Last night it was (8c) and very balmy. Rain fell and the winds changed. We had flurries this afternoon and the winds have been whipping around buildings. It was very bitter out with the wind chill. We are sitting at (-10c/-21c w/c) …
I was frozen by the time we hit the bus stop to wait for the 104 bus. Thank God there was a bus shelter to stand in while we waited. We arrived early during the monthly business meeting.
The hall was packed with people. One of our women members at T.B.’s was slated to speak, so a whole bunch of women, sponsees, sponsors, friends and fellows came to hear her speak. It is always nerve wracking – on your first go at the chair.
She did very well. I was proud of her. She has come a long way from her childhood into being an adult, a wife, a mother and a good citizen of the world. For her it was a grace to find the rooms. She tells the story about the day she “came to look” after her last drunk, she woke up and went over to the computer and Googled “How It Works” what she wanted to know was how A.A. worked. How ironic that she started with this reading.
She made a couple of meetings and finally connected with some women who would be her guides and friends. She had a lot of work to do, and she is still in the process of becoming the woman she was meant to be. She and her sponsor and a good number of the women tonight are all members at Tuesday Beginners.
Just a year in – she will celebrate her anniversary next Tuesday.
After the meeting we had three cakes. Lots of old time sobriety. But they warn us, this is a one day at a time program. And that was a lesson our woman had to learn from the get go … How to live in ones day – living life on life’s terms – one day at a time.
It was a good night.
We took caravan home.
More to come, stay tuned …
It was a cloudy day, Montreal got a light dusting of snow since yesterday, and now we are under a freezing rain warning over night.
Today proved to be very exciting and fulfilling. I set out early because tonight we were celebrating Tuesday Beginner’s 55th anniversary. There was a lot of food, so much so that at the end of the meeting, we tossed food into the trash because everybody left after eating and we had too much left over and no where to store it so we tossed it.
Our most trusted woman member chaired the meeting and she read from the Foreward to the Second Edition to the Big Book. There are two schools of thought about these pages of the book. We heard a young member share tonight that she had no desire to read the forewards but skip ahead to the meat of the text.
Then there are the old timers who say that in order to gain context for the book, we must read about how the movement was begun, where things went wrong, and how the steps and traditions came together.
Our society then entered a fearsome and exciting adolescent period. The test that it faced was this: Could these large numbers of erstwhile erratic alcoholics successfully meet and work together? Would there be quarrels over membership, leadership, and money? Would there be strivings for power and prestige? Would there be schisms which would split A.A. apart?
Soon A.A. was beset by these very problems on every side and in every group. But out of this frightening and at first disrupting experience the conviction grew that A.A.’s had to hang together or die separately. We had to unify our Fellowship or pass off the scene.
In our long history of our meeting, people came and went. Many stayed sober, but moved here and there and to other groups as time progressed. I’ve seen hundreds of people come and go. A good number came for a season but decided that they did not want what we were giving. The meeting grew in numbers and we used to have a two meeting format.
But times changed and our speaker meeting numbers dropped off, so much so that the three members who were the only members for a number of years, retooled the meeting format to the Beginners Literature Discussion meeting we now employ. And this April we will celebrate 2 years in this new format.
Our group grew from 3 male members to more than twenty members of our group. Three quarters of our numbers are women. I tell the story about our most trusted female member came one week, and tens and twenties of women followed her to our meeting.
Our women bring a whole new dimension to our group. I’ve said in the past that the women do things so richly and the offer an example of true devotion and service to the book, to each other and to the steps. If it weren’t for our women, my sobriety would not be as rich as it is today.
At the end of the meeting our chair hosted a sober countdown. We began at 40 years sobriety, our first hit came at 38 years all the way down to one year. We sat almost 75 members tonight. Give or take a few heads. I wasn’t sure of the final tally. But I took down the sober numbers. Put together – we had 433 years of sobriety in the room, all together. There were also 25 folks with less than a year – and the most important – the newcomer – we had 3 newcomers with a day sober. We gave a brand new Big Book to one of those young men tonight.
I was also happy that our man who was rushed to hospital over the weekend came in and sat down as the meeting started. He did not drink today. The shares went around the room, everybody on the outer circles got to share. We went three quarters around the main table before time ran out.
We heard many good things, the most important was about gratitude. The old timers told us how they did it, the new comers shared about their struggles but for many of us, we were just happy to be at a meeting.
I had a few conversations before and after the meeting. It was good to take a little time to get to know the newcomers a little bit better. Some came to talk to me, about what they heard from me last week. And I got to share with some of our women – how they touch my heart.
I’ve been actively praying for one of our young women with a little over 75 days sober. She is in transition moving on from a breakup. And I so want her to stay sober – so we talked after the meeting. I offered her some advice because I want her to stick around. She needs to find a way to stay here, because she is on a visa and time is running out. I will be helping her figure out what to do next.
