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Archive for December, 2014

Goodbye 2014 … Retrospective … Hello 2015

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One of my friends does this yearly retrospective, taking the first sentence of the first post from the twelve months of the past year. It took a little work, but here is mine. A one sentence view of the last year, in brief.

January – 2014 – VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis made an impassioned New Year’s peace address on Wednesday, saying the heart of humanity seemed to have gone astray and too many people were still indifferent to war, violence and injustice.

February – 2014 – It is Superbowl Sunday, We don’t get U.S. commercials here, so there is really no desire to watch football, not that I watch football anyways …

March – 2014 – It is the weekend. Light snow is falling. Although it is a bit milder tonight, but the cold continues for next week.

April – 2014 – Today it was “Warm.” Warmer than it has been in as many days. This week will see single positive digits, and beginning next week, we will hit double positive digit temps.

May – 2014 – 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.

June – 2014 – Oprah’s Masterclass is on. Earlier was an encore presentation of Maya Angelou, and now Whoopi is sharing. It was important to listen to Maya again to remind me of how I am supposed to live(rightly), to know who I am, (a Child of God) and how to treat others, (when you know right, Do right).

July – 2014 – We salute our Country and who is more Canadian than Sid the Kid !!!

It is Canada Day today. 147 years since Confederation.

It is the final Canada Day Celebration for one of my guys. Kind of bittersweet, but it is what it is. It was another SCORCHER of a day today. We are sitting at a balmy 27c with a humidex of 34c. And not a cloud in the sky for miles.

August – 2014 – The city is humming with people coming and going. The Osheaga Festival opened tonight and runs through the weekend, The Berri Transit station was packed with concert goers this evening.

September – 2014 – I was ready to go early, and as I locked the door and called for the elevator, it arrived and I had forgotten my BIG umbrella, so I had to go back and get it, I missed my elevator.

It was going to be one of those days …

I made stops on the way, and got through the turnstile, and down to the platform, and as I walked onto the train, my belt popped and my pants fell down on the train. One hand was full carrying BIG umbrella, and the other was holding my phone (read: music).

October – 2014 – 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.

November – 2014 – Hey, how are you?

Happy Halloween apparently. I don’t really know what it is because I grew up in Australia. A country on an island in the middle of the ocean, far far away from most. But, i did just watch Blood Diamond. An amazing film that shows how a civil war was fought by soldiers stealing children and retraining them into soldiers by shocking them with ultra violence. At the end of the movie the father character finds his brain washed son, who points a gun at his Dad.

December – 2014 – Sister Cristina Scuccia – suor Cristina is an Italian Ursuline nun who won the 2014 season of The Voice Italy. I happened across Sister Cristina on You Tube. Since we don’t get international television here, one has to resort to online platforms to enjoy something a little different.

Thanks to all of you who come and read. It has been a pleasure writing for you.

I wish you all a very happy, safe, sober and wonderful New Year, where ever you are.

It’s a New Year Almost … Bring it on …


Tuesday … A Death in the Family … The Day We Could have Skipped

kneelThese are the days, we wished we could have skipped.

I imagined that we’d have a full house, well, as full a house as we have had, but that was not the case tonight.

I have friendships that started when my friends came in and got sober. I am blessed to have these people in my life. A number of years back, I met a particular woman, she’s got a few years now, I’ve watched her grow up into the woman she has become. And I am so proud of her.

Just because we get sober, does not mean that life is going to get any easier. Sometimes it gets a whole lot worse, before it gets better.

Some time ago, we were talking and she told me her father was very sick, with cancer.

Then she said something that totally took me by surprise.

She told me that her father contracted (K.S.) for those of you who do not know what that means, Kaposi Sarcoma, is a gay related cancer that was the bane of our existence when I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. It killed scores of people all over the world from the beginning of the Gay Cancer/AIDS era. It killed most of my friends who contracted AIDS, and with that, developed K.S. lesions all over their body, that finally killed them.

When was the last time you ever heard a heterosexual man, dying from an AIDS related Cancer ??

It seems that he was transfused with a tainted blood supply a number of years ago.

My work, deals directly with those in Recovery, Palliative Care for the dying, AIDS and HIV work, and Spiritual Counseling for those who desire words.

For the last year, my friends father has been in and out of the hospital, finally ending up in palliative care for the last few months.

Not Long Ago, she asked me about where she should devote her time, and what was the most important thing she needed to do? With her parents being older, and her father in palliative care, she and her sisters had to step up and do what they needed to do for their family, and if that meant missing a meeting here or there to do that, was that the right decision ??

Family is the most important part of our lives. So in no uncertain terms I told her that she needed to be with her family and to take care of her father and her mother, to the best of her abilities.

This afternoon, she stood by her father’s bedside, along with the entire family, when he took his last breath in this world.

His name was Francisco.

I got a text as I was leaving the building this evening. I wept …

I made my transit, not knowing what was going to happen.

The weather has gotten very cold. Quite bitter.

I got the coffee on, and set up the room. My sponsor and I spoke yesterday and he was due to call the meeting from Florida, where he is on vacation, to wish everybody a Happy New Year.

Quarter to Six, I was still sitting alone in the bell tower. My phone rang, it was my sponsor.

Last night he got very sick and ended up in a Miami hospital and was released this afternoon. Thank God for travelers insurance. I joked with him, asking what he had to pay out of pocket, and he replied, that he really did not want to know, he got good speedy care, the price for that care, was a non issue.

As we were talking someone came in the door downstairs.

My lady friend came to the meeting. She got to talk to my sponsor a bit, then we called St. John’s New Foundland, to talk to another friend, meanwhile another friend showed up.

We had an intimate meeting for her with three people.

She wasn’t sure if she was going to make it, so I prepared a reading and in the end, that is the reading we stayed with, from A.B.S.I. #303, Loving Adviser …

“Many of my dearest A.A. friends have stood with me in exactly the same relation. Oftentimes they could help where others could not, simply because they were A.A.’s.”

You can only sit in your chair for so long, before you either harden your heart, against your fellows or you engage and invest in their lives.

We always hear about people bringing meetings to those who need them, today, we brought a meeting to a woman we care about deeply. It was a most blessed evening.

If you are the praying type, offer your prayer for a man named Francisco.

Eternal Rest grant him and may Perpetual Light shine upon him.


2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 22,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Sunday Sundries … No More Snow or The Sunday Between Holidays

tumblr_nc9hsq2i2A1syuvebo1_500 jd2canadaCourtesy:Jd2Canada

It is safe to say that nobody has gotten the weather correct over the past few days. Environment Canada states a few observations, and tv presenters tell us something totally different, then Mother Nature gives us whatever she likes.

Is it gonna rain, or snow, or flurry, or a combination of all three ?

Standing outside the church before the meeting, I could have sworn snow was falling, but there really wasn’t enough cloud cover to make it really snow. It is still chilly, and temps over the next few days will plummet into negative double digits.

All the snow that WAS on the ground, is gone now thanks to rain on Christmas Eve and above normal temps since then. I had a conversation with a friend last night who said a snow storm was coming, but none of the websites I have looked at say anything about BIG snow coming. But that isn’t to say that it isn’t possible.

Geographically, we sit in the sweet spot, it all depends on where the wind blows.

It was a weekend home alone as hubby visited his family in Ottawa. Friday I thought about just sleeping in all the time, but decided to hit the Friday meeting. The reading spoke about:

Life is not a dead end …

Over twenty years ago when I was diagnosed to die in less than two years time, at that time, if you had told me then, where I would have ended up today, I would have laughed at you. It seemed to me that life became a dead end, because I would end up dead in the end.

Todd had other plans for me. So did God. When all my friends were dying, I was in the other extreme, you could say I was flourishing. Did I get it right? When I finally accepted that life wasn’t a dead end, it came all the way around for me.

Sobriety in two hits, taught me a few things. The first time I was too busy learning how to live, to pay the attention to sobriety the way I pay attention to sobriety this time around. At the end of my slip period I was sitting in a dead end. I sure as shit would never had the life I have now, had I stayed in that dead end city, in that dead end job, with no friends or family to speak of.

But I would never have imagined that life would have gotten as good as it has, had you told me then, when I got sober the second time, where I was headed. But I guess I had some idea of where I wanted to go and what kind of life I wanted. Because I made that fateful decision that changed my life, the rest is history now.

I stuck it out. No so much in spite of myself. But because I turned it all over to people who knew better than I did. I trusted then, bar none. They did not disappoint at all.

I love my life. Sobriety is not a dead end, because, we did not get sober to be Miserable.

I did not get sober to be miserable.

This afternoon hubby returned with a booty of gifts from the family. Now we have to find the space to store all the stuff we got this year, along with all the stuff we got last year. I have a very small kitchen, with little to no counter space. And we got all kinds of spices in a nice spice rack, more olive oils and vinegars, salts, and cooking add-ons.

This year, I noticed that we only got one big wooden bowl, and not three or four baskets, which has been the norm in Christmases past, like we have any more room to store more stuff, we don’t actually.

We got a hefty food card for Provigo, so I shopped like a mad man before leaving for the meeting. We get to shop till you drop at Target too, which is what we really needed. We got practical gifts this year, rather than the normal fare.

It was dark when I left. If the days are getting longer, it ain’t happening here just yet.

