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Archive for May, 2014

The Easier Softer Way …

kneel

Friday has come and almost gone. I left uber early to meet with one of my guys to plan his next assignment. His first 4th Step. We celebrated his three months tonight. People tend to celebrate milestones at the Friday Meeting as of late.

We read from A.B.S.I. and “Seeking Guidance.” The act of praying, and then actively listening for the response, and what do we do if that response does not come? What do we do next, as in the right decision or the next right thing.

The shares went around the room. And I listened.

After my conversation after the meeting last night with Mr. Google, I spoke to my sponsor about it. And before I went to bed, I rifled off an email to Mr. Google about half measures, balking, and willfulness.

I got a response earlier today, but I did not read it until I came home after the meeting. I wasn’t sure what kind of response I was going to get back.

And after the meeting I was on the way home with one of my guys and I spoke what was going on in my head with him.

When I went to Vermont, I met guys who were severely addicted to hard core drugs and alcohol. Addiction is not a game. This is some serious shit. This is our lives we are talking about here. This is not a joke or something to be trifled with.

When I speak to someone about program or sobriety, I want my words to come from the right direction, and the right place. That I am not just spewing bullshit from the left side of my brain.

I began “The Work” over a year ago, and my life did change. Shit happened. Shit that I did not expect, but I asked for. And because I did “The Work” the universe paid out in spades.

“The Work” is ongoing, it never ends. Sobriety is not a destination it is a journey.

The day you take your last breath, that’s when the journey ends. But until then, we keep going. Experience, Strength and Hope is cumulative. It is a mass of information you collect on the way, the shit that happens when we least expect it.

Maya Angelou said … “People won’t remember what you did, nor what you said, but they will remember the way you made them feel…”

I’ve been working days, weeks and months on life and on “The Work.” And it isn’t about my ego or that I know more than some, or that it is all about me. It isn’t.

I took the lessons that were given. And I practiced. I humbled myself before God. There is something miraculous that happens when you humble yourself before God when you drop to your knees and pray.

I feel the embrace. And I know, for me, that there is something that hears my prayers and does for me what I could not do for myself. One of my friends doesn’t believe that there is anything on the other end of his prayers.

I have time under my belt where practiced is concerned. I have spoken to very wise men in sobriety who have done the same. Men who I came to know and respect. They laid it all out for us. And you either took it and adopted it, or you wasted the time and left with nothing to carry back to your guys.

It is one thing, to spout from the book and the left side of ones brain. But it is an entirely different beast when it comes from pure, unadulterated daily practice.

This is no joke. These are our lives. The good news is, is that with a little practice and a little faith, and a little humility, we never have to drink again.

One day at a time.

I am very grateful for my guys and my friends.

More to come, Stay tuned …


Thursday … Letting Go … Prayer – Steps 6 and 7.

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Courtesy: Minhos 21

As children bring their broken toys
with tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God because he was my friend.

But instead of leaving Him in peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
with ways that were my own.

As last I snatched them back and cried
“How can you be so slow?”
My child He said what could I do
You never did let go…

It was a regular Thursday night. The weather held and made the night much more enjoyable. I got to the church and cranked out set up, as one of my guys arrived. I had almost finished by the time he had arrived.

I sat outside enjoying the evening light and watched a man across the street mow the grass outside one of the buildings. I was LONGING to walk over there and offer to do the work for him, because, in the moment, I missed mowing a lawn and the whole physicality of it.

It is almost meditative, mowing a lawn. Walking the path behind a mower. Not so much when you are either riding a mower or a tractor ( which I used to do when I was in seminary). Each Friday was clean up day where we all had menial jobs to up keep the grounds and the church. I was dutifully appointed mowing the lawns for the High School next door and our property (they both sat on the same land).

It was a successful business meeting. All the jobs were assigned. We made rent for another month. And in June we will host our very first Group Inventory. A yearly ritual where we review the past year, and plan for the next.

Our chair read the poem above, which he keeps inside his Big Book. That lead into our reading and discussion of Steps 6 and 7.

In that reading comes the Seventh Step Prayer.

I spoke about the challenge posed to us, who attended the Roundup last year, 2013, about learning, living and knowing the 3rd, 7th and 11th Step Prayers.

A friend gave me a pack of step prayers. And I tacked them on my monitor so I would see them every morning and every night. I practiced those prayers for a year along with reading the book, and working with others.

I wanted to do what the teachers did, because I wanted my sobriety enhanced and to come as close as I could to New York Sobriety. And inside of that year, many things came together for me. So by the roundup 2014, my life HAD changed. It got better. I reaped the rewards of prayer and practice.

My sponsor and I went to Vermont with a few others from Montreal. We met many men who came to study the steps and to talk amongst ourselves. It was a fantastic weekend. I met other men who were on a similar journey like myself.

My sponsor, His Sponsor and myself are amid our steps. And my sponsees are amid their steps. I am sandwiched in the middle of them. My sponsor on one side and my guys on the other.

Upon departing the church, a man who was at the roundup with us last year, and heard the challenge as well, went back out and came back in. It seems he can’t rid himself of the compulsion to drink. (Because he’s not doing The Work).

I was coming up the stairs and he asked me “if I Google the prayers, will they come up?” I replied, open your book and read chapter five. All the prayers are in the book, why do you need to Google them?

“When was the last time you opened and READ your book?”

Obviously, he doesn’t open nor reads his Book.

