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Sunday Sundries – PRIDE Ottawa Weekend

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Photo: The Parliament of Canada, with projected laser and photo story.

I am back at home tonight, after a whirlwind trip to our Nations Capitol, Ottawa. It was Pride Ottawa this weekend. Saturday was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine and humidity. Today (Sunday) was not so nice.

We stood in the rain with thousands of people to watch the Annual Pride Parade in the Nations Capitol. Rafa lives in the heart of the Village, so we had ringside seats for the parade this afternoon. We got lots of beads, water bottles, assorted condoms in pretty packaging, and other assorted items that were handed out by the marchers in the parade.

I have over fifty images from the weekend, that I will upload this week.

Ottawa is a really great city. It was the first time that I was on the ground exploring the area Rafa lives in. We had dinner at King Eddie’s Saturday night, and then we walked around the Parliament Hill neighborhood, ending up on The Lawn of Parliament Hill, for the Grand Fireworks display and the nightly, Northern Lights, Laser Light Show, that is a bilingual presentation, displayed ON the Parliament Building itself. This show runs nightly through September.

It is a genius presentation with lasers, lights and imagery covering the history of Canada.

There were thousands of people on the lawn. We had arrived a little over an hour prior to the show, so we had front row seats on the lawn, directly in front of Center Block.

Many years ago, when I got my citizenship, there was no party, no singing, no national anthem to be sung. Just my certificate and a welcome greeting by our NOW mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre.

We visited Parliament Hill, on our Second Christmas together, Hubby and I, but it was Christmas so we did not see anyone from the government.

Last night, Saturday, We sat on the lawn, watching this fantastic presentation, and at the end, they played the Canadian National Anthem. As the song began we were sitting, midway through, I was seeing people, get up and stand.

I got up and stood … I got very emotional, and stood there and sobbed.

Every time I hear the anthem played, especially at an Olympic Games, my heart swells with Pride for my country. Last night, I had a Spiritual Experience, during the anthem.

It sealed the deal for me, as a Citizen of our great country.

I got my Anthem, On the Hill, With my Best friend, who became a citizen, himself, last year.

To be on Parliament Hill, to celebrate our history with thousands of residents and thousands more tourists, I could not have been more proud to be a Canadian today.

And today, Sunday, we spent the day together at Pride.

I have lots of observations about people, places and things, to write about concerning Pride and the politics we saw in action. There was definitely a political agenda going on.

The whole fluidity issue, the racial divide and the struggle within the whole LGBTQ community, was apparent. There were many more girls and women at the parade, but not so many white men. Lots of families, tourists, and folks with serious axes to grind with the political establishment, other factions of the gay community, and the lengths our young people, on all sides, want to be heard and legitimized.

More on that later this week, once I’ve had time to think it all through.

 

Battle for Aleppo: Photo of shocked and bloodied Syrian five-year-old sparks outrage

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Images of the boy sitting in an ambulance were released by activists and have since been shared widely on social media.

He was identified as five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, who was treated for head wounds on Wednesday, doctors said.

His parents and three siblings are believed to have survived the attack

The pro-opposition Aleppo Media Centre said the pictures of Omran had been taken in the rebel-held Qaterji district late on Wednesday, reportedly following Russian air strikes that killed at least three people and injured 12 others.

The video shows the boy being carried out of a damaged building by a medic and then placed on a seat in the back of an ambulance, covered in dust and with a blood-covered face.

Omran is then left sitting quietly, appearing stunned by the ordeal. He runs his hand over his face and looks at the blood before wiping it on the seat.

Omran’s picture has already led to comparisons with another disturbing image, that of three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi whose body was washed up on a Turkish beach after his family attempted to cross to Greece.

The Plight of Syrian Children. Above you see what happens when they stay, below is what happens if they try to leave …

 

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Sunday Sundries – Pride Montreal Edition

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Pride in Montreal came to and end tonight with a massive T- Dance that ends in just an hours time. This afternoon, the 10 anniversary edition of the Montreal Pride Parade Stepped off, just around the block from home.

I watched the parade go from my balcony. My Pride event will come next weekend, when I attend Pride Ottawa in the Nations Capitol. Our Honorable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was here today and marched in our parade, as he has been marching in all the Pride Parades in Canada so far. Next weekend he will march in Ottawa. And I will be there with Rafa. I have my outfit all picked out and ready to go.

I noticed just now, looking at the weather, that this week, all week, we will see mid teens overnight, and day time temps in the mid twenties. It is gradually cooling off here. Canada’s East has been in dire need of rain. Yesterday, and well into last night, it rained, not just rained, but poured down cats, dogs and little fishes rain. I got soaked at the meeting last night.

Our young people are on their ways back to Montreal. One friend is in Calgary right now, having left Vancouver last night around 11 pst. I had called her around 2 am our time last night as she was boarding her first bus leg.

By the end of next week, we will have all of our folks back from their summer jobs around Canada.

Our little Big Book Group met today for the last reading for Step One, next week everybody is away, which means we crank through How It Works in two weeks time.

I’ve extended The Work to one of our men in the other fellowship last night, so he is cranking through the preliminary reading material.

Tonight, at the meeting we read through page 94 – 96, and working with others. It was good discussion. I spent some time with an old friend after the meeting, trying to forge connections within my circle of friends. My circle of friends all know each other.

Funny, that whenever I talk to Rafa, he asks about another friend of ours, and when I speak to that other friend, he asks me about Rafa. I feel like a push me – pull me. So I suggested to both tonight, that maybe they should start talking together again, between themselves, since Rafa moved away, his friends here don’t call as much as they should.

The wisdom on “Connection” is a thread I am trying to weave for my friends. We have had a good start with that here among the guys here, now I need them to reach out to their friends in other places on a more regular basis.

A good night was had by all.

One more week of work then I am off to Ottawa on Saturday afternoon.

Happy Pride …

 

Friday – Accepting God’s Gifts

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Though many theologians hold that sudden spiritual experiences amount to a special distinction, if not a divine appointment of some sort, I question this view.

