Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. STS 109 Shuttle Columbia Mission March 1, 2002. A WordPress Production.

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It’s Authentic … Does the Happy Dance

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

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

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

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

Once again, EBAY did not disappoint !!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … Brrr It’s Cold !!!

tumblr_mrh2a45JQ31rydszfo1_500 iheefzCourtesy: Iheefz

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

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

“Where the fuck did September go?”

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

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

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

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

WordPress offers a huge amount of choices.

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

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

We read the story “A Vision of Recovery.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sadly, she did not heed those word either.

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

Everybody is sober another night.

More to come, stay tuned …

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

tumblr_lrddob1hRW1qaw7dbo1_500 jakecooperCourtesy: Jake Cooper

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

It was a good day.

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

I got the jersey I wanted in the end.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interesting …

More to come, stay tuned

Thursday … Highs and Lows

Germany-Team-Squad-Fifa-World-Cup-2014This post is brought to you by the German National Team World Cup Winners 2014

There is a theme here, it will become apparent as we go along.

The weather is getting markedly cooler. We are sitting at a tremulous 13c at this hour, with a low of 8c forecast for overnight. And for the next few nights, we will hit single digits as well.

Tonight’s topic was all about CHANGE …

And as I began typing this entry, I got an email from the seller of the Mario Gotze German Jersey that I bought this morning. I did not get my first size choice, but I took second choice and he threw in an Argentine Messi Jersey for free for the lack of stock that I wanted originally.

But I am getting ahead of my story here, so let me back up …

Lately our ISP has become nightmarish. Since hubby started his new job, we have been furiously trying to regain ground by paying backed up bills in large chunks, which leaves little wiggle room for spending and food. This week, we have a wider berth and I got some play money out of it.

Two weeks ago, we had a payment arrangement with our ISP. The night before the payment was due, around 12:30 a.m. in the morning, the ISP shut off our internet. When they do that, you can’t navigate anywhere, you just get their “please call us – it’s important page.” Well that pissed me the fuck off.

The next morning the payment was made, and they turned us back on.

Last night (Wednesday) the same thing happened again. A payment arrangement was made with a promise that they would NOT turn us off again. (READ: THEY LIED !!!) I was sitting here doing some very important internet sleuthing about some purchases I wanted to make and the internet went dead.

Hubby was already sleeping, but he got up for cookies and I said that the internet was turned off again, needless to say, that pissed HIM the fuck off. I was not happy at all. This morning he called and made the payment as agreed, at the total they requested, then they turned us back on again.

I got up early in the morning because I was on a BUY deadline. Which leads to the jersey story. If you go online and search Gotze jerseys, (One) the price varies from location to location. (Two) if the jersey was on the field, or near the field, the price was much greater. (Three) If the jersey was signed it was astronomical.

I paid a pittance for my jersey, and got a free second jersey for the size mix up. I took a photo copy of the Gotze jersey from the Ebay listing, and when I saved it, the file name was $75.00, which must mean that this original jersey was much more expensive, than the price I paid for it.

mario-gotzeOne of the Gotze jerseys I did see on Ebay ran almost $1000.00 Yes, that is a Thousand !!!

Just because something is on the internet, doesn’t guarantee that you can buy it right off.

Adidas is a sponsor of many soccer teams and their star players, from boots, to clothing to other assorted items. I wanted the GOTZE jersey, and if I could get them, the German team socks, because I am having a love affair with all things German as of late. I’ve been buying a lot of clothing from Germany as of late. Expensive, but well worth the price. Because you can’t get them anywhere else.

There was an article I read online which listed the assorted sellers of German gear.

I chose the easiest one … ADIDAS…

I went to the site last night, opened an account and carted my sock purchase. I thought it was going to be a cut and dry process. This morning I went back to my account and filled out the buy form. I soon realized that it defaulted to Great Britain, and would not let me enter Canada.

Flummoxed… I signed on to the chat service and spoke to an agent who then told me I could only shop on the site associated with Canada/U.S., and not the U.K. Just because it is on the internet, doesn’t necessarily mean that you can buy it.

I go to the Canada/U.S. site, and there is NOT ONE German soccer related item to be had.

Well, if you can’t get it on the Internet, it HAS been proven that if you really want it, then your next stop is EBAY. I can attest to the fact that almost every retail item I have bought that I can’t get local, came from EBAY.

And wouldn’t you know it, there was a U.K. seller, selling the socks I wanted about a pound fifty more than the Adidas site was selling at. They were selling on my side of Ebay so I could buy them, and they only had one pair left. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and just BUY IT …

mario 2So out of all of this …

  1. The Gotze jersey is a Large instead of an XL.
  2. I got a free Argentina – Messi jersey for the mix up
  3. Shipping was FREE on that sale
  4. I got the last pair of Germany Team Socks
  5. I spent $65.00 in total. Not a bad haul for one day !!!

After a successful shopping trip abroad, I came back to earth. We needed groceries, and I needed coin for laundry. It rained all afternoon. We have 7 washers and 7 dryers. They are located on the Penthouse floor (20th floor). The exhaust pipe for the dryers goes outside to the roof. When it is muggy and/or rains, you need more coin to dry than usual… UGH !!!

I finished my chores around 3 and took a short power nap. I would have preferred a couple hours or so, but you take what you can get. We had a great wind storm during the rain, and we are on the 17th floor. When the wind blows it shakes the windows and the building buckles. Listening to the wind hit the building is quite unnerving.

I took off early to make stops at the mall on the way, and cranked it out and sat on the stoop for almost an hour before folks began showing up. We read from Daily Reflections. June 8 …

Opening up to change.

The book says that “The only thing you have to change when you get sober is EVERYTHING!!!”

And every day we get a daily reprieve contingent upon our spiritual condition.

The reading speaks of many things like Letting Go and Letting God. Surrender, and Belief.

We talked about relationships being like a garden from which our character defects grow. And I added to that thought that, in my garden, I like to pour MIRACLE GROW on my character defects.

We are all learning about ourselves, no matter how long or young we are in sobriety. Lots of folks on Step 4 from the Men’s Intensive format.

If you really want to learn about yourself, get into a relationship, better yet, step it up and marry that person. This year marks 10 years of marriage for us. And 12 years of being together. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my husband. From one end of the spectrum to the other.

It is a good sign that we can spend inordinate amounts of time sitting in the same room together, and not want to kill each other, and knowing that we KNOW each other, so well, that not one unnecessary word is spoken. Nor has to be spoken.

A rainy day opened up to a breezy beautiful, but rather cool evening.

