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Friday … We’re Closed … Selfish … Paradox

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Another week in the books. The weather is holding. Our fair city has been lucky so far, from where we sit, geographically on the map, the latest round of nasty weather has passed us by, either to the North, or to the East and into the Maritimes. Right now we are in sitting in the sweet spot.

Did you brave the crowds to shop till you drop today? I wouldn’t be caught dead in a mall today even if you paid me. On the trek back from the meeting, the stops that are located in shopping complexes, there are two (McGill and Peel) there were hoards of people with bags and boxes and all kinds of holiday goodies on the train. Traffic was certainly up tonight.

Tuesday I wrote about Step 11 and the insights I had to this point on the topic.

Last night I was corresponding with a fellow who is sixty days sober, and miserable.

Now, there are massive numbers of subscribers to this blog, many of them are women, few are men, a good number of them are in varying degrees of sobriety. The interesting ones, I bookmark so I can go back and read and maybe participate. And I do that tentatively. Lately it seems that people are hit and miss when it comes to the program. I don’t overstay my welcome, and I certainly know when to leave.

… Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got …

The word God keeps coming up for discussion, and the problem of the fact that the Judeo-Christian God is written into the book so boldly. There are a few points I want to make. Bill gives a caveat, in the four word phrase … As We Understood Him… But if you read As Bill Sees It, there is a paradox phrase that states … You can believe in whatever you want, as long as it works, BUT, it always comes back around to God.

Lots of people have problems with God for one reason or another.

  • People have prejudices against God because of (C)hurch
  • People don’t always believe in God
  • People feel alienated by the (C)hurch or her ministers
  • People hate God because of certain life story issues

I watch people get sober. I have done that for the better part of thirteen years. And I’ve witnessed every scenario you can think of. People who come with a negative spin on God, usually take a long time to (1) find a power greater than themselves, (2) They do it without ever mentioning the word God, or (3) they make peace with God in the end, and they find new ways to approach God.

In the past few months, several of our men, have expressed their disdain for God, especially, when we got to the reading in A.B.S.I. that says … It always comes back around to God.

Last night I said to someone who has a problem with the program and God, that yes, the word God is in the book. And not everybody is comfortable with that word, and they find ways around it. I’ve come to realize that there is more than one way to skin a cat.

God, as we understand him. As YOU understand him.

In the Past, there has been a desire to remove the word God from the reading, and the steps. And I’ve seen splinter groups form who have rewritten the steps to placate those who hate the word God.

You know, if you can’t stomach the word God, with its Judeo-Christian connotation, then we come to a new interpretation. Yes the word God is there. But if we remove the taint of religion and intention from the word God, and we re-appropriate the word with your own concept, then God can work for you.

And that is what I have said to the guys I work with, and that seems to work for the good of all.

If you are trying to get sober, all by yourself, there are ways to end your suffering.

This is where reading, listening and the powers of deduction come to bear.

I come and I read you. I listen to what you are saying, and I get a feel for who you are and what you are going through, and if I have words, I share them, from my point of view and my experience.

I’ve done that on several occasions.

One woman I used to read, came to the decision that the fellowship was a cult.

I walked away.

The next man I read, the one listed above is sober on his own, he can’t stomach God and he doesn’t do the fellowship. This after I participated in a discussion of what early sobriety can look like then I share some tips and suggestions that seem to work for the rest of us.

  • Read the Book
  • Get thee to a meeting
  • Call another alcoholic
  • Work with another human being
  • Find ways to fill free time with useful work, passions, hobbies
  • Read Living Sober

I left one comment about God (see above) and said a few words about staying sober on one’s own. If you think you can do it alone, then more power to you. I just know that for me and for many of the people I call my friends, we could not do it alone.

Especially going through the holidays, sober for the first time.

I know what worked for me, that solution may not work for you.

  • We did not stop drinking because we were lonely.
  • We stopped drinking because we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable.
  • I know that I did not get sober to be MISERABLE.
  • I got sober to be Happy, Joyous, and Free

If you are miserable, then may be you should do something about it. Find a place to BE. There are places to BE that you won’t be ALONE any more.

People are who they are, I cannot change anyone, or get you sober. All I can do is point the way and tell you my stories and share my experience.

Step One – WE admitted we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable. Part two of Step one is this … I am powerless over People, Places and Things.

That includes YOU.

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

Last night, was a very bittersweet night. Our little men’s group that could, came to an end. A little over eighteen months ago, a handful of men, some from the Tuesday Beginner’s Group and a few from downtown, and a few from Verdun, came together to open this new meeting.

Since I have a history with the parish in Westmount, they gladly gave us space, and were happy to have us in the parish. We opened a modest meeting with a handful of folks. Over the last year, we have had our issues with one another. Winter last year almost did us all in. We learned about each other in ways only a brutal winter forced us to look at.

We lost several members to work, illness, and extenuating circumstances. We tried to make it work, but in the end, we weren’t attracting new folks to come, albeit, the same faces came week after week, but that did not pay the rent. A few months ago, we began to consider closing. It was a bad omen for me, that our cabinet we paid a pittance for, broke. I did not fix it. Too much trouble.

Last night was our last night meeting.

We divvied up the spoils. We donated all the literature to other meetings, we sorted out stock of cups, coffee and materials, to the other meetings in the church and to our Tuesday meeting at Vendome and the Yellow Door. The only things we kept were the coffee urn and the tea kettle, because at the moment, there was no need from any of the groups we all go to on other nights.

So that was a thing …

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

Tonight it was chilly. I layered appropriately. Arrived at the church early, and we waited for a key. We cranked out set up which affords the opening crew to chat about our weeks as they happened. The Friday meeting is the end of the week rallying point for those who come.

We are all sharing the holiday together, in varying forms of who is here and who is home for the holiday and who is coming and going. One of my sponsees is coming in from Pittsburgh on the 13th of December and he is triangulating dates and get togethers in advance to maximize his visit with the maximum number of people.

Holiday parties have been organized and sign up sheets for food are going around. Christmas and New Years fall on Thursday this year. Hopefully, everybody will be open because our little meeting is now closed. Which means, probably that we will hit St. Matthias Christmas Night.

Tonight we read from A.B.S.I. and “Selfish” …

“If we cannot or will not achieve sobriety, then we become truly lost, right in the here and now. We are of no value to anyone, including ourselves, until we find salvation from alcohol. Therefore, our own recovery and spiritual growth have to come first – a right and a necessary kind of self concern.”

We get sober for ourselves. Some folks take a long time to realize that, which ends up in several attempt to get sober, first for others, then finally they see the value in getting sober for ones self.

Yes, this is a selfish program, that is laid out in a way that the steps are, in the order that they are written for maximum usage, by those who work them dutifully. We get to look at ourselves, warts and all, we get to look at the wreckage of our pasts, we get to clean it up and clean ourselves up, we learn, we share, we clean, we pray, then we give at away.

  • You cannot transmit something you haven’t got.
  • This is a selfish program
  • In order to keep it you have to give it away
  • The past is our greatest treasure – there is great wisdom in that statement
  • A Searching and Fearless moral inventory will lead you to Freedom and Hope
  • It is in giving that we recieve
  • It is by understanding that we understand
  • It is having compassion for others, that compassion is returned
  • It is by loving that we get love in return
  • We have to love ourselves, before we can love another
  • God cannot fill a full vessel, one must empty the vessel in order for it to be filled
  • If we don’t clean house, how can we give to others?

“This great experience that released me from the bondage of hatred and replaced it with love is really just another affirmation of the truth I know: I get everything I need in A.A. – and everything I need I get. And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.” B.B.pg.552

Tuesday … Prayer and Meditation

tumblr_lqejw9RhgD1qbrivdo1_500 wrestlingisbestCourtesy: WrestlingisBest

With the weather holding steady, it is cold, but not bitter. We are sitting on the plus side at this hour, but temps will fall into negative numbers overnight. There is a lot of work going on in the neighborhood things that need to be done now, before it starts to snow in earnest. Closer to home, roofers are busy on several buildings. Not sure why they waited this long to get work done, but I guess apartment leaking is rampant all over the place.

Last night I made plans, and you know what they say happens, when you make plans…

God laughs.

With those plans in mind, I was up early. My entire day was planned around a single phone call, I was ready at the appointed hour, squeaky clean and raring to go. And this is when God laughed at me. I had an entire afternoon to fill at this point. I could have gone back to bed for a nap, but that did not happen. I really did not want to watch tv, because we all know what is monopolizing the airwaves as of late.

