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Archive for April, 2014

Tuesday … Renewal … Spring … And that Little Voice

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Courtesy: Special Archives

The weather held for the day and into the evening. Still a little chilly for me, but nothing an extra layer did not take care of.

We here at the blog have been renewed for another year. This IS the best medium for blogging, and I am always happy to be here, a part of the WordPress community.

It was a busy day running errands and shopping and paying bills and preparing for my trip to Vermont in a couple of weeks. It is called the Mad River Barn Men’s Retreat in Waitsville Vermont.

It is quite the expense in the end. $120.00 for a fresh passport, $120.00 for the fees, and spending money on the side. I am told it will be fun, it better be for the price I paid for it.

I was off a little early, and my coffee mate did not turn up on time, but she got there to chair the meeting. I was pleasantly surprised at the turnout. Baby mama is making her goodbyes – she leaves on Saturday night. It is bittersweet, but we will be connected via phone and email. And it is all good because of the familial support she has and really needs, something she does not have here.

A bunch of friends I don’t get to see often came as well. And we talked about a reading from the Daily Reflections, and Step 2. The whole notion of coming to believe, and becoming aware of that still small voice.

One of my friends hit the nail on the head, and I had just spoken of it to our chair before the meeting. We all have that little voice. Most people know of it, some don’t. Those who do usually listen to it, but most don’t.

I guess it was there when I put down the drink. There was something there telling me what I needed to do, and the fact that the way things came together was simply, divine …

I followed that voice to it’s next destination.

In early sobriety we faced multiple issues, that I needed to step up and be present for and to take care of. And we got through them. And that’s the way it has been for some time.

But the voice crystallized for me when I turned 40, and the years that followed. That little voice became more pronounced. It was like, wisdom speaking to me. I knew what it was. I just wasn’t sure what to do with it.

We spend inordinate amounts of time imbibing or using, and that damage, does damage to our souls and that voice within. I did my share of damage and I am sure it took years to heal and renew. They say it takes seven years to renew a liver. And my 40th birthday would have been seven years later after I got sober this time.

I go to meetings to listen for the voice. Of God. I want to see my friends, people I look up to, men and women I respect. I want to hear what they have to say. That’s why we keep coming back, because of the communal nature of recovery. We can’t do this on our own.

Our slippers prove that to us.

They come a few times and they leave and don’t return, and they just fade away until something brings them back for another round.

I trust my intuition. And when I don’t I talk to someone who can help me. And in turn I get to share life with my guys.

May is going to be an exciting month. It is going to be great.

There will be more to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … The Miracle of Life

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The rain went away for the evening commute. And it has been a bit chilly (read: for me) so I added a layer of clothing, so I did not have to wear a coat, my hoodie did the job.

They suggest that we “stick around until the miracle happens!” And tonight, we were all privy to TWO miracles. It is all about babies as of late.

Our baby mama came to the meeting tonight, she is about a month and a couple of weeks away from delivery. She’s going back to Newfoundland to have the baby, one, because of a death in the family last week, and secondly so that she isn’t alone here, and she leaves on Saturday.

A very close friend of mine, our Very Sober Lady who saved T.B.’s a few years back, has always been delicate. And doctors said that she would never be able to have children, and that broke her heart.

And I learned not long ago that she was housebound and couldn’t get out so the girls have been bringing meetings to her at home, and today I learned why …

Our woman is pregnant.

This is the second miracle pregnancy we have seen in our city this season.

She is very fragile, but came this evening to give one of her sponsees a 24 year chip and all the girls showed up, which more than tripled our usual attendance. We sat close to 50 folks. Chairs, and chairs and more chairs.

It was a blessed event, to say the least.

That would make three new babies on the way for our group of women in my circle of sober gals. Our third gal is on her second child now, with Baby Julian having been born a little more than 18 months ago.

Winter may have been long and drawn out and miserable, but all those hours sequestered in the house proved to be very useful for some. Tee Hee !!!

It is the last Sunday therefore a Traditions meeting. And Tradition Four.

It was hit and miss on sharing. A lot of folks, but few who really engaged with the text. The traditions are important for the group, but it was odd on the mind tonight. It was more important to be present for each other it seemed.

So that is what took precedence.

Our business meeting was fruitful. All the jobs were taken and we even went through the meeting archives looking for date information for our anniversary which will take place during “Gratitude Week June 8th through the 17th.”

Our group will be celebrating 52 years as a group. Our group was founded on January 10th 1962. That’s a long time ago.

All my guys are good and sober. One is still out of town till Tuesday, we did a Skype call last night, and my other guy returned early this morning from New York City. We spoke prior to the meeting.

You will see I posted the article from Rome on the Canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII which took place earlier today. I checked You Tube when I got home and noticed that they uploaded the mass, so I get to watch it later on tonight.

I will have highlights and photos later on. That is a labor intensive job capturing and photo shopping the pics from Live TV. More on that later.

Overall it was a good weekend. Everybody is sober and happy.

Babies are on the way, and most deserved for their mothers and fathers.

A true blessing. God does exist. He has proven it to us quite potently.

More to come, stay tuned …


Hundreds of thousands watch two popes become saints

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By Philip Pullella and James Mackenzie

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis proclaimed his predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II saints in front of more than half a million pilgrims on Sunday, hailing both as courageous men who withstood the tragedies of the 20th century.

Cheers and applause rang out across St Peter’s Square after the historic double papal canonization as many in the crowd fixed their gaze on huge tapestries of the two popes on the facade of the basilica behind Francis.

“We declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II to be saints and we enrol them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church,” Francis said in his formal proclamation in Latin.

Relics of each man – a container of blood from John Paul II and skin from John XXIII – were placed near the altar.

The fact that the two being canonized are widely seen as representing contrasting faces of the Church has added to the significance of an event that Francis hopes will draw the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics closer together after a string of sex abuse and financial scandals.

The crowd stretched back along Via della Conciliazione, the broad, half-kilometer boulevard that starts at the Tiber River.