We all think that jackets may be required from this point on …

It was a good day. A little Yin and a little Yang …

More to come, stay tuned …

Tuesday … You Don`t Always get what you Want !!!

tumblr_n2w3uhcDia1rvyjllo2_500 spoonsdammitCourtesy:Spoonsdammit

Did you see that MOON last night? At 5 a.m. this morning, I was standing on my balcony and the moon was still up, quite far from setting, even at that hour, sun up was coming quickly, It was quite a sight. Under a cloudless sky, the moon was sparkle bright, lighting up the city from above and there was plenty of light shining down on me.

I awoke to a flurry of email from a bunch of people, one, for the upcoming Men’s Intensive in October, and secondly, great email from friends from afar.

I wrote a short time ago about the headphone debacle that turned into a $60.00 repair mission. I applied for a warranty refund online, then printed out the form that it generated and mailed my broken headphones to B.C..

Today I got an email response from them, saying that my claim had been processed and a resolution was reached. They offered me a coupon for $29.99 for the refund. Not enough to buy a pair outright without using extra funds. On their site the same exact pair I had costs $40.00 plus shipping and handling. And if I want to use the refund towards a new purchase, I will have to pay the balance with a credit card, which we got rid of them a few months ago … UGH !!!

The upside of this is that My direct deposit comes to R.B.C next month, instead of going to a U.S. bank where we were charged outrageous fees for cross border transfers and fees, so I opened a mirror account from my Canadian Bank Institution. I have a brand new Visa/Debit card just waiting to be used, once fund begin redirecting into the account.

That coupon refund is good for a years time. Eventually I will be able to replace my headphones.

On an entirely other thread …

I scored a #19 Mario Gotze German National Team World Cup jersey, AND I found the site that sells everything else that I want and everybody takes Pay Pal, which is a great coup.

tumblr_nbchquNJyQ1rjev45o1_500 footballhqsIt has been a beautiful couple of days. Weather is an ever changing beast, and every time you click the National Environment Canada website, the numbers are different. Suffice to say that this weekend we will see the first pass through single digit temps. Enough of a kick that may begin the Fall turning of the leaves. All we need is a few days with single digits to jump start the process.

I departed with plenty of time to make my transit, and went all the way across and my bus stop at the other end of my transit was reopened, so I rode the bus down the hill instead of having to walk. A nice little perk.

It was week two of our Journey through the steps … And Step Two !

The announcement went into our local Blue Sheet event calendar which is published and mailed out across the city to every group registered with inter group. I sent a short blurb, and in the end we got a full “across the page” event announcement, instead of a small mention. And that must have done the trick, because we sat twice as many folks as we have been sitting for the last few weeks.

Came to Believe … That a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

It does not read (Come to Believe) it reads “CAME” to believe, past tense.

Some would say, and I heard it tonight, that we get to this step, and it already happened. I also heard the phrase “Find God and Find Him Quickly.” The reading outlines the problems some folks may have, and what happens when that happens. It gives options for those averse to the word God.

And we also heard what some of our newer folks did to get to this step and allow it to work for them. I didn’t get a chance to ask her, but one of our women said that her sponsor told her to repeat a short mantra for thirty days, and to see what happens. It did the job. But like I said, I didn’t get to ask her what that mantra was.

I know for me this time around, I did not have an issue with God. As delusional I was at the end, I at least had a clarity of mind that allowed me to pray. And pray as if my life depended on it, and I think that that was what did it for me. God is there, He just waits for us to call upon Him.

Then He moved …

It took a few months for my head to clear up. The “Not Having” other life issues hanging over my head, allowed me to concentrate solely on sobriety. It was also good that within the first five months of coming back, I sat through a step intensive prior to coming here.

And I remember, I was here for a few months, and I told the guy who was my sponsor (read: for a very short time) that I felt I was ready to work the steps.

And he replied … “Steps? I don’t work steps!”

I dropped him like a hot potato. He eventually went back out and drank.

That set me up for my next sober encounter and my journey through the steps in a 17 week Men’s Intensive. Some make it and some don’t. We started out with twenty five men. By the time we hit Step Four, half that number went back out and drank. At the end of the series, there were only four men left. Myself, my sponsor, a second man and his sponsor.

Coming to believe has become organic. Watching God move is a blessing. Having studied God through Religious and Theological studies in university gave me a book sense. But the richer God experience has come from direct contact with my fellows, watching them get sober. By the book, we may say, there is a God. And religious folks say that they believe in God. And that He does work in their lives.

Hands down, the most ecstatic encounter with God comes, when folks come in and have their spiritual experiences. I have seen it many times. I’ve seen God move in meetings, around us, through other people, that have concretely shown me that God really does exist.

If you question the existence of God, or that you may not believe the same way I do, find a room you enjoy going to, sit in that room, stay in that room, days, weeks, months and years. I promise you that eventually, you too will see God. Hands down it is the best experience I can tell you about.

We are trudging away.

I ask for your prayers for one of our women, who learned recently that her father is very sick, with K.S., I’ve never heard of straight people suffering from a condition, usually associated with AIDS. And it may be that when he was being treated for Leukemia, he received a tainted transfusion. This began twenty years ago. And for a very long time, the doctors did not know what he was suffering from, K.S. began to present but doctors did not catch it or name it until it was too late. What straight doctor thinks of Cancer beyond the vernacular cancer symptoms?

Anyways, Dad is dying. He may have 6 months, maybe a year on the outside.

So if you pray, pray for my friend. She needs all the help she can get.

The one good thing is that she accepts “Thy will be done.” and so do we.

Amid the sadness of terrible news, we laughed with her.

More to come, stay tuned …

Mum …

 

photo_1309470915067-10-0Buckingham Palace, Prince William and wife Duchess of Cambridge announced that Katherine is expecting !!! No date has been given for the birth as of yet.

Congratulations William and Kate

Sunday Sundries … On the Road

tumblr_l7kzzjlD3L1qzqhkho1_500 twinkobsessionCourtesy: Obsession

Do you ever have a moment like this, when you did something and you should have done something else, and grabbed your head and went “UGH!!!”

They say, in recovery, that “Where ever you go, there you are …”

Which is timely with the introduction of tonight’s read: On the Road

As alcoholics, how many years did we spend, traveling from one place to another, trying to find ourselves, or a life, or something like it?

Our writer tonight, travels roads all over the earth, looking. This after being young and getting blackout drunk and trying to kill his stepfather, the judge says “You can either go to Juvie, or you can leave town until you turn 21!”

Not wanting to go to juvie, our writer takes to the road in search of himself, but never finds himself until he darkens a room of A.A. He spends the better part of his life drinking his way around the world and back again, until he takes his last drink.

And even then, he really did not connect. And every time a sponsor “lovingly suggested” that he do some work, he would summarily fire them and move on to someone else, who had, he thought, a much easier softer way.

