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Monday: The Language of the Heart

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Courtesy: Michael Shainblum Photography

There was an incredible Solar Eclipse earlier today… I slept right through it. But I have an amazing image to show you, if you missed it.

Overheard at the Meeting tonight: Imagine … How many people stopped their lives to look up at the sun, all at the same time, across the globe. What an amazing day it was.

Yesterday afternoon, Hubby was admitted to the Jewish General Hospital Emergency for an emergency operation to remove a sub-sebacious cyst on his lower spine. The operation was a success, and he was home, inside of three hours, post op.

Today was spent in follow-up doctors appointments and trips between home and the pharmacy. All is well.

This morning, well, at  6′ o clock a.m. I was up to go drop labs for my diabetes blood work, since being on Teujeo insulin now 2 months.

I got there uber early, so that I could get in and out quickly. Which is where this post will materialize. When you check in at the desk, they swipe your cards and file your work into the computer system for your bar code stickers for your vials.

I sat down with a young lady, who was going to do the deed. She asked my name and my birth date. I responded as usual, then added that I had just turned fifty a couple of weeks ago.

With a little amazement, she asked me how fifty felt ? I told her that I did not know yet, being so close to the epicenter. I furthered that explanation with what happened to me when I turned forty and beyond.

That, it was at the forty mark and beyond that point, that I began to have spiritual experiences, in the way I saw the world around me and what I actually could say, with some certainty, that I KNEW things for sure.

I was using spiritual language, like I knew what I was talking about, and the words came out so freely. She responded with …

Well, that happened to me when she turned thirty. She said …

She told me that she had heard things all her life from her parents and family and that when she hit the thirty mark, she had the same feeling of enlightenment.

For a moment I was jealous, thinking, “Shit, you mean I could have had that for me at thirty, had I been in the game of growing up when I hit thirty ???”

I did not say that, but it was what I was thinking in the moment.

I missed thirty, thirty-one until I finally hit thirty-four, when I got sober the second time and had made the decision to grow up finally. AND even then, it took a further six years of sobering up and learning what life as a grown man would look like, and how I would inhabit being a grown up man for myself.

When I turned forty and years after, if you have been following this blog all those years ago, you would have read the way my life changed in miraculous ways over the last ten years.

Last Monday we talked about resentments from the resentment section of the steps. I did not get a chance to share before the hour was up.

Tonight we read the passage in Step Nine, and the Ninth Step Promises.

“The Spiritual life is not a theory … One must LIVE a spiritual life.”

How one does that, follows the process of sobriety.

Along with the Preamble, we repeatedly hear How it Works, The Promises, and A Vision for You, over and over again.

Our chair read the Promises. And everyone in the room got to think about them, from their perspective, in their specific sober experience.

Having been sober this long, and being fifty now, I see the wisdom of the Promises as they happened for me, what order they came in, and when the final Promise we had been waiting for to come, did finally come.

“FEAR OF PEOPLE AND OF ECONOMIC INSECURITY WILL LEAVE US …”

That was the last one to come, and it only took thirteen years of waiting for it.

We just were not sitting on our asses begging God to just give that one to us.

Over the long history of our relationship, I would read a passage, hear it talked about in a discussion, and then hear a speaker talk about it in a speaker meeting.

Then God would say, “OK, Now you’ve heard all you need to know. NOW go work it out for yourself.” And so it was.

We would get a glimpse of freedom, as each day, week, month, and year that passed.

God would give us a peek, a little money, and we had to learn how to use it wisely, save it when necessary, and spend it where applicable.

Life was like that. God would give me a glimpse of what life would look like. That happened over and over again.

We certainly had our work cut out for us, on every aspect of sober life. It was not a cake walk, by any means. We learned our lessons well.

Imagine how many times you hit meetings over almost sixteen years, and hear those same readings, over and over again.

That is what is really GOOD about the BIG BOOK. Because the book tells us, right on page 112, In the chapter – To Wives … READ THIS BOOK.

If you are in step work, you would know about reading the book. Safe to say, I’ve been reading this book, over and over for more than fifteen years.

Now I am Fifty. What kind of wisdom do I have about the book today ?

I don’t know, I’d have to sit and think about this a little bit.

We shall explore this topic further in the days, weeks, and months to come.

Suffice to say, I shared a spiritual experience with a complete stranger this morning and that was a blessing for her and for me.

You never know who you will sit with on any given morning and what they might ask you.

More to come.


Friday: What are you Carrying ???

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It is Friday. The best night of the week. It was a good day. I got out early, and arrived at the church, with my music on Shuffle … However, I chose some vintage Duran Duran.

I cranked out set up, in time to spend time with a new man I am working with these days. Now, I get to choose who I invest in and why.

The read spoke about the fellowship, and how there is a give and take in the rooms, when we get here. In the beginning we learn how to give, by simple acts of service, Coffee and Chairs. Greeting at the door. Shaking Hands.

In the ensuing years, we begin to learn about recovery. And we also begin filling our buckets with useful information, that at some point, we will know what to do with and how to use it.

Page 164, in A Vision for You, reminds us that
Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.

It was a very long time, until I realized that, in fact, I did have something to offer, I just needed to learn how to do that from the spiritual angle. That only took 12 years.

Read: I had to learn and know how to pray and communicate with my God.

The read also says that we should give, because it is in giving that we receive. And that we should give, without the expectation of anything in return.

I thought about this, and spoke up early in the hour.

When I do not know what to do myself, I return to the basics. I do service.

History shows me that for a long time, I gave, to people who really did not care that I was giving, because as long as I was doing the lion’s share of work, they did not have to do anything. And some of my friends told me just that. They would not show up, nor do anything to serve, because they knew that I would be there to carry the load.

Selfish and Self Centered.

At the point, post emotional breakdown, that I spoke my mind out loud, people were incensed. They had never heard me get emotional or raise my voice, in all my years of sobriety.