If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it then you are ready to take certain steps…

At some of these He balked …

It was good to see my guys and our guys tonight. We had a good night.

All is well in the world.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Moving Forward

maybe

And the weekend comes to a close. The rains came this evening, but a couple of us missed it all and got home nice and dry.

It was a Big Day for one of my guys, but more on that later.

I headed out a bit early to make some stops on the way, and I got into the hall and chairs were already down, which made my job a bit easier. Last week we did not make enough coffee, but also, we did not expect the numbers that showed up, so we ran out.

Tonight, I made sure I filled the urn to make more coffee, not knowing, tonight, how many would show up, and I was good to think that, because we sat huge numbers again tonight. I pulled out two stacks of chairs extra, on top of what I usually put down.

We don’t usually see big numbers on Traditions weeks, still it is a good sign that lots of people like our meeting and come from all over. We had a couple from Alberta come and we welcomed them warmly.

Since it is the last Sunday of the month, we read Tradition 5.

“Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.”

We have heard a lot about Singleness of purpose, from the weekend, and the Primary purpose tonight. The problem with singleness of purpose, is that it alienates the dual addict. Which was a comment I heard from many after the roundup. I brought my guys, and for them alcohol is not their primary. So they were kind of put off.

This is where I think we need to amend the singleness of purpose. Because many come to our meetings, where alcohol is not their primary. And that is why I work through two texts instead of one.

With a room full of people, we got a multitude of ways to carry the message, and including how the message was carried to us. The main goal of a group is to carry the message to the one who still suffers, or is brand new, or coming back.

It is a good sign that we carry good numbers because that means we are doing our jobs and people come back every week. The Sunday meeting is coming up on 52 years in a few weeks. And since its inception, has been doing this work in our community for a long time.

After getting my ass kicked a year ago at a round up, I turned up the heat on my study and my prayers, and I worked my ass off. Which lead to a new sponsor and men to work with one on one.

The most important job I have today is carrying the message and working with my guys. It is the most rewarding aspect of sobriety that we could ever have, to be able to work with others and to pass on what we know to them.

Is it ODD or is it GOD ???

A woman I know from New York coined this phrase.

It is timely because one of my guys completed his 3rd step tonight.

I gave him all the time he needed to complete his task this evening after the meeting. And it was a great discussion about spiritual experience, and his rendition of His Power greater than himself.

There is power in any given room. We go to find it, and we go to give it. We end up sharing it, and we come away with it.

But you ask, WHAT is IT???

Ask many people, you will get many answers.

In the end, it is up to each persons concept and belief system.

How do we turn it over to It and what happens to us?

We learn in recovery that it is not something we can do alone or by ourselves. But together, unified in a single purpose, we can do for each other, what we could never imagine doing ourselves.

One day at a time, with friends and fellows, what we give and what we return becomes the power that brings us salvation.

Some call it God, and some don’t. But it doesn’t make it any less powerful.

I got to share in a 3rd step.

It was good. Very Good.

The rain came and passed us by. Which was a good thing.

More to come, stay tuned …


Saturday … 3 Months and Counting

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Courtesy:Elleusine

Half the weekend is gone. And they called for some massive rain, but we skated over the past two days without a drop. However, outside the city, they got it in buckets.

I spent a great deal of time this week with my guys. It was a week full of meetings and comings and goings. Strange that a particular meeting I hit twice this week was missing a good number of faces who usually come. It was an off week.

The Friday meeting was sparse. Again, more missing folks. We are playing Hot potato with the cd’s from the roundup, we are passing them around the circle. One of my girlfriends is off to Kuwait this weekend and wanted to take them with her for the folks there. We decided to bring along last years cd’s. It seems that the more folks I speak to about the weekend, the same review comes up.

People were not as impressed as last year.

The topic last night spoke about “inventory” and gathering all the data we can about ourselves in order to be more available to interpersonal communication, (read: Friendships).

I am amid my 4th step inventory, and I am waiting for my sponsor to move me ahead, and every time I hear the word inventory, more gets added to my diary review. I have spent a great deal of time looking at areas of my life that I have skated over in the past.

Attending M.A. meetings with my guys, I have, for the first time, began to pick apart my relapse. And along with my diary inventory, we are working to find patterns and behaviors that contribute to poor behavior and decisions.

Tonight they called for rain, that didn’t materialize. I headed off to the Saturday M.A. meeting because one of my guys was taking his three month chip. I am very proud of him because he has worked very hard over the past few months and tomorrow we will go over his 3rd Step.

My sponsor believes that the 3rd step is a biggie…

Thursday night we read from the appendix and Spiritual Experience. It seemed the weeks readings have been in sync with where my guys are amid their steps.

It has been a good, full week.

Lots of Gratitude, Pride and Honor.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … The week that was … And More

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Courtesy: SummerDiaryProject – Jase

It has been a busy week. The rains came this evening. Kind of raining in between coming and going. Hit and Miss rain that ended before the meeting ended.

The past few days, we’ve been on information assimilation concerning “the work.” We have all picked apart the best and the worst from the roundup now. Me thinks that they should bring in a new source, let’s say Akron, or Cleveland, or The Pacific Group in California. we may have had our fill of New York City, and the fact that the weekend was mediocre at best, seems to be the common buzz word.

I hit a bunch of meetings, hoping to hook up with a possible pigeon, but he was a no show on Monday night, and I won’t get another chance to see him until Saturday.

