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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 … Decisions, Decisions …

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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 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 …


Sunday Sundries … Kicking and Screaming

tumblr_lm5d60Hzy01qzhzruo1_500 flickr jamesclear

Courtesy: James Clear – Flickr

It isn’t snowing, yet … But we are hovering right around ( +2c with a low of -2c) tonight.

And I just love this photo as well.

It is a bit chilly out. And last night we turned the clocks back, which fucked up overnight radio, but I slept a good night’s sleep anyways. Some folks did not get the memo over the weekend, and some of our number were all discombobulated worrying that they would be late, when in reality, they did not turn their clocks back last night.

I’ve been noticing that some bus stops have been moved farther away from their original locations, and now we have to walk farther to get a bus than the local usual stop. And the city workers have pulled up many flowerbeds and planters in anticipation of the coming snows.

They city does that, they plant great flower beds and tall growing plants in planters located all around the intersections all over town. Knowing that when it snows, those plants and flowers stand no chance of survival once snow begins to pile up, so they dig them up early, and most probably, they end up in a compost heap somewhere.

I got to the church, and I was soon followed by new people to make coffee, set up and greet. With numbers of folks, set up takes mere minutes. Then we all waited.

At 6 the bells ring in the bell tower. Most of the chairs were still empty. I figured that folks were slow today because of the time change, but in the end we sat a full house. This month one of our women who is new to the program and just crossed her year, is chairing for the first time, and that is always exciting. We are all so proud of her.

We are one more story closer to the end of the book, with the reading of “A Late Start.”

“It’s been ten years since I retired, seven years since I joined A.A. Now I can truly say that I am a grateful alcoholic.”

After reading a story like this one, one can easily say, “better late than never.”

Our woman who writes this story, had a life, a family, and everything else that came with it. Then, one by one, she began loosing things. First a child, then a husband, and her life soon followed. Drinking came late, but did not spare her suffering. No matter what age you start drinking, the end point is always the same for those of us who just can’t stop.

She came, she saw, and she scoffed. For a long time, she listened and at least she kept showing up. Like many people we see today, coming to and then the coming to believe is a tall order. The other kicker in this story is our writers inability to admit powerlessness over the drink. Many of us fight tooth and nail to maintain control, in some way, and end up kicking and screaming all the way to the bank, until we finally become willing to admit we are licked.

Many, have to come to the point that they are willing to be willing.

We hear the same words. We read the same slogans. And in time we either find it, or we end up warming a chair until that magic moment that we become part of. And in our writers case, after some time in sobriety she says, quite pointedly that “she will never be responsible to or for anyone else ever again!”

It took her years to become willing. YEARS.

Eventually she reached the point that she was ready and willing to give it away, and work with another alcoholic.

But as the book says in A Vision for You … “Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got!”

I heard a friend say tonight that it was his experience that he is stubborn, like our writer tonight.

“NO, I don’t need your help,

Fuck you,

Help me …

NO, I don’t want to talk to you,

Call me … “

Am I coming or am I going?

I am hearing a very familiar message from our women, who are homed at our Sunday group. They have all had the experience of getting sober and coming to and then coast for a number of years. At some point in the game they realized that they were stagnant, and they needed a pick me up. And so they found other women who knew the way into living in the book, in the steps and in the solution.

And now they’ve all really “Come to Believe” that the only way to LIVE IT is to be IN IT.

To be IN it to WIN it…

Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.

Nothing gives me/us more pleasure than to try and make a difference in another human beings life in that most important period of time, the twenty minutes before and the twenty minutes after. We got all the way around the room, and while we ate cake, we talked to each other. Trying to give hope that things WILL eventually get better. You just got to stick around and believe that WE believe in you and are here for you as well. And that simple statement can change a life in ways one would never expect.

Our five year celebrant this evening has just come off a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa …

That little tid bit of information got everybody going. It was very exciting.

I reiterated the thought about your chair, and learning to get comfortable in your chair, and to listen from your chair and that eventually, you will say something from your chair, that will change someones life, so stick around.

The only thing you have to change in sobriety is EVERYTHING. That’s what the book says.

