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Archive for February, 2012

Pedro Zamora … 40 today …

Today would have been Pedro’s 40th birthday. He died the year I was diagnosed, 1994. This is one of the many quilts sewn with love by his friends and family. I took this picture some years ago when the quilt was shown in South Florida. We should never forget the friends who went before us. Sometimes I still wonder why I am still here. And why not them ?

We remember you Pedro …


SCORE !!!

It is always exciting to find that sneaker that you have been searching for for weeks and months. Although they aren’t the colorway I wanted originally, I still bought the shoes this morning, as they were the last pair on the market.

I’ve been seeing them pop up on Tumblr and after exhaustive searches I finally found them on Ebay. They just popped up on the seller page one night and today I bought them.

These are the Adidas Court Raider Mid sneaker. In Red, Black, Grey and White. The original shoes were of the Blue colorway.

The Court Raider may just look like another retro inspired sneaker, but its actually a new model from Adidas. Meshing the forum, attitude and top ten, this leather and mesh sneaker makes a statement with it’s bold colors, and the old school Adidas logo detail on tongue and heel. Style G06065.

The pricing on these was moderate at $63.95 plus $29.00 for shipping. That was the one drawback, shipping. You always get slammed on international shipping. But hey, when in Rome … I like them – they are sweet sneaks …


Gratitude in Action … The founding of A.A. in Canada in 1944

Courtesy: Flickr Joshua Uhl

It is cold out tonight. We got a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. They called for more snow overnight last night, which didn’t manifest. But they are plowing snow away as I write tonight downstairs on the streets around here.

We are sitting at ( -9c/ -14c w.c.). It was a quiet day. I did not sleep well last night, even after going to bed at 1 a.m. I was still awake looking at the clock at 7 this morning – I guess I finally fell asleep and slept until I had to get up and get ready to go. It was an easy set up and we had a business meeting. Members are aching for jobs to do. I don’t know how many more jobs we can bring forth without extending the length of the meeting.

And even with that, people are bitchy when it comes to lengthening the meeting beyond our hour fifteen minute meeting. There are always a handful of people who love to bitch about anything. My sponsor says that we are too spoiled with instant gratification today and people want it “Right now or three hours earlier…”

We sat more than 40 folks and we read from the Big Book, from the 4th edition story “Gratitude in Action” the story of Dave B, one of the founders of A.A. in Canada in 1944.

In Pass it On, the book I just finished reading, Bill was so worried that there were so many requests for meeting info and to find actual meetings and back in 1944, meetings were still in their infancy, with the fellowship still growing by the week.

Letters would come in to N.Y.C. and get disseminated to city centers far and wide as new meetings were founded. The First edition of the Big Book was published and sold for $2.50 a copy. They could not print them fast enough to get them to all the people who needed them.

Bill was still trying to get the word out about the fellowship – and he made several tours of the United States and Canada over a number of years carrying the message to lone A.A’s scattered across the U.S. and Canada. It took several years for AA to “Come of Age” when the books were codified – the steps and traditions set up and in place, and also that the General Service office had been created and operating at optimum performance.

Bill counted on lone A.A’s around the world to set up meeting centers and to begin to carry the message to sufferers where ever they may be. And so it went for Dave B. Here in Quebec. It is written in the book that in October of 1944, Bobbie from the New York Office wrote him saying:

“You sound very sincere and from now on we will be counting on you to perpetuate the Fellowship of A.A. where you are. You will find enclosed some queries from alcoholics. We think you are now ready to take on this responsibility.”She had enclosed some four hundred letters that Dave answered over the course of the following weeks. And soon he got answers back.

We can be grateful for this lone A.A. who was handed the job of carrying the message through Quebec and on into Canada from East to West. There are hundreds of meetings in Montreal alone. They span French, English, Spanish and even Farsi.

One can hit a meeting at several times a day in several locations all over the city. The more bilingual you are the more meetings you are able to hit. The General Service office serves thousands of alcoholics here in the city. And it all began with one man Dave B. some 68 years ago.

We went the entire period. We gained several new members this week, which brings us to fifteen members at our home group. Everybody wants to do something to be of service. And over the next few months we will be looking to expand our reach into the Grapevine, General Service and the Phones. We are looking into getting a Grapevine Membership at $50.00 a year, I need to research that this week some time.

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I have a midterm exam tomorrow in Geography and I need to do some serious studying, it shouldn’t be too bad. I’ve got a basic understanding of what he is going to ask us, but I need to go over the power points and my notes and polish off the essay question on China’s One Child Policy.

That has been the day in brief.

More to come, stay tuned …


Priest Walks Out Of Woman’s Funeral Because Of Her Gay Daughter

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This article was posted on Facebook, and I thought I’d share it with you here.
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The battle in this country between the right and the left is raging. Since the right has no answers to the economic questions we face, they’ve decided to concentrate on dividing the country on so-called “moral” issues, one of those being the demonizing of gay and lesbian people.

Little by little, they are losing the battle, as we see states individually legalizing gay marriage and recognizing that our forefathers intended that ALL are created equal and marriage is an equal right. But that doesn’t stop the right from carrying on their battle.

Something terrible happened this past weekend in Maryland and the fact that it was Maryland, a state that has just proclaimed that all are equal and has enshrined that concept into state law, goes to highlight the lengths to which the right will go. In this instance, the right was personified by Father Marcel Guarnizo, who officiated at the funeral of a former family member of mine.

She was no longer a family member because I divorced the man who was her blood relative. But with social media these days, a person can remain in touch with those who, although there is no longer a family connection, are still people who are valued.

My friend Barbara, the daughter of the deceased woman, was denied communion at her mother’s funeral. She was the first in line and Fr. Guarnizo covered the bowl containing the host and said to her,  “I cannot give you communion because you live with a woman and that is a sin according to the church.”

To add insult to injury, Fr. Guarnizo left the altar when she delivered her eulogy to her mother. When the funeral was finished he informed the funeral director that he could not go to the gravesite to deliver the final blessing because he was sick.

