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Alchemy

Thursday – If I sit down …

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Courtesy:Followeed

It is December and it has been one hell of a week so far. There is much to say, and there has been plenty of opportunity to speak words, or better yet, write them down. Tonight is that night.

Tuesday was December 1st, World AIDS Day. The yearly date when we honor all those who have died, and for those of us who survived that period of tragic times, we remember.

A particular story came to mind on Tuesday, that I thought about writing down “Again” but decided against it. Suffice to say that those of us who were diagnosed with AIDS or today, HIV, we go from Hero to Zero in no time flat.

Back in the day, AIDS was a death sentence. Today they call it a “manageable condition!” Every new diagnosis under ANY circumstances is very sad.

You would think, in today’s gay community, and for that matter, anywhere in the world, that an ounce of prevention would go a long way, yet there are those who continually decide to play Russian Roulette with their lives. Or are caught up in behavior that is detrimental.

One cannot claim ignorance about disease today.

There are still millions of reasons why we can’t stop marking this day, until a cure is found, that would be available to every single human being, to eradicate this scourge.

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

Once again, now in the U.S., two deranged killers walked into a service center, and killed 14 people in cold blood, and injured many others.

This is just terrible. And there are not enough words to say that is going to make a hill of beans difference, to those who could do something, but they don’t. There aren’t enough prayers to be said, or vigils to attend that are going to change anything.

Sometimes it is well and good to just not say anything, because someone already has said what we are all thinking, and we are powerless to do a god damned thing.

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

Sometime last weekend, I did something to my back. I am not sure what it was, or when it happened, but I have never felt the degree of pain I am feeling today, in all my life. My back is killing me, and I have resorted to taking pain killers just to be ambulatory.

Addicts and painkillers are not a good mix.

At least here, I can phone up my pharmacy and get over the counter medication. In many Canadian pharmacies, they keep assorted drugs behind the counter, so if you know this, that opens up treatment. I don’t need a script nor do I need to see my doctor, but I will see him on the tenth, if I survive that long …

This afternoon baby mama came over to use my computer and as we sat together, she remarked that etched on my face was the look of pain. I can sit down, but there is no guarantee that I will be able to get back up. During our visit, I had several Holy Shit, moments, where I thought I was going to pass out.

I have only so many pills left, before I need a doctors note, and it is the weekend, so no doctor till next week now. And I sure as shit ain’t going to no E.R. because I will sit there for hours and hours, um NO!

It has been rainy / cold the past few days. Rain, that falls in conjunction with below zero temps, means ice on sidewalks.

I half thought to stay home tonight, but decided to go to St. Matthias and hit a meeting. I left earlier than usual, because walking, reaching, bending and stooping is quite the task, which requires some serious deep breathing and equilibrium.

I got to the church and visited with friends before the meeting, and as a friend sat next to me, I had a Holy Shit moment, and I told her that if I sit down, for any amount of time, that I may not be able to get back up.

I waited until the seventh tradition was started and tried to get up, gritting my teeth, because I had to pee … That was a tedious moment for sure. I did get up, but it wasn’t pleasant.

It was a good meeting, nonetheless.

I was talking to my sponsor and a few friends on Tuesday night, and I was explaining that I was riding that “roller coaster of insanity” and what was going on in my head and they responded with, “yup, you are one of us …”

We pushed my cake back until the 20th, because next Sunday is early, and my anniversary falls on Wednesday the 9th. And superstition dictates that you never take a medallion early.

The 13th, is my sponsors Home Group Anniversary on the West End at Loyola. So He will be there, while I do service at my Sunday Home Group. Which leaves the 20th as the first Sunday we can both be in the same place at the same time.

What is good about living in Canada, is this … When shit goes down anywhere else, the media goes crazy. And for the most part, for what it is worth, Most shit going down elsewhere, has nothing to do with us, and when necessary, which is often, I can either turn the channel, shut down my computer, or turn the tv off …

There is so much tragedy. I can only take so much saturation about death and destruction, not to mention, Republican Presidential hopefuls.

I have little patience for crock of shit politics.

Thank God for cable t.v.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Cold with a chance of flurries

 

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It is Sunday, and this new interface is called “Calypso,” and I don’t like it at all. It is very wonky, and all JAVA, and is supposed to be better than sliced bread … Um, NO !

I want my old post editor back. Much more user friendly.

It is on the cold side, the past two nights. We saw flurries fall a couple of times today, but there is NO snow in the forecast in the next week.

It was an odd weekend. I saw the baby the other night, and she was sniffling and coughing. On Friday morning at approximately 5 a.m. i was hugging the bowl, sick as a dog for twelve hours.

I find that I am so thirsty for anything to drink, and I went to the store twice and spent $30.00 on drinkables, yet I could not quench that thirst, it was insane, not that I kept anything down enough to enjoy it. Hubby brought me meds after work, and I took them and was able to sleep until almost 11 p.m. because I was up so early and did not sleep all day long.

