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Friday … T-Minus 5 days, Heart full of Gratitude

220px-Montreal_StViateur1_tango7174Paroisse Saint Viateur d’Outremont

This is the centuries old parish church in Outremont, where our Friday night meeting meets. It is part of today’s story, I just needed to right image to accompany this post.

There are 5 shopping days until Christmas.

Thanks to online merchandise, PayPal, and a little creativity, I am really good at finding places that will ship to Canada, because not all online shops in other countries will ship world wide. It may be Online, but what you want, may not be available, depending on where you are shopping from. I do my best to buy “in country” when ever possible.

It was another blur of a day. We have been triangulating get togethers with friends who are in town for a short time. Tomorrow they are all scattering across the country for Christmas, so today was an entire day of food, friends, and fellowship.

I had dinner with friends earlier this evening before heading out for the Friday Night Meeting.

Our local hangout “Dundees” on Crescent Street, not far from home, is my go to restaurant. That place has hosted scores of lunches and dinners with influential professors, academic advisers, friends, and family over the last 13 years. The place has changed up its menu and also changed up how they present food on the plate. It was really nice. As always the food is fantastic.

I wrote the remaining cards out for my friends last night.

How do you Card scores of friends you see all the time? It really isn’t possible, that would cost a pretty penny in the end. I picked the Friday meeting crew to card. But there are upwards of 50 people at that meeting on any given Friday.

So my method of carding is this: The first circle starts with folks that are close to me, the ones who I see at set up week in and week out, people I spend the most time with, those folks who I invest a little more umph into. The next circle is friends who I talk to regularly, those who are part of my sobriety, I can’t know everybody, there are just too many people. The third circle is people that are on the fringe, the folks people tend to ignore, the ones who come early, do all the work, and nobody notices them and they leave with not a word from anyone else.

This is called a little random act of kindness move.

After dinner a friend and I set out for the meeting across the Metro. We took another route so that we could stop for bagels at the premier bagel shop, St. Viateur bagels on the plateau. Because if you want bagels, you go to the ultimate source! On the way we were on a bus that turned out, not to be very reliable, it kept stopping and going, beside its regular stops. We were on a tight schedule, and at the end of the ride (when we got off the bus) we sat at a stop light for like 4 rotations.

We were like WTF???

We walked the rest of the way up Parc to the bagle shop, got bagels, then got back on a bus going back in the direction we just came from to get to the church. We squeaked in just under the wire.

The house was packed for the party afterwards. Two of three of my guys were in attendance, it was the last time we would be together in the same space until January. It was a good discussion.

After the meeting we broke bread together, and I did my run around the room.

I am kind to everyone in the room. I listen to people week in and week out, who comes, who doesn’t, who’s on the fringe, and their stories. Stay long enough and you will learn this magical ability.

I just don’t fold a blank card, sign it and toss it into an envelope.

Every card has a specific message, meant for that specific person. Which is why I chose the folks I did this year to card. Friends I want to know better, people who are the most important to me, personally. Everybody is important, but people and personalities sometimes do not allow direct contact.

Investing is an art. To know what to say, and how to say it.

And the payout, the looks on people’s faces, when you hand them a card, totally not expecting a random act of kindness, smiles, tears, hugs,

PRICELESS …

An investment into my friends, to let them know how much I appreciate them and what they mean to me, at a time, when people struggle the most and feel the most alone. And a dash of words, meant specifically for them. Words are power, put in the right order, from the heart, can change a life in ways, one cannot imagine. Kindness on the holiday can also mean someone gets through a holiday, that someone took the time to think of them specifically.

I love that.

It isn’t about me, its all about my friends. Because without them, I am just one man.

I got a great book from a friend for Christmas. I got to meet new friends, I hit a meeting with my guys, and on the train ride home, another one of my guys called from out of town. It was a full night of smiles, tears, kindness and love.

The Best kind of night.

A heart full of gratitude.

T – Minus 6 Days … From Flash and Bang, to Calm and Sober

tumblr_m9goegijlk1qkbo6bo1_500 freshieCourtesy: Freshie

Don’t you love it when your day, when you look back at it, was one BIG BLUR ???

Today, kind of started in the middle of the night last night.

The first day Christmas cards went on sale at the mall, I spent $40.00 on two boxes. I put them on the dining room table, and there they sat for more than a couple of weeks. I had even went so far as to gather all my little slips of paper, addresses, envelopes from last year, and my choice for who would make “The Cut” this year.

Now, if you know that reference, you are really good.

Time has been moving at light speed, as we are six days from Christmas and things have been ramping up for a while now. It seems that every day there is something specific that must be done, People to see, meetings to go to, coffee to be drank, conversations to be had, yadda, yadda …

Tuesday night I still had not written a single card, and to that end, I posted that fact on my timeline, everybody I send card to is on the “Book.” so why bother ??

Wednesday night, in the middle of the night I was sitting here and thought that there were certain people I really wanted to card. So it was 3 a.m. I was sitting right where I always sit, and I wrote out a very select group of people to card. And those cards went out this morning.

Most of those folks are in Canada, and Canada Post is really good at holiday mail, so chances are they they will get to where they need to be before next Thursday.

Sadly, only two Americans made the cut this year. I just wasn’t up to writing all those cards, when the return rate is so low.

I was ready to go early today because I had a beauty appointment at lunchtime, and so I was a bit early, and I’ve never seen the salon in such a frenetic state. Chairs were full, people were waiting, there was hair all over the floor. It looked like a marathon cut was taking place.

Oh, but this … Prior to going to the mall, I sorted my cards and got them in the mail, and went grocery shopping in the space between then and where I was going. Now I know every check person at the grocery store, well!  We are all on first name basis, because we shop there every day.

Ok, so I am standing in the express lane, and a friend is checking out. The express person has to contend with returns, refunds, lottery tickets, flat screen tv’s (yes, they sell flat screen tv’s at the grocery store), bottles, cigarettes, and the one phone connected to the store, the office downstairs, and THEN check out customers. All at the same time, well, you know what I mean.

In one moment, a guy wanted to exchange a flat screen tv, another wanted a lottery ticket, people were standing at the bottle return, AND the phone rang, and there was a customer in front of me.

What do you do first?

I just stood there wand waited for the fall out to happen. And it didn’t take long.

The guy in front of me was buying one item. LUNCH …

My checker lady had her hands and ears full. Imagine just for a moment, that you are that checker lady with everything going on, all at the same time …

She is taking the call, a bag boy is taking care of the tv, the others can wait.

She swipes the lunch box, amid a conversation and pauses for a brief second what happened next shocked both of us, but it is not uncommon …

The guy looks at her and says … “Can’t you fucking speed up?”

I held my breath.

My friend is not one who is short on words, nor colorful expletives.

She hung up the phone and completed the sale.

The guy did not say thank you, have a nice day, Nothing !

He walked out of the store.

I stepped up to the cash and she exploded with a number of colorful expletives.

We both laughed …

I go home, unload groceries and go to the salon, where the story is already in motion …

I walk into the salon, with the scene I set above. In the first chair, well, there was not first chair there at that moment, but a wheel chair. The cutters there are very familiar with random acts of kindness.

And at that moment, a random act of kindness was taking place.

It swelled my heart.

I waited for a bit and watched the frenetic scene until they were ready for me. The books were cooking with appointments, and from what I was told, it had been like this all week, with the run up to the holiday.

Holidays, a little nasty, a little humbug, and in the end you get a random act of kindness.

I did some Christmas shopping. The mezzanine is rather innocuous, so I passed through “The Tire” without even a hiccup. I hit some Micky D’s for lunch and came home. Thank God for online shopping, it has saved my sanity. Packages are winging themselves here as we speak, all I have to do is wrap them when they get here. BOO YAH !!!

Our little neighborhood has been BUZZING with activity for months now. The park is shut down, and they are rebuilding it. The children’s hospital is slated for closure in five months, a building on the main is being demolished to make way for a brand sparkling new condo block, with is going to KILL my view of Westmount Square when it goes up, The Forum approach has been blocked off for forever, traffic was shunted to two lanes instead of three, concrete barricades went down the block, and a makeshift path was created by fencing to get you through the madness.

From my balcony I get to watch everything from above.

Last night, a miracle occurred.

They pulled up the plastic on the newly poured sidewalks. They fenced in the tree boxes (where they will plant trees next spring), The concrete barricades are gone, the fencing is gone, they added light poles and stop lights, it looks clean, bright and ready for traffic.

Now, how many months does it take to strip a city block strip of sidewalk, 25 feet deep from street to building?

Answer: 8 months

On the demolition site the building is tucked in between a stretch of other buildings in the middle of a very long city block. So you can’t maneuver cranes, lifts, or any BIG Tonka truck rigs. There is no room to set them up.