Every human being, no matter what his or her attributes for good or evil, is a part of the divine spiritual economy. Therefore, each of us has their place, and I cannot see that God intends to exalt one over the another.

So it is necessary for all of us to accept whatever positive gifts we receive with a deep humility, always bearing in mind that our negative attitudes were first necessary as a means of reducing us to such a state that we would be ready for a gift of the positive ones via the conversion experience.

Your own alcoholism and the immense deflation that finally resulted are indeed the foundation upon which your spiritual experience rests.

Bill W. Letter, 1964

The time has come in our circle of intrepid young men for much needed change. This summer has not been kind to our small fellowship. And retreading the same mundane literature in one fellowship, is not the same as retreading old literature in another.

The main corpus of the Big Book has not changed since the day those words were printed in the 1930’s. But the wisdom of its writers was genius. Reading from the first 164 pages gives a wealth of wisdom. And over the past four years, a growing number of folks in the Montreal A.A. fellowship have been introduced to people from other places, who see ideas and words and the writing of the Big Book, in ways, we, here, do or have not, in the past.

When I met Bob in 2012, He introduced me to The Work. At that same event, over 300 people were introduced to the Same Work. Maybe a handful of folks went home and did as we were shown. I did, at least.

Now this Summer, I met another man from New York, who is working with a primary small group of people, reading the book, and doing The Work, anew.

The Big Book is written in a way that, beginning with The Book, at large, can be drawn down to chapters, and further into pages, then further into paragraphs, and finally into sentences. The book is written in a certain fashion, with certain reason and process.

When you add further “in depth” homework, questions to ask ones self, working along side a sponsor who is IN the primary small group, doing the work themselves, miracles happen.

In our other fellowship, Life With Hope, is just a book, that has the twelve steps and traditions and a number of stories, akin to the Big Book format. There is no retreading Life With Hope. It lacks the wisdom writing and the function of the book, to be gleaned for new wisdom, as the Big Book offers.

Some of our men, have realized that “If nothing changes, Nothing Changes.” And I’m about at the end of my journey, as mentor with the most time banked.

The problem with the fellowship(s) is this … In today’s day and age, addiction crosses many boundaries. The oldsters, who have remained, in A.A., most of them have singular problems, and they came and rooted in the “rooms.”

Over the last fifteen years, I have seen dual addictions come into A.A. and years ago, speaking of dual addiction, or uttering the word DRUGS, in ones share, was met with anger, resentment, and the person who uttered that dirty word, was shown the door.

Usually, they never came back.

Today, in certain meetings, speaking about dual addiction has become more commonplace. Peoples sensibilities have softened. Because, we must meet the times with equal concern and try to be accepting and welcoming.

Some do, but Some DO NOT.

Before other (A) meetings opened, A.A. was the only route to recovery. That is IF you found your way to our rooms. And there are, today, many routes to recovery. The fellowship is not the only way to find freedom from addiction.

Tonight, I talked with some of my friends at the regular Friday Night meeting, because we really need some additional man/woman power, for our floundering M.A.meetings. What I got in return was … addicts, who cross many addiction lines, stick to certain groups, for certain reasons. That is a logical answer, because they have found some solidarity with others in the same boat.

Men and women who were equal opportunity users of many drugs, pick the strongest affinity with the most commonality. That is N.A./ C.A. or M.A. so forth and so on.

Even if they cross several boundaries, they do not cross meeting lines into the lesser of their evils. Many just don’t see the need to add just One More Meeting. Even if I asked them to participate, none of my friends are inclined to do so.

That has been a long standing problem. When the needs of one group cannot be met, by bringing in fresh folks to share experience, strength and hope, the wealth of existing  experience only goes so far, before we hit the bottom of the wisdom and experience bank.

You can only tell the same story so many times, without fresh wisdom, and if you do that your story becomes boring and useless, and those around you go looking for something different, because you are retreading the same material and not adding to it.

That is where our little fellowship is right now.

Our barrels are empty. And not all of my guys, hit other meetings, other than the ones we provide three times a week, even if the topic changes along with the type of meeting.

We are tired and burned out. We need to replenish our banks with fresh knowledge, wisdom and sober education. So it goes, I have told my guys that if they want to remain clean and sober, sitting in a stagnant room, is not going to get them anywhere. They need to hit other meetings, IF and ONLY IF, they have commonality with another fellowship.

Most drug users, have crossed several boundaries. Alcohol, other drugs, pills, and other mind and mood altering substances. Some pot heads, drink, still. Some have come to the realization that clean and sober, means, just that: Clean and Sober.

So it goes.

“Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.”

I’ve given all I’ve got at this point. When our young people, who have been away all Summer return in the next week or so, those of us, on the front lines, will step back and go fill our banks, while they step up and take the reins, so to speak.

Tonight, we talked about Gifts. And God. And Sobriety.

Bill believes that God would not exalt one over another. We are all equal in the eyes of God. And with what God gives us, each in our own ways, should accept, and have some humility in the grand scheme of things.

A friend of mine spoke about a conversation he had with one of his friends the other day. He asked his friend if he had heard from God that day, and the answer came back,

When I am listening for Him.

Life is one Big Spiritual Experience, if you want to see it that way. Some do, Some don’t.

Another friend talked about alcoholics and addicts being The Chosen Ones. That pushes the envelope into arrogance. Once you cross that line into ego and arrogance, you’ve lost your humility and grace.

That kind of shit is the first thing that many people recognize right off the bat.

I can ponder my story, now, with the eyes and experience I have, and see where God had stepped into my life and did for me what I could not do for myself. And that means that in all cases, it was another human being who was at the right place at the right time, to get me through certain periods of time in my life.

I’ve seen my fair share of tragedy, death and suffering to last me ten lifetimes.

I know, for me, that when I got sick and was going to die, that had Todd not stepped up and did what he did for me, I would have died like all my other friends who did.

Out of all those people, Todd chose to help me. And Saved my Life.

I can say, without a doubt, that that was a Certain God divined decision.

For my entire life, well back in my teens, I was searching for God. I went to church, I prayed, I attended Seminary, and failed.

