October is a jammed packed month of “things to do.” This weekend was Thanksgiving, and I cooked a feast, more on that later … A few more meetings for the month, and about thirty of us, hopefully, will head to Mad River Valley in Vermont for our fall convocation of the Men’s Intensive Step Weekend with my sponsor.

On Tuesday night we read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step Five. My sponsor went to Vermont with his sponsor last weekend, past, and did his Step Five, while they were driving in the car to “Stepping Stones” the home where Bill W. lived with his wife Lois, and they are buried on the property. My sponsor will be taking me to Stepping Stones on the way to the retreat in a couple of weeks. That is when I will complete my Step Five.

There is also a tradition when visiting Stepping Stones. On Bill’s Grave sit “medallions” that have been brought by visitors to his grave. When you visit, you bring the medallion for the year that you are on, and you leave it on the grave for someone else who might need it when they visit. And if there is a “next” one for you, you take a chip from the grave, but if there isn’t a chip near your anniversary year, you just leave your chip for someone else.

I will indeed have photos for you to see upon my return. I’ve read all about Bill’s life and have seen the home on film and in the books I have in my library. But to see it live and in person will be a spiritual experience for me. To thank the man who gave me back my life and blessed it beyond measure.

Thursday I ran some errands down to the village for some things I wanted, I get a humble amount of spending money every two weeks to spend on myself, and I did that. When I got home I fiddled around with my purchases I was not pleased when I realized that a piece of clothing I bought (latex) was cheaply made and did not fit very well, and in the end two holes popped in the item – and on the site for the store, this item was made by a reputable production house, so I thought, which is why I bought it, only to turn around on Friday to go return it for a full refund. UGH.

On Thursday night, we read again from the Twelve and Twelve and Step Six, since one of my sponsees is on that step presently, and life has been a teaching time for the last few weeks, that I thought reading and discussing that step would benefit him.

Friday morning I got up early to take another run into the village again, since I never get to the village on my regular days, and got a refund for my purchase. Then I walked down the road to a little shop that I visited with friends a couple of months ago “Fetiche Armada,” a new gay store that opened on the West side of the village, with really great people running the store, however, they are a bit clingy, and follow you around the store wanting to help you and to comment on everything that you look at or take off the racks, probably hoping that you are going to buy them.

You can’t find shoe/boot laces in many places. I’ve looked for them high and low on my side of town, and I got lucky once with my red shoe laces I bought for my Nike’s at the mall up the street. You can get laces on Ebay, but what a nightmare that is.

The only other place I know that one can find boot laces is at the Dock Martin shop over at the Sherbrooke Metro stop, which is a two train journey from home, all the way across town to Berri and a change from Green to Orange and up to Sherbrooke.

While I was in my little shop I noticed that they carried boot laces, in the color that I wanted, and not too expensive. I bought some socks and some laces, which goes to an outfit I am still procuring; at this time it is incomplete. When I got home and re-laced my boots I found the laces a bit short, well, a lot short.

I may have to venture out farther to get the ones I really need. That will have to wait

I made an extra stop on the way home to Indigo. I could not pass up an opportunity to browse the shelves. I had made a list of authors the night before, hoping to find something juicy to read. Late night in bed is an ideal time to read for me. I struck out on several names, but hit pay dirt with Kathy Reichs.

She is an author who writes as a Forensic Anthropologist here in Montreal. She writes a series called the “Temperance Brennan series.” I’ve read two books, “Bones of the Lost and Bones are Forever,” I forget the order they come in, and I read them out of order because of when I got them from my friend Danny.

This trip I scored two more books in the series … The next two books in the order of writing, “Flash and Bones, and Spider Bones.” If you read her you will know that several threads are written into every story, and I found those threads when I started reading her. I was not disappointed with the new book.

So I ran around all afternoon on Friday and by 3 o’clock I was pooped. I waited for hubby to get home from work, and we took an evening siesta. I decided I was going to take the night off from the regular Friday meeting. It is nice that if I don’t hit a regular meeting that I usually hit like clockwork, I get at least one phone call from a particular friend to make sure that I am ok.

I finished my holiday meal shop on Saturday for some odds and ends. Provigo is notorious for running out of stock on certain items on the holidays, so you have to buy early and pack your cupboards.

Saturday night I was sitting here at the computer about 12:30 in the morning and I was surfing as usual while SNL was on, and it seems our ISP decided to turn off our internet AGAIN!! Hubby paid the bill on Thursday and called it in, and they still shut us down, not only on a weekend, but to boot, a holiday long weekend. Needless to say, several pissy messages were left and a couple of terse emails were sent. And we probably won’t hear from them until at least Tuesday, so no internet.

But you know what they say … I am not in control and I have to turn it over and that acceptance is the key to all my problems. But if I had my way, someone’s head would roll for the lies and the shitty service as of late.

This entry is being written Sunday Evening, in a Word document for a copy paste when the internet comes back.

Today, Sunday, I was up early to put my turkey in the oven, and I timed it perfectly. I was quite pleased with myself actually. In at ten and out at two. I cranked the heat for an hour, then I dropped the heat for a long bake, and the last hour I gradually turned up the heat back to where it should have been all along. And it came out juicy and tasty.

I always welcome an old friend for the holiday dinner. It is our responsibility; in my community to make sure our older members are included and taken care of. A holiday is not meant to be spent alone. So everyone has a job to do.

Everybody has a talent/task, and some of our older guys have talents as well, that we enjoy fostering into life and we match talented people up with folks who need support, lessons, or assistance in some way, some of us teach music, some spend time, we share meals and nobody is alone.

So it went. We feasted on a full turkey dinner, cooked in my tiny kitchen. It was fabulous. Long Time Companion was showing on M PIX while we waited for the bird to bake, this movie was so important when I first got sick many years ago, an homage to my friends and all those who died from the plague. I had not seen it in probably more than a decade. Never forget your friends; they did not die in vain.

It is also the Holiday Harry Potter Marathon, all seven movies over two days. Right now, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is just ending, that means I get the final instalments before bed tonight.

We arrived at the church, and there were tons of people walking in the neighbourhood. As we got closer to the church, we realized that they were all coming from INSIDE the church, which also meant that there were people in the basement and that once again, I had not been advised.