I had the funkiest dream … I was stuck in this warehouse of 70’s and 80’s stuff, like video games, toys and it got crazy when I was sitting in an old style Burger King, playing with toys and food. It just kept getting odder and odder, and it was never ending. Back in the day, I had specific toys, and things I liked. Roller skates, and Solid Gold on tv. It was just odd because I’ve never had visuals like this before.

Saturday, I had things to do, and responsibilities that I had to be present for, so there was no time to lay in bed and feel sick or sorry for myself. I had back to back meetings in another fellowship I belong to. During our two hour break between them, I had dinner with friends, down line, and we watched some John Oliver on You Tube.

We’ve been talking about rigorous honesty of late. It is funny, that the one section of my life that I wanted to forget and never talk about or mention to anyone, has become my greatest teacher, and brought me into the lives of men who have changed my life.

This morning, well, for a while now, I’ve been riding my pre-cake roller coaster, that 30 day period that comes before you take your anniversary cake, when your brain goes on overdrive, and one begins to obsess over needless and useless shit.

But this morning, I needed a brain drain, so I got up and opened a word document, and wrote my script for my share on my anniversary next Sunday. I had very specific things to say, so I wrote them down, so I would not fuck it up. It is going to be explosive.

Tonight we sat only a small number. Lots of people still out sick, and we did not empty the coffee urn once again. wasted coffee…

It was Tradition Night, and the eleventh month, means the eleventh tradition. Attraction rather than promotion. That topic of anonymity came up but not many people spoke towards it.

What I did have to say was that the first time I got sober, the room I was in was very nasty and not attractive at all, but that’s where I could hit a meeting, however harsh my peers were towards newcomers. That shitty experience, only added to my alienation from the program and my eventual slip. I had come in contact with enough assholes and homophobes that I was totally turned off with participation and sobriety.

The second time I came in, it was a whole other story. The right people showed up at the right moment, and were very good for me. And when I moved to Montreal, (read: No cell phones yet), I met great people who were attractive in many ways. They took me in and took care of me, and spent time with me, so I was not alone.

I remember one really fun memory… My sponsor at the time, Dave, took me to the mountain in the middle of the night, to climb.

There is a mountain in the middle of the city. There is a trail you can walk, up and down. But on this night, he said that we were going to climb to the top, up the side, and not use the trails. It was odd, but very fun. That was just one of the many attractive things that I did in early sobriety. The other was a few months in, 4 alcoholics climbed into a Toyota and drove all the way from Montreal to Nova Scotia on the Atlantic coast for some meetings, and a whale watching tour. That was 17 hours each way. It was fun but a bit irresponsible.

It was a good night. More to come, stay tuned…


Sunday Sundries … COLD !!!

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Courtesy: Flickr James Clear

The weather is beginning to turn. We are now the fourth week of November and we are heading into negative territory. Currently it is a flat ZERO outside. It was nippy when I left the house this evening, and it was colder when I left, even with layers, as it was, I was chilled.

It was an uneventful weekend. Santa Claus rolled through the city on Saturday morning. Our building sits on the step off corner for all the parades that roll through the downtown core, placing us at the maximum viewing point.

Last night we had a good showing for the Saturday night meeting. And we talked about resisting change.

The book says that when we get sober, the only thing we have to change is everything …

Easier said than done.

I departed as usual and like I said, it was chilly out. It was a good thing that the church’s heating system is computerized. It was nice and toasty when I opened up. We were missing all of our women tonight. The flu is making its way around at the moment.

We sat a small crowd, and read a story that was 14 pages long, so we made two circuits around the room, and then the room got to talk about it.

Some of the old stories are really harsh. Back in the day, not unlike today, in some cases, the man in our story really had it bad. A late bloomer, in regards to when he began to drink, unlike most stories, the early writers, for the most part, were weaned on alcohol, it seemed.

If you end up in a sanitarium once, you might have a problem. In our man’s case tonight, he hit Bellevue hospital thirty five times. Yes, that is correct, 35 times.

He not only drank, he got married, had three children, and was in the hole for most of the story. It was one of the saddest stories we have read to date.

Most sad stories, even in our book, have somewhat happy endings, wherein our folks, find the way, the meet us, get sober, and turn their lives around. But not before some major loss or tragedy.

Early on, a son of our man grows up and with not even two nickles to rub together, becomes a show shine boy, were talking the late 1930’s. He makes some change, but further on in the story, his drunk father happens upon him and dad takes his earnings, and drinks them away.

It is a bad scene. You think, in this read, that things just could not get any worse, and that eventually, he has to Get It. Our man eventually does get it, the kicker in the story was the loss of that son to a streetcar accident.