When I put down the drugs and the drink for the last time, when I was beaten and broken, and had no where else to turn, I prayed once again. Because up until that point, I had not uttered a prayer, once.

I knew it was the end for me, if I did not STOP.

I prayed for an alcoholic, and that alcoholic appeared. Another God ordained decision.

Today I serve my God to the best of my ability. I do what I can, every day to help my friends and fellows. Even if I don’t want to, I know, that if I just Do the Next Right Thing, God will provide.

Edit Addition:

We hear, many times from both men and women, that when they come in, bashed and broken, many feel unworthy of anything like freedom or happiness or life. Then they hear the Promises, and they come back for more, waiting for them to come true for them as well. I heard a particular woman tonight say that early on, she felt as if she deserved nothing and was hurting inside. Those feelings of unworthiness are common among many folk, men and women alike. And I’ve heard the slogan that people have repeated to me countless times since I first got sober…

Stick around until the miracle happens.

When I first got sober, a woman who worked at the associated rehab, where I was getting sober, would tell me that every day. The miracle was coming rather quickly. Todd was on the case, and every day that he gave me a reason to hang on and to choose life over death, the miracle was happening. That miracle is still ongoing, because I am still alive. twenty two years later.

Come, Sit, Stay …

You will find that power greater than yourself.

The obsession will leave you, I promise.

And You Too will see how HP, or God, as I call Him, will work miracles in your life as well.

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God never fails us.

It is we who fail God.

For many years God had been trying to get my attention. And I wasn’t aware that I really needed HIM when I was off the beam. Because when I was in SELF, I did not need God. But God waited, and through trial and error, several times He got my attention when needed. It took me until this time around to really consider, living by God’s will and not my own. I never knew that turning my life over, to the degree I did, TOTALLY, that life would be like this. I never imagined it that way, way back then.

I thought that I would find my way “OUT THERE” in the Other World. That included drugs, alcohol and warped thinking. When I moved here, to Montreal, I said to God that I would do this, if HE would take care of me. I really had no idea what I was going to do, when I got here. When I walked into St. Leon’s Parish hall, I settled in for the long haul and i waited upon God. I was steadfast and obeyed every word that was given to me. And here I am, almost fifteen years later.

God did not disappoint.

The rooms provide. I have not had to go outside the room for ANYTHING in all my years of sobriety. You can take that to the bank.

Be careful for what you pray for, because if God thinks you are ready for it, it is going to come, and usually in spades.

But on the flip side, if you get up and want a SHIT DAY, you will get your shit day, because that is where you go in your head.

It is our choice, what we choose to connect with on a daily basis.

Because we all know, and the book says,

All we have is a daily reprieve based on the maintenance of our Spiritual Condition.

If I don’t hear from God directly, that just means I need to hit a meeting and go listen to my friends. Because one way or another, the words will come, I just have to be attuned to listen for them.

That is, to this day, a work in progress.

One day at a time.

 

 

 

Lionel Messi: Argentina striker reverses decision to retire from national team

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Lionel Messi has announced he wants to return to Argentina’s national team, less than two months after retiring from international football.

Messi, 29, quit after Argentina’s Copa America final defeat by Chile in June.

But in a statement reported by media in Argentina, the Barcelona striker said he wanted to play to “to help from within.”

New coach Edgardo Bauza will announce his squad for September’s two World Cup qualifiers at 22:00 BST.

Messi missed in the penalty shootout defeat by Chile, as Argentina lost a fourth major final in nine years.

“A lot of things went through my mind on the night of the final and I gave serious thought to quitting, but my love for my country and this shirt is too great,” Argentina’s all-time record goalscorer is reported as saying.

“We need to fix many things in Argentinian football, but I prefer to do this from inside and not criticise from outside.”

Argentina face 2018 World Cup qualifiers at home to Uruguay and away to Venezuela in the first week of September.

Wednesday Over Night – Welcome to Night Vale Part 2

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Earlier I shared with you what I am listening to via Pod Cast. And I highly recommend that if you like good listening, those Pod Casts are the real deal.

This morning I had an early start, having to run many errands, well into the day, I made a cursory trip into the Village, as it is PRIDE right now, traffic is higher than normal, coming from the West end of town, Eastwards into the Village.

I had placed an order in my favorite shop in the Village last week, and had heard nothing, so this morning I went out to see what was up. Nothing …

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The Village is a ride from home.

I was told that my order would be completed by 2 p.m. and could I come back then?

Certainly.

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I was headed to my favorite book sellers, to see if I could get a copy of “Welcome to Night Vale.”

 

I rode the Metro Westward and When I got to McGill Metro, a few stops West of the Village, I was half on my way (all the way) home, and in an instant, I stepped off the train and walked through the station to Place Montreal Trust … There are several shopping malls all interconnected underground, at the McGill Stop.

  • Le Cours Mont-real (Peel Metro)
  • Place Montreal Trust
  • The Eaton Centre
  • Complex Les Ailes
  • Place Cathedral
  • The Hudson’s Bay Company

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I was headed to my favorite book sellers, to see if I could get a copy of “Welcome to Night Vale.” I logged onto the stores computer kiosk and found several copies on the shelf. That was a very pleasant purchase, saving me cash and delivery on an online purchase.

I had some lunch, and headed home.

I stopped off and did my groceries and pharmacy pick up and finally made it home. I had two hours to kill. I did my laundry and after folding, I got dressed again, and headed back East into the Village once again. And I was totally satisfied with the design I had put together, and the craft work that my artist did for my piece. And he charged me little to nothing for it too !

We chatted about the PRIDE celebrations taking place, and they asked me to definitely participate with the shop this weekend.

I am headed to Ottawa on the 20th to visit Rafa and attend PRIDE in the Nations Capitol Ottawa – Pride Parade that Sunday. Our Esteemed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been marching in every PRIDE Parade across Canada.

He would be the FIRST sitting Prime Minister to do so in our Nation’s History.

So that is a thing.