The Mass was also attended by former Pope Benedict, who last year became the first pontiff in six centuries to step down.

His attendance gave the ceremony a somewhat surreal atmosphere created by the presence of reigning pope, a retired pope and two dead popes buried in the basilica. Francis went over to greet Benedict twice during the service.

A TRAGIC CENTURY

“These were two men of courage … and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy,” Francis said in his address.

“They lived through the tragic events of that (20th) century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful,” he added.

John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and called the modernizing Second Vatican Council, lived through both world wars.

John Paul II, the Pole who reigned for nearly 27 years, witnessed the devastation of his homeland in World War Two and is credited by many with helping end the Cold War and bring down communism.

While both men were widely revered, there has also been criticism that John Paul II, who died just nine years ago, has been canonized too quickly.

Groups representing victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests also say he did not do enough to root out a scandal that emerged towards the end of his pontificate and which has hung over the church ever since.

The controversy did nothing to put off the rivers of Catholic faithful.

“I think that they were two great people, each of them had their own particular character, so they deserve what is happening,” said Leonardo Ruino, who came from Argentina.

The Vatican said more than 500,000 people filled the basilica area while another 300,000 watched the event on large television screens throughout Rome.

The overwhelming majority in the crowd were Poles who had travelled from their home country and immigrant communities as far afield as Chicago and Sydney to watch their most famous native son become a saint.

“THE ENDS OF THE EARTH”

Hundreds of red and white Polish flags filled the square and the streets surrounding the Vatican, which were strewn with sleeping bags, backpacks and folding chairs.

“For years Pope John Paul II took the Church to the ends of the earth and today the ends of the earth have come back here,” said Father Tom Rosica, head of Canada’s Salt and Light Catholic television network.

Families and other pilgrims had waited for more than 12 hours along the main street leading to the Vatican before police opened up the square at 5:30 a.m.

Some people said they had managed to sleep on their feet because the crowd was so thick.

About 850 cardinals and bishops celebrated the Mass with the pope and 700 priests were on hand to distribute communion to the huge crowd.

About 10,000 police and security personnel and special paramedic teams were deployed and large areas of Rome were closed to traffic.

John, an Italian often known as the “Good Pope” because of his friendly, open personality, died before the Second Vatican Council ended its work in 1965 but his initiative set off one of the greatest upheavals in Church teaching in modern times.

The Council ended the use of Latin at Mass, brought in the use of modern music and opened the way for challenges to Vatican authority, which alienated some traditionalists.

John Paul continued many of the reforms but tightened central control, condemned theological renegades and preached a stricter line on social issues such as sexual freedom.

A charismatic, dominant pope, he was criticized by some as a rigid conservative but the adoration he inspired was shown by the huge crowds whose chants of “santo subito!” (make him a saint at once!) at his funeral 2005 were answered with the fastest declaration of sainthood in modern history.

(Additional reporting by Antonio Denti; Editing by Andrew Roche and Andrew Heavens)


Belief, Kingship, Anarchy and Indifference

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Anarchy and the kingdom of wisdom.

Lifted from: Don’t Eat Trash …

Some of us go to the kings throne point at him and say “Oh, your pretty alright, I like your crown, and this throne room is pretty dope.” And then we walk out ignoring the kings power and authority and start stealing and murdering and what have you. Then our roads start crumbling, our electricity is shut off, our crops fail and we think… what happened?

We want to live in the kingdom, but we don’t want to honour its king. We live in anarchy whilst dreaming of a just and democratic society. But justice has a rule book. So do good crops, and if kings don’t get honour, or if kings don’t get even co-operation, why should kings do anything for their people? Why repair roads if the people won’t pay for them, or help with their upkeep? Why should the king pay for our electricity?

One cannot expect to acknowledge a king without giving him kingship and have that king be king. One must acknowledge and give that king kingship to be king over their lives, do build roads, to give power, to love and adore the people.

Justice, community, nation building, economics starts on the bottom. Or at least it should. By giving the righteous king his kingship. Anarchy will always breed confusion, instability and most likely corruption. But the uncorrupt king breeds love and belonging.

The lord by wisdom founded the earth
By wisdom he established the heavens.

There is a way to do things.
The king knows it.
Ask.

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

I thought that I would not have anything to write for last night’s meeting, because the reading spoke of Anarchy, Democracy and Group Dynamics. I heard the reading and listened to folks share, but in the end I had nothing to say.

I did not stay for the business meeting because of people and personalities. I guess I am not yet over them. And Friday is the only meeting during the week where I Don’t have to do service.

Late last night I spoke to my sponsor about an issue on my heart. Something I thought was necessary seeing we are traveling to Vermont with people I have no respect or love for.

Living with AIDS/HIV has its perks and its drawbacks. I learned early on who to trust, who to love, and who to cut from my life on a dime. I learned to watch people intently. I learned to listen to them actively. And I’ve learned over the years that when people show you who they are, listen to them. Thanks Oprah.

I’ve told you of the two times I was told to go somewhere else to get sober. And those two events kind of define my life, in respect to who I associate with and who I will or won’t break bread with.

One of those men who were participant to one of those events is running in my social circle all of a sudden. He comes to the Tuesday meeting but still, today, won’t say my name in my presence. I’ve watched him over the past dozen or so years in the rooms. He has his issues, his anger and his perspective.

I may or may not agree with him, but I watch him nonetheless.

Speaking to my sponsor last night, I shared the event with him and spoke of who was present during the encounter. He was respectful that I could share intimate feelings of wrongdoing with him. I mean that’s what he is in my life for, to help me get better, get sober, in all facets of my life.

He listened while I talked, and did not interrupt me, and waited until I was finished speaking to give me his sage advice. He shared with me a story from his life in response to mine, to show me that he had shared my feelings that I was speaking of right then.

He told me to pray, and to meditate. And to send light to the man I feel animosity towards. I do what I am told. The best prayer I can offer in these terms is the resentment prayer …

“I wish you to have everything I want for myself and more.”