My guys are amid their step work. I am mid way through my 4th, waiting on my sponsor to finish with HIS sponsor, so we can move ahead. Lots of good stuff.

Which leads nicely into tonight’s topic and discussion.

We read from the Appendix 2 – and Spiritual Experience.

In A.A. it is enforced that a psychic change or spiritual experience must take place where in a change in attitude and outlook happens, this change guarantees that sobriety is possible.

In the M.A. book, it says that a spiritual experience is not necessary to get clean. it goes on, when working steps that you are allowed to “create” and find a power greater than yourself. For some, that is not always God, in the Deity spectrum.

Something my guys struggle with. My sponsor is of the mind that there are many ways to work a program and that “one way” is not always the “right way.” And sometimes you need to do something else, and We have done that.

I was thinking about Spiritual Experience. And turning my will and my life over to the God of my understanding.

A long time ago, in a church that was familiar to me and my grandmother, one afternoon she took me to church and set me on the altar and prayed, and in my memory it was as if she was turning my life over to the care of God as she understood him. This is one of my first memories that I tracked working my 4th step.

God was always present. For the whole of my life.

The second time I got a pass at turning it over was in High School on a retreat, the first of many over three years time. The One on One retreat where we were introduced to Jesus and at the end we were committing our lives to him, many of us came home on a high, and we learned how to live that commitment in our daily lives. Being a Christian in high school was quite the chore. Because the odds were against us. Carry a bible in ones bag was suspect.

I had several more passes by God in Seminary and in the Vatican itself.

When I came to my last drink the second time, I knew it was coming. The signs were there, and I had began to communicate with God. So that decision to quit was a conscious decision. Bolstered by prayer and a commitment to getting back, but I needed an escort to take me back, and I have written before that that did happen.

The most important spiritual experience this time around always involves other people. Committing to one room, committing to “the Stay” and spending time with others getting sober, watching others have spiritual experiences, is where I have mine, because it is in those moments that I see God.

I know who God is, and I know who God is not.

A university education gave me that, and spending time in the rooms has opened my eyes to the God of many’s understandings. For every human being there is a concept, some are the same, some are different.

My faith is solid so embracing other concepts do not threaten my faith or my spiritual journey.

You see this in real life issues in the world. New takes on religion, spirituality, homosexuality, equal rights and equality, these things shake up the pot of belief and you watch people who think they have a handle on their faith and practice, but if you speak these words to them, their entire lives are turned upside down.

People who do not have a solid handle on their faith and belief are easily rocked when they are asked to consider something more than they know. Hence this new movement of God and the gay Christian. This has totally upturned the apple cart of the belief systems of evangelical Christianity.

It is quite something to watch.

But, Um, Sputtering, total confusion, duh !!!!

Somewhere up there, God is taking the piss …

God is or He isn’t.

I live for spiritual experience, especially when I get to share them with my friends.

That is God in action.

It was a good night, and it has been a good week.

More to come, stay tuned…


“The Work …” Courtesy of The Atlantic Group NYC

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Courtesy: Tyler Oakley

O.M.G. I am SPENT !!! Spent I tell you…

This weekend Dorval hosted the 40th Annual West Island Roundup. And our guests came from New York City, and the Gigantic – Atlantic Group of New York City.

They have meetings SEVEN nights a week, and the most anticipated meeting of the week brings out 600, yes that’s SIX HUNDRED people for a meeting.

Imagine a meeting that size here. I don’t think there is a hall open in our city that would hold that many people. HUGE !!!

The theme of the speakers was “The Work.”

You have to Do the Work. In order to be happy, joyous and free, you need to do “the work.” It was a similar message from all our speakers.

Last night, Saturday, we heard from the Founder of the Atlantic Group.

Today we heard from similar group members.

This morning our first speaker right out of the gate got up there and knocked it out of the park. Once that meeting was finished, the copies of his talk went up in smoke. They could not keep up with demand. And by the end of the day they took payment, addresses and told us that they would send us the talk, for those of us who bought ALL of the talks for the weekend.

Our guy got up there and extolled the virtues of “the work” and how it changed his life, from the life he was stuck in, using, abusing and hurting the ones who loved him, not to mention himself. That group is known for its bent on unapologetic Big Book Thumping.

The message here: Don’t waste your time with folks who don’t want it, because there is always someone in the wings waiting for you to work with them.

The odds of success are slim from the start. The percentages are not good. 1%

That only should embolden you to get up from your seat, get a book, and find someone to walk you through it.

Later on this morning we heard from an Al-Anon speaker.

And then they served everyone lunch from Scores restaurant. The place was packed for today’s events.

After lunch we got a One Two Punch by a couple who met in the Atlantic Group and later got married. We got to hear how a long sober couple works together in love and how they work with others.

Us alcoholics suffer from a hopeless malady of the body, mind and spirit.

And the way out of that misery and malady is through the solution that is laid out in the first 164 pages of the Big Book.

I spent the entire weekend with my friends. The people I love the most. The people who give to my life those things that nobody else can give me.

And a year to the date, exactly, I got to share this weekend with my guys. We listened, we chatted, we broke bread, and we discussed.

It is my hope that this weekend made some kind of impression on them that they can take into their lives and their respective sobrieties.

A year ago, I attended my first round up and it turned my world upside down. And I started doing “the work,” truthfully, I had a sponsor that was a hands off kind of sponsor, who really didn’t do “the work.” So I began to move away.