Some years into sobriety, say, around the two year mark, we enter what we like to call,the “angry years” where nothing fits, everybody is wrong and has no idea. And if we stay sober through this we eventually get to what we next call the “jumping off point.”

This is the stage where we say “SHIT or get off the Pot !”

There are many ways to approach recovery. I get the slow starters. I understand the questions, the uncertainty, the fear, of just how am I going to live, now that I am trying to get sober, and what will my life look like and what will I do if I can’t have just one???

Come in, sit down, and relax. All the jobs have been taken. Listen and have an open mind.

Eventually, you will hear your sponsor speak, and that is when you know what to do. OR you could just cold cock it and put it out there, that you need a sponsor, and see who rises to the occasion.

That works just as well.

Back to On the Road …

Growing up, I listened to my parents talk, A LOT ! Drunk and Sober. I heard a lot of things, and realized in my journey, that to be myself, I could not do that at home. I had to get out.

My shrink at the time told me what to do …

He said, and I quote “The best way to become part of a certain community is , to go to the bar, sit down at the bar and have a drink. Hell, have two if the spirit moves you, and see what happens.”

The entire decade of my twenties was wrapped up in one sentence.

On a bar stool, looking pretty, talking the right game, drinking the right liquor, and watching what happens.

I can’t tell you how many times I moved during those ten years. I had a brief foray into staying put from 26 to 28, but as soon as I was left to my own devices, I was off and running again. Until I hit my mid thirties. I had finally had enough of trying to find some place I could call my own.

I had come to that “Jumping Off Point” I was 34. Uneducated, by university standards, but wise on finding my way through poverty and sickness. I got sober again, and for a time, I settled where I was because I needed what my friends had and I needed to learn how to get sober again. I did that.

But in the back of my mind, and in my heart, Where I was, was not where I wanted to be.

Montreal was the stopping point.

I had been educated, I was sober, and I had a birthright in hand, that facilitated my last move.

It was the last step, in becoming the man I wanted to be, somewhere that I would call HOME.

Someplace that I could be ME, that I could be free of the past. Free of the pain, sickness and poverty that I was living in prior to my last move.

This time I had ammunition. This time I did it the right way. I found a home, I found the rooms, and I met people who would get me into the life I wanted.

The best piece of advice I heard the first week was this:

Go to meetings. Find a home group.

Build your LIFE around your MEETINGS, not your MEETINGS around your LIFE.

I did that. And I’ve been successful for the last 12 and some years. I never deviated from this advice, unless of course, I could not find another night to have class. Your home group is sacrosanct. You never miss your home group, no matter what. it should be your first responsibility.

Only 2 semesters in ten years did I ever have to miss my home group.

Our young people, in their twenties who are in the nest right now, are still trying to figure out who they will become and how they are going to get through school and life and be social, and NOT drink.

That is a tall order. It is a tall order for most folks coming in the room at any stage of the game. We all say that same thing … How can I survive this life and not drink?

I had to get to the point that moving from place to place was no longer working. I had to get to the point that I was ready to grow up and learn how to live in my skin, and become the man I so wanted to become.

Finding that “PLACE” is integral to success.

Because, where ever you go, there you are …

I was getting too old to keep looking, and not finding. The time had come to either SHIT or get off the pot, so to speak. I had no more time to waste, time was of the essence. And If I didn’t take that chance that I had, I would never have gotten here.

And I like HERE.  I want to be HERE. I love HERE.

If you don’t know where you are going, then STOP. Sit down where you are and rest. Look around you and survey your surroundings. Study your location and the people in that location. Consult your life map and ask your questions. THEN when you are ready to take that next step, gather your map and your things and take that step.

Growing up was not as hard or as painful as I thought it would be. When I was still drinking, all that mattered was having the delusional life I thought I wanted. WRONG !!! Knowing that where I was at that time, was not where I wanted to be, I think contributed to what I did next.

But I had to put the drink down first to be able to make a conscious life decision.

The rest they say is history.

All my guys are good. I Skyped with Pittsburgh, everyone is well. Our little group is sober another weekend. And we are good to go for the next week.

More to come, stay tuned …

OH, and I SCORED a #19 Germany – Mario Gotze World Cup Jersey. Pictured below and on the sidebar !!! Ten Cheers for EBAY !!! YAY !!!

Friday … Unbearable Weather and Things Like That

tumblr_nbchquNJyQ1rjev45o1_500 footballhqsCourtesy: Football HQS

Boy, was it HOT today. The last time it was this hot, was back in July. And we are under a severe thunderstorm watch at this hour.

I had nothing to do today, so I slept in. In the end I had several dreams one after another covering a few topics that have arisen in my mind over the past week. I am not only ruminating at night before bed, I am dreaming of people, places and things as well. It was interesting to see how the dreams played out. Even while I am sleeping my mind is in overdrive.

When my alarm clock finally went off at 4:30 this afternoon, I was like, NO, More Sleep Please !!!

I diddled here on the computer and got ready to go. I was meeting with one of my guys prior to the meeting, on the other side of town, so I left uber early. It was a miserable 28c out with a humidex of  38c. The skies were growing darker every minute as I made my way to the Metro.

If it was unbearable outside, then it was doubly worse in the tunnels. The heat generated by the trains and the air in the tunnels is really warm. And that warmth is a really good thing come winter. But it was sweaty hot outside, and I was traveling at peak rush hour. I don’t usually travel this early.

The trains were PACKED, across both lines.

When I made my connection, the car was packed wall to wall. It was sweaty hot, I was dripping all over myself and with so many folks around, wiping dripping sweat was problematic. UGH !!!

I arrived at Laurier and when I came out of the station it was dark. It was close to six o’clock. It was also raining. You would have thought that it would be Pouring rain seeing how dark it was outside. By the time I made my stop, the rain was coming to an end. And it seemed a bit cooler out.

We sat a jam packed house. We split up into two groups to allow everyone to get a chance at sharing.

Tonight’s read : A.B.S.I. #68 Giving without Demand.

The read speaks about working with others, and sharing the message. And the why’s, how’s and what for’s. We give it away freely, because it came to us freely. If you try and give it away to one, and it doesn’t take, there is always someone waiting in the wings for what you have to give.

The discussion went around and around, and culminated with a consensus about what we do with what we know, how best to utilize that knowledge and how best to serve.

I noted on the way home to a friend, that our young people don’t seem to realize how much they help us to help them. Our years of time run from days to months, to multiple years. And I have said before that if you listen well to your friends, and your fellows, you learn how to help them with what you know.

But why don’t I have any sponsees? was a general question from folks with a few years.