N.I.M.B.Y.

I packed up my bag with assorted books, milk, styrofoam cups, and my tunes, and I set out for the church. Holiday shopping has not swung into “frenzy mode” just yet. This year, Alexis Nihon has gone to greater lengths than in years past to celebrate the holidays. There is a stage on the mezzanine level with an animated reindeer that talks, a stage for performers, and a full schedule of things to come and see over the next few weeks.

There is massive construction going on in NDG … where the church is. There is work going on on all the major roads that connect several neighborhoods to bus lines and Metro stations. Which means, roads are closed and a handful of buses are rerouted around the work, which means, taking a bus to an original stop, that bus goes somewhere else now, which is a real pain in the ass.

A major thruway that connects lower NDG with upper NDG is closed. Which means one has to walk either up the hill or down the hill, if you need to access a location on that street. On the main, this is cut and dry, you walk. If work isn’t finished soon, we will be walking in the snow and the cold.

I made that mistake last week, forgetting that the bus route I needed to take was rerouted, I got on said bus and a few minutes into the ride, when the bus went straight instead of turning left, I was like, to the bus driver … “I want to get off here! and he says, you can’t get off here,” and he kept driving and in the end I had to back track to the church where I originally wanted to go ! F.M.L.

So I walked from the Metro to the church tonight.

All of my peeps came. So it was a good night.

We broke Step 11 into two parts. Tonight was part two.

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

God.

Who is God.

What is God,

What is God’s will ?

And how do I know when it is God’s will ?

Moment of clarity … I know the rule about expectations. I also know the rule about praying for something that is unreasonable or unattainable.

Prayer … raising of the heart and mind to God.

Meditation … waiting/listening for the answer.

When one studies Religion, as I have, one learns about prayer and meditation. Every tradition prays, and also meditates. Some are better at it than others. It is true that when most people pray, they expect an answer, soon, very soon, and sometimes absurdly soon.

Like, right now would be good…

I don’t know about you, but God has never spoken directly to me, even with a degree in Religious Studies. I know how to talk to God. But I don’t know what His voice sounds like.

Which brings this clarity :

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with (Others).

When you think about it, it is more than likely, we may not think about it this way, right off the bat, but, when we pray, if God is going to speak, to any one of us, it is probably going to come from someone else, someone close to us.

Prayer and meditation then becomes an active endeavor. If you don’t listen well, nor take the time to do so, actually make time to listen, amid the business of the day, maybe you should. I’ve learned how to listen. Building prayer and meditation into your life can be learned. And the more you do it, the better it gets.

I have set prayers I say. We have set prayers we say at every meeting. Very often, I see prayer requests come across Facebook, for this intention or that one. In that moment, I bring said person’s image into my mind, and I speak their name to God. And throughout my day, the faces of my friends, or those that I think about in the moment rise and I speak their name to God.

When I have a resentment, it usually goes … “God give them every good thing I want for myself and more.” Then I get to think about that prayer. It becomes a meditation.

Most people cannot sit still for more than five minutes, let alone, allot 5 minutes to meditate. We are usually too busy to stop. But for those who make time to “STOP” the benefits are endless.

If God is going to speak to you, I can confidently say, that the voice will be familiar to you.

God’s will ? Thy will not mine be done.

When you can turn a prayer for a particular end to an open ended prayer, I think that is God’s will. We don’t know what God’s will is, but when we let go and let God, things usually turn out alright.

Bad things happen to good people.

Sometimes, disease and illness are unavoidable.

And for the most part, we are all going to the same place when we die.

When we can turn a selfish prayer into a humble prayer, we find God’s will. It may not be to our liking, but if we can let people and situations go and give them to God to sort out, it turns into “Thy will. not mine be done.”

A friend’s father is very sick with cancer. In the beginning she would pray for God to heal him, there is no healing in the offing. Now she can pray for her father and say, Thy will not mine be done. She has released dad into God’s hands. It is out of our/her hands. There are just things that medicine cannot heal or stop.

Letting Go and Letting God is a huge step in spiritual growth.

If we have the important three things in life, praying for more, is pointless.

If we have a roof over our heads, food in the fridge, and a warm bed to sleep in, we are in a much better state than millions of people on this earth.

Kind of puts it into perspective doesn’t it?

Sunday Sundries … Beginning Again

tumblr_lbvzzftgHR1qacs5po1_500 everythingsmagic

Courtesy:EverythingsMagic

Another weekend is in the book. The snow that fell is slowly disappearing due to mist and rain. As is Montreal, the weather is morphing by the hour today. Last night we had ice pellets, and the sidewalks were slushy and wet. Today we had rain, that changed to mist, that changed to fog, that turned into dreariness. We are sitting above freezing at a balmy (6c).

Last night hubby and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary with dinner at Fire Grill on Stanley Street. We walked from home along Ste. Catherine’s Street, past the Ogilvy holiday window. This is a long standing tradition. They dress a window for Christmas, and every year it changes. The costumes on the characters are all hand made, from hand me down fur coats and donations for charity.

We don’t usually eat out at high end restaurants, so last night was a treat. The restaurant is finely decorated with comfortable booths around the main bar, which was not very busy at all. It was around 9 that we had reservations, and there were only a handful of folks sitting at the bar, the entire time we were there.

We dined on French Onion soup, Caesar Salads, New York Strip Steak and Rib Steak. The prices were a little steep, but hubby had budgeted for the dinner. The Steak portions allowed us to share the two entrees between us, and there was steak left over at the end as well. The portions on all servings were large and the steaks were plenty good size. Overall it was a nice place to eat, but not all the time.

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

I departed early and there was fog, as thick as pea soup hanging over the city. I watched it roll in from the west and I could not see past my balcony, it had devoured space and time. I had missed the rain, or the rain missed me.

We cranked out set up in short order due to the fact that several of my fellows came early. I started working with a new guy these past couple of weeks. Well, I offered to work with him and he accepted. He is new and this past week he grabbed himself a Big Book, which he brought with him this evening and for the hour prior to the meeting, we sat and began reading the book from the beginning. That is something I do with my guys here, to read the book together, and we high lite particular sentences, and we discuss the read as we go along.

I have said that I am not one to bang someone over the head with the book at the outset. I would rather you come and find your way and when you are ready, we will read the book. Hindsight is very good when talking about the book. My book had a multitude of colors and notes in the margin, all my books are like that, seeing I have been using the same books for so long. And I just continue to add notes as we read and re-read.

The first read, I think I was trying to wrap my head around what the book said. And having a meeting where all we did was read the book, several times over, these past thirteen years or so, was good. Sunday’s we spent the better part of a year and more reading the book again, and I realized several things on this passage.

When we got to the end of the book, the “Stories” section, I found that each of them had information that was pertinent to everyone, and in certain cases, I now come to believe that certain back stories should be read before you begin the front read.

And that wisdom comes, after reading the book from front to back. We began reading the book from the beginning, for both my guys. And I also suggested to them that it might be interesting for them to read the stories from the back of the book, concurrently as we start our study together, along with their journals and the daily phone calls.

So that is a thing.

There has been a burning question in my head for some time now. A question I have been asking myself for a long time. I can’t really answer it now, because it concerns the past. What happened happened, and life went as it did. But rhetorically, what would have happened, if someone had said the word “STOP” when I was in the thick of my alcoholism when I was in my twenties ???

Every time we read Step One, I get hung up on this one line from the read:

The read tells the story about the first edition of the Big Book being written for the Low Bottoms. It goes on to say …

“It is a tremendous satisfaction to record that in the following years this had changed. Alcoholics who still had their health, their families, their jobs, and even two cars in the garage, began to recognize their alcoholism. (then comes the kicker for me) … As this trend grew, they were joined by young people who were scarcely more than potential alcoholics. They were spared that last ten or fifteen years of literal hell the rest of us had gone through.”

Twelve and Twelve, pg. 23

When I was in my twenties, I was more than potentially an alcoholic, I was ONE. And nobody was none the wiser. Who knew from recovery in the bar business, who knew the word moderation, or better yet, the word STOP !!!

I imagine in my minds eye, the life I would have had, had I gotten sober in my twenties. Where I was living, what I was doing, who I was associating with. But that was not to be. It is written, in the book, that “Nothing, Absolutely Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.” Then that means, the journey I had, happened, and not by mistake, and by Divine Direction.

