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Archive for June, 2012

Are you the Messiah ???

You never know when God is going to visit a meeting.

It was a beautiful day. Blue skies, little cloud, lots of sun. I slept in today seeing that I didn’t have much to do today, and it is an “off run” day. I was up and ready to go for 6:30 and made the bus around 7:20.

There was plenty of time to chat with folks outside the meeting. A van pulled up and a little old man was shuttled from the van into a wheelchair into the meeting. And a whisper went around outside that this man was our speaker, and that a really good friend of the meetings was taking his 24 year cake from another “old timer,” who has watched me get sober over the last ten years.

It was a full compliment of folks. And it was true that our elder statesman was our speaker. He has been a stable presence at a West Island meeting from where he came tonight for the meeting.

The stories are all the same. Where does alcohol take us? To the brink of hell and beyond. Once we start drinking, all we want is more. And it so happens that we become irresponsible to our wives and children.

Our elder statesman was in his eighties now and he started off slow, but once he got going he spoke with conviction and serenity. And he shared his story of what happened to him once he started drinking. The abuses he heaped on his wife and children, loosing jobs, homes, money, well being and health.

Only to end up in Cote St Luke Hospital for detox and a visit to Beaver for 6 weeks of rehabilitation, and getting sober in the late 80’s – and never having to pick up another drink ever…25 years sober today …

It was amazing that he had been married to the same woman for more than 50 years and several children, many grandchildren and one great grandchild. She never gave up on him, even through all his problems because of his drinking. For in the end it was she who set him up to clean him up.

And the final message …The Gospel story tells us …

A man named John the Baptist was imprisoned, by the Romans. And several of his followers came to him and told him about this man who some called “The Messiah” and John encouraged them to go and find him and ask him if truly “He was the One, the Messiah?”

Several of those followers found Jesus and pressed him to answer the question, “Are you the Messiah?” But Jesus did not answer them directly, but said …

“The Blind See, The Sick and Lame are Healed, and the Poor in Spirit are made new!”

So you ask if all this A.A. literature is bullshit and worthless???

Pick up the literature and find that the Blind see, The sick and lame are healed and the Poor in Spirit are made new …

If you are new here, give yourself a chance. Read the books, and join us, and tell us your story. You are among fellows who were once Poor in Spirit. For our man was Poor in Spirit and he was made new …

The Gospel story was not lost on the meeting tonight.


Wednesday … C25K Week 3 Run 1 (Report)

Courtesy: Flickr ChrisMitchell

The rain stayed away. I dragged myself up today to go run. I was kind of indecisive about going today, but in the end I made the run. It wasn’t as bad as earlier runs, I quite enjoyed this rotation.

Warm up 5 minute walk, Jog for 90 seconds, walk for 90 seconds. Jog for 3 minutes and walk for 3 minutes. Jog for 90 seconds and walk for 90 seconds, and finally jog for 3 minutes and walk for 3 minutes with a 5 minute cool down at  the end. 18 minutes in total.

I ran the lower Westmount Square route. From home to the Forum, up to DeMaisonneuve up towards Greene and back down Ste Catherine’s. I made all of the intervals today, with a little leg pain, but it is getting better.

More to come, stay tuned …


Why Me ???

John W. Gardiner · Just Thinking Chronology · Quotes · Selfpity
just thinking.us

I didn’t run today … sad !!!

The day began with cloudy skies, but the rain stayed away until around 5 o’clock, right about the time I finished set up tonight.

I was out and about early due to errands I had to run on the way out. Have tunes will work quietly and efficiently. I had a good hour or so before people started showing up for the business meeting.

A long time ago I heard someone say that alcoholics like to sit in their shit and play with it. Which makes them kinda dirty. Even when the “shit fairy” visits, I try to keep it all in perspective. Life is not as bad as I am making it, or seeing it from my perspective. Because it is all about perspective right?

And for the record, I am unique and there aren’t very many people who have it as bad as I have it… well, there are others in my life who share in the same lot that I have drawn for my life. And to get into the pity pot and sit in my shit and play with it is not a choice I want for me today.

The question “Why Me???” is something that I ask continually. It was good when I was first diagnosed that Todd kept me on a short leash and kept me busy day after day after day, which did not leave me a lot of time to ponder “Why Me???”

As long as I was not dwelling on myself or my predicament, I stayed away from that place that would have taken me down into the pit of insanity, never to see the light of day.

During the months of my final period of drinking, I used to ask myself

“Why don’t I fit in?”

Because I was really trying very hard to fit into the fabric of my gay community with all the gusto I could muster and that gusto was my ability to drink like the best of them, to live fast, party hard and keep up appearances.

But that was all for naught.

No matter how much I drank, I could never achieve the buff prettiness that I saw around me, even if I went to the tanning salon, and to the beach and pumped iron around the clock to try to make myself like the rest of them.

