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Sunday Sundries – PRIDE Ottawa Weekend

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Photo: The Parliament of Canada, with projected laser and photo story.

I am back at home tonight, after a whirlwind trip to our Nations Capitol, Ottawa. It was Pride Ottawa this weekend. Saturday was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine and humidity. Today (Sunday) was not so nice.

We stood in the rain with thousands of people to watch the Annual Pride Parade in the Nations Capitol. Rafa lives in the heart of the Village, so we had ringside seats for the parade this afternoon. We got lots of beads, water bottles, assorted condoms in pretty packaging, and other assorted items that were handed out by the marchers in the parade.

I have over fifty images from the weekend, that I will upload this week.

Ottawa is a really great city. It was the first time that I was on the ground exploring the area Rafa lives in. We had dinner at King Eddie’s Saturday night, and then we walked around the Parliament Hill neighborhood, ending up on The Lawn of Parliament Hill, for the Grand Fireworks display and the nightly, Northern Lights, Laser Light Show, that is a bilingual presentation, displayed ON the Parliament Building itself. This show runs nightly through September.

It is a genius presentation with lasers, lights and imagery covering the history of Canada.

There were thousands of people on the lawn. We had arrived a little over an hour prior to the show, so we had front row seats on the lawn, directly in front of Center Block.

Many years ago, when I got my citizenship, there was no party, no singing, no national anthem to be sung. Just my certificate and a welcome greeting by our NOW mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre.

We visited Parliament Hill, on our Second Christmas together, Hubby and I, but it was Christmas so we did not see anyone from the government.

Last night, Saturday, We sat on the lawn, watching this fantastic presentation, and at the end, they played the Canadian National Anthem. As the song began we were sitting, midway through, I was seeing people, get up and stand.

I got up and stood … I got very emotional, and stood there and sobbed.

Every time I hear the anthem played, especially at an Olympic Games, my heart swells with Pride for my country. Last night, I had a Spiritual Experience, during the anthem.

It sealed the deal for me, as a Citizen of our great country.

I got my Anthem, On the Hill, With my Best friend, who became a citizen, himself, last year.

To be on Parliament Hill, to celebrate our history with thousands of residents and thousands more tourists, I could not have been more proud to be a Canadian today.

And today, Sunday, we spent the day together at Pride.

I have lots of observations about people, places and things, to write about concerning Pride and the politics we saw in action. There was definitely a political agenda going on.

The whole fluidity issue, the racial divide and the struggle within the whole LGBTQ community, was apparent. There were many more girls and women at the parade, but not so many white men. Lots of families, tourists, and folks with serious axes to grind with the political establishment, other factions of the gay community, and the lengths our young people, on all sides, want to be heard and legitimized.

More on that later this week, once I’ve had time to think it all through.

 


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 – Paris, People, and the End of Provigo

parisThe sanctity of life has once again, been forgotten.

When a group of well organized jihadists scheme, plan, and execute an attack on innocent people, they further prove that men of radical bent, will kill with impunity, with No regards to human life, No religion, and No creed.

They are killing in the name of corrupt ideology.

They are not killing in the name of Islam.

And they surely are not killing in the name of the Prophet, Peace be upon Him.

I kept my counsel until now, because I wanted to watch how the rest of the world framed this atrocity on human life. To see if there would be a backlash on Muslim people, and what kind of repercussions would take place.

One mosque in Ontario was burnt to the ground over the weekend.

I’ve relied mostly on European new agencies for news so that I would not get the taint that Western media tends to spin on any given subject.

The questions have been posed. Who did this, Why, Who funded them, and how did they plan and execute human atrocity and nobody was none the wiser. It did not blip on any radar, no security services had been alerted before hand.

And I read that the French Security services HAD dropped the ball.

The odd parking ticket, left at the club, where almost a hundred lost their lives, led to a hot bed of Jihadi men. Someone is going to pay, dearly.

The nationalities of the victims are coming to light, which then invites international scrutiny and investigations, in addition to the French authorities and French Security Services.

If the war had not been ramped up yet, it will now.

Here in Canada, the official Conservative opposition party, has put a motion forwards to our young rookie Prime Minister, to change his tack, and instead of pulling our air fighters from the Syrian theatre, to keep them there to assist in the destruction of Is.

The world is interconnected. We are one human family. We cannot say that we are not sad, or that we are unmoved.

We must speak up as One People and say “Je Suis Paris …”

Here in Montreal there has been an outpouring of sadness and solidarity over the weekend. Our community has marched in the streets, gathered at the French Consulate, and have spoken out as one in saying that we feel for Paris, and that we are here.