They are using a one man “mini” bulldozer, lifted to the roof, where it is covered in snow. There are five guys to demolish the building using hammers, a mini dozer, and a Blow Torch.

Behind that building stands an apartment building on our block, we are kind of set up between the block behind this scene looking down on it.

The entry way for cars to park in that buildings parking garage is accessed by an alley that runs behind said building being demolished. They are knocking down a building at the same time that a working alley for another building is still useable. They can’t block the approach.

They knocked in the first floor walls (facing the car park entrance) from behind. They knocked down everything on the roof. They had to dig through the snow to get to hatches to the roof.

Now, they need to knock down brick from the second floor from above, because they can’t get to it from the ground. No truck access …

What do they do?

A man rigs a line, connected to one wall on the roof. The line is then tied to the man. The man hangs over the edge of the building, with his hammer, (literally!!!) knocking bricks out, immediately below him, on the same stretch of wall he is hanging over by a rope.

Do you see the logic here ?

No, I didn’t think so.

So that is a thing …

When all my travels were said and done, I had an hour to kill before I had to leave for the far end of Westmount to meet my sponsor at his condo. We sat in a McDonald’s and had our chat. I had another hour to kill from when we finished, until I needed to leave for my second trip into this end of Westmount.

I rode the train home for 45 minutes, and departed with friends for the meeting.

Our speaker was a few years sober, on the 27th he will have four years.

To open: Our chair, a woman I know very well, called this young man at 5 o’clock this evening. He was in his car, he was bringing his kids home. Both of them were fussing and crying, and it was a little insane, when the phone rung and she asked him to speak tonight.

Obviously, you never say no to another member when it comes to service.

We remarked after the meeting that

“when we were using and drinking, we are a tornado wrecking the lives of everyone around us, and we don’t even see it happening.”

When you are standing in the middle of the cone, you don’t necessarily see the winds whipping around you.

Hence, our man was a tornado.

His story was a type four alcoholic. (Meaning: A blackout, not knowing what he had done, said or drank or used the night before). Singleness of purpose be damned.

In the end, his last drunk, he had a wife, whom he thought he loved, a child that was 2 months old, and ended up in jail, after two days of binge drinking (over Christmas that year) inside a hale of drugs.

Obviously, he wasn’t thinking about his wife, nor his child, his only thought was

“Where can I get MORE?”

It was then, looking in a mirror, in JAIL, he had his moment of clarity.

He gave it up. All of it. And made his way in.

He had ruined his son’s first Christmas, not to mention hurting his wife.

In the end, with tears in our eyes he said this:

“This Christmas, my wife and children (he now has two), will know that daddy loves them very much.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

He has stopped the tornado. He cleaned up his life. He has a job, a life, a wife, two children, a brand new home, he is an upstanding man in our community.

The Twelve Step rep got up there at the end and said that:

“Tonight, would be a really great night to start your journey. A LOT better than starting it next week or the week after.” Any takers … there were two, in fact.

Like myself, many of my friends today, got sober over Christmas, I am early December. So they will be celebrating anniversaries this coming week.

When we got to the meeting, favorite newbie was sitting in the seat I always sit in, well, the seat I started sitting in a few weeks ago. You KNOW we like to sit in the same seat at every different meeting, I KNOW you do !!!

I walked up behind him and said … Hey, You newbie, get out of my seat !!!

We just laughed.

Tonight we even had a serious conversation, I asked him if he has detected “The Force” between the women at the Tuesday night Beginners Meeting, where I used to be a member for for a long time.

He laughed …

Yes, he said, He’s got a few months now. We heard him three weeks ago speak.

At first, the happy peppy women scared him, he wasn’t sure how to react, being so new and raw.

Today, he watches and listens, and he is beginning to “get” the happys…

I have encouraged him to stick and stay at that meeting.

He is doing all the right things. And I am very proud of him.

And that folks, is the end of tonight’s tale of Flash and Bang to Calm and Sober.

More to come, stay tuned …

“The Christmas Card Cut” – Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil…

God, Where art Thou, While We Weep for our Children ?

_79779611_460551980Courtesy: BBC.Co.Uk News

I try and do stay away from stories of tragedy and killing. What can I say that the world hasn’t already said about these things over the years and most recently, the past few months ?

The killing of any child, in ANY case is reprehensible.

The line between personal safety and a kid who supposedly threatened a cop has blurred.

The line between prudence and good judgment is gone.

What becomes of killing a kid, by an adult who has a sticky trigger finger?

Cops are not above the law. ANY law. They should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, because they are supposed to serve and protect, not become judge, jury and executioner …

Pity the white cops who killed all those young men, reason or no reason. It just isn’t fair.

And today – Allah, Praise Be His Holy Name, wept …

And Today – God wept for the little children…

And Today – the first day of Hanukkah – Yahweh weeps for the children…

A man proclaims that he kills for Allah, praise be his holy name. To avenge the war on terrorism so he goes for the soft, easy target, CHILDREN. A man who proclaims that all who threaten the Holy Warrior of Islam, He will kill the infidel. It seems Innocent Children are infidels as well.

I think their judgment has seriously evaporated. They kill with impunity because the people of Pakistan and Peshawar don’t usually fight back.

IT IS TIME THEY FIGHT BACK, WITH ALL THE GUNS, AMMO AND POWER THEY CAN MUSTER THEMSELVES WITH HELP OF THE ALLIES WHO WILL PARTICIPATE IN EXTERMINATING THE TALIBAN.

Those thoughtless, honor-less, terribly deluded men who claim Islam and revenge as the reason to kill innocent CHILDREN.

Today those men chose to MURDER innocent children. Generations of Children.

All in the name of Allah, praise be his holy name.

I have no pity for those men. And all my religious belief of forgiveness and redemption go out the window tonight.

The Merciless killing of generations of Children is reprehensible, This IS and SHOULD BE treated as An EYE for and EYE and a TOOTH for a TOOTH.

Cowardly men who live by the SWORD and kill INNOCENT Children, should DIE by their SWORDS, with NO MERCY, NO FORGIVENESS and NO HONOR and no 72 virgins in paradise.

You will not change the world or the way it sees you by continually killing our CHILDREN because you have no honor or scruples. But what would backwoods, tribal militants know about honor or scruples?

For every drop of innocent child’s blood you spill, the people will grow weary of doing nothing, and sooner than later, I am truly hopeful of this, that they will rise up and annihilate you and all who follow you and all of you who proclaim to kill in the name of Allah, praise be his holy name.

Tonight the world weeps for more than a hundred children killed in Peshawar. And in the United States our millions have been weeping for our dead young men, killed by the guns of white police officers, one as young as TWELVE !! What the FUCK is that ? Why isn’t that man’s balls not hanging from a tree somewhere where we can all see them ?

For all those cops who think they have brass balls to kill kids with guns, should have those balls removed and they need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, bar none.

How do we comfort a people half a world away on the other side of the globe?

There might be a lull in violence while they bury and mourn their dead, but rest assured, the Taliban is waiting in the wings to make their next hit, the question is, whose children will they kill next ?

Malala was right, this day was atrocious.

Rout them out and kill them all. Sooner than later.

The killing of innocent CHILDREN must stop, yesterday…

Sunday Sundries … Decisions, Decisions …

tumblr_l5ddbvDdeT1qzfjmqo1_500 oriental tiger

Courtesy: OTiger

The weekend is in the books. Little by slowly, the city is clearing away all that snow. At this stage of the game, we do not have a Christmas Forecast, but we always hope for snow on Christmas Day.

I posted the piece on the Universe last night, and I tweeted several people. And wouldn’t you guess, the biggest fish in the sea came and read me, someone I have been listening to on the radio for years and years. The esteemed Ian Punnett famed host of Coast to Coast A.M.

And he tweeted my piece to his followers. I feel like I’ve had my five minutes of fame.

He tweeted that I was “close.” I must have said something right.

Bringing together all the knowledge I have on a certain topic is a synthesis of many books, hours and hours of study, lectures, science, the afterlife, and the paranormal. I go back and re-read several books that are in my library, because they give me different takes on “how the universe works and how we live in this universe and what happens when we die.”

Learning about God, is something that is continual. An education and those little pieces of paper that I earned are gathering dust in my library. Neither of them did one bit of good in the end.

Was University a waste? No, not really. It gave me a platform to stand on and the ability to speak my passion with the book knowledge and a lifetime of experience to back it.

I also seek the guidance of a number of people, who know God a little bit better than I do. Several of my friendships are very important in spiritual terms.

God has been on the front burner lately.

And all the writing I have done over the past month is starting to become useful with my friends and fellows. It is one thing to have thoughts and observations, and be able to synthesize them into print.

Lately, I have been having conversations with my friends who want to know where God is, why isn’t He speaking back, when I pray, and how do I turn it over ???

I touched on all of these questions in pieces I have written over the past couple of weeks.