Not to mention, as I have said in the past, that I was at a crucial turning point in my life, now in my mid thirties, it was either stop this merry making and accept defeat or die trying.

I could not keep up with the crowd. Nobody noticed me. I was alone in a big pond, with lots of pretty fish. And I wasn’t one of them. Poor me …

I don’t remember ever uttering those words myself. At that time. I think I was relieved that I didn’t have to play the game any more. I knew the way back, I was just waiting for God to present an opportunity to me to get back, hence the day Troy walked into my life and he took me to my first meeting, the second time around.

I drank and drank, and drank some more until the blackouts began to scare me because I don’t remember what ever happened during those blackouts. And I think I was grateful that the members of Sober on South Beach saved me.

There was a chair with my name on it. They took me in and dusted me off and fed me fellowship and coffee on a nightly and daily basis. And for a while, I didn’t have to think or feel … They gave me space to clear up my head and spirit.

I knew, from long before, that to venture into my head unaccompanied was something that I was warned never to do. And it was good that I made that geographic in early sobriety to Montreal. I left all that I knew behind in opt for greener pastures.

I had my issues in early sobriety. It was not a walk in the park by any means. Once I got past feeling sorry for myself and worrying what my long sober friends would think of me when I came back, That lasted a good few months, I was ashamed of myself and it came as a surprise that my friends were just glad that I was still alive and not dead … because, I sure as shit had come close …

Every year around this time I begin to circle around the self pity drain. The BIG anniversary is coming up very soon, and I ask that eternal question that God seems to keep the answer to at a fair distance beyond my vision …

WHY ME !!!!

Why is a really good question. Why am I still alive? Why didn’t I die with my friends? What am I supposed to be doing now? Why am I still here ???

I was told long ago not to wait until I was dead to ask my questions, but ask them now while I was still breathing and open to getting the answers. Still, to this day, the answers to these questions evade me.

We read the promises every week. We hear them at most meetings. And if you get sober and you stay sober, eventually those promises begin to come through, as you work your steps and clear away the wreckage of your past and you serve others and you stay OUT of your HEAD.

Promise #6 – That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.

Funny that … It is the sixth month of the year. And we have read and worked over step 6 and tradition 6, and here we have the 6th promise.

I can tell you that every time I stand in front of my medicine cabinet, I have two choices. Choice ONE – is to meditate on all those people I love and remember, or choice TWO – I can get all maudlin and pitiful. Every day I take my pills, I have another day to remember my friends and fellows who went before me.

And usually when I look in the mirror in my bathroom, I see people in my minds eye. They come up almost automatically. It is like my spirit automatically goes into overdrive when I stand in front of my mirror.

I don’t sit in my shit, nor do I sit and play with it either. And even when the shit fairy visits, Someone has it worse than I do. A little gratitude goes a long way.

I only need three things.

  1. A roof over my head
  2. A warm bed to sleep in
  3. Food in the fridge

Everything else is icing on the cake. The ability to love someone and be loved in return, having friends I can count on, and money in the bank, that’s all icing on the cake. I’ve seen The Promises come true in my 10 plus years of sobriety.

As long as there is air in my lungs I will sing God’s praises because I am still here another day, another week, another month and another year. I don’t need to know the WHY of it all. I know that answer pushes me each day to seek an answer, even if it doesn’t come, I get another day to push forwards.

I am still here … And that is good enough for me …


Because You’re Worth It … C25K and more …

Courtesy: Tylerbear

It is a little grim in the neighborhood today. Clouds hang low over the city from one side of the island to the other. But the rain has stayed away for the most part.

It is Monday, an off day so I wanted to get a run in today. It was a little on the cool side at 15c … I should have worn a long sleeve shirt over my singlet because I was cool. I ran up Ste Catherine’s to Greene, up towards Westmount Square and down De Maisonneuve towards the Forum. It was a good run. I made most of the intervals today.

I think I will begin Week 3 on Wednesday and run the upper Westmount route, weather permitting. We shall see. Tomorrow is an off day and Tuesday so I won’t be able to run, unless I go early in the morning. Which is what I may do, I find that running every day is almost meditative, even if you are running to a pod cast.

It is beauty day today. I have been seeing a little more grey hair than usual, since my last coloring was more than two months ago, so hubby did my hair tonight. Ah to be grateful for Loreal color.

It was a good day.

More to come, stay tuned …


Two Fer Sunday … C25K and more (report)

Courtesy: Flickr Chris Mitchell

It is the last Sunday of the month. And I was debating what I was going to do today. I had to get a run in and hit a meeting at the same time. The weather was iffy on the way out. The sky was dark and gloomy, so I packed up my run bag and set out for the Sunday meeting. The thinking was that I would run after the meeting, save for rain.

Today’s meeting was on Tradition 6 …

“An AA group ought never endorse, finance or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.”