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The other Fantastic Purchase from Overseas, was probably the FIRST printed Jersey for Mario Gotze, Number 10 – newly re-joined his old club Borussia Dortmund.

Borussia Dortmund, is a direct competitor of his Former club, Bayern Munich.

A little over two years ago, Mario was a star player, along with his sidekick, Marco Reus. Marco stayed with the club, and Mario sought greener pastures at Bayern.

German players have a problem. They play on a first tier team for a while. They make a name for themselves, they play some good football, then it goes to their heads.

We have seen this happen with several players in the League.

Mario left Borussia for Bayern Munich. And for a short while it was a good move. Until that move proved fatal to Mario’s career. He went from Bayern, to the World Cup, he had several titles to his name. He shot that Winning Goal at the World Cup and that cemented him into the pantheon of Top Tier Players.

That did not last very long.

Mario’s fortunes began to fall. He went from serious pitch time, to almost NO pitch time. And in the end, NO pitch time, that certainly killed his career at Bayern. Not to mention assorted injuries that sidelined him at Bayern.

So they exercised a transfer window – Mario Leaves Bayern and returns to his former Club, Borussia Dortmund, and hopefully, Mario will see his star rise once again. Mario and Marco really made a good team together. They will once again.

A good chunk of money passed between teams to get Mario from Bayern and back into Borussia Dortmund.

 

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Bastian Schweinsteiger, was another Bayern Shining Star. He had great numbers, a career next to none, and was a leading player at Bayern. But Bastian suffered the same issue, with wanting greener pastures in another league.

He left Bayern for the English League, Manchester United. Another Hallowed Football team. Bastian, I think, thought he would make bigger money and have a better career in England.

Sadly, not too long ago, Manchester United, showed Bastian the door. He was cut from the first team. Bastian has been plagued with injury after injury stemming from his time at Bayern and those injuries followed him to England.

And those injuries killed his future with Manchester United.

He was shown the door, and an invitation to play with the junior team, instead. But was told he was not welcome at Manchester United any longer.

Bastian has no return clause to even consider going back to Munich. And Bayern has said that they see no future for Bastian with the Bayern Club again.

Bastian lost BIG. With no where to go and no where to play, he will either retire, as a major player or (he was recently married) could probably start a family and live comfortably. But if his eyes are still on the pitch, finding Bastian a new home needs to happen quickly.

And there are not too many choices on the table right now for him, so it looks bleak.

The Football World is eagerly awaiting Mario’s re-introduction at Borussia Dortmund.

Germans are very proud people, and they might not easily forget, or forgive, Mario’s faux pas and his defection to Bayern, that two years later, now, he returns to his former team.

Mario has said he will work hard to gain respect and trust once again. Hopefully, the Borussia fans will welcome him.

Provided he produces results in the end. So I bought the Borussia Jersey with Mario on the back. He is not listed on the roster yet at the British Printing Company I buy from, but you can order your own jersey, and for some coin, get it personalized.

Now I have 2 jerseys that are collectors items.

Mario’s Bayern Jersey and his World Cup Jersey for the German National Team.

A good day was had by all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday – Welcome To Night Vale

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Oh My Goodness … I missed my Sunday Blog. That’s ok, I really did not have anything to write about anyways.

I have to say that, our brand new bed, is VERY dangerous. Once you get in, there is no getting out. Suffice to say, I’ve been in bed a majority of the hours that I have nothing better to do. I also cannot be bothered to watch television, (read: News) programming.

I’ve found my way into NIGHT VALE

The Pod Cast, is the best new thing since sliced bread. Having an I Phone brought with it all kinds of new experiences. The Pod Cast is one of them.

What am I listening to:

A while back, one of my “reads” who lives in Adelaide, Australia spoke about this strange pod cast he was listening to. I did not have my I Phone yet, then, so Pod Casting on my Android was non-existent.

A few weeks ago, I pointed my pod cast to Night Vale, and subscribed. Let’s just say that, every waking hour or odd hour off I have, I am listening to Night Vale. I have a few years of catching up to do, because season five began on August first.

I rolled back to January of 2015, and I am listening forward.

There are four years in the bank that you can listen to, in addition to a few other story lines, and assorted meditation type casts.

The Art Of Charm – Jordan Harbinger

If you really want to learn how to “CRUSH IT” in Business, Life and Love, you must go, right now, stop here and click the link, NOW, RIGHT NOW, and subscribe to Jordan’s link at: The Art of Charm. Jordan Harbinger and his trusty sidekick will take you on a journey, where you get to hear smart people, talk about relevant subjects, to help you learn how to CRUSH IT in business, life and love.

Stop listening to the television and all that political crap, and turn your attention to really great listening that will help you enrich your life.

Welcome to Night Vale, is a scripted somewhere around 30 minutes a show, pod cast, set in a desert place, called Night Vale. There are characters that you will instantly fall in love with, (Read: Cecil and Carlos) yes, they are an item.

When Carlos says …On the Voice Mail Episode …

“I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, Ok! Ok.  I love you Cecil, talk later…

My heart just melted.

What else is going on, folks are returning to the city this week. So our M.A. numbers will get a solid boost and I can let our returning folks step up and take some jobs, that I have been doing by myself all summer long.

All else is well. I just wanted to throw these pod casts out to you and hopefully, you will get to Night Vale, and maybe get a hit of Bill Maher, travel to Hogwarts on Muggle Cast, and finally, CRUSH IT, with Jordan on the Art of Charm.

 

 

 

 

Thursday -When A Bad Day Lasts for Months

 

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My weekly meeting schedule took a huge hit over the last few months. I spend the bulk of my meeting time in M.A. these days. So my sober meetings are exclusively Sunday’s and Friday nights.

I have not written a whole deal about sobriety since my melt down in June. It has just been a very tense time, and I needed to return to basics, until I felt the emotional shift back into equilibrium.

I’ve stuck very close to my friends, who saw me through this period of time. I stayed away from most old timers, opting to only seek the counsel of two, my temporary sponsor, and another friend, I have yet to sit with. We haven’t been able to connect, since the “incident” but that meeting is in the works.