And as of late, all that insight, has become very useful.

We’ve been covering the Steps on Sunday Nights. That is one of the best ways to introduce steps to newcomers. They can hear them read, in long form, then listen to the room, work it out in real time.

We sat a modest group tonight. And tonight’s offering was Step Three.

We’ve been hovering over the word God for a while now. And the most important job that we, those with considerable time in it, can do is to support and encourage folks to stick and stay, and do the work. As we have talked recently about God and what He would sound like and when that voice is going to come, because He isn’t answering fast enough and I am not getting the answers I want …

Tonight, someone I am working with came with a burden on her heart. And I’ve encouraged her to speak those burdens to the rooms, whatever room it is on what ever day it is, no matter the topic on the table, if you’ve got to get rid of something, you must speak it.

Usually, as it goes, someone has a word for you, or a contact, or a piece of advice that can be useful.

Tonight it was no different. She prayed, and God didn’t speak. So she was unhappy.

I asked her what she needed and she told me. Luckily, I know a few people, who can help her. There was her answer. I told her that she would need to seek out my old sponsor at a particular meeting and if he could not help her, he would know someone who could. Most definitely.

Then she countered, but that night is my home group and I can’t miss that meeting.

My answer was this, if you need something and there is someone you should seek, going to another meeting might be necessary to make that connection. There are plenty of women at that meeting that she would have enough in common with.

Ugh… newcomers !

In the end, God spoke. She didn’t necessarily want to take the advice on the first pass, it was her choice. If you really want something, sometimes footwork is necessary.

We have all been reminded that tis’ the season for Misery and the Poor Me’s …

With that said, we are all stepping up our games, so as not to be taken down into Misery and the Poor Me’s…

I’ve said this over and over lately that we did not get sober to be miserable.

Some did not get that memo.

Sadly, I’ve come to know, recently, that several members I know well, who had decades in, went back out and drank again. This is not uncommon. It happens more frequently than we like to admit.

Some folks with serious time, forget.

  • They forget that we suffer from a cunning, baffling and powerful disease.
  • They forget that they should be living in the solution.
  • They forget what it was like to be new.
  • They stop reading the books, and going to meetings and speaking to others.
  • They stop calling sponsors and take matters into their own hands.
  • They are so far from their last drink, that they forget what it was like.
  • And finally the think that they are cured (read: Deluded) and so, they drink again.

Bringing folks back into the fold, once they go back out, is tenuous. One’s approach must be carefully planned. But most importantly, what we know, based on what we do today, has to matter, when working with folks on the bubble.

I made a huge mistake and ruined a relationship some years ago, when I openly chastised a very close friend who had serious time and after a bout with cancer, drank again. She was in the U.S. and I was here. We spoke every week, sometimes more often. During that whole time she never told me she was drinking, and when she returned she walked into a meeting and took a chip, and I reacted, terribly.

I took it very personally, that she could not confide in me that kind of truth and I said as much.

I don’t know if she is still sober, but that all but ended our decades long friendship.

Ah, the things we learn about ourselves in sobriety.

Even with time, every once in a while, I open my mouth and stick my foot in all the way up to my thigh.

Big Mistake. Lesson Learned.

It is not going to be an easy holiday. All those warning signs are starting to pop up.

Thankfully, all my guys are sober. All of them are in the city tonight. And I get the pleasure of spending quality time with all of them through till January.

It was a good night, it was a challenging night. We have our work cut out for us in the days to come.

If you pray, pray for our folks, especially our newcomers.

We really want them to make it. Getting them through is the job right now.

And you know how stubborn an alcoholic can be at times.

I want to speak to God, and I want an answer right now on my terms !!!!

UGH … God don’t work that way missy !!!

More to come, stay tuned …

More to come, stay tuned …

The Universe; Alive, Sentient, Conscious? How did we get here?

2006-01-a-1024_wallpaperI was reading a friend last night, and his latest entry “Exobiology.” Steve writes:

“Are we alone in the universe? The answer is every day growing more and more certain that we are not. Humanity may experience shortages of many things, however, pride is not among them. For millennia we’ve been convinced of our own superiority and, of late, we’ve become convinced that we must be as good as it gets.”

This was my reply to that post:

I watch all these “The Universe,” and “Cosmic Front,” so forth and so on. And I have quite a few years on this planet. Spiritually speaking, in my life, I believe the Universe is conscious. I say that because of what I’ve experienced getting from the universe spiritually, and personally.

I grew up with “(G)od. and I studied (G)od, and I am sober, so my God, the universe, always provides. I’m fairly certain that we as humans are connected to this grand universe unconsciously, there is a connection that exists, it is there working behind the scenes, directing the show, contrary to our arrogant beliefs, and when we realize it, it works to our advantage.

I know that there has got to be more than what we can see, and experience.

If we are reincarnations of people from the past, and we are spiritual beings having a human experience, then the question is, where did we come from and how did we get here? They say we are star stuff, which means, we came from “out there!”

So there must be something greater than ourselves out there. Something non-corporeal.

It knew how to make us, and we were made.

Isn’t it arrogant to say that, No there is nothing out there, and we are the best it gets? The universe is clearly alive, to me, and I don’t have all the answers. But 47 years later, the universe is good to me, and it sustains me.

The universe is quite a big place, for us to be the only living beings in it. just saying …

The Universe, it is a BIG universe. And it is the height of arrogance to say that we are the only living beings in this universe. We all know about the Big Bang.

Pow, Wow, and everything came into existence.

Reading Genesis, you might imagine that God was hiding behind this black shroud, waiting for the opportune moment to “create.”

The word came, and it was spoken, and creation came to be.

If God created all things, and if we come from “out there,” And we know that we are “Star Stuff,” then clearly we came from somewhere other than where we ended up.

Above I state that I believe the universe is conscious. It knows us. It is there for us. And we are connected to that “All Knowing.” The fabric of space is filled with stuff we cannot identify fully, and the universe is full of energy.

We are connected to that cosmic energy, and it is connected to us.

I’ve been alive a long time. I know about God. I know what a power greater than myself is, for myself, not necessarily for you. I’ve studied a few theories that I came up with in sobriety. And I’ve seen them proven over long periods of time, that tell me that,

Yes, the universe is alive.

We are arrogant to think that we are all that there is, and that, for some, there is only God, and He created all living beings on earth, but to expand that thought and say that maybe God created other beings in other places in the universe, would be heresy.

What would stop a creative being, who knew what we needed, to be, and brought all those things together to form us, and in his breath, we were made? There is something greater out there, it created us, and it is still creating. The sciences tell us many things about the universe, but it still cannot answer the eternal questions of

  • “Where did we come from,
  • How did we get here,
  • And are we alone?”

Where did we come from? Put simply, the universe knew what to do with all of its parts, and we came into being, for we are star stuff. Can you imagine that there is something dynamic in the universe that brought together, all that was necessary to make the planets and stars and galaxies, and bring us into being over millions upon millions of years.

For many that would be God. Or a Creator …

How did we get here? I believe that the universe is alive. It knows. It is constantly running like a program behind the scenes. A collective conscious. A knowing collective.

I believe that we are all connected to this universe. And it is connected to us. We don’t necessarily know about this connection, but with all my studies, reading hundreds of books, covering a multitude of topics, spiritual, religious, and so on, there is something out there, that brought us into this incarnation.

If you believe in past life regression, near death experiences, reincarnation, so forth and so on, many traditions tell us that we have been here before, and the reason that we are here in this incarnation, is because we did not get it all right, in the last incarnation. So the universe sends us back again and again to rework our life issues, to make things right, to get to nirvana in the end, and finally shed this wheel of rebirth.

It is also known that groups of people, families, friends, can be reincarnated together to come together in another incarnation, because we need to return. We may return as men or women or children, at the most, the universe knows what to do with us while we exist in the cosmos.

Where does all that conscious and unconscious energy of lifetimes, of knowledge, go when we die? We have souls. And at the end of our lives, everything that we know and everything that we have experienced on this earth, returns to the collective, to the universe.

Ready and waiting for its next vessel.

It is fact that children, when they are born, are the closest to the collective, to God, to the Creator, than adults are, with all that we know. Children are clean vessels, they are unaware of all the things adults are aware of, they are pure, and in the beginning of their lives, they have just come from somewhere that formed who they were to become, and sent them into this life.

The collective conscious, arranges, forms and re-sends us into consciousness, into being …

I believe that God, in all His wisdom, is out there, somewhere.

  • Is He the universe?
  • Does he lie just beyond what we can see, and stars are windows into the next realm of possibility?
  • The energy of life flows back and forth between the universe out there, and the corporeal existence here.

I believe that the universe is a conscious non-corporeal entity. It is filled with cosmic stuff, and now add all the energy from every human being that ever lived, then add all the living beings now alive on earth, and what lies beyond in space and other places, that is a lot of energy to be managed.