They go to meetings, and they work, and they share, but the pigeon coop is empty.

I know for me it took a long time until the time was right to begin working with others one on one. But I also said at the meeting, that when we go to a meeting and we share from our seats, we are “working with others” because you never know when something you say will impact someone in a way that betters their journey and they learn something.

Sharing from your chair is a good way to hear yourself speak, to polish your skills at words and work, and it gives folks an opportunity to listen to you, because you never know when someone will walk up to you and ask you to work with them.

I have said before that I had to top off my tanks. And only diligent study, prayer and focus was what was necessary to ignite the universe and in turn the universe sends people to us, at the right moment, for the right reasons.

When you listen at a meeting to your fellows share themselves, the more one listens, the more time you get to hone your skills at words, and eventually you speak up and what happens is that wisdom comes to you and to those listening to you.

I don’t have all the answers. All I have is all what I have learned in 12 years and some months. And it isn’t all about me.

I had to learn, “how to learn” from people who knew how to teach and lead. I listened to people from other places, and how they did the work. And then I practiced. I worked, then the universe opened up to me. That’s how I learned to work with others. By watching others do the work.

We also heard the words, “I can’t get you sober, and you aren’t going to make me drink.”

That is a common phrase we hear from our old timers and new prospects.

In some cases, people came to me, because the moment was there for a connection, deeper than just a phone call to say hello. In other cases, the moment came amid a conversation and the opportunity presented itself to step into a working relationship. Lastly, a newcomer walks into a room seeking direction and out of ten men, I was the only one with a cell phone and offered up my number and things just went on from there.

So you never know when the opportunity to work with someone will come. Be prepared.

But when we get to the end of the first 164 pages of the Big Book, in the reading “A Vision for You” it says that once we get our house in order, we are ready to give, the caveat is that obviously, one cannot give what they don’t have.” Which means that only through learning and study and time in the rooms, can we ever learn how to be present, when to speak up, when to listen, when to step up.

It takes a fine ear to hear the “Words Between the Words.” And that takes a long time to hone.

Like I said, when the universe thinks you are ready, it sends you a nugget. It is then your choice what to do with it. Listen. Listen well.

You can’t lead another human being through the steps until you yourself have done them as well. And it may take a second pass or many passes through the steps until the right opportunity opens up. This calls for patience and humility. Multiple passes through the steps, and working with a sponsor, only deepens our knowledge of how to use what we have learned. And being able to lead from the right direction and motive.

Because if you are in it to glorify yourself or stoke your ego, better sit down and say nothing, rather than opening up your mouth and sticking your foot into it all the way up to your knees !!!

Over time, the ear is refined to hear ego speak, and know when it approaches.

Run, don’t walk, to the nearest emergency exit !!!

We’ve seen many men and women come and go. And we’ve all heard the stories about hallowed and terrible sponsors. The groups have survived them all. One must be careful, what we give and how we give it, and from what direction and our motives. You never want to make a serious situation worse, or further, cause someone to take a drink. And if they do drink, it was their choice. But better to meter your words carefully, to speak wisely and correctly.

If you don’t know what words to use, ask, or pray for wisdom.

It seems the gentle, easy path is the most fruitful. I won’t throw a book at someone who has just come in the door, or someone who has only been in for a short time.

I believe in the come in, pick your chair, sit down in that chair and get used to your chair. You will spend a lot of time in that chair. When you are ready, I am here. I wait for the moment to arrive.

In between that time I am Present. I come, I sit and I listen. And I learn about you. In turn you teach me about myself. Working close with others is a great way to see your own shortcomings and character defects. Which in turn promotes humility.

I’ve seen what happens when someone allows ego to go to their heads.

Eventually they implode. Sad but true.

I sat at the table and when we took our moment, I heard the angels sing when we prayed.

It is the highlight of the week, to sit with my friends and say that prayer together. It is home.

And for that I am grateful.

I made my trek home and when I came out of the station on my end of town, lightening was streaking across the sky. But I haven’t seen any substantial rain fall on either end. Maybe later tonight, we’ll see.

More to come, stay tuned …

Living Serenely … Thursday

tumblr_lywgauGWfc1qgdvbco1_500 stalkerCourtesy: Stalker

The weather held. We had a couple days of sun and warmth, that will turn even hotter tomorrow and rain will follow, then temps drop into the twenties. I would rather they drop even further. We are all trying to figure out when we will take our air conditioners out of our windows and just open them up when the temps drop to teens and single digits later.

I was out on time, and cranked it out again. And even though we were down some folks, because a couple of people are on retreat until tomorrow, we sat a full table. During the discussion, one of my friends quoted the quote above during the meeting. And I am sure he saw that quote here. I don’t know anyone who curates photos the way I do, or from the same sources. I’ve never seen my curates show up anywhere else in our circles.

We read from A.B.S.I. and Living Serenely

The reading speaks of the hangover. The ones we had when we were drinking, and once we got sober, the emotional hangover that occurs over time, here and there. Old feelings of Anger, Fear and Jealousy. If we get caught up in old feelings, that is going to turn our days into rough days and even bad days.

If we get stuck in yesterday, we are loosing out on today.

The reading also speaks about inventory.

With my guys, even though they are fresh and a few are in their months, and one is in his years, I ask them to write at the end of the night. A tenth step, a review of their day, even though they are not at that place in their steps.

I encourage them to write, because the women write. I follow the same path the women work the program here. They write every night, an inventory. Then when they call their sponsors the next day, they have something concrete in front of them that they can talk about. And in that process of writing one gets used to writing right away, and not later.

Try it. It works.

To be able to sort your thoughts out onto paper or in space (read: online) every day brings another layer to sobriety. It gets you working right away.

  • Sponsees call every day
  • They write every night
  • They work their steps and we read the book together
  • And they hit meetings

The further in the game you are, the stronger your journey will be, and if you are sandwiched in the books, your sponsors and working with others, for you early sober people, you could say that going to meetings and sharing and participating, is early sandwiching. If you are in this place, I can safely say that over time the obsession to drink will leave you and the urge to drink will dissipate.

This is your journey. And if you really want it, you will go to any length to get it.

The whole point of this work is to change that which needs to be changed. And to be able to accept what God has in store for you, either good or bad. The less time we spend in the past is something we learn how to do over time. Knowing when it happens, to be able to recognize when we dip into the hole, we talk it out, and we walk it out and make the mental and/or emotional correction and we go on with our day.

That’s why it is good to start doing a nightly inventory to see what you did that day, and to be able to shift things for tomorrow, that you did not do the day prior. Lessons. It’s all about Lessons.

Acceptance is the KEY to all of our problems.

And Nothing, Absolutely Nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.

