By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis shared personal moments with 200,000 people on Saturday, telling them he sometimes nods off while praying at the end of a long day and that it “breaks my heart” that the death of a homeless person is not news.
Francis, who has made straight talk and simplicity a hallmark of his papacy, made his unscripted comments in answers to questions by four people at a huge international gathering of Catholic associations in St. Peter’s Square.
But he outdid himself in passionately discussing everything from the memory of his grandmother to his decision to become a priest, from political corruption to his worries about a Church that too often closes in on itself instead of looking outward.
“If we step outside of ourselves, we will find poverty,” he said, repeating his call for Catholics to do more to seek out those on the fringes of society who need help the most,” he said from the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica
“Today, and it breaks my heart to say it, finding a homeless person who has died of cold, is not news. Today, the news is scandals, that is news, but the many children who don’t have food – that’s not news. This is grave. We can’t rest easy while things are this way.”
The crowd, most of whom are already involved in charity work, interrupted him often with applause.
“We cannot become starched Christians, too polite, who speak of theology calmly over tea. We have to become courageous Christians and seek out those (who need help most),” he said.
To laughter from the crowd, he described how he prays each day before an altar before going to bed.
“Sometimes I doze off, the fatigue of the day makes you fall asleep, but he (God) understands,” he said.
CRISIS OF VALUES
Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, said the world was going through not just an economic crisis but a crisis of values.
“This is happening today. If investments in banks fall, it is a tragedy and people say ‘what are we going to do?’ but if people die of hunger, have nothing to eat or suffer from poor health, that’s nothing. This is our crisis today. A Church that is poor and for the poor has to fight this mentality,” he said.
Many in the crowd planned to stay in the square overnight to pray and prepare for Francis’ Mass on Sunday, when the Catholic Church marks Pentecost, the day it teaches that the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles.
On Saturday morning, Francis met German Chancellor Angela Merkel and discussed Europe’s economic crisis.
Apparently responding to his criticism of a heartless “dictatorship of the economy” earlier in the week, Merkel, who is up for re-election in September, later called for stronger regulation of financial markets.
On Thursday, Francis appealed in a speech for world financial reform, saying the global economic crisis had made life worse for millions in rich and poor countries.
(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
It was a gloomy day out as I prepped to leave for the evening. And loathed to carry my umbrella, I wore a hoodie and had my tuque in my bag, just in case.
There have been discussions about my sharing my thoughts on death and the fact that my doctor is adamant that I am to drop dead soon. The consensus is that I should definitely get a second opinion – a new fresh set of eyes to look at my file and give me some constructive truth.
All of my labs are fine. There was no discussion of them directly or in passing. My HIV numbers are all nominal – like they have been for more than a year. Tomorrow I will call the clinic and make my request. And if they can accommodate me then I will take my business elsewhere. I am not going to sit here and ruminate over dying. That is the farthest thing from my heart and mind and I don’t appreciate someone taking that tack with me and give me no further information. based on his appraisal.
It rained …
I made my transit across the square with a stop at Pharmaprix both on the way out and on the way back. The mall is still in remodeling phase. Lots of empty space and walls up all over the main floor.
I noticed last night, that the Seville crane was being taken down. They completed that mission over the weekend. I guess that means no more heavy lifting for phase three any more. There are a few stacks of bricks on the property still waiting to be used. In the main large space underneath phase three is Adonis, a small chain grocery store. That should be a welcome change.
There are lots of plans going on for this end of town. We’ve not heard anything since the proposal to raze the Provigo and build a high rise building in its place, and move Provigo further up the block in the old Omer de Seres space, but there is a condo sign out front of that space, so it may not be taken up by Provigo unless they build up – out of the main building into a high rise condo.
We sat a modest number of folks. Die hard Sunday night attendees. We are at Chapter 8 – to Wives. When the book was published long ago, it was geared to men. Not many women were represented in the room just yet, but this chapter was written to the few who began women’s recovery in the rooms.
We read the first few pages of what the lay of the land was for the woman with an alcoholic in their lives, and just what happens to relationships and businesses and work lives.
And I wonder… What would have happened if this solution based answer to the problem of alcoholism was introduced to my family? Because back then, in the 40′s for my grandparents, the 50′s and 60′s for my parents, women married for better or for worse. They were in it good or bad. My mother’s sister was smart, she did not marry into the problem of alcoholism. She stayed clear of what she was witness to through the eyes of her siblings, family and friends.
I ran roughshod through my family life. Dad was a Jekyl and Hide drinker. And he could flip the switch on his personalities with ease. When it was good it was good, but when it was bad it was worse.
My parent’s were not solution oriented people. Alcoholism existed. Deal with it, but never speak of it or go to find a solution for it. What happens at home stays at home, no one need know about this blight on our family.
Thank God I am sober today. I am grateful for all good things.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
It has been an interesting past couple of days. And I chose not to write yesterday because I was waiting on a medical call from my doctor after our short but terse visit together.