Blessedly, everyone was gone, and we set up without delay or issue.

I was hoping for a full house, it being a holiday and all. Some folks have a hard time on the holidays so we have to be open for them. I made a full urn of coffee, expecting a crowd, and I was not disappointed. I chaired. Our matriarch came, coughing and sniffling, but grateful nonetheless. She did not linger after.

We are reading from the final grouping of stories … Grounded, about a Native Indian who served his country, became a pilot, became a drunk, lost his licence, went to prison, was humiliated by community, and television, (I came to learn this guy is still alive and spoke at a convention a friend had attended and heard him share this story live) Got sober, worked his program, got his license back and regained his pilot license all in all it was a great story to read. This is an abridged version, for the full effect I suggest you read it in its entirety.

Take Aways … Acceptance is the key to all my problems. Sometimes you have to just let go, no matter how hard that is. In the end, we are not in control and really, who wants to be when you can turn it all over to God and let Him do it for you! That only comes when you get and maintain sobriety.

We sat a full house and almost made it all the way around for sharing. I saw faces tonight that I have not seen in years, and they slipped in after we started, and slipped out before the basket went around. Damn. I missed a perfect opportunity to speak to them, but I was in the chair, I just could not get up and go make them wait for the meeting to end to be able to speak to them. UGH!!! Not sure if they will make it to another meeting that I am at, but we can be hopeful, right?

I saw an old friend who is sober awhile now, and lives in Calgary now, he got sober here with us five years ago, and he was in town for the weekend and he came to see us, which was a treat.

Our “more than a year read through of the Big Book” ends on November 16th, so in the meantime we need to select which book we will read from next. Since our matriarch has been MIA for weeks now, we haven’t had a proper business meeting yet, so we are hoping for the last Sunday of this month to iron out all our plans for the next read and for the holidays.

In the end it was a very successful day, I fed my family and a friend, I chaired a meeting for a room full of friends, and came home to no internet, but a blank word document. Harry Potter is on …

Let us Be Thankful!!!

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … Pain is a Bitch !!!

tumblr_msohxxcSvW1qkwkmpo1_500 minhos21Courtesy: Minhos21 – I love this photo …

It was a hit or miss weekend for weather. A little of this, a little of that. Our good stretch of weather came to and end overnight Friday. All that rain they called for did not fall. ( they called for four days of rain).

I always attribute the “hit or miss” aspect to the weather to the frequent flyovers of high altitude aircraft that crisscross the island dropping whatever they drop from planes into the air above the city.

So that is a thing …

Friday was had a good showing and we talked about God, (as we understood Him) in the reading from A.B.S.I. The read speaks about what we call our power greater than ourselves. For every human being that walks into a room, there is a concept. And in the spirit of respect, every point of view must be respected. There is a dichotomy …

This reading #73 comes from a letter written by Bill W. in 1950.

He writes here that you can believe in ANY power greater than yourself, whether that be the room, its people, or God for that matter. It is a liberal thought that whatever works for you is good.

BUT in the Big Book, it says that we eventually come to the point where God comes into the picture. The notion of God is written into the book, as if everyone comes to that one same conclusion. In the back of the book, the book reads that:

… many alcoholics have nevertheless concluded that in order to recover they must acquire an immediate and overwhelming “God Consciousness” followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook. Appendix II – Spiritual Experience.

Here is the rub … On one hand Bill says that whatever concept you come up with will work, and nobody has the right to tell you that you can’t or that it is wrong, that we should respect each others beliefs. BUT on the other hand, it all comes down to God Consciousness.

Some people find themselves at odds with this dichotomy.

I know what my concept of a Higher Power is, and that would be God. But that isn’t the same for a number of my friends, and my guys as well. Some may not believe in God, but they have their own concept that works for them, so be it.

I tell this story to my friends. Come to a room and stick and stay, Watch your fellows get sober. This is a long term proposition. Eventually, one or another is going to have a spiritual experience. I’ve seen it happen, many times. The light rises from the belly, up to the head, and comes to rest above them, it is a figure of speech, but the idea is that they have an experience of God, or the power greater than themselves, and if you are there and paying attention, God moves.

So that is a thing …

We sat a full house tonight. We are 5 stories from the end of the Big Book. It has been a year since we started reading the book. That’s a year of Sundays and we will complete the read on November 16th. Between now and then we need to come up with our next reading plan. We are flying by the seat of our pants as of late because our matriarch has been ill and hasn’t been here to chair the next business meeting. The meeting must go on, and we all pitch in to make sure it does.

Tonight’s read … Empty on the Inside.

I identified with feelings and parts of the story. Our writer was a low bottom drunk. Once she started drinking, she never wanted to stop. She flunked out of school, married a man she didn’t really care about, had children she could not possibly take care of nor love properly. Finally she came to when she writes about having one of “THOSE hangovers” and the signs fell before her, one after another.

It is actually emphasized like that in the book.

For me, I prayed for one of “THOSE” hangovers. I needed that final recognition that the end was in front of me. It was one of those signals I needed from God that yes, it was time to STOP. It was great, this evening, that a couple of old timers I really enjoy listening to at meetings came tonight, and I heard that story I hoped to hear.

One of them, was deluded, well, terribly deluded, that he could drink, and drink, and drink. And that his ability to drink copious amounts of liquor was all due to the fact that he had superior genes, that allowed him that ability. Until he had come to the end and had one of THOSE hangovers …

It wasn’t good genes. It was delusion.

Since the crowd was big, we did not get back around the circle. But is was a good evening.

It was a bit chilly on the way home. Definitely a night to layer clothing.

For the last week, I have been in some serious pain. I don’t know what did it, or how it happened. But from my right shoulder to my right wrist, there has been unmanageable pain. Not banging, not pounding, but slow and steady pain that wares at my consciousness. My right arm is my dominant arm, my writing hand, and my mouse hand. Sitting at my desk is becoming a problem. Hubby got me some creme for my arm that I use, and advil to try and alleviate the pain, but that only goes so far.

