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Archive for October, 2014

Halloween Night … Should I Stay or Should I Go ???

tumblr_lb2snxcVRo1qzcspxo1_500 neko 1303Courtesy: Neko 1303

I love my collection of holiday photos. This particular image comes from my archives of old.

Yes, it is Halloween. And no, it didn’t snow, nor did it rain. Thankfully !!!

From end to end, there were hundreds of folks dressed up riding the rails to events all over the city. When I arrived at the church, which sits in a residential area, there were tons of kids trick or treating, Some of us sat outside watching and reminiscing about our days when we were kids.

There was a time, when I was much younger, that trick or treating began as soon as sundown occurred, and we walked for miles carrying king sized pillow cases full of candy, that supplied us with sugar, all the way until Easter the following year. Some of those trips lasted until the wee hours of the morning, when the getting was good. Oh, the memories …

After last weeks exciting visit to Bill’s house and grave, this week was terribly boring to say the least.

On Sunday night we took sage advice and hit the meeting to “De-press” from the weekend. On Tuesday we sat a nice group and read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step Eight. Very few people, amid their steps are at this point in The Work.

Our Thursday night Men’s group took another hit, we lost another founder due to medical issues, which leaves only two original founders and three additional members. We are down to Five now, we are hoping that God will provide for the meeting over the next few months.

Christmas and New Years fall on a Thursday this year, which means we will be hosting early dinner for guests on Christmas and then we will open to room for the meeting as usual. People actually show up on Christmas day for a meeting, which is always good.

Tonight’s reading from A.B.S.I. spoke to social events … Bars, nightclubs and parties, and the question of should I stay or should I go? This is a tedious question for folks in early sobriety, how to handle social events that involve liquor. That’s why I recommend Living Sober to people to read.

This topic brings me all the way back around to “Bitter Bernadette.”

Picture Sicily, 1910 …

It was the Pre-Christmas run up, a few years back. It was a Tuesday night. And people were agonizing about what to do about the holiday, and what kind of game plan they should have.

In the end, some folks drank, yet others did stay sober.

I can talk about Bernadette because she is no longer around. She was an older woman, with adult aged kids who lived in the U.K. She was scheduled to travel transatlantic for the holidays, but was worried about drinking. She mulled over drinking on the plane all the way across, then not drinking while visiting family, then she had a second plan, that also included drinking, and a bit of sobriety.

The fact that she was willing to drink again spoke volumes about where she was in sobriety.

I listened to her incessant worries in community. I was about five years sober. At the end of the meeting I took her aside and said, ” You know, your kids are adults, and right now you are sober, don’t you want to keep it that way? Why put your sobriety in jeopardy with trying to battle a demon that has you in its grips? If you can’t make the trip and NOT drink, then don’t go! Go another time, I’m sure they will understand…”

If you are so worried about drinking, then just Don’t Go !!! Change your plans.

She did not like that answer, she then said to me “that I wasn’t a parent and that I surely don’t understand what it is like to have kids,” and I admit, I don’t … then she gave me a one finger salute and told me to go fuck myself, she proceeded out the door, and never came back. That was the last time I ever saw Bernadette. She never returned to the meeting, nor did I ever see her again in any other meeting in the city after that.

In early sobriety there are plans of action we talk about. Things to do and not to do. We plan out game plans with our folks. We set them up with sponsors, contacts, phone numbers. We open meetings on holidays to make it a bit easier.

One must be in Good Spiritual Condition to walk into an event that liquor will be served. Do you need to go to that party, or that bar, or that nightclub? Do you have a good reason to put yourself in that kind of atmosphere? If not, then don’t go.

Now is the time we start talking about whether one should stay or should one go.

In the early years, this time around, I played around with going to nightclubs for a few years.

You must understand that when you live by mass transit, one must figure out the hours of operation, what you are bringing with you ( i.e. coats, jackets, scarves and such) during the Winter. Then you have to figure out how you are going to get home after hours, because the metro shuts down at 1 a.m. and you are stuck with the scary night bus or a taxi ride back into downtown, which usually ends up in a twenty dollar taxi ride, on top of what you are going to spend on drinks while out.

After all that organization, who wants to think about drinking ???

Going out in the Winter is a Bitch … Wearing the right clothing and the right shoes. Having to check your gear in a coat check, with tons of others at the same time. Then trying to navigate a taxi with snow on the ground all over the place … It became all too much to handle. So I stopped going out all together. Haven’t been to a club in probably a decade or more.

It wasn’t a question of the drink, but everything else.