Obviously, he says one thing, then does another.
Because of what he said at my appointment was of such import and dire warnings that he should have followed up on what he wanted to do next.
Alas, I am still waiting…
By the Numbers …
16 April 2013 VL 39 copies CD4% 45 CD4Abs 1080
02 Jan 2013 VL 39 copies CD4% 45 CD4Abs 1440
07 Aug 2012 VL 39 copies CD4% 44 CD4Abs 1276
My t-cells seem to fluctuate around that thousand mark. But as long as my percentages remain at 45% there is no worry from my doctor. I got copies from my file/chart that has a more explicit history of my treatment.
Two appointments ago, my doctor mentioned that a change is coming for my treatment plan. The new regimen is not online yet here in Canada. So I remain on what I am taking until then. Probably six months to a year out.
Secondly, my doctor has been fixated on my heart. A fixation that has only grown in earnest this appointment yesterday. He tells me one thing, then I go to see his brother for my diabetes issues and George sends me for a cardiogram.
I dropped two copies off to both clinics. Now, it is understood that if a problem arises that they would call me immediately because something needs attention right away.
I’ve been working on that assumption for all these years. So I dropped that lab off and got no response.
Yesterday at my appointment my doctor mentioned in passing that there was some abnormality on the scan. He did not elaborate. He then went on this tirade that I was going to drop dead.
Or have a heart attack soon, as in IMMINENT !!!
He has been about this warning for some time. However he does not elaborate on the warning. Frustrating.
He wanted to order a battery of tests. A stress test and all that goes along with it, and he left it at that. He said nothing encouraging to me yesterday. He was very grim. However good my labs were, he seems fixated on my mortality.
More than usual. Is this about him or me I wonder !!!
Since cardiac issues run in my family, not to mention strokes, I am on God’s good graces, seeing my father has had several heart attacks, and both his parents were knocked down by terrible debilitating strokes. I should be right in line for some catastrophic heart related issue … Let Us Pray !!!
I left that appointment shaking my head. Not knowing what to feel or whether I should really be worrying. The secretary at the clinic was supposed to make arrangements, check with my doc and call me back.
Now, had this been an immense emergency, like needing these tests right away, they would have already contacted me into the cardiac clinic.
They haven’t … No call at all, two days later. Should I worry or not? Do I give in to serious ruminating and worry that my mortality is in jeopardy? I have no clue, so until such time I get a call or further warning, I am going to go on with my life.
An issue has arisen with the Quebec government and my financial aide file. They say I owe them almost $3000.00 in back loans. AIDS and HIV are disability issues and that loan should have been converted to bursaries long ago but weren’t. When I applied for financial aide, I submitted a disability form in late 2003. They are fixated on this date as my diagnosis date. They are wrong.
My diagnosis date was July 8th 1994. Not November 2003.
I have to contact my primary care physician in Miami to get him to send some notes up here to verify that I was treated in their clinic prior to my arriving here in Canada. Ugh !!!
*** *** *** ***
Today is Thursday. I usually don’t sit here and stare at my monitor all day long. so instead I sleep until I need to get up and go. Which is what I did today.
I was up early and out by twenty to six for the meeting. It has been on the cool side the past few nights. And on the way home I was chilled.
We sat a fair number and hit kitty goal again tonight.
Our chair read from the Big Book, and Chapter Five … How it Works.
“If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.”
One line. Lots of words. People all over the place on the topic of steps.
There is a note in my Big Book on Step Twelve …
Having HAD a spiritual awakening as THE result of these steps, we tried to carry the message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
In my book I have this notation at Step 12 … There is no other result if you work the steps…
We talked long and hard about steps, where we all are at the moment, what he did, how we did it and what happened afterwards.
Suffice to say that at ten years, I had a spiritual awakening. I have worked my steps again since then. I live in my steps today, to the best of my ability.
I am not perfect. I still have issues, with myself and a few others. Not many others. But still. I do what I can every day to help someone else.
It was a good night.
More to come, stay tuned…
The weather has been up, and it has been down. It rained a little and I heard tonight, from some, that we had hail overnight. Go Figure. The temperature has dropped to freezing levels overnight, and I actually turned off the a/c and opted for Heat to sleep last night. I had to further retrofit my a/c dock because the wind was blowing so hard and cold that the apartment was chilled, and so I added a second layer of plastic around the enclosure, that seemed to have worked.
It was a beautiful sunny day, albeit cooler than usual, which meant a hoodie layer when out and about. We ventured out to Trinity Memorial for the meeting, but we took a new route. Instead of tracking all the way through the metro system we hopped on the 90 bus just up the block to Vendome. It was quicker and I would consider using this route instead of two metros and lots of time in between.
We sat a full compliment of folks, with varying amounts of time. The topic came from Living Sober and “Getting active.”