What I did not realize, until a long sober woman said it tonight, that I needed to choose:

Was I going to Carry the Message, or Was I going to carry an Alcoholic/Addict ?

I’ve said before that I usually never say no to my friends, nee sponsees. I will do whatever they need to be done, without complaint. That usually worked for me, until I NEEDED myself.  When it came to the point that I needed from my friends, they could not comprehend that need, nor could they respond or give me what I really needed, because I was carrying them, with the unspoken expectation that My Friends Would be able to give me what I so seriously needed.

I had not realized that then, until my long sober friend said that in the meeting tonight.

I had very lax boundaries. They were porous to a fault.

And several of my friends thought nothing of barging into the private sector of my life with their self centered and selfish needs, even when I said to them that I needed a few days off to grow up and become Fifty years old.

It was obvious on my birthday that my friends did not care about boundaries.

I know today, what I need to know about boundaries.

Those who I work with where I Carry the Message, they are just fine. Those people whom I was Carrying All Along, are no longer.

Alcoholics and Addicts may be light when we pick them off the floor in early sobriety. Because they are void of life and soul, and we take them on to help build them up. But if we don’t know when to let go, and stand back and allow them to walk on their own, and we continue to carry them into sobriety, where we do all the work, they do not learn healthy boundaries, and they tend to take advantage of us.

Over time those same Light Weight Alcoholics and Addict become Very HEAVY.

I can’t carry anyone any more. I need to take care of me. I was told, by my lady friend, that I needed to step back and fill my bucket and relax, and not try so hard to do what others can do themselves.

Food for thought.


Thursday: Friends …

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It has been a couple of weeks, and my strategy of keeping my friends close has sustained me, during this life transition I am in.

There are certain people in my life, that are anchors for my soul. Just seeing them come into a room is soothing. That look of hello from the crowd, as you are sitting in the chair, and it is your job to “Bring it” to the room.

Tonight was my second sitting in the chair, and both weeks, I really “Brought it.”

Last week was my favorite lady friend. Tonight, I had the pleasure of presenting another anchor friend, who is part of my life. There are only two Jeremy’s on the English side of Montreal sobriety. Myself, Jeremy the Elder, and my other friend Jeremy, the younger.

It is like a Solar Eclipse when you get us both at the same meeting at the same time.

I was chairing for a lady friend of the meeting tonight, and she had lined up my friend to speak tonight. A little serendipitous meeting tonight.

I enjoy listening to my friend talk. And as I listen I am reminded just how hard we fought to get to this point, when so many of the people we knew in rehab or early sobriety, did not make it and have since died.

That is very emotional for all of us.

I am also reminded, watching some of the folks I know, just have no desire to know me beyond saying hello before a meeting. Since my life event, I have changed my tack, so to speak. I’m concentrated on some young people, who need a little hope, and are willing, at this point, to get their hands dirty, ala Service and Reading.

It is Thursday, and after my Thursday meeting, I get to sit with a very close friend who is part of my life. And I am eternally grateful for his presence in my life. He gives me food for thought, and each week, I give him a faith challenge to go study, and I get his weekly bible studies, then I get his weekly lesson from the Book of Mormon.

Life could not be better right now. People I have not seen in some time, have been showing up at the other meetings I go to, which is nice. It is also good that I have changed in so many ways, emotionally and physically, and people are noticing.

I guess I am doing all the right things for now.

Time is of the essence, and if people don’t want what you are selling, then you find those who want to buy, and or, listen to what you have to say.

Sixteen is a very round number of time. Lots of wisdom to share. It is knowing who, really wants what you have and who doesn’t.

And not waste your time with people who don’t want what you have.

More to come.


Tuesday: We Must Speak Up

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There are times in life when we must take a stand. Take a stand for our fellows, Take a stand for Women. Take a stand for children. Take a stand for Immigrants. Take a stand for our Nation and its Democracy. Take a stand for our Morals, Rights, and Values.

Then there are times when we MUST stand up and Speak when our President does stupid things, and speaks stupid words. The time has come, and it has been time, for a long time to remove President Trump from office.

Sooner than Later.

Because in the end, we will all suffer his stupidity.

It is time to Interfere …


Monday: Resentment And its Spiritual Solution

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There may come a time, in your life, in your Sober Life, that you reach a tipping point. A moment of Do or Die, or more aptly, Do or Drink … A moment where the resentments of the past, are about to rush over you like a BIG wave on the beach.

That time may come for you, as it came to me, not so long ago.

Tonight we read the Resentment Passage from the Big Book, as it tells us that:

Resentment is the number ONE offender, and if not dealt with accordingly, We Will Drink Again…

For many years, when I worked my steps, I had resentments that ended up on the Never list for my Step Nine Amends. That anger of my idealistic melancholic hopes that “The Past could have been any different, thereby giving me the end I wanted, instead of the end that I got.

There was not ONE sober member, when it was needed so badly, not one member who gave me a solution to my anger. Oh, they recognized my anger, then told me to go, and deal with that on my own, leaving me to my own devices.

My solution, the Very Spiritual Solution came from my spiritual advisers.

The format of the inventory I needed to work came from them, and them alone.

I learned to Pray a Forgiveness Prayer, for those who had harmed me so badly. Praying to forgive them of pain, knowing that my prayer was not one of absolution, but in the end, of Release.

There may come a time when resentments that end up on your amends list, that fall in the Never Column. There are three columns. Now, Later, and Never.

For the whole of my sobriety I sat on anger and fear. I sat in sick anger that invaded my spirit, and as the book tells us, that sickness, keeping us from the Sunlight of the Spirit.

I heard it said tonight, that when we are in that place, we are walking around the world, with an open umbrella, shading ourselves from the Sunlight of the Spirit, intentionally.

We have to let go the expectation that the Past could have been any Different.