Everything is alright in the END, if it’s not alright, its NOT the end…

Roll with the punches. Every mistake is a lesson. Every good day is bank money. The more bank you accrue, the less the bad days will take you into the hole of anger, fear and self pity.

Our new guys are doing alright tonight.

Everybody is sober another night.

I gave a six month chip to one of my guys tonight – I had been waiting all summer to hand it to him, as he was away at camp all summer, and accrued time while he was gone. So that was a good thing.

A good night was had by all …

Reset … September 3, 2014

tumblr_n6o8y22ofe1rtk6qmo1_500 brazilCourtesy: The Wonders of Brazil

First … I would like to take a moment to welcome all of my new readers.

There are more than 230 of you subscribed. Welcome Aboard.

Last night I spent some time working on the template. We’ve changed up the header image and also, I have added new PAGES at the top of the Blog, they can also be found along side the blog, down the right hand sidebar in the column.

The New Pages, well, old pages that I had written over the years, have made their way to the top spot, because they are important to my assorted audience.

Posts on a weekly basis include:

  • Sunday Sundries
  • Tuesday Vendome – We are in a 12 week Twelve and Twelve Study
  • Thursday Men’s Gathering
  • Friday As Bill See’s It – The end of the week round up
  • And any thing that might float my boat on any given day

And as the seasons change this blog will change along with them. I have all new header images planned for the next few months. Culminating with the Great Holiday Express this Christmas.

As always, you can reach me by either leaving a comment here, or on Twitter which is also on the side bar, Facebook, or by email. If you know where to look, it is there.

Welcome Aboard and we will chat soon.

Goodnight from Montreal.

My Pants Fell Down … UGH !!!

tumblr_m5d9y0DD5f1rvpo0vo1_500 hflockiThey called for rain last night (for tonight), and said the sky would open up and dump cat’s, dog’s and little fishes upon us. They said it would start early and last into the night. Well, it did rain. Once I reached where I was going, after carrying my BIG umbrella, because it was called for “STORM!”

Not …

I was ready to go early, and as I locked the door and called for the elevator, it arrived and I had forgotten my BIG umbrella, so I had to go back and get it, I missed my elevator. UGH …

It was going to be one of those days …

I made stops on the way, and got through the turnstile, and down to the platform, and as I walked onto the train, my belt popped and my pants fell down on the train. One hand was full carrying BIG umbrella, and the other was holding my phone (read: music).

I don’t often shop at Target, for reasons I will share with you now …

They day they opened, I bought a brand new pair of Skull Candy Headphones that were said to be indestructible and would never break ! 6 months later, they crapped out. My $40.00 purchase turned into a $60.00 repair mission. I am waiting for either a new pair or something like them.

Belts and I are not a very comfy couple.

I bought a belt. $30.00… Belts are expensive. This particular belt has a buckle that has two very small pins holding the belt inside the buckle. And let’s just say that the work is shoddy. That belt split in two and both pins fell out of the buckle, hence the belt became useless.

I bought a second belt not long ago (another $30.00). I refused to stand in line for a return because I did not have the receipt. Fast forward to today …

I got on the train and I felt the belt I was wearing come apart. I was not prepared to moon the train car, and I had to pocket my phone and hold my pants up by the belt strap across the transit, onto another train, across the city, up and out of the station, and walked down the hill, holding up my pants with my fingers, until I reached the church … It still had not rained yet …

I get upstairs at the church. and pull my belt out of my bag, because I had taken it off on my transfer stop. I notice that one pin is missing and the other had unwound (read: unscrewed) I don’t usually carry tools with me in my backpack. At least one screw was still there, I was able to re-screw it back into the hole, and I regained my belt.

Thankfully, I did not have to hold up my pants through the night.

It rained …

We sat a nice group. We read from the Twelve and Twelve, Step One … We are working on a 12 week study of the Twelve and Twelve.

What Man or Woman, is ready to admit complete defeat ???

I had been defeated by a faulty belt earlier.

I tell this story about living in an alcoholic home and having a top rate education on alcoholism, you’d have thought I would have learned something, I didn’t. I can’t remember the word obsession ever coming into my lexicon. I never thought about addiction either. And further, I never called myself an alcoholic, but purely, I was.

The lesson I learned the first time is, that if you get sober, and you don’t focus your energy on getting sober and staying sober (i.e. The Work) Using the book and doing the work, you probably will drink again.

The second time I got sober, it was ONLY about my alcoholism. There weren’t any other issues hanging over my head. I don’t know if I would say that my second bottom was lower than the first. The first one was really bad. The second one, not that much. I knew the end was coming. I was tired of delusional thinking and the misery of the morning after. So I stopped.

Life Did Get Better. It only took 12 years and some odd months.

I can’t tell you or stress to you how important it is to be grounded in the Book(s). Had I made this a priority the first time, and not had death staring me in the face, I would be twenty years sober this year.

Alas that did not happen.

“And even in long term sobriety, 10 plus years or more … your sobriety is totally contingent on your spiritual condition and the depth you are rooted in prayer and in the books.”

I had to get into it to reap the rewards of being in it. And they did come.

The ability to give it away, properly, in my opinion, rests in the time you have spent studying the books, saying ones prayers, and working in the books. Until I had sunk into the books, with my sponsor, I was ill prepared to give it away, further than showing up at a meeting and sharing.

It took a year of work, prayer and study, for God to say, “ok, you are ready to give it away, here are your guys … One, Two, and Three … Bing, Bang, Boom !!!”

I am powerless over alcohol, but my life, today, is manageable. The second part of Step One speaks to being powerless over People, Places and Things.

It took a very long time to understand and be able to accept this little fact. However hard I try to please someone, or get someone’s attention, or their approval, i am powerless over people.

The other note I have written in my 12 and 12, at the back of Step One is this …

“While you are in a meeting, your alcoholism is out in the parking lot doing pushups, just waiting for you to come out and take you down.”

I have a friend, in the rooms today, who I have known since the day I arrived here. We were sober together, but he, like many, did not stick and stay.

I am nearing thirteen years, and on this past Sunday he took his Three Month Chip.

A long time ago, (seven or eight years ago) I was at my home group, and some Bozo came in and told me that this same friend committed suicide and was dead. Today, you don’t really hear much gossip like we used to hear. And those jokers are no longer around.

I was not happy and very sad. The one thing you never want to hear about a friend in the room is that he or she is dead, by their own hands. I did not trust this news because, One, that the news came from that particular man, and Two. that in the end, it was just gossip. And when I learned that it was just gossip, I spared not the rod, nor my wrath on him. He did not stick around after that.

Fast Forward to today… I am sitting with this friend and I am so amazed that he is back and sober today. And I was really grateful that he was sitting across from me, alive and well.