If that is so, then God had one fucked up idea with the journey He took me on.

I did have free will, at any time on the journey. I could have stopped the ride and gotten off at any point, it was my choice to ride the ride, in any case. You could say, my first go at sobriety, was getting off the ride, and finding God’s Grace. Sadly, I failed in that attempt.

I talked tonight about Powerlessness. And about example.

Had someone showed me the book, early in my life, I would have realized that I was living, the “Big Book Live,” for the whole of my life. I knew early on what alcoholism was. I say my grandfather’s were type one’s, my father was a type two, and I came along and perfected alcoholism into type three.

Living with active alcoholics, types one and two, was a Master Class in just what alcohol does to a human being. And what that addiction does to the immediate family. However, in our cases, nobody ever made a scene, or spoke out, or said “Why don’t you stop drinking!” ever…

I learned what all those words meant as a young person. However I did not know it at the time. I was powerless over my father, and my mother. Children are powerless over their parents. They used to say that as long as we lived under their roof, it was by their grace and by their rules.

When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was really bad.

I learned a great deal by listening. That I did very well. By listening, I planned my exit from home. I knew where I wanted to go, and why.

But where ever you go, there you are. I took me with me.

But my alcoholism followed. I was completely powerless over it. From the word GO !

And it took me until I hit the age of thirty four to finally understand what that meant. There are two parts to that step … One – that I am powerless over alcohol, and Two – that my life had become unmanageable. In my life I went from an unmanageable state, to a functional state.

The really terrible things that usually happen at the end of ones drinking career, happened in the first decade of my drinking, and I survived them, miraculously. After that I began to perfect my drinking, trying different methods, different locations, different people. At one point I added drugs to my history, that was a complete failure of rationality. That last year, I could not handle drinking every day, so I turned to binge drinking. Until failure was the only option.

And I knew the end was coming. I asked God for help.

The rest is history.

All I wanted when I moved here was to never drink again. 16 days and counting …

It was a good night. I worked with my guys. I spent an hour with my friends. Nobody drank since last Sunday. And everybody is still sober, thanks be to God.

“I get everything I need in A.A. – and everything I need I get. And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.” Pg. 552

Friday … First Thought Wrong !!!

indian thoughtSo it is a little colder tonight. ( -8c w.c. -14c) It was not so bad, without wind in your face. However I chose to layer a little better tonight, than last night. I have a particular polar sweater, which I never wear, because it is cumbersome and warm. Add that to a Henley, and it was downright toasty!

Friday’s are productive and when all my work was done for the day, I got my power nap in before having to get ready to go.

And damned if I had one of my regular dreams, this one repeats itself in varying ways, its the same people, the same situation, but the way I work out that situation is different every time the dream comes to me. And it usually ends, without resolution. (read: my alarm clock always gets the last word, and the dream is incomplete, EVERY time).

I knew I was in this dream, and I was hell bent on seeing it through to resolution. The dream involves me having to get myself away from someone (who shall remain nameless) it doesn’t really matter. But I was involved with her a long time ago.

Getting away … It isn’t as cut and dry as it seems, the getting away is always complicated, each dream presents a new problem/route, that I never get to the end of, so I guess the dream repeats itself every so often, to see if I get to the end or not.

In which case, today, I finally got to the end…

How do you get away from someone who makes it totally difficult to just walk away, of ones free will?

This time, it was getting past a security system. And people who work in the security office, who do their damnedest, to make sure you can’t get away. And once you got past security, you had to secure a ticket for a bus, that comes on a schedule, (that took several attempts in the dream) I got stuck several times in the office, which is at the entrance to the property which I am trying to get off of.

Moving from the main house, where one is stuck, getting all your electronic devices which have been tampered with, intentionally, (read: my phone) which was hacked and killed… I had to get across a plot of land to the exit security office. Then get past the watchers. Get myself to the station, just down the road, get a ticket, and finally be able to get on that bus, which took me away …

I needed my phone, and I had to get it away from the person who had it, (that took several attempts in the dream). Finally I secured my phone, but in the end it was useless to me. All the while, as I am trying to move through these steps, there is always someone trying to drag me back to the property against my will. I would get past the office and to the station, only to be thwarted repeatedly.

It just kept cycling over and over, and each cycle I got closer to the bus.

I could feel I was coming to the end of my nap cycle. The alarm clock was getting very close. I was cradling one of hubby’s pillows sleeping, and he came in and pulled it away, and I was just at the brink of success, and I wanted it to end, finally, so I held on to the bitter end.

Then the alarm clock rang …

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

I had a half hour to get ready to go, made a couple of phone calls, and headed out. In some areas, there is black ice crusted on the sidewalks, it was a very gingerly transit. When I got to the church, there was a blanket of snow in the yard. The yard is big enough that when it really snows, you have to use the sidewalk, and not walk through the snow across the yard.

We sat a full house. As usual.

“Following a gossip binge, we can well ask ourselves these questions: “Why did we say what we did? were we only trying to be helpful and informative? Or were we not trying to feel superior by confessing the other fellow’s sins? Or, because of fear and dislike, were we really aiming to damage him?”

This would be an honest attempt to re-examine ourselves, rather than the other fellow.

Grapevine, August 1961.

The rest of the reading speaks about inventory, credits and debits. And ends with, even when we have tried hard and failed, we may chalk that up as one of the greatest credits of all.

So, Gossip, Inventory, Words …

In the book it talks about resentment, selfishness, self centeredness, dishonesty and fear …

There were several threads …

Personal situations, work situations, life lessons, Inventories and gossip.

At some point after we get sober and begin our steps, we get to step four, in our own time and at our own pace. This step is always a work in progress, because it never comes out perfectly, and we get to repeat our steps continually, as we stay sober, long term.

We all have situations that arise daily. And we either do (A) get riled up, come out firing with guns blazing, shoot our mouths off, and intentionally hurt someone else, or (B) before we open our mouths, we engage our brains, and think the thought through carefully.

In May, I attended my first Men’s Intensive weekend. And in my notes, I have written, “First Thought Wrong.” Meaning, the young man who said this, said that usually when he has a thought about a certain situation, that his first thought is wrong. Which brings a modicum of process when finally he decides to speak.

Words are powerful.

Used correctly, they can change, uplift and encourage.

Used incorrectly, and those words can destroy, tear down and discourage.

I’ve learned from my past that I listened to my father tear me apart, in many ways. I swore I would never become him. But coming into my own, as a gay man, I learned how to be catty and bitchy from the best drag queens on earth. It was ones pedigree, to be able to cut someone to pieces in short order. (read: taking someones inventory, either in front of them or behind their backs).

I have that ability. And sometimes, in the past, I have used it liberally, without thinking through the consequences.

I have grown up …

I have said that sometimes, I talk with my friends, and sometimes we don’t usually pay attention to words. But for the most part, when needed, words come, and they usually are from someone other than myself. Sometimes I sit here and write words that come from another part of me, I get wisdom from a source other than myself.

When I work with people, on a sober or pastoral level, words have power, and if I misuse my words, I take liberty with someone else’s life. It so happened that I was asked for advice, and knowing the human being I was talking to, before I answered him, I picked my words gently, and carefully.

Sometimes I don’t do so well.

And other times I do do well.

It all depends on thought.

Am I using words to build up someone and encourage them and to enlighten them? Or am I just spouting words, without thought, never considering the consequences of those words?

When we make an inventory, we are taking stock of goods, thoughts, problems, Issues, resentments, etc … An inventory, is an excellent tool for use, post inventory. Some people burn their inventories when they finish, I did that several times. This past round, it is in a nice little notebook, I keep on my desk. From that inventory, I work six through eight.

It is good that I have someone to talk to every day, (read: my sponsor and a choice couple of others)

It is good to get a really SOBER take on life, from some one much longer sober than myself. But my sponsor is a little crazy at times, and has a sense of humor, but he always comes back to brass tacks: In the end, if I did not drink to day, it was a good day. And that simple thought, keeps it simple.

Every day we use words. How are you using yours?

Think about it.

More to come, stay tuned …

Thursday … Let’s Start with this …

tumblr_lcxi09wRjw1qzizdco1_500Right now it is (-3c with a wind chill of -11c) … And it was bitterly windy and cold outside tonight.

It is a momentous day today. And it was a very productive day today.