The example I was given, was Corrie Ten Boom, a survivor of the Holocaust. After the war, that she survived, she later met a man who stopped her on the street in Berlin.

He said Corrie, Don’t you know who I am ? Yes, she did. Before her stood one of the guards that killed her family, in front of her, and terrorized her in the camps.

He asked her for forgiveness … And on that pass, she said Absolutely Not.

In time, she came to the Spiritual Battle Ground, where she learned about Faith, God, The Cross of Crucifixion, Jesus, and of Forgiveness.

She found forgiveness for that man.

When her story came to me, via my spiritual director, my very banal resentments and anger, paled in comparison to this very tragic story of suffering and death. I thought out loud that I could not compare my pain, to that pain of someone who survived the death camps.

I had to let go my pie in the sky expectations of the past, and get to the forgiveness prayer, for me, for them, to be free, finally, once in for all. Because I needed to move on with my life, and I truly needed to shut the door on this past story, forever.

I came to this point. I had a spiritual solution that worked.

I came to know that in the end, I COULD LET GO that old story and never have to tell it again, so long as I live…

I am Free …

We are imperfect humans, and as soon as we recognize that, within the frame work of the Spirituality of Imperfection, and we make that crucial decision to LIVE in the Spiritual Solution, we begin to live Freely, Humbly with Gratitude and Love.

The Solution to Sober Problems can be found in Spiritual Principles.

The Spirituality of Imperfection is a good place to start.


Sunday Sundries: New Tattoo

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My final birthday present came today. I paid out $400.00 for the artwork and the time for my appointment earlier today. It was NOT a painless experience, by any means. I did have my moments.

In the end, the final cost was $471.00. I have another session soon to do touch ups and pay my artist his tip, because I was well over my budget this pay period.

The clock sits at 12:00. 12:00 was the time on the day I was diagnosed 23 years ago. The boy on the stairs has a RED shirt, an homage to AIDS. The timepiece is a vintage pocket watch with filigree and Roman numerals.

The stairs, indicative of the Steps … The water below, life going by.

Money well spent on a one of a kind piece of art. This is what my artist came up with, looking at the original piece of art, and subsequent tattoos in Googles.

We did not copy the older works. We changed up the timepiece and added some color here and there, to a rather black and white image. Once the piece has totally ealed the colors will be much brighter.


Thursday: Spiritual Principles

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What a day, what a week, what a life …

After two months of scheduling, one of my most favorite people, well, one of my most favorite young women, spoke for me tonight.

She Is Joy Overload !!!

A while back, my best friend turned me on to a book. The Spirituality of Imperfection, Storytelling and the Search for Meaning, by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham.

HE had read the book, previously, because a friend gifted him the book at a meeting some years ago. So, He read the book, and then gave said book to me. I read, said book, and while reading the book, time and time again, I saw my best friend within the read.

Meaning: He had learned, and then employed certain Spiritual Principles. Every time I hit a topic that he had learned, then employed, I noted it in the margin. I was totally impressed by the way he had learned and how he used what he learned with ME.

Now, my best friend, another one of my guys, and His Girlfriend, née fiancée, have read the book too. The book has made the rounds of people, in the rooms. I have certain friends, who have had a hard time with sobriety. I bought them a copy of the book, and asked them to read it, to maybe get a handle on simple spirituality, based on the premise that we are all that we are.

That we are NOT one or the other, or a This or a That.

That we are human, and imperfect and that to embrace our humanity to embrace ALL that we are, warts and all, in a tremulous balance of Love, God and Spirituality, there can be a beginning.

Our Imperfect-ness …

There are people, FEW, people I know, who haven’t necessarily read this book, but in knowing them, this far, in my journey, THEY live and inhabit spiritual principles. I can hear it in the way they speak, in the way they work with others, and if you listen closely, you too will hear it as well.

Back in June, I had spoken at the Thursday meeting, and that was a BIG shit show. The following Tuesday, I spoke at an evening meeting, talking about Step 11. Prayer and Meditation and God. Yes, I know this topic very well, and I can talk about it till the cows come home.

I was the opening act for my very favorite woman, Miss. Joy Overload.

When she finished speaking that night, I felt something I had never realized before. I had a feeling of spiritual truth, of honesty and of spiritual principles.  WHY ???

Because I had read this little Tome of a book, and I was listening with not only my mind, or my ears, I was listening to her with my heart and soul. I had learned this by reading the book. I have accepted certain spiritual axioms into my practice, therefore giving me the ability to “Experience.”

Experience is everything.

Spirituality is not a Sunday morning event. Spirituality is not a once a day prayer, or a once a night prayer. Spirituality is something that we LIVE, every day, every hour, every minute.

Spirituality is something we learn to LIVE. Every Day … Every Hour.

At this stage in my game, I’ve learned this way of life. I know what it looks like, and what it feels like. To walk near God. To live near God. To stay “On The Beam” for more of my day, than being “Off The Beam.”

The more we move Towards God, the better our life can be. Because when me move towards God, life tends to take a more spiritual tack. Learning this principle took a very long time for me.

For most of my life, in the In Between times, I thought I had to live life according to the worlds specifications. When I got sober the second time, I turned my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood Him, at that time in my life.

I’ve spent the better part of fifteen years perfecting my connection to the God of my understanding, by learning and inhabiting spiritual principles.

This did not come overnight, by any means.

Spiritual practice is like sobriety. You have to practice every day.

We need each other. We need each other’s stories. We need community, and the care, love and support it provides.

Together, we need to Remember, Together.

It is not good for man or woman to be alone. And we know, as my friend spoke words tonight, that together, we can do many things. And you know the axiom of “When two people get together, there I AM in their midst.”

When two drunks get together, there God is …

There is something to be said about the power the fellowship has to help each other heal those areas of life that need to be forgiven and healed. And the book does say, and we say as well, “That eventually, in a meeting, now or later, you will hear another human tell your story. The book goes on to say that “in community, when we hear our story mirrored back to us, we are forgiven and we are healed.”