But it could be worse, like minus (-20c) outside and snow all over the place. Mother Nature can remain on hiatus for as long as she wants. It’s all good.

We sat a small group. It being the end of the month, we read Tradition Twelve.

What I do and how I do it has evolved over the years. But the rules of engagement are the same across the board. I have no problem talking about me, just as long as I don’t talk about you.

Over several meetings, besides the anonymity statements that are read you hear a few other things.

The one that I think about says, you can carry the message outside this room, but names and personal details stay here. Or If what you hear here can help someone in their recovery, by all means use it, but names and personal details stay here.

Our meetings are safe spaces, where ALL are welcome. No matter what you do, how you do it, where you do it, or who you are. And that has been the norm over the past year, because of the folks who have come to our meetings from far and wide.

There was a time, when I was early in sobriety that someone said to me that an underground system had been set up in our city to keep us from them, and that certain people were being directed away from our meetings, opting for a more private atmosphere.

That is not the case today or so it seems. Our folks are good honest people who respect each other.

All is well for another weekend. The New Year is right around the corner.

I remember growing up in my teen age years, the ritual family New Years Eve party at one of my friends house. All the grand parties were held at this particular house. A fine dinner prepared for twenty or so folks, served on Wedgwood china. Beer, Liquor, Champagne and Wine aplenty.

The Orange Bowl Parade. Fireworks on the ocean. Dick Clark and the famous ball drop.

Drunken hilarity ensued.

Now we have Ryan Seacrest and his bevy of performers. We watch the ball fall and call it a night. I haven’t been to a New Years Party since I got sober. In fact, the last New Year’s party I went to/worked at was 2000 into 2001. The last day I saw my mother, New Years Day, 2001.

I got sober that following winter 2001.

That’s all for tonight. More to come, stay tuned …


Merry Christmas 2014

tumblr_lw2bl4yyhC1qzcvqpo1_500 rawrdanieltumblr_m87fjdSpOA1ravgvuo1_500 jackandfinnCourtesy: RawrDaniel and JackHarries – Christmas Past

I stayed up late last night watching the Tubes for a while. Our local radio station that usually does overnight radio, is running Christmas music ad nauseum, ugh enough already !!! BAH !!!

Like I have said before, we really don’t get into that shop till you drop mentality. So Christmas is a little subdued. A couple of gifts, things we need, or maybe a surprise or two in the mix. Holidays are really about family and friends, and the table we will sit at later today.

This Christmas was all about Woks, headphones, and Max …

Hubby is Le Chef de Mission here at home. Keeping with tradition, he gets the latest and greatest cooking pans on the market. One of our staple meals is stir fry. And we needed a new Wok, so that was under the tree.

Then it was the Big Box – gifts for both of us in one swing. That was a big hit. New headphones.
Thank you Skull Candy !

Max got an upgrade with a 1 GB memory stick. That was much needed, because my library is pretty full as it is. I also got a shiny new mouse pad. My old mouse pad was really in bad shape.

That’s it for gifts. Nothing too grandiose.

The bird is in the oven, and we are on track for an early afternoon dinner with friends.

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

A Christmas Reflection 2014

Today the Queen of England spoke about reconciliation, and the pause in hostilities during the Great War, where British and German troops, in dug out trenches, put down their guns, as the German soldiers sang “Silent Night,” in the night. The British followed suit.

What happened next is the story of legends. The next morning, Christmas Day 100 years ago today, the soldiers came out of their trenches meeting in no mans land for a game of footy, and to exchange presents and greetings.

Imagine, if the world today, took a collective breath, and hostilities were stopped for one day. Imagine, if the world could bring the many, into reconciliation, and END hostilities world wide !

IDEOLOGIES …

I have a friend who eschews holidays, those consumer driven celebrations that pop up every once in a while, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Christmas … Love is an every day feeling. Family is an everyday gathering. Celebrating the lives of others, is a 365 days a year event.

We’ve learned, over the years, what is most important. When the tree goes up, it is a family event. It is a celebration of love, because we created a ritual for the tree. At Christmas our extended family goes well beyond to gift us all with something particularly special. And we return the gesture in kind.

For the past few years, our older members in the fellowship have been alone, they live alone and only go out for meetings, or shopping, or they go without. Us younger members have taken on the work of living in community with our men and women.

We break bread with them regularly. We celebrate holidays together, some share musical talent with them. All so that we do something good on a regular basis, with them, so that they are not alone. My guys are all connected to helping others when they can. Because they are able, and it is the right thing to do.

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus. A blessed birth come to pass in a humble manger in Bethlehem. Yes, the birth of Christ is important. It is the beginning of the story. But if you think about it, the end of the story of Jesus, is the culmination of God becoming man, and having a human experience, to sacrifice himself for the good of mankind.

Christ came to speak words of truth, to heal the sick, to chastise the greedy and wealthy, to give food to the hungry and pardon the sinner. He called twelve men to follow him, they would eventually follow and begin to create simple Christianity, that has blossomed into the Christianity of today.

The end of the story, the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, is Man’s Saving Grace. Sacrifice is God’s greatest gift to mankind. He came so that we could have life, and life abundantly. Christ dying on the cross is the pinnacle of the meaning of Christianity. Coming to save man, by dying on a cross.

Sacrifice … Love … Salvation …

I remember when I was a young boy, going to my first retreat, and hearing the words, and listening to people speak about God, Jesus and Salvation. And at the end of it all, the altar call came, and one by one we stood and turned our lives over to this man we call Jesus.

It was a Mountaintop experience.

But like Moses, we too, had to come down from the mountain, and re-enter the world.

In those days, open carrying a bible in public school, was akin to having leprosy for teens.

It marked you as different. Odd. They called us Jesus Freaks, and we were. For a while at least.

I can’t say that I succeeded in my zeal for Jesus given the home I lived in and the schools I went to.

But that time is not lost on me considering my university education and the work I do every day.

Imagine what it was like to proclaim the life of Jesus as a follower to your fellow man. Imagine what it was like for those apostles and then the people. It was like that for us. I’ve learned a great deal of what it means to follow the man we call Jesus today.

That is a 365 day journey. Not just on Easter Sunday or Christmas Day, or Epiphany.

We should love one another every day. We should honor our mates every day. We should honor our children every day. The holidays have been Frankensteined into conglomerate days of greed, money and consumerism.

If it ain’t black Friday, it doesn’t matter.

Tomorrow, bar none, people will be lining up, getting dirty, and fighting tooth and nail to get that 6 a.m. door buster prize. And I guarantee you that by 6 p.m. there will be numerous reports of holiday cheer going out the window as people beat each other up, or shoot one another for that Big Screen tv, or pair of high end sneakers.

Christmas is a day. I’ve encouraged my friends to go out into their communities and serve the less fortunate. But this too is not just a Christmas job, it is an every day job. I’ve said before that if we took all that money we spend on national and international defense and war spending and putting that money to better use, we could change the lives of millions in short order.

Sadly, the world operates on the conflict of the people, whether we like to admit that or not. It is Big Business. And those who have all the money and power rely on the conflict within the people to make their millions, billions and trillions of dollars.

The Christmas message is lost on them totally.

If you miss the real meaning of Christmas, let me remind you of a few point of order:

  • It’s not about the gifts under the tree, but the people around it
  • It’s not about how much money you spend, but the love that you share
  • It’s about family and who sits at your table for your holiday meal
  • It’s about that checker girl/guy at the grocery store, be kind
  • It’s about the less fortunate and random acts of kindness
  • It’s about the birth and beginning of the life of a man who would change the world
  • In the end it is all about the Sacrifice for the salvation of the world
  • It isn’t about what religion you profess, but the God that gives you life
  • It is the peace you share, and the fact that we are spiritual beings having a human existence

The Holidays are a “WE” event. It is not an “I” event. Dinner later on will be a We event.

And later tonight, WE will gather for a Christmas Night Meeting.

More to come …

Part 2 …

The weather held for the evening. But man is it windy. Where is all that wind coming from, and where did it originate? The wind was buckling the windows all evening while we napped after Christmas dinner.

Dinner was a nice meal, with friends and family.

We set out a bit early due to the fact that the buses are on Sunday Schedule for the holiday. Arriving at the church, a good number of people came out for the meeting. I half expected more to come, but we filled the room nonetheless.

Tonight we heard one of our women. One of the many women who feed my desire to be a better man, a sober man, who has done his work, and gives it away to others who want it as well.

In the beginning the story is the same. We were born, most, into dysfunctional families, feeding us mixed, and sometimes the wrong message about ourselves. And that leads into us becoming who we are in that period of time, and usually, but not in all cases, the messages we are fed, lead us into the world of drugs and alcohol to escape, to enhance, and even to blot out what we are hearing and in the end feeling.

Some, in the beginning, come, they look around, and they leave. We find this the case with our young people. How can I, (read: Being so young) have such problems that would need the intense work that we provide to them? For many young people, youth means that they have at least ten to fifteen years of good partying life ahead of them, and the mere thought of turning it all over and coming in for good is such a Tall Order …

Some come, and they stay, and they make a life out of it. But the stats are not good.

The WOMEN I speak so highly about so often, changed my life. Most of those women, by extension and by lineage, are sponsored, grand sponsored and great grand sponsored by women who live in New York City. The message came from one, to the next, and the next, and then finally to them personally. I was in the right place at the right time to hear this and see this in action.