Too Much Aggravation …

It is the weekend. It will get colder, but no snow as of yet.

More to come, stay tuned …


The Weekend … The Whole Story

DSCF3287We departed Montreal early Friday morning. Myself, my sponsor and another friend, who is also a sponsee of my sponsor. It took a few hours to get to the other side of Vermont, in a round about way, we traveled 4 hours out, only to retrace our route 90 minutes back to our final destination of Mad River Valley in Waitsfield.

The weather was gloomy. cloudy and raining. We arrived mid afternoon and parked in the lot adjacent to Bill’s family home. The house is a working bed and breakfast space for members and visitors who come to visit. While we were there, a group of women from all over the U.S. were there to sit a Women’s Intensive Step Weekend. While we were there we spoke to the folks who run the house, anticipating that our men’s group may eventually host a weekend at the house. The house sleeps 18 on the second floor, there are two sitting rooms, one with the family piano. There is a full dining room that seats upwards of 140 people in one sitting. A full kitchen, meeting hall and fireplace lounge in the same space in the back.

We had our obligatory cup of coffee, because who else can say they had a cup of coffee in Bill’s family home? It was very special for us to visit this place.

After our visit we traveled up the road to the graveyard where Lois, Bill and many others are buried in simply marked graves, well kept by a caretaker. A group of the women from the house were already there and they asked if we would like to join them? We shared time together, and they gave each of us a St. Francis prayer card. We joined hands and said the prayer together, followed by a quick share from those present at the graveside, speaking about something that meant something to them. We closed with the Serenity Prayer.

I left my Twelve Year Chip on Bill’s headstone, pictured above. There were a few chips with BIG numbers on them, and a couple with a short amount of time. I almost got a 14 year chip that was there, but one of the women beat me to it, so I left without a chip. I was the only one to leave a chip for the next visitor.

Two hours had passed since our arrival. We got back on the road and made our way to Waitsville, and the Mad River Barn for our Men’s Intensive Weekend. This weekends group was half the number we had attending this past May. There were several factors that attributed to the low numbers. One, the price went up $40.00. Things have changed at the Inn that did not bode well for the weekend. Tempers were on edge all weekend between the host staff and the guests who came from as far as New York City, Vermont, and Canada.

I stayed in the annex building this time around. The annex was still under construction back in May. Both the guest rooms in the annex slept six people. We were twenty five in number this trip. The weekend did not go off without problems.

We got to see some old faces and a number of new people, who were either making their first weekend, or had come at other times. The food was good. Some thought that the meals served to us were sub-par, ala Chef Boyardee … But I ate well, for certain meals, and not others.

In the end, this would be our last visit to Mad River Barn. After twenty years of coming, our group elders voted for finding a new location that would serve us better. The bottom line is full fare paying guests, who stay, eat and DRINK ! They don’t make a whole bunch of money on twenty five sober folks who don’t drink. And it was apparent that our stay was more pain than pleasure, and the owners were to blame for the lack of cordiality, kindness, and the attitude several of us got from the couple who now own the Inn.

It rained all weekend, which made it kind of miserable. Getting out early to jog, or walk the paths up the mountain were muddy with puddles from the rain, so for the most part we all stayed in for the duration.

We departed at lunchtime. The Inn did not offer a last meal for lunch on Sunday. And by that time people were itching to get the hell out of dodge. We took the scenic way home from Vermont to the lake district of Quebec, where we crossed the border at a one man shack border crossing.

I arrived home around 3, and went to set up the Sunday Meeting at 5. We sat a full house and my friend and I, from the weekend shared our experience with the people. It was amazing. We read the Twelve and Twelve and Tradition Ten.

The reading was short, the room was packed. And we concluded the share by ten after seven, which left plenty of time to have cake from a 23 year anniversary celebration.

It was the most amazing weekend. If you ever get to make the journey I highly recommend it.

More to come, stay tuned …


Men’s Intensive Weekend – Bill W. House East Dorset, Vermont

DSCF3269East Dorset is about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Montreal. This sign stands outside the home where Bill W. was born.

DSCF3270This is Bill’s family home – they can house 18 guests on the second floor of the house, and an additional 85 in a motel setting that is about 1000 yards from the house here.

DSCF3271This is the meeting room in the back of the house, There is a sitting room adjacent to this space, that has couches, tables and lamps, a full working fire place. We met some very nice folks from all over the area and visitors from other places. Notice the license plates from all over the United States. There are many more tacked to the rafters all the way around this room. There is never ending coffee, a pop corn maker, and comfortable places to sit during the day when you visit and for the guests who are staying and the guests that come for meetings in the house.