What do you do with yourself when you quit the drinking and the drugs? All that time you spent procuring them, arranging them, consuming them and in the end recovering from them as well? How do we fill that time with constructive “things to do?”
First you need to find your bearings … hence the compass …
In the beginning, going to as many meetings as is possible is recommended. Suggestions are 90 in 90. And for some, they do twice as much. Once the drink and the drugs are removed, we need to dry out and clear our heads. I am one for sinking into your chair and listening for a while, until you begin to feel your footing.
Many of our young people still struggle with themselves and the voices in their heads that crops up daily and encourages them into chaos and calamity. But once we begin to sober journey, it takes time to turn that tape off and start listening to the voice of calm and serenity.
When I got sober, last, I went to meetings when possible. Because I had things going on in my life at the time and my actions were needed in other places, other than meetings. Until I came to Montreal. And time was on my side.
I spent a few weeks scoping out meetings. Meeting people, and finding someone to work with me. That first year was amazing. I did so many cool things and went many places, and hit hundreds and thousands of meetings. I traveled sober. And I stayed sober.
I rooted in a meeting, in several actually, but I had one home group five months in. I started with service, because that is what our group required from new members. In order to be part of you had to work as part of for a period of time, before you earned privileges like secretary and chairing. And I did that.
There are still groups that I know of today that require a period of service before you get put into service rotation. In order to be part of you have to become part of. And you do that in service.
Over time, we learn how to engage in life soberly. We take on responsibility and we begin to engage the world and our emotions through sobriety. And it ain’t easy. It takes work. And our young people all seem to be of the same mind when it comes to sobriety. “Give me something to do, help me occupy myself with constructive things to do, please.”
For me, I took it as it came. I did not overburden myself with too much to do. But I had something to do every day. I had meetings, I had aftercare, I had service to be done at aftercare, which is where we spent hours a day working and chatting and being counseled by our therapy team. And that lasted a year.
The next layer I added to life was a university education, which took up the next seven years of my life. A few years in I got involved and into a relationship which turned into a marriage in sobriety. After university, I had more time to burn and two years of Cgep that I took on and returned to the classroom for two more years. Which makes education almost 10 years.
Aside from my school and family time, I had to make meetings. And I learned to build my life around my meetings. And that method of sobriety served me well to this day.
Once you root in the rooms, opportunity presents itself. I did not have too far to go looking for it. Everything I have today came directly from the rooms. I learned how to fill that “using time” with good things. It takes some practice, and time is on our side.
All we have is time, it is what you do with that time that matters.
Do what you enjoy doing. Find your passion – DO IT – Money will follow.
We had a 27 year cake and lots of good conversation.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned.
All the rain they promised us – did not materialize. However hard it tried to spit rain over night. Enough fell to wet the streets and douse the trees with a little moisture, but significant rain did not fall.
It has been chilly on the side of cold, cold enough to warrant a hoodie on top of a shirt, because I was cold wearing only a sweatshirt this evening. We stuck to the tunnel to transit from here to the church and back.
We arrived at the church and the hall was a mess of people, tables and chairs all over the place and people were coming and going hastily. We learned soon after that the great St. Joseph’s Oratory Choir performed at the church this afternoon, hence all the people.
We sorted out tables and chairs, and stacked the piles of chairs and put the ones we did not need back in the store room. Clean up took a few minutes and then we sorted out the room for the meeting that followed.
We sat a fair number of folks, and finished our reading of Chapter Seven, Working with Others. The final passage we read deals with family and relationships and how to navigate sticky places in new found sobriety.
The best I can be when working with others, is just to be present. And usually God will direct the scene as He sees fit. That’s why we have the twenty minutes prior and twenty minutes after guide. Because that’s when we got to work with others. Presence, the greatest gift you can give to your fellows.
*** *** *** ***
It is a parent day today. And navigating them is pretty artful. This is where I get to Debbie Downer a bit.
The last time I saw my mother was for twenty minutes on New Years Day 2001, when my parents arrived on my doorstep for an impromptu visit deigned by my father, but not long enough to create a “sticky memory” I don’t remember the substance of the visit or the words said, but I do remember the defiant “NO” I got from my father as to hosting a lunch for the three of us before they headed back on the road to Sarasota.
End of that thread …
Honor thy Father and Mother … The bible says so. I don’t see the logic in honoring someone who does not deign to recognize or honor me.
Being Gay and HIV+ were always the kickers in our relationship.
But I thought that when children grow up and become adults, they should be able to make decisions for themselves hopefully good ones that will help them prosper and grow further.
I made two decisions in sobriety – the first and second time, that served me. I took my right to exist and to move on from dire straits and was punished for making adult decisions. It was far better to be resentful and angry, rather than support a child in his decisions about his life. Fuck me …
My move to Montreal was fraught with anger. How dare I piss on my American heritage and dishonor my father by taking a birthright that was mine to take and leave all that I knew for a place that I would make my home.