And I wanted so badly to be part of it. And now I am. They say it is difficult to blunt a raging forest fire. Imagine for a moment, a bunch of crazy women on fire for the book and the solution. I had lunch with one of my ladies yesterday. They all warm my heart.

If you stick around, and you get the right message, that the book gives you, you too can join the fire for the book as well. They say that if you want to hide something from an alcoholic, put it in the Big Book. Because most alcoholics won’t read the book, until it is imperative they do so. You can only sit in your chair for so long, until someone sits with you and offers to take you through the book like we do it.

The Solution … I’ve learned that I can be with myself. Alone, quiet, in the center of the storm where the winds are calm. I’ve learned that I don’t have to save anyone, that all I have to do is take care of me, and with that done, I can help take care of someone else.

No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

Listening to sponsees, reminds me why I am here. Because I hear what happened to them, and I know that some of the same things happened to me as well. Good Healing Fire spreads quickly. We hear our friends share in discussion meetings, but it is also good to hear them share on the open stage at a speaker meeting. I’ve heard her before, and tonight I got to see and witness personal progress.

We claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection.

Every day we get a daily reprieve, contingent on our spiritual condition.

I understand what that means to me. Because I learned how to do it myself. You may not be one for prayer, or meditation. And in the beginning who can sit still for more than five minutes, at that? I had to practice. And that practice took months upon months, With serious time under my belt.

I had to step up my game if I wanted to reap the rewards of spiritual fitness.

Three, Seven and Eleven … daily, on your knees, humble before God. It is an act of humility to get down on ones knees to pray. Because they say, “When life gets too hard to stand, Kneel.”

Everybody has a journey to take, and no two journeys are the same.

THE WORK is the same for all of us, out of the same book, heading in the same direction.

That’s why I read the book with my guys once a week. That’s why I read the book with my sponsor.

Today, I, like many of my friends, live in the solution.

It was a good night.

My other observation for the night was of one particular homeless man, who has been homeless as long as I’ve been sober. And probably longer than that. The homeless in our city have a routine.

Whether they begin in the East and and work their way West, or from West to East, they either ride the rails, or ride the bus. From one side of the city to the other. Most of them go without food on a daily basis, but they have enough money to provide a bus pass to travel.

Where does that money come from, who provides it, when they can’t afford to eat?

Meetings run on similar lines across town, North, South, East and West. You can get to any meeting by rail and by bus. Our homeless population are well known in our circles, because they show up diligently on time for the meeting, for free coffee and cookies, and/or whatever free food is on the table. That is probably the mainstay of their meals on any given day, unless of course they visit a shelter or food station downtown.

Our city and by extension, our country hides a dark secret, out in the open, and we are powerless to affect change. The city can only do so much. Volunteers can only do so much, and the shelters and food stations can only do so much. Winters are brutal for our homeless. Because there are so many, there are spare resources for them on any given night, so they troll the city from one end to another every night.

Some collect bottles and cans. That is certain money in their pockets. Can and Bottle return is a booming business. The grocery store on the corner does really good business every day. I see the same folks come day in and day out, with tons of cans and bottles. One of them, I don’t know where he gets them all, but he probably collects a thousand cans a day add to that boxes of beer bottles as well.

There are entire populations of people who go without. Entire populations that live well, WELL below the poverty level. People at high levels of government have asked the Prime Minister what he will do for the those who need so much, and last week I heard him say on tv, that “well, they are not even on our radar, to be honest!”

How can you run a country that has so much, and gives so much away to foreign nations, that so many of your own people go without, and come off saying that they are not on your radar and that in turn, they are not important for the country, the provinces and the entire nation?

How can you stand yourself knowing that you ignore entire populations of people, because it isn’t expedient or that it is beneath you – or not politically sound to care or even act like you care for votes when the time comes?

That’s a political hot potato.

Human interest stories at the governmental level are ignored.

No government is perfect, anywhere in the world.

In a country that is so rich, a first world nation, we have entire populations of people who live in third world conditions, and that is terribly sad. I have ideas to float for all of these problems. They sound easy to me when I repeat them in my head, they sound good, they look good, but in the end, to make sweeping changes that many of us agree need to be made, that would take money. More money that most governments want to throw on people who do not matter to their bottom line.

VOTERS.

Most of those people do not vote. Most of those people have substandard homes if they have that at all, countless numbers of them are homeless, drug addicted and alcoholic. Many of them have mental and emotional problems that are never addressed because there is no money and not enough resources to help them all. Hell, even in first world populations, in the biggest cities, across the country, many people face these same problems, and they too go without.

We are heading into election territory in 2015.

Getting these issues onto a stage where they are heard and dealt with is wishful thinking.

Another Christmas, and some of our folks went without. again …

It costs money to take a homeless person off the street. Clean them up, first, then try and find them someplace safe and economical to live, but then you need to find the money to allow them to pay rent, utilities, buy food and live a substantive life. Treat their problems accordingly, but with what resources and from where? How do we do that ?

I asked a friend on the way home about the man I am speaking about now, and I said that he has been homeless as long as I’ve been sober, how do we get him off the street ? And his answer was simply, that he doesn’t want to get off the street ! Now is that by choice, by default, or lack of concern for his own welfare?

This is all terribly troubling when we live these lives of having everything that we need. And on the fringe, just below the radar, so many have little to nothing to call their own.

What did you do for the least of these today?

jersey crop

And with that, my Very Mario Christmas comes to an end.

Thank you for reading, for subbing and for being a part of my life.

Goodnight.


Three In One.

tumblr_l9aodkIKWb1qzk77co1_500 singlifessongLifted from: Jeremy – Don’t Eat Trash, Originally posted Aug. 9, 2011.

a week and a half ago i began a journey to my brothers wedding that has completely changed everything.

As an outward processor i haven’t really done anything to get it out. My brain has been full of half thoughts and the excitement of possibilities. Through conversations with my family, hearing speeches, watching people, reading two books, 4 amazing conversations and then finally a train trip to the central coast.

I am at breaking point.

The men and women i really want to suss this out with are interstate or three flights away and so i start here. in the most public forum i have.

I invite you to read and think. and react. I don’t know where i will end up in this thinking, i’m not looking for fights, i am looking for a process to get rid of stuff i don’t need and keep to the things i have been designed for so i can change the world one person, or even, one nation state at a time.

I will start from some semblance of beginning…… (realizing i can’t do that to the detail i want)

lets speed through the beginning.

trinity – building blocks of existence – non violent – fully united – fully knowing their identity and role – fully submitted to the communal victory.

Us – adopted fully into the trinity through christ, to bring heaven to earth,

God – sovereign – The will of God – to reconcile all to him –  to unify ALL.

And I pause for a moment. Still not knowing where to go from here. So I will simply go from two tweets that I posted in the last 48 hours.

“If we are predestined anywhere its to be with the trinity”

the second being

“Gods love is his holiness. Not elitism. No comparison. No violence and all the unity. Like the trinity, love and holiness are one.”

The idea that we are chosen before birth if we go to “heaven” or “hell” doesn’t make sense to me. The idea that God knows where we are going when we are born doesn’t fill me with relational confidence, but having a God that doesn’t know everything, doesn’t either. A God who decides to relate to us in ways we need to be related to and love us the way we’ve been created to love though…..

The word predestination holds with it such ridiculous weight that has split communities down the middle and I don’t plan on exploring it fully but it seems like the consequences of the different definitions would completely change how we function as people.

If the word and concept means we are picked already, irrelevant of how we live, then why love? Why spread truth? Why learn anything if we can’t change anything?

If it means “called” to certain things, or pre indicated, pre disposed – more likely to do so, then one would somehow have to figure out what that “pre” thing is and follow it to its zenith.

Or like an arrow to a target – this arrow is predestined to reach the bulls-eye. The archer will be highly trained, will spend months on practicing shots. The arrow gets to its predestined target, but not until after its been through the target in other ways, or missed completely. But that archer is determined. He will keep training his hands and arms, keep rebuilding targets if need be and upgrade his bow. Because he wants that arrow to hit the target.

Humanity is strange because we are so good at comparing. We are so good at being elitist. We are so good at failing.

We were created perfect. We were created the apple of Gods eye, paradise in form, heaven on legs. We were the best. That’s Gods target. Triune-like community. He hit it.

Now its here that in a way the word arrow picture doesn’t fit, because Gods aim never misses. So I wonder if we are the arms. In relationship could our role be the arms. God as the brain and the aim makes a perfect shot every time but we mess it up? So God sends Christ to re affix the nerves and muscles that we severed so that we are getting messages from the brain again. But its not perfect. And our arrows definitely aren’t hitting every time.

But because of Jesus they are. Because of Jesus, God sees them as hitting? Or mid flight Jesus corrects them? Or because of Jesus, ultimately they will hit after picking them up from the ground a few times. A perfecting.

And its that perfecting that I’m hazy about.

Who decides this perfecting? When does it end? When does it start? Is it really an individual choice? Can I opt in or out at any moment?

Its this point that in the discussions in my head I start ranting about a conversation thread that has been formed on the back of multiple conflicting books and a childhood of church arguments.