DSCF3272The living room/piano room. Lots of literature to read, and a really great space to enjoy your special Bill W. cup of coffee. We did … enjoy the coffee. How many people can say they had a cup of coffee in Bill W’s home?

DSCF3275This is the side view of the home.

DSCF3277Signs on the front of the home

DSCF3278DSCF3280

DSCF3271The meeting space. It can quite comfortably seat upwards of fifty people for a meeting.

DSCF3282Your author standing behind the “chair.”

DSCF3283In one of the dining rooms, there are photos of the house as it was built, family photos on the sideboard below the pictures on the walls.

DSCF3285The Graveyard where Lois, Bill and many others are buried. The headstones are very simple and humble markers. They sit side by side.

DSCF3286This is Bill W’s grave. You can see chips that have been placed on the headstone. There is only room for 11 or 12 chips. When you come, you bring your chip and leave it for someone else to take, when THEY come to visit the grave. My 12 year chip is now sitting here, along with many chips with anniversaries in the high 40’s. When too many chips appear on the headstone or on the ground surrounding it, the caretaker collects the chips and stores them in a shed on the property.

DSCF3287The CHIPS


Thursday – Canada, Strong and Resolute !!!

parliament hill

The week is coming to an end in a very dreary fashion. It is chilly and spitting rain. We were in for a real soak, so they said, but we just got pissy little rain and it is a bit blustery out. Nothing a warm toque can’t handle.

It has been a difficult week for us here in Montreal and the past couple of days as a Nation.

Yesterday’s shooting and killing of a soldier at the National War Memorial – at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the subsequent storming of Parliament by the same gunman, took Parliament and the nation by surprise.

One person was injured in the attack, who was said to make a full recovery, The Sergent-At- Arms for Parliament dispatched the gunman in short order and saved many lives. He is an honorable, humble man, who, when called to duty, stepped up and took care of matters of security.

We are indebted to him for his courageous actions.

Needless to say, I think people, who are out and about, are mindful of their surroundings, at least I am. We might be connected to mobile devices while traveling, but with this weeks events, paying closer attention to your surroundings is good sound advice.

Soldiers have been advised from this point on, NOT to wear their uniforms outside of work while not on duty. Uniforms are only to be worn on base and upon beginning a shift. The fear that other military service personnel may be further targets has pushed command to make this decision for our troops to protect them from further harm.

This just adds another layer of security for our men and women in uniform.

This evening it was reported from NYC that a man attacked a group of police officers with a hatchet, injuring two, one with an arm injury and the second was hit in the head and required surgery for a fractured skull. This may be an isolated situation, but authorities in NYC are investigating the situation. The hatchet wielding man was subsequently killed by officers in the attack.

One must be vigilant about ones person out and about.

We offer our prayers and condolences to the families and friends of those who have died in the two attacks here in Canada. And as Canadians, we support our men and women in uniform. And all those who work to protect us on a daily basis.

Canada stands strong and resolute. We will not bow to terrorism, not now, not ever…

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

Tuesday past, we continued our journey through Step Seven. The major take away from the reading was the word Humility. We sat a nice group of folks. It was a great evening.

Tonight, Thursday, we read from the Daily Reflections, since this is the tenth month, all the readings for October center on Step Ten. “Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.”

The reading speaks to the fact that “Continued” does not mean occasionally, or frequently. It means throughout each day. It was common to hear that few people are on step ten tonight, and we also heard someone say that he didn’t have a proper definition of what an inventory would be?

It is a practice that I have learned from the women to write. To begin taking an inventory at the end of the night, and every person is different. It is with guidance that my guys work their steps the way they do, with specific instructions in what they should be doing on any given day.

I get my guys writing early and frequently, so that they get used to writing now, instead of later. Each of them have issues that we deal with daily, and the lists are simple observations, or thoughts, or problems, that we can discuss when we speak on a daily basis. You don’t have to be on Step Ten, to take a simple inventory at the end of the day.

  • How was my day?
  • Had we been selfish, dishonest, self seeking or frightened?
  • Did anything notable happen during my day?

The further my guys are in their steps, more questions are added to the daily inventory list.

It is something we practice together. If we aren’t working our program actively every day, then we might be missing lessons that may be skipped over or lessons not learned. And there is always something to be learned every day.

It looked early on that we may only sit a few folks, pleasantly, a solid group of folks came out, even in this inclement weather. It is a known fact that when it rains or when it snows, people usually choose to stay home.