Now the story reads … nobody would begrudge him a drink, after loosing a child. But bolstered by two recovering alcoholics, one under each arm, our man tackles, identifying his sons remains, then burying that son, sober …

Some of us have had tragic loss in our lives. For myself, when that happened to me, it was the drink that soothed the visual and helped kill the pain of loss, until Todd stepped in and got me the help I desperately needed. That was a year before my own personal tragedy.

You never know when the people in the room are going to come in handy, and to what degree some of us will go to to make sure our fellow men and women, get by, without taking that first drink.

The story talks about us drunks who go to meetings, and are happy, cleaned up folks, who help each other by swapping stories. That’s what our writer calls us, when he opens his story. Because when he was at his worst, he happens upon the rooms, and sees these men doing what they do best, and he just can’t believe his eyes.

But every one of us has a story, a journey we have to walk, before we finally figure it out and we come in.

I’ve had plenty of my share of tragedy. And I survived them.

In two weeks time, I will celebrate 14 years without a drug or a drink.

One day at a time …

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Wisdom Comes Over Time

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Over the last calendar year, Sunday has been the best day of the week, as posting goes. I completed 52 weeks of Sundays which is a good run. So let’s keep up that momentum.

We are sitting at a balmy (-5c) at this hour, and snow is on tap for tonight into tomorrow. And twice, in as many days, our local tv weather presenter is warning us of an impending storm coming for the end of the week where we should expect “SIGNIFICANT” snow fall. Remember the last time they spent a week warning us of impending doom, it never really materialized.

The end of last week saw the reunification with my guys who have been away for the holidays. We all gathered at the Friday Night Meeting, where we, once again, spoke about God, as we understood him, which parlayed into thinking about Step Three.

You can’t force the God concept on people, one must allow them their process, and coming to the same meetings over and over, people have moved in one direction or another, which is a good thing. The post holiday, “getting back into the swing of things” is taking place.

I had an appointment with another of my guys tonight, so I departed uber early to meet him at the church. After last weeks meager showing we sat a good crowd tonight. We did a little reading of the Book, and we have commenced with “THE WORK” for another human being. Chapter five in the Big Book begins with How it Works, which runs into Step Three. And before we hit step three, we have to get through one and two.

The reading tonight, from the twelve and twelve, was Step Five. In a room full of people, there were many, “haven’t gotten there yet, and a few, doing my step four now, and many who haven’t touched pen to paper in some time, which leads to the following … “my life is unmanageable and I am miserable, I haven’t been working my steps, and I really should, at some point…”

Since the Round Up in 2013, when the fire was lit for me I’ve been on the journey of a deeper sobriety, starting with the book, a little prayer, and a new sponsor. Over the last calendar year, I attended two men’s retreats, which book ended my steps four and five, respectively. After months of working on myself, and working with my guys, It came around to me. I’m currently working on my Step Six.

This past Summer, I wrote my fourth step and at the beginning of the Fall, I sat with my sponsor and did my fifth step. They say, or I heard it said, and I think it came from Oprah, that

“It takes a long time to understand and see the wisdom of ones life …”

Or something to that effect.

It is suggested, that once you’ve been in for a while, you start your steps. There is wisdom in that thought, but experience has shown us that people need their process, and when they are ready, they are ready, everyone’s process is different. With that said, I’ve done my steps several times since I got sober this time around.

But it wasn’t until this round, that I had sufficient perspective on my story, how it unfolded and where I was then, and where I am now. What ever made it to paper then, was what it was, and we dispensed with it accordingly. But since I am really pounding The Work, I’ve allowed the lotus flower to blossom a bit bigger.

“Instead of peeling a stinky onion, sobriety is like a lotus flower, a beautiful blossom.” Lorna Kelly said that when she spoke here a couple of years ago.

The process that I undertook with my sponsors guidance, was impressive. It took a while to complete it, but when it was finished and we talked about it, I listened to my sponsor tell me some of his stories and in the end, I knew that everything was forgiven.

Jeremy speaks about forgiveness: We might have something on our hearts and we turn to God to give it away, and God, forgives everything, right then and there. Then we have a choice, we can allow the ever cleansing forgiveness to wash us clean, or sometimes we think in shades of forgiveness, that everything is not totally made clean. And we tend to hang on to stuff we really should let go, forever.

In The Book it tells us that God is or He isn’t. He is Everything or He is Nothing !

If God is everything, than He knows all, loves all and forgives ALL.

End of story …

And that is the wisdom that I have learned in my step work this time. I’ve said before that life and sobriety are cyclical. Every time we look at the past, we see it in a different light, depending where we are in our process. I haven’t committed any grievous acts, and the past is the past. I haven’t racked up many terrible resentments, fears, or guilts either, but I had a few. (that were old to begin with)

“Taking this book down from our shelf we turn to the page that which contains the twelve steps. Carefully reading the first five proposals we ask if we have omitted anything, for we are building an arch through which we shall walk a free man at last.” Is our work solid so far? Are the stones properly in place? have we skimped on the cement put into the foundation? Have we tried to make mortar without sand?”