The one idea that comes to mind when I read this tradition is “Singleness of purpose.” In the beginning the founders had their hands full with drunks and getting them sober. And it was thought, long ago that AA could expand to include hospitals, sanitariums and prisons to get people sober. That did not last long as AA consolidated their focus to work directly with the sick and suffering. It had its hands full. Expansion was decided by group conscience, not a good idea.

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

After the meeting I set off for my run. It was spitting rain, so instead of heading away from home, I was going to run the hill course through upper Westmount, but I did not want to get caught in a rain storm too far from home. Instead I headed for home down De Maisonneuve. I got two intervals in today, my legs were a bit more limber and the pain was not as bad as it has been.

Which means I need to add a full run tomorrow seeing that Monday’s and Tuesday’s are off days. I need to polish stage two before I move on to week three. I am of the mind that I need to be able to run a full week two pod cast before I move on to week three. I may push week three back another week until I can master week two.

More to come, stay tuned …


C 2 5 K Week 2 – Run 2 (Report)

Courtesy: Flickr Chris Mitchell

It was another beautiful day in the neighborhood. Not as hot and humid as it had been over the past few days. None of the rain that was supposed to fall materialized.

I left on the run around 7 – the sun was going down and it was much cooler running today. I tracked up Tupper towards Cabot Square and up across to Alexis Nihon to De Maisonneuve West down to Greene and back to home via Ste Catherines.

I made several intervals tonight, but not all. I am having pain issues with my legs and I am not sure why they hurt so bad when I run. I am thinking that I should take some Advil before I run. I finished the 20 minute loop with the pod cast.

The next run is Sunday, but I may add one tomorrow, I will see how I feel then.

See ya later…


Thursday Thoughts …

Courtesy: We Heart It

They say it is going to rain tonight … The skies are still clear at this hour. (9:43pm) And it is 29c with a humidex of 35c. It is still sticky and humid outside.

I was going to run tonight, but instead I took myself to a meeting. I was up and ready to go early and so I walked up to the bus stop and just made a Westbound bus. It was a beautiful night over all and there were lots of people sitting outside St. Matthias before the meeting.

Grasshopper says that my writing has changed since leaving FWE, and that may be true. I don’t usually write up the Thursday night share but I will tonight.

Our man was fresh in the program. 3 years in and he had a really good share. He had a really great understanding of our text and he spoke confidently and spiritually.

It is interesting how us men start out as itty bitty bad asses, wanting to be alone, to be defiant and not care one iota about family or friends, once the addiction to substances begins. Our man was one of those angry, insolent and violent insubordinate men about town.

Having been indoctrinated in AA as a child due to family being in the program, none of it stuck or made sense until a lifetime of abuse had taken place. It was said about said family member that he was a good man who spent a lifetime helping those who needed and wanted it. But he couldn’t help his son who was on the fast bus to hell.

From the age of 18 until well into his 40’s a lifetime was spent drinking and drugging. Taking hostages and collecting wives and populating Europe with children that he did not care about. Multiple divorces and a handful of children in far flung places, our man was a master of the geographic.

We all know that story. It is not a good thing when your reputation in town is one of the blackout drinker who would fall asleep at some dumpy bar having to have friends come and rescue him to sober up only to start it all over again the next day after one hell of a hangover.

Our man hit his bottom and finally admitted the truth that he was inept to pay attention to, he admitted he was beat. It is sad that he lost his younger brother to suicide from the drink and drugs a couple years prior to coming in and also loosing his father and not being able to make amends to the living, but in the end he had to visit a cemetery to make amends to them both once he got sober.

The first 164 pages of the Big Book are required reading and best done in the company of other men and women who have trodden this road to help carry us along while we study the book and work the steps ourselves.

He also stated that yes we go to meetings, we drink our coffee and pay our seventh, but what is more important is that we step up and DO something. If you have time to live and time to spare, get out there and contribute to our community. The phones, which we can now do from home to guarantee that when a suffering person picks up that phone, there is someone there to answer that call. There are too many hours vacant with nobody on the phones here in Montreal.

Take a meeting into an institution. Visit the prisons and share what you have with those on the inside. Spend time working at inter-group working in the archives. There aren’t enough workers across the board.

Our man spends his Thursday nights at Bordeaux prison here in Montreal.

I haven’t committed to doing anything at this point because I worked the phones for two years and at the end of that run, I had had enough with the same old drunks calling over and over again. I just couldn’t do it any more.

When I first got sober I was doing prison meetings. Then I stopped because the men taking people in, stopped driving and coming to the meetings. I never re-engaged.

I have made a commitment to making myself better. I go to meetings, I work with others and I am part of a home group. I hit three meetings a week, along with the three days that I am training for the 5 K run in September. That’s all I am allowed to do at this point. I have to get to the point that I cam sustain a 5 k run confidently, and in this heat, I am not running at my optimum level.