Ohhh the anger …
My father spoke family gospel and what he said was the end all be all of any argument. And so it went. I spent a year, a calendar year, trying to salvage a relationship with my mother.
I wrote, called, sent packages, etc … to no avail.
My parents were so put out by my decision to move North that silence and punishment was their only recourse. But of course that was their modus opperandi.
The last conversation I had with my mother went this way … And I quote …
“If I or your father ever get sick or die, You will not be contacted, ever !!!”
That conversation took place more than 11 years ago. Fuck me …
Faggots do not get respect, nor dignity. AIDS ridden children get nothing but scorn and indignation. When the chips fell where they did people scattered, including my family. I had no choice or say in the matter.
I was fucked from the word Go !!!
So happy Mother’s day to you all.
How do you pray away the ache the rises in the heart about things you cannot change nor do anything to make better ???
I still don’t have the answer to that question.
It was a good day. Friends, fellows and a meeting. It can’t get better than that.
More to come, stay tuned…
Once again today they told us it was going to rain. As I was preparing to leave for the evening, it didn’t look like rain, and I hate carrying my big umbrella, so I left it here at home.
We arrived at Laurier and caught the bus, and on the way it began to spit rain. It did not last long. And after the meeting we hitched a ride to Sherbrooke Metro and still no rain fell. When we arrived at Guy to walk home the ground was wet, so it must have rained on our side of the mountain.
But you know, they have been spraying the skies for weeks. I watch these planes coming from the West, from the direction of the airport, way up high, they did not take off from our airport because the planes are up so high in the air. Most of the time there are a pair of planes spraying chemicals from west to east over the downtown core. I saw a plane spraying just the other day. Some say it is just air streaming from the planes – but if you listen to radio, chemical spraying is happening all over the place.
Why didn’t the rain come ???
We sat a full room, and then some. We are reading once again As Bill Sees It.
In God’s Hands …
” When we look back, we realize that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God’s hands were better than anything we could have planned.”
The consensus among my fellows tonight were “turning it over” “surrender” “letting go” so forth and so on.
Hindsight is 20/20 and if I am honest, my surrender began much earlier than when I made the conscious surrender of the drink.
A series of events lined up for me – that surely did not come from my hands. There was no other place to go, no other place to live and no other thing to be doing. I had surrendered myself to the grand scheme of things, so to speak.
When I finally met the end of my drinking, and I uttered the prayer for an alcoholic to come into my life, essentially, I was turning it over to God. He would either grant the prayer or He wouldn’t.
Within days an alcoholic appeared in my life and escorted me to my next first meeting. And within weeks, the stars began to align. Not by my hand, and not by my doing, the shortcomings of others played out into my hands. And the sign from God was to answer the call and follow.
And that is what I did.
One thing led to another and I ended up here. And the rest, they say, is history.
I never imagined in all my life, that life would have ended up where it has. But I suited up and I showed up and God did the rest.
This is why we read the books cover to cover, over and over again.
This is why we go to meetings every day, over and over again.
And this is how we stay sober. One day at a time, turning it over, and letting it go. It takes work, and the payoff can be fantastic. If you get out of the way and let God do the heavy lifting.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned.
They said that rain was coming and that for sure the weather was going to change today, for the next few days. Last night, overnight, it spit rain enough to wet the streets, barely. We waited all day for the rain to start falling, and we even made mother nature happy by carrying umbrellas into the night, even though no rain fell on the way in OR on the way out.
There was hockey tonight … But numbers were nominal.
It was a beautiful day otherwise. I left early and sat outside for a while watching the people go by, and also the lilac bushes were flowering outside the church and they smell heavenly.
We sat 11 folks. We went the entire hour. We read from Chapter Three in the Big Book, More About Alcoholism.
“The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking” is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker.
When I read this chapter, I start my thinking at “Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people…”
What, Who, Me … an alcoholic, nonsense.
Growing up I was a third generation alcoholic. I learned from the best examples, alcoholics through and through. Growing up I proved that I could drink like everybody else.
When I left home and moved out on my own, I proved I could drink like everybody else. Because everybody I hung out with, drank to excess. Not this “just one teetotaller.” It was More, More and MORE !!!
Both my bottoms were crash and burn bottoms. The first time, I was drinking every night, sometimes during the day, as during this time in my life I faced one tragedy after another. I was powerless to change what happened, except the fact that had I decided, I could have put the drink down, but I didn’t.
After getting sick, one night, I tried to drink myself into the ground, rather than face my own mortality. The man who kept a copy of the Big Book on his cash register for a year before I learned what it was, became my first sponsor.
This is a progressive disease, it only gets worse.
Going out and finding myself at the end of another drinking spree, years later, I returned to familiarity. There was nothing to deny, I was an alcoholic, through and through, and if I did not put down the drink, I surely would have died.