That’s what we all want, that New Freedom.

I may not see it every day. Or feel in in my heart, all the time. I am a little bit freer that I had been in years past. And this specific insight, I have realized, is important to my progress, because I get to apply this insight with my fellows.

The evolution began when I turned forty. Things began to make sense to me. I can’t explain it unless to say that when we turn forty, we have forty years of experience behind us, to be able to look at our pasts and say, “yeah, I’ve been there and this is what I know, and truly understand and be able to relate that knowing to ourselves and to others.”

The next phase of life, in my estimation, begins at forty.

In the Gay scheme of things, forty is over the hill. To any twink or young gay out there, forty is past the prime and becomes unimportant or useless. We are too old to relate to the youngsters, and that is true, but for those of us who survived into our forties, having lived through the crisis of AIDS, we are certainly important to the history of us all. Our lives matter, however hard, some seem to dismiss us from the greater life conversation. Because we are forty or older.

Youth tends to ignore us, opting for young and hip.

This has become a many layered life. I’ve seen progress over many areas of my life. And it all comes down to being sober, and doing the work, talking to my sponsor and working with my guys.

I could not ask for more, I have everything that I need today.

What else is there to say?

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


January 1 – Day One of 365. The Blank Book is Open…

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Courtesy: Cris Art 2014

With the New Year upon us, the book of life is open to page one. What will you write on this first day of the new year? How will you begin this chapter of your life story?

Snow has been falling since last night, not too much to be a problem, but just enough to blanket the city and/or everything that will stand still is covered in snow.

After the ball fell, we washed the flutes and crated them away for another year, hubby got into bed and I decided to crate the tree and the decorations. The tree box is over a decade old, and is falling apart, it seems every year we box the tree, the smaller the box gets, that it came in. I can never get the branches to shrink, no matter how good I compact them, to get them into the box so they will fit, hence, the tree box is wrapped in layers of tape to keep it closed.

The closet we keep the decorations in, can only fit the boxes we have, which is why we don’t buy new decorations every year, because there is just no more space to store them.

Eventually I got to bed. And then I spent the day in bed because hubby had the day off.

It was a bit blustery and chilly out and like I said, it was snowing. The city has put back our local bus stops on the park downstairs, so we don’t have to walk three blocks to get the bus, which was good, had it not been so bitter out. With the construction going on, they took away the enclosed bus shelters so one has to stand in the open while waiting for a bus.

We had a full house at the meeting tonight. Where else would one be, on the first day of the new year, but at a meeting with friends. I seem to remember that on January 1st, 2014, we also hit a meeting on that night.

I listened to the message, and it got me in the end.

One night, in the first days of our speakers journey, she arrived at a meeting and the hall was empty of people, and there were several couches in the hall. And our speaker thought, “Well, I am a sick a suffering little girl, I might as well lay down and take a nap!” Our speaker was only 16 years old.

A woman walked up to her and said, “get up, you can’t sleep there. What if someone comes in the hall and sees you sleeping on the sofa? What would they think? What kind of message are you sending to the others that will show up here tonight, if they see you sleeping on the job?”

YOU MATTER … We all matter.

You might not notice you doing anything for anyone, at a meeting, but just from your presence, to how you present yourself at a meeting is noticed by others, if not noticed by yourself. We might not pay attention to the newcomer coming in the door, or that someone might need a kindness or a hand shake or a cup of coffee as important, but it is …

Our presence is required. And we should notice and pay attention.

That’s why we join a group, to do service. We get there early to set up, we make coffee and we get ready to shake hands as people come in the room, because you never know just how much you can impact someone in their first hours or days, merely by your presence and how we greet others, or how we “Don’t” greet others. That is entirely up to us.

She was like, or the gist of the message was … Don’t get caught sleeping on the job, so to speak.

I see certain people, who always stick to the fringes of the meeting. They hang outside until the very minute the meeting starts, they sit in the back row, and at the end, they may or may not stay for the final prayer, and can usually be found standing outside alone.

That is when the iron is hot, when I step outside and speak to them, to make sure that they are noticed, and that they matter, because it looks to me like, nobody noticed them, again tonight.

Then there are those who come to the meeting and make a spectacle of themselves, they arrive late, and clatter, clatter, clatter … They talk the loudest, and at the final prayer, have to be the only one that you can hear, amid the entire room full of people, yes, we see you, and we totally hear you as well, you really don’t have to shout or make a scene like you do every week. That really puts people off and they in turn ignore those folks. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Tolerance for those with different struggles.

When you go to a meeting, you might not get it in the beginning, or understand what it means, but we are happy people, who have “been there and done that,” and “we get you, even if you don’t get us,” our girl didn’t get that in the beginning, but someone paid attention to her on that first day, and that made ALL the difference.

Itty Bitty bad girls in early sobriety at the age of 16 is a daunting prospect.

How many kids in their teens, come, look around and stay? They don’t usually.