  • God is in His heaven.
  • The dead have gone to a better place.
  • And we are spiritual beings having a human existence. It all works.
  • The universe collects all this energy.

It knew what to do with it. And it knows what to do with it.

If we are reincarnations, then, what ever was? Will be again.

If we are made of Star Stuff, then, we come from out there, where ever “there” is?

If we return again and again to work out our karma, and learn the lessons correctly, that we did not learn correctly before, something greater than ourselves, knew what it was we needed, and it gave it to us, it filled our corporeal vessels, and sent us back into existence.

We are connected to the universe. And it to us.

It knows what we need, before we know we need it ourselves. The Bible says, God created us, and in the end we have free will, in the end the final choice comes down to us.

On a daily basis, some of us, connect to that power greater than ourselves. We make that conscious connection to all that exists, it is there already. We send it our prayers, our thoughts, our problems.

Then we get to work it out. The universe, if it is all knowing, is going to facilitate us working it out. And we know that when we speak to God, He is going to speak to us through a common vessel.

And then God speaks, only when we reply.

With that said, we speak to the universe, it sends us an answer, then we get to decide what to do with that answer. We, the human collective, commune with the conscious collective, and the universe sends us what we need. We don’t always catch it. Sometimes we miss it.

Which is all the reason why I believe the universe is alive.

I see in in simple thoughts and prayers.

Example … I think of someone in particular. I send that thought out, and within hours, and for this example, it came within a couple of days, that that person I was thinking about, came to me.

Now, did the universe hear me, and how did that particular person know to come to where I was at the opportune time, on that given day? I cannot explain it.

But the universe acted. And it continues to act on our part.

Synchronicity, Serendipity, Wishful thinking, Prayers, Thoughts … Where do they go when we think, or pray them? They go out to the universe, to God. To something Greater than Ourselves.

And then it responds.

It might not be what we like, or what we are expecting, but something always comes back to us.

It is arrogant to think that there is nothing “out there,” and that “We are all that there is.”

The Creator, God, The universe did what it did and it will do what it does for all eternity.

If what is out there is conscious, and knows, why would it be a stretch to think or believe that there may be other conscious beings somewhere else?

The universe is a Big Place, and it would be pretty lonely, to think that we are all that there is…

Satan knows more about the bible than you.

Do you believe in Love Lifted from: Jeremy … Don’t Eat Trash

Satan was there when the stories happened, when they were written, when the words were lost, when they were found, when we translated them, when we warred over them. The enemy was there when we built empires on its principles and also when we forgot the principles and gave ourselves the credit. And he loves it when we forget, when we don’t read it, when we think we understand it without even knowing it, when we argue about lies and half truths. He loves when we are too busy to read it, when we are bored of reading it and when we convince ourselves it was written directly to us in the 2000’s.

Its a little worrying huh? That Christians don’t really read our bibles. And if we do, we don’t exactly know what we are reading. And when pastors teach us what is actually going on we are playing angry birds on our phones, or not even going to church and reading atheist diatribes on the internet disproving the faith that we weakly hold to, then we point at the church and accuse them of not doing their jobs.

The bible, if you read it like it was written to be read, changes lives. It reconstructs our thought patterns, it unleashes freedom, it solidifies the truth of Gods character, it builds strong foundations for marriages, families, communities, societies, cultures. It has the capacity to cut out crap in our lives, to invent better technologies and to do business and government for the people.

The bible isn’t God. We believe Christ not because the bible exists. We believe in Christ because God (Emmanuel – God with us) walked amongst us. He healed the sick and fed the hungry, he inspired life in all others and then went to the cross unfairly to take the sin of the world on his God-man shoulders. But do we know the back story to his triumphant victory? Do we understand what is actually happening when he vocally attacks the spiritual elite of the day? Do we understand the Jewish concept of evil and the need of Christ to come destroy it all?

Have we actually read it, and let it flood our lives with exciting goodness?

Because if our battle isn’t over, we are going to need sharper swords to rescue the hopeless and raze the enemies fortresses.

Get sharpening. Get life.

The Great Return

football-mario-gotze-fc-bayern-munich-munchen_3183483jersey cropA Very Mario Christmas Continues …

Guess what came in the mail today …

The excitement of the holidays has begun.

We welcomed friends who arrived from out of town, just in time for the Friday Night Meeting. People will be coming and going over the next two weeks, and our social schedule’s for those weeks have been already planned to maximize all the time we have together, before people go back to their respective schools across Canada and the United States.

In other news … Unlike the downtown core, where there is little snow piled up, basically because it has already been plowed away, up on the plateau where the Friday Night Meeting resides, there is snow piled up ALL over the place. Cars are buried, sidewalks are passable because the city workers plowed away enough snow to make them passable.

I suited up, with many layers, incorporating my new jersey, front and center, bundled up and headed out. There are 2 stations on the same line that are equidistant from home, one up towards the college, Eastbound, and the other down to the mall, three blocks Westward. I needed tickets in any case, and I can get them at the pharmacy, which is in the mall, above the train station.

So that was  my plan.

There were lots of people coming and going. People are certainly taking part in the holiday shopping binge. The mall stations were packed with merry holiday goers. So I made my transit, and I was amazed to see that my phone actually works on the train across both the Green and Orange lines.

They have been upgrading the cell reception and service across the core stations and it seems they tweaked the outbound stations on the Orange line, that I take to get to the meeting. For the second time recently, I got a live text while in the tunnel, with the train in motion. YAY Telus !!!

We sat a good group. A friend that I haven’t seen in some time, came, and actually, I had been thinking about him specifically, over the past few days, and I like to believe that when we think of people. we send a ripple out to the universe, and within hours, or sometimes, days, they show up.

The universe is funny in that way.

These are hard times indeed. Our folks have been coming from other places, and new folks that don’t usually come, have shown up and visitors from out of town are in for the holidays. We are happy to oblige. We talked about A.B.S.I. and “We cannot live alone.”

This particular reading speaks about steps four and five respectively.

“… We cannot wholly rely on friends to solve all our difficulties. A good adviser will never do all our thinking for us. He/She knows that each final choice must be ours. He/She will therefore help to eliminate fear, expediency, and self deception, so enabling us to make choices which are loving, wise and honest.” Grapevine August, 1961.

I remarked to a friend that there is always something to take away from every meeting. It might be a word, an exercise, or just an identification.

In the beginning, folks are very leery about step work. Especially when they consider the “what we think” daunting process of writing our step four. Then speaking it through Step five. Tonight, there was not one horror story. Many of us have done them, and found that they were truly enlightening, freeing and liberating. Everyone had a unique story to share on the topic.

THEN …

We heard about a writing exercise, that is said to be the most powerful writing exercise that is used at the famed Betty Ford Clinic.

  • Pen to paper – Write out the Third Step prayer
  • Pen to paper – Write out three lists: Resentments, Fears and Gratitude list
  • Pen to paper – Write out the Seventh Step prayer

We do this on a daily basis, first the prayers, then our lists for that respective day. You must put at least three things on the Gratitude list every day. And as we do this writing exercise, we watch how items move between the lists and eventually land on the gratitude list.

If you can commit to this writing exercise, it will prove to be a most useful tool.

Every little bit of experience pays off from time to time. Our young people can never get enough of stuff to do to keep them “on the beam.” And those of us who have some time and experience, adding a little something here or there tends to be very useful in our daily ritual of prayer and writing.

I am very keen on having the guys I work with follow simple suggestions.

Like I mentioned yesterday, eventually, for better or for worse, your sponsor should help you along with tools that will make your life easier, which is to say, a good sponsor knows what they are doing, and I work very hard to be that person. And If I suggest something to my guys, again, for better or for worse, following a suggestion usually ends up in the positive column often.

If I’ve done it, or heard that it can be done this way, or know someone who had results doing something specific, I do it myself, then I suggest that idea out, and I watch the results.

It all comes down to The Work …

You are either In It or you are IN IT TO WIN IT …

Which leads back to How it works, chapter five … If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.

Little did I know, how that sentence changes in literal meaning, the further IN IT you get.

I mean, this seminal reading we hear ad infinitum at every meeting, read over and over, day after day, night after night, these words now leap off the page when I hear them read. Because now I know what it feels like to go to ANY length.

Imagine it only took me eleven years to understand this.

It took another member who was IN IT to tell me that I need to be IN IT and how to do that.

What a rush …

I love my life. My friends. My fellows.

It was a love fest tonight, that will continue until January 5th.

I’ve heard about gratitude living, and there I usually roll my eyes …

But I truly know what that feels like and means for me.