After the meeting I grabbed the 104 home. I don’t usually take that bus because I wasn’t sure where it ended – but I got on anyways because it was going in the general direction of home, and I got off at Alexis Nihon and walked home from there.

A good night was had by all. It needs to cool off, sooner than later. Hopefully we will be purchasing an air conditioner the first of next week. Hubby has promised me some cash so that I can buy one because I showered three times yesterday, once before the run, after the run and before I went to bed.

I don’t do heat very well. Being POZ has it limits. I wish we had the care program we had in the states that helped us get air conditioners in our homes to help us beat the heat. It was a successful program for people with aids in Miami. There aren’t those kinds of social assistance programs here that I know of.

So that was the day in a nutshell. I hope grasshopper is pleased with this.

Bye for now, more to come, stay tuned…


C 2-5 K Week 2 … It’s so hot !!!

It is 32 c at this hour and the humidex is sitting at 40c. It is unbearably hot outside, and we spent the day avoiding the heat and napping this afternoon.

I figured that I would shower and prep for 6 to leave for my run, even though I really thought that I would skip it, but I really did not want to skip a run. I got ready to go and today I decided to carry a water bottle with me.

That was a mistake.

I found that carrying the bottle was a terrible distraction from the run. Concentrating on carrying the bottle and not popping off the tab and spilling water all over the place. I should have left it.

Did I mention how hot it is? I did not preview the pod cast this week. So it was new to me from the get go. And I walked to Atwater and Alexis Nihon Plaza and this weeks set is 6 intervals of 90 seconds of running with 2 minutes of walking in between.

I got in two intervals before the heat took me down. And I was at the corner of Greene and de Maisonneuve. I turned around and took the Westmount tunnel back. At least I walked the rest of the program, blessedly inside with air conditioning.

My new running shoes came today, wrapped like a Christmas present. They are sweet and very comfortable. I had a discussion with my running team last night and decided that the only race that I could run in September would be the Montreal Rock and Roll 5 K. It would be too much of a push to try and run any longer length until I can confidently complete a 5k in good time.

So that is on my schedule, I have until July 15th to register for the race.

Issso HOT in here …

I wish for an air conditioner.

More to come, stay tuned …


Food in the Fridge …

Courtesy: Christopher Jordan

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. It has been a hot and humid day and they say that it is going to rain tomorrow. We shall see.

The day was quiet and I was up and out with plenty of time for set up. All was said and done right up at 5 o’clock. I had plenty of time to kill before the meeting. Which meant I got to sit out on the stoop and people watch.

Sitting under the trees and watching the birds and squirrels, and people coming and going, I saw groups of runners running the same route I run myself through Westmount. It was just a beautiful day today.

Our women came in early to read and that was good. One of my friends came in and we sat and chatted about my run plans, and that the Montreal Marathon is coming up in September and she wants to make sure that they will come to cheer me on when I run.

But let’s be honest, I am not yet ready to commit to the marathon until I am trained up good and proper. I still have a few months to work on my running form and endurance. My friend/fellow runner says that I should not commit to a run until at least September or October. I don’t know whether to commit or not.

Anyways …

Back to today. It was a good meeting. The room was full. All of our members were in attendance. Our new sober mama came to the meeting with photos of her new born son. He is such a cherub. It has been a bitter sweet two weeks for her, first she lost her father, and then she had a baby… two of the most important times in our lives, the death of loved ones and the birth of a child. Two of the moments when we are closest to God and Divinity.

Our topic came from the June Grapevine.
“Food in the Fridge.”

It was all about gratitude. From the very minute things to the big things as well. Our writer talked about the life she leads, and the gratitude she has for her home and everything in it. The kitchen, to be able to cook and entertain, the bathroom and the ability to bathe, the garden, to be able to till the land and watch it grow.

For a roof over ones head, food in ones Fridge and a warm bed to sleep in. All these things we might sometimes, taken for granted.

The chair opened up the discussion with a reading that he is doing outside the meeting a book called “A Thousand Goodbyes.” And the writer a war correspondent talks about what he has seen around the world over a lifetime, and that we here (where ever we live) have it good. That at any given time in the world there are over 10 MILLION refugees, people who are displaced and don’t have the basic necessities to live a life.

The share went around the table and came to me and I had been mulling in my head what I was going to say… My AIDS anniversary is coming up in a couple of weeks. July the 8th. And the other night we were sitting here watching television and hubby turned to PBS and “WE WERE HERE” was playing again.

And I sat through another telling of the horror that was AIDS in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. And from the story tellers words I sat here and took it all in again. Nobody ever makes reference about my medical condition. But hubby does by sharing in the stories of those who have come and gone and for those who survived and have lived to tell the tale. We should never forget the lives that went before us.

It is no big deal to my doctor. It is all well and good, the medications are still working so let’s get on with the living and not think about dying or worrying about dying. Nobody talks about it.