The fellowship might give us a way to quit the drink, and never have to drink again, the truth is that, unless you live inside spiritual principles and come to learn and know the God of your understanding, your chances are less than average.

Because there are those too, who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. If you cannot be honest with yourself, How in God’s universe can you be honest with God ???

I have friends, they are friends, because we sit in rooms together, they might not call ME a friend, but they are … They who are just white knuckling it, who just won’t Let Go and Let God.

Tonight, my lady friend told us how to do that.

You never know when the message is going to sink in and settle where it needs to.

Which is why we keep coming back.

We stick around until the miracle happens …


Discovering Self – Fifty Moving Forwards

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The Modern Otter

Ever since that one doctors visit back in February, and seeing clear proof that my body was responding positively to treatment, I’ve been discovering the man I really wanted to be. To feel beautiful, something I was missing, to feel sexy, since nobody had ever mentioned that to me, not even my husband, and finally find that spark that made me visible to people around me.

I figured out I could rock a look, that was sporty and flashy. I’ve lost a ton of weight over the last seven months. And now, I’ve brought my best friend over to the “dark side” with the very same diet I have been on for a while now.

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I found this young, sporty, sexy, Otter of a man, (Otter – Young, Gay, Skinny, Hairy Man) and he has a look. A beautiful look, that is modern, sleek and hip. I like that.

At fifty, I decided to let things roll, and I’ve adopted a more “Otter” look. In the past, I was the one who would never be seen with facial hair, because, I used to say, that facial hair gave you a certain AGE look, that I worked so hard to avoid like the plague for the whole of my life. I may not be as skinny as I would like, but dropping thirty pounds has definitely put me in the race.

Modern Otter

It’s been two weeks, and I have a full beard, “Otter” look now. It is distinctive, I think. I figured that I needed a new look that conveyed a little wisdom for myself at fifty. Some of my elder sober men friends have that “elder status look.”

And if I am honest, when I grow up, I want to be like some of my long sober men friends, in many ways.

I am trying to find comfort at Fifty. I’m trying to find that place where I feel good, look good and look good doing it too. I have the wardrobe. I’ve spent a pretty penny on new clothing that makes me look smart, fit and alive.

The friends that matter, see me, and they love me for who I am. All of them notice how hard I have worked to get here, and one lady friend, who has had her share of suffering knows what happiness and joy are, and she said to me not long ago that when she looked at me that I looked happy from the inside – out …

Friends that make your heart smile are precious.

I have friends like that in my life today.


Monday Sports: Sidney Crosby Turns 30

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I may not be the best sports fan, but one HUGE part of who we are as a country is wrapped up in the Men and Women who play sports for Canada.

We Celebrate every win. We cheer at every Medal won. And we are Proud of our young people who have gone on to do great things for the country and in their respective teams world wide.

Sid the Kid turns 30 this week.

Oh the days of Thirty … I missed mine.

HALIFAX — NHL superstar Sidney Crosby said it’s “just a number,” as he turned 30 on Monday and brandished the Stanley Cup in a parade that wound through Halifax in his native Nova Scotia.

Crosby rode on the back of a white pickup truck as marshal of the city’s annual Natal Day parade, waving to thousands of fans who lined the streets for a glimpse of “Sid the Kid” and the revered cup.

Crosby told reporters he’d enjoy the celebrations before setting his sights on training camp with the Pittsburgh Penguins later this month. The team will be making a bid for its third straight championship.

“I have a pretty good understanding of how hard two is, so I don’t imagine what three must be like. I’d love to find out,” Crosby said.

“It’s gonna be tough but we’re going to training camp with that in mind so it’ll be a big challenge but, you know, why not?”

The three-time Stanley Cup champ and future Hall of Famer said NHL hockey just keeps getting faster, “And I like that.”

He smiled when asked if, at 30, he has any grey hairs yet.

“Lots,” he said to laughter from the room. “Greys and whites.”

Crosby, who is entering his 13th season in the league, said he fully realizes what the milestone age signifies for an athlete.

“It’s amazing how fast time goes by,” he said. “It makes you realize that it doesn’t get any easier and that’s why things like this (parade) — you have to enjoy it.”

And while he doesn’t plan to change his approach to playing the game yet, Crosby said there are certain realities that have to be considered.

“You have to understand that rest becomes a little more important. I’ve always kind of just adjusted and tried to evaluate things and I’ll do the same.”

Dressed in a ball cap, shorts and a white Penguins 2017 Stanley Cup T-shirt, a relaxed Crosby said having a few days with the cup never gets old.

Crosby took the cup to Halifax hospitals for children and veterans on Sunday, and said he celebrated with it that night with family and friends at his home in Enfield, N.S., outside of Halifax. Crosby declined to give details, saying with a grin reporters could probably “put two and two together.”

“The best part about it is to see everyone’s reaction (to the cup) regardless of whether they are a hockey fan or not,” he said.

As Crosby made his way to a truck waiting to take him to the parade, he was surrounded by a group of young children from a local hockey camp. He bent down and showed them the cup.

“Thank you Sidney Crosby” they chimed with delight. Another child yelled out “We love you Sidney Crosby.”

People lining the parade route sang Happy Birthday as Crosby passed, behind a marching band at the front of the parade.

It began in Halifax’s historic north end, and then across a harbour bridge to Dartmouth. Crosby rode on the back of a white pick up truck, waving to the crowd with one hand and steadying the large silver cup with the other.

The crowd cheered when the marching band played a rendition of Hockey Night in Canada.

Parade-goer Colin Roberts, 12, plays peewee hockey and said Crosby is a role model.

“He’s so good but he stays low key. He signs autographs.”

Roberts’ nine-year-old brother, Eric, said Crosby is also kind.

“He’s such a good player but he also takes the time to visit old folks’ homes.”