I called the doc last week and he won’t be in the office until Tuesday coming up. I believe it is an internal problem, and not external as in “a creme will make it all go away.” Not sure quite what the problem is, but it is becoming a real pain in my ass. (Well my shoulder really!)

And that is the last thing to talk about tonight.

Heart Broken

tumblr_lsdqf5xeZG1r45jjjo1_500 ninatangCourtesy: Ninatang

“The Alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power.” B.B. pg. 43

It has been a quiet week. The weather is holding, and the trees in the neighborhood are bright yellow, red and orange. Not all of the trees have turned so brightly as they have in the past. It seems the trees in the church yard have been bitten by the blight once again, so they won’t turn at all, but fall dead and green just like last year.

We hit new high’s on Tuesday with an infusion of new blood in our step series, and that bodes well for the rest of this time commitment for the Tuesday group. People are willing to travel across the island from far and wide to share with the group. I hope this trend continues with the seasonal change that is upon us, people will begin making their choices of just where they will go and to what extent they will commit to attending meetings, once the weather goes North … as happens every Winter.

My guys are working their steps from another fellowship and so tonight we covered Step Six and again as well, lots of new faces, some who are where we are in the book, so that enhanced our discussion as well. Our older members are already beginning to wear down and Winter isn’t even upon us yet, and now I can see where Step Six comes into play with myself specifically in regards to my friends and fellows.

If you want to see your “miracle grown” character defects come to the fore and live outrageously, spend time in a city that has four seasons. As I shared tonight, my greatest test of who I am or more to the point, who I thought I was, was made pretty stark over the last Winter. Simply put, I was not charitable, understanding, nor patient with my friends. And ever since that time, in the past, I have consciously worked on being a man that I could respect myself.

When we make our lists after Steps four and five, we get to see the glaring problems we have with ourselves. Then we get to work that out in real time. Whatever negative trait or feeling one might have, we learn what to replace it with from the garden of goodness and love.

I find that I forget too easily. I find that I need reminders of who I want to be, and my friends and my fellows help me along with my sponsor. I tend to forget that at the farthest point out, my lessons in who I wanted to become began twenty years ago. Had I stayed sober the first time, I would have hit twenty years this year. But I can see just how long those good lessons lasted and when I took my will back and thought that I knew better.

I did not have the personal strength to see through what I had learned and I pissed those lessons away because ” I needed …” I stopped communicating and took matters into my own hands, and in hindsight, I know that taking matters into my own hands is a true recipe for sure disaster.

Sad, that people decide to take matters into their own hands, and we are powerless to stop them.

I worked very hard at what I was doing for the last year. “We are defenseless against the first drink!”

I can’t make you sober, and You are not going to make me drink again…

True lesson …

Winter is coming. And we are all growing older. Now is the time to connect to your fellows. Now is the time to reach out to your elders, your neighbors, your friends. Now is the prime time to open your life and your hearts to those who might slip through the cracks when snow begins to fall, and people will need that helping hand or that kind word, or even an invitation for a meal, holiday or not.

Look around at your friends, fellows and neighbors, and see where you can be of service. Don’t wait for snow to fall or temps to drop. Plan now. Do now. I will tell you that that will make the difference in your life as well as in the lives of others.

This year we are prepared. Last winter lasted entirely too long and took a huge toll on our men and our own peace of mind. So let’s not allow that to happen this year.

Thanksgiving will be here in a couple of weeks. For Canada, that is …

Being present to others, will totally, keep you and your character defects in check.

I learned that lesson the hard way. I don’t intend to repeat it a second time.

A beautiful day and a wonderful evening, turned to sadness, with a single email from a friend.

Which proved once again, that if one fades into darkness, from daily contact, it is a fair conclusion that they indeed went out and drank again.

I am powerless over people, places and things.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … Bonne Fete !

tumblr_nc94h6NGkN1sjk4zzo1_500 sk8erboyeuCourtesy: Sk8erboy EU

It has been a beautiful weekend. A little on the warm side, but tolerable.

A couple of weeks ago when we dropped into single digits, I figured that that was going to be the trend, so I crated the A.C. for the winter. Well, that did not last very long, and temps rose into the high twenties with humidexes in the 30’s.

It was getting too warm to sleep and the heating of the day roasted the apartment. So on Friday, I un-crated the A.C. and hung it back in the bedroom and put plastic back over the hole, so we have had the a.c. on all weekend.

A friend of mine who lives in Southern Ontario posted a tweet that it was going to SNOW down there tomorrow !! We are going to see rain for the next couple of days, with temps in the low to mid teens.

Where we are situated geographically on the map usually protects us from weather tracking North of us, and what tracks South of us. That all depends on where the jet stream is on any given day.

I left a bit early because we were down several members tonight, and it was just me setting up. And when I got to the church and unlocked the door, there were decorations hung all over the place, and I was like SHIT, there is a function and nobody told me. Thinking I was going to have to either cancel or work around them, I stepped into the hall, which was also decorated with a valentine’s theme, one of the church supers was waiting for me. The party was over, and he wanted to tell me that there was food left over for the meeting, as they were preparing to leave. “crisis averted!”

I cranked it out and went outside to enjoy the evening and people watch. Our corner is dog walking heaven. The church yard is large and many folks walk their dogs on this stretch of land. The communal poop can is on the property so we see lots of traffic night and day.

It is the last Sunday of the month, so we read Tradition Nine.

“A.A. as such, ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.”

Most words of advice, in the program, are just “merely suggestions.” The fellowship serves millions of people, from one solitary office in New York. I am involved at the group level, as a G.S.R, group service representative for the area we are in. And I do service at several groups I attend.

Someone has to open the door. To set up chairs and tables, and most importantly, make coffee.

Each group is autonomous. And we have simple organizations to make sure all the jobs are covered so that we can do what we must, and that is to welcome the newcomer. I know almost everyone I see at my meetings by name. I know their stories from what I have heard, which makes it much more important that I keep showing up, and when I can, do service to welcome them should they visit a meeting I go to.

There are jobs that must be done to insure a meeting operates smoothly. Someone needs to buy supplies, set up, make coffee, handle the 7th and such and so forth. Having opened a meeting fresh, I know that at bare minimum it needs people to form a group, and in our last case, it took $300.00 to open a meeting.