EDIT: A letter of apology was sent from the Archdiocese of Washington. This story has gained a lot of traffic over the past few days. I join the call for Father Marcel Guarnizo to be removed from the parish and taken out of pastoral ministry, what he did was unconscionable. And he should loose his position as a parish priest. Put him somewhere where he can no further harm parishoners like this ever again.

Here is that apology:


Doom and Gloom …

Courtesy: Tylerbear

They called for snow today. And so it snowed. Hard, fast and furiously. We were all waiting last night for the front to come, the warnings were all up and nothing happened until 3 this afternoon. From 3 until almost 9 it was still snowing when we got to the church.

It was a quiet day and grasshopper told me that he would drive to the meeting tonight and so he did. There is snow all over the place. We took back roads and got stuck behind several snow plows that were clearing the streets during the snow storm.

We arrived on time so that I could get the urns perking. I made two full pots of water for tea and a full pot of coffee, you never know how many people were going to show up for the meeting in the middle of a Friday night snow event. As it was the last Friday, we had a business meeting.  All the jobs were doled out and we are set for the next month. Our group Conscience is on March 8th and 7 p.m. for all of you who read here, write that date down.

At the end of the meeting I went back into the hall and told grasshopper to join the group since he was driving and helping me set up, he might as well join the group and so he said ok.

Almost all of the people who showed up for the meeting were all members save for a few people here and there. So it was like a private meeting for the members of the group. We number about 35 signed on members and most of them were present for the meeting.

Our speaker came from Loyola. Went to Loyola High, is a member at Loyola Church and also a member of the Loyola A.A. group as well. It was a good share. Our chair told us that his sobriety was well fought and well earned, and from his story tonight, Alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful and also very patient. His story was full of doom and gloom.

For a good ten years he was stuck in the revolving door of recovery, working, using, going to rehab such and so forth, but never really got it until a member told him that she was starting chemo for cancer treatment. And this thought came to mind “I should never give up !!!”

And for the group he listed the most important ideas from his program.

Firstly, the 4 H’s.

  1. Honesty – You have to be honest about everything
  2. Humility – You have to be humble and not let EGO take you to a place that you begin to “E.dge G.od O.ut.”
  3. Higher Power – Always connect with your higher power
  4. Helping others – When you don’t know what to do, work with others

At last he was redeemed and he got sober a few years ago. The good thing he had working for him was that he never gave up, and members from the Loyola Group never gave up on him. And after several failed attempts at sobriety, he was able to return and to work on all those things that he did not do the time before which gave him something to work with.

Just Don’t Take The First Drink.

We are powerless over the first drink.

In the end a good night was had by all. We also got a report about our matriarch and her husband. Ron had a bad week, and things did not look good, but as of today he was sitting up, eating food and very much present to his visitors. Which is a very good thing. But as always I would ask you for your continued prayers for both Linda and Ron. She did not come tonight, as well, we were missing many of our West Island members. I was all ready and raring to go with my old timer friend since I was reading Pass it On, I was hoping to have a conversation with him about the story. I guess that will have to wait until next week.

So Linda, we are all thinking about you and we hope you are well. We missed you tonight. I know she is going to read this tomorrow morning.

That was the night in brief.

More to come, stay tuned …

 


40 Days and 40 Nights …

I was gonna wait to post this, but the spirit is moving me today, So here is one of my favorite pieces of writing. I wrote in a few years ago, and I re-post it every year at the beginning of Lent. And since I don’t have anything fresh to offer you – you can read this and prepare for your journey … Enjoy..

And so it begins, the walk through the desert. God is moving tonight, I can feel it in my bones deep within my soul. I am in Preacher mode and the message is loud and clear…Write and share the journey. There are several new bloggers on this list now, Christians I know for sure. Here is my Lenten exercise of the journey, it is called “Will you walk with me a step or two.”

One day the Lord spoke to them and they started walking through the desert. Men, women, children the elderly and the herds and flocks. Where they were going was not known, but it was apparent that they were going to get somewhere. If only they walked a step or two.

A young man spoke up and said “I will walk ahead of the tribes, I will lead them as the Lord leads me.” And the Lord asked the young boy, “are you ready to walk for the glory of God,” why “Yes,” the boy answered. So be it the Lord said, “now lead them, but take only that which you need and nothing more.” I will walk with You Lord, he said without a second thought.

The Lord said that the way will not be smooth and there are things you will see on the way that will test your faith, yet I the Lord will make the way straight and the path smooth, if you have faith in Me and the Glory of God the father. Yes, I have faith, the boy replied, so walk my son.

A few days into the journey the boy came across a woman with ragged hair and little clothing. She was elderly and needed some water. The boy was only carrying what he had, and he gave drink to the woman and quenched her thirst. She said to him, that she was lonely and afraid of the road, and the boy replied, woman, have no fear, for I will walk with you until nightfall and we will camp under the canopy of heaven. That day they walked together and the woman was grateful for the company and the water.

That night, they made camp, the tribes of the Lord.

 

The Angel of the Lord came down and struck the rock and water flowed. They all drew water from a spring that appeared and everyone’s thirst was satiated. And the animals were watered as well. Food was passed from group to group until every last one was fed. That night they sang the song of the Lord until everyone was sent to a sleep protected by the Lord himself.

The very next morning, rested and fed, the tribes packed up their wares and started the journey as they did the day prior. The sun hung low in the sky, and by high noon, sweat was pouring off the brows of the people. The young boy made his way in front of the pack, leading them as he was guided by the spirit of the lord. Soon after noon the boy came across an elderly man who was being carried by two men, visibly shaken and tired.

The boy looked up to the sky and said, what can I do Lord?

The answer came and the boy took the arm of the litter and helped carry the man for the rest of the day, until darkness fell and camp was set up for the night. Once again, the Angel of the Lord came down and struck the rock and from the rock a spring came up from the earth once again, the people and the animals were watered. The tables were set and the people were fed to their fill. Once again, they praised the God of Abraham and in the coolness of the night they slept under the canopy of the heavens.