So here I am, working on year twelve. Carefully, eleven years and five months clean and sober, is the longest I have been clean and sober in my life. I am not going to even ponder picking up a drink now, because like I have said before, I moved here clean and sober, I did not have a drinking career here, and I don’t want to create one now.
That is why we go to meetings. Over and Over and Over.
That is why we read the books, from cover to cover, over and over.
We may have another drink in us, but we may not have another recovery in us.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
Courtesy: Jonathan by Pete Taylor on Flickr
The week has begun. And mother nature is making up for so much cold and snow with gorgeous days filled with sunshine and warmth. Rain is in the forecast, the trees and green spaces are greening up very nicely. But we also need to be watered.
As is usual, I was up and ready to go early this evening. With it being so nice outside, getting to the meeting early payed. We spent the time before the meeting sitting outside the church talking – the meeting before the meeting.
The room was full. We sat almost every chair. And we read from Living Sober, and First things First. It is good that newcomers come to this meeting, and we get to hear how they parse and put to use the slogans and passages from the book in their lives, as they get sober. Oh the pains of early sobriety !!! Everything is upside down and things are crazy and life hasn’t fallen into shape just yet, so the struggle continues for them.
it is also good the people with considerable time are interspersed between the newbies, and we all listen, because it is the newcomer that keeps us with time around.
One of our men quoted H.A.L.T … Hungry Angry Lonely and Tired
Another spoke of what he learned in his first ten years, in hindsight, and what changed in the second decade of his sobriety. And why he still goes to meetings as often as he does. So that he never picks up that first drink.
It is funny what stories come to mind for me when I go to a meeting. And they seem apropos to the topic at hand.
Getting down and dirty I spoke. The first time I got sober, it was medically necessary. I was diagnosed with terminal illness and I was given my end date. I got and stayed sober. I did everything I was told to do, in a first thing first method. And I never strayed very far from those directions, and they saved my life.
Yes, I counted to days until I was supposed to die, and however hard my sponsor, then, chided me, I did it anyways.
When I got to my death date, I was still alive. And With that I had to figure out what I was going to do next. That led me to four years of sobriety. But slogans and pointers became less and less used. And I began to fade from the program and my sobriety lost its priority. S.L.I.P.
I took my good health for granted and made that fateful decision to upgrade my alcoholism to drug addiction. Surely that step up should have, in no uncertain terms, knock time off my timeline.
I was fully shot by the time I took my last drink the second time. Kicking the drugs was easy, because I put distance between me and them and never looked back. But the drink took longer to stop, because I was wrapped up in “ME.”
But I eventually put down the drink, and got sober the second time. Still alive and having a life was something that I was trying to save, once again. Coming here I found a place, a meeting and a doctor.
The geographic was the best decision I had ever made. Because I have achieved things I never thought would be possible. Sobriety paid off because I was given certain direction. And I obeyed that direction. I built my life around my meetings, I listened to the slogans and read the books from cover to cover.
And to this day, we are still reading to same books, cover to cover in some instances. And a reading here and there. All those things I heard in early sobriety are still being said almost twelve years later.
First things First …
I need quiet time in the morning. I need to say my prayers. I need to order my day, and get to a meeting. I need to take my pills and I need to eat. And when I am tired I need to sleep.
The thought that God could pull the rug out from under me still remains visible in my rear view mirror. I’ve been on a good run for a long time. And if I forget or ignore first things first, I am doomed.
There is order in my day today.
Most of my friends are sober, so, if I want to see them, I need to carry myself to a meeting. I need to arrive twenty minutes early and stay twenty minutes late.
I need to stay out of my head. I need to talk to my sponsor regularly. I need to work with newcomers. I need to give back.
…But obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got …
Which is why we go to meetings, and we read the books and we share. Where else are you going to learn what it is to give and what to give, if you don’t stick around and learn?
Thank God for newcomers. It all seems easier, now that I am here, and not there. However I don’t begrudge them their struggles. If it was so easy peasy, we wouldn’t work so hard getting sober.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
Courtesy: Untiltheacropolis – Tibetan Prayer Flags
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. People out and about enjoying this summer like weather in the spring. The trees are greening quickly and some of the flowering trees have blooms on them. The city is thawing quickly and the green spaces are coming online nicely.
I departed early to stop off to get some things from the mall on the way out and instead of walking overland, I took the tunnel through Westmount Square. The hall was blessedly cool as we set up for the meeting.
We seated a fair number tonight, as we always do on Sunday evening. And we continued reading from Chapter 7 – Working with Others.
“To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action.”
Another passage could suffice here: “Faith without works is Dead !”
The best thing I do to work with others, is to be present. Being present is the greatest gift you can give someone. You don’t always have to use words, but by your action of being present, you can change a life.