Someone had to foot that bill, pay the rent, buy all the supplies, AND a cabinet to put it all in when all is said and done. And that does not happen on its own. So each group, in and of themselves is a minor organization, put together to serve one purpose, to work with the newcomer, and anyone else who shows up.

When I got sober this last time, when I joined my home group, there were rules set out by the group, and to an extent, some of those rules still exist, as in, time limits to do certain jobs. The first job is chairs and tables, then followed by coffee. Anyone can do that. Usually three months is the time limit for 12 step rep. And a year sobriety to chair meetings. Most groups in our city are governed by simple rules that people follow, just because. It is the way you work yourself into a group.

You can’t transmit something you haven’t got … by the book.

Nobody can tell another what to do, and each meeting has its rhyme and reason. I’ve said before, what you do outside the hall is your business. Once you step over the threshold, we are all equal, serving one purpose, to reach out to and to welcome the newcomer.

That is why we suggest you join a home group and stick and stay. That will be the best investment of your time and talent. Finding your seat, having a job that you do every week, as jobs are rotated on a monthly basis, everyone gets a turn to do something. Which is also why we suggest the twenty minute rule as well … come twenty minutes early and stay twenty minutes after…

That is prime opportunity to work with others, network and to get phone numbers.

There are all kinds of things we do to serve our community. Little rules, that are not really rules, but again, merely suggestions. Rooms are life. People are the most important aspect of a meeting. And once you get into the rhythm everything falls into place.

Some have balked at the rooms, and what they do, opting for their own ideas and preconceived notions. But given a chance, and a little time in the room, you will learn that what we most care about is YOU.

Because without YOU there is no US.

And if there is no US there definitely can be no WE.

And the program is based on that most important word … WE !!!

From the top down, and side to side, each group is simply, optimally, organized to serve the greater WE at large. It all begins with WE.

Without you there can be no WE.

More to come, stay tuned …

Friday – Dependence Healthy or Not ?

tumblr_n8awedCgkN1s25jg6o10_500Courtesy: Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho

Another week has gone. Slowly the sunsets will come earlier and earlier. The trees are beginning to turn, but not as brightly as they should just yet. It is still early.

There comes a time when we need to let people be who they are and to allow them their process. There is a point when one says, choose your battles wisely, and know when to remain quiet.

All I can say for myself is that my life is hundreds of times better than I had ever expected, God has done what I could not do for myself. And I have nothing but gratitude for the people in my life today.

On Thursday night we read “Gratitude in Action,” The story of the founder of the program in Quebec in 1944. This year is the Seventieth Anniversary of that beginning. When you read the book through as we have been doing for the last year of Sunday’s, a common occurrence happens.

When the program began and the book was written, there was a question about how were we going to pay for it, and how were we going to get it out to the suffering alcoholic?

Little by slowly, people stepped out of the shadows all over North America. In cities like Akron, Cincinnati, Montreal, and cities far and wide, people began to contact the General Service Office in New York City. And a letter would begin the interaction, and a response would take place. The book would be sent and another human being was helped to get sober.

In each city the same thing happened. Once a rapport was achieved, the original first contact would get a package of letters from people (in their town or city) that had been written to N.Y.C, for help.

From that contact, each garden blossomed, like mushrooms in the dirt. There were so many letters at G.S.O that the possibility of answering all those letters was slim, so as cities came online, they were able to serve those people who so needed help.

We know where the house sits today in Montreal, where it all started, for both the English and French side. I know men who knew the founder, There are a few old timers who can still tell the tale. This year, at our convention in November, the family of the founder will speak and a celebration of the 70th anniversary will take place.

I missed last Friday night, so I left early to make my transit. I don’t know about you but, some of our bus drivers have issues. At my bus pickup there were several buses sitting in the bay. Their drivers sitting across the street at the depanneur (local store) smoking and talking amongst themselves. Several buses went by us while the queue got longer. Finally a bus came off a run after dropping its passengers and took the run. While the other buses sat there unoccupied.

Tonight’s read A.B.S.I… Dependence, healthy or Not ?

From birth was are dependent on our parents to feed us, change us and keep us safe and teach us about life. I never wanted for anything. I had everything a young person could want or ever need. It was not about riches or being better than another. Interspersed with all the goodness were times of terrible badness. All part and parcel of growing up in my home.

It’s funny, retrospectively, how things and people and situations can turn on a dime.

A label get applied, a sickness takes place, and voila, shit happens.

People are going to do what they are going to do. And sometimes we are on the end of receiving something bad. Funny, that, in life, how easily people who we are supposed to depend on for love, guidance and support, fail and fail badly.

But it had happened that as people fell away, unable to cope or not wanting to deal, others stepped in and became not only reliable, but dependable. When the chips fall badly, you really get to see what people are really made of and just how much you really mean to them.

When I moved away from home, I wasn’t yet dependent on alcohol. But it became clear to me, with the advice of a mentor that alcohol was going to do for me what I could not do for myself. And I did not know any better, and I should have.

It is the same story – across my life when it came to the drink. And as time went on, it only got worse. There is a fine line that is crossed when dependence becomes delusion.

When I got sick many years ago, if you did not get it fast, someone and something to rely on, humanly and medically, death was a sure bet. I was not wealthy, by any means. It was just me. And I depended on the system, and on people, to help me survive.

Let me tell you that being dependent on a system or a person for your survival is the lowest form of torture.

I learned quickly. I could go from mild mannered human to Cast Iron Bitch in sixty seconds when necessary. When someone tells you that they are going to do something for you, and doesn’t, heads will roll, if they fail to keep up on their words.

Coming off my slip, the system told me where I would live, who would bring me food, who would help me pay my bills, and where I would get all that money to pay for medication that I sure as shit could not afford all on my own. And drinking was not helping. Having to choose between paying rent, buying food, paying for medication and drinking was difficult. Until I took my last drink.

The other variables did not change. I just removed the alcohol.

That is dependence in the worst way. The system expects you to die quickly and not survive. At least that is what they think, but won’t tell you that directly, but it is implied.