I did my prayers and meditation. During which I visit a friend who writes. He is a believer and a man I highly respect for his challenge to pray, work for justice and serve Christ as King, and God as Father.

And during my active meditation I came across something he wrote recently, and I posted it above for you to read for yourselves. It hit the nail right on the head.

I don’t speak enough of belief, or of the faith that I work on every day. Living side by side with death forces you to reckon with God. I’ve come to know God. I’ve learned how to seek and find Him. I know who God is and who God isn’t.

Faith takes daily work, daily prayer and daily meditation. I’ve learned how to do that. It is part of my daily ritual.

The past is the past. And the pain of the past has moved from a place of pain to a place of indifference. The past is there. I can look at it retrospectively. I no longer waste time reliving or fearing, or having bitterness towards that past.

I would be wasting precious time, pinning, or hurting incessantly.

It just doesn’t bother me any more. It happened, some of it hurt. But God has taken that pain and transformed it into Grace.

In the end I am indifferent to the men and women who maligned me. I don’t share space with them, nor would I ever break bread with them, ever.

So this man has reentered my life, and I have to share a car, space and meetings with him. And I have to be good about it. To be Christian in my love and respectful because that what God expects of us.

There is no amend to make. Just a movement towards respect. To see another human being, a flawed human being, trying to get better in his own way, and I must respect his process. And to learn from him, because he has more time than I do, but not as much time as my sponsor.

The whole point of this exercise is to one day be able to forgive.

Once you move from pain to indifference, And what once bothered you, doesn’t anymore, then I am ready to forgive.

Because it is always about me right? Wrong!

We are to forgive seventy times seven. And trust that God knows what He is doing.

And to remember that We are not GOD.

When life gets too hard to stand, kneel …

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … Stay “Here.”

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Courtesy:Mattnstuff

It is a little chilly outside. But warm enough for shirtsleeves. The weather is bobbing between rain and sun for the next few days. Today was a beautiful day. And days are usually quiet and serene.

My guys are traveling out of town tonight and tomorrow. It will be a weekend of checking in from far flung places. But they are good to go. This evening I called my sponsor and he is very interested in how I keep things so calm and serene. This is the ongoing conversation that we have been having. It took a long time to get here.

And it goes with the reading for tonight from “Came to Believe,” Getting Ahead …

“… I did not know then that if you want to get ahead with any degree of peace, you must first learn to Stay Here. It takes guts to stay here; it takes self-discipline and resolution. Anyone with sufficient energy and a one track mind can get ahead; witness the robber barons, the dictators, the demagogues.

But to Stay Here, you must know where you are before you can know where you are going. You must seek before you can find, and you must ask before you really learn to seek. It take humility to ask, patience to wait for the answer, and faith that the answer will come. These, it strikes me, are hardly bulldozer “Virtues.”

We have newbies in the room, and I picked up my Big Book earlier in the week as I was pondering what we would read, and we have rehashed so much Book, that I was bored with it already. So I went with the Red Book instead.

The first time you get sober is a gift, the second and subsequent times, you have to work for it. And that adage has proven true for some of us, who got second and third kicks at the can.

The first lesson that came after a few months of settling in was to “Stay in my day” and to work with the 24 hours afforded me on a daily basis. To keep my mind from returning over and over to the past, and also to keep my head out of worrying about the future or Tomorrow…

This is not an easy task at first.

Because we are hard wired by our feelings, and in the beginning I was saddled with thoughts and feelings that were about yesterday and tomorrow. And they kept telling me to keep coming back and to stay in my day. I mean really, I can go one of two ways … Depression that keeps me in the past or Anxiety that wires me to the future.

Why can’t I stay in the day?

It took a good eighteen months to learn this lesson, one day at a time. I am no longer ruled or saddled by the past, and I am not anxious about the future. Once I learned how to be good with the day I don’t have to worry (as much). It isn’t realistic to think that I don’t worry about tomorrow. I do. It just doesn’t consume me or occupy my mind for long periods during the day.

Things are good. I have been on a good run for a long time. I do what I have to do on a daily basis. My days have routine. (again, that was learned). I hit my meetings, talk to my sponsor and my sponsees on a daily basis. I keep it simple (stupid). And that tends to work. Much to my sponsors dismay.

He is fascinated with my ability to stay calm, because what alcoholic do you know, that can remain calm amid a disease of the mind? This is a work in progress. Daily work and progress.

Getting honest. Humility to ask for help. Patience to wait for an answer.

The practice (daily practice) of prayer … Saying the words, Meditation … waiting for an answer, is something we learn to do. Most people balk at this stage saying that they don’t have time to pray or to sit and wait for an answer.

Well, God speaks in many ways. Cultivating an ear to hear is the key.

We might pray in the morning and meditate for a few minutes, then we go on with our days. Meanwhile, we spend our days waiting for that answer. And you never know, when you sit in a meeting that the answer might come, from someone, not necessarily from God himself, and if you aren’t paying attention, you might miss the communication.

It is good to have a routine. To have things to do every day. To keep us busy.

Because left to our own devices, helter skelter is the norm.

We want to Get Ahead. And there is a way to do that.

Stick around until the miracle happens.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Easter Sunday … He is Risen … and more

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Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

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

It was a bright and sunny day. What more could you ask for for Easter Sunday.

I did not attend services this year. But I did participate in an age old tradition.

The only thing that matters on tv on Easter Saturday is The Ten Commandments, from beginning to end. It is by far, one of the greatest works of art there is from ages past, that still runs on television in the 21st century.

Before I even was ready to go this afternoon, folks were calling and texting that they would not be making it tonight. So I cranked out set up and went outside to enjoy the day.

Surprise … We sat a full room. If you open – they will come. And they did.

We read another story from the Big Book, “Winner takes All.” The story of a woman born legally blind, her story of loss, alcoholism, family and the negative tape that plays in our minds, and how that tape took her to hell, before he entry into the rooms.

Now, she had a choice to either be happy or not. And in sobriety, she is happy, her life had changed and she became successful. And that came from the people who came into her life, the program that saved her, and the steps that shaped her.