I changed up my meetings, I practiced my prayers for a year. I read the book. I participated in the lives of newbies for months. That is how I began “the work.”

I practiced until God put a new sponsor into my life. And after that my life changed again.

After 12 or so years, two men stepped into my life, and I got the opportunity to start “The Work” with them. Nothing makes sobriety more important or special that having someone to work with. Because they keep me on my toes. I must now do “The Work.” I must have a sponsor who does “The Work.”

I am, what they call, SANDWICHED…

I have a grand sponsor, I have a sponsor, I have myself, and I have my guys.

Not to mention all the others I work with or I am friends with. All those folks who come to my meetings, that I see every week. Meetings are important.

But more importantly, the guy who opens the door, sets up, makes coffee, welcomes guests, reads, shares, discusses, and then cleans up afterwards.

If there is no one there to do “The Work,” If there is no one to welcome the newcomer, then how would we survive? How would they survive without us?

Thankless jobs, but so vitally important. I have done that for the whole of my sobriety. Week in and week out. Month by month, year by year.

It is unrelenting work.

And in the end it all comes down to gratitude. Because I am only carrying on “the Work” that was shown to me by those who did “the work” before me.

And this weekend, I got to spend time with the one woman who welcomed me to my first meeting at the home group I began here in the city. She lives far away now and I don’t get to see her very often, so that was a treat.

It was a great weekend. And my batteries are charged. And so commences “The Work” that will carry us for the next year.

It was a great investment of time, talent and treasure for my guys.

And to close I got an email from the member who drove them out and took them home all weekend. saying how impressed she was with my guys’ kindness.

A great weekend was had by all.

IT IS TIME TO DO “THE WORK !”

Let us begin anew.

More to come, I am sure…


Friday … Celebrations, Rain and The Soberfest Continues

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Courtesy:Minhos21

Friday is brought to you by the NUMBER 3 …

And it is raining. It has been raining all evening and will rain through tomorrow. But it won’t be a total washout for the Victoria Day (Read:Planting weekend) Long Weekend.

I noticed that the carpet and runners have been put down in the upper floors of the building. And I like what they have done with the new decor. Dark earth tone carpet with the same tone wall runners and baseboards.

The door frames are a dark green and the doors are a lighter shade of green. They are working on the lower floors as they are working their way down the floors.

Meanwhile at Alexis Nihon, the shoppes on the Southern side (left hand side) of the ground floor are opening. They have moved spaces from the floor above down one tier. Not sure what they are going to put in their places, but they are all boarded up.

The glass enclosed elevator that spans the entire mall, which will give access to handicap shoppers and shoppers alike direct access to the mall. Something this mall has lacked in the past. There is an elevator, but it is out of sight, out of mind.

The food court shops on the escalator bay are almost complete. A new Dagwood’s is in process. Along with a juice bar, a yogurt bar the round area on the ground floor is almost complete.

The brand new renovated I.G.A. is almost complete. They have sorted out the store and broadened their footprint and added a glass wall open to the mall side. I haven’t been inside sine they started the reno. I don’t usually shop there.

There are still a few unoccupied bays on the ground floor. The competition between Timmy’s and Starbucks keep steady traffic in the massive seating/eating area that fronts Target and around the sides of the escalator bay.

They are working on the facade of the mall’s exterior, putting up new signage around the entire mall, on Atwater and along Ste. Catherine’s. All this exterior work has upset the bus stops that front there.

Cabot Square. caddy cornered to the mall is under renovations and all the bus stops on the square and on Ste Catherine’s are all fucked up. Along with the square lane closure, traffic is funneled into one lane going East. It’s a bit of a headache.

As it was raining when I left for my commute, I thought that I would leave a bit later than usual, so that I would miss set up. Well, that was stupid. In both stations trains were waiting, so that transit was fast. I caught a bus sitting in the bay and arrived at the church around 7:15. The door was locked and I was there first.

We waited about twenty minutes for the key holder and we just had time to finish set up before everybody showed up. It was a fair crowd. The same faces came to celebrate twin anniversaries tonight.

Two of my friends received their Three Year chips from their sponsors.

Our man is one who I respect with all my heart. When he came he was a shell, and over the years he opened his life to us, and he opened his life, his home, his car and his goodness to anyone who needed it. He is my Go To Guy. He never says no. And he is always there for men who are in distress. He has cared for the least of us, and has given a great deal to our community.

Our woman, I met when she came in. She was a mess but quickly came to and started off on the right foot, and took to sobriety like a duck to water. The past year has been difficult for her. She has seen hardship and has traveled all over for work and family. She has come a long way.

Today’s reading was “Alone no More.”

We may not have families or domestic bliss. And when we come in they tell us that we are no longer alone. For some that takes time to sink in. Here in our rooms we get to choose our new family and build the ties that we want with the people we care for and respect.

The Friday meeting is a very cohesive family unit. We come every week, not for the book, or the room, but because of her people. We celebrate, we mourn, and we all work together for the betterment of every person who comes down that staircase from all over the world, near and far.

There was lots of conversation, cake and celebrations.

A good night was had by all.

And tomorrow, is night one of the West Island Round Up.

Folks are all fired up – it will be fantastic.

More to come tomorrow…


Thursday Practice … And a Taste of Summer

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Courtesy: CatchFire

It has been unseasonably WARM these past couple of days. We are sitting at (+21c with a humidex of +26) at 3:16 a.m. in the morning.