Because we are not usually present or think that we matter to someone new who just walked in the room. We are too occupied with ourselves to notice others.

Our girl knew that she had a problem. And at that point she realized that her “problem” was not her solution. And had presence of mind at sixteen to realize this, to know she needed help, and she actually asked for help and got it.

Ten years on now, she has found the “Solution.”

The newcomer is the most important person in the room, and it is our job to see them, to welcome them, and to make sure we present ourselves as ready for that job, every night.

You matter, to every person in that room, even if that word is not spoken directly, which turn back to this thought … We show up so that YOU will show up.

If we remember that, it all comes back around.

What will your first days of the New Year look like ?

In the end there was coffee, and cake and a twenty five year anniversary.

A good night was had by all.

Happy New Year. More to come, stay tuned …


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.


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 …


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.


The Great Return

football-mario-gotze-fc-bayern-munich-munchen_3183483jersey cropA Very Mario Christmas Continues …

Guess what came in the mail today …

The excitement of the holidays has begun.

We welcomed friends who arrived from out of town, just in time for the Friday Night Meeting. People will be coming and going over the next two weeks, and our social schedule’s for those weeks have been already planned to maximize all the time we have together, before people go back to their respective schools across Canada and the United States.

In other news … Unlike the downtown core, where there is little snow piled up, basically because it has already been plowed away, up on the plateau where the Friday Night Meeting resides, there is snow piled up ALL over the place. Cars are buried, sidewalks are passable because the city workers plowed away enough snow to make them passable.

I suited up, with many layers, incorporating my new jersey, front and center, bundled up and headed out. There are 2 stations on the same line that are equidistant from home, one up towards the college, Eastbound, and the other down to the mall, three blocks Westward. I needed tickets in any case, and I can get them at the pharmacy, which is in the mall, above the train station.

So that was  my plan.

There were lots of people coming and going. People are certainly taking part in the holiday shopping binge. The mall stations were packed with merry holiday goers. So I made my transit, and I was amazed to see that my phone actually works on the train across both the Green and Orange lines.

They have been upgrading the cell reception and service across the core stations and it seems they tweaked the outbound stations on the Orange line, that I take to get to the meeting. For the second time recently, I got a live text while in the tunnel, with the train in motion. YAY Telus !!!

We sat a good group. A friend that I haven’t seen in some time, came, and actually, I had been thinking about him specifically, over the past few days, and I like to believe that when we think of people. we send a ripple out to the universe, and within hours, or sometimes, days, they show up.

The universe is funny in that way.

These are hard times indeed. Our folks have been coming from other places, and new folks that don’t usually come, have shown up and visitors from out of town are in for the holidays. We are happy to oblige. We talked about A.B.S.I. and “We cannot live alone.”

This particular reading speaks about steps four and five respectively.

“… We cannot wholly rely on friends to solve all our difficulties. A good adviser will never do all our thinking for us. He/She knows that each final choice must be ours. He/She will therefore help to eliminate fear, expediency, and self deception, so enabling us to make choices which are loving, wise and honest.” Grapevine August, 1961.

I remarked to a friend that there is always something to take away from every meeting. It might be a word, an exercise, or just an identification.

In the beginning, folks are very leery about step work. Especially when they consider the “what we think” daunting process of writing our step four. Then speaking it through Step five. Tonight, there was not one horror story. Many of us have done them, and found that they were truly enlightening, freeing and liberating. Everyone had a unique story to share on the topic.

THEN …

We heard about a writing exercise, that is said to be the most powerful writing exercise that is used at the famed Betty Ford Clinic.

  • Pen to paper – Write out the Third Step prayer
  • Pen to paper – Write out three lists: Resentments, Fears and Gratitude list
  • Pen to paper – Write out the Seventh Step prayer

We do this on a daily basis, first the prayers, then our lists for that respective day. You must put at least three things on the Gratitude list every day. And as we do this writing exercise, we watch how items move between the lists and eventually land on the gratitude list.

If you can commit to this writing exercise, it will prove to be a most useful tool.

Every little bit of experience pays off from time to time. Our young people can never get enough of stuff to do to keep them “on the beam.” And those of us who have some time and experience, adding a little something here or there tends to be very useful in our daily ritual of prayer and writing.

I am very keen on having the guys I work with follow simple suggestions.

Like I mentioned yesterday, eventually, for better or for worse, your sponsor should help you along with tools that will make your life easier, which is to say, a good sponsor knows what they are doing, and I work very hard to be that person. And If I suggest something to my guys, again, for better or for worse, following a suggestion usually ends up in the positive column often.

If I’ve done it, or heard that it can be done this way, or know someone who had results doing something specific, I do it myself, then I suggest that idea out, and I watch the results.

It all comes down to The Work …

You are either In It or you are IN IT TO WIN IT …

Which leads back to How it works, chapter five … If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.

Little did I know, how that sentence changes in literal meaning, the further IN IT you get.