Lots of people came – all of them got to share. We had good food, good conversations and fellowship. Fellowship and being a member of a group were two things that need to be part of our sobriety. Becoming part of and being in fellowship with.
Those two things are vitally important for the newcomer to get involved.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
Courtesy: Lauren Marek
The weather is turning warmer, well, warmer than it has been as of late. It is manageably cold, (-13c/-19c wc) at this hour, but not frigidly cold.
There are a lot of thing percolating in my brain tonight. I’ve mentioned that lately sobriety is coming in small bits and pieces or more like words that jump off the page, the ones we read over and over, but lately, I’ve been noticing and making note of words that come up haphazardly. I’ve also been very grateful for meetings because you never know when someone is going to say a word that y0u need to focus on and keep in mind.
The warnings are stark. Lessons I learned early on in sobriety have nested and become habit. The warning is this … You know what will happen if you decide you no longer need meetings!!! A long time friend is battling his demons and fellows were called upon to get him to a hospital because he just cannot stop drinking. Alcoholism is cunning, baffling, powerful and (patient).
I’ve heard it said before that while you are sitting in a meeting, alcoholism is waiting out in the parking lot doing pushups.
Today’s lesson is Humility.
And the fact that today I have humility. I take comfort in that I have the tools to ask for help, and not feel ashamed of not being enough or having enough. I’ve learned this lesson but it keeps repeating itself in my life even today.
We are not rich people, and sometimes not being rich is a problem because we need money, and not having money is a constant fear. The end of the month has come and we are a few days early and a few dollars short. I have been out of medication for two days but they were filled at the pharmacy for me ahead of time, they have a new loyalty renew program now. Meds usually run me close to $80.00 a month. I just don’t have $80.00 in hand right now.
Hubby tasked me with the job of being honest once again. And I am at peace with being honest, and speaking honestly, and being able to admit when I need a favor or a kindness from someone. And not feeling ashamed at being so honest.
I stopped at the pharmacy on the way out to see if they could cut me a a few days pills, which is a pain in the ass, and luckily my total bill for the month was only $10.00. And I looked at the young pharmacy lady and said …”I don’t have $10.00 on me right now…” She replied, “well, here you go, come and pay when you can.” (which will be Thursday)…
Simple kindness …
I called hubby from the mall to tell him that I got my meds and he replied, “all’s well that ends well.” So it was.
I arrived early and helped set up the room and folks came early so we had a meeting before the meeting. Sunday’s are a day to catch up on friends and fellows to sort out the week coming and to check in and plan to be of service in kind ways. People are not used to asking for help and today’s Tradition came from the book… Tradition one … “Our common welfare comes first, personal recovery depends on A.A. Unity.
It is cold, people are tired of the cold. And folks are finding it a challenge to stay connected and talk to fellows on a daily basis to check in so that if needed we can try and help. Where else can you go, to share what’s on your mind, with like minded folks, anywhere in the world, on a daily basis?
Why do we go to meetings? Because on our own, we could not lick this problem of alcoholism. We need the group to help us stay sober. And there is the warning again about what happens if you stop going to meetings, or finding that you don’t need meetings.
We are complicated people. And this is not a complicated program. Nobody is going to tell you what to do or what to say or command you to do anything. But we find ourselves, going back into our heads and getting crazy. And that’s why people showed up tonight. To take an hour out of their day to reconnect with a power greater than themselves.
We are not supposed to keep what we have, lest we loose it. We have to continually give it away. And we do that in little ways. We do that with a phone call, or a coffee date, some let’s get together time, doing service, but simply by just suiting up and showing up.
Last Sunday a friend came to the meeting and we sat through the meeting and we shared on topic and at the end of the meeting came the Serenity Prayer where he spoke to words You and Me. And I was receptive to You and Me.
This Sunday he came again, and at the end of the meeting we spoke and I was able to share with him how the words he said touched my heart and my mind and how grateful I was for the lesson that came to me simply. And he in turn told me the story of where he heard the iteration of the prayer, from a fellow traveler now living Down Under. So “You” and “Me” traveled from one to another and another.
Saturday night I hit a meeting and I heard another word that leap out at me that I was able to put into perspective something from my life that had since, evaded me, until a member spoke words that I was ready to hear.
Sobriety is coming in single words. Simple sentences.
I guess that’s the gift of coming back. The literature never changes. The words on the page have been there for decades. And week in and week out we read the same words, we say the same prayers, and we do the same things over and over again rote …
Now 11 years in, I am finding that I read the books and see and hear the words, and now, simply, words are leaping off the page and into my field of vision. I’ve also heard it said from long sober folks who speak the words “once you stay around for awhile, the outside job becomes an inside job.”