On the third day they awoke to a cloudy day, grateful for the relief from the sun, they gathered up their wares and began to walk once again. Today the young man was tired. He had been leading this lot for days now, and yet the lord said, Keep walking. So he did.

On this day he came upon a young person drawn from travel, covered in dust from the desert. Visibly the boy had not eaten in days and was close to death.

The young man stopped and knelt down next to him and shared his water and some bread from his pack. He lifted the boy into his arms and carried him for the rest of the day. Hours passed and the boy was filled with faith and strength as he carried his charge on his back. That night at camp, the young boy gathered some bedding and laid his friend in a cool soft place.

That night the Angel of the Lord appeared and once again, struck the rock and water flowed. He bathed the young man whom he had carried all day, then they broke bread and shared living water from the earth. Miracle, you ask, quite possibly so.

That night all were fed and after the plates were cleared and all had been fed, they gathered before the fires and praised the God of Abraham. They rested beneath the canopy of heaven.

For 38 days and 38 nights, the boy walked with his people, helping each soul he encountered to the best of his ability as God had commanded him to do.

On the 39th day they awoke. The angel of the Lord was there at first light and he told them, the journey was almost over, walk on as the Lord commands.

That day was no different. On that day the young boy would meet his final “person.” She was laden with child, and was walking alone carrying everything that she needed. No man walked by her side, no assistance came to her. She was visibly close to giving birth, and the Boy took her hand

As night fell, the boy gathered the women together and they prepared the woman for birth. A call went out to the men and they gathered together some wood for someplace to keep the child. As was foretold, the Angel of the Lord appeared to them once again, and struck the rock and as happened each night before, water flowed.

That night the stars shone brightly, the heavens were alight with song. Something was about to happen. For after the meal, the woman called for the boy and he appeared by her side. The time had come and she wanted to share the birth of the child with him, for he walked with her a step or two. That night under the canopy of heaven a child was born and she asked the boy his name.

He answered, “My name is David.” She smiled at her son, and spoke to the heavens, May God in heaven be blessed and may he bless my son David, born this night. The heavens replied with a thousand shooting stars… What a glorious vision the host of angels come down from heaven to sing to David, the newest member of the tribes of Abraham. That night they rested and slept in peace.

On the 40th day the young boy awoke, there standing before him were 40 men, women and children. All of those whom David had walked with through the desert. At that moment an Elder man spoke to David and said follow me, there is someone who would like to see you David, HE has asked for you by name.

The people before him parted and through them David walked until he reached a hill that was green with foliage and there a spring bubbled up. “Take off your sandals David” a voice spoke to him. David did not skip a beat. As David looked up from undoing his shoes, There the Master sat on the rock before him.

David’s eye welled up with tears, he had done exactly as he was instructed, as the Lord had told him. He had led his people through the desert helping each soul he met on his path. The Master knew what was in his heart and soul. David was without words. The Master got up from where He sat and approached David and wrapped his arms around him, and said……..

“Well done good and faithful servant. In YOU I am well pleased.”

What for? David said, all I did was what you asked of me while I walked. And the Master replied, “you know David, each time you helped one of these souls on your journey, you helped ME.” “What the least of these you have done for my brothers and sisters you have done for me.”

The Master reached down into the pool of water and blessing the water he blessed and baptized David the Boy, and then David the infant. And for a moment the heavens opened up and God’s voice was heard, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

And from the sky a beam of light shone forth into the desert and the sands were parted and there in the swirl of dust a city appeared. It is there that the people made their homes. The journey had ended. And a placed blessed by God was theirs to live in.

So will you walk with me a step or two. The journey is long and the road may be rough, but as the Lord says “I will make the path straight and your burden will be light.” Take only that which you need. And if you meet someone of the road, stop and ask your questions, share your water and food, for you never know when the Master will reveal himself to you.

Are you ready to start walking !!!


Pass it On …

 

Courtesy: A.A. Archives …

I’ve been reading from “Pass it on – Bill Wilson and the A.A. message” as of late and I find it incredibly enlightening. I was itching to find something to read from my library lately and this is where I went.

The book is an incredible wealth of history and worth a read during your sobriety to get the real story of Bill Wilson and how A.A. came to be. Where was A.A. founded and by whom, and how Bill came to be the great leader of the fellowship to so many in his lifetime.

My Old Timer friend from the West Island is a wealth of history because he knew Bill Wilson in his early sobriety after coming back from the war, having traveled to New York to visit Bill and to hear him speak on many an occasion. I’ve been reading this book, because it gives us a point of reference to talk about when we see each other on Friday night’s.

Pass it On, Chapter 11 pgs. 190 – 200.

Bill was about to write the very important 5th chapter of the Big Book, “How it Works” and as Bill put it “There must not be a single loop hole through which the rationalizing alcoholic could wiggle out.”

The basic material for the chapter was the word-of-mouth program that Bill had been talking ever since his own recovery. It was heavy with Oxford Group principles, and had in addition some of the ideas Bill had gleaned from William James and from Dr. Silkworth.

Moreover, Bill had worked with Dr. Bob and other alcoholics in testing and sifting the workability and effectiveness of the early program. While he would be the nominal author of the fifth chapter, he was in fact serving as spokesman for all the others.

According to Bill, their word-of-mouth program had thus far been a pretty consistent procedure, containing six steps to achieve and maintain sobriety. There is no evidence that the Oxford Group had such a specific program; yet the Oxford Group ideas prevail in these original six steps, as listed by Bill:

  1. We admitted that we were licked, that we were powerless over alcohol.
  2. We made a moral inventory of our defects or sins.
  3. We confessed or shared our shortcomings with another person in confidence.
  4. We made restitution to all those we had harmed by our drinking.
  5. We tried to help other alcoholics, with no thought of reward in money or prestige.
  6. We prayer to whatever God we thought there was for power to practice these precepts.