Watching other people get sober over long periods of time is a blessing, and I know for a fact that God exists. And what better a day to speak of God, than on Easter Sunday, the day we celebrate the Risen Christ.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…


Friday Out of Defeat – Strength

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Courtesy:FashionDiplomacy

Another week ends. And in certain circles, today is Good Friday.

And in the immortal words of Anthony Campolo …

“… it’s Friday, but Sunday’s a coming !”

I heard this message spoken many many years ago on a retreat in high school.

It is a rousing sermon centered around Jesus being in the tomb, and it is dark, and people do not know what to do. They are scattering all over the place, not knowing where to go or what to believe, and so the message is “It’s Friday but Sunday’s a coming.”

It is a call to be expectant. To await the coming of Jesus on Easter Morning. When the church rejoices in the risen Christ. The choirs sing, the bells ring, and the crowd sings Hallelujah.

It was a quiet day today. Things are coming together for my guys. And as on any holiday we wait expectantly for people to show up.

When I used to work in the bars, holidays were the busiest nights for business. Gay boys after spending time with their families, needed to drown their minds in alcohol, so they would come in droves.

It is almost the same when you quit drinking. Holidays are always difficult. Parties, family gatherings, and so forth. It is for that reason that rooms need to be open on holidays, to welcome folks in after spending time in situations where there is alcohol and sometimes copious amounts of it.

I was out early this evening. The transit was swift. I arrived at the church even before the key holder got there. We set up and made coffee, and for the first time we saw an urn filled with water and a hopper of coffee, not perk.

The urn heated the water, but it did not perk the coffee. That’s never happened before in my memory. The coffee grinds were dry. So we refilled the urn with cold water and plugged it back in and it perked the second time. WEIRD !!!

The regular gang gathered for our Friday meeting. It is the meeting of the week, where we can connect and spend time together. Both my guys were in attendance.

We read from A.B.S.I. – Out of defeat, strength …

“If we are planning to quit drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that some day we will be immune to alcohol.

Such is the paradox of A.A. regeneration: strength arising out of complete defeat and weakness, the loss of one’s old life as a condition for finding a new one.”

Short and sweet.

The first time I quit drinking I was drinking to kill myself. I was defeated.

The second time I quit drinking, I was under the delusion that the alcohol would remake me, into someone I wanted to be because I wasn’t happy with who I was.

I knew I had come to the end. I knew God was the only one who could help me, I admitted to myself that I was powerless, and that I needed help. I came back defeated once again, but much more in a sad state.

I had made the move here because I wanted to reinvent myself, and start a new life. And that is just what happened. I got much more than I had expected, and life is much more than I had ever imagined.

This is a common thought of people who come from somewhere else, and end up here, either for school, work or life circumstances.

I have always said to my readers that if it is possible, leave your lazy boy chairs and your beer and chips, pack your bags and move somewhere else for one year, and see life from someone else’s perspective. Your life will never be the same.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…


Thursday … Acceptance

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Courtesy:Pagesofpleasure

It was a clear and sunny day today, albeit, a little chilly. I opted for my coat instead of a simple hoodie. It was also a busy day today. I am investing heavily in the lives of my guys this week, with tickets to the roundup and one of my guys is just days away from his second anniversary.

Two is a Big deal, and comes with a special silver oval chip. The new “two” ovals are a bit more flashy than the one I have. Mine is now gold dipped. The hope is this, that once you get your two, you hold onto it, and hopefully you get to your ten year mark, when at that time, we get it dipped in gold to mark the double digit.

Since he is celebrating at several meetings, I have a second bronze chip which was much cheaper than the first one. And his chip at the M.A. fellowship. That makes three.

It was a quick ride out to the East end on the Metro and back. Traffic was light because I was traveling mid-afternoon. I got back in time to get in a power nap before the nights events began.

Holy week celebrations are in full swing. While I was setting up, the annual Maundy Thursday mass was going on in the church above.

We sat a small group, some of our guys were at church, and we hosted a few guests, which was good. I chose a reading from the Big Book, Pages 416-417.

Acceptance was the Answer …

This is a loaded reading, there is a lot to chew in the reading like, “Acceptance is the key to ALL my problems. And Nothing, Absolutely Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.”

We learn about powerlessness, and that the only thing that we can change is ourselves.

“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.”

It goes on to tell us that we must accept life on life’s terms.

All these ideas – even to some old timers – are bitter pills to swallow. We are still talking about accepting that nothing is a mistake and happened for a reason…

Our guys are in it deep. and all we can do is listen and offer words of encouragement and support. Hopefully they will keep coming back.

We locked up and walked home together, and another of my guys and I took a table at a local coffee shop to go over his step work. We are working from both the M.A. workbook and the A.A. questions my sponsor supplies.

It was a great discussion. Very fruitful. I am proud of my guy tonight.

I am proud of both of them. Good things are happening in their lives. And getting good things clean and sober are added gifts.

It was a great night.

Everybody is sober another night.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday … After the Honeymoon

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Courtesy:Theworldshavoc

Mother nature is giving us the piss …

In the last 48 hours, we have gone from (Plus 24c) sunny and spring like, to today, it rained, and rained, THEN it snowed, and we are sitting at (-2c) at this hour.

It rained all day and I carried my umbrella, not sure of where we would be by nightfall, from the time I left home, until we hit the Metro on the way home it was snowing pellets and then wet flakes. Right now, it is calm outside …

UGH !!!

It was a busy day today, lots of shopping and taking care of chores during the day, it seemed that a lot of folks decided to do laundry all at the same time, thankfully I snuk myself in between and was in and out in 90 minutes.

No power nap today, Booo !

I left early to get some food on the way out and I needed tickets and do some shopping at the pharmacy, and hit the trains. I got all the way across before the tones of death sounded. I was on the escalator and the trains were stopped.

It was a nice evening. All of our folks showed up and a couple more. I was in the chair due to the Passover holiday for one of our members.