We need people in our lives, but in the end, the final choices should be ours alone, given with good guidance from people we trust. Not having to pollute ourselves helps a great deal in learning how to make right and good decisions, soberly …

More to come, stay tuned …

Live Life With Enthusiasm

tumblr_l8yrf9m0gc1qb730lo1_500 thiswillnotdefineusCourtesy: This Will Not Define Us (Archives)

… And it snowed. it snowed so much, there is snow all over the place. Yes, it snowed, but it is not piled up like I have seen it in the past, where everything seems to be buried in snow. The one shit problem that comes with snow is the dreaded “Slush Puddle.”

That is the convergence point on every corner of every intersection. where snow has melted and now there are deep puddles of slush/water that one must trod through, jump across, or find another way around them.

Thankfully I have a sturdy dry pair of winter boots that make this possible.

It began to snow on Tuesday and it snowed until last night, when skies finally cleared. Light snow is falling again on the city tonight, and it isn’t as cold as it should be.

I had plans early this evening.

But First … This morning a friend of mine came over with a box full of clothes he was getting rid of, thinking that I might want some of them, and when he got here it was snowing, there was slush all over the place, and I really did not want to stand in the snow and sort stuff, so we decided that it would all go to charity instead.

I hate mornings, and I usually don’t do them, unless I necessarily have to.

So I went back to bed.

I set my alarm clock for my afternoon meeting with my sponsor, but I was secretly praying that I did not have to go out in this shitty weather twice in one day. While I was sleeping he texted me and cancelled, I got up, checked my messages and went back to bed.

Glorious !!!

We departed for our now, regular, Thursday Night Meeting. We are getting reconnected to folks that we haven’t seen in some time, and the thought came to my mind as I was standing in the hall that had I not met several of my friends who were present tonight, I would not be where I am today.

How do you convey that kind of gratitude to your friends ?

Tonight we got to hear another First Share, this time was a woman from St. Matthias.

I heard very familiar themes.

Alcoholic home, one or more parental unit caught in the disease.

Parents can be loving people, but hindsight teaches us just how unprepared they / one or the other / are prepared to be a parent. The disease of alcoholism doesn’t help these matters.

I’m not sure about my parents. My father drank, and if by providing bells and whistles, (when it was good) and providing a roof over ones head, there was always the flip side, the very worst of human emotion and anger pointed at the children and the mother.

I also heard the theme of (us) being labeled as less than, or not fully realized …

Father being the commander and chief and we are merely, lowly players.

My father was parent to a children he conceived, but for the whole of my life, in his house, he would abuse me saying that I was a mistake and should never have been born!

Was that the reason I became an alcoholic? NO

It seems, and I hear it from many people, that WE are the last to know or realize that we suffer from a disease, that disease is called alcoholism.

We, as children, see it in our home lives. We watch people drink, and some go to their deaths from the drink, and at some point we cross that invisible line between responsible drinking, and downright disgusting and compulsive drinking.

Ten are not enough, and one is too many

In the end, when we get sober and we truthfully look at ourselves, honestly, we find that the people in our lives when we were drinking, we hurt the most. And only now can we make living amends to those people by achieving sobriety.

She talked about early sobriety, and that she did everything that was suggested.

Not always knowing the WHY ?

In the beginning, most folks take one of many paths into sobriety. I’ve found wisdom in working with young men, who are early on. We take them in, we get them connected, and we provide infrastructure for them to keep them in the loop, so to speak. (At least I do that).

And it was done that way with me when I got sober.

I met all the right people at the right moments in my life.

If you are willing to go to any length to get and stay sober, you will, for better or for worse, do as you are told, and I say that in the most loving way.

All we have are merely suggestions. Take them or leave them.

I’ve found that people who take them (Suggestions), get and stay sober.
And those who leave them, and try to do this on their own, usually drink again.

Over time we learn the “Why” of “Why do we do the things we do?”

We did not get sober to be Miserable …

There are three types of alcoholics.

  • One group are those who will die from the disease
  • Another group who will go insane
  • And the third group who will live life with enthusiasm

I can safely say that for the most part, all of the people I know who are sober are in varying degrees of living life with enthusiasm, from early on to long time sober. I find it a grace to see someone who is graceful, full of life, and embraces enthusiasm like our woman does. And that is why we go to meetings, because we need to witness that, and in turn we get to give away what we have.

We show up, so you will show up, and in the end we are sober another night together.

I heard another trilogy of sound advice, that I tell others who are new …

  • Go to meetings
  • Call another alcoholic
  • Work with another human being

Nothing guarantees sobriety, like intense work with another alcoholic. It gets us out of ourselves, it shuts down the committee in our heads, and keep us Right Sized.

Many of us, come in shot to hell, miserable, with little hope, and dejected. Then there are those who come in with Egos the size of Mount Everest. That is a daunting task…

We learn many things as children and growing up, that we don’t necessarily understand at the time. I know for me that a number of things happened in my life, that I did not understand at the time, and I did not have words for them. And only now, in hindsight, I know what they were, and why I turned out the way I did.

So it goes for us as well. We learn either by teaching or default, how to grow up. And we are either stunted by it, or we are able to use what we are taught positively. An alcoholic in training doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt in many cases. We are usually destined for disaster …

Until we get to that day, You know the day I am talking about …

Yes, That Day …

  • The day we admit we have a problem.
  • And for the first time, the person who was the last to know,
  • Now knows what the problem is,
  • Who the common denominator is,
  • And what we call it.
  • The disease of alcoholism
  • And then we ask for HELP

We all get there, hopefully, and later on we are grateful for it.

Because now We own it, We speak it, and We name it.

  • And if we are lucky,
  • and the stats are very slim,
  • we get sober,
  • and hopefully we are in it to win it,
  • and we stick and stay.

I was thinking in the shower tonight that I believe that today, I have been sober a little longer than my drinking career lasted. At some point in sobriety we cross that line where we are sober longer than we spent drinking. I’ve given my liver a reason to live.

And pondering my retrospective, I have friends I am eternally grateful for, because it was by their example and their love and grace, that I am where I am today. I count a specific group of particular women who have changed my life in ways, I could not have imagined.

I did not know it could get like this. It is all down to The Work.

You got to be in it to win it.

I have friends who are in it, despite themselves, and they are just there. I look at my friends, some of them, and I have this knowing, I can see it. I was just IN IT at one point, then I heard a speaker light a fire under my ass, and I got IN IT TO WIN IT.

And that changed my life, and the lives of my guys by extension.

We live life with enthusiasm.

Because it is our right and because we’ve earned it.

It was a great night.

More to come, stay tuned …

December 9th 2014 … Thirteen

tumblr_l8yig0qgFp1qbsveko1_500 billypazionis

Courtesy: Billy Pazionis Flickr

I offer you “Thirteen” a retrospective.

In May of 2013, I had been at Tuesday Beginners for eleven years. The New York women came to us and I began to watch them and listen to them. I watched what they did for a while and I longed for that kind of life to come to me.

The end of May came with the West Island Round Up. And I heard Lorna Kelly speak, along with a host of others from New York. And I learned, much to my dismay, that I’d been warming a seat for years, and not really doing anything about it. Comfortable at just being a talking head and showing up and doing service.

One of the men who spoke talked about prayer … I prayed, but not with the intensity or meaning that our man was trying to get across to the people sitting in front of him while he spoke. Three, Seven and Eleven, every day, like you mean it. You have the book, why aren’t you working it?

This is how we do it.

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT !!!

Are you listening??

I faded from my then sponsor and decided to go it alone. It was time. Days, turned into weeks, which turned into months. I changed up my meetings, added the Friday A.B.S.I. meeting, and I was doing the work, praying and being present for my friends.

In the Summer of 2013, I decided to leave Tuesday Beginners, opting for the “other” beginners meeting that was on earlier, because that is where my friends were, or, more to the point, the young men of that I needed in my life and it ended up, this meeting carried me through some tough times. And I gave back to that meeting.

On my 12th anniversary, December 9th 2013, I asked a friend to give me my chip, so it went. Since then, Vendome Beginners moved to the location we are at now, albeit in smaller numbers, we have a committed group of folks who come week in and week out.

There was an old timer there, who had the years, and I was in the market for a new sponsor, in January this year, we went to lunch and he interviewed me for the position. He had a few rules that I must agree to follow. I was supposed to call him every day for a month. I did that. At the end of the month, on the last day, I called him, and he said to me that I did not have to call him anymore. And I was like “What?” But I want to call you every day. That was the answer he was looking for.

It has been close to a year, and I call him every day. He also started me on the journey with the Men’s Intensive Big Book, Steps, Study. We have been working our steps in tandem with each other. My sponsors sponsor, my sponsor, and then myself. I had been doing the work, praying and acting As If.

And God seemed to be pleased because he sent me young men to work with, something my life had lacked for all the years I was sober. They have taught me many things, about themselves, and about myself, and about us.