I was up very early this morning, with a plan in mind to get many things done early and have the afternoon free to fart around. I made one phone call to make a hair appointment, that I wanted in the morning, because, like I said, I was up already. What I got was a 2 p.m. appointment, which shifted my morning into the afternoon, because I wanted to make one trip and not several.

I thought about going back to bed, but thought better. Today is our tenth wedding anniversary, and I wanted to do something special, since tonight and tomorrow night I am busy.

I trashed an old monitor that’s been sitting in the living room gathering dust. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, since it is electronic, so I dumped it in the basement for the super to take care of. Then I cleaned up the apartment, and decided that I would put the Christmas Tree up.

I un-crated the tree and put it up, and loaded it up with lots of lights. We usually wait until the first snow to put the tree up. And it’s not so much a bother really, so that is a thing…

I went and did my grocery shopping early on.

I had to fill a few hours of time, I usually loathe daytime television. And I am finding that the massive amount of “stupid news” in the news is beginning to get on my nerves. I wish there was another page I could assign as my homepage instead of Yahoo or Bing or BBC. UGH !!!

My take on the news is this … If it ain’t Canadian, It’s not my bother… And most of that shit news is coming from all points south. But the Canadian Yahoo picks up every stupid news story that comes across the wire on any given day.

I mean really, people are being denied marriage rights in the states and with the push of marriage equality coming to South Carolina, we’ve broken into the RED south. And as of a few days ago, Charles Manson, was given a fucking marriage license to marry some tart who is trying to exonerate a killer who is in prison for life, and some say she is “smart???”

Let’s deny marriage rights to gays, yet let’s give a murderer a marriage license !!!

The world is seriously coming to an end me thinks …

I got prepped to go early, I really did not have a plan in mind, besides getting my hair cut. So I headed out to the mall with plenty of time. My favorite card store was having a sale on Christmas Cards, and I needed a card for hubby, so that was stop one. This year I was smart, I bought regular sized cards, and not those micro cards that aren’t mailable.

I saw a commercial on tv for this great little griller from T-Fal. It would make a great little Christmas present. So stop two was Canadian Tire. I was terribly disappointed to see that that little gift was running a whopping $300.00 !!! Certainly out of my price range.

I went and looked at decorations, like we need more? We have a huge box of baubles that we have collected over the years and we really don’t have any extra room for another storage box for more baubles.

I went and had some lunch. My one guilty pleasure, fatty, fast food. It was good !!!

Finally I made my hair appointment. It was pretty cut and dry. High and tight, just like Papi !!!

I’ve seen many variations on this haircut, and it seems to be the most popular cut as of late.

I made my way home with a couple hours to waste before my evening departure.

When the sun went down, the temp’s plummeted. But it wasn’t as cold, early on, as it was on the way home. They have rerouted sidewalk traffic up the block, because workers have dug up the entire walkway in front of the Forum, and they created a pedestrian lane counter traffic with big cement barricades.

I got to the church. There is a nice blanket of snow on the yard. I am sure this will be a good first layer of snow, that will now pile up over the winter. The shrubbery by the main door is covered in snow.
We sat a small group. And the writing is on the wall. We won’t be going into December. I now have both keys, to turn in for their deposits, $25.00 a head. And I am slowly redirecting supplies to other meetings, since others can use them so we don’t have to bring them home and store them.

We don’t have very much in the way of supplies, but we do have a $65.00 coffee urn that will go into storage. And the literature as well. I might just donate it to the other house meetings. They will go to good use.

We talked about self acceptance, which lead back around to page 417.

Acceptance is the KEY to ALL my problems.

It was a nice little discussion. We walked home, and it was bitter.

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

evils-wedding-13So monumental day today… Ten years ago today, hubby and I were married in front of family and friends, at the Loyola Chapel on the Loyola Campus of Concordia University. It was the most responsible decision I have ever made in my life. We made a good choice. Marriage is a good thing.

I don’t see why some people in America can’t support marriage equality for every one. But like I said above, it ain’t Canadian, so why bother? Another great reason I left the U.S. when I did, because I have certainly more rights and privileges and a better life than had I stayed down there.

Life is beautiful, Marriage is beautiful. Family is beautiful. I could not have asked for more.

That was the day as it happened.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … Welcoming the Maiden

tumblr_lcky3typQB1qbcq2wo1_500 simplypoohTonight we welcomed the maiden to Montreal. She tempted us this afternoon, and I knew it was coming, and I was rewarded with what I consider, one of the most important spiritual experiences of the year … The first snow.

We have spent the better part of the last eleven months watching the seasons come and go. Most of the trees are now bare, Fall has come and gone, so to speak. As I exited the church, I was greeted with snow falling on the yard. This is the night I have waited for, for months. I have the right music for the occasion, and I walked home and thought of the maiden and I welcomed her once again, in my heart of hearts.

We have shut the windows for the last time this season. And now the stillness and calmness and the quiet of winter descends upon us. And that is the quiet that one either appreciates or hates. Everything gets very quiet as snow begins to fall.

There are places, on any regular given day, that one can escape to for quiet. A church … A synagogue, A mosque. Montreal has such wonderful spaces that welcome people from all over the world and from our city as well.

Now the entire city becomes one GIANT cathedral where we can commune with the maiden for the season.

And in the past, the season has shown us that, by the end of the season, people are full and ready to get rid of the maiden as quick as she came in, to usher her out because the multitudes tired of her all too quickly.

Now the city becomes that church, that synagogue, that mosque. This is the season where one can go outdoors to listen to the silence. And in sobriety, I have learned to welcome, and also appreciate the silence. For it is in that silence that we find our heartbeat, our breath.

For without them, we are dead.

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

It was a quiet weekend. Really cool things are happening for our people, and for my guys. You never know when God is going to give you an opportunity to reach out in the way, that could only be described as a spiritual experience. And that is the kind of weekend it has been for us.

After more than a year of Sundays, our little group that could, completed an entire read through of the Big Book. The last Story in the Book, A.A. Taught him how to handle Sobriety … was our reading for tonight.

We have explored the entire book from cover to cover. In essence we have worked rooms full of people through the book and through their steps. We’ve read all the stories, good, bad and in between.

And on page 559, we get the final thought of the book, and a handful of folks picked up on it.

” We are taught to differentiate between our wants (which are never satisfied) and our needs (which are always provided for). We cast off the burden of the past and the anxieties of the future, as we begin to live in the present, one day at a time. We are granted “the serenity to accept the things we cannot change” – and thus loose our quickness to anger and our sensitivity to criticism.”

That’s the program of recovery in a nutshell.

Now is the time to grab hold of our people. Now is the most important time of the year. The silence descends. the cold gets colder, and people begin to fade into the background. It is well known that when it either rains or snows, people stay home, rather than venture out. That is a very enticing invitation to indulge.

The holiday season is ripe with temptation to drink again.

Now is the time to reach out to our elders, and those who are alone. Now is the time for you to reach out to your friends, fellows and neighbors. To make sure that they have food, warmth, and someone that cares about their welfare. Not that we shouldn’t do that every day, and for the most part, who has time to pay attention to anyone else but themselves?

We do.

That is our job.

I heard a common topic rise in the minds tonight. The most important two words in this story.

At one point we made a decision to stop drinking. Now the most important part of that decision is to

STAY STOPPED …

And how do we do that?

By going to meetings, talking to others, sharing with our sponsors, and each other. By suiting up and showing up as often as we can. Because most folks come because of their friends, to see them and to talk to them.

But selfishly, we need to show up for ourselves as well.

Because you may have time. But if you aren’t actively progressing through “THE WORK” you aren’t doing anything but warming a chair. And that untreated alcoholism will take you down, with a simple whisper … “aw, come on, you don’t need them, you are ok, it’s just one drink, nobody will know?”

It’s that little demon in our souls. The disease that says we don’t have a disease. The one that attempts to lull us into a false sense of security. It worms its way into our brains and takes root. We all have it. Some might deny it, but for many, tonight, we heard the warning.

I admitted that being not perfect is a good thing sometime. That little voice in my head is devious, vindictive, mean and angry. That fantasy of doing something really grandiose and stupid is always there. And the only way I get rid of it is my ability to talk, go to meetings, and talk it out.

Oh, did I mention that working with another alcoholic is the best guarantee we have against the drink?

But obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.

Staying Stopped is a job, a vocation. A way of life. In for a penny, in for a pound.

It is ALL or NOTHING.

How many people do you know who are all or nothing kind of men and women?