I learned early on, this time around, what needs to be done, when your world gets turned upside down in sobriety. The totally bad news about sobriety is this …

The time will come, and IT WILL COME, that something happens, either to you, or someone you love, or someone you know, or people you know, or a community you identify with, and you will feel. Let me say that again … YOU WILL FEEL.

Now, not every alcoholic or addict is going to respond well to this truth, because, when the chips fall, if you don’t have a sturdy plan of saving action, YOU WILL DRINK or USE AGAIN.

Now that I am on the other side of a serious sober meltdown, we talked about the “Bad Day” tonight. Sadly, I am the only long time member in the M.A. fellowship, at the moment. All of my friends are inside of five years, and some inside their first year, so I listen to them talk with close attention.

When all else fails, and the chips fall, you can do one of two things:

  1. You can go back out and self destruct OR
  2. You find the path through the fire and you live.

I know what to do, for me, when times get tough. I get out of the house/ I go to meetings/ I call my friends/ I talk to people/ I open/ I close/ I make coffee/ I set chairs/ I serve others.

I know this works, because I have used this method without fail for almost fifteen years now, and it has never failed me.

Now that I am on the other side, this experience I had was specific. I kind of went “off line.” I was showing up to meetings, but I was only halfway there, mentally and emotionally. I had conversations with friends, that in hindsight, were half conversations, and I did speak with those friends as it happened, and they remained with me, and they sat with me and they understood me, and they let me be me, even when I was only half there.

Those are real friends.

We need to know what to do, when things get really rough in sobriety, and the only thing we can do is wait for it to happen to us, then walk through that experience, learn from that experience, “in real time” then share it openly.

Traversing tragedy and Trauma differs from person to person. Because we all deal with adversity in our own ways. I don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on formal therapy, because, in the rooms, I get it for free.

Professional help, when needed, is needed, and should ALWAYS be an option, when necessary. Never go it alone, if you can’t go it alone. Sometimes we need that professional point of view to make sense of life at times.

My circle of friends are battle tested men and women, whom I trust with my life.

I knew, that I was not alone, at any point during this period.

I guess I had to find the end of this pain and emotion. And I guess that began when some guy pulled me aside after a Friday meeting, and said that he was tired of listening to me talk about it over and over.

I was like, “thank you for sharing …

” I hope you never find yourself in the shitter and need a safe place to fall, until you yourself can get back up …”

I just kept doing what I was taught to do, to insure that I would not drink or use again. And I did it naturally. I have a “Good Habit” routine now.

I’ve watched too many of my friends go back out and drink / use again. I watched a handful of my friends die, because they crashed and burned, and did not do what we were all taught to do, by those who knew what to do, instead taking life on, by themselves, taking back control, and killing themselves in the process.

Sometimes the adage: DO AS I SAY AND NOT AS I DO, applies
Other times the adage : IF YOU DO AS I SAY, YOU MAY STAY CLEAN AND SOBER.

The only way the second adage work is IF you have the experience to impart.

If you don’t, then shut up …

There are some folks, I’ve known, all along, through the years, were people I knew were sick people. Those who I stayed away from. Then there were those I gravitated towards because it was an opportunity.

Sadly, a major opportunity turned into a MASSIVE CRASH AND BURN.

The wisdom of the old timer is this …

YOU MAY HAVE THE TIME, BUT YOU MIGHT NOT NECESSARILY BE SOBER.

A friend of mine, a few months sober, was working with a friend, and they handed him the chair of the Friday night meeting. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, Monday he went out and drank, and drank all week, and called me at 5:30 this evening to tell me that.

I asked him why he didn’t call his sponsor before he took that first drink, his answer was this … He does not connect with him, ergo, does not trust him, ergo, he drank again.

But when he finished, he thought to call ME instead of his sponsor.

Hopefully, he will be sober tomorrow night.

We give folks our numbers to make sure they are connected, Whenever they need it.

Sadly, most folks call a few times, then stop. Some never call at all, and they never come back to meetings.

If someone is SURE AS SHIT going to drink or use, they sure as shit aren’t going to call before they do it. Some, do call, when they get to the end.

What they do with our advice now matters.

They either want to stop or they don’t.

Thank God my bad day came to an end.

As it eventually would.

 

 

Sunday Sundries … A Full Heart

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It has been a long birthday day. Which began with breakfast with my sister in laws daughter, Hubby’s niece, so I guess that makes her my niece as well ??? Hmmmm.

Later around noon, we hit the theatre for the noon showing of Absolutely Fabulous.

When a long running, successful, small screen television series finishes its run on tv, and had the numbers and a handful of seriously good episodes, sometimes producers figure that a Silver Screen adaptation of said television show is possible.

Sometimes turning a television show into a movie works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

Absolutely Fabulous is a DOESN’T …

If you are going to see a full feature film presentation, then you will be sadly disappointed. If you are going to see the ensemble cast, together again, then you might enjoy this film, along with the assorted cameos, tossed in here and there.

About halfway through the movie, I seriously thought about getting up and going, but since hubby bought the tickets, I sat till the end.

Nuff said …

I had a few hours before my evening event, so we hung out and had a nap, before I had to leave again.

It being the last Sunday of the month, we had a speaker for Step Seven.

Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

Step Seven is the exercise in Humility. Something the world lacks, and is the basis for all the twelve steps.

When I think about Humility, I think of the story I often tell when sharing on this topic.

Not long after I got sick, many years ago, I was working at the bar. I learned many lessons there, about life, myself, others, and survival.

Sadly, In the short term, I did not figure out how to marry these lessons, with my first stint in sobriety. Had I made that connection, and remained, in a few weeks, I would have celebrated 22 years sober. Alas, I did not make it.

So, back to my story …

On  certain Saturday night, the bar is packed, and it is late in the night.

I walk into the bathroom and a toilet is overflowing with piss and shit, with water all over the floor. I run up to my boss an start bitching about the pig men in the bar and that they stopped up a toilet, again…

He was like, Go Clean the Toilet and Stop Your Bitching !!!