Although these steps had helped in the recovery of New York and Akron alcoholics, Bill felt that the program still was not definitive. “Maybe our six chunks of truth should be broken up into smaller pieces,” he said. “Thus we could better get the distant reader over the barrel, and at the same time we might be able to broaden and deepen the spiritual implications of our whole presentation.”

Bill wrote the Twelve Steps, he said, while lying in bed at 182 Clinton Street with pencil in hand and a pad of yellow scratch paper on his knee. He wrote them in bed, said Lois, not because he was really sick, but he wasn’t feeling well, and if he could lie down he did: “He got into bed, that being the best place to think…”

[Bill, it is noted later on in the text, spent a good deal of time sitting and thinking and also for laying down more often than Lois would have liked, Lois was the ‘doer’ in the family, Bill was more the think and sitter].

… As he started to write, he asked for guidance. And he relaxed. The words began tumbling out with astonishing speed. He completed to first draft in about half an hour, then kept on writing until he felt he should stop and review what he had written. Numbering the new steps, he found that they added up to twelve – a symbolic number; he thought of the Twelve Apostles, and soon became convinced that the society should have twelve steps.

The very first draft of the Twelve Steps, as Bill wrote them that night, has been lost. This is an approximate reconstruction of the way he first set them down:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that God could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our wills and our lives over to the care and direction of God.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely willing that God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly on our knees asked Him to remove these shortcomings – holding nothing back.
  8. Made a complete list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people where ever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual experience as the result of this course of action, we tried to carry this message to others, especially alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Bill’s first three steps were culled from his reading of James, the teachings of Sam Shoemaker, and those of the Oxford Group. The first step had to do with calamity and disaster; the second was an admission of defeat – that one could not go on living on the strength of one’s own resources; and the third was an appeal to a Higher Power for help…

In writing the steps, Bill also produced the hard hitting promise of the introductory paragraphs, beginning, “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path [‘directions’ in the earlier manuscript]. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.”

(According to an apocryphal story, Bill was asked in later years whether there was any change he wished he could make in the Big Book, and he replied that he would change “Rarely” to “Never.” Bill himself said he never considered that change.)

By then end of January 1939, the manuscript was ready for preliminary distribution; 400 copies were Multilithed and circulated to members, friends, and other allies for comments and evaluation.

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If you’ve ever wanted to know how the fellowship came to be, where the original ideas came from and how A.A. formed and how the word-of-mouth fellowship came to pass, then you should read this book. It is a valued piece of history that every alcoholic should read.

Bill did not take to sobriety on the first pass. In fact, it took him several attempts at sobriety to “get it.” In the beginning Bill was stuck in the revolving door of in and out. Drunk, sober and drunk again … And that tasked his marriage to a great detail. And once, at last, he was delivered into sobriety. And his and Lois’ marriage flourished in time.

It being the 20’s and 30’s in America, along with the war and great depression, times were very tough. Bill and Lois lost their home(s) several times, moving from home to home between members and early A.A. clubhouses in New York. Finally in January 1941, Bill and Lois finally found a home in Bedford Hills, New York.

Bill speaks about his spiritual experience in great detail in the book, and it came up every time Bill was asked to share his story. Where ever Bill went, he would always be the focus of attention at what ever meeting he went to. He was celebrated by all of them who came to know him, and for those who were blessed enough to know him and hear him speak at a meeting.

I hope you find this reading as interesting as I have.

“Pass it On”

The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world.


Fat Tuesday … It’s Lent Already !!!

Courtesy: Tumblr Photos

Parties are going on all over the globe tonight. The last great hurrah before we buckle down with our observance of Lent 2012. With so much going on politically in many places, many of my fellows have skipped today’s festivities and I suppose that tomorrow the meditations for the season will begin.

What are you giving up for Lent?

It was a good weekend. Not a whole lot going on. But the crunch of assignments are at hand in school. We had a 10 page assignment due last night in psychology and I have a second Geography project due tomorrow night. I still have to do my populations graphs before class tomorrow night.

It was a good quiet day. I got out of the apartment early and set up was done well before our women showed up to read their books. We had a huge crowd tonight, I would gather we sat close to 50 folks tonight. Our chair read from the twelve and twelve, it being the second month of the year, we read from the second step.

I had a post prepared to write about steps and so I think that I will keep that one separate from this post because I want a stand alone post. We went the entire period and did not get all the way around the table.

A good night was had by all. I will publish my lenten 40 days and 40 nights tonight so that we can approach Lent properly, with an attitude of prayer and reflection. So look out for that later tonight.

I guess I will end this one here and get on to writing the post I had prepared for you.

Until later…


Friday Prayers …

Courtesy: Pat

It was a clear night, after a clear day. We are sitting at (1c) at this hour and little white flakes are up for late night. It has been a busy week. Lots of things going on, assignments due in the next week and getting out of the house to meetings have been on tap for the week.

I’ve been spending a lot of time with grasshopper. We had a medical scare today and he was rushed into the clinic but it was a false alarm. His body is reacting to the meds he is taking and not because of what he’s not taking. He is all about town doing meetings here and there. And tonight Lizzy was a no show no call and so grasshopper took me to the church to set up and to help set up, so that I’d have a ride home afterwards.

My friends from the West Island came tonight. And people are suffering. But they showed up. I had a chat with my old timer friend and he shared with me a story about after getting home from the Navy, going down to New York to see Bill W. and to get some much needed advice from him. You never know when the old memory is going to surface a story about the old days of A.A.

Our matriarch, Linda and her husband Ron are in need of your prayers tonight. Her husband has been in hospital for some time and is not doing very well. Everybody was gathered around her tonight and they have asked us for our prayers so I am asking you for your prayers as well.

We got the room set up in record time, with plenty of time for the urns to perk and for coffee to be ready on time tonight. It was a full house. And our speaker came to us from the city. I know him and his partner. He and his partner were some of the first gay folks that I met going to the old Cornerstone meeting of AA many years ago. But after that meeting folded, the gays scattered around the city. It has been a while since I have seen them both. The last time we crossed paths was at Mick’s funeral a few months ago.