I mean it was like a palpable feeling of warmth.

After the meeting I spoke to him and reminded him of that story. And told him how happy I was to see him alive, well and sober once again. And that I remember what it felt like to hear another member tell me that he was dead. My friend is a unique snowflake. There are no other men like him in my life and for that matter, in our rooms.

He is totally special to me because of the long time friendship we share.

I have learned a great deal from him. While he was sober, but more, in why he drank again, and in watching that happen, I learned from him what Not To Do … Spend a number of years in the same room with the same people, you will find that if you stay sober, every person who walks into that room, on any given night, is your teacher.

Only if you pay attention, listen and learn.

The numbers of folks who have come in and either gone out or disappeared is high. I have a ton of stories about these people, many of whom I have already written about in the past.

Our little group is sober another night.

I am grateful on purpose again…

I have been feeling a lot of palpable gratitude as of late. It feels great.

Oh and by the way, when I got home, I found a screw in my toolbox and fixed my belt. Hopefully I have renewed its worth a bit…

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … The Elevator’s Not Working, Use the Steps …

tumblr_lyv23dDgvu1ronyvyo1_500 tyleroakley

Courtesy:Tyler Oakley

What do you do for Labor day? For many on the East Coast, this weekend is the final weekend of Summer, the last weekend to party it up, before season closes.

The weather has been up and down. Rain here, rain there. I, however, got out and back without a drop which was good. I was up and ready to go with plenty of time and sat on my hands for the last half hour before I finally hit the door.

I got to the elevator bank, and there was a woman waiting, the button was pushed. But there was silence. You can hear the elevators coming up and down the shafts, so we stood there for five minutes, ten minutes, no elevators …

I pushed the UP button because the Up brings the elevator right to the floor directly. When you push the DOWN button, the elevator NEVER comes directly to the floor you are on. It always goes up to come down. I don’t know why it does that.

Well, Up didn’t work.

Another of my floor mates came to wait with me, and the elevators were not coming for some ungodly reason. So we walked down seventeen flights of stairs to reach the atrium. I Hate Stairs …

When I got down to the first floor, elevator ONE was stuck in the basement, and elevator TWO was on its way up. A little late for an up since we walked down the entire building…

When I finally got the the church, the door was open and the lights were on, a couple of members got there before me and said that the doors were unlocked when they got there, which means the super must have opened up for me early.

We cranked out set up and sat a full house. We had a bunch of visitors from out of town and we read Tradition Eight… The main take away:

“Money and spirituality don’t mix.”

You can’t turn a profit off of a Twelve Step call. Alcoholics who suffer, some go to rehab, and then they come to us. Some come to us directly. In any case, what would it be like if we charged folks for their sobriety?

There is not a dollar figure large enough that would compensate someone for giving it away. The Book reads “…Freely received, so freely given…”

The rooms gave me everything that I ever wanted or needed. The people in my life I could not put a dollar figure on. When I give it away, to the people I work with, you could not put a dollar figure on the emotional feeling of gratitude one gets, when people you work with get better.

I’ve seen “sober coaches” recently in the news, always coupled with someone who is trying to get sober, usually a celebrity … I wonder how much money they make a week as they “coach” someone into sobriety? And I wonder if that model works?

I mean if you have to pay someone to keep you sober, I think that speaks to the effort or lack there of said effort each sufferer puts into his/her own sober journey.

Yeah, I’ll get sober, my way. I will hire a coach to shadow me 24/7 in all my public events, and I will stay sober. I might not necessarily go to meetings on top of this, or maybe I might, but we’ll see …

We heard about Humility. We heard about Gratitude.

In New York, someone has to keep the doors open in the G.S.O. And someone needs to keep our G.S.O here in Montreal staffed and working. If you read the BOX 459, that comes monthly from New York, you can read all about how the system works, who gets paid and who doesn’t, and WHY?

The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking. And Our common welfare comes first, personal recovery depends on A.A. Unity.

Each group has jobs, that rotate each month. And people do group service to give back for what they have been freely given. And you can’t put a dollar figure on that knowledge.

When a celebrity or a professional comes through our doors, who they are and what they do for a living is left at the door.

There is that separation between the human being and what they do.

However, I know of a handful of sober folks, I count among my friends, who work in recovery houses and rehabs. We know where they work, but when they hit a meeting, they are who they are. I’ve never heard someone mix business with pleasure.

In time you come to realize just how much of a pleasure going to meetings is, because you get to see the people you got sober with, the friends that you have made and we get to share amongst each other what we learn on a weekly basis. And that is a pleasure.

So that is a thing …

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

we_were_here_full_size_wb

Late night television has been hit and miss the past few weeks. The summer season is coming to an end, and we hit that [buffer zone] between summer and fall programming that always coincides with Labor Day.

Last night we got an encore presentation of “We Were Here.” It was the only worth while program on television at that hour. I guess God had a plan. This documentary has been showing an awful lot this summer. As if to say … This isn’t over, we need to think about this and remember. And we need NOT to forget.

Seriously, how can I forget?

I love one of the final thoughts in this piece about “The Ghost.”

People who lived through that era of time, either watching someone they loved get sick and die, or working on the front lines of treatment and service, Once we have gone through this crucible, we come out the other end. And for some, they never reconnect to life, or to a purpose, and thereby, become a ghost, traveling through life, not connecting, and never finding a purpose for themselves.

I as well, am married to someone younger than me. Who never saw this happen. He did not live through what I did. He did not watch all his friends die gruesome deaths like I did. But when we connected, he got on board 100%.

I’ve had two periods of sickness in the last thirteen years. But it wasn’t a death watch. And I haven’t had another AIDS related illness since.

I know how I got through that period. But I took me a long time to find a purpose in my life, rather than pissing my life away with drugs and alcohol. That point came and I found a purpose, or I thought I did.

When I got here, and was sober a year, my after care counselor asked me “so what do you want to do now?” She gave me an option to find a purpose. I was attached by that time. I went back to school. I had my meetings and good friends.

I found my purpose, and I share that purpose every day with my fellows.

There is that empty space in my heart for all my friends who did not get so lucky. I remember. I miss them. I never forget them. I think about them every time I open my medicine cabinet. The moment I forget or I stop opening that cabinet, I sign my own death warrant.

I remember What it was like, What happened and What it is like now.

How gracefully that thought crosses all the events in my life succinctly.

I have a story and that story matters.

Maya says … When you know good, Do good. When you learn, Teach.

That is what I do every day.