This is the warmest it has been yet this year 2014. The last time we saw heat like this was last Fall. People are eating it up. Break out the shorts and t shirts. Back in Vermont last weekend, it was cool, but not really “cold” being higher up in elevation had something to do with that.

We will see a bit of rain over the next two days. Hopefully it WILL rain and not just piddle like it has been the last few weeks.

Round two of Sober Fest begins on Saturday. We are all lined up with transport to the West Island. I am looking forward to the culmination of a years worth of “Practice.”

Today’s topic from April’s Daily Reflections read at the meeting dealt with finding faith, that doesn’t come over night, it has to be cultivated. Like sobriety, you can’t just sit down and warm a chair. Eventually you will have to decide that you either want it or you don’t. And if you do, then start practicing. Which also comes from the reading.

The age old question …

“How do you get to Carnegie Hall??? Practice, Practice, Practice.”

A year ago, almost to the date, we all went to the Roundup. We listened and for myself, I was conflicted with sobriety, because New Yorkers promised us champagne and caviar if we worked the program the way they did.

We don’t get champagne and caviar here in Montreal sobriety. I don’t think we even get steak, for that matter.

I listened to the words and the way they were delivered. Which sent me on a quest to find that kind of sobriety. I began to practice my craft. More than I had been. I moved away from my old sponsor and free dove into the sea of newcomers alone.

I said my prayers. I read my book. I studied it with others. I worked with others and I later found a sponsor who wanted champagne and caviar too. And that is what we aim to get from our respective journeys.

Funny that the intensive weekend fell the week prior to this years Roundup. It was a great run up event to the Big Show. And if last year was any indicator of just what is in store, it will be much better two years on.

It is amazing to be able to report on just how much my life has changed over the last year. I did the time. And I am grateful for every person who was part of that journey. Sadly, some of the guys that were such close friends, have taken their leave of the program. And heaven knows I try to be friendly to them, my words fall on deaf ears it seems.

We gathered at the church for our regular meeting. Only a handful of people came, some are out of town, others had family obligations to tend to. But I get to see my guys and spend time with them. An investment of time, talent and effort. And they are worth every minute of my time.

And on Saturday I get to share champagne and caviar with them.

I am hoping that they too get the sobriety bug, and go nuts. soberly that is…

It was a good night.

It is late. I need to sleep.

More to come, stay tuned…


Tuesday … I Drink Because I am Bored !!!

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Courtesy: Korybalski

The skies are a little grim. And the seasonal affectation disorder is in full swing.

One day it is sunny, and folks are happy. The next day it is overcast and threatening rain, and folks are depressed, enough to take a drink.

Today I felt normal, after the pumped up weekend. I think I was jonsing for coffee, since I drank enough coffee to drown an elephant over the weekend. I don’t, as a habit, drink coffee at home, except for rare days.

I spent the better part of yesterday, (oh, let’s say all day and night) in bed. I got up for dinner and the news and went back to bed for more sleep.

Today I left early so I could do some shopping on the way out. Tickets for my Opus card, candles for the meeting, so forth and so on. I hit my train and was on my way.

My coffee mate came about 5:30 and we sat a small group. And we had a unique visitor. I have not seen a case like this in as many years, and we were not sure what to do or what to say …

When folks come in, they usually lay low, participate and they move towards the room in process, so to speak.

I don’t know what to say when I hear “I’ve got 6 D.U.I’s, but no jail, I’ve got a breath-o-meter in my truck to test my alcohol level so that I can drive.”

I drink and drive every day. Because when I get off work, during the day, after working the 4 a.m to noon shift, I need a couple of beers on the way home, so I make the stop and drink them on the way.

Then One, then Five, Then 10 more …

The other night my wife got on my case about my drinking, so I slugged her.

She called the cops.

I am now living out of home, at my parents place, on the other side of town, from my estranged wife and my 6 year old son.

I can’t go back, because I have to go to court before they will allow me back…

So I am here.

I drink because I am bored !

Needless to say, we were at a loss for words, and there were men and women with more than twenty years of sobriety present.

A topic went out – but was severely deviated from.

I did not hear the words, “I have a problem” or “I want to quit drinking.” What I heard was his qualification for being at a meeting.

Again, the only requirement for membership is a DESIRE to quit drinking.

He spoke no word, nor breathed a desire in any case.

He left before we could get a word in. But he left with a meeting list in any case.

I’ve never come across a situation like this before. All he wants to do is go home, and drink. But because he raised his fist, he can’t. And now he is paying a price, but the admission of a drinking problem never came up.

Maybe I will see him again. Maybe I won’t.

I drink because I am bored…

Sad, very sad.

That’s all I can say.

More to come, stay tuned…


Mad River Barn Weekend – Let’s Discuss

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And We’re back … From Vermont that is …

I have to say that the weekend amongst my brothers/fathers/friends in sobriety rocked the house to the ground. I am so fortunate to have the sponsor I do and had the opportunity to spend the weekend listening and sharing with such honesty.

Hands down this weekend was the best weekend I have had in sobriety thus far. And it only took 12 and a half years to get here.

We departed on Friday afternoon, playing follow the leader out to Vermont. My sponsor and friends in one car, and myself and my friend (the driver) in the other.

It was all smooth sailing until we hit the U.S. Border. They got through quickly, where as when it came to our turn, we got grilled. Never tell a border guard you are sober, or that you are an alcoholic, in recovery or NOT !