And you know how control freak alcoholics resist change as if change was fire …

Eventually we learn that to let go, make the admission, come, and then come to, that is when life begins to change, and don’t you want to turn it around and help another alcoholic? That’s the whole point. To get better, to learn and to change, and then allow your experience, strength and hope to bring another human on board.

In order to keep it, we must give it away.

I think we did that in spades tonight.

We laughed, we cried, we ate CAKE !!!

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…


Sunday Sundries on a Monday Night … Thanksgiving Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us Be Thankful!!!

More to come, stay tuned …


Heart Broken

tumblr_lsdqf5xeZG1r45jjjo1_500 ninatangCourtesy: Ninatang

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

True lesson …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am powerless over people, places and things.

More to come, stay tuned …


God, You Have a Plan, RIGHT ?

maybeThe week came to an end, uneventfully. There were meetings and people, and everybody is good. I kinda dropped into a funk Friday, and took the night off, since it is the only night that I don’t have to do anything, or be responsible for putting on a meeting. I was not feeling all of myself, and if I can borrow a phrase … I was in the “lurgy!” Just feeling Blah and lethargic. I slept the balance of the weekend away. Sometimes my body just needs to sleep, and when that happens, I have no choice but to listen. That comes with the territory.

I departed early tonight to get coffee, which is on sale for a couple more days. We’ve been scooping up multiple cans of coffee for all the meetings in this area. IGA is good for cheap coffee, since my Costco shopper has been MIA for a awhile.

We sat a good crowd. We read “Gutter Bravado” from the Big Book, pg. 501.

We read the whole circle, but did not get back around before time was called.

We sit a good bunch of young people at this meeting. All of them are at different stages. The constant is that they keep coming back, no matter what. They’ve all decided to come for the solution, and that if they come, eventually the path will open.

The story tonight says many things …

  • “Sobriety is about the journey and not the destination.”
  • 3 Words of the Twelve Steps continue, improve, practice
  • Humility is the Key

I picked up on a few things from the read, and a clear picture opened up in my brain as soon as I closed my book. Our writer spoke about his drinking as like a musician, “Practice, Practice, Practice.”

He tells the story of growing up in the Mid West in the 1960’s and visiting the West Coast and how enamored he was with it. He talks about school being a futile effort and then he decided to strike out West, where he quickly devolved into a hobo.

He wasted a good portion of his young life sunk in the bottle and other assorted drugs and such. I could identify with a stretch in the story. I came from an alcoholic home. And my parents used to green light us, drinking at home, they rather preferred us drinking at home than outside.

My drinking picked up in High School, to the extent that at the end of that run, I could have failed out of high school, had it not been for the hand of providence and the truth. I can see, looking back that it began with beer, as long as it was available. We threw in the odd bottle of hard liquor when we could get it. You could say, quite easily, that I spent a few years practicing my drinking before leaving home.

I had to go, and never thought about staying. Nobody offered me another option. And at that point, I did not know what was good for me. I had some good jobs, that paid well, and I did well in them. But the theme was alcohol. And nobody ever said Stop …

If you are a young person, my warning is simple. Don’t waste your young life sunk in a bottle or on drugs. Young people cannot contemplate sobriety early in life because, how would they live without it, until it becomes a problem and the need to be led out of that mine field.

A young life, barely out of the starting gate of life is better off clean and sober. Yes, we all have to have some drinking history, but it is proven that many young people have found their way to us, because it got too bad for them. I don’t know what my life would have turned out like or where I would be right now today, had I gotten sober when the very first warning flag went up. But like I said, I was too dumb, too stupid or too drunk to care, and nobody said STOP.

That is the most important word … STOP !!

I needed to hear it from someone else, because left to my own devices, I did not stop nor would I have stopped. I would have killed myself with the drink rather than facing the music of AIDS so many years ago.

Todd saved my life. And I am forever grateful to him for that life he saved.

I was in a middle class family. But the thought that they would assist in paying for college was a far stretch. I got a years scholarship for junior college, which I used up. But getting any farther was pointless, because One, I didn’t have the grades and Two, I could not afford it.

I grew up, decided that to be myself I had to move away, and the adventure of moving to a new place, only lasted for so long. A few months earlier, I visited Orlando and some new friends I had made. They lived in a certain apartment complex just down the road from the Tragic Queendom.