The elitist humans that are right assume the right that they get to judge. When they are neither judge nor jury they are merely created. When humans assume judging rights it distracts us from our loving responsibility. And helps us to forget our rock bottom need for rescue, our invitation onto the rescue team.

Christ is judge (THANK YOU LORD) so we need not worry about it.

As created beings who are we to design our own lines of ownership or salvation or truth or Gods or languages or schedules?

And then I get to a place that I realize I to, am putting forth a picture of God. I too am questioning where the lines are and will eventually draw one (I hope not) so where does that put me?

So I open it to a statement

–       I believe we were created for intimate vulnerable love to share – very similar if not – the love of the trinity. For no other reason other then God made us for that because its awesome.

–       We are predestined for that love. Gods sovereignty deigns that he will get his way. Who are we to put mortal limitations of how he will succeed?

–       Our job is and never will be one outside of Christ-like love who split no churches, ran from no responsibility and was around people 24/7 unless he was alone with the father.

Secondly

“Gods love is his holiness. Not elitism. No comparison. No violence and all the unity. Like the trinity, love and holiness are one.”

If we were designed for that. If God will fight for that through all circumstances. Then we have nothing to worry about.

I once heard that holiness is a legal term to describe relational perfection.

RELATIONAL.

A holy person can sometimes be pictured as that weird hermit up in the mountains with very little connection with humanity. He is clean, wise, good. But he’s not relational and he’s definitely not perfect at relationship.

GOD IS.

God is one with three. We were designed for that also.

Gods love – his relationality is his relational perfection. He’s not somewhere else. He is not distant. He has not walked away from us because we stuff up. He is where he needs to be. Perfect.

So when we discuss – is God loving before he is holy? Do we need to be holy and then loving? Do we need to get our rubbish together and in a neat pile before we love?

They are one and the same. They can’t be separate.

So we need to get dirty in our relational perfection instead of trying to keep our white shirts clean. We need to go to the hurting and dying and unloved because that’s where Gods holiness would love.

So my musing is now this

If God created us for… His will is…. His holiness is…..

God wants heaven on earth…. Now.

He wants us loving, he wants us serving, he wants us spreading truth not fear, hospitality not oppressive division, tolerance and space to change (ala grace) not offense and traditional comfort zones.

God will hit the bullseye with his arrows.

He’ll just do it quicker if we be less douches to each other and ask God living advice.

So can we just be not right?

Can we not need to know who is saved or not as long as everyone is running towards perfection?

Plus a billion more questions….

II Application

Christ has one name. A banner we stand under, a saviour king with an army of lovers and peace bringers.

We did the census tonight, and amongst the questions in the census was – religious persuasions. There was no Christian option. Followers of Jesus now have to choose other. Or a sect that comes under some other title other then our rescuers.

So its official. The love and grace that is handed to us on a silver platter is so splintered in our acceptance that its now a secular way to label us.

Imagine for a second – a unified world. Under the banner of one loving and wise ruler. The new world order, based not on globalised economy but on love.

Imagine the conversations you would have when you first meet a fellow Christian. It wouldn’t be “so what church are you from” Waiting for the answer so we could put our brother or sister in a box, with historical attachments that then label them anything from a raving idiot, to an elitist, racist, ignorant… the list goes on for miles.

We like labeling each other, we like ridding ourselves of the need to relate. We like being right.

Why not start the conversation with a heart felt “what is God teaching you” We derive encouragement not only from people saying nice stuff about us, but others giving us the chance to share with each other exciting adventure stories, of when God showed up.

The flip side to this is. If not even christs followers can be united and get it “right” on a large universal scale, why to we expect non Christians too? What gives us the right to judge? To preach death? To box and label whose that are unboxable.

Our love of boxes spreads even to our father-God himself. I once sat on a stair well photographing an almost complete stranger who looked me dead in the eye and said “the last six month has blown the box that I held God in completely apart. But now I’m afraid I’ll just put him in a larger box”

We are designed not for boxes, not for labels, and not for divisions. But we are designed for freedom, love and unity.

We just have to figure out how to unite with brothers and sisters who think the opposite of us.

If anyone knows the family I come from, sometimes it doesn’t make sense that we love each other so much. Especially now we are all into our twenties, we live in four different cities in Australia. But we are united by a love that surpasses preference.

What parts of our own families aren’t boxed but grind?

Is there times we need to not speak of something for awhile in preference for love?

Is there times we have to put effort into calling up one another and inviting the other over for a meal in the midst of being awkward?

III – Plan, Do, Review: Insanity.

Theres a famous Albert Einstein quote about how insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

As creatures of habit we will occasionally, if not often, attempt this. We continue running schedules into the red, into debt, eating too much, leaving late etc etc whilst expecting it all to just get better.

In school I used to leave all my assignments till the last minute as if magically I would be better at them. For years I would get up late and just expect to find extra time sometime during the day. But its crazy. To not get results we want but to continue down the same road.

One of the best examples in my life would be a band I played in for multiple years. All writing members of the bands were very busy. So busy in fact that none of us made time for practicing our own instruments outside of band practice. We didn’t make time for writing by ourselves, or improving anything. So communal band practice was a weird mash of learning new techniques, writing, re learning things and occasionally learning that our equipment is broken. But every week we would arrive at practice hoping and expecting to get better as a band. In four years we played 5 shows. We released 4 songs. Neither original guitarists got all that much better.

We did the same thing expecting the results to change.

The last fifty years have been interesting times for the church. I was born 26 years ago, slap bang into a traditional arm of the body that had only been alive for 20 or so years. My 12 year old self could walk into a service in most congregations in Australia and know exactly whats going to happen. Nothing has changed. People have changed a little bit. Faces have definitely changed. But the shape hasn’t. This isn’t unique to that brotherhood. Church meetings in some communities haven’t changed for hundreds of years.

Are these the groups that are growing rapidly? Effecting change everywhere they go? Not usually. These are the groups that are slowly dying because their only congregants are descendants, but even now the children are leaving.

Why do we fear change?

Why do we feel like we need to find a truth that we like and then camp for the rest of our lives under that aspect of church?

Is it ease?

Is it satan?

Is it ignorance?

My heart got excited last weekend because I sat in a church service that amongst it the preacher got up and said the words that are like a salve to my heart “If it doesn’t work we need to fix it”

They are going through a painful but beautiful process of growth. Painful because its too quick for some and too slow for others. Beautiful because they are doing it together. They are fighting for unity patiently and honourably.

I got asked last week why I feel like I need to push boundaries, and if I thought there was a time when I would stop.

It stopped me. Because as a 19 year old I would’ve answered a simple word – “rebellion” But I feel like I don’t push boundaries as rebellion anymore. I push them for freedom.

Imagine a field. But you a trapped in a tiny stone house in the middle of it. You don’t gain any freedom in that little house until you push the boundaries. And the further back you push them the more freedom you have.

I believe God has a lot of freedom for us. We just need to push back certain things.

Do we need to change?

What do we need to change?

What do you need to change?

And

What boundaries are holding back your freedom?


The pin board of Atheist mistruths.

Do you believe in Love Lifted from: Jeremy Don’t Eat Trash

Conscience and worldview are interesting things that can be retrained. For definition sake, because both are defined multiple ways, when I say conscience I mean the pin board we hang our values on. We can retrain the pin board to hold different values but its pretty tough, and world view is our presuppositions about the world and the pin board. The wall that the pin board is on lets say.

So, as apart of bringing the people out of Egypt, God had to retrain the people of Israel’s presuppositions AND values, because over 400 years they had been taught, through forced slavery that their identity was that of ‘nothing’.

They didn’t get to choose what they did. They didn’t get to choose when they rested. These decisions were all made for them. So with the 10 commandments God both rehung the pinboard, repainted the wall and formed them into an ethnic group “culture” that he could impart wisdom and power onto the world through. But, their conscience and worldview were tampered with constantly by outside forces or internal descent-ers.

A lot of what God leads the Jews in, is the fomenting of ways to avoid having the wall smashed or the pin board de-pinned. And you watch through history, how the biggest enemies of God attack the wall that we hang the pin board on. Words like “re educate” are thrown around. Which are championed by those lifted on the shoulders of others as liberators of truth. Whilst, in God’s reality, they chain themselves to lies and false truths that have repeatedly destroyed humanity throughout our history.

In the near ancient east it was a sex religion whose height was in offering live babies in sacrifice to a silent god-figure. In the current west it is similar, we don’t know how to value humans so we just get rid of those that we subjectively don’t like. We have re educated ourselves to have no truth outside of our own, as if that liberates us into life and love, as opposed to drowning ourselves in conflict, and more tension between the differing truths that we each hold. As if holding different truths increases justice. (insert sarcastic emoticon)

In Lithuania during the Nazi – > soviet chunk of their history, the communists were genius in their re-education. They took out the educators (priests) they deconstructed the celebrations (state marriage, atheist holidays instead of christmas etc) Teachers were retrained to teach atheist theory and they even attempted to stop parents from teaching their own children anything other than the state ordained truth of humanism and only humanism.  We look at Soviet Russia’s history with East Europe in ghastly shock. How could they kill so many people? How could they force whole nations to ‘believe’ such a destructive ideology. But the west is now in the midst of just that.