So, in the end we got through. It was a smooth drive into Vermont. We (read: our car) ate at McDonald’s before leaving the city. One of our guys forgot his passport so they had to go back and get it …. (read: such a dunce!)

We made it all the way to Colchester where we stopped for Food for three and more food for us. It was good fresh food served to us by a witty happy waitress.

After the meal we paid for our food and set off for the Barn. Which would be a couple of hours later. We were following for the first 10 or so miles, when my driver realized that he had left his jacket (WITH) his passport, at the restaurant.

I madly texted the lead vehicle finally calling via cell to advise that we were turning around to go back to Colchester. We hit an exit that was not correct, had to ask directions and then find our way back to the diner.

We pulled up in the parking lot and parked, got out of the car, and got to the door. And wouldn’t you know it – The diner was CLOSED !!!

Panic set in. We started banging on the door hoping that there was somebody still inside. A few minutes later the check out girl opened the door and handed us the jacket and passport. They figured we would be returning and waited for us to get there. Imagine if we had not realized that the passport was left behind.

It was a scenic route into the Mad River Valley, thank God we had printed directions and talent at following them.

The Mad River Barn is a working Bed and Breakfast Inn. Not far from Sugar Bush Mountain, (which, by the way, still had snow on the runs).

They sorted us into rooms. All the guys in my room were from Montreal. The Inn has been recently refurbished and reopened on December 26th 2013.

Our room slept 6.

A suite with a queen bed, in the main room, a set of bunk beds and two beds head to head in the second room. The bathroom was state of the art, with complete service (Towels, shampoo, and all that good stuff). I didn’t need all the shit I packed and brought with me.

We had a third meal at dinner time, along with the 50 men who were present.

Food – We had three meals a day with dessert. All the coffee you could drink, and I noticed late Saturday Night that there was a soda gun on the coffee stand. Needless to say that I was over caffeinated, leading to no sleep on Friday night.

We had presentations on the Steps as outlined in the Big Book, and the Twelve and Twelve. One guy would speak on the step for a few minutes and then the floor would open for discussion.

There were twelve discussions. over three days.

The opening salvo came to a head when Step One was introduced,

“We” admitted … This is a WE program.

And I raised my hand and told my story about : Go somewhere else and do not return to this meeting. Where I had hit two meetings in sobriety and was told it was a “We” program but “I” was not included in that “WE.”  In front of everyone.

Jaws dropped. People were angry, several people turned in their chairs. That was the majority of the discussion on that step, and would be touched on throughout the weekend.

I took my sponsees with me in spirit. Because After each presentation, I spoke to the person who spoke on the step about a great many things. My sponsor was there and heard everything I said in the meetings.

We had cell service in the Mountains, and if I stood in one particular spot on the sidewalk out front, I could get a clear signal, as I was calling Montreal several times checking in with them over the weekend.

I learned a great deal about working my steps, as the others had worked them, how they applied them to their lives and what I could expect if I did the same. I spoke a lot during steps 1 thru 4. Because I have done Steps 1 thru 4.

I worked on my 4th step during the weekend. But my sponsor isn’t done with his yet, and HIS sponsor was also there for the weekend.

I took a bunch of notes. I listened to all the other steps as they came up. And I took those notes home, and planned to discuss them with my guys.

After each session we had a break to get out of our chairs to spend some time talking amongst ourselves outside the meeting format, and to huddle with our chosen mentor of the moment.

I went to bed late both Friday and Saturday. And I woke early both Saturday and Sunday just so I could get a conversation in with every person I could over the weekend. We drank a shit load of coffee and smoked packs of cigarettes. Not to mention several boxes of cigars as well. They were very popular.

By Saturday night we were spent to death. Everybody got good sleep.

Location, Location, Location … There was a separate section of the building where guests we roomed. They served them meals upstairs on the second floor which had a bar, games tables, tv’s and seating for meals.

All very well appointed. The others, who had been here before kept remarking at just how GOOD a job they did with the rebuild.

During our afternoon break on Saturday I chose to nap, while others went on hikes into the mountains. We were warned about Bears and Moose! And yes we did have sightings.

Today – read: this morning … We met for Step 12. Discussed, and people began to scatter, as it was Mother’s Day and the guys/husbands/fathers, needed to get on the road to spend the rest of the day with their significant others.

These guys were all good guys. I did not get a whiff of ego, or that stupid heterosexual Men’s Pissing Game. We did play several practical jokes on people which was quite funny.

We departed about 11:30 this morning. And we took the scenic route over Sugar Bush up the mountain, across and down the other side all the way to Burlington. A drive that took us an hours time.

It would have been quicker had we taken the route we came in on. The views were stellar. I can’t wait to see what that scenery looks like come fall, which is when the next intensive is scheduled.

We arrived back in town about 2:30 in the afternoon.

I loved Loved LOVED the weekend. How ever much we enjoyed the weekend, by Sunday we were all ready to come home. And when I got home, I wished that we had stayed longer. If only to spend more time with the others and get to enjoy more of the surrounding mountains.

I unpacked and chilled until I had to leave for the Sunday Night Meeting.

It was a stellar day. If this is the tip of the sobriety iceberg, I can’t wait to see what is underneath. Because I want MORE …

I am pooped. I need dinner and to sleep in my own bed.

Which leads me to the fact that I have never slept on such a comfortable mattress than the one I slept on over the weekend. I want One … Down/memory foam.

FABULOUS !!