I loved the complex and set forth the idea that I must live there as well. And that is exactly where I ended up. I barely had the money to afford it, I had a job, that did not go very far, because I was drinking away my car payments, rent and bills. I was terribly woefully ill prepared to be responsible for myself. I was not ready, and nobody stopped me, so I guess silence gives consent.

When I got sick in 1994, Todd said STOP and THAT was ENOUGH. For the first time I got a stab at responsibility and peace of mind. So lets say I began drinking at an early age, (my teens) and stopped for the first time at twenty six. I was on the wagon for a few years.

When I came back the second time I was in my mid thirties. Too old to be young, and too stupid, sunk in the visions of a delusional mind. I was just hanging on. When I made that decision to stop, God stepped in and my life took a turn for the better.

Now almost thirteen years later, I never imagined that my life could be this good, that I would be where I am, with the people I want in my life and the partner I always wanted to have. We all have to trod our own paths. I know that had ONE day changed in the past, had one thing changed along the journey, I probably would not have arrived here and live this life I am living.

Everything happens for a reason. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.

Some folks are not meant to be in our lives forever. You never know when the lesson is going to happen. I must have missed the warning signs, or was too stupid and drunk to realize they were there, but I didn’t care about anything that getting my next drink, in my twenties … FUCK !!!

It did not take long for alcoholism to get its grubby hooks into my soul.

I was fucked from the word Go !!!

Thank God I did not die along the way.

A friend of mine had lunch with a friend who is wanting to make it in, but hasn’t yet. And she came to the meeting and said to us all, what a grace it was to be in that conversation, but she had a question for God … “You have a plan, right ???”

There is a plan. It is not mine. It will become yours once you make that decision. I can’t tell you how it works, or why it works, or what it will do for you. You only need to decide you want a solution, and as soon as you do, heaven will shift and take you in, and put you on the best journey of your life,

GUARANTEED !!!

All is well. We celebrated a cake. Lots of happy sober people.

More to come, stay tuned …


It’s Authentic … Does the Happy Dance

mario 2The great thing about online purchases, is waiting for them to get here.

Canada Post has been cutting service, and combining package and mail delivery to one person instead of two. Back in the day, we had early day delivery. One guy with packages, who would actually bring them to your door, instead of leaving them downstairs, or sadly, leave you just a slip for pickup at a local drop spot. The other would deliver our mail to the building. We got word a few weeks ago about the mail cutback. We have a package delivery sheet outside in the vestibule, but it is a pointless piece of paper.

I have been noticing that the mail does not come until after hours for some strange reason. The office is already closed for the day, so packages go undelivered or a drop slip is left. Last night the mail came after 6 p.m. And today it came late as well.

My copy of “I Heard the Owl Call My Name” came along with my Mario Gotze #19 Germany jersey. I was afraid that it would not be original or come from a far flung place in the world. But no, it was a genuine Adidas Jersey with the original tags attached, and in my size. Such a Sweet Deal !!!

Once again, EBAY did not disappoint !!!

It was a tad bit warmer the past two days. And the rain stayed away tonight, which was a good thing.

Last night I went to a G.S.R. meeting with a friend (General Service Rep).

Cabot Square is all torn up, all the grass is gone, the trees are all bundled for protection from construction, They are doing something funky at the kiosk entrance on our corner, a huge trench is dug and a coffer dam was erected to keep the earth around it from falling into the pit. Rumor has it they are re-purposing the kiosk with restrooms down below ground level.

The regular bus stops are all discombobulated and moved to the Tupper Street approach. Before stops were located all around the periphery of the park. It is said that reconstruction will take a year, UGH !!!

I made my transit well and cranked it out and made coffee and sat outside the church for a bit before folks started turning up. Once again we sat a good group. New faces and our core group of attendees. Tonight we read Step Three from the Twelve and Twelve.

I always tell the same story of meeting God incarnate when I got sick, and how he moved in my life and what I have learned in these past twelve years and some odd months. In the book, it talks about “electricity” how it is there, all the time, and how we depend on it for survival. We can’t see it, but it is there. In some ways, God is all around us, but some can’t seem to find Him, or, they just can’t conceptualize Him, or they can’t wrap their heads around turning it over to Him.