At the end of the meeting a young man got up to take his 2 year chip from his sponsor, who didn’t have a chip in hand for him, BUT another member just got his 2 year chip a few days ago, “and it’s about giving it away right” … so he dipped into his pocket and handed over his 2 year chip to our young man so that he could take a real chip from his sponsor.
What was it like for me at two years? that was 2003. I stayed sober. I had decided to go back to school, in my thirties, I attained Citizenship. I sat through culture shock and integrated into society here in Montreal. If it weren’t for the people who were part of Tuesday Beginners at that time in my life, my life would not have turned out the way it did. I relied on my home group unlike any other group of people, perhaps except Sober on South beach.
I had begun a sober relationship which later turned into a marriage. And today we are nine years married and eleven years together.
I came, I rooted. I listened. And I served. And I do that today.
I came, and I learned from the group, and in time I learned about giving it back freely. I get to rid myself of my ego and my attitude. When I cross that threshold of the room, I am just one of you. I am not better or worse. I am just me…
And on any given Sunday, when bunch of me’s show up and we share, we find we are no longer alone. That we don’t have to be alone, or do this alone. And there’s the gift of the group and our common welfare.
I am grateful for simplicity, my friends and everybody who showed up today.
Wau Lam … That is all …
More to come, stay tuned …
The New First Female Premier of Ontario is also the first LGBT Premier making her a very important and one of the most powerful Lesbians in the world…
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Kathleen Wynne has been declared the winner of the Ontario Liberal leadership convention Saturday evening and will now become Ontario’s first female premier.
Wynne rallied support from party faithfuls through the day after entering the convention in second place. She pulled within two votes of the lead on the first ballot, behind only former provincial representative Sandra Pupatello.
The 10-year Member of Provincial Parliament, who held several cabinet positions during Dalton McGuinty’s time in power, celebrated diversity and inclusivity during her leadership campaign. She worked to position herself as a Liberal leader, and premier, who could take on Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives and NDP in the next general election.
“This is going to be a great government and we are going to build on the legacy of Dalton. We are going to build on the work that Dalton McGuinty has done over the last nine years,” Wynne said after being declared the next party leader.
Wynne was always at or near the front of the pack during the leadership race. Early numbers placed her among the leaders of a crowded list of candidates and she picked up the support of exiting Glen Murray at what seemed to be a pivotal moment.
The balance tilted further in her favour when Dr. Eric Hoskins, the first candidate removed from the ballot, threw his support in her direction. By the time the first round of voting was counted on Saturday, Wynne had caught up and sat in a virtual tie for lead, with just two votes separating her from Pupatello.
Still, Pupatello picked up an early endorsement from resigning candidate Harinder Takhar. She extended her lead in the second round of voting. But the surge was short lived.
Remaining candidates Charles Sousa and Gerard Kennedy pulled out of the contest and endorsed Wynne. A final woman-against-woman vote was held, but the writing was already on the wall.
Kathleen Wynne was declared Ontario Liberal Party leader after beating Pupatello 1150 delegate votes to 866 votes on the final, third, ballot. She will be sworn in as premier at a later date.
“Ms. Wynne has the best chance of being able to renew the party the way it has to be done,” Kennedy told Yahoo! Canada News. “I am hopeful she will make the changes that will get Ontarians interested, and eventually really enthusiastic about a new Liberal approach.
“She is a premier people will relate to in the sense of someone who pays very close attention to people. She respects and loves working with people, and she is going to be able to put together a different kind of agenda.”
Courtesy:Quotegoeshere – Untiltheacropolis
The weather outside the past few days has been less than thrilling. You never want to give an excuse for why you can’t make a meeting on any given night because we all went out of our ways to get alcohol when we drank. But with that said, we did skip a meeting on Thursday night because of frigid temperatures.
I got a text from my sponsor earlier this afternoon inquiring if I wanted to go to Dorval tonight for a meeting. A whole bunch of us decided on going. I called a friend and my sponsor called other friends and we all met at Snowden to go to Dorval.
The trains were running more or less on time, we only had to wait a few minutes on our change from the Green line to the Orange line at Lionel Groulx. We got on the Orange line going out of town and there was a cute Francophone Mormon boy on the train and he was chatting up folks in our car from one end of the car to the other, and a friend and I were seated somewhat in the middle so he stopped to chat (in French) with us. We were a stop away from our destination, and I should say that had he addressed me in English, I might have paid him a bit more attention, but French just gets a nod and wink … UGH !!!
Mormon boys on trains …
They usually travel in pairs. But our boy was traveling solo …
We finally arrived at our destination. Lots of familiar faces, from the Dorval side of town. We don’t usually see West Island folks in Downtown meetings. But we were welcomed nonetheless.