Sana Rehan said she became a Crosby fan after watching him play in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

“He’s so good, on and off the ice. He’s so humble and such a strong work ethic.”

Rehan said her family has bonded over hockey and watching Crosby ever since, and Monday was the first time they saw the hockey star — and the Stanley Cup — in person.

“He’s the best player in the world and we all became fans after that (Olympic) game.”

Her 12-year-old brother Ahmad, who will play bantam hockey next year, said Crosby made him want to play hockey.

“He’s got such skill. It makes you want to cheer for him.”

On Monday afternoon, Crosby took the cup to Rimouski, Que., where he played as a teenager in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Fans lined the road in downtown Rimouski as Crosby rode in the back of another white pickup truck with the cup.

He said although he has visited Rimouski since turning pro, it’s the first time with the cup.

“I thought it would be great to spend a couple of hours here and come back to a place that’s pretty special to me, so it’s nice to share with everyone here,” Crosby told reporters in Rimouski.

Crosby, who played for the Rimouski Oceanic between 2003 and 2005, said his junior stint was key to his development.

“You think about those years in junior,” he said. “That’s what is preparing you for the NHL on and off the ice … it was such a great environment. It was a great place to play.”

Asked whether the best birthday present would be a call from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman wishing him Olympic participation in 2018, Crosby replied: “Ha, I don’t know. I’m just trying to enjoy this right now, to be honest with you. As I said, this is a place I have great memories in. We’ll see what happens with that stuff down the road.”

Bettman announced this year that the NHL would sit out the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.


Monday: What’s New ?

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Today is FIFTY, day seven.

Having a supporting role, in sobriety, is much easier, than being the LEAD actor. I’d rather come in quietly, and do some manual labor, setting up, and sit out front, and saying hello to people. I think, and I said this to one of my guys on the way home that:

Manual Labor is a requirement for sobriety. You have to spend some time doing the grunt work (as long as you can). I think service is THE cornerstone of anyone’s sobriety.

Service is something I learned to do, and still DO to this very day.

So it went, Tonight, we traveled across town to the entertainment sector of the city, where our Performing Arts Center is located. Place Des Arts. This is the HUB of Montreal’s Concert/Ballet/Symphony/Music Festivals … You name it.

It is where we gather to have some serious fun.

The Monday meeting is just up the hill from here. Notre Dame De la Sallette Church.

Monday Central is a well attended meeting. We had decided to change-up the game after completing a full reading of The Big Book, last week.

We were sitting out front tonight, as one of my elder friends, and another elder sober friend approached. They were surprised to see us. Others felt the need to change-up their routines as well, from where we had been going for so long.

Changing up your routine is necessary sometimes. My friend told me that when he gets into a funk about people and places and cliques, it is time to move on and go somewhere else.

We read from the Big Book, Page 92, in fact on “Working with Others.”

This passage talks about working with an alcoholic. And you can imagine, as it was said tonight that, back in 1939, when the book came out, Bill and Dr. Bob had their work cut out for themselves.

Imagine meeting a contact, via a wife, or a doctor or a hospital, someone who probably. really knew HOW to Drink … There was no A.A. There were no meetings. No television commercials.

In its Infancy, it was The Book, and that was it.

It was Dr. Bob and Bill, sitting with a real Winner …

The passage talks about what our role is when working with another. And how everything that matters, is about telling our TRUTH. Sharing the message of recovery as we have recovered, and how that went down for us. Speaking about what happened to US, honestly. That’s it.

Your Experience.

There were a few young people sitting in the room tonight, that when THEY got the message given to them, insanity erupted, and they took to sobriety like wild fire. And in their zeal for recovery, tried to bring their friends and fellows, along for the ride.

They know today, in listening to them talk tonight, just how bad they cranked up the message and made it all about their opinions and not a whole lot about personal experience.

Sometimes we need to return to the roots of the program and listen to what the book actually says, and how this program works.

Sobriety is SO different in 2017, than it was in 1939.

The stakes are just as high. Alcoholism is still alcoholism. And a drinker, is still a drinker.

The chance that someone had heard of A.A. before they hit the rooms are higher today, than yesterday. Imagine what it was like 80 years ago ?

Today, one of the MAIN struggles we hear over and over ad nauseam, is God. God is mentioned over and over in the book, and God is seriously, the biggest DOWNER for people across the board.

If God was your only problem, you wouldn’t be sitting in the room, would you ?

High Roller drunks of the 1940’s were a serious problem, just as the High Roller drunks are today, only today, you can bet, that alcohol is not their only vice. Times have changed.

And they haven’t changed for the better.

How do you stay sober at age FIFTY ???

I don’t know, myself. But I am figuring it out one day at a time.

I follow the men who participate in my own personal sobriety. I do what they do. I go to meetings they go to. And I listen to what they say to me.

Not everyone is meant to STAY, people come and go. At certain points, sober roads might diverge. The lesson there is to Let Go, absolutely, and Let God. That was good advice tonight.

If You are stuck in addiction, somewhere far, or somewhere near, there is help.

Over the past few months, I’ve been asked to sponsor rehab’s in the U.S. on the blog.

I have done this gladly, if someone out there needs help, and you read these pages.

Drug Rehab.Com and Elevate Rehab.org …

The links are on the sidebar, on the right hand side. If you click the links, they will take you where you need to go, if you need help.

Thank you for following and reading.


Friday: The Lighthouse

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Timber Hawkeye, talks about being a lighthouse.

A light house is a static structure. It is located in one place, and does only one thing, it sheds light. Up there on the rock, the light house gives light to those at sea, warning them of danger, rocks, the shoreline.

A light house does not move around, shedding its light in ones face.

For a long time, in sobriety, I thought that because I “had” light, that in order for people to see it, and pay attention to it, I needed to shine that light in their faces …

WRONG !

A meeting IS a LIGHT HOUSE. We give light, We share light, We offer light.