I look at some of our newcomers. One especially. She struggles around God. But at the same time, she has a faith in God in the religions of her father and mother. She sees God there, and she prays and goes to Temple, but when she walks in the room, there is an evident disconnect.

So I was thinking on the way out that she keeps coming back. She likes the group, those in the group and what we have to share every week. And for an hour a week, she climbs the same stairs we do, gets her coffee and takes her same seat, and she let’s go … I don’t know if it makes sense that she is letting it go when she comes, but it evident in the way she speaks.

You can’t push someone into belief. It has to come organically. Watching others begin their journey, is a spiritual experience. The best place to see God move is in a meeting. It is a privilege and a grace to share this time with our fellows.

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.

It was a good night. Everybody is good. The weather is holding.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday … You Don`t Always get what you Want !!!

tumblr_n2w3uhcDia1rvyjllo2_500 spoonsdammitCourtesy:Spoonsdammit

Did you see that MOON last night? At 5 a.m. this morning, I was standing on my balcony and the moon was still up, quite far from setting, even at that hour, sun up was coming quickly, It was quite a sight. Under a cloudless sky, the moon was sparkle bright, lighting up the city from above and there was plenty of light shining down on me.

I awoke to a flurry of email from a bunch of people, one, for the upcoming Men’s Intensive in October, and secondly, great email from friends from afar.

I wrote a short time ago about the headphone debacle that turned into a $60.00 repair mission. I applied for a warranty refund online, then printed out the form that it generated and mailed my broken headphones to B.C..

Today I got an email response from them, saying that my claim had been processed and a resolution was reached. They offered me a coupon for $29.99 for the refund. Not enough to buy a pair outright without using extra funds. On their site the same exact pair I had costs $40.00 plus shipping and handling. And if I want to use the refund towards a new purchase, I will have to pay the balance with a credit card, which we got rid of them a few months ago … UGH !!!

The upside of this is that My direct deposit comes to R.B.C next month, instead of going to a U.S. bank where we were charged outrageous fees for cross border transfers and fees, so I opened a mirror account from my Canadian Bank Institution. I have a brand new Visa/Debit card just waiting to be used, once fund begin redirecting into the account.

That coupon refund is good for a years time. Eventually I will be able to replace my headphones.

On an entirely other thread …

I scored a #19 Mario Gotze German National Team World Cup jersey, AND I found the site that sells everything else that I want and everybody takes Pay Pal, which is a great coup.

tumblr_nbchquNJyQ1rjev45o1_500 footballhqsIt has been a beautiful couple of days. Weather is an ever changing beast, and every time you click the National Environment Canada website, the numbers are different. Suffice to say that this weekend we will see the first pass through single digit temps. Enough of a kick that may begin the Fall turning of the leaves. All we need is a few days with single digits to jump start the process.

I departed with plenty of time to make my transit, and went all the way across and my bus stop at the other end of my transit was reopened, so I rode the bus down the hill instead of having to walk. A nice little perk.

It was week two of our Journey through the steps … And Step Two !

The announcement went into our local Blue Sheet event calendar which is published and mailed out across the city to every group registered with inter group. I sent a short blurb, and in the end we got a full “across the page” event announcement, instead of a small mention. And that must have done the trick, because we sat twice as many folks as we have been sitting for the last few weeks.

Came to Believe … That a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

It does not read (Come to Believe) it reads “CAME” to believe, past tense.

Some would say, and I heard it tonight, that we get to this step, and it already happened. I also heard the phrase “Find God and Find Him Quickly.” The reading outlines the problems some folks may have, and what happens when that happens. It gives options for those averse to the word God.

And we also heard what some of our newer folks did to get to this step and allow it to work for them. I didn’t get a chance to ask her, but one of our women said that her sponsor told her to repeat a short mantra for thirty days, and to see what happens. It did the job. But like I said, I didn’t get to ask her what that mantra was.

I know for me this time around, I did not have an issue with God. As delusional I was at the end, I at least had a clarity of mind that allowed me to pray. And pray as if my life depended on it, and I think that that was what did it for me. God is there, He just waits for us to call upon Him.

Then He moved …

It took a few months for my head to clear up. The “Not Having” other life issues hanging over my head, allowed me to concentrate solely on sobriety. It was also good that within the first five months of coming back, I sat through a step intensive prior to coming here.