You never know what you are going to hear from the chair on any given night. Our woman had some time. And a grueling story of pain, loss and addiction. I sat there and felt truly blessed by being in the presence of a fellow traveler. It was good to get out and hear a message.
The take away for me was this …
You could say that my family of origin was dysfunctional. What do you do with four family members, all drinkers and mentally and physically abusive towards their children? For our woman, the dysfunction was so great in her life that in order to drink on her terms she had to move 1000 km’s away from her family.
Coming from small town Maritimes, where everybody knows you and the possibility of running into friends and/or family while on a drinking spree was so high, that she had to get away. The story does not get better, it got worse.
Fifteen years of drinking took its toll and she came to – had a moment of grace – and made the call that changed her life.
I’ve written ad-nauseum about my family and the myriad of things that went down and why I had to get away, make certain changes in my life and finally move 1500 km away to begin the life that I thought I deserved. And I did that in sobriety. The thing was – was that I never quite thought of family as dysfunction that I needed to get away from, but in hindsight something greater than myself was guiding me to the life I now live. It makes a whole lot of sense when you look at things from this perspective.
There is a reason we are where we are on any given moment in our lives, and if you question why you are where you are right now, it is because you were meant to be in that moment or this moment, where ever you are at this time.
Everything happens for a reason.
It was a great meeting. We all enjoyed the speaker. And we all came away with a take away for the night.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned …
William Griffith Wilson (November 26, 1895 – January 24, 1971), also known as Bill Wilson or Bill W., was the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), an international mutual aid fellowship with over two million members belonging to 100,800 groups of alcoholics helping other alcoholics achieve and maintain sobriety. Following AA’s Twelfth Tradition of anonymity, Wilson is commonly known as “Bill W.” or “Bill.” After Wilson’s death in 1971, his full name was included in obituaries.
Wilson’s permanent sobriety began December 11, 1934. Wilson suffered from episodes of depression. The most serious of these occurred between 1944 and 1955. In 1955 Wilson turned over control of AA to a board of trustees. Wilson died of emphysema complicated by pneumonia 42 years ago in 1971. In 1999 Time listed him as “Bill W.: The Healer” in the Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century.
Msgr. James Fetscher
Chaplain to His Holiness
Born Aug. 9, 1941 in Jamaica, N.Y., Father Fetscher grew up in Holy Family Parish in North Miami and was ordained May 25, 1968 for the Archdiocese of Miami. He served in the religious education department, as coordinator for the North Dade Deanery, from 1969 to 1971, and became founding director of the archdiocesan Office of Worship from 1978 to 1984. Concurrently, he served as parochial vicar at St. Mark in Boynton Beach, Visitation Church in North Miami, teacher at Msgr. Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens, member of the faculty at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, parochial vicar at St. Lawrence Church in North Miami Beach and associate rector at St. Mary Cathedral in Miami.
From 1976 to 1980 he served as parochial vicar at St. Louis Church in Pinecrest, where he would return as pastor in 1982. He remained at St. Louis until September 2010, when he was named to his current post as pastor of St. Sebastian in Fort Lauderdale.
In addition, Father Fetscher has served as president of the Priests’ Senate, member of the first archdiocesan Synod, dean of the South Dade Deanery and member of the Presbyteral Council.
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I guess I should explain why I posted this notice of elevation. Fr. James Fetscher was Pastor of St. Louis Catholic Church during my years in high school and into college and seminary. He signed off on my paperwork to enter the seminary in 1986. Sadly, I was rebuffed after completing my first year.
Over the years he was a guiding force in every life of every human being who graced the parish over his tenure as Pastor. We buried countless good men and women, priests and fellows over those years. Fr. James is a good, kind and wise man and I congratulate him on his elevation.
It is another bitterly cold day in the neighborhood. We are sitting at (-23c/-36 wc) at this hour. Cold enough to freeze fingers and faces in a matter of minutes. So getting around and waiting for buses was a challenge.
Doc say that I am doing remarkably well on treatment plan. No changes were made to the regimen yet. So here are the numbers:
03 Jan 2013 Viral Load 39 copies Cd4% 45 Cd 4 abs 1440
07 Aug 2012 Viral Load 39 copies Cd4% 44 Cd 4 abs 1276
15 May 2012 Viral Load 39 copies Cd4% 45 Cd4 abs 1350
10 Jan 2012 Viral Load 39 copies Cd4% 43 Cd4 abs 1333
What’s good are the cd4 percentages the higher they are the better the numbers. My Cd 4 abs are high again. Which is good.
The downside to treatment are my sugars. They are all out of whack and my daily tests have been spiking on the high side and the tests they ran last time speaks to this problem, so I need to get them back under control. My fixation with juices must end and I need to curtail my diet some more.