Last night, I took the stupid liberty to shine light in someones face once again. Reminding him that I had “Seen” him and was paying attention to him.

That really means nothing to him, because he thinks little of me.

Tonight, one of my long sober friends, who was sitting in the room prior to last night’s meeting and knew of my plans ahead of time, spoke to me before the meeting tonight. And he asked me why I was wasting my time, with someone who doesn’t seem to need light, or want it for that matter, from me at least.

He told me that there were plenty of people who want light, and that I need to stop and notice who they are in the future, thereby not wasting a perfectly good opportunities to

BE LIGHT.

On the way home, I was talking to another friend driving the car home, and I told him about an observation that I had about people in general. And he said …

For God’s sake, you have fifteen years of hard-fought sobriety under your belt. WHY are you worrying about those fuckers who really don’t give you a second thought. They aren’t worrying about you, and you really don’t need to be fixated on them either.

Nuff said about that …

A few weeks ago, an older man showed up on our Friday doorstep.
More like, came down our staircase.

I noticed him.

He shuffles in before the meeting for some coffee. He keeps to himself and doesn’t say much, that I also noticed. Tonight, he shuffled in, just as I finished setting up and was going to go sit outside. He sat in the chair next to the one I was sitting in.

I took a breath, and asked him how he was doing …

Be the LIGHT.

People suffer unimaginable terrors and mental pains. And mental illness is NOT strange in our business. We see it all the time.

A conversation began. And I learned a great deal about this man, in a few minutes before the meeting. He IS where I WAS, many years ago. With a shattered life, nothing to call my own, nowhere to go, and a soul devoid of LIGHT.

I was carrying The Spirituality of Imperfection, in my bag.

He spoke of God. And said to me that he was devoid of spirit and did not know how to find it. AND he told me that at least, an ember of fire was still glowing in his tummy.

When a fire burns down, what is left in the pit, is charred coals, burnt wood, and maybe an ember just simmering, waiting for kindling to get it to burn once again.

That ember was still within him. And with that knowledge, I ran with it.

I told him that we all have, or hopefully still have, when we hit the rooms, an ember still there, inside us. I wanted to blow some air on his ember, and hopefully reignite the fire.

Ever so small it may be.

We spoke about foundations. We spoke about structure. We spoke about doing small things, small acts of kindness for ourselves and for others. And hopefully build some self-esteem and self-respect.

He has a plan. He is housed at the Old Brewery Mission, here in the city. The Mission is a Homeless Shelter. He has a paid room, and structure.

That is a beginning.

He has a roof, 3 meals a day, a bed to sleep in, and he gets a shower every day.

He has everything he needs, very simply. His cup is not full, but he’s on the way.

I gave him some suggestions. And as the meeting began, he whispered in my ear:

I have thirty days today.

I had a thirty-day chip in my wallet, I have several in fact, should they be needed.

At the end of the meeting, he got his thirty days.

We shared our light with him again tonight.

We dropped him at the Metro, and I gave him my number.

You never know when someone will need your light, at the right moment, for the right reasons.


Thursday: If You Want What We Have …

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It is Fifty, day four.

The other day, I was traveling. And I let my I-Phone do its thing and run the Shuffle. Instead of poking around for something particular to listen to, I let my phone do that for me. I’ve not listened to a play list like the one that is playing right now.

I have SO many hours of music on my phone, that I would never get around to listening to all of it. Strangely enough, there must be an algorithm in the phone itself on how it chooses music. I have to say that I’ve listened to a lot of music over the past few days. Odd and obscure songs I really like, have played, and in a certain order, as they popped up.

Where I am mentally and emotionally, plays into the music I am listening to. Being on the doorstep of Fifty plus, not really sure where I am going, I get words of encouragement from the singers I have loaded into my system.

Chester Bennington has come up several times, in a certain order. He is dead now, and I hear his words in a different way, from beyond the grave now, instead of picturing him on a stage ALIVE. Odd but comforting. I’m sad he is gone, because he told us where he was and still he killed himself. UGH.

This afternoon, I got up and went to do my shopping. And I ran into Canadian Tire to purchase that light switch I wrote about last night, to give to my reluctant fellow who drank again. It is just a simple light switch you wire into the wall.

This afternoon, I walked another soul through their first Fifth Step, in his sober life. It was a miraculous experience, because we both learned something about ourselves together. I see honesty in him, and a desire for a new beginning.

Before the meeting, I ran my stupid idea past two very sober men, who I trust with my secrets and thoughts. They both agreed I was barking up the wrong tree, because we all agree, my fellow, really does not want to be sober, because he has not even admitted to himself that he is an Alcoholic, and that he is powerless over alcohol and drugs. And he has no desire to be Honest with even himself.

I sat on my idea for the whole meeting.

A fellow I know very well spoke. He’s just a few years ahead of me at nineteen years. He said that once we come into the rooms we begin doing good things for others, which makes us feel good about ourselves.

And we build Self Respect.

Self Respect IS important, because once you build self-respect, in sobriety, we really don’t want to fuck that up. He also mentioned honesty and willingness to do something good for ourselves now that we are sober.

He is fifty-five years old, and I just crossed the fifty mark myself. I know him, but I don’t HANG with him, nor anyone from his crowd. But I see him often, where I hit meetings, and he is consistent in work and ability.

I sat outside with my sober men before the meeting and watched people I know, from the meetings I HAD been going to approach the door. They would walk past me and not even acknowledge I am standing there, except I say their names out loud, as to say, I acknowledge you, even if you don’t ME

They don’t want to converse with me before or after the meeting. It is like I don’t even exist in their spectrum of who they talk to, before and/or after.

Many people in the rooms are like that. They will shake your hand and exchange pleasantries, but nothing beyond that kindness.

Is that all about ME or all about THEM ?