And I remember, I was here for a few months, and I told the guy who was my sponsor (read: for a very short time) that I felt I was ready to work the steps.

And he replied … “Steps? I don’t work steps!”

I dropped him like a hot potato. He eventually went back out and drank.

That set me up for my next sober encounter and my journey through the steps in a 17 week Men’s Intensive. Some make it and some don’t. We started out with twenty five men. By the time we hit Step Four, half that number went back out and drank. At the end of the series, there were only four men left. Myself, my sponsor, a second man and his sponsor.

Coming to believe has become organic. Watching God move is a blessing. Having studied God through Religious and Theological studies in university gave me a book sense. But the richer God experience has come from direct contact with my fellows, watching them get sober. By the book, we may say, there is a God. And religious folks say that they believe in God. And that He does work in their lives.

Hands down, the most ecstatic encounter with God comes, when folks come in and have their spiritual experiences. I have seen it many times. I’ve seen God move in meetings, around us, through other people, that have concretely shown me that God really does exist.

If you question the existence of God, or that you may not believe the same way I do, find a room you enjoy going to, sit in that room, stay in that room, days, weeks, months and years. I promise you that eventually, you too will see God. Hands down it is the best experience I can tell you about.

We are trudging away.

I ask for your prayers for one of our women, who learned recently that her father is very sick, with K.S., I’ve never heard of straight people suffering from a condition, usually associated with AIDS. And it may be that when he was being treated for Leukemia, he received a tainted transfusion. This began twenty years ago. And for a very long time, the doctors did not know what he was suffering from, K.S. began to present but doctors did not catch it or name it until it was too late. What straight doctor thinks of Cancer beyond the vernacular cancer symptoms?

Anyways, Dad is dying. He may have 6 months, maybe a year on the outside.

So if you pray, pray for my friend. She needs all the help she can get.

The one good thing is that she accepts “Thy will be done.” and so do we.

Amid the sadness of terrible news, we laughed with her.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … On the Road

tumblr_l7kzzjlD3L1qzqhkho1_500 twinkobsessionCourtesy: Obsession

Do you ever have a moment like this, when you did something and you should have done something else, and grabbed your head and went “UGH!!!”

They say, in recovery, that “Where ever you go, there you are …”

Which is timely with the introduction of tonight’s read: On the Road

As alcoholics, how many years did we spend, traveling from one place to another, trying to find ourselves, or a life, or something like it?

Our writer tonight, travels roads all over the earth, looking. This after being young and getting blackout drunk and trying to kill his stepfather, the judge says “You can either go to Juvie, or you can leave town until you turn 21!”

Not wanting to go to juvie, our writer takes to the road in search of himself, but never finds himself until he darkens a room of A.A. He spends the better part of his life drinking his way around the world and back again, until he takes his last drink.

And even then, he really did not connect. And every time a sponsor “lovingly suggested” that he do some work, he would summarily fire them and move on to someone else, who had, he thought, a much easier softer way.

Some years into sobriety, say, around the two year mark, we enter what we like to call,the “angry years” where nothing fits, everybody is wrong and has no idea. And if we stay sober through this we eventually get to what we next call the “jumping off point.”

This is the stage where we say “SHIT or get off the Pot !”

There are many ways to approach recovery. I get the slow starters. I understand the questions, the uncertainty, the fear, of just how am I going to live, now that I am trying to get sober, and what will my life look like and what will I do if I can’t have just one???

Come in, sit down, and relax. All the jobs have been taken. Listen and have an open mind.

Eventually, you will hear your sponsor speak, and that is when you know what to do. OR you could just cold cock it and put it out there, that you need a sponsor, and see who rises to the occasion.

That works just as well.

Back to On the Road …

Growing up, I listened to my parents talk, A LOT ! Drunk and Sober. I heard a lot of things, and realized in my journey, that to be myself, I could not do that at home. I had to get out.

My shrink at the time told me what to do …

He said, and I quote “The best way to become part of a certain community is , to go to the bar, sit down at the bar and have a drink. Hell, have two if the spirit moves you, and see what happens.”

The entire decade of my twenties was wrapped up in one sentence.