Christmas has become a capitalist utopian dream. Marriage has become and will become an atheist ideal based on little commitment or meaning. Its less about the commitment and more about the party. Teachers are not only being stopped from teaching Christian ethic, they are being retrained to teach only evolution, only humanism and as parents are less and less engaged with what their kids are learning, – because they are focused on their “careers” because humanism tells us only man can save man – we have to save ourselves the best we can with constant work. So the parents are taken out too. What the communists knew about retraining their populace, the capitalists have taken on as well.

God save the queen.


Tuesday – Tomorrow is Christmas Eve – 1 Shopping Day Remains

PCU1582bChristmas Window – Place Ville Marie – Montreal

It is the final push for holiday shoppers. One day left to get that done. I am very glad that I did not partake in shopping madness this year. The whole shop till you drop mentality has worn off over the past few years. It’s not like we need “things” above and beyond what we already have. Breaking the bank on Christmas gifts is something we don’t do. We shop for the nieces and nephews, and simple gifts for the family that we exchange every year.

So that is a thing …

Last week I ordered some new headphones for both hubby and myself. When Target opened I purchased some Skull Candy headphones that did not last very long before they crapped out. I went to their website and found the warranty and filed a claim for a replacement pair. I sent them back and they gave me a credit towards a new purchase, which I redeemed last week.

Sadly, the style that I had was no longer in stock, which meant an upgrade purchase for another pair, which were more expensive, and I bought two of them to boot, in actuality, I got my credit, towards the pair, and then paid the difference. This year I lucked out in that all the places I purchased from this season all took PayPal, so I didn’t need a credit card.

Here in Montreal, ads have been pushing shoppers to use their Interac Cards, rather than a credit card. An Interac Card is our debit card that pulls directly from your bank account.

The packages was mailed last Wednesday, and it took a few days to get here from Surrey B.C. Yesterday I waited all day for the mail, because the office was only open yesterday and today to receive packages, then it would be by slip and pick up afterwards. I made several trips downstairs to check the mail to no avail. By 5 o’clock I resigned myself that the mail wasn’t coming.

Hubby got home and we set down for a nap for a few hours before dinner, and at 7:15 p.m. there was a knock on the door. The mailman actually walked my box upstairs to me instead of leaving me a slip. I was pleasantly surprised. Now there is a Big Box under the tree for Thursday …

All my peeps are where they need to be for the holidays, and a few of them are traveling tomorrow because of work responsibilities.

Environment Canada issued us weather warnings a few days ago because of a massive storm, they predicted would begin pelting us with freezing rain and rain for the next three days. It was damp out all day, but no drizzle nor rain fell. However, I carried to the meeting just in case. And in the end i got a ride back up to the train.

I departed on time and made my transit. Many of our regular folks are out of town, so tonight’s meeting was going to be hit or miss. We sat a usual small group. Minus a few heads. Folks brought all kinds of holiday foods; cookies, crackers and cheese, and the always freshly perked coffee.

The past few weeks, we have been filling time with discussion topics until January, when we will begin a new format, one that I have never seen before in sobriety. We are running the Joe and Charlie tapes for the next few months, beginning in January.

Tonight we read from an old Grapevine, “Having fun in sobriety…”

All of us with time, told similar stories. We range from a few weeks, to a few months, to a number of years, then the jump to 25 and 30 years sober. We had a single newcomer attend tonight, who is in his first weeks. Listening to folks with time talk about how they have “fun” in sobriety is somewhat problematic, because in the beginning, who is having any fun, having come fresh off the street, finding that they are alcoholic and need help, and listen to people talking about having fun!

Many people I have heard speak to this topic, talk about walking down into a church basement, and much to their surprise, expecting bag ladies and bums with trench coats and brown bags, come to find that there are actual, well dressed, happy, smiling and joking people at the bottom of the stairs, and how disconcerting this was for them on their first days in.

I heard lots of good things, like:

  • Getting sober in a city I never drank in, in watching and listening to people who come and go, I learned where not to go, and where to go, what not to do and what To Do.
  • I found a Home Group and got connected
  • I had a sponsor from the very beginning
  • I was never alone for very long
  • I kept busy, meetings, aftercare, service
  • I maintained a stable meeting schedule that has served me well over 13 years
  • I did not do what my friends did
  • But I did do what I was told by the old timers

I spoke about learning what responsibility was, and how that came over time. I first connected to a home group and got active. I’d hear something in a meeting, a topic or a lesson. We’d talk about it over time, I’d learn the lesson, then get time to work it out in reality for another period of time.

That’s how I learned responsibility. It came in stages, over months and years. I met each challenge, soberly and with good advice. When I was sober a year, I took on a second challenge, University. Then a third, was a relationship, (not in your first year, they say) I squeaked in at 11 months.

As long as I used my meetings properly and kept to my schedule, worked with my sponsor and listened accordingly, life tended to work out in my favor. Because I was rooted and In It.

Over the past almost three years I have been IN IT TO WIN IT.

Which is an entirely different beast than when this all started. Sobriety has totally ramped up and my life has never been the same. I imagine, in my minds eye, if a fire this big had been set under my ass in the very beginning, what the possibilities could have been. But I am where I am and life turned out the way it did, by the design God set out for me.

All in its good time I guess.

Yes, you too will learn to laugh, to have fun and live life to its fullest. That’s what the Promises talk about, and also A Vision for You.

We did not get sober to be Miserable.

For we are not a Glum Lot.

Sobriety is our goal, and church basements or bell towers are instrumental for that to happen.

We learn how to live outside those spaces over time. That’s the whole idea, isn’t it ?

I don’t go to sticky places, I don’t shop in liquor stores, I don’t go to bars or clubs. I stay away from city festivals that require one to drink. Listening to my friends, who get stuck in the revolving door, I’ve learned what Not to Do. And that lesson plan paid off in spades.

You Will Get Happy.

One day at a time.

Stick around until the miracle occurs.


Sunday Sundries … T – Minus 3 days

tumblr_n013yxPwUD1r1arpmo1_500 themoonadntehstarsandtheoceanCourtesy: TheMoonandTheStarsandTheOcean

We are under a special weather advisory this weekend. The snow on the ground is surely going to melt and wash away due to massive rain that is in the forecast for Christmas Eve and Christmas. We are sitting at (-8c) at this hour, but temps are going to rise well above freezing into positive digits.

It won’t be a very White Christmas this year.

There is not much going on here. All the Christmas packages that needed to be mailed were completed yesterday. Now we are waiting for stuff to arrive that I purchased online last week.

We sat a fair group tonight. People are busy with traveling here and there. It seems everybody has places to go so they, at least, won’t be alone on the holiday, and meetings are open on Christmas night so that is a good thing.

We read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step 4.

We heard lots of good stuff.

Here’s hoping I get mail tomorrow.

More to come. Stay tuned …


Friday … T-Minus 5 days, Heart full of Gratitude

220px-Montreal_StViateur1_tango7174Paroisse Saint Viateur d’Outremont

This is the centuries old parish church in Outremont, where our Friday night meeting meets. It is part of today’s story, I just needed to right image to accompany this post.

There are 5 shopping days until Christmas.

Thanks to online merchandise, PayPal, and a little creativity, I am really good at finding places that will ship to Canada, because not all online shops in other countries will ship world wide. It may be Online, but what you want, may not be available, depending on where you are shopping from. I do my best to buy “in country” when ever possible.

It was another blur of a day. We have been triangulating get togethers with friends who are in town for a short time. Tomorrow they are all scattering across the country for Christmas, so today was an entire day of food, friends, and fellowship.

I had dinner with friends earlier this evening before heading out for the Friday Night Meeting.

Our local hangout “Dundees” on Crescent Street, not far from home, is my go to restaurant. That place has hosted scores of lunches and dinners with influential professors, academic advisers, friends, and family over the last 13 years. The place has changed up its menu and also changed up how they present food on the plate. It was really nice. As always the food is fantastic.

I wrote the remaining cards out for my friends last night.

How do you Card scores of friends you see all the time? It really isn’t possible, that would cost a pretty penny in the end. I picked the Friday meeting crew to card. But there are upwards of 50 people at that meeting on any given Friday.

So my method of carding is this: The first circle starts with folks that are close to me, the ones who I see at set up week in and week out, people I spend the most time with, those folks who I invest a little more umph into. The next circle is friends who I talk to regularly, those who are part of my sobriety, I can’t know everybody, there are just too many people. The third circle is people that are on the fringe, the folks people tend to ignore, the ones who come early, do all the work, and nobody notices them and they leave with not a word from anyone else.

This is called a little random act of kindness move.

After dinner a friend and I set out for the meeting across the Metro. We took another route so that we could stop for bagels at the premier bagel shop, St. Viateur bagels on the plateau. Because if you want bagels, you go to the ultimate source! On the way we were on a bus that turned out, not to be very reliable, it kept stopping and going, beside its regular stops. We were on a tight schedule, and at the end of the ride (when we got off the bus) we sat at a stop light for like 4 rotations.

We were like WTF???

We walked the rest of the way up Parc to the bagle shop, got bagels, then got back on a bus going back in the direction we just came from to get to the church. We squeaked in just under the wire.

The house was packed for the party afterwards. Two of three of my guys were in attendance, it was the last time we would be together in the same space until January. It was a good discussion.

After the meeting we broke bread together, and I did my run around the room.