We read from A.B.S.I. and “After the Honeymoon.”

Sometimes – for some people, when we come in and the months that follow, we might be graced with a “pink cloud” or the “honeymoon phase.” That feeling of euphoria of being clean and sober, and everything seems bright and happy.

Phases like these don’t usually last very long, a few months or so. Because eventually the world comes along and slaps us upside the head with a dose of reality. Not that we weren’t in reality to begin with, but for a time we are apart from that reality.

What do we do when the honeymoon ends?

This is an eternal question. Because married folks know what their honeymoon was like and how long it lasted, and when it ended. Really, over many areas of life, we might experience a “honeymoon” when starting something new.

I can’t say that I went through a pink cloud or a honeymoon coming back the second time. When I came back, I spent the better part of a month beating myself up and feeling sorry for myself. It was no picnic.

When I got here, I got hooked up with aftercare counselors and things to do during the day. I was hitting meetings around the clock for the first year.

I guess the closest you could say I had a honeymoon, was David.

He took me on as a sponsee. And we did everything together. Every day it seemed. We were attached at the hip. We got Very Close. Almost too close. He had a girlfriend, and I was single. And on several occasions, we were close.

I loved him, and he knew that.

But that honeymoon ended on my first anniversary, when he invited friends from the West Island to revel in his achievement of keeping me sober for a year.

(Read: He had an ego attack) and words were spoken, that ended our relationship.

I’ve seen him twice in the last twelve years, and he ignored me like I did not exist.

Life went on …

I homed. I got active. I set and Stayed. I did whatever I was told to do.

I relied on my meetings, because sobriety came first. Everything else came second.

I try to teach my guys this truth, and so far they have worked it our for themselves. However, some guys I work with cannot seem to get into the groove and put sobriety first. It is hard to watch them struggle, and have the answer, but be unable to get that answer across where it nests in their brains.

The good thing is that they keep coming back, however fucked up they are, they come back to the source, so for 90 minutes we get to see them and spend time with them in a closed environment.

I get that sacred space notion. I know for sure, that several times a week, there is someplace I can/will go to see my fellows and friends. Where I can talk and I can listen, and hopefully be able to take something away to put into practice in my life in some way. And I have done that for almost thirteen years.

And it works for me.

Life has thrown several curve balls at me and hubby over the years. Life has not been a cakewalk. We’ve had ups and downs, like any other human being. And we remain a couple, married, happy. All that shit that life threw at us was dealt with, with the rooms, the discussions in them and the people who took care of us over the years.

I’ve built my life around my meetings. It is a very simple principle. I know it works. I use it every day. It is something I learned to do in every case.

EVERY CASE!

If you do this, life will ease up. If you give yourself time, space, belief, and surrender to this very simple program and the people in it, if you can, for 24 hours at a time, trust us, and learn to trust yourself again, you too can live this life.

Sadly, most people can’t surrender fully, or even partially. The human will to hold on with a vise grip, is a way of life that can be un-learnt. White knuckling it every day gets hard after while. Running on self will is tough.

Our guys are working their damnedest to live spiritual principles. And in the space of 90 minutes tonight, we had some serious discussion. All learning from one another. So we did what we came to do.

Everybody is sober another night.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … I’m On a Maintenance Program

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Courtesy:TheDarkBlue

Thunder and lightening is rolling over the city right now. At least the rain waited for us to get home. It was a chilly night, windy and dark. It was grey when I arrived at the church, rain was coming, it was just when that mattered.

I left a few minutes early so that I would have some time to sit and read before folks started turning up. Folks are busy with final papers and exams, and my coffee mate did not show, so I set up alone. Which isn’t a bad thing.

We sat a good crowd. A few visitors from out of town, as one of my guys said later on that tonight was not all that exciting, citing our high profile guests last week. All in a days work, I guess.

We read from the Big Book. “Flooded with Feeling.” This story’s central message was the writers coming in and eventual Third Step. A good number of our folks are not at that point yet.

It was what came after the meeting that matters.

One of my guys came to the meeting, but did not share. And I asked him why after the meeting. It seemed he did not think he had something useful to say.

It is at these points that we should say something.

I have said that my guys are dually addicted. And we work out of both books.

There is a problem at one of the meetings, my guys are going to. The problem of mixed messages.

When I got sober, there were scores of folks who claimed to be sober, come to a meeting, state their sobriety date, and speak to the effect that they were still drinking.

Then there are those who are alcoholic, come to a meeting and get sober, yet they go on what we call the marijuana maintenance plan.

Tonight, I heard the story about folks who go to M.A. who stop smoking, but openly admit that they are on a drink maintenance plan.

Clean and Sober means “clean and sober.” That we have stopped using any mind altering substances. Some folks did not get the memo.

One of my guys came away conflicted. Why bother going to meetings, if you are still using and/or drinking?

I pondered that thought for a bit before answering. One theory could be that if their initial addiction was pot and they have been successful at stopping, and they drink, AND the drink has not yet become a problem, (but it might) the thought is that they are clean (albeit, partially).

When we go to a meeting, we invest in the people at that particular meeting. And we listen and we participate. Active listening means that if we hear something that we can speak experience to, then we do so after the meeting.

But at the end of the day, once we depart and arrive home, it is all about us, and whether we have used or drank today. Wasting time worrying about whether certain people are honest and truthful at the end of the day is a waste of time.

It is they who have/might have, a problem. And in time they might figure it out, or they might not. And it is not up to us to point a finger and point that out. People have to come to their own conclusions. Hit their own bottoms.

This is where strategic sharing comes to bear. Speaking from experience, strength and hope we can offer an opinion in open community and not stand up and point the finger directly. Allow them to come to or not. It isn’t about us.

I try to speak humility to my guys. No one is better than the other, and we can’t get on our soap box and shame folks. All we have is our experience at the end of the day. And if and when an opportunity comes up for us to share one on one we take it.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

Live and let Live comes to bear.

We are powerless over people, places and things.

And what people think of us is none of our business.