On a bar stool, looking pretty, talking the right game, drinking the right liquor, and watching what happens.

I can’t tell you how many times I moved during those ten years. I had a brief foray into staying put from 26 to 28, but as soon as I was left to my own devices, I was off and running again. Until I hit my mid thirties. I had finally had enough of trying to find some place I could call my own.

I had come to that “Jumping Off Point” I was 34. Uneducated, by university standards, but wise on finding my way through poverty and sickness. I got sober again, and for a time, I settled where I was because I needed what my friends had and I needed to learn how to get sober again. I did that.

But in the back of my mind, and in my heart, Where I was, was not where I wanted to be.

Montreal was the stopping point.

I had been educated, I was sober, and I had a birthright in hand, that facilitated my last move.

It was the last step, in becoming the man I wanted to be, somewhere that I would call HOME.

Someplace that I could be ME, that I could be free of the past. Free of the pain, sickness and poverty that I was living in prior to my last move.

This time I had ammunition. This time I did it the right way. I found a home, I found the rooms, and I met people who would get me into the life I wanted.

The best piece of advice I heard the first week was this:

Go to meetings. Find a home group.

Build your LIFE around your MEETINGS, not your MEETINGS around your LIFE.

I did that. And I’ve been successful for the last 12 and some years. I never deviated from this advice, unless of course, I could not find another night to have class. Your home group is sacrosanct. You never miss your home group, no matter what. it should be your first responsibility.

Only 2 semesters in ten years did I ever have to miss my home group.

Our young people, in their twenties who are in the nest right now, are still trying to figure out who they will become and how they are going to get through school and life and be social, and NOT drink.

That is a tall order. It is a tall order for most folks coming in the room at any stage of the game. We all say that same thing … How can I survive this life and not drink?

I had to get to the point that moving from place to place was no longer working. I had to get to the point that I was ready to grow up and learn how to live in my skin, and become the man I so wanted to become.

Finding that “PLACE” is integral to success.

Because, where ever you go, there you are …

I was getting too old to keep looking, and not finding. The time had come to either SHIT or get off the pot, so to speak. I had no more time to waste, time was of the essence. And If I didn’t take that chance that I had, I would never have gotten here.

And I like HERE.  I want to be HERE. I love HERE.

If you don’t know where you are going, then STOP. Sit down where you are and rest. Look around you and survey your surroundings. Study your location and the people in that location. Consult your life map and ask your questions. THEN when you are ready to take that next step, gather your map and your things and take that step.

Growing up was not as hard or as painful as I thought it would be. When I was still drinking, all that mattered was having the delusional life I thought I wanted. WRONG !!! Knowing that where I was at that time, was not where I wanted to be, I think contributed to what I did next.

But I had to put the drink down first to be able to make a conscious life decision.

The rest they say is history.

All my guys are good. I Skyped with Pittsburgh, everyone is well. Our little group is sober another weekend. And we are good to go for the next week.

More to come, stay tuned …

OH, and I SCORED a #19 Germany – Mario Gotze World Cup Jersey. Pictured below and on the sidebar !!! Ten Cheers for EBAY !!! YAY !!!


Friday … Unbearable Weather and Things Like That

tumblr_nbchquNJyQ1rjev45o1_500 footballhqsCourtesy: Football HQS

Boy, was it HOT today. The last time it was this hot, was back in July. And we are under a severe thunderstorm watch at this hour.

I had nothing to do today, so I slept in. In the end I had several dreams one after another covering a few topics that have arisen in my mind over the past week. I am not only ruminating at night before bed, I am dreaming of people, places and things as well. It was interesting to see how the dreams played out. Even while I am sleeping my mind is in overdrive.

When my alarm clock finally went off at 4:30 this afternoon, I was like, NO, More Sleep Please !!!

I diddled here on the computer and got ready to go. I was meeting with one of my guys prior to the meeting, on the other side of town, so I left uber early. It was a miserable 28c out with a humidex of  38c. The skies were growing darker every minute as I made my way to the Metro.

If it was unbearable outside, then it was doubly worse in the tunnels. The heat generated by the trains and the air in the tunnels is really warm. And that warmth is a really good thing come winter. But it was sweaty hot outside, and I was traveling at peak rush hour. I don’t usually travel this early.