My next appointment isn’t until May, but I see my diabetes doctor the beginning of February.
Time for lunch and a nap.
More to come, stay tuned …
I’ve always wanted a reason to use this image …
It has been a very cold past few days. FRIGID by Montreal standards. We are sitting at (-20c with a wind chill of -27c) at this hour. The wind chill is going to drop to a bitter (-38c) overnight.
The past couple of days we’ve been keeping inside. Tomorrow I see the doctor for my latest round of numbers. We shall see how he decides to “shake things up” in my treatment plan.
Today I was up and around early. I set out early because I had stops to make on the way out and as bitter as it has been out, the getting there was the goal, without freezing on the way.
I arrived at the church close to 5 and I had just opened the store room and was heading towards the kitchen with my coffee urns and people began to arrive and the room wasn’t even set up yet.
The group met for our monthly business meeting. And many of our members showed up and we made some new decisions about the money in the kitty, how we were going to spend our surplus, to buy books and pamphlets, and for the anniversary party next week.
We invested in the Grapevine last year and it doesn’t get much traction, we sell three copies within the group and not many people avail themselves of the literature table at all, so we decided not to renew another year. Instead we will spend that money on books for newcomers and for the group.
It was a packed house again tonight. Our most loyal lady member spoke to me before the meeting, and from where she sits, on many committees in this city, our group is doing something right because we have been able to maintain good numbers for more than 2 years.
The chair read from the Big Book and Page 417.
Acceptance is the key to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
This passage tucked farther back in the book, past the first 164 pages of the book, is important to us to be able to learn how to live life on life’s terms. And it was good to go back and read this portion of the book tonight.
While the share went around the room I was formulating what I wanted to say tonight. In hindsight the word acceptance pops up many times in the past, because there were many moments in my life, in the past that I had no choice but to accept life on life’s terms.
In 1994, when I was approaching my last drunk, I was diagnosed with AIDS, a fatal, and terminal disease. And instead of acceptance, I attempted to kill myself with the drink. Thankfully I failed at that attempt, and people and powers greater than myself took over and began to care for me, when I could not or did not have the knowledge to take care of myself.
When doctors tell you that you are going to die, and give you your end date – what do you do? There were two choices. I could go out in a blaze of glory, like some of my friends did, OR, I could buckle down and accept the sentence and turn my life over to the care of God (read: Todd) as I understood him.
I stayed sober and I stayed alive. I waited to die all along, and when I got to the date that I was supposed to die, and I was still alive, the next question was “what do I do next?” Well, you stay alive and you go to meetings and you come to work and do as you are told, trust us and we will help keep you alive.
It was very easy to say, but it was a challenge to turn my life over to God (read: Todd). But it worked. I stayed sober. For the first four years.
I made my bed and I lied in it and sobriety lost it priority and I had to do this all over again. And the second time I came to the rooms, I was much older, but still stuck in my twenties. I was hoping that the drink would magically turn me into a buff, blond beach boy with six pack abs. Well, that didn’t happen.
I had to accept that I was no longer in my twenties and that I was heading into my thirties and my behavior had to change, however I kicked and screamed on the floor like a five year old.
Acceptance is the key to ALL my problems.
Over the past eleven years, I have been able to practice the art of acceptance. And it was shared as well tonight, the use of prayer and many folks have realized the “real” way to pray the Serenity Prayer. It’s not about YOU – it’s about ME.
There are those two words, YOU and ME, again…
It must be a sign that these two words have come up again in discussion, which means that many of us have something to work with for the next little while. Which is good. I get to trust, turn it over and let go and let God.
The share did not get all the way around the room, there wasn’t enough time so a number of folks got left on the roadside. There was a lot of hanging out after the meeting. It being bitterly cold out, folks were wanting to stay in the hall and not venture out into the cold.
A good night was had by all. Next week we shall party our 55 years anniversary. My sponsor has been hunting around for old timers who came to our meeting some 40 plus years ago to complete our group history lesson to be read next week.
A good friend of mine, who has been very sick for a while and ended up needing a liver transplant – got that transplant a couple of months ago. We all have been praying and pulling for her in her days of recovery, and she came to our meeting tonight – looking very well – alive – and happy to be given a second chance at life. This was a very exciting part of the night for me.
More to come, stay tuned …
Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional — what makes us American — is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.
The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.
For more than two hundred years, we have.
Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.
Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.
Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.
Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.
Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.
But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.
For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.
No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.
This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun.
America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.
For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.
We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.
We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher.
But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.
We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.
For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm.
The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.
Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.
We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty.
The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.
We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully — not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.
America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.
We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.
And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice — not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.
It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.
Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.
That is our generation’s task — to make these words, these rights, these values — of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness — real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness.
Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time — but it does require us to act in our time.
For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.
We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.
My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service.