It seems that some people just stopped going to meetings and kept to their section of town, doing their things. It was the first time, I think, that I have heard our speaker share. It was from the gut honest. I knew of his story in passing but I don’t think I’ve ever heard him talk about it at length.

It was a good message. Don’t do what I’ve done. He has been inside and outside of the prison system. And his warning is stark. And the thanker got it right when he said that “the warning is there, if we decide to go back out, we may end up in some brawl, and quite possibly behind bars.

There are three places alcoholism will take you if you allow it to … to hospitals, institutions and death if we are not careful. It was good to see our speaker and his partner. We were friends a long time ago, but things change. We don’t socialize with old gay circles, but for a few who still come to our meetings on Tuesday and Friday night.

All I know is that I am doing what I can for myself and my fellows. I go to meetings and I do service. I work with others and I give back when ever I can. The program is reciprocal. You get back what you give of yourself. If you don’t give to you won’t get back. That’s how it works.

Let us offer our prayers to those who need it. Take a moment tonight before you go to bed to remember Linda in your prayers, and her husband Ron. We all share in sorrow and we support one another as well.

That is all for tonight. More to come, stay tuned …


February 14th 2011 …

Courtesy: Patrick YHC Flickr

Did you buy your flowers and chocolate and a card to go with it? Walking through the mall today was an event. There were flowers all over the place. The little flower island out front of Pharmaprix was packed with people fighting over roses. Then as I approached the Metro Station, the florist there at the crossroads had a line out the door waiting on flowers as well.

We dispense with buying flowers. The one time I spent real cash on flowers was for my wedding. On my way to class last night I stopped by Pharmaprix to get a card, and the store was mobbed and I sought out a card while jostling for space with 20 others trying to do the same thing. I read half the message and decided to just buy a card and call it a day. I went to class – came home and had my night and before I went to bed I went to sign the card, and on the last page of the card the word “Wife” appears. Woops !!! Thank God for WHITE OUT !!! I amended the card appropriately and signed my name to it.

It is almost balmy out at (-1c) and flurries are on tap for tonight. I was up early today and farted around the house for a few hours, not knowing what to do with  myself because I had plenty of time and I also had things to do like get my party platter prepared which meant a trip to Provigo. It was 2 p.m. and I was thinking a nap, but it was too late for a nap. So I took a shower and went to the store to do my shop for the party tonight. I left the apartment around 4:30 and set off for the church, well early of party time.

I got the urns perking. I had to borrow an urn for the night from Sunday Nighter’s and we emptied one urn before the meeting started so the second urn came in handy for the end of the meeting and the party that followed. I had the room set up and the party tables set by 5:30. And everybody showed up early to set their platters, cakes and goodies up.

We sat 40 folks around the table. We had a few out of towners, Rick was expecting more and we set out twice as many chairs in that expectation, but the bodies did not turn up. Our chair started the meeting as usual and we went with the Daily Reflections for the hour. We each read from our sobriety date.

And I gasped when I opened the book to read from December 9th …

Love with no Price tag !!!

When the Twelfth Step is seen in its full implication, it is really
talking about the kind of love that has no price tag on it …
Twelve and Twelve pg. 106

December is the 12th month so
the reflections are all about the Twelfth Step …

I led the reading and sharing off. And I talked about this topic coming up more than once here on the blog. 12th step work is so important to my sobriety. I don’t know but I guess what I had to share fell on deaf ears, because pigeon was sitting at the opposite end of the table and he did not hear a word I said and when time came for him to read his date, “PRIDE” was his reading …

Suffice to say that I am finished with Pigeon…

We stopped short of time to start the party and not have it run into the night too late, to clean up and get out of there.

There was plenty of food and drink. Lots of cake and candies. It was a festive Valentine’s Day for all. It was a success. All the members pitched in to serve food and the night was a success.


Be Yourself …

Courtesy: TylerOakley

Friday has come and gone. It was a cold night.  (-1c and flurries). It was a quiet day and I’ve been waiting on a special package to come in the mail today. That was as exciting as it got.

We were waiting for grasshopper’s numbers to come at the clinic to see where he places on the scale this month. All the numbers came back nominal and his doctor is very pleased with his progress. It is a good sign when your viral load drops to undetectable. Which means the meds are working well. But he has a long road to haul. I wish there was a way to get those numbers up, up, up … But that will take time. And time is what he has. Every day is another day on the calendar.

I am glad for him. It has been a long eight years to get where he is today. At least he is listening for a change. Hopefully he will continue to listen carefully.

Lizzy came and picked me up for the meeting tonight, and as usual we hit the highway and were going to get off at St-Jacques but there was no exit. We drove right past it. (Little did we know that the exit is closed until next summer). So we got on the Decarie heading up the hill and traffic was bumper to bumper. Half an hour later we got off the highway and backtracked to Hingston. Which meant that once again this week, coffee was late. Dammit !!!

We were competing directly with Friday Finchley tonight, and their anniversary meeting. Which meant that numbers were lower than usual, there were a good number of empty seats.

Our speaker came from Cote St. Luc. I know her from early sobriety. She ran in a social group that I was once a part of for a time in early sobriety. She’s got 20 plus years of sobriety now. A lot has changed over the last decade. People change and times change. Most of the people I knew when I first got sober, I never saw again, once I rooted in my meetings and started living life.

She told a story. And there were a few take away points from it. That we come to the rooms broken and empty. And that we get to be who we are from the get go, whoever you are when you come in. And after time spent in the program, you begin to see the person you are to become. And once again, another speaker with time got up there and talked about the dually addicted. The numbers are high in that area. You come in through one anonymous group and end up where you need to be eventually.

Alcohol is but a symptom.