The trains were PACKED, across both lines.

When I made my connection, the car was packed wall to wall. It was sweaty hot, I was dripping all over myself and with so many folks around, wiping dripping sweat was problematic. UGH !!!

I arrived at Laurier and when I came out of the station it was dark. It was close to six o’clock. It was also raining. You would have thought that it would be Pouring rain seeing how dark it was outside. By the time I made my stop, the rain was coming to an end. And it seemed a bit cooler out.

We sat a jam packed house. We split up into two groups to allow everyone to get a chance at sharing.

Tonight’s read : A.B.S.I. #68 Giving without Demand.

The read speaks about working with others, and sharing the message. And the why’s, how’s and what for’s. We give it away freely, because it came to us freely. If you try and give it away to one, and it doesn’t take, there is always someone waiting in the wings for what you have to give.

The discussion went around and around, and culminated with a consensus about what we do with what we know, how best to utilize that knowledge and how best to serve.

I noted on the way home to a friend, that our young people don’t seem to realize how much they help us to help them. Our years of time run from days to months, to multiple years. And I have said before that if you listen well to your friends, and your fellows, you learn how to help them with what you know.

But why don’t I have any sponsees? was a general question from folks with a few years.

They go to meetings, and they work, and they share, but the pigeon coop is empty.

I know for me it took a long time until the time was right to begin working with others one on one. But I also said at the meeting, that when we go to a meeting and we share from our seats, we are “working with others” because you never know when something you say will impact someone in a way that betters their journey and they learn something.

Sharing from your chair is a good way to hear yourself speak, to polish your skills at words and work, and it gives folks an opportunity to listen to you, because you never know when someone will walk up to you and ask you to work with them.

I have said before that I had to top off my tanks. And only diligent study, prayer and focus was what was necessary to ignite the universe and in turn the universe sends people to us, at the right moment, for the right reasons.

When you listen at a meeting to your fellows share themselves, the more one listens, the more time you get to hone your skills at words, and eventually you speak up and what happens is that wisdom comes to you and to those listening to you.

I don’t have all the answers. All I have is all what I have learned in 12 years and some months. And it isn’t all about me.

I had to learn, “how to learn” from people who knew how to teach and lead. I listened to people from other places, and how they did the work. And then I practiced. I worked, then the universe opened up to me. That’s how I learned to work with others. By watching others do the work.

We also heard the words, “I can’t get you sober, and you aren’t going to make me drink.”

That is a common phrase we hear from our old timers and new prospects.

In some cases, people came to me, because the moment was there for a connection, deeper than just a phone call to say hello. In other cases, the moment came amid a conversation and the opportunity presented itself to step into a working relationship. Lastly, a newcomer walks into a room seeking direction and out of ten men, I was the only one with a cell phone and offered up my number and things just went on from there.

So you never know when the opportunity to work with someone will come. Be prepared.

But when we get to the end of the first 164 pages of the Big Book, in the reading “A Vision for You” it says that once we get our house in order, we are ready to give, the caveat is that obviously, one cannot give what they don’t have.” Which means that only through learning and study and time in the rooms, can we ever learn how to be present, when to speak up, when to listen, when to step up.

It takes a fine ear to hear the “Words Between the Words.” And that takes a long time to hone.

Like I said, when the universe thinks you are ready, it sends you a nugget. It is then your choice what to do with it. Listen. Listen well.

You can’t lead another human being through the steps until you yourself have done them as well. And it may take a second pass or many passes through the steps until the right opportunity opens up. This calls for patience and humility. Multiple passes through the steps, and working with a sponsor, only deepens our knowledge of how to use what we have learned. And being able to lead from the right direction and motive.

Because if you are in it to glorify yourself or stoke your ego, better sit down and say nothing, rather than opening up your mouth and sticking your foot into it all the way up to your knees !!!

Over time, the ear is refined to hear ego speak, and know when it approaches.

Run, don’t walk, to the nearest emergency exit !!!

We’ve seen many men and women come and go. And we’ve all heard the stories about hallowed and terrible sponsors. The groups have survived them all. One must be careful, what we give and how we give it, and from what direction and our motives. You never want to make a serious situation worse, or further, cause someone to take a drink. And if they do drink, it was their choice. But better to meter your words carefully, to speak wisely and correctly.