I’ve said before that the how and why I got here was divinely inspired. When I turned it over, God moved heaven and earth for me. And that was the most freeing act I have ever felt. I had felt that freedom once before, and it lasted for a while. So I knew what it felt like.

I got here and got connected. I met all the right people. I’ve depended on my friends and fellows like I’ve never been so dependent on anything else in my life, besides God to begin with. As hard as I was dependent on alcohol and drugs at one time, I was equally dependent on sobriety and the people involved.

Everything I have, Everyone I know, Every gift I have received, came from the rooms directly. My life, my marriage and my husband came from the rooms. Marriage is an act of dependence. I depend on my husband and he depends on me. When we met, it was a spiritual connection. When we spoke our vows before family and God, we spoke our dependence on God and each others.

Dinner break …

They put brand new signage on the mall at Alexis Nihon Plaza, and tonight they turned on the new L.E.D. lights very flashy ! It will be nice for Christmas.

They say, in the rooms that, if you put anything, people, places or things before God, it will be a foregone conclusion, that you will loose them.

I’ve learned that lesson, and many others have as well.

Marriage is a union of two people. God plays a central role in my life and our lives. And I learned how to do that by the examples of the many men and women I know today. The women do it far better than the men do. What I know so far, came from them. And I’ve worked very hard to help my guys do it well, as well.

Going to meetings is not an addiction transference. We go to meetings because they give us life and teach us how to live soberly, in a world that revolves around the addiction to things, drugs, alcohol, money, personality, celebrity and so on.

If you want to learn about how to live life soberly, to get around slippery places, I suggest you pick up a copy of Living Sober. That will kill any ill conceived expectations you might have about coming to the rooms.

When the meeting starts and we take that moment of silence, listening to my friends pray in unison is such a wonderful sound. This night is unlike all other nights, however every meeting begins the same way, it just feels differently on Friday’s.

Our men and women come to hear each other. We depend on each other to help us, to hear us, to support us, and to celebrate with us. And we do that in spades.

It was an awesome night. I am very grateful.

More to come, stay tuned …

Tuesday … So Many Words to Say

tumblr_ly4f173sus1qcv34vo1_500 flickr joshuauhl terminal 2Courtesy: Joshua Uhl – Flickr – Terminal 2

You never know when a little gift will appear out of nowhere and makes it all possible !

The Canadian Government has addressed the recent call to kill unbelievers by terrorists. To the extent that Citizens who have left the country to fight along side them, and there are many, their passports have been revoked. In addressing public safety, we are told that the governments eyes and ears are open, and that we are safe. Montreal has always been a safe city. But with this round of violence in the world, one never knows. Let Us Pray …

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I want to address something that took place on another blog I read from Far Far Away …

A.A. is a place for people who think they have a problem with drinking. As per the Traditions, A.A. has no opinion on outside issues. Many people suffer from depression and other assorted illnesses, that must be treated with proper medical treatment and supervision.

There is a fine line between abusing prescription drugs, and taking them properly as directed.

Members, for the most part, are NOT doctors. I’ve never met a medical doctor in the rooms in all my years. Many of us suffer from depression in and out of sobriety. And many of us take pills to treat that depression, on top of that I myself take a handful of pills for my HIV twice a day.

I’ve been in a few scrums with militant members on the topic of medical treatment and for some, their take that sobriety and clean time is contingent on the fact that we either take or choose not to take our medication as directed.

IF YOUR SPONSOR OR ANY OTHER MEMBER TELLS YOU TO STOP TAKING YOUR MEDICATION, OR TELLS YOU THAT YOU ARE NOT SOBER OR THAT YOU CANNOT MAINTAIN SOBRIETY WHILE TAKING MEDICATION, YOU CAN PROPERLY TELL THEM TO FUCK OFF.

Nobody has the right to tell you what to do with your own body when it comes to your health and well being. NOBODY ! Medicinal treatment is an OUTSIDE issue.

This discussion has been going around with many of my friends as of late. Too many people suffer in silence because of the stigma of mental illness, depression, and myriads of emotional problems. We are all humans who deserve to live good and healthy lives, and if that health is contingent on medical treatment, you take the treatment and those who would beg to differ fuck em …

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Any Harry Potter fan will know the genius of Hermione Granger. And most of you may have heard about the HE FOR SHE campaign for Gender Equality. Emma Watson, gave an impassioned speech at the United Nations recently. Her speech was lampooned and derided and some even went as far as to tear her apart online and on social media for her desire to see gender equality and her call to the men and boys of the world to take the pledge to support women, where ever they may be, around the world, to help them achieve gender equality across the board.

As for myself, I made my pledge to the cause earlier today making myself Man #79,536 …

Join the cause : He For She.Org

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This morning we got a little gift, which took me out and about to run assorted errands and some shopping here and there. The IGA has a run on coffee, needless to say, coffee has become a major food group for some, so many of us have been buying multiple cans of coffee to put in storage as we need them. We don’t usually get this chance, coffee being so cheap. Many of the meetings I open for have spent considerable cash buying tins.

I needed a new Under Armour jersey to wear with my Germany Team Jersey. I went to the Sports Experts at the mall, and was pleasantly surprised that a good number of the shirts were 50% off, regularly $60.00 a piece. File that one in the WIN column.

I did a good supermarket Safari and got coin for laundry. I figured while the getting was good, I better cover all my bases so I don’t have to go back and forth between here and the store over and over.

Hubby got home a little before I had to leave, which meant I did not have to charge my card with tickets, since he has a monthly pass. I left a little early and already, the sun is setting a little earlier, because it was coming dark by the time the meeting got started, and we used overhead lights instead of a lamp we have because our bulb blew …

We split up the read on Step Four tonight.

I haven’t actually read this step in a while, and many things jumped out at me. I don’t remember doing this step, the first time I got sober. But I do remember my first fourth Step when I got connected here when I was sober a number of months.

It was a long and drawn out process. I wrote pages and pages. In order to stay sober, say some, you need to do a fourth. Many who attempt a fourth in early sobriety, without proper support, drink again. I saw that happen on a number of occasions, in consecutive Twelve Step Intensives.

You start a group of 25 to 30 men or women for that matter.