And that is what I do several times a week, at the assorted meetings I attend. I arrive early, even if I am not a member of said group. Because I enjoy the company of my friends and the others who come.
I am a member on Sunday and Thursday nights. I give back by helping to put on a meeting. I may not formally sponsor people. But I am present in the lives of my fellows. I have phone numbers in my phone that I use often. I always try to engage my friends and encourage them on a daily basis.
By giving back, freely what was given me, or you, we are giving back to a fellowship that operates on the principle of attraction rather than promotion. If you are good to others, they will want to spend time with you. It is in showing them how you stay sober, that others may stay sober.
The rule of thumb is 20 minutes before – 20 minutes after.
The most important moments of the meeting. When you can reach out to other members and talk openly and invite them to other meetings. And see whether or not you can offer experience, strength and hope.
That is how I work with others.
It was a good night.
More to come, stay tuned …
Another day, another adventure. But tonight I was flying solo, because my friend who usually accompanies me decided to stay in. The neighborhood has been jamming as of late, everything waits for a hockey game, even meetings.
There were crowds of people on the corner at the Sports Bar again tonight. He must be making a killing. Which brings much needed business to our neighborhood. With the completion of the Seville Project revitalizing further down Ste Catherine’s, our neighborhood has been given a much needed facelift.
I took off early as I needed to go by the mall on my way out, I took the train from Atwater instead of Guy. It was an easy ride out and to Laurier and the 51. The room was full, and we started from reading #1, in As Bill Sees It.
“It has often been said of A.A. that we are interested only in alcoholism. That is not true. We have to get over drinking in order to stay alive. But anyone who knows the alcoholic personality by firsthand contact knows that no true alky ever stops drinking permanently without undergoing a profound personality change.”
We thought “conditions” drove us to drink, and when we tried to correct these conditions and found that we couldn’t do so to our entire satisfaction, our drinking went out of hand and we became alcoholics. It never occurred to us that we needed to change ourselves to meet conditions, whatever they were.
I sat and listened tonight, to many shares that I understood.
I don’t know if conditions, in hindsight, were reason that I drank. I was told in no uncertain terms that the only way to break into community was to go to a bar, have a couple drinks and to see what happened.
I didn’t drink out of anger, or hatred for the conditions that existed in my life as a young person. You can’t choose your family, and I had my hands full with Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.
I was an alcoholic before I ever left home. I had done my fair share of drinking before I took that leap away from the nest. And that alcoholism only took off worse in my twenties and into my thirties.
I was an empty shell when I came to the end of my drinking career. I was living alone, and only my landlord, my friend Mark, and a couple of others, knew that I was merely existing. I had no life. I had no personality. It was all taken from me my disease(s) and things were pretty hopeless. Because I surely did not see a way out of the hell I was living in.
Thank God for people and the program. And what they did for me. I had begun to battle back from nothingness into healthiness. And at the point that I felt I was strong enough to act in sobriety, I acted. Decisively and Pointedly.
I was at that proverbial turning point. To continue to ply myself with alcohol would surely lead to death or insanity. It wasn’t doing me any favors. Time was ticking and it was not on my side. So I acted …
When I arrived here – with what little I owned – I began a new start. I had left the past in the dust, all those conditions I wanted to escape, and a life that wasn’t serving me very well. And here is where I began to build my new personality.
Over the past eleven or so years, I have accomplished many things. I have learned about me and what makes me tick. The people in my rooms were my salvation and my guides. I met a man who became my mentor and is still, to this day, one of my best friends.
Everything that I went through as a child, a young person and a young adult, I have surveyed over the years, and I studied life from many angles, and I conclude that all that happened to me informed who I would become, here and now. I didn’t have to carry shit North with me. And I didn’t.
With a fresh start and a new life ahead of me, the world was my oyster. All those things that I had listened to all my life, were deleted. All the things I was taught was right, became wrong. All those things I had learned down south became questionable here.
I had hit a proverbial wall. I hit culture shock big time, and it was my mentor and guide who helped me create who I wanted to be. I was a fresh slate. So it began and has been written over the last almost twelve years.
I’ve done all those things that I wasn’t allowed to do. The braces came off my brains and through the vehicle of the rooms and the people in them, my life began to be shaped. I learned who I was.
I’ve heard it said recently from newbies that fresh in the program, they have no idea who they are, and in the long run, it will be a blessing to see who they become, because I understand that. I walked that road myself.
Everything I know today came from people and university and my sober journey. I am not who I was over a decade ago. Life is far greater than it ever has been. I do what I please, within range. I live a much greater quality of life and I count great people as my friends. I have changed and for the better.
I have had a complete personality overhaul. Just like the book says.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned …
And Thursday arrived and what a day it was.
The weather is turning up. And the changeover from Winter to Spring has come. The neighborhood is cranking. The sports bar up the block was pumped early on this afternoon. And with a playoff hockey game coming tonight, they were speeding forwards to getting the new dining room open for business. It is quite spectacular.