What are you going to do for your fellow men and women this season? Are you going to sit on your ass and do nothing, safely saying, aw, it’s not my problem? Or are you going to choose to step up and say, I can be accountable. I can be reliable. I can help you !

We are not meant to be alone. Especially now. This is the most miserable season for many an alcoholic. and especially those who come in prior to / or just after the holidays. So many parties, so much alcohol, so little time to ponder what to do.

If we don’t step up now, we may loose a good number of our folks to temptation.

For many of us we have learned how to handle sobriety. Now is the time to reach out to our fellows and lead them through the minefield that is the holidays, one day at a time.

When I got sober this time around, all I wanted was to never drink again. In a few weeks it will be thirteen years, I’ve kept that promise to myself and to God.

God has done for me what I could not do for myself.

” I get everything I need in A.A. – and everything I need I get. And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.”

Friday … Responsibility

tumblr_md2lb5P8Ep1qenwdto1_1280 laurenmarekCourtesy: The Best … Lauren Marek

Another week has come and go. The weather is getting cold. This is the time of year where I enjoy sitting on my balcony watching weather come and go overhead.

The city is little by slowly getting taken over by elf magic. Decorations are going up in the stores, in the malls, on lamp posts, if it stands by itself, one can put lights on it, it seems.

From where we live, up as high as we are, weather is a huge feature of this home of ours.

Every night the sky is different. Every night, the sunset can be spectacular, and sometimes it is just meh ! This getting dark in the middle of the afternoon is definitely disconcerting.

Yesterday I was sitting outside and I watched a lone cloud, move from West to East, around the West end, and over the South Shore, (read: The south side of the St. Lawrence River), we are on the North side, the island of Montreal.

There were no other clouds nearby, not over our section of the city, that we can see. And this one cloud dropped rain over the South Shore, in one fluid movement, moving West to East.

Tonight, it was somewhere around 5:30 or 6:00, hubby had just gotten home from work, saying that he saw snow. I walked outside, and once again, there was a single cloud hanging over the South Shore, and it was snowing from that one cloud.

Our view is quite expansive. On a clear day we can see all the way to New York State, to the West, Mount Royal to the North, the South Shore to the South. The lighting in the section of the city is not white. It is more like an amber color in the streetlamps. The buildings on the west end are up lit from their roofs. And it is an optical illusion, but when it is cloudy or stormy, it seems the clouds drop out of the sky, and are lit from the ground and the buildings. Sometimes they cover the top of the mountain.

It is especially cool in the winter to watch the clouds come over. One can usually tell when the clouds are fit to burst with either rain or snow.

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

This was an ordinary week, so far. Nothing exciting going on here.

Tuesday we sat a small group, and we read through Step Ten. All the usual suspects came, but we were missing some folks. Thursday we sit the same group of men, the ones holding together that meeting, one month at a time. We read from Living Sober … Getting Enough Rest.

Tonight I traveled across the city to North End English. The Friday Who’s Who meeting of the week.

Tonight’s reading … Who’s Responsibility ???

“… That is why sobriety – freedom from alcohol – through the teaching and practice of A.A. Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of the group ( read: or a group). If we don’t stick to this cardinal principle, we shall almost certainly collapse. And if we collapse we cannot help anyone.”

An A.A. group follows the singleness of purpose rule, our job is to welcome the newcomer, and anyone else who needs a meeting. That is our job. The first order of business, when we stop drinking, is to stay stopped. And the way we do that, is by coming, and listening, and watching. And learning …

We cannot solve all your problems. Social, Marital, Financial, etc …

An old timer spoke tonight telling the story about his life. He had all those kinds of problems. Our One Common problem, between us all is that (a) we were powerless over our alcoholism, and (b) that our lives had become unmanageable.

It is usually a foregone conclusion that if we remove the alcohol, usually, everything falls back into place. But not every situation is like that. Sometimes by the time we quit the drink, we have wrecked our relationships, our families, our spouses, and the lives of children, if we have them, our jobs and our financial security, sometimes all at once, or they fall, like dominoes, one at a time.

The first thing I (read: me) had to do was put down the drink. Because at that point, I was sick and delusional. I could not go on drinking like I had been. And for the first five months, this time around, I went to meetings, and I listened to people talk, I went through a couple passes of the Steps, Living Sober, and the Big Book. I was pretty well set, when I moved here, to get started.

I got connected right away. I worked very hard at doing everything right, hoping that I would never “want” to drink again. One of my friends and I were talking on the way home about wants and needs.

When I came back, I had thoughts about things I wanted … Things I thought were important.

God had other plans for me.

In the beginning, I relied on meetings and the people in those meetings, like I had never depended on anyone before. I wasn’t dependent on them, but I depended on them. Never in the last thirteen years, (almost), I have never had to go outside the rooms for anything.

Our meetings follow the singleness of purpose, true. The addendum to this is this …

We always get what we need, whenever we walk into a meeting. And in this program, if you’ve ever come in, went back out, and come back a second, third or fourth or fifth time, you gotta really “want it” to be able to get it.

I heard it tonight. A friend came in crazy, worried and afraid, and she spoke it to the meeting, and at the end of the meeting, several members stepped up and said, “We will help you …” Situation averted!

If there is something on your heart or on your mind, speak it to a meeting. If the need is great, and the desire is genuine, God will provide, one way or another. It may not come right away, but I’ve seen God turn things around within an hours time.

They also say that be careful for what you pray for, because if God thinks you are ready, He will give it to you. Without even an expectation on the books.

Many people have come and gone through my life in sobriety. Not everyone is meant to be with us for the entire journey. I can tell you that there is only one woman, who is still in my life today, who was there when I got sober in the beginning. I see her at work, because she doesn’t go to meetings any more, but we are still close friends. I can always count on her for support.

God has done for me what I could not do for myself.

This reading also talks about personal responsibility.

Firstly, We are responsible for ourselves and the decision we made to stop, and to Stay Stopped.

Once we put down the drink, we may or may not be very responsible, but we get there eventually. A good sponsor steps in at the right time, to support you. Our job, to help you stay sober, and get you through your steps. But not all at once, and surely not right away.

I’d rather help you sink into your seat and get comfortable with where you are, before The Work begins. In the beginning, all I had to do was get me to a meeting. I had to learn how to do that in a four season setting. That took work. A lot of work.

They gave me jobs to do in the beginning. Chairs and tables, for a long time. Months …

Then I made coffee, for a long time. I still make coffee to this very day.

That’s almost 13 years of weeks, making coffee for a meeting at least three times a week.

An urn usually holds 30 cups of coffee per night. I go to 4 meetings a week. I make coffee, three times a week. That is three urns of coffee a week, at thirty cups a night, times thirteen.

30 cups x 3 times a week x 365 days x 13 years = that’s 427,050 cups of coffee in 13 years.

I learned how to be responsible for simple things, which prepared me for the bigger things.

I had good people in my life all along, from the very beginning. Who taught me very important lessons about life, love, responsibility, accountability, etc …

I got that all from the meetings, and the people in them.

Little by slowly, I got a life.

Little by slowly, I got the man.

Little by slowly, I got the home I wanted.

Little by slowly, I got the education.

Little by slowly, I got the marriage. Next Thursday it will be 10 years …

And little by slowly, in December, I will reach thirteen years sober on December 9th.

It did not come all at once. I learned that I go to meetings. I talk things out. I work my steps.

Then God says … ok, now you’ve done the homework, let’s see you work it out in real time.

And one by one, I get a little study time, a little think time, and a long period of work it out time.

Then the cycle repeats itself. Season after season, year after year.

I am responsible.

Whenever anyone anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. to be there,

And for that I am responsible.

God has been good, to me and my fellows. Not all times are good. Sometimes things can get very shitty and it seems that God steps out of the picture for a time, I’m not sure why that happens, maybe we need to learn something about ourselves ( read; study period) then He re-engages.

The only thing we have to change when we get sober is everything.

It isn’t always fun. Sometimes it can be downright HARD !

But they tell us, wisely, to stick around until the miracle occurs.

More to come, stay tuned …

“I get everything I need in Alcoholics Anonymous – And everything I need I get, And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.”

Big Book, Freedom from Bondage, page: 552.

Sunday Sundries … Empty Seats

tumblr_n5wtzkmAyw1sh33qco1_500 blamboyzCourtesy: Blamboyz

Well, it is a common occurrence that the weather forecast changes by the hour here, and the snow that appeared the other day, is gone now. It will be too warm for snow, so it’s going to rain instead ! BOOOO ….