Everybody is excited to start. By Step three, people start getting ancy and agitated. We lost at least half our men in number when we hit the fourth step. Many of them drank again because the thought of writing it all down was terribly scary.

That happened each time I sat in an intensive.

This time I worked my Fourth with my sponsor of Thirty years. He is working HIS fourth step with his sponsor as I work mine with him. This weekend he is going to Vermont to do his Fifth, and I will do mine soon after.

I think I have learned a lot about my life and how I lived it now that I have been sober for this period of time. Each time you do a fourth, it gets easier. The farther you get from your last drink, and the more you grow up, because the book talks about the man who is still drinking, never grows up until he puts down the drink, the more insight you have into your own life and the life of others.

I get it, I grew up in an alcoholic family. What happened happened. Nobody ever said the word alcoholic, and no excuses were given for what went down, the way we were treated, or the way people acted. We just chalked it up to our lot as family members of an active alcoholic.

I understand now the role I played in people’s lives. I was educated in the drink, but my transgressions were dealt with very heavily. What my parents got away with in their alcoholism, did not happen when I started drinking. They picked apart every decision, they picked apart my life, and punished me for making life – survival – decisions, in sobriety.

When I moved away, it was just me. The only connection I had to home was the car I drove and almost lost because of my drinking. That was  HUGE strike one on me. Thankfully, I did not get to strikes two and three.

Oh wait … I did. Strike two – I was Gay. Strike Three – I am HIV+ …

There were a couple of extra strikes when I made life decisions and moved here. That would be strikes four and five.

From the eyes I have today, I can see why my steps went the way they did in early sobriety. And that kind of insight only comes with time. Lots of time, patience and self appraisal.

I had a really great conversation with a friend tonight prior to the meeting about family, tradition, faith and how that all works in our favor. I see some who have such wonderful family traditions. They practice faith because of tradition. They might not necessarily believe in God, or if there is a God, but they believe in a tradition, in relatives; fathers, mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers.

What is handed down traditionally, is so powerful in our lives.

You can’t force anyone to believe in God. And you can’t force the book, and its words, down any ones throats either. But if you gently speak to tradition and of family and of faith, the door is eased open just a bit. I encourage my folks in this respect, and hopefully, one day, their light will shine.

At least that is my hope. One day at a time.

More to come, stay tuned …

ISIS audio urges Muslims everywhere to kill ‘unbelievers’

tumblr_m187ytnKBN1r3fvxmo1_500 thedarkblueCourtesy: CBC News Online

… Should we be afraid? Is public security at risk? Better to be safe than sorry. Be mindful of people around you and in open spaces …

In an audio recording distributed widely on social media Sunday, Islamic extremist group ISIS urged Muslims globally to launch attacks on civilians in member countries of a U.S.-led coalition opposed to their violent spread through areas of Syria and Iraq.

In the nearly 42-minute long meandering propaganda speech uploaded to Twitter, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani encourages Muslims to kill “disbelievers” in countries, including Canada, currently supporting American and French-backed military action against the group in Iraq “in any manner.”

“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State … kill him in any manner or way however it may be,” said Adnani.

Threats made in the audio recording mirror those ISIS has made in other propaganda releases, including during the grisly beheading videos of two American journalists, James Foley and Stephen Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines.

Adnani blamed Western allies for instigating a war against the terrorist group, and said the ongoing air incursions against ISIS positions in Iraq will be “the final campaign of the crusaders.”

Unlike other terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda, ISIS has established a widespread presence on social networks, using highly produced videos and audio recordings in an effort to recruit new fighters from abroad and intimidate those opposed to their murderous agenda

God, You Have a Plan, RIGHT ?

maybeThe week came to an end, uneventfully. There were meetings and people, and everybody is good. I kinda dropped into a funk Friday, and took the night off, since it is the only night that I don’t have to do anything, or be responsible for putting on a meeting. I was not feeling all of myself, and if I can borrow a phrase … I was in the “lurgy!” Just feeling Blah and lethargic. I slept the balance of the weekend away. Sometimes my body just needs to sleep, and when that happens, I have no choice but to listen. That comes with the territory.

I departed early tonight to get coffee, which is on sale for a couple more days. We’ve been scooping up multiple cans of coffee for all the meetings in this area. IGA is good for cheap coffee, since my Costco shopper has been MIA for a awhile.

We sat a good crowd. We read “Gutter Bravado” from the Big Book, pg. 501.

We read the whole circle, but did not get back around before time was called.

We sit a good bunch of young people at this meeting. All of them are at different stages. The constant is that they keep coming back, no matter what. They’ve all decided to come for the solution, and that if they come, eventually the path will open.

The story tonight says many things …

  • “Sobriety is about the journey and not the destination.”
  • 3 Words of the Twelve Steps continue, improve, practice
  • Humility is the Key

I picked up on a few things from the read, and a clear picture opened up in my brain as soon as I closed my book. Our writer spoke about his drinking as like a musician, “Practice, Practice, Practice.”

He tells the story of growing up in the Mid West in the 1960’s and visiting the West Coast and how enamored he was with it. He talks about school being a futile effort and then he decided to strike out West, where he quickly devolved into a hobo.

He wasted a good portion of his young life sunk in the bottle and other assorted drugs and such. I could identify with a stretch in the story. I came from an alcoholic home. And my parents used to green light us, drinking at home, they rather preferred us drinking at home than outside.

My drinking picked up in High School, to the extent that at the end of that run, I could have failed out of high school, had it not been for the hand of providence and the truth. I can see, looking back that it began with beer, as long as it was available. We threw in the odd bottle of hard liquor when we could get it. You could say, quite easily, that I spent a few years practicing my drinking before leaving home.

I had to go, and never thought about staying. Nobody offered me another option. And at that point, I did not know what was good for me. I had some good jobs, that paid well, and I did well in them. But the theme was alcohol. And nobody ever said Stop …

If you are a young person, my warning is simple. Don’t waste your young life sunk in a bottle or on drugs. Young people cannot contemplate sobriety early in life because, how would they live without it, until it becomes a problem and the need to be led out of that mine field.