They spent a fair chunk of money on the renovation. The owner appropriated 4 store fronts to expand the bars footprint. With the original dining room open, the 5 space terrace out front plus they new dining room coming online, they have more than tripled their capacity. The sports bar has crushed the corner curse.
It was running errands day, cleaning the apartment and doing the change over. While hubby was at school and running errands for me, I cleaned the apartment and installed the air conditioner in the bedroom window. It works fabulously !!!
Last night the final piece of the meeting puzzle was delivered to me, the Costco bag of cups, donated by a fellow, was the last piece we needed to open. I packed my bags this afternoon and met a friend to walk to the church around 5:30.
We set up the room, made the coffee, went over the format sheets, set up tables and chairs, and then we waited … Surely we would have a fair number of folks, but knowing there was a playoff hockey game on, that would be presumptuous.
We sat 9 folks. Three founders, two were missing. My sponsor, a newbie and a handful of members with time. We’ve been advertising the meeting for weeks, and we are in the blue sheets. I expect our DCM to visit us next week. Along with hopefully more folks.
If you build it, they will come.
Our founder chaired the meeting. And we opened the first meeting of Changing Attitudes with a reading from the Big Book, Chapter 2, There is a solution, more specifically Page 25. This passage includes Appendix II and Spiritual Experience.
Our goal to offer the men who come to our meeting is A Solution. It was a good start to our meeting to have started here. It was a very personal meeting. And it also goes that we are here for the newcomer. And one of our guests is weeks in and working his steps for the first time.
We hit our weekly goal for the kitty. In order to keep the doors open we need to hit a weekly goal in order to pay rent, collect a prudent reserve and pay out the opening costs from the build fund. In the end we spent $318.00 dollars to open the room. Each of us founders paid into the build fund and now some purchase bills need to be paid. We will do that in due course.
I was pleased to see people come. It was very gratifying for me to be able to have come full circle in twelve years, from a newcomer at Tuesday Beginners 11 years and a few months ago, to becoming a member of Tuesday Beginners for almost twelve years, and now be able to pay it back and open a meeting of our own.
Where a member had an idea and voiced that idea to the universe and see that idea come to fruition in a months time, was miraculous. The young man who found our meeting came tonight and knocked it out of the park. I am so proud of him, and gratified to be part of the founders group.
And they say, in the book, “that we should not take ourselves so seriously!”
Meeting one, week one, is in the history book. It was a successful night all around. A good night was had by all.
Thanks for reading. More to come, stay tuned…
T minus two days and counting.
It was a warm day today. For some strange reason, my alarm clock was an hour fast. I don’t remember re-setting it last night, and I programmed a wake up ring for 4:30 this afternoon. It rang and I got up, I came into the living room and “The Cycle” was on. I was an hour off. I just reset the clock and farted around for an extra hour before getting ready to go.
The Tuesday meeting was well attended. I did some networking and invited the guys to the Thursday meeting. Each of them gave me an excuse as to why they could not come. Oh Well …
We read from As Bill Sees It and the slip.
Suppose we fall short of our chosen ideals and stumble? Does this mean we are going to get drunk? Some people tell us so. But this is only a half truth. The Tuesday meeting is a beginners meeting and we had them in spades tonight.
The sober time in the room varied from one day to double decades. And the discussion went – how to avoid the first drink.
We hear it often from newcomers how hard life is in early sobriety, because things were so upside down when they came in, that telling them to stick around and it will get better, (but not have a firm date as to when that will happen) is somewhat problematic.
The key here is to help them keep coming back, and to teach them to Act as If ! All those little key slogans that help us in the early years. For some, they are hard pressed to listen because the voices in their heads are vying for the ear.
I’ve been stirring up sobriety by going to new and different meetings, because the time came for change. I needed new voices and new stories. I have found that every one who shares in a meeting is either one of two things, (1) a warning or (2) a lesson.
Since I don’t have a drinking history here, I don’t want to start one. I came here sober and I want to die here sober. We’ve been hearing all the key warnings coming from old timers slipping, and newbies slipping, and folks in the mix of what one should NOT do and what one SHOULD do to guarantee sobriety.
You need key things to stay sober.
1. You need to go to meetings
2. You need to work your steps
3. You need a good sponsor
4. You need to build your life around your meetings
5. You need to do service
6. You need to read the books
All these things will help you guarantee sobriety. Stay away from sticky places and don’t go into your head alone. And keep coming back, even when it hurts and when things are good. Because when things are good you can learn gratitude, and when things are bad, you have banked time to hold onto sobriety and not take that first drink.
A good night was had by all.
It’s Tuesday but Thursday’s a coming …
More to come, stay tuned…
It is a grey day today. There is sun, it is quite blustery out there as well. Today was “D-Day” to get all the incidentals completed for Thursday’s premier.