I mean, this seminal reading we hear ad infinitum at every meeting, read over and over, day after day, night after night, these words now leap off the page when I hear them read. Because now I know what it feels like to go to ANY length.

Imagine it only took me eleven years to understand this.

It took another member who was IN IT to tell me that I need to be IN IT and how to do that.

What a rush …

I love my life. My friends. My fellows.

It was a love fest tonight, that will continue until January 5th.

I’ve heard about gratitude living, and there I usually roll my eyes …

But I truly know what that feels like and means for me.

We need people in our lives, but in the end, the final choices should be ours alone, given with good guidance from people we trust. Not having to pollute ourselves helps a great deal in learning how to make right and good decisions, soberly …

More to come, stay tuned …


Live Life With Enthusiasm

tumblr_l8yrf9m0gc1qb730lo1_500 thiswillnotdefineusCourtesy: This Will Not Define Us (Archives)

… And it snowed. it snowed so much, there is snow all over the place. Yes, it snowed, but it is not piled up like I have seen it in the past, where everything seems to be buried in snow. The one shit problem that comes with snow is the dreaded “Slush Puddle.”

That is the convergence point on every corner of every intersection. where snow has melted and now there are deep puddles of slush/water that one must trod through, jump across, or find another way around them.

Thankfully I have a sturdy dry pair of winter boots that make this possible.

It began to snow on Tuesday and it snowed until last night, when skies finally cleared. Light snow is falling again on the city tonight, and it isn’t as cold as it should be.

I had plans early this evening.

But First … This morning a friend of mine came over with a box full of clothes he was getting rid of, thinking that I might want some of them, and when he got here it was snowing, there was slush all over the place, and I really did not want to stand in the snow and sort stuff, so we decided that it would all go to charity instead.

I hate mornings, and I usually don’t do them, unless I necessarily have to.

So I went back to bed.

I set my alarm clock for my afternoon meeting with my sponsor, but I was secretly praying that I did not have to go out in this shitty weather twice in one day. While I was sleeping he texted me and cancelled, I got up, checked my messages and went back to bed.

Glorious !!!

We departed for our now, regular, Thursday Night Meeting. We are getting reconnected to folks that we haven’t seen in some time, and the thought came to my mind as I was standing in the hall that had I not met several of my friends who were present tonight, I would not be where I am today.

How do you convey that kind of gratitude to your friends ?

Tonight we got to hear another First Share, this time was a woman from St. Matthias.

I heard very familiar themes.

Alcoholic home, one or more parental unit caught in the disease.

Parents can be loving people, but hindsight teaches us just how unprepared they / one or the other / are prepared to be a parent. The disease of alcoholism doesn’t help these matters.

I’m not sure about my parents. My father drank, and if by providing bells and whistles, (when it was good) and providing a roof over ones head, there was always the flip side, the very worst of human emotion and anger pointed at the children and the mother.

I also heard the theme of (us) being labeled as less than, or not fully realized …

Father being the commander and chief and we are merely, lowly players.

My father was parent to a children he conceived, but for the whole of my life, in his house, he would abuse me saying that I was a mistake and should never have been born!

Was that the reason I became an alcoholic? NO

It seems, and I hear it from many people, that WE are the last to know or realize that we suffer from a disease, that disease is called alcoholism.

We, as children, see it in our home lives. We watch people drink, and some go to their deaths from the drink, and at some point we cross that invisible line between responsible drinking, and downright disgusting and compulsive drinking.

Ten are not enough, and one is too many

In the end, when we get sober and we truthfully look at ourselves, honestly, we find that the people in our lives when we were drinking, we hurt the most. And only now can we make living amends to those people by achieving sobriety.

She talked about early sobriety, and that she did everything that was suggested.

Not always knowing the WHY ?

In the beginning, most folks take one of many paths into sobriety. I’ve found wisdom in working with young men, who are early on. We take them in, we get them connected, and we provide infrastructure for them to keep them in the loop, so to speak. (At least I do that).

And it was done that way with me when I got sober.

I met all the right people at the right moments in my life.

If you are willing to go to any length to get and stay sober, you will, for better or for worse, do as you are told, and I say that in the most loving way.

All we have are merely suggestions. Take them or leave them.

I’ve found that people who take them (Suggestions), get and stay sober.
And those who leave them, and try to do this on their own, usually drink again.

Over time we learn the “Why” of “Why do we do the things we do?”

We did not get sober to be Miserable …

There are three types of alcoholics.

  • One group are those who will die from the disease
  • Another group who will go insane
  • And the third group who will live life with enthusiasm

I can safely say that for the most part, all of the people I know who are sober are in varying degrees of living life with enthusiasm, from early on to long time sober. I find it a grace to see someone who is graceful, full of life, and embraces enthusiasm like our woman does. And that is why we go to meetings, because we need to witness that, and in turn we get to give away what we have.