I don’t know. I just know that people (certain people) really don’t care for my brand of sobriety nor honesty in my observations of them, or the fact that I am sober a good while, and many of them are not.

After the meeting I approached my light switch fellow, and made MY PITCH.

I explained the light switch I had purchased and why I was giving it to him. I told him that he wasn’t paying attention to anything, because he sat in a meeting and read THE WHOLE BOOK cover to cover, and decided to drink again …

WHO DOES THAT ???

I know he does not think highly of me at all, being Queer like me. But I am not a Queer like many of the other Queer men I know in the rooms. And I said that to him , prefacing my remarks. He wasn’t buying what I was selling.

In closing he looked at me like I was from Mars, after handing him the light switch and made my sales pitch and replied, I don’t know what to think about this.

I hugged him and walked away.

Not sure if that little TOOL will do anything for him, but I offered a last salvo to tell him that I was paying attention to HIM and his stupid choices, because obviously, he wasn’t paying attention to anyone or anything. And I told him so.

I encouraged him that he really needed to start paying attention …

I won’t be going back to the Monday meeting because after eleven months of sitting in that room, it did not produce one human being who wanted my number nor made an effort to be my friend. No Love Lost There …

I did see another friend who hits the Monday Central Meeting where we are going, starting next week, and he welcomed that choice I had made. He is no longer going to the Friday meeting.

All of my long sober friends, congratulated me and wished me good things for my birthday, which was nice. Most of my straight friends offer me words of wisdom and counsel, quite often. The Thursday meeting is like that, in certain circles of men and women, who’ve got a lot of time.

Others, not so much.

All I know is that I am still alive and I am still SOBER. But for the Grace of God, the fellowship and the wisdom of my very talented doctors.

That’s all Very Good.

People make stupid decisions. Alcoholics make stupid decisions. People who are in the rooms, but not using them properly. The whole goal of getting and staying sober, is that we begin to learn how to live sober. Gain some Self Respect, and LIVE LIFE.

SOBER.

Over time, as you rack up time, you STOP making stupid decisions. It is obvious to me that many of my fellows, are not there yet. I told my fellow that the way I stay sober is by watching them all go to meetings, talk, act, and make stupid decisions.

Thereby, I know, exactly, what NOT to do for myself.

I’m not any better than you are, because that would be my ego talking. I just don’t make the same stupid decision that YOU do. And the fact that I haven’t had a drink in over fifteen years and eight months.

I may be from Mars, and People might think I am strange and stupid, but I am clearly sober today, but for the grace of God.

The decision was made and I am walking away from communities of people now. I am leaving meetings, and I’ve purged my life of people who have been abusing my good will and my loyalty.

It sucks being honest with myself and my friends and fellows. Because in the end, it is me who loose, because I am honest, vulnerably Honest.

Self Respect, Dignity and Honesty are key to my values and morals.

This is my Fifty Promise to Myself.


Wednesday: Fifty – Three Days In

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Over the last few days, I have put in place, the boundaries and rules of engagement, that align with my morals and values. The battle is over, and the arena is drenched in blood and gore, and I rise victorious.

Scrubbing up from the battle and reviewing the wreckage, I know, who got in the arena with me, and who did not. I know all the people who gave me criticism and feedback that was abusive and really not what I had expected from sober men and women, let alone from some of my closest friends.

With that said, I have purged my life of people, places and things.

Thursday, last week, I was presented with responsibility that was not mine to begin with. Nonetheless, as the weekend began, I told a friend that I would engage this responsibility this week, in fact. That did not happen.

Putting the rules of engagement on the table from the beginning was a waste of time.

I chose not to engage because Friday really is not a good day to expect an institution to process an intake. Especially on a Friday afternoon. I chose, instead, to wait until the beginning of this week, to make my move for a total stranger, because I was asked.

Over the next three days, my phone rang off the hook. You’d imagine, that, if I did not answer one call, that I probably would not answer the second, third, or twelfth…

I chose NOT to answer my phone because I really was NOT in the mental space to deal with anyone else but ME over my fiftieth birthday weekend.

Mental Illness is a delicate business, and I need all my faculties to do my job correctly.

I thought I had made that clear with my, Not Gonna Touch this till Monday response.

NO …

On Sunday, my best friend met me for a day of fun, food and conversation. Having my best friend physically, with me, instead of on a long distance call, is PRIME TIME.

We took the Metro up to his old neighborhood, to get some Brazilian food and drink. On the way there, we stopped in that most dangerous place, A RECORD SHOP.

Whilst I was thumbing through records, in total bliss, my phone rang, yet again. I let it go to voice mail, again, on purpose.

As we exited the shop and made our way to food, my best friend hands me HIS phone. On HIS phone was a text, from the human being I was ignoring on purpose. Her text said and I quote …

“I know Jeremy is with you. He is not answering my calls, so I need you to tell him that he needs to call me …”

Major Fuck Up there …

What part of Not Gonna Deal with You Right Now, don’t you get ?

My lady friend not only spends her free time dialing my phone like I am some Beck and Call Boy … she expects me to answer her every time she dials my number, and she invades my personal space, while I was busy spending time with my best friend.

Like the only thing on my mind is serving the needs of a self-centered, selfish, bitch.

As I was preparing to order my food, I let it rip.

How do you properly tell someone to fuck off, nicely ???

I tried. Didn’t work …

Lunch was served in Styrofoam take out containers. And we dined like rich Romans in the park, whilst pot was being smoked left and right.

The rest of the day was blessedly void of interruptions. Thank the Baby Jesus.

Monday Morning, I crafted my final fuck off salvo.

Needless to say, my phone has not rung once, in response to said salvo.

I don’t like to be abused by my friends, or strangers for that matter. I really don’t like being taken advantage of either, because, for the record, I never say the word NO to any of my friends, unless I am sick or dead.

They expect me to always say yes, be amenable, and never raise my voice or cuss, for that matter.