I met my friend and we headed off to the office store to pick up my laminates which came out really nice. We had two 3 ring binders, which I was going to buy, but since we had them all was well. I borrowed format sheets from the Sunday meeting they are quite concise and neat, so I brought them home last night and did a little white out operation and now they are ours. I had copies made of the drafts and hole punched for the book.
Then we headed to Alexis Nihon Plaza for some Dollarama Shopping. Now a days, the dollar store is no longer a “dollar” store but more like, really cheap, but not a dollar… The first trip saw us boxes for kitchen stuff, coffee, sugar, stirrers, etc. Boxes for books and the notebooks. Baskets for meeting lists and pens and membership box. And a table cloth for the literature table. I was well within budget on my spending.
We checked out and set off for the church to sort and store the new stuff in the cabinet, but I forgot to get containers for the sugar packets and stirrers and a couple of composition books for membership information and to keep historical notes for the group.
We headed home after doing our sorting and I went by Dollarama a second time and then to the grocery store for Tea, cookies and lunch. In a full member meeting, men/women combined, people drink exotic teas from all over, and many different types of tea. For our men’s meeting I went with decaf green tea, earl grey, and mulled apple. Hopefully our tea drinkers will be pleased.
The cabinet is full, the shopping is done. We are ready to rock and roll.
$100.00 rent – May
$ 74.00 coffee urn
$ 35.00 cabinet purchase
$13.00 photo copies for the book
$30.00 dollarama shop
$18.00 tea – cookies groceries Provigo
$7.00 sugar – stirrers IGA
$13.00 (2) cans of coffee – Provigo
Total: $308.00 to open a meeting.
And that all came from the founders group and not from seventh tradition yet.
More to come, stay tuned …
We are on the final countdown for the first meeting of Changing Attitudes. The cabinet is installed, there is a coffee pot and coffee in the cabinet today.
Tomorrow I pick up the laminates and office supplies, and we will be shopping for sundry items to fill the cabinet.
Opening a meeting is daunting. There are so many things to do before we can put on a meeting. You have to apply to GSO for group registration. They approve your application and notify the D.C.M. for the area that a new meeting is opening, so that they can come and inspect the group to make sure we are following the traditions and the book.
Then you have to find a space that will allow you to hold a meeting, and that takes work. Thankfully St. Leon’s was open to our request for space on another weeknight. Now there are several meetings that take place in that space. And you need to front the first months rent to pay for the space in advance of the first meeting, which meant the founder fronted all the money necessary to pay the first months rent. And pray that the seventh tradition will carry you forwards to be able to pay rent in the long run, and keep supplies in the cabinet.
We are in the Blue Sheets for the months of May and June already, so that is a good thing. We will get press as the new sheets have been mailed out to other groups in the city.
The founders must meet to work out the details of the meeting format, discuss what we want to do in ways of format and topic. I typed up the meeting notes and all the proper readings, Steps, Traditions, Promises and the format sheet. They are being laminated for pick up tomorrow.
Then there is the inviting of the men from our meetings to come, which means traveling to other meetings during the week to publicize the meeting.
We are expecting a good showing from the folks we have already invited since the beginning of this process had begun a few weeks ago, since we had a set date for the first meeting. G.S.O. has put us in the sheets as a new meeting requesting registration and with the D.C.M. inspection, we will make it into the next printing of the meeting booklet.
I left early to get the paperwork in the process on the way to the meeting tonight, we sat a fair number of folks tonight and we read from the Twelve and Twelve, and Tradition #4.
“Each group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.”
Our old timers spoke on this tradition tonight saying that the opening of a new group should always be grounded in Traditions 2,4 and 9.
#2 – For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants they do not govern.
#4 – Each group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
#9 – A.A. as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
We are told in no uncertain terms in Tradition Four that “We should not take ourselves too seriously.”
There are a group of men who are founders of the group. We came together to rally around the one man who made the initial suggestion of starting this new group. And my sponsor was apt to say that “If the meeting is meant to be, God will make it work.”
We all put up the funds to pay the rent, buy supplies and work out the format. It was a group effort. We all agreed that in order to make it all come together we needed to bring together a group conscience and let God do the rest. And it seems that He is with us, as we are in the final prep days for the meeting.
Where ever two or more alcoholics come together for the purpose of sobriety, they can call themselves an A.A. Meeting. Our main goal is to carry the message to alcoholics who still suffer and to be a part of our rich fellowship in the city.
The one thought that sticks in my brain is that “YOU cannot keep your EGO and get sober at the same time.” As long as you remember that and you don’t take yourself too seriously, sobriety is attainable. Egos and attitudes are problematic and will sink a ship surely, as if one drink will take us out.
Principles before personalities.
It was a good night. Lots of happy sober friends and fellows.
Pray for our men, some of which are suffering great grief tonight. And we keep him close to our hearts and in our prayers.
More to come, stay tuned…