We show up, so you will show up, and in the end we are sober another night together.

I heard another trilogy of sound advice, that I tell others who are new …

  • Go to meetings
  • Call another alcoholic
  • Work with another human being

Nothing guarantees sobriety, like intense work with another alcoholic. It gets us out of ourselves, it shuts down the committee in our heads, and keep us Right Sized.

Many of us, come in shot to hell, miserable, with little hope, and dejected. Then there are those who come in with Egos the size of Mount Everest. That is a daunting task…

We learn many things as children and growing up, that we don’t necessarily understand at the time. I know for me that a number of things happened in my life, that I did not understand at the time, and I did not have words for them. And only now, in hindsight, I know what they were, and why I turned out the way I did.

So it goes for us as well. We learn either by teaching or default, how to grow up. And we are either stunted by it, or we are able to use what we are taught positively. An alcoholic in training doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt in many cases. We are usually destined for disaster …

Until we get to that day, You know the day I am talking about …

Yes, That Day …

  • The day we admit we have a problem.
  • And for the first time, the person who was the last to know,
  • Now knows what the problem is,
  • Who the common denominator is,
  • And what we call it.
  • The disease of alcoholism
  • And then we ask for HELP

We all get there, hopefully, and later on we are grateful for it.

Because now We own it, We speak it, and We name it.

  • And if we are lucky,
  • and the stats are very slim,
  • we get sober,
  • and hopefully we are in it to win it,
  • and we stick and stay.

I was thinking in the shower tonight that I believe that today, I have been sober a little longer than my drinking career lasted. At some point in sobriety we cross that line where we are sober longer than we spent drinking. I’ve given my liver a reason to live.

And pondering my retrospective, I have friends I am eternally grateful for, because it was by their example and their love and grace, that I am where I am today. I count a specific group of particular women who have changed my life in ways, I could not have imagined.

I did not know it could get like this. It is all down to The Work.

You got to be in it to win it.

I have friends who are in it, despite themselves, and they are just there. I look at my friends, some of them, and I have this knowing, I can see it. I was just IN IT at one point, then I heard a speaker light a fire under my ass, and I got IN IT TO WIN IT.

And that changed my life, and the lives of my guys by extension.

We live life with enthusiasm.

Because it is our right and because we’ve earned it.

It was a great night.

More to come, stay tuned …


December 9th 2014 … Thirteen

tumblr_l8yig0qgFp1qbsveko1_500 billypazionis

Courtesy: Billy Pazionis Flickr

I offer you “Thirteen” a retrospective.

In May of 2013, I had been at Tuesday Beginners for eleven years. The New York women came to us and I began to watch them and listen to them. I watched what they did for a while and I longed for that kind of life to come to me.

The end of May came with the West Island Round Up. And I heard Lorna Kelly speak, along with a host of others from New York. And I learned, much to my dismay, that I’d been warming a seat for years, and not really doing anything about it. Comfortable at just being a talking head and showing up and doing service.

One of the men who spoke talked about prayer … I prayed, but not with the intensity or meaning that our man was trying to get across to the people sitting in front of him while he spoke. Three, Seven and Eleven, every day, like you mean it. You have the book, why aren’t you working it?

This is how we do it.

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT !!!

Are you listening??

I faded from my then sponsor and decided to go it alone. It was time. Days, turned into weeks, which turned into months. I changed up my meetings, added the Friday A.B.S.I. meeting, and I was doing the work, praying and being present for my friends.

In the Summer of 2013, I decided to leave Tuesday Beginners, opting for the “other” beginners meeting that was on earlier, because that is where my friends were, or, more to the point, the young men of that I needed in my life and it ended up, this meeting carried me through some tough times. And I gave back to that meeting.

On my 12th anniversary, December 9th 2013, I asked a friend to give me my chip, so it went. Since then, Vendome Beginners moved to the location we are at now, albeit in smaller numbers, we have a committed group of folks who come week in and week out.

There was an old timer there, who had the years, and I was in the market for a new sponsor, in January this year, we went to lunch and he interviewed me for the position. He had a few rules that I must agree to follow. I was supposed to call him every day for a month. I did that. At the end of the month, on the last day, I called him, and he said to me that I did not have to call him anymore. And I was like “What?” But I want to call you every day. That was the answer he was looking for.

It has been close to a year, and I call him every day. He also started me on the journey with the Men’s Intensive Big Book, Steps, Study. We have been working our steps in tandem with each other. My sponsors sponsor, my sponsor, and then myself. I had been doing the work, praying and acting As If.

And God seemed to be pleased because he sent me young men to work with, something my life had lacked for all the years I was sober. They have taught me many things, about themselves, and about myself, and about us.

In May of 2014, he invited me to my first Men’s Intensive Weekend at Mad River Barn, in Vermont. Being the only Queer in the bunch, I told them my stories about getting sober in certain groups. And the fact that people sent me away because I was gay! That changed everything. It was the first weekend where men from other places listened to me and spoke kindness to me. I came home from that weekend with lessons I still use today. I work the same way with my guys, that my sponsor works with me.