Another week begins and on Tuesday Canada will stop to remember. It will be a very bittersweet Remembrance Day this year, because of the recent events that two Canadian soldiers lost their lives because of terrorist activity here in Canada. Our men and women are proud to serve their country and to also wear their uniforms. As one soldier said the other night, “We Will NOT Be Intimidated !!!”

Security will be stepped up at all gathering locations.

Hopefully, nobody will do anything stupid on Remembrance Day.

It was an uneventful weekend. I have spent a good chunk of hours before bed reading “Price Lestat.” I am impressed with the way the story is unfolding so far.

I departed early. The weather is chilly, and the trees are quickly dropping leaves all over the place. The church had raked ten bags full of leaves that got picked up last week, now they have to re-rake the yard because the entire lawn is covered again. Best to get them up before the first snow fall.

We had a gaggle of women for set up. Not that there is really, a lot to do, once the coffee is on, setting up chairs with more than three people takes little time. I have a newbie that came with a friend, and he joined the group and we exchanged numbers so we will see where that goes. He’s on the call every day program. Hopefully he will take.

We set out all of our chairs as usual, but in the end, many of them were empty. We sat just the right number of folks because we read all the way around and them shared all the way around just under the wire.

We are one story closer to the end of the book. “Freedom from Bondage…”

We heard several key words from this read … Power, Control, Ego, Self Centeredness, Obsession …

Step Three Prayer says .. “Relieve me from the bondage of self that I may better do thy will…”

In the beginning our writer was of the mind that she could never trust another human being, and that what ever it was she wanted, she was supposed to go out and get it. Kind of like, King and Master of ones life. Through trial and error, well, mostly errors, it took her a long time to figure out that, the attainment of “things” or “people” or “situations” was not really what mattered.

Drinking to escape ones self and constantly trying to find ones self in the act of marriage, whether that marriage was for money, or children, trying to fix ones self, by adding people or things to the mix was not the solution.

We also heard about emotional maturity. Something I can identify with.

They say that when we begin drinking, whenever that is, we stunt our growth, emotionally.

When I started drinking, I was woefully prepared for the big wide world, and totally immature to handle adult situations.

When I got sober the first time I was forced to grow up, as I was able, to deal with life threatening illness.

I conquered that situation because I was sober and had a guide.

Then I lapsed, and gave back the gift. And turned my back on it.

When I got sober the second time, I was at that crucial jumping off point.

I was too old to keep drinking the way I was drinking. The alcohol was not going to add years to my life. And sure as shit, it wasn’t going to turn me into a buff beach boy that I wanted to become or regress into.

Fear was ruling my life, because I was really not ready to grow up, but there was no other way to go.

God had a plan, and when I finally surrendered, I trusted in where ever He was going to take me.

I did grow up, into the man I am today, and if not for the rooms, I don’t know where I would have ended up.

Our writer says in her story that “I get everything I need in A.A. And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.”

If you are in, I encourage you to stick and stay. Because in time you will learn the same truth. Everything we need will come from the rooms and the people in them. I guarantee that to you.

You always get what you need when you step in a room.

We welcomed newcomers. We helped a woman trying to get help for her partner. We got another member. We had visitors from out of town. And it seemed that everybody got fed along the way.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …

Friday: “Yes my Lord, No my Lord …”

church windows randallCourtesy: Randall

It is the end of the week. The temps have gotten wintry as of late. The word SNOW appears in the forecast for the coming week. I noticed in my travels tonight that the light poles and many of the trees on main travel bus routes are decorated with lights, all sparkly and holiday like.

I have also noticed that holiday programming has begun and it isn’t even December yet !

I departed on time for my transit, the theme was hurry up, trains wait for no one.

I met one of my friends at the church and we waited for a key holder.

We sat a large group and read from A.B.S.I. … Clearing a Channel

I read the reading along with the others, and the first image that came into my mind was Mark Brian.

Mark Brian is our Anglican priest sent to a native outpost on the up coast of B.C.

When he gets there the vicarage is falling down, the windows are falling apart, and the floor is sagging.

It is the holidays and it is cold, and all the sundry inanimate things in the village are seeming to be revolting all at the same time. Fires won’t burn, water heaters have busted, and pipes are frozen.

Beset with all kinds of futility and loneliness, Mark has to eek out a living in a place that is new to him.

One night, before service, the only generator in the village breaks down. Mark flings off his cassock and dons his Indian sweater, and pulls out the tools, wrenches and screwdrivers. He bleeds the line out and reconnects it all back together, and in the moment, he speaks … “Yes, my Lord, No my Lord …” repeating the phrase.

His Indian friend says to him, “Who are you talking to?” and Mark responds, “The Bishop!” the Indian replies, “but the Bishop is not here …” And Mark says …”And its a good thing …”

In reading I Heard the Owl Call my Name, when all is in doubt and answers are needed, Mark always stops and repeats the words “Yes, my Lord, No, my Lord …”

It was the Bishop who chose to send Mark there, for reasons that Mark is not made privy to. But he figures out the reasons, and they are not necessarily the same reasons the Bishop sent him there to begin with. Mark often responds in times of doubt to that simple mantra. Speaking to the Bishop, and speaking as well to God.

The reading tonight also speaks about “taking the moment,” when things seem to be getting crazy, that we stop and repeat any of the familiar mantras we learn in the program. Our often said prayers, slogans, things we hear from our sponsors or others in the rooms.

Often I forget to take that moment.

And even sometimes when the rat gets on the wheel, and it starts going, I don’t always stop, and I allow the situation to grow and fester to see where it is going, knowing that I should have stopped the thought when it came, but didn’t.

And like my story yesterday, I was busy, and I needed to get somewhere, and the train had other plans, and we got stuck on the rail to wait out a stoppage. I consider that maybe this was God saying to me that:

Here you are, and maybe you  should “Take the moment…”

When I don’t necessarily choose to take it, God forces it upon me in funny ways.

I listened for the song of prayer again tonight. And was pleased with it to my soul.

Serenity, Acceptance, Wisdom, Patience, Appreciation, Tolerance, and Strength …

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …

Thursday Thoughts … A Very Productive Day

mario-gotze-bayern-munich-3Courtesy: Bayern Munich – Mario Gotze #19

Just a little hint of what I scored over the past week.

Yes, it is Thursday, and it rained tonight. And now I can say that I’d rather it SNOW than RAIN !!!

Hopefully, that wish will come true over the weekend.

It has been an interesting week so far. Lots going on, and not all of it is good.

Tuesday we sat a full house, and read from the Twelve and Twelve, and Step Nine.

And I have to say that this pass through the book, at this particular meeting, is changing lives for the better.

We’ve been fortunate to keep the same group of people through this series. And we’ve grown quite close in the reading and sharing on each Step. Having just done the Men’s retreat a couple weekends ago, has given me insight into my own program and words that I can use when we discuss the steps together.

I heard a story that really hit me. coming from one of my friends.

Step Nine is the amends step. There are four types of amends …

  • There will be those who ought to be dealt with just as soon as we become reasonably confident that we can maintain our sobriety.
  • There will be those to whom we can make only partial restitution, lest complete disclosures do them or others more harm than good.
  • There will be other cases where action ought to be deferred
  • And still others in which by the very nature of the situation we shall never be able to make direct personal contact at all.

With these four situations, most folks are all over the map. I can identify several situations that I fall into myself.

My friend spoke about an amend he needed to make to an uncle who is long deceased. On his last slip, he missed the final moments of his uncles life, opting for the drink and more cocaine. Only three days later he happened upon him, dead in his bed.

He told the story and I wept a little.

They say that our departed family, or friends, are never far away from us, when they cross over. But his supplication was almost serene prayer, to God, to his uncle, where ever they are.

It was the most courageous thing I’ve ever heard my friend say, in all the years I have known him.

And I did not waste the opportunity to tell him so, and to tell him that I was sure his uncle heard his amend and forgave him, and loved him. In particular, he was buried out of the parish church we sit in – at our meetings. Consider that a double whammy prayer.

I so pray that my friend was encouraged to stick and stay.

If we do our work correctly, and well, and we touch at least one person and help them change their lives and get better, then we have succeeded in our mission.

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

My weekly list of things to do, has of late been interrupted by a day of rest. It was a trend that was part of my life for a long time. and I am not sure if it is because my doc added new medication to my regimen, or that I am burning the candle from both ends again … But Wednesday has become my day to do nothing but sleep.