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

Tomorrow morning I depart with my sponsor and a fellow for Vermont. Our morning journey will take us to Stepping Stones for a visit to Bill’s home where he and his wife Lois are buried. Then we will make our way to the Mad River Inn at Mad River Valley in Waitsville Vermont.

Due to changes in the program and a serious hike in the fees for this particular retreat at this particular location, half our number decided not to make the journey. For more than thirty years this location has been the B&B of choice for the Men’s Intensive. But after our last weekend in the Spring, things have changed.

The Mad River Inn has been renovated to very high specs, and the pricing for the weekend had been kept low for the benefit of the men who came, but the price was not sustainable for future weekends. One has to pay the bills and run a B&B properly in order to make money. In the end it is always about money. And low numbers speak volumes to just how much people have to spend.

A discussion of where we go next will be on the table. And this prospect is tedious at best.

Spending over $150.00 for a two night B&B stay is steep. We had to make special arrangements to be able to send me on the weekend. With all our bills that have to be paid and still have money for staples and spending money for each of us, $200.00 off the top is not something sustainable for the future.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate. I will be off grid until Sunday. I will have photos and lots of stories to tell you about then.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Another Chance

tumblr_lguex92boy1qgplzqo1_500It is Sunday Night. We had a little rain, and today the temps dropped into single digits. We are sitting at a cool (5c) at this hour.

It was a quiet week. Lots of meetings. Lots of reading. We hit Step Six on Tuesday, and Thursday we read from Came to Believe, and Friday’s topic was on the subject of financial insecurity. I listened carefully to our readings, and came away with some lessons.

It was a blustery weekend, like I said, a little rain, a lot of clouds, and today I broke out my winter jacket for the first time this season. Over the weekend, I crated the a.c. for the second time. And we probably won’t need it again, as the long term forecast says that temps won’t rise into positive double digits again any time soon.

The weather usually goes North just before Halloween. In years past, we have seen negative digits, and even snow on the odd occasion. We know that if it does snow before or on Halloween, that it will be a long and drawn out Winter. The kids will be bundled up in winter coats with their costumes again this year.

There is a load of construction going on in the neighborhood lately. They dug up the sidewalk in front of the Forum just up the block, and are replacing piping in the ground, which has caused a nightmare for pedestrians and the frontage shops in the Forum proper. All the terraces are rolled up because there is no place for them to be aside from the construction.

Cabot Square is coming along ever so slowly. They have yet to complete the bus lane ways that need to be finished before the first snow. And they need to sort out the bus stops for the same reason.

I was up and ready to go early today and arrived and cranked out set up before most folks showed up. We have been seeing good numbers lately, which bodes well for the future. Tonight we sat a full house again, and are one story closer to the end of the book. November 16th is our deadline.

This last section of the book, are stories that range from a few pages to a lot of pages. What else is there to talk about when you are in low bottom territory but I drank, I got drunk, I fell down, having suffered yet another black out and waking up who knows where, how much money did I loose, and what did I do last night? Tonight’s story was quick, dirty and to the point, in five pages.

“Another Chance”

I listed to the read and followed along, because I was in the chair. We got all the way around twice, once for the read, and second for the discussion. Stories like these are warnings to our young people that it can get bad, very quickly, and in short order. Some of them have already been to these places,  And most of our long time members have also visited these places.

I stopped to think about my story, and I realized that at the start of my drinking career I did all those stupid things first. All those activities written about that usually occur at the bitter end, when the drink is really bad, and the obsession is running rampant.

I guess I am glad that I had completed my list of really stupid things first. That speaks volumes to the depth of addiction I had fallen into so quickly, early on. I could not care less about responsibility, paying rent, buying food, making car payments. My vision was very narrow. All I really cared about was where my next drink was coming from, and who would participate in its attainment.

It was also very good that I only had a car for a few years in my twenties. I lost it once to repossession, and my father got it back. That was probably, and still is, in my estimation, a very real resentment my father has against me. He never did anything that stupid, not that I ever knew about. But it is what it is.

Once I had hit my last stop in Ft. Lauderdale, in my 26th year, I lost the car again to flood waters, caused by a hurricane. The car was never the same after that, and I finally had gotten rid of it. I am sure it could have gotten very worse, as I grew up. But I sort of nipped that one in the bud when I got sober the first time. Who needs a car, when you live in the big city. After that round, I stayed close, I have lived in big cities ever since. I don’t need a car here because mass transit is so plentiful.