And I think at times, I take my pills for granted. Yes I worship at the medicine cabinet twice a day and that’s the only time I think about my illness. I go about my day and life my life and maybe I take that for granted because you never know when the other shoe is going to drop.

But until that day comes, we live “As If.”

We have so much to be grateful for every day. Do you take time each day to reflect on what you are grateful for, or do you take that for granted as well?

What do you do each day to remember gratitude? Do you write a gratitude list, do you share with another or with your significant other?

It was a good meeting. We laughed, we cried, we broke out the tissue box tonight. And folks made good use of it.

Everybody is good tonight. Lots of gratitude to go around.

A good night was had by all.

Tomorrow begins week 2 of Couch to 5K … Stay tuned for the update.


Couch to 5 K (End of Week 1) Report (Feel the Burn) …

Courtesy: Flickr Chris Mitchell

Today’s post is brought to you by: FEEL THE BURN !!!

It was another beautiful day in the neighborhood. And I did not run on Sunday so I thought that I would add a run today to make up for missing a day in the routine.

Since I started on Friday last week, runs are run on Wednesday, Friday’s and Sunday’s. That means I got 2 days in on week 1. I am still waiting for my shoes to get here, which should be tomorrow (crosses fingers).

I took a new route today from home, running West on Ste Catherine’s to Atwater and up to De Maisonneuve running West into Westmount, all the way past St. Leon’s Church. Since this weeks pod cast is 8 sets of 60 second runs with 90 second walking, I run all the way out for 6 sets and turn around and head towards home.

I did better today, I made 6 of the 8 sets of runs and walked the rest of the way. It was a hard run because my legs burn like fire. I guess that will pass in time. I didn’t take a bottle of water with me, I found that I didn’t need it, because I hydrated before leaving the apartment.

This means I start the week 2 pod cast on Wednesday.

Stay tuned, more to come …


Memories of my Father …

In this photo Left to Right: My cousin Carol, My cousin Sandy, My cousin Michael in the front row on the polka dotted chair is ME and next to me is my cousin little Pete. The woman on the far left I don’t know and the man on the right with the beer bottle on the tray table is my father’s father Al.

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

This photo was taken a LONG TIME AGO. Look how little I am there. This is in the back yard of our then home on Kennedy Drive in New Britain Connecticut. This is my first home memory it is where I was born as well my brother. We lived in this house until I completed first grade and we moved to Florida.

The house was a 3 bedroom raised ranch house with a nice front lawn and spacious back yard with the requisite swing set in the back and a sand pit under the second floor balcony off the back of the house. We had a basement that was well used and there was a huge staircase that led from the front door to the main level of the house.

Since tomorrow is Father’s Day, I thought I would get on the WordPress bandwagon and write something about my father.

From my earliest memories my father worked for Fafnir Bearings in downtown New Britain, and my father’s parents worked at the original Stanley Works tool makers just up the block from where my father worked. I remember visiting his work place on several occasions.

There were a few Holidays and snowy Christmases. I remember the holiday parties between all my extended family’s homes. My mother’s parents lived not far from our home and my father’s parents were not very far either. All of which could be triangulated in one neighborhood. I could walk from one location to another. And did quite often because we walked to school in those days, up the hill, in the snow, blessedly with our shoes. (if you get that reference, you get a gold star!)

Alcoholism is something that permeated our lives. As you can see above, my grandfather always had alcohol of some sort within arms reach of where ever he stood or sat down inside or outside the house. My father was not that alcoholic but he was an alcoholic. And I can say that because of the kind of man he was to his family.

Both my father and grandfather(s) were functional alcoholics, which meant that they could handle a job, wives and children. In hindsight, reading the Big Book, they really fit the bill in many stories.

However …

In between the alcohol and the living of life there were bright spots. My father was a good man. He provided well above everything that we ever needed, at any given time in our young lives. He worked with his hands. He was a builder of things. Later on in life he lived vicariously through us when we entered scouts, much later on in the story.

I remember the holidays that he got up on the roof and hung Christmas lights, that theme would repeat itself over and over for the rest of our family life. Where ever we lived, there were always Christmas lights.

When we moved from New Britain to Homestead Florida it was a step down. We moved from a really big house to a little duplex in a shoddy little neighborhood on the edge of the Krome Avenue fields of South Florida. (we would learn that these fields were the bread basket of South Florida).

My father had movers move our stuff. But in between point A and point B, many of our things were stolen from the truck. It was a great loss to my father, in his bid for a successful relocation, we got hit on the way down.

We lived in that duplex for a year before my father decided to grow the family fortune and we moved into the city proper and we moved into another 3 bedroom house that we lived in from my second grade until 6th grade.