More to come, stay tuned …

Moments of Grace … Friday

tumblr_m92o047WHu1qbrivdo1_r2_500 wrestlingisbestCourtesy: Wrestling is Best

It is the end of the week. All is quiet on the Western Front. The night time temps have dropped ever so slightly, enough that a second layer is comfortable, but not too warm. I broke out the fleece hoodie I love.

I had set my alarm clock when I went to bed last night, and woke up early, as usual. I never sleep up to the bell. I am usually 20 minutes early. When I got up I was a little foggy, I was getting ready to Get Ready to go and realized that I had two hours instead of one until my usual departure.

I downloaded a Brazilian Movie … “The Way He Looks.” Hoje EuQuero Vollar Sozinho.

It is in Portuguese and has no subtitles. UGH … There have been a bunch of Gif’s on Tumblr from the movie itself that I find romantic and cute. Today someone posted the title of the movie and I actually found it. Something to do later.

I left a few minutes late, and got all the way to my bus connection, there was about twenty people ahead of me in the line up and no bus. We waited. A bus pulled up and stopped short of the stop itself where you get on the bus. The driver got out … She got out of the bus, and walked towards the drop zone of that same bus/metro stop as it approaches the terminus at that station, she got on a second bus that eventually pulled up behind her bus, and both drivers took off for the kiosk to get munchies.

Transit workers, Police and Firefighters are in a battle with the city over their pensions, and trains buses, police cars and firetrucks are festooned with protest stickers. Some are covered all over the place. (I’m not sure how you get all that sticky-ness off of a vehicle or the trains and sorts.)

Transit workers come to work in street clothes, and they take their time when it comes to schedules, but they aren’t supposed to derail timetables and schedules. Both buses were loading passengers and I opted for the first bus at the stop. I got on the bus, ready to swipe my card …

And she smiled at me … It was just one of those moments.

I rode to my stop and arrived early as usual and we set up and chatted a bit. We sat a full house, but not enough for groups.

There are moments during our days, that time seems to stop. When our chair opened the meeting, we usually start with a moment of silence for the alcoholic who still suffers, but tonight she added that maybe we could take that moment and remember that darkest point when we took that last drink, and what it felt like, prior to the Serenity Prayer.

Take a moment … Think … Remember … Prayer …

And then it happened. I was sitting in a room full of my friends I truly care about, and we said the Serenity Prayer with those thoughts on our minds.

It was like music to God being sung…

I don’t know, it just hit me squarely. It was one of those moments, suspended between time and space.

So that was a thing …

The reading: “Renew your Effort.” from A.B.S.I. pg 68

Speaks to a slip, and the feelings of shame, guilt and regret.

Not everybody that comes in the door the first time, “get’s it” and remains sober. Many of us have a slip or two in our stories, some have more, but at the Friday meeting, our sober quotient is very high.

There is nothing more disconcerting than that look of “pity” from folks, when one comes in, off a slip, Or that one might look down upon, or shame another because of a slip. We work very hard on Friday’s to be as loving and welcoming to everyone, no matter where they came from on any given night.

And that approach has served us well, and carried our friends who have slipped into longer periods of sobriety this time around.

I never understood the feelings of someone who got stuck in the revolving door, until I got to that point in my own story. I learned what that felt like. Letting my friends down who cared about me. Letting down the meeting that supported me. Giving back that perfectly wrapped gift from God and said

“Nope, you can have it, I don’t want it any more…”

I got sober in the same city, where I had been sober before. The good thing was that I was on the beach, and the club room was in the city. City folks and beach folks usually do not mix, and that was the case for me, but word did travel, when I got back in, that I was sober again. And three weeks in, the second time around, I met all my friends at a midnight meeting, just before Christmas.

I was waiting for that Pity look. I am sure as shit, people were thinking it, because I was.

I got hugs and pats on the back, and a welcome. That is what I needed. Because I was assaulting myself with guilt, shame and remorse for weeks. It took me about two months to get over it soberly.

The reading says “… could I also suggest that you look at excessive guilt for what it is? Nothing but a sort of reverse pride. A decent regret for what has happened is fine. But guilt – No.”

A slip just doesn’t happen. There are usually extenuating circumstances that contribute to a slip. A situation or a problem. Self doubt, or self hatred. For myself, it was a hole in my chest that nobody else could see, but I knew was there, and I had to fill it. It was a cathartic need to fill it, and I went to every length to try and do that, To My Own Detriment.

Which probably contributed to the length of time it took me to reach my Second Last Drink.

We are all sober tonight. It was a beautiful night. People are coming and going. Some are moving away for school this term and tonight was their last night with us until the Fall Term ends in November, which is bittersweet. Friends are back from vacation. it was good to see and be seen.

All is well.

More to come, stay tuned …

Smash it, Bash it, Give it All You Got !!!

car smashCourtesy: University of Pittsburgh

It has been a very nice, quiet week so far. All the pieces have lined up in our favor. And we began to rebuild our empire from the pit we have been in for so long. The weather has been stellar as of late. There was cloud in the sky, and it piddled a little before the meeting tonight.

And looking out from my balcony, over to Cabot Square and as far as I can see, the first signs of Fall have begun to appear. On the grand scheme, the signs are still not apparent. But on the small scale, if you know what you are looking for, the signs are there, namely that there are a handful of trees in our neighborhood, looking down from above, that have begun to lighten, ever so slightly.

In the sea of green the one off tree amongst the many, lighter shades are there.

Amazing, we are at the end of August already. Labor Day is this weekend. Students go back to school next week, and the march to Thanksgiving will begin in earnest very soon. It will be a grand affair this year with the infusion of funds into the house as of late.

So that is a thing …

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

What’s up with that car you ask ???

A good friend moved to Pittsburgh recently to pursue his PHD. A very daunting task at that.

Monday was his first day of class. And upon arriving at the university, this car, posted above (imagine in your minds eye, a fully operational and intact vehicle) was sitting on the quad, as you can see in the photo.

There were people gathered around it, and someone had a sledge hammer in their hands and was pounding the car with all they had. So He had to find out what was going on. Upon closer observation, a group was hosting this event, and for the price of a Dollar($$$), you too could bash the hell out of this car too.

Unable to pass up a great deal, (to work off those pre-class jitters) He paid his dollar and heaped tons of abuse on the already falling apart car.

Have you ever seen a “Let’s sledge hammer this car to death event” on a university campus before?

Not me …

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

It was a regular Thursday night. I had stops to make on the way, so I left early. I had chores to do at the church, before we settled into the evenings groove. Namely, those little pegs you find in build project from IKEA, were a serious problem for our little “cabinet that could.”