All those things that happen at the end of ones drinking career that signal that the end is near and that maybe you should stop happened to me. But in reverse order. I had hit rock bottom several times early on but did not get the memo for a while. I just kept going, until, like I have said before, another human being said the word S.T.O.P …

It could have gone on to the bitter end, and that’s how I wanted it, I wasn’t ready to die a gruesome death, I would rather have died from the bottle rather than a terrible disease. That was not to happen.

I would face my challenge sober, and I would, in the end, prevail.

I’ll say it again. When I really needed God, He presented himself to me and saved my life. And I will take that to my grave.

The other identifying factor from most low bottom stories are the drinking bouts that end up in a black out. The Not Knowing. At the end of my slip, I had perfected my drinking to one night a week, because that’s all I could handle. One great night of debauchery.

Trying to fit in, by drinking my way in.

And in the end the night ended with someone pouring my sodden body into a taxi, and finding myself in my bed, having gotten through two locked doors, never knowing how that happened.

To this day, I cannot tell you the who, where, what or why of my black outs.

Either someone removed me by force, or someone was watching out for me without my knowledge. I don’t know, but that is one memory that keeps it green for me. The black outs, that final hangover, the admission that I was licked. The alcoholic who appeared because I asked God for one to appear.

My last drink, was my last drink. So far. To this day. One day at a time.

I’ve seen enough in my lifetime, and over the last almost thirteen years, I have heard stories from my friends and fellows that remind me over and over of just how bad it will get if I ever pick up another drink.

It doesn’t have to get that bad.

There is a solution. The women I know work very hard at working and living in the Solution.

I learned how they do it, and now my guys are doing that as well. By The Book.

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

And on an entirely different note…

Here it comes … Are you ready?

There are 67 shopping days until Christmas

More to come Stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries on a Monday Night … Thanksgiving Week

918

It is Monday night and the internet has been restored, thankfully !!!

“Before any dream can come true, there must first be a dream.” B.B. pg. 527

It was a pleasant week that was, lots of meetings, lots of discussion, lots of thinking about what is to come. October is a jammed packed month of “things to do.” This weekend was Thanksgiving, and I cooked a feast, more on that later … A few more meetings for the month, and about thirty of us, hopefully, will head to Mad River Valley in Vermont for our fall convocation of the Men’s Intensive Step Weekend with my sponsor.

On Tuesday night we read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step Five. My sponsor went to Vermont with his sponsor last weekend, past, and did his Step Five, while they were driving in the car to “Stepping Stones” the home where Bill W. lived with his wife Lois, and they are buried on the property. My sponsor will be taking me to Stepping Stones on the way to the retreat in a couple of weeks. That is when I will complete my Step Five.

There is also a tradition when visiting Stepping Stones. On Bill’s Grave sit “medallions” that have been brought by visitors to his grave. When you visit, you bring the medallion for the year that you are on, and you leave it on the grave for someone else who might need it when they visit. And if there is a “next” one for you, you take a chip from the grave, but if there isn’t a chip near your anniversary year, you just leave your chip for someone else.

I will indeed have photos for you to see upon my return. I’ve read all about Bill’s life and have seen the home on film and in the books I have in my library. But to see it live and in person will be a spiritual experience for me. To thank the man who gave me back my life and blessed it beyond measure.

Thursday I ran some errands down to the village for some things I wanted, I get a humble amount of spending money every two weeks to spend on myself, and I did that. When I got home I fiddled around with my purchases I was not pleased when I realized that a piece of clothing I bought (latex) was cheaply made and did not fit very well, and in the end two holes popped in the item – and on the site for the store, this item was made by a reputable production house, so I thought, which is why I bought it, only to turn around on Friday to go return it for a full refund. UGH.

On Thursday night, we read again from the Twelve and Twelve and Step Six, since one of my sponsees is on that step presently, and life has been a teaching time for the last few weeks, that I thought reading and discussing that step would benefit him.

Friday morning I got up early to take another run into the village again, since I never get to the village on my regular days, and got a refund for my purchase. Then I walked down the road to a little shop that I visited with friends a couple of months ago “Fetiche Armada,” a new gay store that opened on the West side of the village, with really great people running the store, however, they are a bit clingy, and follow you around the store wanting to help you and to comment on everything that you look at or take off the racks, probably hoping that you are going to buy them.

You can’t find shoe/boot laces in many places. I’ve looked for them high and low on my side of town, and I got lucky once with my red shoe laces I bought for my Nike’s at the mall up the street. You can get laces on Ebay, but what a nightmare that is.