Being the only “bar back – cleaner” cleaning up messes was my job.

I pull on my rubber gloves  and fish out a plastic cup that is shoved into the toilet backwards, that had blocked up the toilet, and none of the guests, saw fit to NOT put that cup in the toilet. They did it on purpose.

I do the job … Not at all happy … But I learned a valuable lesson or two.

If I need a lesson in Humility or Being Right Sized, All I need is to think about that toilet.

The other lesson was more personal.

When you got AIDS, (had you back then), the stages usually went from, healthy human, into sick human, into incontinence, and having to wear diapers, when you went out in public.

Several of my friends lost their ability to remain dry and continent.

The lesson was this … If you learned how to clean up someone else’s shit, if you ever got that sick, in the end, and were in a diaper, I would know how to clean up after myself.

Gratefully, I never got that sick, ever …

Lesson Learned …

It was a great day. We had cake, and guests from my original Home Group on Miami Beach, who know my friends, who still live there, and hit that meeting, the SOBE 10.

 

 

July 31st – Happy Birthday Harry Potter

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord ( Lord Voldemort) approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him ( that’s Harry Potter), born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …

 

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Today is July 31st, 2016. Harry would be 36 today. We wish him a very happy birthday.

I share this date in common with Harry. Today I turn 49 years old.

It was Harry, who saved my sanity, when I returned to the rooms in 2001.

Saturday July 30 Today we Celebrate Neville Longbottom’s Birthday

neville birthday july 30

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord ( Lord Voldemort) approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him ( that’s Harry Potter), born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …

Neville was the other boy, the prophecy could have mentioned, as he was born at the same period of time that Harry had been. But Voldemort decided to go and kill Lily and James, instead of Neville’s parents. Bellatrix Lestrange tortured his parents into insanity and ended up in St. Mungo’s where we find them in The Order of the Phoenix, in “Christmas in the Closed Ward” chapter.

In the end it was Neville who “killed Nagini, the last Horcrux.”

Neville was born on July 30th 1980, which makes him the same age as Harry, 36 …

From his first days at Hogwarts, Neville was a target for bullies and mean teachers (we’re looking at you, Snape!) He seemed to be a liability in the classroom, not to mention those perilous situations he and his friends kept finding themselves in. In spite of this, Neville’s unwavering loyalty meant he never shied away from danger.

While Harry, Ron and Hermione were hunting Horcruxes in Deathly Hallows, Neville led the rebellion at Hogwarts. After rallying the troops, a war-torn Neville throws himself into combat armed with Mandrakes (he knows his Herbology!) and accepts an important task from Harry – ‘kill the snake’.

It looks like the battle is lost. Neville stands alone and unarmed against Lord Voldemort himself. As punishment for his defiance he is forced into wearing the Sorting Hat, which Voldemort sets ablaze. But Neville breaks free, pulling forth the sword of Godric Gryffindor…

Between his botched potions and runaway toad Trevor, we always felt a bit sorry for Neville. We didn’t know much about him except that he came from a proud wizarding family and his grandmother Augusta raised him to uphold that honour. However, Neville’s shortcomings masked a tragedy that, for many years, he kept to himself.

When Neville was a baby, his parents Frank and Alice Longbottom were tortured to insanity with the Cruciatus Curse. Though he dutifully visits them in hospital, the couple appear to be husks of their former selves, handing Neville empty sweet wrappers. We see this play out in the heartbreaking chapter ‘Christmas on the Closed Ward’.

‘Neville, put that wrapper in the bin, she must have given you enough of them to paper your bedroom by now.’ But as they left, Harry was sure he saw Neville slip the sweet wrapper into his pocket.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

How did the nervous lad with the love of plants grow up to face the Dark Lord? Simple – he never gave up.

Neville didn’t seek sympathy or wallow in despair. Instead he took his pain and channeled it into his training. Spurred by news of the Death Eaters’ escape, he strove to avenge his parents and prevent more innocents from suffering their dreadful fate. The Sorting Hat was right – deep down, Neville Longbottom had the heart of a lion.

Neville’s story is an inspiration to us all. It doesn’t matter how many cauldrons you’ve melted; with hard work and courage, you can still be a hero.

Happy Birthday Neville …

Friday … We Shall Not FEAR

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Though we of A.A. find ourselves living in a world characterized by destructive fears as never before in history, we see great areas of faith, and tremendous aspirations toward justice and brotherhood.

Yet no prophet can presume to say whether the world outcome will be blazing destruction or the beginning, under God’s intention, of the brightest era yet known to mankind.

This thought was taken from a Grapevine from the year 1962. All of the writing that has been collected in As Bill Sees It, comes from an original source, either in a book, or a letter or an article.

After the last two weeks, we have two visions of the world, the first is one of FEAR and DESTRUCTION and DEVASTATION. The second is of HOPE, FAITH and TOGETHERNESS.

We have a saying in a certain room that:

What we could not do ALONE, We can do TOGETHER.

When the fellowship began in the early 1930’s, and when we look back at history, it is either one thing or another going on in the world.

Wars, Hunger, Homelessness, Poverty, Hardships.

Today, right now, we have a choice to make. We either accept the fear filled vision, or we accept the Hope filled vision. To me there is only one choice.

WE MUST MAKE THAT CHOICE TOGETHER.

Last night, Pastor William Barber spoke so eloquently. He quoted one of my favorite passages from the Old Testament:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8

Tonight, we read the reading I posted above, and immediately, I imagined Bill, sitting at a desk, having witnessed the past two weeks, and penned that passage, as if he were speaking about the NOW.

And that is exactly where I went when I shared my words. A.A. has no opinion about outside issues, hence the A.A. name not be drawn into public controversy.

But everybody in that room tonight, did the same thing. We listened to words of Hope, amid a world that is sunk in Fear. Many people referenced last night’s events in what they had to say as well.

“I am concerned about those that say so much about what God says so little, while saying so little about what God says so much.”

This quote when I heard the words, spoke to me on many levels. When we sit together in a room, we come for unity, we come for safety, we come for each other, and some, come to hear God, (as he reveals himself in our group conscience).