A young life, barely out of the starting gate of life is better off clean and sober. Yes, we all have to have some drinking history, but it is proven that many young people have found their way to us, because it got too bad for them. I don’t know what my life would have turned out like or where I would be right now today, had I gotten sober when the very first warning flag went up. But like I said, I was too dumb, too stupid or too drunk to care, and nobody said STOP.

That is the most important word … STOP !!

I needed to hear it from someone else, because left to my own devices, I did not stop nor would I have stopped. I would have killed myself with the drink rather than facing the music of AIDS so many years ago.

Todd saved my life. And I am forever grateful to him for that life he saved.

I was in a middle class family. But the thought that they would assist in paying for college was a far stretch. I got a years scholarship for junior college, which I used up. But getting any farther was pointless, because One, I didn’t have the grades and Two, I could not afford it.

I grew up, decided that to be myself I had to move away, and the adventure of moving to a new place, only lasted for so long. A few months earlier, I visited Orlando and some new friends I had made. They lived in a certain apartment complex just down the road from the Tragic Queendom.

I loved the complex and set forth the idea that I must live there as well. And that is exactly where I ended up. I barely had the money to afford it, I had a job, that did not go very far, because I was drinking away my car payments, rent and bills. I was terribly woefully ill prepared to be responsible for myself. I was not ready, and nobody stopped me, so I guess silence gives consent.

When I got sick in 1994, Todd said STOP and THAT was ENOUGH. For the first time I got a stab at responsibility and peace of mind. So lets say I began drinking at an early age, (my teens) and stopped for the first time at twenty six. I was on the wagon for a few years.

When I came back the second time I was in my mid thirties. Too old to be young, and too stupid, sunk in the visions of a delusional mind. I was just hanging on. When I made that decision to stop, God stepped in and my life took a turn for the better.

Now almost thirteen years later, I never imagined that my life could be this good, that I would be where I am, with the people I want in my life and the partner I always wanted to have. We all have to trod our own paths. I know that had ONE day changed in the past, had one thing changed along the journey, I probably would not have arrived here and live this life I am living.

Everything happens for a reason. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.

Some folks are not meant to be in our lives forever. You never know when the lesson is going to happen. I must have missed the warning signs, or was too stupid and drunk to realize they were there, but I didn’t care about anything that getting my next drink, in my twenties … FUCK !!!

It did not take long for alcoholism to get its grubby hooks into my soul.

I was fucked from the word Go !!!

Thank God I did not die along the way.

A friend of mine had lunch with a friend who is wanting to make it in, but hasn’t yet. And she came to the meeting and said to us all, what a grace it was to be in that conversation, but she had a question for God … “You have a plan, right ???”

There is a plan. It is not mine. It will become yours once you make that decision. I can’t tell you how it works, or why it works, or what it will do for you. You only need to decide you want a solution, and as soon as you do, heaven will shift and take you in, and put you on the best journey of your life,

GUARANTEED !!!

All is well. We celebrated a cake. Lots of happy sober people.

More to come, stay tuned …

It’s Authentic … Does the Happy Dance

mario 2The great thing about online purchases, is waiting for them to get here.

Canada Post has been cutting service, and combining package and mail delivery to one person instead of two. Back in the day, we had early day delivery. One guy with packages, who would actually bring them to your door, instead of leaving them downstairs, or sadly, leave you just a slip for pickup at a local drop spot. The other would deliver our mail to the building. We got word a few weeks ago about the mail cutback. We have a package delivery sheet outside in the vestibule, but it is a pointless piece of paper.

I have been noticing that the mail does not come until after hours for some strange reason. The office is already closed for the day, so packages go undelivered or a drop slip is left. Last night the mail came after 6 p.m. And today it came late as well.

My copy of “I Heard the Owl Call My Name” came along with my Mario Gotze #19 Germany jersey. I was afraid that it would not be original or come from a far flung place in the world. But no, it was a genuine Adidas Jersey with the original tags attached, and in my size. Such a Sweet Deal !!!

Once again, EBAY did not disappoint !!!

It was a tad bit warmer the past two days. And the rain stayed away tonight, which was a good thing.

Last night I went to a G.S.R. meeting with a friend (General Service Rep).

Cabot Square is all torn up, all the grass is gone, the trees are all bundled for protection from construction, They are doing something funky at the kiosk entrance on our corner, a huge trench is dug and a coffer dam was erected to keep the earth around it from falling into the pit. Rumor has it they are re-purposing the kiosk with restrooms down below ground level.

The regular bus stops are all discombobulated and moved to the Tupper Street approach. Before stops were located all around the periphery of the park. It is said that reconstruction will take a year, UGH !!!

I made my transit well and cranked it out and made coffee and sat outside the church for a bit before folks started turning up. Once again we sat a good group. New faces and our core group of attendees. Tonight we read Step Three from the Twelve and Twelve.

I always tell the same story of meeting God incarnate when I got sick, and how he moved in my life and what I have learned in these past twelve years and some odd months. In the book, it talks about “electricity” how it is there, all the time, and how we depend on it for survival. We can’t see it, but it is there. In some ways, God is all around us, but some can’t seem to find Him, or, they just can’t conceptualize Him, or they can’t wrap their heads around turning it over to Him.

I look at some of our newcomers. One especially. She struggles around God. But at the same time, she has a faith in God in the religions of her father and mother. She sees God there, and she prays and goes to Temple, but when she walks in the room, there is an evident disconnect.

So I was thinking on the way out that she keeps coming back. She likes the group, those in the group and what we have to share every week. And for an hour a week, she climbs the same stairs we do, gets her coffee and takes her same seat, and she let’s go … I don’t know if it makes sense that she is letting it go when she comes, but it evident in the way she speaks.

You can’t push someone into belief. It has to come organically. Watching others begin their journey, is a spiritual experience. The best place to see God move is in a meeting. It is a privilege and a grace to share this time with our fellows.

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.

It was a good night. Everybody is good. The weather is holding.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … Brrr It’s Cold !!!

tumblr_mrh2a45JQ31rydszfo1_500 iheefzCourtesy: Iheefz

It is another single digit night, with a low coming in tonight of (5c). Last night, it was very chilly.