In May of 2014, he invited me to my first Men’s Intensive Weekend at Mad River Barn, in Vermont. Being the only Queer in the bunch, I told them my stories about getting sober in certain groups. And the fact that people sent me away because I was gay! That changed everything. It was the first weekend where men from other places listened to me and spoke kindness to me. I came home from that weekend with lessons I still use today. I work the same way with my guys, that my sponsor works with me.

The weekend after then Men’s Intensive, it was my hope to share a round up with my guys. It was an ok weekend. The singleness of purpose problem was a barrier for my guys, and they felt left out of the US and segregated to just them and the just us club. But the message was clear from the Atlantic Group.

The Mantra was “THE WORK.”

Since May I have talked about the work, and how that has panned out over the past seven months. In October of 2014, we again returned to Mad River for the Fall Men’s Intensive weekend. Sadly, that would be the last time we visited that Inn. This time around, I was asked to speak. Actually, before I even got home from the Intensive in May, an invitation to speak was waiting for me when I got home. So I had months to prepare. I did not get a notice on what I would be speaking on in any case.

Half our number came for the weekend. People were not pleased with the Inn from the last visit and the price had gone up considerably. Nonetheless, I was the opening presenter for Steps One and Two for the weekend.

I met some of the same men as the first time, but also got to meet several other men who had come for the first time. I had been working my steps, working with my guys, and I talked about that with the guys, a handful of them disagreed with my style and approach, and voiced those opinions.

My Sponsor listened to what I had said and told me to ignore them.What I was doing was working, so don’t get caught up in old men being pissy.

On the way to the Mad River Barn, My sponsor, myself and a friend, took an excursion to East Dorset Vermont to visit Bill’s House, where he was born and was raised. We also visited Bill’s and Lois’s grave with a group of women making an intensive weekend there at the house. It was a life changing event for me, and for all those who were there.

Standing on Bill’s Grave, speaking about recovery, to others present, changed my life. I had the opportunity to visit the man who started it all. Then attend an intensive weekend, and then bring all that home for my guys, my friends, my fellows, the list goes on and on. On the way home from that weekend, we visited the next site of the Men’s Intensive for Spring 2015. A little place called Saint Anne’s Shrine in Vermont. About an hours drive from here.

We have celebrated Thanksgiving and we are coming up on Christmas.

Three seems to be the magic number for me. A few weeks ago, I was introduced to a man who came to our Sunday night meeting, and since. I’ve become his sponsor. You loose one, God gives you another one. They say, when you work with others that, you might find folks to work with, and they might decide that drinking is far more fun, and take leave of you. But when one goes, there is always someone waiting in the wings to take their place. And so that has happened.

The Pre-Cake roller coaster did not take off this year.

There were no massive upheavals, no major issues, no major problems. It has been a slow burn. However, this year, I have not only had myself to work with, but my guys and my sponsor. I’ve really had no down time to think of myself. When the phone rings, it rings, I answer.

It is one thing to be present for your own sobriety, it is totally a different fish, when you are accountable to young men with whom you work with. They call every day. We talk every day, except when life takes precedence. I meet my guys once a week to talk, to read the Book, and to do Step Work. One of my guys moved to the states, this past fall for his M.A. so we Skype every week.

Thank God for technology and sponsorship.

They have totally kept me on my toes and busy with something to do and something new to think about on a daily basis. Working with others is the greatest joy you can have in sobriety. Because it isn’t about me, it’s about them. I’ve truly grown this year, in ways I couldn’t have imagined. All because I have done my work.

Now they do their work.

Continuing the story … This post is a two parter. It is Tuesday and mother nature dropped snow on us today. A little worried about people not coming, my sponsor says … “We went to any length to drink, snow or whatever, people will come, don’t fret!”

Our usual group of folks came. We called New Foundland to talk to one of our women who is up there with her new daughter, and I thought that it would be nice for all of us to talk to her, so we did that. Have phone will chat !!!

We covered the second half of Step twelve. There were lots of laughs and giggles, but it was all business.

So what can I say for sobriety, I am in my steps. My sponsees are in their steps. My sponsor is in his steps. We’ve now heard the steps presented three times in the last year. Twice in an intensive weekend, and once at our meeting for twelve weeks.

This journey to where I am today, started some time ago, and only now can I say, I’ve reaped the rewards of really working my sobriety for all its worth. No roller coaster, no drama. Everything is where it should be and all is well in my world.

It was bittersweet because one of my friends, who was sober, when I FIRST got sober, was here tonight. He got stuck in the revolving door for a long time, and now he is back. He’s got six months. And I think about him a lot. Had he stuck and stayed he would be long sober, longer than I am today, had he stayed. But he didn’t.

I did everything I was told to do. I’ve been blessed to be able to maintain the sober schedule I built thirteen years ago. And I did not deviate from that schedule. Ever. I stayed sober. Many of my friends did not.

What did I do right, and what did they do wrong?

We are all suffering alcoholics. Some got better, some didn’t. At least tonight, all in our number are alive, well and sober.

I am very grateful for all that I have.

Thanks for reading. More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … Multiples of Two … Almost there … Nick Jonas

tumblr_n4ex5qDRnl1rq9jdfo1_500 stA theme will emerge, I promise …

It is a bit chilly at this hour. (-12c/-17c w.c.) And we are under a special weather advisory as well. We haven’t had our first BIG SNOW just yet, it looks like that may happen this week. Tuesday they say will be the day, and just what I need, a massive snow storm on a meeting night, with certain streets already blocked by construction, that only makes things worse, because we have to walk from the station down the hill to the church on Tuesday !!! F.M.L. !!!

We are only Two days out from my anniversary.

This week’s theme is multiples of Two.

I left home uber early so I could spend time with one of my guys, before the meeting. So we cranked it out and got down to business. It was very productive. We sat a fair group, lots of new faces, and a new lady in the chair, so that was a good thing.

We read from the Twelve and Twelve, and Step Two.

The reading is very “meaty.” My book, being as old as it is, has multiple colors and underlining and high lighting in it. In that reading we talk about faith, and practice, and “coming to…”

It was very likely that someone in the room was going to mention the word God.

Following all the words I have spoken about said subject, many of our young folks are satisfied with the “mystery” that is God, the “not having to KNOW it fully” and the fact that as it played out, the same truth came from many mouths … “I came to the room, and it was in the room, with all of you people in it, that I came to know and understand.”

Nobody really knows Who or What God is. Even the brightest religious and theological minds can really give us one specific answer to that question.

There are several paradoxes in several books, when talking about God and Higher Power.

In the Twelve and Twelve and Step Two it reads: A.A. doesn’t demand you believe in anything.

In A.B.S.I. one passage reads: You can believe in anything you want, as long as it works, BUT it always comes back round to God.

The Big Book reads: The term “spiritual experience” and “spiritual awakening” are used many times in this book which, upon careful reading shows that the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms…

… Though it was not our intention to create such an impression, many alcoholics have nevertheless concluded that in order to recover they must acquire an immediate and overwhelming “God consciousness” followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook.

For many of us, myself included, God, or Faith, or Belief, has evolved over the years. We’ve discussed in great detail, the word God, how to read it, what to do with it, and how to work around it, because I’ve also said, when it comes to God, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

The one piece of advice I share willingly is this … In order to see things as I see them or how others see things, takes a long time. This is a long term prospect. The suggestion, and it is merely a suggestion, is that you stay in your day and live in your 24 hours, and don’t worry about the future, or more to the point, don’t forecast too far into the future.

Meaning: You gotta stick around until the miracle happens.

I have said that I had to learn lessons, I learned once before, over again. They came in another order, because the circumstances I came back in were different that the first time around.

I did whatever they told me to do. And tonight I was sitting in the room I got sober in, (read: the room I have spent the most number of hours in over the last 13 years) with a new sponsee, and I shared with him this piece of advice.

When we come to a room, it is all about ME. Over time, All about ME, changes to All about US.

We begin to exercise the paradoxes. And over time, we come, we come to, and then we come to believe. For some this is a tall order, which is why the Twelve and Twelve says what it says.

As soon as I stopped arguing and judging, and dropped the intellectualism and the emotionalism, then I had a chance.

For many of us, every day is a choice. We do good, we pray, we help others, we help ourselves, and no two days running are the same. We are apt to make mistakes and do things wrong. But there is the lesson for us … it isn’t supposed to always be easy… If God gave us everything we wanted on a silver platter, then where would the challenge be?

If we didn’t have to work for our lives, then what’s the purpose of living?

Prayer is a Up Down Process …

Conscious Contact with God as we understand Him is an Up Down Process…

Expanding that thought as I have done recently, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact ( with:God/read:others) praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out…

Working life out turns from all about Me to All about Us.

Coming to a meeting, leads to coming to believe on our part.

And I don’t know what God’s voices sounds like, and If I am going to hear it, it is going to come from someone familiar, someone I know. But if I am not paying attention clearly and wrapped up in the committee in my head, I may miss God speaking to me.