That is all for tonight. More to come…


On the Eve of Mad River Barn …

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Mad River Barn Bed and Breakfast Inn – Vermont

It is the eve of my first trip abroad since my honeymoon. And it is the first time I am leaving hubby alone, by himself for the first time since we have been married. He is the one who usually travels to visit family leaving me to sleep alone !! Now he gets the experience.

We are packed and ready to go tomorrow around noon. So we will be away from the box for the entire weekend. Not sure what I will do with myself not having this thing in front of me for more than 24 hours.

It has been a very fruitful week with my guys.

Lots of things going on and as of tonight everyone is happy, joyous and free.

We sat a small group tonight, and we went over Step 1.

How soon we forget about the intricacies of this step as we get and stay sober, and it isn’t until life starts to get sticky and we get squirrely, that we need return to this first point of contact and realize that we are powerless, not only over alcohol, but over people, places and things.

I shall see you all on the other side of the weekend.

More to come, stay tuned…

 


Tuesday … Rowing Along

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Courtesy: TheBraingasm

There is still a chill in the air. People are opting for coats, moving about outside.

The rain has departed and it will be sunny for the next few days and hopefully warmer. I would like to pack shorts for the weekend, but rain is forecast for the weekend, and that usually means cooler temps. I may pack them just in case, not that we will be outside for any great length of time during the weekend.

I have heard mixed reviews of the location we are going to, like communal spaces to sleep and that irks some folks who prefer privacy at night. Others have said that it will be a great weekend. Folks from all over will be there, lots of good long term sobriety. We shall see.

The push to the roundup is still on. Ticket sellers are visiting all the local meetings trying to get people to commit. Those of us who went last year all think this is a “must attend” event in ones sobriety. The New York model for sobriety is very different from the way we do it here, in certain circles mind you.

I’ve been working very hard to bring that model to my guys and to the meetings that I go to. In most meetings in New York City, they more than triple attendance at their meetings. I mean hundreds show up for particular meetings. That is something we have not seen here in Montreal in over a decade.

Back in the day, at certain meetings, you could expect a hundred head count, but those meetings came to an end and closed. And most of those people that we used to see come, Don’t …

I departed a little early to run some errands and arrived at the church on time, and made a pot of coffee. We sat a humble group. And we read the first page of Living Sober. “Why Not Drinking ???”

As we are a beginner group, we focus on Steps 1,2,and 3. And the literature that is useful to someone just coming in and those in their first weeks, months and years in sobriety.

Why Not Drink?

  1. I just can’t have ONE
  2. At the end I was delusional
  3. I can’t drink like a normal person
  4. What is normal???
  5. I don’t like who I become when I drink
  6. Once I start I cannot stop

All I know, on that night I drank my last number of drinks, I somehow got home and into my apartment. Several instances where this happened, grew into fear, because not knowing what I looked like or who stepped in and cut me off and took me out of the bar, and got me into a taxi, and THEN get into a locked building, was something I began to concede that I had a serious problem.

From September to December 2001, many of us were consumed with alcohol. And the slow decent into hell just got worse. They say slips get progressively worse and becoming delusional because of alcohol is a serious problem.

But I came to a moment of clarity. Don’t ask me how or why? But I got there. I knew I was licked. I had a sober moment where I said to myself that it was over, the party was over and that I needed help, and I asked for help, and help came.

God in His infinite wisdom came and sent me help.

Because I asked for it.

The compulsion to drink departed. I thought it a good sign in early sobriety that the bar/club I used to drink in closed its doors for good. I walked by that building every day to get to the room in Miami Beach. Knowing that I never had to drink again in that place was comfort.

I had escalated my drinking to the point that I would never go to a bar that served liquor during the day. Or daily for that matter. I was not a daily drinker, I could not function that way. I was the all or nothing binge drinker. And the one night a week, all or nothing event was what I was after, until it was over.

I can count on one hand the times I came close to a drink in early sobriety. But thank God for the rooms and the people in them, moving here sober, kept me at a distance from drinking establishments, liquor stores or deps.

It has been a good run so far.

I don’t drink, one day at a time. And that works for me.

Everybody is good.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Power

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Courtesy:Fall of The Roman Empire

And it rained today. It wept rain until everyone was inside, then buckets came, and it piddled all the way home. The grass will be all the more greener in a few days time.

The Greene Avenue snow pile is no more. All washed away and the parking lot is open for business. I am sure the planting of the square will take place soon.

Another week begins. And in a few days I will be in Vermont. Boo Yah !!!

It is all very exciting. This first weekend is for the guys. Two weeks later it will be for all of us. The run up to the 40th Annual West Island Round Up has begun.

I departed early this afternoon and a good thing too. As I approached the church I saw signs on the door. (not a good sign) Something was going on in the hall that I was not made aware of.

A performance of a very famous boys choir was going on in the church. They are preparing for their tour of Europe in a few weeks. From the sounds of it, the church was packed.

I walked into the church hall, and there were tables, chairs and personal duds on all the chairs. I negotiated the use of the kitchen to make coffee as I waited out the boys to finish and for the hall to open for me.

Someone in the office did not call me, I phoned the super and he said something to that effect, that she forgot to call and cancel the Sunday meeting. (Which would have been a huge problem. You can’t just cancel same day …)

A little while later the place cleared out – with a burst of youth and exuberance !!!

We tore down the space with some assistance and reset for the meeting.