During those years there were plenty of family visits. Snowbirds from the North coming to bask in the Florida sun during the winters. Even family from Canada would come down to visit. Those were very happy times. My mother’s side of the family were from Quebec, where I now live.

There was the annual summer trip from Florida to Connecticut during the summers. Sometimes my brother and I would fly and other times, my father would pack the entire family into the all famous “family station wagon” and we would make the pilgrimage to Connecticut by car. And those were adventures.

We visited all points North on the way. The all popular South of the Border on the border of South and North Carolina. We drove the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and tunnel system. That freaked me out. To this day I have an aversion to bridges. But I am not averse to crossing the Jacque Cartier Bridge here for the fireworks festival during the summer.

We spent time in Washington D.C. We toured the Smithsonian and my father made his pilgrimage to the Viet Nam memorial in Washington D.C. That was a great road trip. We toured the Congress and House of Representatives. It was all very exciting.

And to this day, when I hear music from the 1970’s and 1980’s I can close my eyes and see in my minds eye, they exact place we were at when that particular song was playing.

We lived in that house on 33rd Street and 63rd avenue until I hit the sixth grade. Well, half way into it really. My father decided that it was time to move house and at that point we kids were put on notice to help my parents pick the next house we would live in. I remember that house hunt.

We looked at several houses all in the same locale much father South than where we had lived. We looked at what we called the Power’s House. It was a 3 bedroom house with a large garage, a yard FULL of fruit trees. We grew bananas, mango, avocados, oranges, grapefruit, limes and lemons.

The house had a pool. That was the big ticket item in my father’s upwardly mobile move up the social ladder. We fell in love with that house. And so that became our next address from my sixth grade through to my adult life.

Our family had arrived…

A lifetime of working and raising a family all paid off in this stately house that would house memories and tragedies. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew blew through south Florida and demolished our home. My parents were up North at the time of the storm and when they finally got to come home, there wasn’t much home to come home to.

I did my best to serve my family during those very dark times. My parents lived in a travel trailer while they rebuilt the house from top the bottom.

My father provided for us and we wanted for nothing. But the trade off was that we had to deal with a growing problem with alcoholism. And it didn’t only affect my father, but my mother as well and all of the family business and social friends. Alcohol was a social lubricant.

A favorite story I like to tell is of the one night that my mother’s brother and wife were down from Canada and the four of them were drinking at the dining room table and they were getting quite drunk. And seeing my mother crawl across the floor into the kitchen where she tried to fit a GLAD sandwich baggie into the tall garbage can. Try as she might, she couldn’t get that bag to fit the garbage can.

Then they got in the car with us kids and we went to one of those BIG BOX stores that you went in and took a clipboard and wrote down the call numbers of what you wanted and they got the stuff from the back and delivered it to you as you cashed out… My aunt is walking around the store grabbing kitchen utensils and then she walked out of the store with these spoons and forks, and nobody was the wiser, and nobody stopped her on the way out …

My father provided all of our needs like I said. My brother’s sports stuff, I was a protege organist. My father spent a great deal of money to buy me successive sized organs as I graduated up the ranks of my musical education. I had music lessons. I had recitals. I was really good. And had I kept on with that talent, who knows where I might have been today.

My father’s pride and joy was Christmas holidays when I would entertain family parties with holiday music. It was truly joyful. It made my father’s heart sing. His favorite tune was “The Entertainer…” You know the tune don’t you???

I played that song hundreds upon hundreds of times. It eventually wore on me. And It was good and bad. Because as much as my father loved us, he also hated me with a severe passion. One night my father got drunk and threw the organ seat at my mother. My brother jacked him up against that wall that night and threatened him with death if he ever hit my mother again.

So he came after me …

With all the good things I can tell you about my father. There is a trade off to all the bad things my father dished out on us as kids. I’ve shared this before that from an early age, my father’s words to me were always the same…

” YOU WERE A MISTAKE AND SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN BORN!!!”

He beat those words into me for the whole of my life. When  his alcoholism reached a fever pitch I swore that I would never play that organ again and that he could take it back to the music sellers and get his money back. I never played another note in my life.

My parents were devout Catholic. And after my brother was born and my mother got a tubiligation they were excommunicated from the church officially. And it wasn’t until I made my Holy Confirmation in tenth grade that they met with a priest and were absolved of their mortal sin.

My father did not take well to my coming out. He use of colorful language with others as well as with family and friends, he liked the words homosexual and the N word. He was a equal opportunity offender. So I never came out to my parents. I moved away when I thought the time was right. But we did come to blows over homosexuality later on in my life.

I don’t know where my father learned to hate like he did. It surely did not come from the church. And my father rarely if ever touched a bible. But he knew what he knew. And he had a terrible secret in his closet that never saw the light of day and when he figured out that I was gay, that was the end of things for us. Even worse when I got sick and was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. He always believed that I got what was coming to me. And that I could die like all my friends.

My father was a good man.