The only other place I know that one can find boot laces is at the Dock Martin shop over at the Sherbrooke Metro stop, which is a two train journey from home, all the way across town to Berri and a change from Green to Orange and up to Sherbrooke.

While I was in my little shop I noticed that they carried boot laces, in the color that I wanted, and not too expensive. I bought some socks and some laces, which goes to an outfit I am still procuring; at this time it is incomplete. When I got home and re-laced my boots I found the laces a bit short, well, a lot short.

I may have to venture out farther to get the ones I really need. That will have to wait

I made an extra stop on the way home to Indigo. I could not pass up an opportunity to browse the shelves. I had made a list of authors the night before, hoping to find something juicy to read. Late night in bed is an ideal time to read for me. I struck out on several names, but hit pay dirt with Kathy Reichs.

She is an author who writes as a Forensic Anthropologist here in Montreal. She writes a series called the “Temperance Brennan series.” I’ve read two books, “Bones of the Lost and Bones are Forever,” I forget the order they come in, and I read them out of order because of when I got them from my friend Danny.

This trip I scored two more books in the series … The next two books in the order of writing, “Flash and Bones, and Spider Bones.” If you read her you will know that several threads are written into every story, and I found those threads when I started reading her. I was not disappointed with the new book.

So I ran around all afternoon on Friday and by 3 o’clock I was pooped. I waited for hubby to get home from work, and we took an evening siesta. I decided I was going to take the night off from the regular Friday meeting. It is nice that if I don’t hit a regular meeting that I usually hit like clockwork, I get at least one phone call from a particular friend to make sure that I am ok.

I finished my holiday meal shop on Saturday for some odds and ends. Provigo is notorious for running out of stock on certain items on the holidays, so you have to buy early and pack your cupboards.

Saturday night I was sitting here at the computer about 12:30 in the morning and I was surfing as usual while SNL was on, and it seems our ISP decided to turn off our internet AGAIN!! Hubby paid the bill on Thursday and called it in, and they still shut us down, not only on a weekend, but to boot, a holiday long weekend. Needless to say, several pissy messages were left and a couple of terse emails were sent. And we probably won’t hear from them until at least Tuesday, so no internet.

But you know what they say … I am not in control and I have to turn it over and that acceptance is the key to all my problems. But if I had my way, someone’s head would roll for the lies and the shitty service as of late.

This entry is being written Sunday Evening, in a Word document for a copy paste when the internet comes back.

Today, Sunday, I was up early to put my turkey in the oven, and I timed it perfectly. I was quite pleased with myself actually. In at ten and out at two. I cranked the heat for an hour, then I dropped the heat for a long bake, and the last hour I gradually turned up the heat back to where it should have been all along. And it came out juicy and tasty.

I always welcome an old friend for the holiday dinner. It is our responsibility; in my community to make sure our older members are included and taken care of. A holiday is not meant to be spent alone. So everyone has a job to do.

Everybody has a talent/task, and some of our older guys have talents as well, that we enjoy fostering into life and we match talented people up with folks who need support, lessons, or assistance in some way, some of us teach music, some spend time, we share meals and nobody is alone.

So it went. We feasted on a full turkey dinner, cooked in my tiny kitchen. It was fabulous. Long Time Companion was showing on M PIX while we waited for the bird to bake, this movie was so important when I first got sick many years ago, an homage to my friends and all those who died from the plague. I had not seen it in probably more than a decade. Never forget your friends; they did not die in vain.

It is also the Holiday Harry Potter Marathon, all seven movies over two days. Right now, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is just ending, that means I get the final instalments before bed tonight.

We arrived at the church, and there were tons of people walking in the neighbourhood. As we got closer to the church, we realized that they were all coming from INSIDE the church, which also meant that there were people in the basement and that once again, I had not been advised.

Blessedly, everyone was gone, and we set up without delay or issue.

I was hoping for a full house, it being a holiday and all. Some folks have a hard time on the holidays so we have to be open for them. I made a full urn of coffee, expecting a crowd, and I was not disappointed. I chaired. Our matriarch came, coughing and sniffling, but grateful nonetheless. She did not linger after.

We are reading from the final grouping of stories … Grounded, about a Native Indian who served his country, became a pilot, became a drunk, lost his licence, went to prison, was humiliated by community, and television, (I came to learn this guy is still alive and spoke at a convention a friend had attended and heard him share this story live) Got sober, worked his program, got his license back and regained his pilot license all in all it was a great story to read. This is an abridged version, for the full effect I suggest you read it in its entirety.