It was a huge success. Lots of people. Lots of good conversation. The writer of tonight’s story was very familiar to me and to others as well. In the end we get to hear about the power that exists in the room, in its people and how we do this thing we call recovery together.

And the line that got the most appreciation was this …

“Be Still And Know that I am God …”

A phrase that is used in many meditation circles. A mantra. A prayer.

Our folks are moving in good directions. People are finding words they never had and they are beginning to hear themselves speak. And that is a very good thing.

A bunch of us walked home together. I met with one of my guys for our weekly meeting and step work.

And the take away from this whole night? I spent a lot of money and seven years in university studying God. And in the end, the God I was looking for came to me in ways I did not expect, and only cost me loonies and toonies, over the last twelve and some years. The God I thought I would find in class, made himself known to me in the many people I have met in the rooms.

And a lot cheaper than the tuition I paid…

God moments… Sitting in a coffee shop listening to someone tell you about the God of THEIR understanding. Precious, Priceless, Divine.

It shall be exciting …

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday …The Coming of Faith

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Courtesy:Freeminded

No matter where you go, you take us with you.

The end of the week is here. And all that rain they said would fall, Didn’t.

It was a quiet day. My sponsor is on the mend after surgery on Wednesday morning. He can’t walk, but he sounded better today. He has to stay off his feet (literally) for a week so he can heal.

I set out early because I had to get goodies for the meeting and another card for another chip. I need to get a third card for the Monday M.A. meeting. I made good time across town and arrived early enough to help set up.

And as usual we sat a good crowd. All the happy people came and a few more.

We talked about faith, and the good thing about all these people, you always get a cross spectrum of thoughts on any given topic.

“… To me, this means a belief in a Creator who is all power, justice, and love; a God who intends for me a purpose, a meaning, and a destiny to grow, however little and haltingly, toward His own likeness and image.

Before the coming of faith I had lived as an alien in a cosmos that too often seemed both hostile and cruel. In it there could be no inner security for me.”

“When I was driven to my knees by alcohol, I was made ready to ask for the gift of faith. And all was changed. Never again, my pains and problems notwithstanding, would I experience my former desolation. I saw the universe to be lighted by God’s love; I was alone no more.”

Some are not comfortable with letting go absolutely. Life is life and sometimes shit happens. Sometimes good and sometimes bad.

Life doesn’t always end up sunshine and roses.

People have hardships and problems. They just don’t go away when we get sober. The good thing is that when we do get sober, we can look at life in a real way. Without getting blotto and/or stoned.

Some say that when we are taken to our knees, we get the gift of desperation. We can’t do it on our own, it works when we sit amongst others who share the same disease.

Life has not been easy, by any stretch. But it seemed to me that the way I got sober this time did the trick in helping me navigate life on life’s terms.

I moved here sober. To a new city and new people. I got connected.

I got rooted and homed. It came to pass that I would get some time in the book, time to discuss and learn and integrate. Then like clockwork, God would throw me something; an issue, a problem, a hardship and I would have to then work it out soberly.

If I did not have the certain people in my life, it could have gone worse. But I have survived each challenge as it came to pass. Faith came in new ways. I learned to stay in  my day. I learned that I was powerless over people, places and things. And that I am responsible for my self and my own actions. And that the only thing I could change is myself.

I’ve also learned, in the grand scheme of things, that the sooner I eradicate things I am powerless over (read:the past), I don’t have to rehash it, or ponder it or live in it, I can go on with my life.

I surround myself with people I love, care about and trust. I don’t waste my time with folks who irk or irritate me.

Faith comes in the form of those people I spend the most time with on a weekly basis. I get from the rooms everything I need, in good times and bad. The good thing is that the bad times don’t last, as long as they used to because I have years of time and a lifetime of experience at my disposal.

And I also have the time of my friends and their life’s experience to add to my own. What a gift that is. Where else can you go to be able to plumb the depths of knowledge of so many people on a daily basis?

No where that I know of.

The long goodbye continues for my guy.

It was a good night. We all had fun.

More to come. stay tuned …


Thursday … Anniversary … One Long Goodbye Begins

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Courtesy: DarkandChaos

It has been a few days of darting around raindrops. And it will be that way for a few more days. The storms that ravaged the south and mid-west moved north and lost a lot of its punch. Today it rained fat drops that fell here and there, not much of a substantial rain event. And if it does rain, it seems to rain in between and not On us…

It was a Big Day today. Changing Attitudes celebrated its One Year Anniversary this evening. All of the remaining founders were present. It has been a good run. We have new members and we have been able to pay rent and keep the doors open, which is a good thing. They say that when you open a meeting, you can do the groundwork, the rest is up to God. And if a meeting makes it and is meant to exist, God will provide. And He has over the last year.

We sat a humble crowd. And we read from the Red Book, and the chapter about learning new things, most importantly, changing the things we thought we believed, and came to realize what we really believe Now. Most importantly that we matter, and that yes, we can learn to love ourselves.

Aside from the main celebration, one of my sponsees took his 2 year medallion. A very auspicious occasion. The two year heralds the hope that one day, one day at a time, you will eventually get to Ten years.

It was a good little celebration.

That same sponsee is headed for new things in the U.S. come Fall. And we are laying the initial groundwork for his eventual move South. I have a few months to fill him with whatever he may need to get him over the border, and the rest will be up to him. It is a sad, yet exciting time for all of us.

People come and people go, and sometimes we only get a few seasons to work with someone and hopefully, something we have said or taught, may nest and take root when it is most needed.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…