There are many reasons we drank and drugged. And all the excuses are on the table in the room, we are not immune to any one of them. But when we come in finally, hitting whatever bottom we need to hit to get here, we begin building from the bottom up. I am always encouraged when old timers get up there and say that they MUST still go to meetings. That the newcomer is the most important person in the room. Because what else do we have to look up to or whom do we look up to to tell us that this is the WAY to life.

Only 1 % make it.

It was a good share. We had lots of fellowship. Most of the crowd in chairs were all members. It is our weekly check in. My friends from the West Island were absent tonight. I missed them. Now, like at Tuesday Beginners, when I set chairs down, (because people always sit in the same spot) and I am getting to know more names, I can recall the faces as I set the chair down, almost willing them to show up and sit in that chair.

I was pleasantly surprised when I was sitting in the hall to see grasshopper show up for an evening meeting. I enjoy seeing him and having time to talk to him when I can. Life, right now, is good.

And all is well, is good for now. This is when alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful. Not when we are down and out, but when things are alright. That is when we much be vigilant. Constant Vigilance !!!

Grasshopper drove me home after the meeting. A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Double Digits …

Courtesy: Nightrider

It is a chilly night in the neighborhood. We are sitting at ( -10c/-16c w/c). if you look around the city, any and all piles of snow left on the ground is glazed over with an inch of ice. Over at the church, the side lawn could be used as a skating rink. Everything is frozen over. And cold is in the forecast for the rest of the week.

It was a busy day today. Lots of phone calls coming and going. Sponsees worrying about what to do and how to do it. It would be easy to tell one to just get up there and give the newcomer chip away and let go this irrational fear of people.

My sponsees are so diametrically different. Grasshopper is in the flow of the river and is taking it easy and following where the river is taking him. Whereas pigeon is so stuck on judgement of others and himself that he needs to spend a little more time sitting in the rooms with his mouth shut so he can learn how to respect others with time and that it isn’t always about him.

It was a packed house. We sat 32 folks around the table. Lots of newbies and our usual old timers. Our chair had us read from the Big Book, Chapter 11 – A Vision for You. Now, we’ve read this chapter over and over again. It is a favorite read for many people because it speaks of hope. There was a reason that the chair chose this reading tonight. She spoke to me before the meeting and we talked about a book she is reading about second stage recovery. And the question comes up:

“What do you want your sobriety to look like, specifically?”

Before I go to this question I need to finish my thoughts on A.V.F.Y.

Every time I read from the book, the words on the page are the same. The first 164 pages of the book haven’t been changed over the entire life of the original text of the Big Book. But today in reading and following along as the read went around the room, the message came to me like a distant voice. It was actually like someone was reciting the text to me, and I guess that was because I was receptive to the message. Every time you read it comes across from a different direction the many times you read and re-read the book. I just love this chapter.

 We know what you are thinking. You are saying to yourself: ” I’m jittery and alone. I couldn’t do that. ” But you can. You forget that you have just now tapped a source of power much greater than yourself. To duplicate, with such backing, what we have accomplished is only a matter or willingness, patience and labor.

There are 182 promises in the Big Book. They come as you work your way through the book and the steps. That is such a grace. It is just beautiful. And as I listened, I heard the voice of the elders of the movement speaking to us from a far away place. I guess you had to be there to get it.

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

Our chair is reading this book, and she tells me that it takes time to digest what she is reading and she is trying to incorporate what she is reading into her life so she asked me the question: “What do I want my sobriety to look like, now that I am in double digits.”

I will get to read the book after she finishes with it.

I guess I have never set down in writing what I want my sobriety to look like, and the writer of the book says that we should be specific in our vision. I think I set the tone for the next year when I wrote about “The State of Our Union” post.

I’ve never been able to set down long term goals. When you live with terminal illness you know better than to tempt fate with goals that you may not reach. So if the bar is set only so far ahead, you know that simple goals are more attainable than larger ones.

  • I don’t really have great things on my radar.
  • I want to keep writing here.
  • I want to work with others.
  • I want to participate in my chosen communities.
  • I really want to quit school but I have to finish this term out and I can do that.
  • I want to travel and hit meetings in other places.

You know I may never get a job in this God forsaken city because I refused to assimilate into the Quebecois. And that’s fine with me. Hubby has set out the ambitious goals for the next year, and I am going along for the ride. All I know is that he is set to go and where ever he goes I will follow.

I picked up a book from the cupboard tonight called “Voices of Long term Sobriety.” it is just a book of stories from 10,20,30 and 40 years sober folks.

It is a good read, but it doesn’t direct you on what to do but read the book and go to meetings, share with others and pass it on to the newcomer. You can’t read the book, do it yourself and get it. You have to READ the book, and GO to meetings and participate in community. There you will find like minded folks who are your equal who can help you stay stopped. And find a power greater than yourself.

Next Tuesday is our 53rd anniversary. There will be lots of food and cake.

A good night was had by all.

 


Suicide is NOT an Option !!!

Courtesy: Wrestlingisbest

Well, well, well, what a day it has been. I was up with the birdies to accompany my grasshopper to the Brewery Mission to speak this morning. It was a small select crowd. A few faces I recognized, but many were unknown to me. We started off with some breakfast at Micky D’s … The new decor at the EV building restaurant is quite nice. Very art deco with a soda bar and cushy seats and chairs.

Like I said the meeting was small, which meant that grasshopper had to decide what he was going to say on the fly and he did very well in the end. We all have a story to tell and every story is important. We all can learn from each other, no matter how much time we have. We all get that “first share” in. And every share afterwards is just a tweak on the same story.

It was a good morning and the folks at the meeting were very kind with thanks and praise. I guess I am doing something good with grasshopper.

The rest of the day was spent trying to nap here and there. Sunday is not a good day for television. The only show I wanted to see was Madonna on the Half Time show at the Superbowl. And it was a great little production number. Tell tale signs of just what her next tour will look like.