At the end of the day we do our tenth steps, and a gratitude list. Every day we speak to one another.

And remember but for the grace of God, you could be them.

Stuck in the vicious cycle of drugs and alcohol.

My guys are headed towards their steps. Which is a good thing.

It struck me a couple weeks ago that for months, I have been reciting my prayers. Speaking the words, and coming to believe in them. A great sponsor came into my life, who is on my side, supports me, and when we did my third step he got on his knees with me and we prayed together.

I knew that he was In It with me.

That is a very good thing.

A good night was had by all.

More to come. Stay tuned…


Two Pups and their Friend

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Courtesy:Heknowshisplace

What happens when friends with similar loves get together for an afternoon of frivolity and scampering all over town? Naughty, Kinky, Fun time …

It is rare that we get to spend time together, and in real life, there isn’t real time to share intimate things with each other. Today was one of those days.

After hurried lunches and chores that had to be done first, we gathered at the hotel and set off for some adventure. The Old Port is still icebound. But the esplanade is free of snow and the grass was a nice shade of early spring green.

Our tour guide of the group explained all the intricacies of architecture from EXPO 67 and the sites situated around and in the Old Port complex. Many pictures were taken, but sadly, none of ourselves.

We did a fair amount of walking from one end of the Old Port to the other and then up to the Berri Metro and then on into the village. We had a short expensive coffee break on the way, after walking all that way.

I have to say that I make MUCH BETTER COFFEE … just saying !!! And it is cheaper too …

I am pleased to report that there are new shops in the village that I had not known of before. On the West end is a cute little leather/rubber shop with assorted bits and bobs. Toys, gear, clothing and all the stuff one would need for some good fun.

The shop keepers were very kind and pleasant. They chatted us up the entire time we were in their shop. It was nice to walk into a shop and be greeted and doted upon.

Ste. Catherine’s street is still traffic passable. And they have not decorated the path with the customary pink baubles hanging from the buildings across the path, that will come later on in June when they close the street off to traffic and it becomes pedestrian walking only, which will also lead into Pride.

We did go into the New and I think Improved PRIAPE shop.

The store was flipped upside down. The old employees are gone, opting for beefy, humpy men that look good in tight t-shirts. The music was pumping.

The fetish items (leather,neoprene,rubber) and all the assorted bits and bobs that go with them are now on the main floor. They have quite the collection of Oxball toys, they probably buy from them directly and repackage and sell at higher prices, or they get them from the U.S.

Where as in the old incarnation, a good amount of clothing was for sale in the main space. NOW, the clothing is gone. In/on the basement level, there is a wide assortment of underwear in many configurations. And some Nasty Pig gear, I was sad that they got rid of a good portion of that line, opting for more simple fare.

It looks like they streamlined the shop and are focusing on fetish sales up front, as the new floor plan speaks to. Canada has banned the sale of scents, and it is against the law to import them over the border or from Europe, so that sales point has all but dried up.

Canada bans a good deal of items from coming over the border. And when one orders from the U.S., shipping is extremely expensive, and is usually cost prohibitive.

We walked through to the West end of the village – it is quite sad. Mostly boarded up buildings and not so visually appealing as the West and Central district of the village.

We took the Metro back to the hotel and we shared our Tumblrs with each other, we listened to manga music, and assorted other musical selections.

Simply to get a few hours to share with good friends is priceless.

I could not ask for better friends. Who knows when the next time we will all be in the same place at the same time together again?

Love your friends, tell them so, appreciate them. Spend time with them when you can, because those times might be rare and far and few between.

A good day was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday – Panic Attack

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Courtesy: Shinybrat

The week quietly comes to an end. And the weather lately has been stellar. We hit double digits again. But it is still a bit cool. I had downgraded my coat for a hoodie, but tonight I was a bit chilled.

My days have been full of things to do. I find that doing the next right thing, over and over, in succession, takes up a lot of time, which leaves time to make phone calls (a little later than usual).

The end of the week means check in dates for coffee to discuss progress and make plans for the week to come. A daily written Tenth Step has proved to be very fruitful when working with my guys, so they can monitor their progress and can share with me thoughts and reflections as they happened.

We are gearing up for a run through Steps for both my guys. I learned today that there is indeed a step workbook for the M.A. book. The M.A. book covers the steps and gives explanation on each step, but it doesn’t tell you HOW to work the step. Everybody is glad that we will be working with two texts instead of one.

I have started my 4th Step timeline. After a couple of days worth of nightmares about it, I actually spoke to my aunt out West about dates and events that I had questions about. She mentioned the collection of photos that she had sent me some time ago to help jog my memory, I had not thought about them, so now I can use them.

We hit the meeting tonight a bit early, which was nice because it was so nice outside that we spent a good chunk of time sitting on the steps outside talking before the meeting.

We sat a good crowd. Lots of happy shiny people. Friday is always a good night to hob nob. The one night where most of our friends meet from all over the city.

We talked about “Living Serenely.” From A.B.S.I.

It was a good discussion. Towards the end of the meeting, I was sitting in my chair, and I happened to look down to the floor and noticed that my bag was missing. Not that it had something priceless in it, but I had a momentary panic attack like I had never had before.

When we arrived at the hall I walked in and put my bag down in a chair that I later did not sit in. I sat myself a few chairs down from where I started. And forgot about my bag, and then all of a sudden, towards the end of the meeting, I began to freak out while one of my friends was sharing. My heart started pounding and I began to sweat. I got up and looked around, in the bathroom, to the stairs outside. I couldn’t remember whether I carried the bag off the bus on the way there, or where I had put it. By now the chair noticed that something was wrong with me because I was freaking out, for some unknown reason.

I guess I am a little on edge …

In the end my bag was on that chair and we were reunited.

All’s well that ends well.

Tomorrow is our day out with my friends from out of town.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…


Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner …

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Courtesy: Alexander

It has been an interesting week. Today was the warmest day yet this season. When I left the house it was (16c). I downgraded my coat to a hoodie for the first time.