I am kind to everyone in the room. I listen to people week in and week out, who comes, who doesn’t, who’s on the fringe, and their stories. Stay long enough and you will learn this magical ability.

I just don’t fold a blank card, sign it and toss it into an envelope.

Every card has a specific message, meant for that specific person. Which is why I chose the folks I did this year to card. Friends I want to know better, people who are the most important to me, personally. Everybody is important, but people and personalities sometimes do not allow direct contact.

Investing is an art. To know what to say, and how to say it.

And the payout, the looks on people’s faces, when you hand them a card, totally not expecting a random act of kindness, smiles, tears, hugs,

PRICELESS …

An investment into my friends, to let them know how much I appreciate them and what they mean to me, at a time, when people struggle the most and feel the most alone. And a dash of words, meant specifically for them. Words are power, put in the right order, from the heart, can change a life in ways, one cannot imagine. Kindness on the holiday can also mean someone gets through a holiday, that someone took the time to think of them specifically.

I love that.

It isn’t about me, its all about my friends. Because without them, I am just one man.

I got a great book from a friend for Christmas. I got to meet new friends, I hit a meeting with my guys, and on the train ride home, another one of my guys called from out of town. It was a full night of smiles, tears, kindness and love.

The Best kind of night.

A heart full of gratitude.


T – Minus 6 Days … From Flash and Bang, to Calm and Sober

tumblr_m9goegijlk1qkbo6bo1_500 freshieCourtesy: Freshie

Don’t you love it when your day, when you look back at it, was one BIG BLUR ???

Today, kind of started in the middle of the night last night.

The first day Christmas cards went on sale at the mall, I spent $40.00 on two boxes. I put them on the dining room table, and there they sat for more than a couple of weeks. I had even went so far as to gather all my little slips of paper, addresses, envelopes from last year, and my choice for who would make “The Cut” this year.

Now, if you know that reference, you are really good.

Time has been moving at light speed, as we are six days from Christmas and things have been ramping up for a while now. It seems that every day there is something specific that must be done, People to see, meetings to go to, coffee to be drank, conversations to be had, yadda, yadda …

Tuesday night I still had not written a single card, and to that end, I posted that fact on my timeline, everybody I send card to is on the “Book.” so why bother ??

Wednesday night, in the middle of the night I was sitting here and thought that there were certain people I really wanted to card. So it was 3 a.m. I was sitting right where I always sit, and I wrote out a very select group of people to card. And those cards went out this morning.

Most of those folks are in Canada, and Canada Post is really good at holiday mail, so chances are they they will get to where they need to be before next Thursday.

Sadly, only two Americans made the cut this year. I just wasn’t up to writing all those cards, when the return rate is so low.

I was ready to go early today because I had a beauty appointment at lunchtime, and so I was a bit early, and I’ve never seen the salon in such a frenetic state. Chairs were full, people were waiting, there was hair all over the floor. It looked like a marathon cut was taking place.

Oh, but this … Prior to going to the mall, I sorted my cards and got them in the mail, and went grocery shopping in the space between then and where I was going. Now I know every check person at the grocery store, well!  We are all on first name basis, because we shop there every day.

Ok, so I am standing in the express lane, and a friend is checking out. The express person has to contend with returns, refunds, lottery tickets, flat screen tv’s (yes, they sell flat screen tv’s at the grocery store), bottles, cigarettes, and the one phone connected to the store, the office downstairs, and THEN check out customers. All at the same time, well, you know what I mean.

In one moment, a guy wanted to exchange a flat screen tv, another wanted a lottery ticket, people were standing at the bottle return, AND the phone rang, and there was a customer in front of me.

What do you do first?

I just stood there wand waited for the fall out to happen. And it didn’t take long.

The guy in front of me was buying one item. LUNCH …

My checker lady had her hands and ears full. Imagine just for a moment, that you are that checker lady with everything going on, all at the same time …

She is taking the call, a bag boy is taking care of the tv, the others can wait.

She swipes the lunch box, amid a conversation and pauses for a brief second what happened next shocked both of us, but it is not uncommon …

The guy looks at her and says … “Can’t you fucking speed up?”

I held my breath.

My friend is not one who is short on words, nor colorful expletives.

She hung up the phone and completed the sale.

The guy did not say thank you, have a nice day, Nothing !

He walked out of the store.

I stepped up to the cash and she exploded with a number of colorful expletives.

We both laughed …

I go home, unload groceries and go to the salon, where the story is already in motion …

I walk into the salon, with the scene I set above. In the first chair, well, there was not first chair there at that moment, but a wheel chair. The cutters there are very familiar with random acts of kindness.

And at that moment, a random act of kindness was taking place.

It swelled my heart.

I waited for a bit and watched the frenetic scene until they were ready for me. The books were cooking with appointments, and from what I was told, it had been like this all week, with the run up to the holiday.

Holidays, a little nasty, a little humbug, and in the end you get a random act of kindness.

I did some Christmas shopping. The mezzanine is rather innocuous, so I passed through “The Tire” without even a hiccup. I hit some Micky D’s for lunch and came home. Thank God for online shopping, it has saved my sanity. Packages are winging themselves here as we speak, all I have to do is wrap them when they get here. BOO YAH !!!

Our little neighborhood has been BUZZING with activity for months now. The park is shut down, and they are rebuilding it. The children’s hospital is slated for closure in five months, a building on the main is being demolished to make way for a brand sparkling new condo block, with is going to KILL my view of Westmount Square when it goes up, The Forum approach has been blocked off for forever, traffic was shunted to two lanes instead of three, concrete barricades went down the block, and a makeshift path was created by fencing to get you through the madness.

From my balcony I get to watch everything from above.

Last night, a miracle occurred.

They pulled up the plastic on the newly poured sidewalks. They fenced in the tree boxes (where they will plant trees next spring), The concrete barricades are gone, the fencing is gone, they added light poles and stop lights, it looks clean, bright and ready for traffic.

Now, how many months does it take to strip a city block strip of sidewalk, 25 feet deep from street to building?

Answer: 8 months

On the demolition site the building is tucked in between a stretch of other buildings in the middle of a very long city block. So you can’t maneuver cranes, lifts, or any BIG Tonka truck rigs. There is no room to set them up.

They are using a one man “mini” bulldozer, lifted to the roof, where it is covered in snow. There are five guys to demolish the building using hammers, a mini dozer, and a Blow Torch.

Behind that building stands an apartment building on our block, we are kind of set up between the block behind this scene looking down on it.

The entry way for cars to park in that buildings parking garage is accessed by an alley that runs behind said building being demolished. They are knocking down a building at the same time that a working alley for another building is still useable. They can’t block the approach.

They knocked in the first floor walls (facing the car park entrance) from behind. They knocked down everything on the roof. They had to dig through the snow to get to hatches to the roof.

Now, they need to knock down brick from the second floor from above, because they can’t get to it from the ground. No truck access …

What do they do?

A man rigs a line, connected to one wall on the roof. The line is then tied to the man. The man hangs over the edge of the building, with his hammer, (literally!!!) knocking bricks out, immediately below him, on the same stretch of wall he is hanging over by a rope.

Do you see the logic here ?

No, I didn’t think so.

So that is a thing …

When all my travels were said and done, I had an hour to kill before I had to leave for the far end of Westmount to meet my sponsor at his condo. We sat in a McDonald’s and had our chat. I had another hour to kill from when we finished, until I needed to leave for my second trip into this end of Westmount.

I rode the train home for 45 minutes, and departed with friends for the meeting.

Our speaker was a few years sober, on the 27th he will have four years.

To open: Our chair, a woman I know very well, called this young man at 5 o’clock this evening. He was in his car, he was bringing his kids home. Both of them were fussing and crying, and it was a little insane, when the phone rung and she asked him to speak tonight.

Obviously, you never say no to another member when it comes to service.

We remarked after the meeting that

“when we were using and drinking, we are a tornado wrecking the lives of everyone around us, and we don’t even see it happening.”

When you are standing in the middle of the cone, you don’t necessarily see the winds whipping around you.

Hence, our man was a tornado.

His story was a type four alcoholic. (Meaning: A blackout, not knowing what he had done, said or drank or used the night before). Singleness of purpose be damned.

In the end, his last drunk, he had a wife, whom he thought he loved, a child that was 2 months old, and ended up in jail, after two days of binge drinking (over Christmas that year) inside a hale of drugs.

Obviously, he wasn’t thinking about his wife, nor his child, his only thought was

“Where can I get MORE?”

It was then, looking in a mirror, in JAIL, he had his moment of clarity.

He gave it up. All of it. And made his way in.

He had ruined his son’s first Christmas, not to mention hurting his wife.

In the end, with tears in our eyes he said this:

“This Christmas, my wife and children (he now has two), will know that daddy loves them very much.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

He has stopped the tornado. He cleaned up his life. He has a job, a life, a wife, two children, a brand new home, he is an upstanding man in our community.

The Twelve Step rep got up there at the end and said that:

“Tonight, would be a really great night to start your journey. A LOT better than starting it next week or the week after.” Any takers … there were two, in fact.

Like myself, many of my friends today, got sober over Christmas, I am early December. So they will be celebrating anniversaries this coming week.

When we got to the meeting, favorite newbie was sitting in the seat I always sit in, well, the seat I started sitting in a few weeks ago. You KNOW we like to sit in the same seat at every different meeting, I KNOW you do !!!