Over the last year, that has all changed.

We chatted about reciprocation: a returning, usually for something given.

Many of my friends, sober they may be, Never reciprocate, Ever.

Especially, if that means they need to listen to me talk about ME.

Over the past many months, many of my friends took this tack with me. And over and over again, told me to just shut up. And out of the other side of their mouths, continued begging for me to help them, just the same. Just as long as I was doing for THEM.

Nuff said about that.

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

Thursday we spoke about a fellow who was addicted to a light switch. Addicted to that light switch so badly, that he was not paying attention to reading The Book with us, let alone listen to anything that had been said over the last eleven months, I have been sitting in this particular meeting.

So I went to The Tire and bought a light switch. Something you wire into the wall and use. Tomorrow night I am going to give said light switch to that fellow who drank again with the words as follows:

Here is your light switch. I am giving it to you so that you remember what took you out the door and to another drink ! Every time you touch your dick or reach for a drink, I encourage you to “Flip the Switch!”

Gay men, are only concerned with three things: Dick, Drugs, and Alcohol.

Like I have stated before, my gay friends have no love for me, and haven’t for some time.

Sometimes, after witnessing my friends and fellows make really bad decisions, when they knew the consequences, I can’t help myself but to be brutally honest with them.

I’ve listened to this man talk bullshit out of both sides of his mouth for as many years, I have known him. Hell, I even sat with him and attempted to help him.

Many people never get past the first direction: Call Me Every Day !

Even if they own a cell phone or hell, better yet, a SMART phone. People don’t use the phone for the intention is was built for. Only for an APP…

UGH Fuck me ten ways from Sunday !!!

So, you spend YEARS listening to someone caterwauling about sorrow, and men, and drugs, and sobriety … Spinning their wheels whilst really needing us to engage you and feel sorry for you and engage with your story, as we drain our hearts in meetings week after week, and in the end, what happens ???

Every word spoken went in one ear and out the other. AND …

He drinks AGAIN.

UGH, Kill Me Now …

That I tried to help you, and you said FUCK YOU … just makes me even more angry.

Working with others has its challenges. The odds are against them all. But I can safely say that every human being I have engaged, is still clean and sober.

And I am not talking about my ego or my skills. It isn’t about me.

Is Fifty looking good on me yet ?

I’ve been sitting in meetings with my friends for over fifteen years. We have all heard the same stories, the same warnings. We’ve listened to LONG sober men and women come from distant places to encourage us to heed their warnings about drugs and alcohol.

I sit back and I listen to words. And I hear those words and I pack them in my bank. And over and over again, people do stupid shit.

It’s like a compulsion.

I hear you, but I think I am going to do THIS OTHER THING INSTEAD…

When you get sober, you have two choices.

  1. You sit in your chair and you pay NO attention to anyone or anything, OR
  2. Over time, you engage with your fellow-men and women.
  3. Engaging has its issues, you see, Note Above …

My friend Roger would tell me that: If I think I know something for sure, that I better sit my ass down and keep my mouth shut, for better or worse.

Thank God I have this blog that I can write whatever the hell I want and rant about stupid shit and stupid people.

FUCK ME …

They never said Sobriety was going to be a cakewalk. Getting sober is a bitch, and the odds are against us every day.

Nowadays, it’s not so much quitting the drink, but Staying Stopped.

The very last story in the book said that line. We all read it. Together. And we all talked about what that meant.

STAYING STOPPED …

And three days later, dumb shit drank again…

What part of Staying Stopped did you miss ???

UGH !!! I hate my life …

Rarely have we seen a person fail, who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those too who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.


Birthday Celebration

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It was a good day. Filled with friends and good wishes. I started the day with a stiff broom, sweeping out the trash. I got my laundry done in the morning. I can toss a load in the washer and then get my grocery shopping done during the dry …

I even got a nap in.

Tonight we went to Fire Grill. I had invited my friend Juan and his girlfriend Nadia to join us for a meal. It was really nice. We don’t get to spend much time together outside of meetings, so tonight was a treat.

I have a plan. And this week that new plan begins.

We are going to go meet new people and hit some new meetings.

Now we will all find out what living in my fifties is going to look like together.

Thank you all for subbing and reading and joining the conversation.

Writing this little blog is an act of love, every day.


Monday: July 31st … On Being Fifty

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It is the best day of the year, and the most IMPORTANT day of my life.

I have reached the ripe age of Fifty … Harry would be 37 years old today.

I woke up very early this morning, as the sun was coming up. Just to be quiet for a time and appreciate that when I did get up this morning, that my heart was still beating.

I survived. I made it all this way. Miraculous, really. Who knew I’d live this long ?

What has changed ? I jettisoned a whole bunch of takers from my life. I re-ordered my priorities, and closed the book on the last chapter of my life.

Today, we begin writing the next decade …

When I turned 40, and the years that followed, I realized that I KNEW things for sure. It was only after I crossed the 40 mark that that began to dawn on me. So I suppose that whatever I am supposed to know now, will materialize on the days, weeks, months, and years that will follow.

Another personal cull is waiting in the wings, and I will know that list by the close of business today.

All I know is that NOW, instead of Forty years, I now have Fifty years of practical life experience and a BUNCH of sober knowledge about many people. Intimate knowledge that has helped the cull process.

I really know who I want in my life, and who I don’t. I know what I am willing to invest in and what I won’t. I have sobriety that was proofed in the furnace of vulnerability. I got down and dirty in the arena, while everyone else watched from the stands.

Only three people got in the arena with me.

If you aren’t in the arena with me, getting your ass kicked, I don’t need your feedback.

I’ve changed things up here on the blog. Added a few things, took others away.

I’ve decided to embrace the wisdom and look of a fifty year old. So that is a thing.

There are a few things I really need to focus on over the next little while.

Fifty feels good right now. That may change. We’ll see …

Anyways, Happy Birthday Harry …