I have friends in far flung places. The internet has changed the way we meet people and form friendships. I have a small group of intimate friends. People I can call on at any time, if I need them. I have a circle of friends who share common interests. Some are here in Montreal, and some are in the U.S.

The other night I signed into Facebook, and one of my friends in the U.S. sent me a message. Which was totally out of character for him, we kept missing each other to chat live. So we traded a few more massages.

On Tuesday night, I get another message from a friend who lives here. He had asked me to meet him for dinner, which is, once again, out of character for him. Because it is always me who initiates a dinner date, not the other way around. I couldn’t make it Thursday (tonight) or Friday. So we planned to get dinner last night (Wednesday).

So I have two friends trying to get my attention at the same time, which was odd. They are in a certain social circle of common interest, but I failed to make the connection, if there was one.

I headed out to dinner last night thinking that something was wrong, and it would be made known to me over dinner. I arrived at Dundee’s and my local friend was waiting outside for me, and escorted me over to our table.

As we turned the corner, there was someone already sitting at the table. Waiting.

It turns out that a friend I have known for more than ten years online, came to Montreal to attend a conference. And they planned to surprise me with a dinner together. (color me surprised). It was a fantastic night. We are planning to get together on Saturday for a tour day around the city.

You never know what will happen when you invest time into people from afar. One day they might turn up on your doorstep to say thank you.

Today, as I said was a great day. Lots of sun, dog walkers and people out enjoying the weather. I arrived at the church and cranked out set up and returned to the church stoop to enjoy the evening.

We sat a good number. Both my sponsees were there. We are all working to help them manage life as term comes to an end over the next couple of weeks.

We read from the Big Book and pages 86-87.

“…upon rising we set forth the day, say our prayers and make our way into the day…” so forth and so on.

Everybody has their method of practicing the program. Some better than others, and some put forth No effort what so ever in working. And we saw again tonight what that kind of attitude towards sobriety does to someone, they DRINK again.

I can’t help a stubborn individual, and I have extended my hand and my phone, to no avail. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink …

Over the years, I have learned a few things. My Do Over has had its advantages.

In the beginning I did a ton of meetings. I found a home group, I stuck and stayed. And over the years, looking back, As life progressed, i was faced with certain issues and problems. I would come to my home group and other assorted meetings and I would share, listen and ask questions afterwards.

A lesson would come up. We would talk about it, we would study the book a bit. Then I would get time to settle into the new lesson, to digest it and THEN I would get a chance to practice that lesson in real time life.

So the cycle … Lesson, Reading, Sharing, Learning, Integration, then Application.

This has been the routine of my entire sober life this time around.

Last year, almost to the date, life began to turn on me. My relationship with my old sponsor was coming to an end. I was stagnant. I went to the Roundup last may and my sobriety was turned upside down.

I learned about how they worked it in New York. A HUGE departure from the way we do it here. I heard the lessons.

  • Work the Book, don’t only just read it and forget it.
  • If you have lots of time, can you recite the prayers? If not, you aren’t working hard enough.
  • Are you working with others?
  • Do you have a sponsor who is active in the book/steps/sponsorship?
  • What are you doing to augment your sobriety?

I knew then that my sobriety was stagnant and I needed to make a change. I decided to leave my home group of 11 years. I did that.

A fellow came to me and asked me to help him open a new meeting. We gathered a group of men and made it happen. And in three weeks that little meeting we started will celebrate its First Anniversary.

I studied the book, And I handed my life over to newcomers for a year. I found a new home group with young guys I could be present for and that work carried me to my anniversary last December.

I did not connect with a new sponsor until a couple of months ago. And by process of elimination, I asked a long time sober man at my new home group to sponsor me. We went to lunch and he interviewed me for the position. To make sure I was serious.

He got me into the book. Not only reading it but actively working my steps. I had to call him every day for the first month. I did that. Last night I forgot to call him amid all the excitement. So I called him earlier today and apologized for not calling last night, and he replied that I was off the hook, that I didn’t have to call him any more because I completed the month requirement. “You’re finished” he said.

I replied … “what do you mean I am finished?” I want to call every day, I need that daily connection with you, I am not finished.

His reply … “good for you, I am glad you have chosen to keep this up.”

So I learned my prayers, I read/worked the book, and was active in several groups. I had been in a dry spell, (read: Not sponsoring anyone directly) And then God stepped up and offered me two guys to work with within days of each other.

That is a very good thing. Now that I learned about sober investment a bit harder, and I did that harder, I was ready to work with others intimately.

The cycle had repeated itself once again.

And we are a couple months away from another Roundup, with guests from New York once again, and now I get to carry my sponsees through that event. Which is too cool for words.

My sponsor and I are traveling to Vermont the beginning of May for an intensive weekend. And the round up is two weeks later. It has been a very good year.

Sobriety becomes how much you invest in it.

You need to order your life around your meetings, not your meetings around your life. I can’t stress that enough. Put your sobriety first, then life can happen. Find a home group, make it your own. GO to your home group every week, without fail.

Life will begin the change.

It was a great night. Everybody is sober another night, some not so much.

It is what you make it.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday … It Works !!!

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Courtesy:Thiswillnotdefineus

It was a dreary night and today was a dreary day. It rained. Enough rain to warrant carrying an umbrella, but when I got out there, it was just spitting rain, so I carried for no reason ! UGH. The snow is beginning to disappear.

They have been tearing up Ste. Catherine’s street the past couple of days, and barricades are up and the system of bus stops up the block have been turned upside down. People loose their minds when they loose access to mass transit at a major hub, as this one is.

The Sports Bar/Resto on the corner is almost ready to reopen the entire restaurant. A long time ago, all the tenants on the strip were evicted, and all the walls knocked down to expand the resto. The small (initial) space was open while they built the new space. They then opened the new space and closed the old space to renovate. They worked on the upper floors and are now bricking up the walls above the resto, and when I walked by on my way home, the new (old) space has all the monitors up and chairs and tables. The build is complete.