You never know … I tell my guys that when they pray, pray humbly and honestly. That takes time and effort and practice. I then add that it is difficult to remain connected to God all day long, with the business of life going on around us, and I was sure that someone somewhere would bring an answer to certain prayers, if we were paying attention. Hence … Going to a meeting, is also a chance opportunity to hear from God.

Because like I said, you never know where the next good word is going to come from.

When I talk about God, and hearing God and Seeing God move, it is always associated with the hall at St. Leon’s Church. He likes that room, because over the last thirteen years, He has been very good to our people. I may have a university, (read:book) education and also have a family faith background, I knew God existed. But having spent so many years going to meetings, I was given eyes to see Him.

When I was in Seminary, many years ago, I had plenty of time to pray and to find God. And I did that. Sad that human beings, who thought they knew better, thought that my conscious contact with the God of my understanding was not good enough for them !

I kind of wonder what God thought of that judgment?

Water under the bridge they say …

I don’t argue with people over God. Once you come in, STAY. And I promise you, very truly, if you stay and you take suggestions, and you do the work, you WILL come to believe, just like every other human being in the room. Those four words give you plenty of latitude…

As We Understood Him

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

Unless you have been living under a rock, there has been plenty of words written about Mr. Nick Jonas. One of the trio of the Jonas Brother’s Fame. Nick has produced his first self titled album, Nick Jonas. I wasn’t a Jonas Brother follower. Not being a teenage girl …

But Nick has been all over Tumblr as of late. He has quite the boy following.

The album, I think, is a lot rhythm and Bluesy. It has a specific rhyme and reason. If I download an album, I first listen to it on the computer, then if I like it, it goes to my phone, which gets an additional listen through, at that point, it either stays or goes.

Nick is a keeper.

It is well worth the price. He’s got a unique sound.

That is all for tonight. Next Stop … 13 years … Cake and Frivolity !!!

The next multiple of two comes on Tuesday, with Step 12 …

Having Had A spiritual awakening …

Stay tuned, more to come, definitely…

Friday … You Never Know … Trouble as an Asset

tumblr_lgfsy7PUEL1qfc9b9o1_500 tortoisehareCourtesy: TortoiseHare

Snow is falling on our fair city tonight. Lots of decorations up, twinkly lights, and lots of real Christmas Tree sales points are open.

With all my weekly chores done, today was a lazy day. And I took full advantage of it.

There has emerged a theme to this week, as it went. One Word, “Trouble.”

My relationship with my sponsors answering machine continued today, day three. It wasn’t until I arrived at the Friday meeting, that I found someone who knew why he was M.I.A.

“You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille …. “

I’ve been feeling a little out of my league as of late. Second guessing myself, and wondering if what I have in my bank is worthwhile, and if the words I have used as of late, have done the job, I intended them to do?

As a writer, I study lots of things. People, Books, Speeches, Ted Talks, you get the picture.

I have said in the past that I am an amalgamation of everyone I know, and you could also say that some of the words in my bank, came from other people, along the way, and little snippets of advice or teaching, come from various places. (see above illustration).

Working with others, is our greatest defense against that next drink, or any drink for that matter.

And my guys keep me on my toes.

I have something intimate in common with each of them. Each for a different reason. In 47 seven years of life, I have collected a wealth of information. Language, Culture, Faith, the Common substance abuse issues, a University Education and 13 years of Sobriety to offer (well, 21 years if you count the first time and the time in between).

With my sponsor out of reach for the time being, what I have from him, in the bank, is what he has taught me, and what I have learned about myself in the past year, working with him.

When I cannot talk to him, I rely on others to fill that void.

If you don’t know what to do, in times like this, call someone else you trust, or just go to another meeting, where, as it always happens, the right topic goes to the table for people to talk about, which was the case tonight.

You never know the challenges that people are facing on any given night. Which translates to the thought, “Always be kind to others, because you never know the burdens they carry.”

Which also leads to “be careful the words you use, because one slip up can destroy a human spirit.”

I’ve had to really trust in my ability to choose words wisely, and even then, I second guess myself sometimes. When another human being relies on you, it isn’t about me or my ego. And if I ever forget that, I just think of David. (long story)

(Short story)

Some sponsors let power and ego go to their heads, which always ends up in disaster.

We sat a fair group. Not a huge number, sufficient for the hour. We welcomed friends home for the holidays, and that will continue for the next week or so, everybody will be in attendance by next weekend. Our Christmas Party is set for the 19th.

The Friday meeting is very special. People from all over the city come. Folks you don’t usually see at our meeting have been showing up, for various specific reasons. Even in sobriety people have tough times, and our young people keep it green for them.

Tonight’s read relates to the Fourth Promise …

“No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.”

It does not bode well, if I second guess myself, when giving advice to someone, who is doing that same thing themselves. Sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot for no good reason. And sometimes in sobriety, we are our own worst enemies. When we second guess, we think we are less than, or not good enough, we defeat all the progress we have made to this point in time.

I find myself returning to my bank for words. My collection is vast and comes from many places. In a ten year education career, I have studied various things, religious and theological. My library of books, here at home, is massive. I have more than a hundred books that I have read over the years. Many subjects, many traditions, such a so forth.

And I find when I don’t have words, that I know where to get them.

In the end it all comes down to two basic thoughts, in every case.

ONE – Where ever you are on your timeline, at what ever point on that time line, you are right where you need to be and right where you are supposed to be, at any given moment.

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

TWO – When it comes down to brass tacks, If you did not drink to day, it was a good day.

“Acceptance is the KEY to ALL my problems.”

We all have troubles. In sobriety we learn how to rank them, sort them, then deal with them properly, and that takes time and lots of work. Which is why the Friday meeting is so important. because I never leave that meeting without learning something from someone.

Edit … much later

The literature rack in any meeting is the least used item in the room, on any given night. We put it out at every meeting. We also encourage folks to take some, and subtly leave them around where someone who might need them, find them. We pay good money to stock our literature racks with plenty of stuff to read, that for the most part, goes unread.

Tonight I was on the train coming home and I was sitting in the front car, off to the left side against a window, as is usual for me. I did not notice it when I boarded the train, but when I got to my stop, I looked down to the floor, to the left of the door, and there in French, was a piece of literature, left on the train for someone to pick up. I smiled to myself. Some crafty member found some place to leave something for someone to later pick up.

At least someone on the French side makes use of literature !!!

More to come, stay tuned …

Thursday … Busy Day and … The Return

tumblr_l9aodkIKWb1qzk77co1_500 singlifessongCourtesy: Sing Life’s Song

Can I tell you how cold it is outside right now? (-11c/-15c w.c.) Brrrrrr…

After yesterday’s excitement and Boo Yah purchase, today had to get even better.

And it did.

Today was beauty day, well, my appointment with my stylist. The ever evolving haircut continues. Let’s just say, it is a work in progress.

Not to mention, on the train (that story is coming) on the way out there was a very very HUMPY Montreal police officer on the train, with a version of “the haircut” and I was like M.E.O.W. come arrest me please !!!!

When I left for the mall, I really had no plan beyond getting my hair cut.

You know what happens to me whenever I make a plan right?

God Laughs …

My sponsor is M.I.A. for the past two days, and I am having a love affair with his answering machine, which he jokingly replies when I say that is … “that is the safest relationship.”

So, I packed my bag with warm fuzzies and I left my headphones home, because, I wasn’t going anywhere far, that would require music to follow.

It was 12:30 and I was already out. And I put in an order at inter group for chips that I was going to go get tomorrow. Standing in the mall, I decided to check the service office hours, which were from 1 until 7 this evening.

I thought to myself that I would charge my Opus card, walk from the mall home to get my headphones, and walk to the next Metro Station, which is 3 blocks East of home. The mall is 3 blocks West of home, so that was my plan.

Did I mention that it was cold?

I chose not to go home, instead I got on the train and headed to the East End to pick up chips.

It was a 30 minute commute out East, and a trudge up the Olympic Park Hill, yes, that Olympic Park. The BIG O … Where the 1976 Olympics took place. There is a nice coating of ice citywide on all the sidewalks. UGH !!!

I am superstitious about chips.

  • Your sponsor is supposed to get your chip, (He asked me to get it instead)
  • You don’t get your chip prior to the actual anniversary
  • And you don’t touch your chip until it is handed to you by your sponsor

It is bad juju to break any of these conditions !

My chip was waiting for me, and I asked the kind lady to bag my chip and I shared with her my superstitions. (cue eye roll and the thought … Oh those alcoholics !!!) While I was there I purchased chips for my guys in advance, since I was there already, and their dates don’t come up for a few months, in any case, I have them all now.

Another 30 minute commute back to where I started, and had some Micky D’s for lunch, and then got home close to 3 in the afternoon.