In weeks time, the temperatures have dropped considerably and a friend commented tonight

“Where the fuck did September go?”

We usually get to the end of September before we hit single digits, but that is not the case here right now. I decided last night to crate the A.C. for another winter. We actually turned the heat on to take away the chill last night.

The Sun tossed earth huge C.M.E’s but we here in Quebec, well, most probably, Montreal, did not get to see any auroras. But many in Canada did get to see them. It was clouded over, overnight both Friday and Saturday night.

It was a quiet weekend, and it was interesting last night, when we went to bed, there was no background hum of the A.C. Just the sounds of the streets rising into the tower.

I set off uber early to work with a friend on a new blog project. That is always fun, trying new things, and seeing what WordPress has to offer new writers. It was all too much to try and fit into a 90 minute consult. Finding the right theme, with the right perks takes time and patience. Knowing what you want the blog to do, is key, then you find a theme and template to match.

WordPress offers a huge amount of choices.

I have been using the same template and interface for many years. I have tweaked my site for optimum efficiency. If you go and make a serious changes with a new template, then you have to go back and redo everything that you had done already for a new space. That takes too much time, and I don’t need that kind of headache.

We got to the church on time, having walked up the block from Second Cup, and cranked it out and made coffee. It was a good crowd. Some new faces, and good discussion.

We read the story “A Vision of Recovery.”

We will soon be at the end of the book before too long.

I listened to the read, and I kind of trolled off topic, since a handful of folks started a tangent thought, so I fed off that for my contribution.

The same themes come up, but I took notice of “Insanity, Promises, Words and Higher Power.”

The insanity of the fact that, it is never just one, there is always more. The promises we make to people in our lives, namely family, that always get broken. I was reminded of what my father always said to me … “Be careful the words you speak, because once you speak them, you can never take them back.” And finally, finding a higher power, or a concept of one.

In the story our man is in the deep end of the pool, not knowing what to do, either attend a neighbors party and drink again, call his sponsor, who did not answer his call, or call on God to help.

He chooses the latter saying, “Well I guess it’s just you and me bud!”

He survives that night, and eventually gets into a meeting and sobers up.

The story ends with two years of sobriety, and his mention of working his Eighth Step.

Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

I’ve said before that my steps have been incomplete since the day I got sober, because of extenuating circumstances. You can’t make amends to someone who does not want to be in your life, for reasons well out of your control.

You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends, and create the family that you want.

Many people I know, in the rooms, have done just that. We’ve all build our family out of our fellows, male and female. Sometimes you need to detach from people, places and things that do not serve you anymore. In sobriety we grow up, sadly, some people on the outside, do not …

I can’t compete with some of the words spoken to me by family. It’s funny, my father thought that he was the fount of wisdom, and that every words he uttered, advisory or not, was to be obeyed and never questioned.

Sadly, he spoke words, but did not heed them himself.

I remembered those words. So you could say that I was an alcoholic, who did not speak. Rather, I acted. And they say that actions speak louder than words. My actions probably screamed, and I am paying for those actions to this day.

We all grow up. And move into our adulthood’s and lives. There will be people who may not necessarily agree with your choices and the way we choose to grow up. And I’ve learned that expecting someone (read: Family) to grow up and understand is one expectation too many.

Especially when you hear the words …”If either your father or me die, no one will call you and no one will tell you where we are buried.”

Be careful the words you speak, because once you speak them, you can never take them back.

Sadly, she did not heed those word either.

Another week is upon us. It will be a great week, because I will get presents in the mail.

Everybody is sober another night.

More to come, stay tuned …

Mittens, and Scarves, and Sweaters … Oh My !!!

tumblr_lrddob1hRW1qaw7dbo1_500 jakecooperCourtesy: Jake Cooper

The weather has most definitely changed. When I got up today, I walked onto the balcony and there was a very noticeable “Chill” in the air. At this hour we are sitting at (9c).

It was a good day.

I got some really great news when I checked my email. It seems the seller that I bought my Mario Gozte jersey from yesterday, who sent a hurried email saying that he didn’t have the size I wanted and offered a choice, I sent that email back, this morning he wrote that he INDEED had an XL jersey that I wanted, so no Argentine addition to my purchase, but he is sending along some special gifts.

I got the jersey I wanted in the end.

I decided on a sweater for the evening. When I got downstairs and exited my building, I knew then and there that it was much chillier than I had expected. I could have used a second layer, because I was chilled. I did not feel like going back upstairs to get my fleece. So I set out for the meeting.

I left a bit early to get some things at Target on the way out, I’ve been noticing every time I walk into that store of just how little merchandise they actually have on the shelves. In some departments there is plenty to look at, but other departments have numerous empty shelves.

I wonder how a store that was supposed to rock our world, and our neighborhood, who was supposed to offer us more than the original Zeller’s did, survives with bare shelves, and only a small selection of certain goods?

I hopped the train and made my transit in good time. There were a few folks setting up when I arrived at the church. And we sat a full house again. The reading speaks about Truth, Honesty, Integrity and Amends.

Many of us had something to say. We heard some great thoughts. Someone started the ball rolling, and it went on from there, and after the meeting, people were commenting on just how great the meeting was and that they had learned something from the discussion. Not that we don’t have good meetings, or that we learn from each other on any given Friday night, it was just tonight people got a little deeper and that lent to a great discussion.

By the time we walked to the bus stop to come home, it was chilly.

I noticed on the way out, that folks were bundled up in jackets, scarves, sweaters and even mittens for some. Our nightly temps will be single digits for the next few days. People will be breaking out their winter jackets before too long.

I had mentioned a few days ago that certain civil employees, Police, Fire Fighters, Metro drivers and Employees, Bus Drivers and the like all drive “Sticker” ridden vehicles. Cop cars, Buses, Trains and Fire Trucks are covered in political stickers. On the way home I was talking to one of my friends and I asked him, “when all of this is over, how are they going to get all those stickers off all those vehicles, and not damage them. Not that they aren’t already damaged with sticker glue on windows, hoods and tail ends of cars, the buses, fire trucks and trains. I don’t know how they are going to clean up that mess.

Interesting …

More to come, stay tuned

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