My father was a bad man.

My father was a man.

The last time I saw my father and mother was on New Years Day 2001.

I had just worked an all night shift at a bar. And got home around 9 a.m. And my phone rang. My parents had been in Miami all weekend and were on their way home to Sarasota, where they live today. So they dropped by and I offered to take us all out for brunch, but my father declined the offer.

I had twenty minutes to visit with my mother while he waited in the car with the engine running. I don’t remember that conversation. But we walked around the block where I lived then and where I would eventually get sober.

My father gathered his wife and drove off …

That was the last time I saw either one of my parents …


Couch to 5K Day 1 Run Report …

Courtesy: Flickr Chris Mitchell

Today’s blog is brought to you by: KICK MY ASS !!!

It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Blue skies and breezy conditions. Today was my first day on the Couch to 5 K run. It was a 5 minute warm up, then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Having not run in a very long time, it soon became apparent to me that this was going to be more work than I anticipated. I did well all the way to the half way point, then I fell off. My body is not in the shape I wish it was in. And may take some time to get it that way. But it is a start.

I couldn’t get my Map My Run to work because my phone was in my run pack and I couldn’t get a signal, so that was a bust. However I did map my route. I began my run at Chomedy and ran West on Sherbrooke all the way to Clarke where I turned down towards St. Leon’s Church. I ran back East on De Maisonneuve to Greene and down to Ste Catherine’s Street towards home.

I did not make all the run segments which means I need to step up my game on my next run which is set for Sunday. The runs are run three days a week – Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays. But I may add a run tomorrow, I’ll see how I feel about it then.

St. Leon’s Church is midway through my run which affords me a water stop if I need it because I have keys to the church hall. I didn’t carry water with me, I don’t know if that is a bad thing or not. I could’ve used water on the run, and I wonder if I shouldn’t carry a water bottle with me, as long as my phone is in my run pack.

Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Pod Cast Walk Through C25K Ep. 1

Courtesy: Akam1k3

I have a collection like this one, but not as big.

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood today. The skies were blue and a light breeze was blowing. It made for a really great night to head out for a meeting.

On the way out I previewed the Week 1 C 25K Pod cast. It lasts about 30 minutes and the run is 3 days a week, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. I am going to run  my first day tomorrow. I have planned my route through Westmount, a very scenic route all the way to St. Matthias Church and back. The pod cast works really well and I am itching to start. However, my shoes aren’t here yet, I still want to start tomorrow.

I got to St. Matthias early and sat out front for a bit enjoying the night and was talking with friends. I ended up inside and the chair asked me to read for her and it was a full meeting. Thursday’s have been really good because I’ve been hearing speakers share, that I have never heard before, and that included tonight’s speaker.

It was really great listening to our speaker tonight because when she came in, she came through Tuesday Beginner’s. And she is three years in now. I had never heard her speak before. So it was a good night all around.

On the way home I finished up the pod cast which took me almost all the way home, so my run track is set from Chomedy to St. Matthias and back to Chomedy along Sherbrooke Street.

I read a report about apps that run your battery down so I don’t know about running Map My Run, Couch to 5 K and the weekly run time meter all at the same time. It’s not like I am running 5 k from the first day. So we’ll see how that works.

I hope you had a beautiful day today.

More to come, stay tuned …


An Open Heart …

Courtesy: Alexander

It has been a quiet few days. I should be posting more, with more time on my hands, and I find myself sitting in front of this screen bored out of my mind. Hoping that at least one of my reads from that day is going to jog my brain into writing something, but there have been no seeds to glean from my fellows.

I pondered the Blank Page Exercise again, but decided against it. I’ve been preparing myself for the next great achievement on  my so called bucket list.

I got my Couch to 5 K podcasts on my phone. I downloaded the app for my runs and the only thing missing was a new pair of running shoes. I have plenty of sneakers, but they are all high top editions and you can’t run in high tops. So instead of waiting to go to the running store and paying through the nose for high end running shoes, I opted for the easier solution and go Ebay. I saw these sweet shoes for sale and they were a steal.

The whole kit and kaboodle cost me $50.00 shipping included. And to boot they shipped today so I will have them in a few days. Sweet !!!

It has been miserably hot and humid for the last few days. Almost too humid to sleep, (we don’t have A/C) and the fans we have only blow the air around the room at best. It was manageable. And it is only June. God forbid we get a heat wave like we did last summer and it stays humid out for more than a week at a time. God Forbid !!!

I am pondering buying a small window unit to hang in the bedroom, since we are getting taxes back on Thursday, maybe I can find one that would fit in a small window. I have to check “The Tire.”it would have to fit in a 20 inch window because we have side to side sliding windows in the apartment in both rooms, and you can’t hang a window unit in the living room 17 stories up, it is too dangerous. But we could hang one in the bedroom because we have the exterior balcony. So there would be no overhang outside the building proper.