Take Aways … Acceptance is the key to all my problems. Sometimes you have to just let go, no matter how hard that is. In the end, we are not in control and really, who wants to be when you can turn it all over to God and let Him do it for you! That only comes when you get and maintain sobriety.

We sat a full house and almost made it all the way around for sharing. I saw faces tonight that I have not seen in years, and they slipped in after we started, and slipped out before the basket went around. Damn. I missed a perfect opportunity to speak to them, but I was in the chair, I just could not get up and go make them wait for the meeting to end to be able to speak to them. UGH!!! Not sure if they will make it to another meeting that I am at, but we can be hopeful, right?

I saw an old friend who is sober awhile now, and lives in Calgary now, he got sober here with us five years ago, and he was in town for the weekend and he came to see us, which was a treat.

Our “more than a year read through of the Big Book” ends on November 16th, so in the meantime we need to select which book we will read from next. Since our matriarch has been MIA for weeks now, we haven’t had a proper business meeting yet, so we are hoping for the last Sunday of this month to iron out all our plans for the next read and for the holidays.

In the end it was a very successful day, I fed my family and a friend, I chaired a meeting for a room full of friends, and came home to no internet, but a blank word document. Harry Potter is on …

Let us Be Thankful!!!

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Pain is a Bitch !!!

tumblr_msohxxcSvW1qkwkmpo1_500 minhos21Courtesy: Minhos21 – I love this photo …

It was a hit or miss weekend for weather. A little of this, a little of that. Our good stretch of weather came to and end overnight Friday. All that rain they called for did not fall. ( they called for four days of rain).

I always attribute the “hit or miss” aspect to the weather to the frequent flyovers of high altitude aircraft that crisscross the island dropping whatever they drop from planes into the air above the city.

So that is a thing …

Friday was had a good showing and we talked about God, (as we understood Him) in the reading from A.B.S.I. The read speaks about what we call our power greater than ourselves. For every human being that walks into a room, there is a concept. And in the spirit of respect, every point of view must be respected. There is a dichotomy …

This reading #73 comes from a letter written by Bill W. in 1950.

He writes here that you can believe in ANY power greater than yourself, whether that be the room, its people, or God for that matter. It is a liberal thought that whatever works for you is good.

BUT in the Big Book, it says that we eventually come to the point where God comes into the picture. The notion of God is written into the book, as if everyone comes to that one same conclusion. In the back of the book, the book reads that:

… many alcoholics have nevertheless concluded that in order to recover they must acquire an immediate and overwhelming “God Consciousness” followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook. Appendix II – Spiritual Experience.

Here is the rub … On one hand Bill says that whatever concept you come up with will work, and nobody has the right to tell you that you can’t or that it is wrong, that we should respect each others beliefs. BUT on the other hand, it all comes down to God Consciousness.

Some people find themselves at odds with this dichotomy.

I know what my concept of a Higher Power is, and that would be God. But that isn’t the same for a number of my friends, and my guys as well. Some may not believe in God, but they have their own concept that works for them, so be it.

I tell this story to my friends. Come to a room and stick and stay, Watch your fellows get sober. This is a long term proposition. Eventually, one or another is going to have a spiritual experience. I’ve seen it happen, many times. The light rises from the belly, up to the head, and comes to rest above them, it is a figure of speech, but the idea is that they have an experience of God, or the power greater than themselves, and if you are there and paying attention, God moves.

So that is a thing …

We sat a full house tonight. We are 5 stories from the end of the Big Book. It has been a year since we started reading the book. That’s a year of Sundays and we will complete the read on November 16th. Between now and then we need to come up with our next reading plan. We are flying by the seat of our pants as of late because our matriarch has been ill and hasn’t been here to chair the next business meeting. The meeting must go on, and we all pitch in to make sure it does.

Tonight’s read … Empty on the Inside.

I identified with feelings and parts of the story. Our writer was a low bottom drunk. Once she started drinking, she never wanted to stop. She flunked out of school, married a man she didn’t really care about, had children she could not possibly take care of nor love properly. Finally she came to when she writes about having one of “THOSE hangovers” and the signs fell before her, one after another.

It is actually emphasized like that in the book.

For me, I prayed for one of “THOSE” hangovers. I needed that final recognition that the end was in front of me. It was one of those signals I needed from God that yes, it was time to STOP. It was great, this evening, that a couple of old timers I really enjoy listening to at meetings came tonight, and I heard that story I hoped to hear.