But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.
They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope.
You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.
You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time — not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.
Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.
Thank you, God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.
It has been bitterly cold. The weather has been changing by the hour here today. What began as snow/rain squalls earlier today has turned into clear skies and bitter cold. The Temps at this hour are (-12c/-24c with the wind chill).
It was an uneventful weekend. But it has also been very productive for me, in ways that are different from the usual days in and out. I am enjoying my daily routine of getting up early, getting things done, and having my afternoon nap with hubby. I am really loving sleep. Because I’ve been practicing my prayer and meditation and shutting down my brain for a couple of hours in the afternoon and it seems to be working very well.
I am finding that it is in simple things that make my heart sing. I am taking bits of my day and learning to be satisfied with that, instead of woofing a huge plate of things. For some, who suffer from “more, more and more” it is a daily grace to be satisfied with a nibble. And this relates to our reading from today.
I set off early for the meeting. I was looking forwards to seeing if the mall had made any other significant changes to its floor plan. And that hasn’t changed in the past week. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t.
I arrived at the church with plenty of time to set up and settle in for the meeting, On the way our chair texted me and asked me to chair for him tonight, which was cool with me. We cover for each other when it is necessary.
We sat a fair number of folks. With different amounts of time. And we read from the Big Book, chapter 4, “We Agnostics.” It was a short read tonight which ended in the Appendix II, “A Spiritual Experience.”
… We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, Honesty and Open Mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable.
“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” Herbert Spencer
We are instructed, early in the Big Book, to refer to this reading amid the text of the book. I remember hearing it read at other times as we have begun reading the book from the beginning this time around.
The notion of “finding our own conception of God” is taught to us from the very beginning. Because we find that many have differences of opinions about God, be he religious or not. But in reading the book, coming to meetings and sharing with another brings perspective about this “notion of God.”
I’ve written about my God in the Pages “Naked and Sacred” and how I was introduced to God as a child. And I followed that God for the whole of my life.
At one point in my life the “powers that be” suggested that I might want to pursue God in seminary. And I eventually did that. I loved God, I loved being with God and praying and studying God. And for a year I did that with reckless abandon.
But in the end, the man who decided our fates brought me in and told me that I would not be returning for a second year, that I had not shown enough zeal or that maybe, I just didn’t jive with my fellows very well. I was just a boy, trying to find my way in a system that was bent towards ego instead of selflessness.
I guess you would say that I was very angry with God. I returned to my home and went to work with friends. And my alcoholism really got out of control. For the next several years I drank my way through life. And I did some stupid things.
So the story goes, I grew up, I drank, I got sick, and I got sober. I stayed sober because of the men who took hold of my life and helped me survive. God manifested himself in the guise of Todd, in all things. He did for me, what I could not do for myself. God made manifest in my life in great sweeping actions. God looked down on a simple boy and saved his life.
But as time went by, the universe shifted and I found myself left to my own devices. Without that controlling force in my life, I had no one to rely upon and soon I was off to the races and out the sober doorway and into hell.
Years would pass and I found my way back to the rooms. I relied on people to help me stay sober. With folks who took it upon themselves to see me sober once again, on a daily basis. I needed fellowship, someone to look to, someone to hold their hands with.
When I moved here and found my home group I had my list of wants. But the old timers kept telling me to “keep coming back” and “one day at a time.” It took me a long time to learn how to stay in my day. To learn about God, as the book directs us, and I did that.
My then sponsor, David was a godsend. We were attached at the hip for a years time. We did everything together. We grew quite close, and I loved him. They gave me my fourth edition, we read it, worked our steps and went to meetings.
At the end of a year, he still had his ego and our relationship ended. A rather sad ending. Bitter words were spoken and he cursed me saying that “I would drink again…”
On my first anniversary my addictions counselor asked me “Now that you have stayed sober for a year, what are you going to do for yourself?” I decided to go back to school. Which was the logical thing to do since the government payed my way through University.
I was sober. One day at a time. My fascination with God was apparent, since I joined the department of Religious Studies at Concordia, and met my now best friend and mentor Donald. I spent the next seven years studying God every way from Sunday. I have two degrees, in Religion and Pastoral Ministry. And I came away from university wanting more.
Since I did not make it in seminary, my thought was that if I can’t seek God through the church, I would seek him outside the church. I would climb that ladder to God from the outside of the building.
Donald, today is a deacon and will be ordained a priest this year. It was mentioned to me in passing some time ago that maybe I should consider Holy Orders. I’ve been sitting on that thought for a long time.
In order to do that I would need to complete the last pillar of good Christian practice, which is finding and settling into an active prayerful Christian community, like the Anglican Cathedral where I worship on the odd occasion. I have yet to make that kind of commitment.