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It poured all afternoon and I didn’t want to get soaked on my walk, so I waited for a break in the rain to get going this afternoon. I arrived and was all set up by 5 o’clock. I had the entire hour to myself. I finished reading my Grapevine.

One of the final articles in this edition was about gratitude. And when the meeting started the chair read from Came to Believe, and the reading titled

“An Open Heart.”

Within that reading was a mention about gratitude, suiting up and showing up and having or cultivating an Open Heart. From the shares that went around the room, people struggle with this concept. How should I open my heart, and just how open should I make my heart and what cards do I hold close to my chest?

Words like Fear, Pain, heartache and few others were mentioned as well.

Getting Married – There are certain activities in life that take place as we grow up that afford us to begin cultivating an open heart. We grow up and become independent, we meet someone (our significant other) and we get married. This is an exercise in opening ones heart. Especially if you write your vows and speak them to the one you love.

Adversity – emotional – mental – medical and physical all tend to open ones heart and soul to the unknown. Illness tends to turn you inwards because in facing adversity, one becomes ONE with ones being or heart.

Babies – The gift of Life and the birth of a child is the closest thing I have ever experienced that is divine. Being present for the birth of a child is the closest that I have ever come to seeing God’s face. And this is truly the biggest heart opening experience I can tell you about.

Death – The ending of life is also an experience in opening ones heart to feel and to mourn, as was the case at our meeting recently. There have been several deaths for folks in our group over the past few weeks and although they are raw and mourning, they come away with a tender open heart.

Getting Sober – We find when we come to the rooms that we may be a bit frayed, and maybe raw from the beating we gave ourselves, and it will take some time to learn how to open one’s heart, but it does happen, if you stick around long enough for the miracle to happen.

I’m sure you can add your own experiences that have opened your heart. This was just a short list that I can rattle off from my own life. But you get the idea.

The room was full. We sat 33 folks. Uncle Bill showed up and when he said that he got sober in 1950, people clapped and cheered. That would be 62 years of sobriety. 62 YEARS !!!

Amazing …

Thank God for our Old Timers.

What has happened in your life that your heart became open? Leave a comment below…

I start my running as soon as my shoes get here and the training will begin. I was talking to a friend before the meeting and she said that running/walking is a life changing event, if you stick to it long enough. And I am hoping for big changes to happen in my life and on my body as well. My doctor would be Oh So Pleased.

Sorry for being so quiet lately.

Stay tuned. More to come…


C25K … Couch to 5K …

C25K, is a fantastic program that’s been designed to get just about anyone from the couch to running 5 kilometers or 30 minutes in just 9 weeks.

With the help of the Couch to 5k program, In less than seven months, I went from a 47 year old, 104kg, 30 cigarettes a day sort of guy to an 82kg, 0 cigarettes, running 45 to 50 kilometers a week sort of guy. Ten months after finishing C25K I completed my first marathon. Since then I have run another 5 marathons, as well as 8 ultra marathons including a 100km race.

And I’m not the only one, C25K has been responsible for getting thousands of couch potatoes up and running.

Its secret is that it’s a gentle introduction to getting the body moving, starting off alternating between walking and running small distances, and slowly building up until after 8 weeks, you’re ready to run 5 kilometers or 30 minutes non stop.

The reason for putting this site together is to try to create the definitive Couch to 5k resource on the web. For the novice, there’s a lot of information available…it’s just a matter of trying to find it all. That’s where c25k.com will hopefully help. I’ve tried to collate links to just about all of the information you’ll need for the Couch to 5k program, plus some other sites that I’ve found fantastic to assist my running after graduating from C25K.

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Couch to 5 K …

Today I met with a friend, and fellow runner over lunch. I told him of my desire to start running and he asked me why I chose running? I told him that I had been reading Kyle Shewfelt’s Blog about his marathon training. And that I wanted to do something big, now that I am out of school and have time on my hands.

He pointed me at this website, (C25K) and I downloaded Robert Ullrey’s C25K Podcasts. 9 weeks worth of training music. Robert has recorded nine podcasts to accompany you on your runs. Some great music, plus Robert will tell you when to run, and when to walk…a must have.

Then I bought my very first APP from the Android App Store. You have to give a credit card to buy the app. I have now graduated to being a total phone whore. Because up until now, I’ve been using free apps. But I wanted this phone app because it is a 9 week program with timers and notifications that work along with your music selection.

My goal of betterment will begin this weekend. I still need to buy a pair of running shoes, because I don’t know how long I can run in High Tops. I was going to buy some on EBAY, but my last episode with a buyer screwed up my account and won’t be resolved until next week. And he told me that I really need to buy shoes from a reputable shop with someone who can fit a shoe properly or I could really screw myself up.

Hopefully Rev Quebec will come through soon and I will have plenty of money to spend on me.

Wish me luck …