If you don’t know what words to use, ask, or pray for wisdom.

It seems the gentle, easy path is the most fruitful. I won’t throw a book at someone who has just come in the door, or someone who has only been in for a short time.

I believe in the come in, pick your chair, sit down in that chair and get used to your chair. You will spend a lot of time in that chair. When you are ready, I am here. I wait for the moment to arrive.

In between that time I am Present. I come, I sit and I listen. And I learn about you. In turn you teach me about myself. Working close with others is a great way to see your own shortcomings and character defects. Which in turn promotes humility.

I’ve seen what happens when someone allows ego to go to their heads.

Eventually they implode. Sad but true.

I sat at the table and when we took our moment, I heard the angels sing when we prayed.

It is the highlight of the week, to sit with my friends and say that prayer together. It is home.

And for that I am grateful.

I made my trek home and when I came out of the station on my end of town, lightening was streaking across the sky. But I haven’t seen any substantial rain fall on either end. Maybe later tonight, we’ll see.

More to come, stay tuned …


Living Serenely … Thursday

tumblr_lywgauGWfc1qgdvbco1_500 stalkerCourtesy: Stalker

The weather held. We had a couple days of sun and warmth, that will turn even hotter tomorrow and rain will follow, then temps drop into the twenties. I would rather they drop even further. We are all trying to figure out when we will take our air conditioners out of our windows and just open them up when the temps drop to teens and single digits later.

I was out on time, and cranked it out again. And even though we were down some folks, because a couple of people are on retreat until tomorrow, we sat a full table. During the discussion, one of my friends quoted the quote above during the meeting. And I am sure he saw that quote here. I don’t know anyone who curates photos the way I do, or from the same sources. I’ve never seen my curates show up anywhere else in our circles.

We read from A.B.S.I. and Living Serenely

The reading speaks of the hangover. The ones we had when we were drinking, and once we got sober, the emotional hangover that occurs over time, here and there. Old feelings of Anger, Fear and Jealousy. If we get caught up in old feelings, that is going to turn our days into rough days and even bad days.

If we get stuck in yesterday, we are loosing out on today.

The reading also speaks about inventory.

With my guys, even though they are fresh and a few are in their months, and one is in his years, I ask them to write at the end of the night. A tenth step, a review of their day, even though they are not at that place in their steps.

I encourage them to write, because the women write. I follow the same path the women work the program here. They write every night, an inventory. Then when they call their sponsors the next day, they have something concrete in front of them that they can talk about. And in that process of writing one gets used to writing right away, and not later.

Try it. It works.

To be able to sort your thoughts out onto paper or in space (read: online) every day brings another layer to sobriety. It gets you working right away.

  • Sponsees call every day
  • They write every night
  • They work their steps and we read the book together
  • And they hit meetings

The further in the game you are, the stronger your journey will be, and if you are sandwiched in the books, your sponsors and working with others, for you early sober people, you could say that going to meetings and sharing and participating, is early sandwiching. If you are in this place, I can safely say that over time the obsession to drink will leave you and the urge to drink will dissipate.

This is your journey. And if you really want it, you will go to any length to get it.

The whole point of this work is to change that which needs to be changed. And to be able to accept what God has in store for you, either good or bad. The less time we spend in the past is something we learn how to do over time. Knowing when it happens, to be able to recognize when we dip into the hole, we talk it out, and we walk it out and make the mental and/or emotional correction and we go on with our day.

That’s why it is good to start doing a nightly inventory to see what you did that day, and to be able to shift things for tomorrow, that you did not do the day prior. Lessons. It’s all about Lessons.

Acceptance is the KEY to all of our problems.

And Nothing, Absolutely Nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.

Everything is alright in the END, if it’s not alright, its NOT the end…

Roll with the punches. Every mistake is a lesson. Every good day is bank money. The more bank you accrue, the less the bad days will take you into the hole of anger, fear and self pity.

Our new guys are doing alright tonight.

Everybody is sober another night.

I gave a six month chip to one of my guys tonight – I had been waiting all summer to hand it to him, as he was away at camp all summer, and accrued time while he was gone. So that was a good thing.

A good night was had by all …