With summer coming, and the entire resto open, with a tiki bar in the back, which is open, and during the summer he opens a patio out front, which takes up an entire lane of traffic about 500 feet long, they will be bringing in Big Bucks this season.

The Great Big News that came today was that tickets for the West Island Roundup are on sale, and one of my gal pals is picking me up three tickets for me and my sponsees. This is a “Must Attend Weekend” of the year. May 17 and 18. New York is coming to Montreal once again, last year’s event was earth shattering and changed my life, so bringing new guys to experience a taste of New York Sobriety will be a treat for them.

I left early to run some errands and arrived to a very quiet church. Quiet is good. I can take my time setting up and I get to spend time reading. I cherish amounts of time that I can sit and read during the day, because I don’t do that at home. Reading time usually occurs before bed.

I have arrived at my 4th Step with my sponsor. And it is quite an undertaking. To lead off the step is an exercise to plot feelings and emotions that “happened” from the day I was born until today. (so on the way home I picked up a diary to write in, so that I can carry it with me) when I meet with my sponsor. I have particular memories in my minds eye, but not necessarily a year to correspond.

So I have enlisted my aunt to help me peg a few dates so I can complete the work. The assignment is 15 to 30 minutes, every other day for as long as it takes. Which is a 46 year assignment. Add to that the regular question and answer form that will follow, and then the actual writing of a 4th step.

We sat a fair crowd. More than we had expected. AND several folks came, who came for the anniversary last week. So we gained a few guests. The chair read from the Daily Reflections from March 1st. (March is the third month, therefore all the entries cover Step 3).

The reading is simply, “It works … it really does.”

The passage talks about finding faith, and coming to believe that a power greater than ourselves can work for us, and that we learn to trust it. And how do we do that? Three things … Go to meetings, find a sponsor, work the steps.

Once again the word STAY came up.

Our newbies are getting used to rooting at a home group and making it their own. Meeting and learning to trust the room and the people in it. To devote time to reading, working and saying a few prayers here and there. All this is on a steep learning curve. It all takes time to change old habits, and learn new ones. Coming to believe that a power greater than ourselves has our best interest in mind. You might not see that on the outset, but if you can trust others, and see how their lives change, one day, your life will change as well.

Getting sober a second time had its advantages. I got a Do Over.

Lessons I learned the first time, that I forgot, when I went out, came to bear. Without the specter of death hanging over me, I was free to focus on myself unlike the first time. ( I was wrapped in a death shawl for years waiting to die) and I didn’t.

I hit a ton of meetings that first year. I rooted in One Meeting and I stayed.

I did whatever I was told to do without argument. The right people came into my life and I depended on the folks at my home group like my life depended on it and that served me well.

Over the years, staying in one place for a long time had its perks. I got to watch other people come in, sit down, stay for a season or two or three, and get sober. There is nothing more gratifying than watching God move in people’s lives. I knew who God was, and he had already moved heaven and earth to get me here, so that was a no brainer.

But at St. Leon’s, I have said before, God likes that room. I’ve seen the light come and rest. I’ve seen people come in lost and find Him. I learned a great deal about people as they came down those 12 steps into the hall. I studied it like science.

That’s when I came up with the Neon Sign Theory.

We all have one, hanging over our heads. And it tells the world things about us, but we might not see the sign for a while, but it is there. And if you stay in one place long enough, you will begin to see them yourself. People who come, and come again and again, over the years, that sign changes depending on our moods and feelings.

It was that light that I was searching for. And God did not disappoint.

So if you are new, stick around until the miracle occurs.

It was a good night. Everybody is sober another day.

More to come, stay tuned …

 

 

 


Sunday Sundries … A Beautiful Sunday

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Courtesy:PupHawaii

Say it with me …. Ahhhh SPRING !!!

It has been a stellar weekend. Albeit, with a little rain. But we do need to jump start the melting of all that snow that was all over the place. Today was a great beautiful day. The sun shone, the birds were singing, and the church lawn has much less snow and ice than it had a couple of days ago.

There is a large area of grass just needing to dry out and green up.

I was flying solo tonight, as coffee girl texted me she would not be making it. I popped out chairs and the assorted things, and turned to a a book I had begun reading last night, but the real treat came at the end of the meeting, when one of my sponsees brought me the text for M.A. (Marijuana Anonymous) “Life with Hope” 12 Steps and 12 Traditions. Since my guys are cross addicted, and myself as well, I thought it prudent to read this book because I had not in the past.

When I stopped smoking, I had moved 1000 miles away from it and I never went back nor did I go looking for it. Alcohol was my main issue, so it was back through the rooms I traveled.

It is the 21st Century and a book written in 1935, for our young men and women, and including many adults we see coming through are not only alcoholics, they have other issues as well. And I am of the mind, where it applies, to be able to work with our guys in whatever medium they need help.

We sat a full house. And I am chairing this month. Funny that I did not notice what tonight’s story was before the meeting started. I looked at the page numbers to write in my book, but I didn’t read the caption.

TIGHTROPE — Trying to navigate separate worlds was a lonely charade that ended when this gay alcoholic finally landed in A.A.

One never knows how a gay story is going to impact a room full of people. Our group is diverse. We have a large L.G.B.T. contingent, and as the share went around the room, I realized that our numbers were more numerous than I had first thought.

They tell us, not to compare, but to identify.

There was plenty of identification across the board. And although we did not get all the way around the room, for the most part, it was a good discussion.

You never know who is going to show up at our humble meeting. Our folks are very welcoming and are humble and kind to any guest who comes.

We believe in the anonymity statement and Who you see here, What you hear here, When you leave here, let it stay here.

It is common and often that a celebrity comes to our meeting. Tonight was one such case. It was shock and awe.

In the end, we are all the same.

And our folks kept the room safe and anonymous.

Everybody is good, Everyone is sober another week. That is a good omen. There are a few who are on the bubble after further experimentation at a the bar. We are keeping a close eye on them. And for now, we are keeping them close.

It was a good night.

More to come, stay tuned…