I skyped with a friend who lives in Pittsburgh, and who is coming home for Christmas next week !!!

Cue Happy Dance …

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

The Return – A First Share

Our men’s meeting closed last week, which frees up a meeting night. Our little band of happy men decided that we would indeed return to the regular Thursday night speaker meeting at St. Matthias church, which is just up the road from St. Leon’s (where our men’s meeting met).

We arrived to a great welcome, since we haven’t seen folks on Thursday in 18 months. We were joking amongst ourselves on the bus that we should have worn our royal jewels, diamonds, sapphires and Gold !!! Really make a Liberace entrance …

You don’t know that you miss a certain meeting, until you spend a good amount of time doing something else. I missed this meeting. It has been a staple meeting for many years, and when we chose to open the men’s meeting, we knew we were knocking off tradition.

Anyways …

Lots of people I know, lots of people we all know. It was good.

My favorite human being, because he is stately and humble and kind was in the chair.

Our young speaker got up there, and knocked it out of the park.

Some meetings are hardline singleness of purpose meetings, where you can only talk about alcoholism and nothing but. And I’ve seen people get up and leave a meeting midway because someone up there says the word “Drugs!”

And in the 21st Century, what alcoholic is NOT cross addicted??? The numbers are staggering!

Guesses, anyone ???

It seemed that nobody gave a shit, in any case.

Our man got up there and told a story that tugged at my heart. I laughed, I felt sad, I felt sorry for him, and in the end, we were all proud of him.

You could have dropped a pin in that room, nobody got up, nobody left, nobody said a word.

Why?

Because we all respect the man who chaired the meeting, and the young man who got up there to share and because of the people who run that meeting. These are all truly respectable people, who do good things for all of us.

It is Grace when you get to sit in a meeting and hear a newcomer speak for the first time.

Because, how often and always, those of us with time, forget what it was like to be newly sober, or coming back, and have to get up there and share experience, strength and hope for the first time.

We all did it, many of us have forgotten what that felt like. And what it sounded like.

Tonight we were reminded, every single one of us in that room.

Our chair said afterwards, of the young speaker, that, “when I asked him to speak I did not know him, but when I asked him, he said yes, and now tonight, I know him a bit better.”

Never say no to a request to do any kind of service.

Bittersweet … The longer I stay, the worse it gets for some. Leave a meeting for a while, and then return, and witness people who decided to toss it away and go back out, only to show up and take another beginner’s chip. People with serious time go out, and it is unnerving. And it makes me think about either, what I am doing right? or what they are doing wrong?

There is a simple list of things to do to guarantee not going back out.

And I bang those things into my guys heads over and over…

Sadly, not everyone can exceed expectations. The revolving door still exists. And sadly, people I knew 18 months ago who were long sober, are once again, trying again. You never know what pulls people out the door, but I do … cunning baffling and powerful …

One moment of indecision, one lapse in thought, the 12 inch gulf between ones head and their heart.

How did they slip through the cracks? How does that happen when they used to be connected to a home group, doing service and staying sober?

I’m really grateful that I am sober another day. Because I know, in an instant, I could be right back there, hating myself and starting over. I choose not to do that, and I am willing to go to any length to stay where I am right now. I worked too damned hard to get here, to piss it away with a momentary lapse in judgment.

Serenity – Acceptance – Courage – Wisdom – Patience – Appreciation – Tolerance – Strength

The long version of the Serenity Prayer in brief …

A good day and a great night.

At least for tonight, all of our folks are sober one day.

More to come, stay tuned …

It’s a Very “Mario” Christmas in Montreal

bayern-munich-2014-15-adidas-long-sleeve-home-football-kit

DFL Supercup 2014 - "Borussia Dortmund v FC Bayern Munich"

football-mario-gotze-fc-bayern-munich-munchen_3183483

fc-bayern-munich_147The only thing I wanted for Christmas was this jersey ! And Blessed Be, I found a site in the U.K.

U.K.Soccer shop.com

that sells the authentic jersey’s from players all over the world. I now own two Prime Real Estate Jerseys, the real deal, Mario Gotze: Bundesliga F.C. Bayern Munich and Germany World Cup jersey’s …

They do not come cheap, and cost a pretty penny.

Especially when you want a specific player’s jersey.

Monday December 1st … W.A.D. – Blessings and Music

sister-cristina

Sister Cristina Scuccia – suor Cristina is an Italian Ursuline nun who won the 2014 season of The Voice Italy. I happened across Sister Cristina on You Tube. Since we don’t get international television here, one has to resort to online platforms to enjoy something a little different.

So, I had written down the release date of her album and today I went looking for it on several sites and finally found it on I Tunes. I think everybody has an I Tunes account by now.

And I had some I Tunes money in the bank … win …

Track List:

  1. Try – Pink cover
  2. Fallin Free
  3. Like a Virgin – Madonna cover
  4. Somewhere only we know – Keane cover
  5. Blessed be your name
  6. Fix you – Cold Play cover
  7. No One – Alicia Keys cover
  8. I surrender – Hillsong Live
  9. True Colors – Cindi Lauper cover
  10. Price Tag – Jessie J cover
  11. Perto, Longe Ou Depois
  12. L’Amore Vincera

You probably have never heard of Sister Cristina. But it is worth the price. Her spin on this track list is impressive. You can see her videos on You Tube and Like a Virgin on Vimeo.

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

world-aids-dayToday we mark World AIDS Day again… twenty one years later, sadly, there still is no cure, and people are still contracting HIV in high numbers all over North America and even worse in Africa.

We don’t usually think of AIDS like we used to.

People are not dying in numbers that are alarming. Here at least.

But that is a different story a world away!

But, as they say, N.I.M.B.Y.

Meanwhile in Africa, disease is a daily struggle. So many people. So much sickness. And the world, as a whole has done little to stop it. AIDS is not the disease du jour any longer. Ebola is at the top of that little list of killers.

But we should not ignore or dismiss the suffering of an entire nation because they are over there and we are over here. I would not be the first to say, that if the world spent as much money on sickness and cures for diseases that they do on national and international defense and war, we probably could make a dent on the list of the dying world wide from sickness.

The world does spend a pretty penny on illness and sickness, in the form of medications. The pharmaceutical industry makes money hand over fist. They would rather you be forced to take their pills for ever, making them hundreds of billions of dollars a year, rather than contribute to curing the sickness that we have to take the pills for …

Isn’t it pure insanity ???

A long time ago, I heard a doctor say that the world would never cure AIDS until it found a cure for cancer. Twenty one years later, I am still taking pills to maintain my quality of life, cancer is still far from being cured across the board, and the pharmaceutical companies are making millions on our backs.

Today my HIV doctor is not worried about me dying from AIDS. He doesn’t worry so much that he cut my doctor visits from four a year to two a year. Pills, Pills, and more pills. He is more concerned with my aging problems, like my diabetes, and my heart, since I have a heredity bulls eye on my back.

But I am alive today because of Big Pharma. So I guess that that is a blessing, right?

God hasn’t spoken until you respond.

918Originally posted: July 7, 2014 – Don’t Eat Trash – Jeremy

As God spoke in the beginning, the earth was created.

God would send prophets to point the Israelites back to the covenant and they would respond, in sack cloth and ashes or murdering the prophet. both are responses.

Recently I dialogued with God some interesting ideas about time. How i see my 28 years as long, and older than i would like, how part of me can’t be the things he has called me too because of my age, and God began to download how that was crap and I needed to look eternally. Eternity versus 28 years…. Gods miraculous power that raised christ from the dead versus my twisted ankle and occasional heartburn thanks to raw onion – it gets ridiculous. This isn’t about me and my apparent limitations. This life is about God and his birdseye view sovereignty.

God speaks, and we can ignore or listen and stay silent. Or we can hear and respond.

Many times I have been journalling at 5am and get some sweet stuff from God, but if those things stay in my journal in ink… they lack power, life changing power. The ink needs to change to blood, and be walked out.

God hasn’t spoken until you respond.

In one way – we can report God speaking to show our spiritual holiness. ‘God told me this morning that I am going to be the queen of England’ but if we don’t believe it, if we don’t put steps in to become the queen England, then those words are close to meaningless.

In another way, we can believe that God doesn’t speak. And if God doesn’t speak then we ignore every attempt God makes to speak to us.

Communication is spoken often of not only:

information transmitted,

but of:

information transmitted through certain media – understood by the LISTENER and responded to by the LISTENER.

God isn’t cryptic, God knows the listener better than the listener knows itself, but the listener can train itself to not understand the medium used.

We get a good idea, and think its just our own thoughts.

We get a miracle and think its just a coincidence, that it couldn’t be God that got us that thing.

We have dreams and think its just a dream.

We hear a sermon and think the pastor was just a genius.

GOD SPEAKS.

He speaks constantly, he speaks loudly, and if we refuse to listen, then we miss out.

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