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

Discussion has begun within our small group of men at our Thursday Men’s Group about closing the meeting. We have a core handful of people who show up every week, and tonight we heard from them in regards to this issue. But put plainly, we pay $100.00 a month in rent. The founders supply coffee, milk and other supplies from our pocket, as the seventh goes directly to the rent payment every month.

We are not attracting new folks on a regular basis, there are too many other meetings, that have been open for decades that have core attendees. And we haven’t been able to pull folks from their other meetings. In the beginning, we had hoped to pull folks who were not really tied down to a specific meeting, and only a handful of men qualify in that respect.

It is more akin to a social gathering for our small group of men who came together initially to put the group together, but over the last eighteen months, we’ve lost several founders and just recently as last week. So the question remains, if we make kitty for the month we will keep the meeting open. Because it does serve a purpose for our men. But on the wider scale it does not serve a purpose to be of maximum service to God and to men. They just aren’t coming.

We have yet to make that decision, the thought is we will see where the kitty takes us this month and decide later.

But the closure of the meeting is still on the table.

One of our newbies chaired the meeting and we talked about Acceptance from The Daily Reflections. And as usual, when that word comes up, we all turn to page 417 in the Big Book …

  • Acceptance is the KEY to all my problems and
  • Nothing, Absolutely Nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.

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

I was up early today because I had a plan. And executing that plan meant getting out of bed earlier than I usually do, because it is a meeting day, so daytime hours were precious.

We have a new super washing machine upstairs that does twice the work, for 75 cents more than a regular washer. Two loads of clothes for the price of one. I did my laundry, showered and got ready to go in between.

I folded the laundry, put it away and headed out for Indigo Books in the core.

I must tell you that having Thanksgiving in October and a quick hop over Halloween, Christmas has come to Montreal.

Alexis Nihon is decorated with Silver stars and purple neon. We saw our first decorated Christmas tree, lit with all the baubles, in Westmount Square on the way home. When I got to Place Montreal Trust this afternoon, the giant Christmas tree is in its beginning stages. The frame is up, the flat screen tv decorations are up as well.

Instead of baubles all over the tree, there are a handful of screens around the tree showing different things. There is also the train that circles the bottom of the tree eventually. They haven’t yet completed the grand mall decorations.

I walked into Indigo and thought to myself, that several of Santa’s Elves shit sparkles and glitter all over the store. Because they are totally into the Christmas sales mode. Over the past several months, they have been restructuring the store, ( i.e moving books from one location they used to be in, to another section, only to move them again to where they all are right now.)

I was headed to Horror to find Christopher Rice’s – The Vines … Which I had to special order because they were out. Then I had to find where they put that class of books, because they weren’t where I had last seen them. I found a grumpy old man who took me to the new section that wasn’t there, the last time I was up there. But when it came to asking him if he could order me a book, he grunted at me and asked someone else ( read: a member) to do it for him.

That was a God moment. A member working in my favorite book store.

So I got my copy of Anne Rice’s, “Prince Lestat.” And ordered a copy of “The Vines.”

When we last saw Lestat, reading all the other Vampire novels, Pandora, Vittorio, and the Vampire Armand, Lestat has been comatose, lying on the floor of an abandoned convent, located in New Orleans, and is said to be haunted by a little girl. Nobody knows when he will wake, or if he will wake again from his self imposed slumber.

Now, Anne Rice has brought Lestat into this age. And with all the bells and whistles that exist at this time, what will he do, how will he react, and what kind of story did Anne weave for him? She has said that before she started writing this book, she wasn’t sure what she was going to write after her werewolf series. But she said that Lestat began talking to her, and she listened and this next book is the result.

I’ve never been disappointed by any Rice novel, from either mother or son. Two completely different writers.

I went back to fiction and found the next book in the Temperance Brennan series written by Kathy Reichs, a book called “206 Bones.” Now I get where she gets her titles. If you read her, by this point in the reading game, you too will have figured that out. And if you don’t, that might get you to read her.

I headed to cash … and once again, there was elf sparkle and glitter shit all over the ground floor.

I was standing in line waiting to pay, and I spied one of our women buying books of her own. We got to talk for a couple of minutes. That was another God moment.

I was craving B.K. and there are two in the mall. One in the food court pit in the basement of the Eaton Centre, and a second one below the main staircase to the Scotia Bank Place Theatres. I opted for the second because it was close to the Peel Metro and I only had a few minutes to scarf my food to get on the train and get back to Alexis Nihon for my scheduled haircut.

Taking a short break to eat dinner .. be back soon !

Chicken Fettuccine is the BEST !!!!

After completing my meal, I had fifteen minutes to make my transit up two stops and to the salon.

I walked through the mall to the Peel Station. As I crossed the turnstile, a train was in the station. I ran down the stairs and across the platform, only to be met with doors shutting in front of me. FUCK !!!!

I hate when that happens.

The next train was five minutes out. I waited.

The train pulled into the station. The doors opened, and remained open. They did not close as they usually do.

That was the first sign, something was wrong …

Then we heard those tell tale “Tones of death …” Meaning that the line was down.

The announcement came over the p.a. system. There was no ETA of re-establishment of service.

We waited …

The clock is ticking still …

The train doors shut, and the train took off. They must have worked fast to turn it around.

I made my appointment.

There is a new haircut sweeping the male persuasion as of late. They come in various styles.

I’ve seen this cut on one of my favorite actors, he wears it well, now I wear it well.

I had the rest of the afternoon to fart around until I had to leave…

And that’s where we are at the moment.

Tomorrow is Friday, more to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … Kicking and Screaming

tumblr_lm5d60Hzy01qzhzruo1_500 flickr jamesclear

Courtesy: James Clear – Flickr

It isn’t snowing, yet … But we are hovering right around ( +2c with a low of -2c) tonight.

And I just love this photo as well.

It is a bit chilly out. And last night we turned the clocks back, which fucked up overnight radio, but I slept a good night’s sleep anyways. Some folks did not get the memo over the weekend, and some of our number were all discombobulated worrying that they would be late, when in reality, they did not turn their clocks back last night.

I’ve been noticing that some bus stops have been moved farther away from their original locations, and now we have to walk farther to get a bus than the local usual stop. And the city workers have pulled up many flowerbeds and planters in anticipation of the coming snows.

They city does that, they plant great flower beds and tall growing plants in planters located all around the intersections all over town. Knowing that when it snows, those plants and flowers stand no chance of survival once snow begins to pile up, so they dig them up early, and most probably, they end up in a compost heap somewhere.

I got to the church, and I was soon followed by new people to make coffee, set up and greet. With numbers of folks, set up takes mere minutes. Then we all waited.

At 6 the bells ring in the bell tower. Most of the chairs were still empty. I figured that folks were slow today because of the time change, but in the end we sat a full house. This month one of our women who is new to the program and just crossed her year, is chairing for the first time, and that is always exciting. We are all so proud of her.

We are one more story closer to the end of the book, with the reading of “A Late Start.”

“It’s been ten years since I retired, seven years since I joined A.A. Now I can truly say that I am a grateful alcoholic.”

After reading a story like this one, one can easily say, “better late than never.”

Our woman who writes this story, had a life, a family, and everything else that came with it. Then, one by one, she began loosing things. First a child, then a husband, and her life soon followed. Drinking came late, but did not spare her suffering. No matter what age you start drinking, the end point is always the same for those of us who just can’t stop.

She came, she saw, and she scoffed. For a long time, she listened and at least she kept showing up. Like many people we see today, coming to and then the coming to believe is a tall order. The other kicker in this story is our writers inability to admit powerlessness over the drink. Many of us fight tooth and nail to maintain control, in some way, and end up kicking and screaming all the way to the bank, until we finally become willing to admit we are licked.

Many, have to come to the point that they are willing to be willing.

We hear the same words. We read the same slogans. And in time we either find it, or we end up warming a chair until that magic moment that we become part of. And in our writers case, after some time in sobriety she says, quite pointedly that “she will never be responsible to or for anyone else ever again!”

It took her years to become willing. YEARS.

Eventually she reached the point that she was ready and willing to give it away, and work with another alcoholic.

But as the book says in A Vision for You … “Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got!”

I heard a friend say tonight that it was his experience that he is stubborn, like our writer tonight.