One of them, was deluded, well, terribly deluded, that he could drink, and drink, and drink. And that his ability to drink copious amounts of liquor was all due to the fact that he had superior genes, that allowed him that ability. Until he had come to the end and had one of THOSE hangovers …

It wasn’t good genes. It was delusion.

Since the crowd was big, we did not get back around the circle. But is was a good evening.

It was a bit chilly on the way home. Definitely a night to layer clothing.

For the last week, I have been in some serious pain. I don’t know what did it, or how it happened. But from my right shoulder to my right wrist, there has been unmanageable pain. Not banging, not pounding, but slow and steady pain that wares at my consciousness. My right arm is my dominant arm, my writing hand, and my mouse hand. Sitting at my desk is becoming a problem. Hubby got me some creme for my arm that I use, and advil to try and alleviate the pain, but that only goes so far.

I called the doc last week and he won’t be in the office until Tuesday coming up. I believe it is an internal problem, and not external as in “a creme will make it all go away.” Not sure quite what the problem is, but it is becoming a real pain in my ass. (Well my shoulder really!)

And that is the last thing to talk about tonight.


Heart Broken

tumblr_lsdqf5xeZG1r45jjjo1_500 ninatangCourtesy: Ninatang

“The Alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power.” B.B. pg. 43

It has been a quiet week. The weather is holding, and the trees in the neighborhood are bright yellow, red and orange. Not all of the trees have turned so brightly as they have in the past. It seems the trees in the church yard have been bitten by the blight once again, so they won’t turn at all, but fall dead and green just like last year.

We hit new high’s on Tuesday with an infusion of new blood in our step series, and that bodes well for the rest of this time commitment for the Tuesday group. People are willing to travel across the island from far and wide to share with the group. I hope this trend continues with the seasonal change that is upon us, people will begin making their choices of just where they will go and to what extent they will commit to attending meetings, once the weather goes North … as happens every Winter.

My guys are working their steps from another fellowship and so tonight we covered Step Six and again as well, lots of new faces, some who are where we are in the book, so that enhanced our discussion as well. Our older members are already beginning to wear down and Winter isn’t even upon us yet, and now I can see where Step Six comes into play with myself specifically in regards to my friends and fellows.

If you want to see your “miracle grown” character defects come to the fore and live outrageously, spend time in a city that has four seasons. As I shared tonight, my greatest test of who I am or more to the point, who I thought I was, was made pretty stark over the last Winter. Simply put, I was not charitable, understanding, nor patient with my friends. And ever since that time, in the past, I have consciously worked on being a man that I could respect myself.

When we make our lists after Steps four and five, we get to see the glaring problems we have with ourselves. Then we get to work that out in real time. Whatever negative trait or feeling one might have, we learn what to replace it with from the garden of goodness and love.

I find that I forget too easily. I find that I need reminders of who I want to be, and my friends and my fellows help me along with my sponsor. I tend to forget that at the farthest point out, my lessons in who I wanted to become began twenty years ago. Had I stayed sober the first time, I would have hit twenty years this year. But I can see just how long those good lessons lasted and when I took my will back and thought that I knew better.

I did not have the personal strength to see through what I had learned and I pissed those lessons away because ” I needed …” I stopped communicating and took matters into my own hands, and in hindsight, I know that taking matters into my own hands is a true recipe for sure disaster.

Sad, that people decide to take matters into their own hands, and we are powerless to stop them.

I worked very hard at what I was doing for the last year. “We are defenseless against the first drink!”

I can’t make you sober, and You are not going to make me drink again…

True lesson …

Winter is coming. And we are all growing older. Now is the time to connect to your fellows. Now is the time to reach out to your elders, your neighbors, your friends. Now is the prime time to open your life and your hearts to those who might slip through the cracks when snow begins to fall, and people will need that helping hand or that kind word, or even an invitation for a meal, holiday or not.

Look around at your friends, fellows and neighbors, and see where you can be of service. Don’t wait for snow to fall or temps to drop. Plan now. Do now. I will tell you that that will make the difference in your life as well as in the lives of others.

This year we are prepared. Last winter lasted entirely too long and took a huge toll on our men and our own peace of mind. So let’s not allow that to happen this year.

Thanksgiving will be here in a couple of weeks. For Canada, that is …

Being present to others, will totally, keep you and your character defects in check.

I learned that lesson the hard way. I don’t intend to repeat it a second time.

A beautiful day and a wonderful evening, turned to sadness, with a single email from a friend.

Which proved once again, that if one fades into darkness, from daily contact, it is a fair conclusion that they indeed went out and drank again.

I am powerless over people, places and things.

More to come, stay tuned …