When all is said and done, I believe that God would want us to abide in Hope, in Faith, in Brotherhood, and Justice.

People who find their way to the rooms, come from places of destruction, from places of sadness, from places of fear, and from places of no return. We know what the bitter end looked like to each of us, each in our own ways. The reading above, goes on to say that

“We do not fear the world outcome, whichever course it may take. This is because we have been enabled to deeply feel and say, “WE SHALL FEAR NO EVIL – THY WILL, NOT OURS BE DONE.”

In my life, there have been many things to fear. And those fears began, in my earliest memories, in a house that I was born into, being beaten and chased around a house listening to him say “You were a mistake and should never have been born, as that man tried to kill me more than once.”

I do not often think of this, any more. Because I lived. And I survived.

Many of my friends who faced fears early in their lives, went to the drugs and sucked on a bottle, early on, spending decades dousing those fears with anything that would take them out of those fears.

I did not have that kind of luck. I did not turn to the bottle in that way. Even though it was there in the house, I never took advantage of it. I bore what I had to bear. And over time, I found ways to get away from him, and my home. I did not use to get away, I physically moved away from fear. Spending inordinate amounts of time, living at friends houses for a number of years, while that lasted.

I would leave for school hours early just to get out of the house. And the teachers knew that, and they provided for me in their own ways.

This life of mine, has not be devoid of Fear, or Pain or Loss. Far from it. I have sat in the midst of the maelstrom of AIDS and watched my friends die, one by one. I know what it is like to face ones greatest fear … Waiting to DIE.

I lived.

How Ironic.

We must let go of FEAR. We must move past it.

And in the words of Hillary Clinton,

We must go out there and do as much good, for as many people, for as long as we can, to the best of our ability.

That is what we learn in recovery, to do good, for the many, for as long as we can, to the best of our ability.

We Will Never Bow to FEAR.

Not Now Not Ever…

Pope Francis prays in silence at former Auschwitz-Birkenau camp

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Francis passed under the gates alone, wearing white robes and skullcap. After meeting the survivors, he placed a candle at the Death Wall, where prisoners were executed by the Nazis, before continuing on his own.

The Pope stopped to pray at the prison cell of Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Catholic friar who sacrificed his life to save that of another man. The Church made him a saint in 1982.

Pope Francis knelt for many minutes in the underground cell, illuminated only by the light from a tiny window, the Associated Press news agency reports.

The Argentine Pope is on a five-day trip to Poland.

During a World Youth Day rally in the southern city of Krakow on Thursday, he urged compassion for migrants.

He told hundreds of thousands of people that “a merciful heart opens up to welcome refugees and migrants” – a statement that puts him at odds with Poland’s anti-immigrant right-wing government.

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Je Suis Catholique

Fr Jacques Hamel

Today, a 19 year old boy, walked into a church in France and murdered Father Jacques Hamel.

He was known to authorities, was on probation and was wearing a monitoring device.

Kermiche and a fellow attacker stormed the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen, during morning Mass.

They slit the throat of the elderly priest before being killed by police.

One of four people taken hostage – said to be an elderly parishioner – suffered severe knife wounds, Mr Molins said.

The Sanctity of the Church was defiled today.

The Way to the Spring …

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I would like to tell you a story. A story about human beings, a story about a people, who only want to live. To Live in a land that is theirs, and not to know fear, death, or hunger on a daily basis.

I would like you to suspend you judgment about hatred, war or “Us versus Them.” I would like you to see human beings, and not Terrorists.

I’ve spent the better part of weeks reading

“The Way to the Spring, Life and Death in Palestine.”

Now I know what people think about this subject. We see daily, people killing each other and fighting among themselves, and we have branded certain groups as terrorist organizations. We are taught not to trust them, or those who are part of, that part of the world.

In the words of the most MILITANT Jewish settlers their common cry is:

KILL THEM FIRST !!!

I am not well versed on the intricacies of the Middle East, on any front. I have what I know, from what I have learned in my educational career, and by those I listen to in life.

I have to say though, that the simple Palestinian family, faces a uphill battle just to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, jobs to work, and keeping their children safe from the scourge of several groups of people.

Many people, who lead, those who were supposed to do good for their own, did not. Leaders were handed cold hard cash, hand over fist. Many of them skimmed that money into their own pockets and pet projects and off shore accounts.

The Israeli and Palestinian issue runs very deep. And they are no closer to a two state solution or better yet, PEACE, right now. Not Ever.

I don’t want to talk about Hamas, or Fatah. I don’t want to talk about the Palestinian Authority, or the IDF.

I want to tell you what our author saw, while he traveled and lived in Palestine, meeting people, reporting what he saw, and seeing for himself, the carnage that happened before his own eyes on a daily basis.

Israel is guilty of many things. Benjamin Netanyahu, is one of the most crooked leaders, Israel has ever seen. And in reading this book, you will find proof of just how he sees Israel, and the Palestinians.

I’ve never read a book, filled with so much hatred and death in my life. The simple Palestinian family, all they want is a life of freedom. But faced with utter ruin, what are they supposed to do?

They fight for a better way of life, by any means possible.

The problem with this action is that the Palestinian Authority is guilty because they themselves, work very hard to make sure that their own people are kept “Down.” Protests are shut down, so the every day human, cannot fight for what they need. The P.A. shoots itself in their own feet. They are more concerned with keeping some form of silence, forced upon their own, because they are complicit with the Israeli’s, in stopping any kind of revolt on the Palestinian side.

Talk of who owns what land, and by what right does anyone have to land that has been  contentious since Biblical Times. I don’t think we will ever see a two state solution to the Palestinian – Israeli conflict.

Why is that ?

Israel moves its settlers into Palestinian land, and they build settlements. They are constantly building Walls, and Checkpoints, and Prisons all along the lines of those cement walls that separate Israelis and Palestinians.