I walked up behind him and said … Hey, You newbie, get out of my seat !!!

We just laughed.

Tonight we even had a serious conversation, I asked him if he has detected “The Force” between the women at the Tuesday night Beginners Meeting, where I used to be a member for for a long time.

He laughed …

Yes, he said, He’s got a few months now. We heard him three weeks ago speak.

At first, the happy peppy women scared him, he wasn’t sure how to react, being so new and raw.

Today, he watches and listens, and he is beginning to “get” the happys…

I have encouraged him to stick and stay at that meeting.

He is doing all the right things. And I am very proud of him.

And that folks, is the end of tonight’s tale of Flash and Bang to Calm and Sober.

More to come, stay tuned …

“The Christmas Card Cut” – Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil…


God, Where art Thou, While We Weep for our Children ?

_79779611_460551980Courtesy: BBC.Co.Uk News

I try and do stay away from stories of tragedy and killing. What can I say that the world hasn’t already said about these things over the years and most recently, the past few months ?

The killing of any child, in ANY case is reprehensible.

The line between personal safety and a kid who supposedly threatened a cop has blurred.

The line between prudence and good judgment is gone.

What becomes of killing a kid, by an adult who has a sticky trigger finger?

Cops are not above the law. ANY law. They should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, because they are supposed to serve and protect, not become judge, jury and executioner …

Pity the white cops who killed all those young men, reason or no reason. It just isn’t fair.

And today – Allah, Praise Be His Holy Name, wept …

And Today – God wept for the little children…

And Today – the first day of Hanukkah – Yahweh weeps for the children…

A man proclaims that he kills for Allah, praise be his holy name. To avenge the war on terrorism so he goes for the soft, easy target, CHILDREN. A man who proclaims that all who threaten the Holy Warrior of Islam, He will kill the infidel. It seems Innocent Children are infidels as well.

I think their judgment has seriously evaporated. They kill with impunity because the people of Pakistan and Peshawar don’t usually fight back.

IT IS TIME THEY FIGHT BACK, WITH ALL THE GUNS, AMMO AND POWER THEY CAN MUSTER THEMSELVES WITH HELP OF THE ALLIES WHO WILL PARTICIPATE IN EXTERMINATING THE TALIBAN.

Those thoughtless, honor-less, terribly deluded men who claim Islam and revenge as the reason to kill innocent CHILDREN.

Today those men chose to MURDER innocent children. Generations of Children.

All in the name of Allah, praise be his holy name.

I have no pity for those men. And all my religious belief of forgiveness and redemption go out the window tonight.

The Merciless killing of generations of Children is reprehensible, This IS and SHOULD BE treated as An EYE for and EYE and a TOOTH for a TOOTH.

Cowardly men who live by the SWORD and kill INNOCENT Children, should DIE by their SWORDS, with NO MERCY, NO FORGIVENESS and NO HONOR and no 72 virgins in paradise.

You will not change the world or the way it sees you by continually killing our CHILDREN because you have no honor or scruples. But what would backwoods, tribal militants know about honor or scruples?

For every drop of innocent child’s blood you spill, the people will grow weary of doing nothing, and sooner than later, I am truly hopeful of this, that they will rise up and annihilate you and all who follow you and all of you who proclaim to kill in the name of Allah, praise be his holy name.

Tonight the world weeps for more than a hundred children killed in Peshawar. And in the United States our millions have been weeping for our dead young men, killed by the guns of white police officers, one as young as TWELVE !! What the FUCK is that ? Why isn’t that man’s balls not hanging from a tree somewhere where we can all see them ?

For all those cops who think they have brass balls to kill kids with guns, should have those balls removed and they need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, bar none.

How do we comfort a people half a world away on the other side of the globe?

There might be a lull in violence while they bury and mourn their dead, but rest assured, the Taliban is waiting in the wings to make their next hit, the question is, whose children will they kill next ?

Malala was right, this day was atrocious.

Rout them out and kill them all. Sooner than later.

The killing of innocent CHILDREN must stop, yesterday…


Sunday Sundries … Decisions, Decisions …

tumblr_l5ddbvDdeT1qzfjmqo1_500 oriental tiger

Courtesy: OTiger

The weekend is in the books. Little by slowly, the city is clearing away all that snow. At this stage of the game, we do not have a Christmas Forecast, but we always hope for snow on Christmas Day.

I posted the piece on the Universe last night, and I tweeted several people. And wouldn’t you guess, the biggest fish in the sea came and read me, someone I have been listening to on the radio for years and years. The esteemed Ian Punnett famed host of Coast to Coast A.M.

And he tweeted my piece to his followers. I feel like I’ve had my five minutes of fame.

He tweeted that I was “close.” I must have said something right.

Bringing together all the knowledge I have on a certain topic is a synthesis of many books, hours and hours of study, lectures, science, the afterlife, and the paranormal. I go back and re-read several books that are in my library, because they give me different takes on “how the universe works and how we live in this universe and what happens when we die.”

Learning about God, is something that is continual. An education and those little pieces of paper that I earned are gathering dust in my library. Neither of them did one bit of good in the end.

Was University a waste? No, not really. It gave me a platform to stand on and the ability to speak my passion with the book knowledge and a lifetime of experience to back it.

I also seek the guidance of a number of people, who know God a little bit better than I do. Several of my friendships are very important in spiritual terms.

God has been on the front burner lately.

And all the writing I have done over the past month is starting to become useful with my friends and fellows. It is one thing to have thoughts and observations, and be able to synthesize them into print.

Lately, I have been having conversations with my friends who want to know where God is, why isn’t He speaking back, when I pray, and how do I turn it over ???

I touched on all of these questions in pieces I have written over the past couple of weeks.

And as of late, all that insight, has become very useful.

We’ve been covering the Steps on Sunday Nights. That is one of the best ways to introduce steps to newcomers. They can hear them read, in long form, then listen to the room, work it out in real time.

We sat a modest group tonight. And tonight’s offering was Step Three.

We’ve been hovering over the word God for a while now. And the most important job that we, those with considerable time in it, can do is to support and encourage folks to stick and stay, and do the work. As we have talked recently about God and what He would sound like and when that voice is going to come, because He isn’t answering fast enough and I am not getting the answers I want …

Tonight, someone I am working with came with a burden on her heart. And I’ve encouraged her to speak those burdens to the rooms, whatever room it is on what ever day it is, no matter the topic on the table, if you’ve got to get rid of something, you must speak it.

Usually, as it goes, someone has a word for you, or a contact, or a piece of advice that can be useful.

Tonight it was no different. She prayed, and God didn’t speak. So she was unhappy.

I asked her what she needed and she told me. Luckily, I know a few people, who can help her. There was her answer. I told her that she would need to seek out my old sponsor at a particular meeting and if he could not help her, he would know someone who could. Most definitely.

Then she countered, but that night is my home group and I can’t miss that meeting.

My answer was this, if you need something and there is someone you should seek, going to another meeting might be necessary to make that connection. There are plenty of women at that meeting that she would have enough in common with.

Ugh… newcomers !

In the end, God spoke. She didn’t necessarily want to take the advice on the first pass, it was her choice. If you really want something, sometimes footwork is necessary.

We have all been reminded that tis’ the season for Misery and the Poor Me’s …

With that said, we are all stepping up our games, so as not to be taken down into Misery and the Poor Me’s…

I’ve said this over and over lately that we did not get sober to be miserable.

Some did not get that memo.

Sadly, I’ve come to know, recently, that several members I know well, who had decades in, went back out and drank again. This is not uncommon. It happens more frequently than we like to admit.

Some folks with serious time, forget.

  • They forget that we suffer from a cunning, baffling and powerful disease.
  • They forget that they should be living in the solution.
  • They forget what it was like to be new.
  • They stop reading the books, and going to meetings and speaking to others.
  • They stop calling sponsors and take matters into their own hands.
  • They are so far from their last drink, that they forget what it was like.
  • And finally the think that they are cured (read: Deluded) and so, they drink again.

Bringing folks back into the fold, once they go back out, is tenuous. One’s approach must be carefully planned. But most importantly, what we know, based on what we do today, has to matter, when working with folks on the bubble.

I made a huge mistake and ruined a relationship some years ago, when I openly chastised a very close friend who had serious time and after a bout with cancer, drank again. She was in the U.S. and I was here. We spoke every week, sometimes more often. During that whole time she never told me she was drinking, and when she returned she walked into a meeting and took a chip, and I reacted, terribly.

I took it very personally, that she could not confide in me that kind of truth and I said as much.

I don’t know if she is still sober, but that all but ended our decades long friendship.

Ah, the things we learn about ourselves in sobriety.

Even with time, every once in a while, I open my mouth and stick my foot in all the way up to my thigh.

Big Mistake. Lesson Learned.

It is not going to be an easy holiday. All those warning signs are starting to pop up.

Thankfully, all my guys are sober. All of them are in the city tonight. And I get the pleasure of spending quality time with all of them through till January.

It was a good night, it was a challenging night. We have our work cut out for us in the days to come.

If you pray, pray for our folks, especially our newcomers.

We really want them to make it. Getting them through is the job right now.

And you know how stubborn an alcoholic can be at times.