Every time you put something on “that” particular shelf, it would fall, and the pegs scatter all over the floor or into the assorted boxes we have in the cabinet. So, with trusty Elmer’s Glue in hand, I attempted to fix said cabinet, which took me considerably longer than I had expected because the pegs were scattered all over the place and getting the shelf (out of/and into) the cabinet is a chore in itself, and trying NOT to knock the glued pegs out of their slots was the goal, that took some work …

Hopefully the pegs will never fall out of their holes ever again after tonight.

We sat a small group. We have been members short as of late. Our business meeting was painless and went off without a hitch. We read from the Daily Reflections, August 19 …

A Frame of Reference…

Which speaks to the 4th Step, even though we are in the eighth month of the year, which is solely centered on the Step of the corresponding month.

“Referring to our list (inventory) again, Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened?” B.B. Pg. 67

This portion of the step concerns the fourth column. The one all about us.

There are many people working their step four,as dictated by the Vermont Men’s Step intensive group members. Myself, My sponsor, Other men who we are both sponsoring, and so on and so forth.

It is a departure from the normal “by the book” process. And is done in stages. Stage one deals with your history from birth to the present day, Stage two deals with Fears, Guilts and Resentments. I am stuck at this stage two until the end of the weekend, when my sponsor finishes his up while out of town.

And with tonight’s discussion, I am rethinking my Step as it has panned out.

As a child I grew up in a home that had mixed messages, and assorted frames of reference. I had no voice, no way to defend myself, and no ability to speak my mind. I was forced to play by the rules dictated to me. I made decisions as a young person.

The first major decision I made as a teen ager was to move out of the house and on my own.

I could not be gay in my home.
I could no longer live by the dictates of my father
The abuse was too much and too frequent.

Was that choice selfish? Yes.

But every decision after that was a total failure.

From the age of twenty six to twenty eight, I was forced to make decisions based on self preservation. And I am not sure if self preservation can be considered self centered or selfish? The times dictated that certain decisions be made or else death was a serious end of things.

So I made them. But not alone.

They say when you slip that in essence, “you are giving God’s gift back to Him, saying I don’t want it any more…” I made that decision, on my own, to my own detriment.

Purely selfish and self centered.

During that first sobriety, prior to my slip, I began to construct the life I thought I wanted at that time. Changes I thought were necessary to achieve that, had to be made, so I made a first decision.

Self preservation … Selfish or self centered? You tell me …

After my slip, and in a sober frame of mind, I chose to continue constructing the life I thought I wanted at that time. These decisions would be the final death knell to who I was, in opt for who I wanted to become and where I was going to live and how I was going to do that and get there.

Self preservation… Selfish or Self Centered? You tell me …

I pissed off the right people. People who made my life meaningless, and abused and degraded me. I took a spoon and dug my father’s heart out of his chest and handed it to him on a platter.

Fuck you. Watch this. This is totally about ME.

Coming from where I was (at that time) socially, mentally and economically, bankrupt and poor and living below the poverty level, to where I am today, food, meds, a roof and a life that I could not have imagined thirteen years ago, I made these decisions for self preservation.

Extenuating Circumstances you might say ???

To this day, for some, my voice has been silenced. To this day, for some, my life is inconsequential and unimportant and unworthy of mention.

I benefited from my decisions. Solely made for my benefit as an adult. I struck out for new shores with life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness in mind, and I got it in spades today.

You can’t choose your family. And having three strikes against you is terminal justice for them.

Every time I go back and look at this step as I am working it, I ask these questions of myself, in front of my peers and my fellows. I am not looking for approval. Because this is who I am today. I did these things. And if I am guilty for self preservation, then I am guilty as charged.

No one in my family stood by me when the chips fell where they did. And to this day, they refuse contact so my steps will be woefully incomplete when I finish them, because in the end I won’t get the end I think I deserve or what any loving, feeling human being is deserved by right of existence.

So be it … This is my lot.

So that is a thing as well.

It was a good night. Everybody is sober and happy.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … Hey Day !!!

coverThe weather has been stellar, very warm and sunny. The Farmers Almanac was published yesterday for the Fall predictions. Environment Canada also published their Fall predictions as well. Both surveys tell us that we should have our Indian Summer continue through October. However November calls for wet and cold weather, and into December, the Polar Vortex should return, hopefully not as bad as it did last Winter. All these predictions rely on an El Nino in the Pacific Ocean.

It was a quiet weekend. Everybody is doing well. The numbers are returning. We are sitting good numbers across the city. Tonight was no different. We sat a fair group. We read through the circle and back to the start, and everybody got in on the discussion.

Building a New Life …

We are still in the Low Bottom stories, and the insanity factor is very high. None of our folks had sunk to the levels our writer did tonight. The one thought that repeated itself over the shares was the fact that “when we start drinking, our emotional quotient remains that age, throughout our drinking story.” This thought was repeated several times. My drinking took off in my twenties. And I had a brief growth spurt at age 26, through 28. I had no choice, when I got sober the first time, to grab the bull by the horns and ride him out. It was either learn or die.

I had that time under my belt. The second time I got sober, delusional as I was, fear of growing older was omnipresent. I really tried to hang on to something that I certainly could not hold on to. It was either grow up or die, a second time.

All that I have and all that I am, came from the rooms, and from the people in the rooms. It was as if, as soon as I put down roots here, soberly, life began in earnest. I was not sure if I was ready, but life certainly took off within months of my arriving here. The rest they say is history.

It was not easy. Every lesson learned was done by the book, through the rooms, tried and tested and retested over and over. Sobriety came in cycles. I’d hear something, or I’d read it from the book. We would talk about it in a meeting, then I would get “think time” and then God would go … “Ok, so you got this lesson? Let’s see you put it into practice.”

Rinse, Wash and Repeat …

So here is where I am today.

On an entirely New Note …

A few weeks ago, one of my long time friends sent a notice out that his new album would be dropping the coming week. That friend would be the One and Only Lucas Mire, from Atlanta Georgia. I’ve been following him for years, and have in my music collection several of his albums.

If you go to Lucas Mire.com

There is his music page. You can order his latest work “Hey Day” from Band Camp. You get one of two choices, a physical CD, or a Digital Download, if you don’t need the jewel case. Over the weekend Lucas was sending out pre-orders. I was waiting for my electronic notice from Band Camp, which magically appeared this afternoon.

So I brought it down and put it into my phone. I am happy to say that Hey Day is a really great album. Probably the best sound Lucas has ever produced. If you live in Atlanta, you can usually find him at Eddie’s Attic. One of the clubs, Lucas is known to play in.

I was at the church this evening setting up, with Lucas in my headphones. I had sent him a note on Face book before I left. And he replied that he released the album three days early for ME !!

I smiled…

Buy the album. Go, Now, Buy It !!!

A good night was had by all.

More to come. Stay tuned …

My Story

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