That does not mean that I do not seek God in my daily life. Learning the A to Z of God, studying traditions and religions from all the major faiths in the world, East and West, left me wanting more. I had studied God, By the Book. Now I needed to incorporate that into my life.
Ten years into sobriety, I was ready for some excitement. And I got that in spades. My eleventh anniversary passed with little fanfare, this past December and I’ve been living one day at a time for ever and a day. And God has been showing me new ideas and I spoke today about that “more” mentality.
Wanting more – from my perspective is a very broad view. I look to open sky and my vision is of everything that is possible. And I’ve been learning, over the recent past that, I can’t have everything.
And I need to be satisfied with a little bit each day. I’ve been learning how to focus my needs to one simple idea a day, or one word a day, or one passage or prayer a day.
I’ve been practicing the “Parsing of Sobriety.” I’ve read, indulged and re-read the book. And like any good alcoholic, we always want MORE. You know what it is like to sit in front of a full plate of “MORE” food, and know that you can’t possibly eat all that food on one go… It is like I am on a spiritual diet.
Last week a friend offered me a prayer in his words. Subtle but effective. And I took those two words he spoke (YOU) and (ME). And so I settled into the notion of You and Me. And I have been satisfied with two words. And I meditate on those words daily, and I find that satisfying. Which relates back to my daily routine.
We read from the book today. And we talked about finding our own concept of a God of our understanding, and I heard twenty five different ideas, to chew on for the next week. And we read from Appendix II. Spiritual Experience.
Over the last eleven years, I have learned about God, and I’ve seen him make His presence known to a room full of people. I’ve seen God’s light come down from the church and alight on people’s heads and into their lives. So I am sure that God exists, I am totally sure of that fact today.
I’m still alive. I know who told my heart to beat. And I am present to my breath.
There is a particular one young girl who I have come to know in the rooms, and she has been hoofing it every day. She struggles with “thirst” yet she keeps coming back. She is amid her steps and she’s doing the work.
And for the last two to three months I find myself whispering her name to God in my daily prayers. But whispering people’s names to God is something that I just do … I so want her to stick around. And as a man, I must stay a step apart, because men work with the men and the women work with the women.
But today I stopped her after the meeting and told her that yes, I have been praying especially for her every day.
And that made a difference for her today.
God is alive, and he is tending the flock, every person, every day.
I am grateful for simplicity. I have “enough” today and I don’t need “more.”
And I am good with that.
It was a great night. More to come, stay tuned …
The day was bright with lots of sun. It has been very mild in the city over the last few days. We are sitting at (-1c) at this hour, and flurries are on tap overnight, but we shall see. Much of the snow on the ground is melting. On the way to the church there is snow piled up here and there. But the lawn in front of the church is popping up amid melting snow.
We were up early today and we did our supermarket safari this afternoon instead of waiting for the afternoon rush hour. I had to take bottles back today. I attempted to do that the other day, but the bottle warriors beat me to the machine, with their loads and loads of bottles and cans.
It is a gamble if you bring back your recyclables and be able to use the machine. There was somebody at the machine when I got down there and I started running my bottles into the machine and 3 bottles in it stopped, the bag was full, which is when you have to go alert the speed cashier to tell a bag boy to come and collect the full bag and reset the machine. Thankfully, that got done quickly and I finished running my bottles.
A few of our newbies told me last week that they would show up early to help set up so I was going to leave close to 5 o’clock, but I was ancy so I called them to confirm, and a good bunch of folks are sick with the flu and they all skipped the meeting.
I left around 4:30 and walked through the mall.
I noticed today that the new Target has taken up a larger footprint, on the ground floor – it keeps growing one day to the next. Now they have appropriated all the space in the mall proper closer to the Metro tunnel entrance. Many of the phone kiosks that were located to that (right side) of the ground floor are now gone. And the new work wall sits about 50 feet from the front of the existing edifice (of the old Zellers) proper.
They have pushed all the way out possible from the front of the empty store and on the left of the entrance, down the entire side of the mall proper. On the right hand side moving left to right, from center, all the way down to the Yellow shoe store, which is about as far as they can push sideways/outwards into the mall walkway moving towards the gateway arch into the metro station.
It is a lot of space.
There is one diner kiosk that sits back to back with the new work wall (right of center) that has not been moved – yet !!! And they have put up the new front work wall right up to the back of the chairs that sit around the little diner.
All this space appropriation means that Target will have a very large footprint on the ground floor. In moving outwards into the mall proper, the walk way from the escalators from the mezzanine floor (street level) is cut by half.
If they appropriate more storefront property from the mall, that would kill the two existing diners that still sit where they have sat for years. The store is going to be BIG. We will see how much more space they may take up in the coming weeks.