Segregation is the name of the game. Neighborhoods are carved apart by cement and barbed wire. Jews have supremacy when it comes to land and homes. Jews have supremacy when it comes to where one can drive, or where one can walk. Palestinians live in a maze of shuttered and destroyed homes, shops are shuttered, work is almost non existent.

EDIT ADDITION:

I did not mention on my first draft, the “Skunk Trucks” that the Israeli’s use against Palestinians. These skunk truck roll through neighborhoods, drowning Men, Women and Children, with SKUNK WATER. They also use these trucks on homes, where windows are smashed through and homes are FLOODED with skunk water. This unsanitary practice is a common daily practice as part of the terrorizing of Palestinians.

When ever a Palestinian is either imprisoned or charged with a crime, their homes are destroyed, no matter if other family members live in that home, the home is lost to them, and they must move elsewhere or with friends and family.

Many Palestinians, have work on the Israeli side, because they have been forced off their land, out of their homes, and out of work because of the Jewish authorities who spend day and night terrorizing Palestinians. The Jewish Military Machine, is terribly guilty of killing innocent Men, Women and Children.

Palestinians march in their streets to protest the grotesque ways in which they are treated by their own Palestinian Authority, by the Israeli Government and the Israeli Military Complex.

And what happens ???

I don’t think a day went by, during this read that Palestinian Men, Women and Children weren’t gassed, shot with rubber bullets, AND LIVE FIRE ammunition, beaten in the streets, arrested and imprisoned, and even more Men, Women and Children are killed senselessly by the Israeli Military, who shoot first, and don’t even ask question later.

The Israeli Military who shoot and kill, Men, Women and Children, in almost all of the cases, are never investigated, never reprimanded or judged for their crimes.

Almost every bullet that kills a Palestinian, usually has no legal justification.

On a daily basis, Palestinians die for no reason, at the hands of soldiers who will never face justice. On the face of it, Palestinians are always guilty of one thing or another. If questions are asked, peaceful human beings, who mean no harm or just trying to get home, or cross checkpoints, are pulled out of cars, shoved to the ground, beaten and shot dead.

Several accounts of in discriminant killing were trumped by the soldiers. Non existent guns, knives and other killing instruments were put in their hands to make sure the Israeli’s are always right and justified in killing those they think are trying to kill THEM.

The Israeli Military are consumed with being killed, and that reasoning, always justifies they way they kill with impunity.

And when Palestinians go to court or ask for the TRUTH, what they get in response is usually SILENCE, or LIES, or a COVER UP at the hands of the Israeli government.

Truth is very lacking when it comes to Israeli’s killing Palestinians.

Israeli settlers, are just as complicit in these kinds of situations.

Palestinians march, they shout, and they throw rocks.

Do you know what the most useful job in Palestine is? Shoveling up rocks at the end of every day.

Settlers, do not only throw rocks, they throw cinder blocks, they bomb homes and shops, they shoot Palestinians, they mock them in the streets with impunity. There are many incredibly militant settlers, who think they own ALL the land that Palestine occupies.

They not only buy land from the Israeli government, they buy land from Palestinians. They encroach on Palestinian land, one foot at time. They take away ages old grazing land for livestock, they bully Palestinians out of their homes and annex them into Israeli settlements.

Step by Step, they are methodically taking for themselves, what was once Palestinian land.

And they act with impunity, over and over again.

The Israeli government spins stories that are false, when Israeli’s are kidnapped and killed, they automatically blame Palestinian Terrorists and they repeat lies over and over, as if at some point, they believe their own lies.

For the most part, Men march and are imprisoned, leaving their wives and children to carry on the cause. So the women and children march, they scream, they throw rocks at the soldiers.

The soldiers shoot back with Gas, Rubber Bullets and Live Fire Ammunition.

Kids throw rocks, some never hitting their intended targets, and one can be sure that where a rock is thrown, a soldier is going to respond with mostly deadly consequences.

Amid all this strife and sorrow, our writer tells stories of some of the men he met and befriended. And these men are peaceful, and care about family and love.

One man in particular, Eid, a Muslim man, educated in the U.K , who comes from a large family, is idealistic. He is a mixture of Muslim faith and Buddhist practice and thought.

Eid believes in humanity and goodness, peace, and LOVE.

He builds replicas of Catepillar machinery that the Israeli’s use to demolish Palestinian Homes. Some have ended up in museums on display.

His brothers do not necessarily agree with his philosophy, but they allow his simple eccentricities, because they love him.

Love is a very strong thread that runs across all familial lines in Palestine. Brothers, Sisters, Husbands, Wives and Children are held close. Marchers mark arrests, they mark killings and they mark assassinations.

All I want you to know is this … Peace will never take root as long as this field of killing remains. The Israeli’s are guilty of many things. And they perpetuate stereotypes that damage the honor of human beings, just like themselves.

When Israelis speak the words, Kill Them First, what does the world at large make of this declaration?

Israel does what Israel does. World leaders look on and pledge 100% support for Israel. Ambassadors come to the region and make nice, trying to build some consensus on both parts to reach some kind of Peace, that goes no where.

As long as divisiveness and hatred remain, Peace will never come.

And where do Palestinians go when they all have been forced off their land and out of their homes? Their fathers, mothers, sons and daughters are beaten, imprisoned and killed ?

What do they have left ? Dignity should be something important.

HUMAN DIGNITY is so far from the consciousness of the Israeli oppression.

How can you kill the spirit of an entire people ?

You deny them Rights, you deny them Humanity and you deny them Dignity.

Ben’s book is a serious story of terrible circumstances for people who are shown NO Respect nor Dignity.

Is it a Political Statement ? Yes.

Is it an Indictment of Israel ? Absolutely.

What did I think of the book ? I felt, many emotions. Mostly ANGER.

I just don’t understand how we can treat each other with such disdain and deny basic human rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Wait, I know this isn’t the United States here, but come on.

Everybody should be able to live life freely, have liberty and be able to pursue happiness without having to constantly look over ones shoulder all the time, and stare down a soldiers rifle or machine gun.

And wait for that soldier to either shoot them or better yet, Kill Them.

Read This Book …

 

 

 

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