The main reason for writing tonight comes from what transpired at the Ill Fated step group that I am no longer part of, but grasshopper is still involved. And one of the members is in a bad way. And dropped a bomb that he went down to the basement of the church he lives in and hung a noose in the ceiling and he tried to commit suicide. It seems a long standing resentment and pain from an outside issue has come to a head and nobody won. In speaking to my sponsor after the fact, this issue has been going on for some time.

The noose has been hanging in the basement for two weeks and during the meeting tonight a couple of the men went down and cut the noose down.

What do you say to someone who tells you that they attempted to commit suicide? Especially when it cuts so close to home for grasshopper, who has lost family to suicide. I got a call not so long ago tonight and he was fuming mad and spinning in his own shit.

This so called member has been the epitome of sobriety, quoting the big book and talking about how connected he was with his higher power and had the audacity to tell the others what he was really planning. It was shock to the group as it was a shock to me and my sponsor. Because you know grasshopper comes to me for advice and I tell him my experience, but then I go to my sponsor and I get his advice as well. So that we get answers from more than one generation of sober people.

It is sad to think that someone who is sober would even contemplate suicide. Why wasn’t he talking to anyone, like his sponsor or his wife? What was he going to do, Do it and let his wife find him hanging in the basement? That is very selfish and irresponsible.

But there are two types of people. Those who talk about suicide. And those who actually do it. I’ve been down this road myself. I had my own issues with suicide and 32 weeks of survivors of suicide support group after James killed himself.

My sponsor gave some good advice. What is the take away lesson from the day? And what can we do to help him along now to make sure he doesn’t go down this road again. It has nothing to do with the other members of the step group nor their leader. It was one mans issue with resentment and work problems.

Yes it is ok to get angry and it is ok to voice our dismay and pain. But in the end it is “But for the grace of God.” And what should we do now? If we get stuck in question and pain, we need only look into the book and read that when all else fails “nothing will guarantee our sobriety like working with another alcoholic.

It was a good start to the day and a harsh end to the day. We hope that the lesson is learned that suicide is NOT an option. Especially for someone trying to get sober. We all have our pains. But there is no honor in killing ones self.

There are assholes in the world and we have to learn to get away from them and move into healthier ways of living doing things that will help us get better and not to maintain connections with the assholes of the past. It’s all about energy. We are responsible for the energy we give out and the energy we bring to ourselves.

It’s ok grasshopper. The sun will rise in the morning and all will be well.


The Four Year Itch …

Courtesy: Shatterintopieces

The week has come to an end. Friday has come and almost gone. We had a little snow here and there but nothing intense. It is (-5c) out a little cold.

I’ve been altering my behavior as my quest to quit smoking continues. I have been able to successfully navigate my days and nights without picking up. Maybe the desire to smoke has left me. If I don’t focus on smoking, I can usually get through a moments indecision. I’ve been told to alter my behavior, and to find something to do with my hands. As nonsmokers needed to find something to do with their hands when they put down the smokes.

Lizzy picked me up and we headed for the church. I got the urns perking and we set up the hall. It seems that the church has given us access to more chairs for the hall, so we took them from other rooms in the church hall area for the meeting. The tea urn was perking correctly, but I did not check the plug for the coffee pot, which when I did, was not plugged in all the way, so coffee was late.

It was almost a diplomatic incident because people expect to have coffee when they want coffee and right now would be nice, and they had to wait until the meeting almost started for the urn to perk all the way. People are animals when it comes to getting their cup of Joe. I watched this free for all take place, I was like WTF ???

Our speaker was a Shadows man. I used to go to Shadows when I was first getting sober because it was centrally located near the metro and to the aftercare that I was getting at the time. Now they are on Girouard over by the park.

Every person has a story. And every story is important. We can learn something from every story we are told. And tonight was no different. He began with his sobriety date, sometime in April. The kicker was that he would have four years come April … Again.

Our speaker came into the rooms the first time back during the 1976 Olympics here in Montreal. He made mention of several important times here in Montreal like the Olympics and Expo.

Every time he came in, he would get to four years and then go back out. And this four year cycle of In and Out repeated itself. But alcohol wasn’t his only problem. He smoked some weed, did some drugs and was having spiritual experiences while his friends were having bad acid trips. He was on a search for a God of his understanding, without knowing that he was on a quest for a God of his understanding. People caught in the cycle of drugs and alcohol, don’t know it, but while using we are all on the quest to find a God of our understanding.

I identified with this man because the first time I got sober, I stayed sober for four years. And his warning “Vigilance” because alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful. The thing that the Big Book omits is that alcoholism is also “patient.” It waits for you, sitting outside the hall doing pushups waiting for us to get sober in the room and come outside.

After four years of sobriety, I went out as well. It seemed that all the men I got sober with in that time period all went out at the four year mark. And it was off to the races for me. I wasn’t being very vigilant was I ???I made several key mistakes at four years. And those mistakes took me on an odyssey of self discovery. I drank and drugged during my slip.

I am not sure, from my memory if I was searching for a God of my understanding, I was searching for something, and in the end that search almost killed me. So I know what it is like to go out after a period of sobriety.

He tells the story of his daughter who is an addict and then some. And whilst he is using he is preparing to host an intervention for his addicted daughter on a Tuesday night. And on Saturday he realizes that he can’t go on using if he is going to help his daughter clean herself up. So he puts down the drugs and alcohol one day at a time. A few 24 hours pass and Alvin is called to perform the intervention and comes to his house. (we all know who Alvin is). He’s a 6 foot 7 linebacker tall and robust black man, who is well known in our sober community for doing work with addicts and alcoholics.

Alvin comes in and greets everyone. Then he says to our speaker, can we kneel here and say a prayer? To set the tone … yeah, of course. So as they kneel and the prayer begins, Alvin summons from where ever a God to help them do what they came to do, and our speaker has a spiritual experience. In that moment it turns from focusing on his daughter to focusing on our speaker man. He got clean and sober. I don’t know, he didn’t say if they were successful with the daughter. This was his story not hers.