The floor plans seems to be divide and conquer, because they keep changing up the footprint. There is not much more space they can take from existing vendors that occupy what is left of the ground floor. I did notice that there is a welcome sign on the front of the construction wall directly in front of what I assume will be the store front proper.
*** *** *** ***
Since I was alone, set up went by rather quickly, and I was finished by 5 o’clock. and I sat outside for a while until the girls started showing up. We were a full house tonight. We sat 46 folks. The chair has us read from Chapter 2 of the Big Book, “There is A Solution.”
“We have no desire to convince anyone that there is only one way by which faith can be acquired. If what we have learned and felt and seen means anything at all, it means that all of us, whatever our race, creed, or color are the children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try.” pg. 28
We reflect on these words. This chapter offers us “A” solution. Which if you stick around a while becomes “THE” solution. They say that in the beginning we come to the rooms, then we “come to” and finally we “come to believe.”
Alcoholism is a disease of mind and body. And one day, if you stick around, you may have a spiritual experience that will change the game for you. As it has for countless others. Long time sobriety is contingent on the state of our spiritual condition on any given day.
On my anniversary, friends gave me a packet of all the prayers in the Book, which I have sitting here by the computer. I use them here and there. And today I realized that I need to use them every day.
I’ve been talking about the rat on the wheel situation, and I heard one of our ladies speak to this thought tonight as well. Once we stop drinking, and we find the solution to the drink problem, what comes next is the Think Problem.
And I allowed my brain to basically move out of my day. The further I spread my brain the more trouble I find myself in. Which means I have to reign in my brain and focus on today. With the 24 hours that I have today. And I have to listen to my friend Will when he iterates the Serenity Prayer thus …
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (YOU)
The courage to change the things I can (ME)
And the Wisdom to know the difference.
It was so simple, and I missed the cue for days. So Simple, two words, YOU and ME. When you parse the prayer into its constituent pieces it becomes so easy. And today we read from There is “A” solution. Thank god for simplicity.
Because I can really complicate things … so do we all at times.
We had two cakes. Two of our members took cakes. Both women, one took her 5 year cake … And we share this thought, at 5 years you hear that POP sound, which is your head coming out of your ass.
5 is a good round number.
You come in, you take your multiple months, then your year, then two, then five, ten, twenty and so on and so forth. And if you stick around you get to our second cake and that was 21 years. The women at our group are a tight bunch. And the sober sisters grow a little larger this year. They all keep us in line.
We had cake, lots of cake. Lots of new folks. Lots of conversation. A good night was had by all. Everybody left with food for thought. Which is always good.
Wau Lam… that is all.
More to come, stay tuned …
I am so tired …
I opened Pandora’s Box over the holidays, and now I find myself reliving memories, which for the most part, I have buried in my brain. After so many years one would hope that adults could look at a situation with time and thought and rise to the occasion and come to the table to rebuild. But when there are braces on your brains, and a patriarchal mandate over your head, people choose to live in the past and are unable to come into the present.
It is really sad …
Today was Sunday, and I needed a meeting. I left early and arrived in time to help set up as usual. We read from the Big Book and we finished the read through of More About Alcoholism. The room was packed. We needed to bring out more chairs as the meeting started to accommodate more folks.
Over the last few days my brain has been on overdrive. I spend my day doing what needs to be done, but when I lay my head down on the pillow for a nap, the rat gets on the wheel and the wheel spins at 100 mph.
My past is a veritable Pandora’s Box. And my sponsor is apt to tell me that I should just let it go and get on with living. And for the most part I can do that.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (YOU) (OTHERS)
The courage to change the things I can (ME)
And the Wisdom to know the difference.
I chose to open Pandora’s box this Christmas, by sending a card to my estranged family, to which they did not reply. I had a conversation with my aunt, who is in the same boat I am, (we call this the punishment cell)…
Just because I am sober now 11 years and a month, doesn’t mean that people in the past will consider allowing me entrance back into family, and in that I am forever damned.
And as of late, my brain has been on ” Haunt Mode.”
Every time I close my eyes, I get a playback of the past in HD color. And I can’t seem to shut the damn tv off. And I lay in bed and the images roll on like a film being played behind my eyes.
And it is driving me insane. You’d think I’d know better doing this every year like clockwork. But No, I just want to sit there with the hammer in my hand banging my head in because it feels soooo good.
I’m tired of this pain. Because it will never go away, until I hit my deathbed.
People stuck in the past are unwilling to rethink, and possibly forgive because there is fault on all sides. And that doesn’t diminish the pain that I feel because of the way people treated me. I do have feelings. I cannot change being gay and I sure as shit cannot get rid of HIV in my body. But to hold these things over ones head as punishment is terrible.
FUCKERS !!! that’s what you are. Unforgiving assholes .
So the Globes are on. I am gonna go watch.
More to come, stay tuned…