“NO, I don’t need your help,

Fuck you,

Help me …

NO, I don’t want to talk to you,

Call me … “

Am I coming or am I going?

I am hearing a very familiar message from our women, who are homed at our Sunday group. They have all had the experience of getting sober and coming to and then coast for a number of years. At some point in the game they realized that they were stagnant, and they needed a pick me up. And so they found other women who knew the way into living in the book, in the steps and in the solution.

And now they’ve all really “Come to Believe” that the only way to LIVE IT is to be IN IT.

To be IN it to WIN it…

Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.

Nothing gives me/us more pleasure than to try and make a difference in another human beings life in that most important period of time, the twenty minutes before and the twenty minutes after. We got all the way around the room, and while we ate cake, we talked to each other. Trying to give hope that things WILL eventually get better. You just got to stick around and believe that WE believe in you and are here for you as well. And that simple statement can change a life in ways one would never expect.

Our five year celebrant this evening has just come off a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa …

That little tid bit of information got everybody going. It was very exciting.

I reiterated the thought about your chair, and learning to get comfortable in your chair, and to listen from your chair and that eventually, you will say something from your chair, that will change someones life, so stick around.

The only thing you have to change in sobriety is EVERYTHING. That’s what the book says.

And you know how control freak alcoholics resist change as if change was fire …

Eventually we learn that to let go, make the admission, come, and then come to, that is when life begins to change, and don’t you want to turn it around and help another alcoholic? That’s the whole point. To get better, to learn and to change, and then allow your experience, strength and hope to bring another human on board.

In order to keep it, we must give it away.

I think we did that in spades tonight.

We laughed, we cried, we ate CAKE !!!

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…

I have no opinion on Halloween.

918

Courtesy: Don’t Eat Trash – Jeremy

Hey, how are you?

Happy Halloween apparently. I don’t really know what it is because I grew up in Australia. A country on an island in the middle of the ocean, far far away from most. But, i did just watch Blood Diamond. An amazing film that shows how a civil war was fought by soldiers stealing children and retraining them into soldiers by shocking them with ultra violence. At the end of the movie the father character finds his brain washed son, who points a gun at his Dad.

The father stares into the eyes of this hurting, lost, violently brain washed boy and starts speaking truth into him.

“Dia, What are you doing? Dia! Look at me, look at me. What are you doing? You are Dia Vendy, of the proud Mende tribe. You are a good boy who loves soccer and school. Your mother loves you so much….. I know they made you do bad things, but you are not a bad boy. I am your father who loves you. And you will come home with me and be my son again.”

and it smashed me.

These are the words my father said without saying. I was and am his son. I belong with him. He said this in many ways, but he spoke it so often that even when I was bullied at school, even when i was a confused 19 year old who moved out of home, even when i moved to Sweden – the other side of the world…. before i left he told me he was proud of me and I am his.

I’ve never shot anyone. I’ve never been brain washed like in the movie, but… the truth my parents have always spoken over me has protected me and empowered me in so many different parts of my life.

I don’t write this to brag (much). But more to highlight the power of words and truth spoken. Yesterday I talked with one of my friends about how we sometimes believe lies spoken over us purely because there’s no reply to it.

If we are told we are dumb, and no one is telling us any different… then we must be dumb. If we are told we are ugly or worthless or going no where, we believe them… why wouldn’t we.

But this father in the film, and my father in my life constantly spoke truth. This kid was a good kid. Yes he’d shot people, but his father was calling him home, to belong, to be who he actually is.

To push the picture even further, this interaction is a perfect example of how God is with us. And how God craves to be intimate with us like a father to his child. Proud. Protective. Powerful.

God stares us in the face when we point a gun at his and, he doesn’t grab the gun, he doesn’t push us away like he could. He stays in our aim and starts telling us who we are, giving us room to be with him again, completely and instantly.

Try him out. Aim your gun at God and see what he says about you.

again, completely and instantly.

Try him out. Aim your gun at God and see what he says about you.

Halloween Night … Should I Stay or Should I Go ???

tumblr_lb2snxcVRo1qzcspxo1_500 neko 1303Courtesy: Neko 1303

I love my collection of holiday photos. This particular image comes from my archives of old.

Yes, it is Halloween. And no, it didn’t snow, nor did it rain. Thankfully !!!

From end to end, there were hundreds of folks dressed up riding the rails to events all over the city. When I arrived at the church, which sits in a residential area, there were tons of kids trick or treating, Some of us sat outside watching and reminiscing about our days when we were kids.

There was a time, when I was much younger, that trick or treating began as soon as sundown occurred, and we walked for miles carrying king sized pillow cases full of candy, that supplied us with sugar, all the way until Easter the following year. Some of those trips lasted until the wee hours of the morning, when the getting was good. Oh, the memories …

After last weeks exciting visit to Bill’s house and grave, this week was terribly boring to say the least.

On Sunday night we took sage advice and hit the meeting to “De-press” from the weekend. On Tuesday we sat a nice group and read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step Eight. Very few people, amid their steps are at this point in The Work.

Our Thursday night Men’s group took another hit, we lost another founder due to medical issues, which leaves only two original founders and three additional members. We are down to Five now, we are hoping that God will provide for the meeting over the next few months.

Christmas and New Years fall on a Thursday this year, which means we will be hosting early dinner for guests on Christmas and then we will open to room for the meeting as usual. People actually show up on Christmas day for a meeting, which is always good.

Tonight’s reading from A.B.S.I. spoke to social events … Bars, nightclubs and parties, and the question of should I stay or should I go? This is a tedious question for folks in early sobriety, how to handle social events that involve liquor. That’s why I recommend Living Sober to people to read.

This topic brings me all the way back around to “Bitter Bernadette.”

Picture Sicily, 1910 …

It was the Pre-Christmas run up, a few years back. It was a Tuesday night. And people were agonizing about what to do about the holiday, and what kind of game plan they should have.

In the end, some folks drank, yet others did stay sober.

I can talk about Bernadette because she is no longer around. She was an older woman, with adult aged kids who lived in the U.K. She was scheduled to travel transatlantic for the holidays, but was worried about drinking. She mulled over drinking on the plane all the way across, then not drinking while visiting family, then she had a second plan, that also included drinking, and a bit of sobriety.

The fact that she was willing to drink again spoke volumes about where she was in sobriety.

I listened to her incessant worries in community. I was about five years sober. At the end of the meeting I took her aside and said, ” You know, your kids are adults, and right now you are sober, don’t you want to keep it that way? Why put your sobriety in jeopardy with trying to battle a demon that has you in its grips? If you can’t make the trip and NOT drink, then don’t go! Go another time, I’m sure they will understand…”

If you are so worried about drinking, then just Don’t Go !!! Change your plans.

She did not like that answer, she then said to me “that I wasn’t a parent and that I surely don’t understand what it is like to have kids,” and I admit, I don’t … then she gave me a one finger salute and told me to go fuck myself, she proceeded out the door, and never came back. That was the last time I ever saw Bernadette. She never returned to the meeting, nor did I ever see her again in any other meeting in the city after that.

In early sobriety there are plans of action we talk about. Things to do and not to do. We plan out game plans with our folks. We set them up with sponsors, contacts, phone numbers. We open meetings on holidays to make it a bit easier.

One must be in Good Spiritual Condition to walk into an event that liquor will be served. Do you need to go to that party, or that bar, or that nightclub? Do you have a good reason to put yourself in that kind of atmosphere? If not, then don’t go.

Now is the time we start talking about whether one should stay or should one go.

In the early years, this time around, I played around with going to nightclubs for a few years.

You must understand that when you live by mass transit, one must figure out the hours of operation, what you are bringing with you ( i.e. coats, jackets, scarves and such) during the Winter. Then you have to figure out how you are going to get home after hours, because the metro shuts down at 1 a.m. and you are stuck with the scary night bus or a taxi ride back into downtown, which usually ends up in a twenty dollar taxi ride, on top of what you are going to spend on drinks while out.

After all that organization, who wants to think about drinking ???

Going out in the Winter is a Bitch … Wearing the right clothing and the right shoes. Having to check your gear in a coat check, with tons of others at the same time. Then trying to navigate a taxi with snow on the ground all over the place … It became all too much to handle. So I stopped going out all together. Haven’t been to a club in probably a decade or more.

It wasn’t a question of the drink, but everything else.

Too Much Aggravation …

It is the weekend. It will get colder, but no snow as of yet.

More to come, stay tuned …

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

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