It is hard for most dually addicted people to come to meetings and get what they need because of the singleness of purpose of only discussing alcohol with a room of AA and not mention any drug use. But there are meetings in the city that have relaxed that singleness of purpose because many people who are in the rooms did not only drink alcohol, they abused heavily recreational drugs.

We had that problem at Tuesday Beginners when we used to have the speaker meeting. We’d have a speaker who was duly addicted get up and share and in the crowd were militant AA’s who had no desire to hear about drugs. Drugs are part of many stories and everybody deserves the right to get the help they need where ever they decide to hit meetings.

At the end of the meeting we celebrated anniversaries. Two of our long time men members. One a twelve year and another an eighteen year cake. Both very special men to many of us. One is very shy and quiet, but he shows up and we love him, and tonight he had to speak and he may not say much but when he does speak he speaks volumes. Our second cake man is a friend. He does lots of service, both these gentlemen are well respected members of Friday West End.

All in all it was a great night. There was cake and sandwiches. People enjoyed themselves.

A good night was had by all.


Late Night Caller …

Courtesy: Pat

I have a few special relationships that I don’t really talk about very often because for some, all I am is a sounding board when times get tough. I have two foster sons that I adopted into my life a number of years ago. There was a time that I was out there and these young men came to me from afar and I invested in their lives. And have been there for them for more than 10 years now.

And over the years I have talked them through many difficult moments in their lives. I can’t be everywhere for everyone. But my phone is always on, and you never know when the phone is going to ring on any given night.

I have a policy with my boys that I am there for them at what ever hour of the night or day. I never turn someone away and I spend as much time with them as is necessary.

There came a time on Face Book that tempers flared and words were said and the world came crashing down on me, and my boys and I went separate ways, so to speak. And years went by that the phone did not ring. But never did a day go by that I did not think about them and how I could repair the rift between us.

And that day came and I made amends and today one of my two boys still talks to me. And it seems for all that it is worth, he has had the weight of the world on his shoulders with one drama after another. His father dying due to Diabetes. And his little brother is mentally ill, and now his mom has a severe case of MS, with lesions on her brain. She is very sick. And little bro is moving in with my boy come spring.

My boys are men now and I guess I should tell you that. I’ve seen them grow up from mere teenagers with teen age angst into men dealing with serious issues in both of their lives.

It has been a number of months since the last mercy call came in. And just the other night my boys crossed my mind. I saw the thought come in, and linger and then flit out the side of my brain. I don’t usually call them, they call me. I believe that a friendship works both ways, I can’t be the one who does all the work. It just doesn’t work that way. If you can’t call me then why bother. But these boys are different. I let them live their lives with all the teaching I can give them. Every so often he calls and I top up his emotional tank.

Tonight it was very upsetting to hear how bad mom is and that Jacob needs special care and he’s not getting it so we talked about how we would go about getting him care and having to file for power of attorney to take care of him properly because he is incapacitated. And when they move in together something will have to be done to take care of him.

On another front, my other boy (John) and I have been in this relationship for more than 10 years. And we have been to hell and back over many issues in his life and I have seen him through many bad spots. And I was saddened to hear that he is very sick with his Crones disease. It is very debilitating for him and he has sunk into a pit of despair that I don’t know if we can extricate him from it.

Added to that he deals with mental illness like hubby so I am well versed on that front, and I know what to do for him, it’s just getting him to accept the help we are trying to offer him. And I am powerless to do anything from here and I don’t know what to do, but give advice and tell Karl what I know and what to do.

What do you do when you resign yourself to living in such a sad state of affairs? And how do you get them out of that hole? There are two very serious issues one is mental and the other is physical. If you don’t treat both, properly, then you aren’t going to get better. You have to treat the mental issues properly and get the brain to be working optimally. Because the brain talks to the body, and the brain is either sick or healthy, and what the brain tells the body, the body eventually believes. And that takes time. And can’t be done all by yourself. It takes two people to take care of someone who is mentally ill.

Secondly, the Crones disease is debilitating and can kill you if not properly treated accordingly. They are taking a drug route to try to get the problem under control, but how long do we have to wait for that situation to get better? Meanwhile he is suffering mentally and needs serious help and I am here and he is there so far away (Texas). It is just a very sad state of affairs.

Karl needs to commit to taking care of his friend and our friend. And all I can do is impress on him that if he should decide to invest further that he is in it for the long haul. No matter what, he can’t give up and walk away because there is nobody else that can do what he can do, with me coaching him from the sidelines. This is what we do for partners, though they aren’t really partners in the strictest terms, Karl is all John has. They have each other and it has fallen onto Karl’s shoulders that he is now the primary care giver.

And this is not about me or my ego. But a desire to see my boys live solid and whole lives even if they have been dealt these kind of cards. It hasn’t been easy which is why my phone is always on. I never know when they are going to call or how bad the situation is going to be on the other end of the phone.

Tonight’s episode is the worst it has gotten in my memory and I don’t know if I can save either one of them. And I fear something bad is going to happen and I am powerless to do anything save get on a plane and go down there and take care of things myself, which would mean lots of money for a passport and airline tickets. And that is last case scenario.

I did what I can do at the moment as the situation was explained to me and we talked through every possible outcome, what needs to be done in each situation and what to do next. I am hoping to get news on our discussion over the next 48 hours. And we will see what John allows me to do for him or if he will even accept talking to me since the rift between us still exists.

Whatever happened happened, and this is now and there is greater need for help and not in rehashing what has gone under the bridge so long ago. I just don’t know what to do and so I will wait on Karl to report back to me so we can take the next steps in getting John the care he needs to get him out of the hole of hell he is in.

Prayer … we need lots of prayer. We need miracles. In the form of social assistance in Houston and San Antonio. I need to find people in medical circles and mental health circles to help us. When Jacob moves in with Karl, we will need legal advice for power of attorney papers and so Karl is able to take proper care of his little brother. If you are down South and can help us, now is the time to let me know so I can line things up for them.

It’s a shot in the dark that any of my readers would have this kind of ability.