I want to speak to God, and I want an answer right now on my terms !!!!

UGH … God don’t work that way missy !!!

More to come, stay tuned …

More to come, stay tuned …


The Universe; Alive, Sentient, Conscious? How did we get here?

2006-01-a-1024_wallpaperI was reading a friend last night, and his latest entry “Exobiology.” Steve writes:

“Are we alone in the universe? The answer is every day growing more and more certain that we are not. Humanity may experience shortages of many things, however, pride is not among them. For millennia we’ve been convinced of our own superiority and, of late, we’ve become convinced that we must be as good as it gets.”

This was my reply to that post:

I watch all these “The Universe,” and “Cosmic Front,” so forth and so on. And I have quite a few years on this planet. Spiritually speaking, in my life, I believe the Universe is conscious. I say that because of what I’ve experienced getting from the universe spiritually, and personally.

I grew up with “(G)od. and I studied (G)od, and I am sober, so my God, the universe, always provides. I’m fairly certain that we as humans are connected to this grand universe unconsciously, there is a connection that exists, it is there working behind the scenes, directing the show, contrary to our arrogant beliefs, and when we realize it, it works to our advantage.

I know that there has got to be more than what we can see, and experience.

If we are reincarnations of people from the past, and we are spiritual beings having a human experience, then the question is, where did we come from and how did we get here? They say we are star stuff, which means, we came from “out there!”

So there must be something greater than ourselves out there. Something non-corporeal.

It knew how to make us, and we were made.

Isn’t it arrogant to say that, No there is nothing out there, and we are the best it gets? The universe is clearly alive, to me, and I don’t have all the answers. But 47 years later, the universe is good to me, and it sustains me.

The universe is quite a big place, for us to be the only living beings in it. just saying …

The Universe, it is a BIG universe. And it is the height of arrogance to say that we are the only living beings in this universe. We all know about the Big Bang.

Pow, Wow, and everything came into existence.

Reading Genesis, you might imagine that God was hiding behind this black shroud, waiting for the opportune moment to “create.”

The word came, and it was spoken, and creation came to be.

If God created all things, and if we come from “out there,” And we know that we are “Star Stuff,” then clearly we came from somewhere other than where we ended up.

Above I state that I believe the universe is conscious. It knows us. It is there for us. And we are connected to that “All Knowing.” The fabric of space is filled with stuff we cannot identify fully, and the universe is full of energy.

We are connected to that cosmic energy, and it is connected to us.

I’ve been alive a long time. I know about God. I know what a power greater than myself is, for myself, not necessarily for you. I’ve studied a few theories that I came up with in sobriety. And I’ve seen them proven over long periods of time, that tell me that,

Yes, the universe is alive.

We are arrogant to think that we are all that there is, and that, for some, there is only God, and He created all living beings on earth, but to expand that thought and say that maybe God created other beings in other places in the universe, would be heresy.

What would stop a creative being, who knew what we needed, to be, and brought all those things together to form us, and in his breath, we were made? There is something greater out there, it created us, and it is still creating. The sciences tell us many things about the universe, but it still cannot answer the eternal questions of

  • “Where did we come from,
  • How did we get here,
  • And are we alone?”

Where did we come from? Put simply, the universe knew what to do with all of its parts, and we came into being, for we are star stuff. Can you imagine that there is something dynamic in the universe that brought together, all that was necessary to make the planets and stars and galaxies, and bring us into being over millions upon millions of years.

For many that would be God. Or a Creator …

How did we get here? I believe that the universe is alive. It knows. It is constantly running like a program behind the scenes. A collective conscious. A knowing collective.

I believe that we are all connected to this universe. And it is connected to us. We don’t necessarily know about this connection, but with all my studies, reading hundreds of books, covering a multitude of topics, spiritual, religious, and so on, there is something out there, that brought us into this incarnation.

If you believe in past life regression, near death experiences, reincarnation, so forth and so on, many traditions tell us that we have been here before, and the reason that we are here in this incarnation, is because we did not get it all right, in the last incarnation. So the universe sends us back again and again to rework our life issues, to make things right, to get to nirvana in the end, and finally shed this wheel of rebirth.

It is also known that groups of people, families, friends, can be reincarnated together to come together in another incarnation, because we need to return. We may return as men or women or children, at the most, the universe knows what to do with us while we exist in the cosmos.

Where does all that conscious and unconscious energy of lifetimes, of knowledge, go when we die? We have souls. And at the end of our lives, everything that we know and everything that we have experienced on this earth, returns to the collective, to the universe.

Ready and waiting for its next vessel.

It is fact that children, when they are born, are the closest to the collective, to God, to the Creator, than adults are, with all that we know. Children are clean vessels, they are unaware of all the things adults are aware of, they are pure, and in the beginning of their lives, they have just come from somewhere that formed who they were to become, and sent them into this life.

The collective conscious, arranges, forms and re-sends us into consciousness, into being …

I believe that God, in all His wisdom, is out there, somewhere.

  • Is He the universe?
  • Does he lie just beyond what we can see, and stars are windows into the next realm of possibility?
  • The energy of life flows back and forth between the universe out there, and the corporeal existence here.

I believe that the universe is a conscious non-corporeal entity. It is filled with cosmic stuff, and now add all the energy from every human being that ever lived, then add all the living beings now alive on earth, and what lies beyond in space and other places, that is a lot of energy to be managed.

  • God is in His heaven.
  • The dead have gone to a better place.
  • And we are spiritual beings having a human existence. It all works.
  • The universe collects all this energy.

It knew what to do with it. And it knows what to do with it.

If we are reincarnations, then, what ever was? Will be again.

If we are made of Star Stuff, then, we come from out there, where ever “there” is?

If we return again and again to work out our karma, and learn the lessons correctly, that we did not learn correctly before, something greater than ourselves, knew what it was we needed, and it gave it to us, it filled our corporeal vessels, and sent us back into existence.

We are connected to the universe. And it to us.

It knows what we need, before we know we need it ourselves. The Bible says, God created us, and in the end we have free will, in the end the final choice comes down to us.

On a daily basis, some of us, connect to that power greater than ourselves. We make that conscious connection to all that exists, it is there already. We send it our prayers, our thoughts, our problems.

Then we get to work it out. The universe, if it is all knowing, is going to facilitate us working it out. And we know that when we speak to God, He is going to speak to us through a common vessel.

And then God speaks, only when we reply.

With that said, we speak to the universe, it sends us an answer, then we get to decide what to do with that answer. We, the human collective, commune with the conscious collective, and the universe sends us what we need. We don’t always catch it. Sometimes we miss it.

Which is all the reason why I believe the universe is alive.

I see in in simple thoughts and prayers.

Example … I think of someone in particular. I send that thought out, and within hours, and for this example, it came within a couple of days, that that person I was thinking about, came to me.

Now, did the universe hear me, and how did that particular person know to come to where I was at the opportune time, on that given day? I cannot explain it.

But the universe acted. And it continues to act on our part.

Synchronicity, Serendipity, Wishful thinking, Prayers, Thoughts … Where do they go when we think, or pray them? They go out to the universe, to God. To something Greater than Ourselves.

And then it responds.

It might not be what we like, or what we are expecting, but something always comes back to us.

It is arrogant to think that there is nothing “out there,” and that “We are all that there is.”

The Creator, God, The universe did what it did and it will do what it does for all eternity.

If what is out there is conscious, and knows, why would it be a stretch to think or believe that there may be other conscious beings somewhere else?

The universe is a Big Place, and it would be pretty lonely, to think that we are all that there is…


Satan knows more about the bible than you.

Do you believe in Love Lifted from: Jeremy … Don’t Eat Trash

Satan was there when the stories happened, when they were written, when the words were lost, when they were found, when we translated them, when we warred over them. The enemy was there when we built empires on its principles and also when we forgot the principles and gave ourselves the credit. And he loves it when we forget, when we don’t read it, when we think we understand it without even knowing it, when we argue about lies and half truths. He loves when we are too busy to read it, when we are bored of reading it and when we convince ourselves it was written directly to us in the 2000’s.

Its a little worrying huh? That Christians don’t really read our bibles. And if we do, we don’t exactly know what we are reading. And when pastors teach us what is actually going on we are playing angry birds on our phones, or not even going to church and reading atheist diatribes on the internet disproving the faith that we weakly hold to, then we point at the church and accuse them of not doing their jobs.

The bible, if you read it like it was written to be read, changes lives. It reconstructs our thought patterns, it unleashes freedom, it solidifies the truth of Gods character, it builds strong foundations for marriages, families, communities, societies, cultures. It has the capacity to cut out crap in our lives, to invent better technologies and to do business and government for the people.

The bible isn’t God. We believe Christ not because the bible exists. We believe in Christ because God (Emmanuel – God with us) walked amongst us. He healed the sick and fed the hungry, he inspired life in all others and then went to the cross unfairly to take the sin of the world on his God-man shoulders. But do we know the back story to his triumphant victory? Do we understand what is actually happening when he vocally attacks the spiritual elite of the day? Do we understand the Jewish concept of evil and the need of Christ to come destroy it all?

Have we actually read it, and let it flood our lives with exciting goodness?

Because if our battle isn’t over, we are going to need sharper swords to rescue the hopeless and raze the enemies fortresses.

Get sharpening. Get life.