The weekend after then Men’s Intensive, it was my hope to share a round up with my guys. It was an ok weekend. The singleness of purpose problem was a barrier for my guys, and they felt left out of the US and segregated to just them and the just us club. But the message was clear from the Atlantic Group.

The Mantra was “THE WORK.”

Since May I have talked about the work, and how that has panned out over the past seven months. In October of 2014, we again returned to Mad River for the Fall Men’s Intensive weekend. Sadly, that would be the last time we visited that Inn. This time around, I was asked to speak. Actually, before I even got home from the Intensive in May, an invitation to speak was waiting for me when I got home. So I had months to prepare. I did not get a notice on what I would be speaking on in any case.

Half our number came for the weekend. People were not pleased with the Inn from the last visit and the price had gone up considerably. Nonetheless, I was the opening presenter for Steps One and Two for the weekend.

I met some of the same men as the first time, but also got to meet several other men who had come for the first time. I had been working my steps, working with my guys, and I talked about that with the guys, a handful of them disagreed with my style and approach, and voiced those opinions.

My Sponsor listened to what I had said and told me to ignore them.What I was doing was working, so don’t get caught up in old men being pissy.

On the way to the Mad River Barn, My sponsor, myself and a friend, took an excursion to East Dorset Vermont to visit Bill’s House, where he was born and was raised. We also visited Bill’s and Lois’s grave with a group of women making an intensive weekend there at the house. It was a life changing event for me, and for all those who were there.

Standing on Bill’s Grave, speaking about recovery, to others present, changed my life. I had the opportunity to visit the man who started it all. Then attend an intensive weekend, and then bring all that home for my guys, my friends, my fellows, the list goes on and on. On the way home from that weekend, we visited the next site of the Men’s Intensive for Spring 2015. A little place called Saint Anne’s Shrine in Vermont. About an hours drive from here.

We have celebrated Thanksgiving and we are coming up on Christmas.

Three seems to be the magic number for me. A few weeks ago, I was introduced to a man who came to our Sunday night meeting, and since. I’ve become his sponsor. You loose one, God gives you another one. They say, when you work with others that, you might find folks to work with, and they might decide that drinking is far more fun, and take leave of you. But when one goes, there is always someone waiting in the wings to take their place. And so that has happened.

The Pre-Cake roller coaster did not take off this year.

There were no massive upheavals, no major issues, no major problems. It has been a slow burn. However, this year, I have not only had myself to work with, but my guys and my sponsor. I’ve really had no down time to think of myself. When the phone rings, it rings, I answer.

It is one thing to be present for your own sobriety, it is totally a different fish, when you are accountable to young men with whom you work with. They call every day. We talk every day, except when life takes precedence. I meet my guys once a week to talk, to read the Book, and to do Step Work. One of my guys moved to the states, this past fall for his M.A. so we Skype every week.

Thank God for technology and sponsorship.

They have totally kept me on my toes and busy with something to do and something new to think about on a daily basis. Working with others is the greatest joy you can have in sobriety. Because it isn’t about me, it’s about them. I’ve truly grown this year, in ways I couldn’t have imagined. All because I have done my work.

Now they do their work.

Continuing the story … This post is a two parter. It is Tuesday and mother nature dropped snow on us today. A little worried about people not coming, my sponsor says … “We went to any length to drink, snow or whatever, people will come, don’t fret!”

Our usual group of folks came. We called New Foundland to talk to one of our women who is up there with her new daughter, and I thought that it would be nice for all of us to talk to her, so we did that. Have phone will chat !!!

We covered the second half of Step twelve. There were lots of laughs and giggles, but it was all business.

So what can I say for sobriety, I am in my steps. My sponsees are in their steps. My sponsor is in his steps. We’ve now heard the steps presented three times in the last year. Twice in an intensive weekend, and once at our meeting for twelve weeks.

This journey to where I am today, started some time ago, and only now can I say, I’ve reaped the rewards of really working my sobriety for all its worth. No roller coaster, no drama. Everything is where it should be and all is well in my world.

It was bittersweet because one of my friends, who was sober, when I FIRST got sober, was here tonight. He got stuck in the revolving door for a long time, and now he is back. He’s got six months. And I think about him a lot. Had he stuck and stayed he would be long sober, longer than I am today, had he stayed. But he didn’t.

I did everything I was told to do. I’ve been blessed to be able to maintain the sober schedule I built thirteen years ago. And I did not deviate from that schedule. Ever. I stayed sober. Many of my friends did not.

What did I do right, and what did they do wrong?

We are all suffering alcoholics. Some got better, some didn’t. At least tonight, all in our number are alive, well and sober.

I am very grateful for all that I have.

Thanks for reading. More to come, stay tuned …