Canada is not immune to terrorism. But we are oceans and miles away from the center of action. And I guess that somewhat insulates us from the broader conflict. But does not make us immune to that “one off” lone wolf attack.

People still go about their business. But I sense that our community is a bit more aware of their surroundings, when out and about. You never know when the next hit is going to come, or from where.

We send all of our thoughts and prayers to the people of Paris and to France at large.

You are never alone. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

The scourge of jihadi terrorism will not win. We will find you and we will kill you.

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

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

It was an uneventful weekend here. I am still in rest mode. I did what I had to do over the weekend. I spent time with friends, went to a few meetings, and rested in between.

Tonight was a big night in Montreal Sobriety.

Our humble Sunday Niters Group celebrated 52 years of being a meeting tonight.

In time speak, we are one of just a handful of meetings in the city that are so old. We have an illustrious history, and many old timers who were part of earlier incarnations of our meeting came tonight to celebrate with us.

14 years ago, Sunday Niters was located in a grand church names Saint Jame United, which is on the East end of town near Place Des Arts. The room had vaulted ceilings and a large kitchen with double ovens and counter space. Back in the day we had two meetings. One, a Step Discussion meeting, and Two, a Speaker meeting.

The holiday’s were the best back then, because we cooked massive Christmas Feasts and we fed hundreds of people, in the meeting and off the streets. It WAS the place to be at Christmas.

In 2009, we moved from the East end to our present location, St. Leon’s Church in Westmount, which is just shyly west, of Downtown Montreal. I am just a fifteen minute walk away.

We carried two meetings for a while, until numbers dropped off to far, and we dropped our speaker meeting opting for our single Literature Discussion.

One of our elder men spoke, then we discussed the Home Group. Afterwards there was a feast of food and drink and cake.

It was the first time in my memory that we had this big a turn out.

A good time was had by all.

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

There has been a rumor running around our neighborhood for the past few weeks. On the way out to a meeting one Thursday night, we met up with a friend who worked in our Provigo, just downstairs.

I had commented to her that (over Thanksgiving) that the selection of good had changed to no name brands across the store. I had noticed that many of the name brands I purchase on a regular basis, had been phased out, for yellow box, no name same.

Her reply was, “they are going to close the store.”

Tonight, on the way out, I had to get some soda for the celebration. Now, I know all the cashiers on first name basis. And as I cashed out, she said to me, “will you miss us?” And I asked her why, and she replied, “they are closing the store on January 6th.”

I was like W.T,F.???

The stores lease is up and the Toyota dealership that owns the building, is taking over the space. There is a car dealership, just across the street from the Provigo. Upstairs, above the grocery store is the Toyota service center.

There is going to be a massive move of sites, and the other speculation is that condos are going to be built above the 4 story building that sits on that corner.

There are 4 grocery stores that serve our neighborhood. The IGA which is in the Alexis Nihon shopping mall, 3 blocks down. There is Adonis, which opened on the ground floor of the Seville Condo Project, which is two blocks down. And finally, P.A. grocery store which is a boutique store (which is directly across the street from Provigo, up the block, above Ste. Catherine’s street), with a butcher shop, fine foods, fruits and vegetables. (I don’t consider them a proper grocery store because I don’t shop there except for specialty items I can’t get anywhere else).

It is said that since Adonis opened a year ago, the Provigo sales have slumped enough that closing the store was the only option. I shop at Adonis, well, I shopped at Adonis for a while, and it looks like they are going to become our go to grocery store, because it is closer.

The Alexis Nihon Commission spent millions of dollars over the last year in renovating and retrofitting the mall to bring it up to spec. The IGA footprint was expanded to double its original footprint, and they offer a great shopping experience. However, carrying bags of groceries from the mall – home is going to be a real pain in the ass.

I might have to invest in a roller cart.

Christmas Decorations are up at the mall, and on the way home, I noticed that workers have begun framing out the new occupant (read: Canadian Tire) in the defunct Target space. A wall is being framed in front of the original frontage wall, which has a huge panel of windows to one side that rise to the second floor of the mall. We shall see what direction they take the new store.

The Big Switch is going to take place. The Old Canadian Tire is located on the floor above the ground floor, on the mezzanine. They are going to move it downstairs. Which opens up another store for new occupants. Winners is stuck between the Second and third floor (read: Parking) and they will stay where they are.

The old Target space is a larger footprint than the old Canadian Tire upstairs.

But, their car detail department won’t have a bay on the ground floor, so I am not sure how they are going to work that out. In the building proper, there is a massive car wash, a car service center for Canadian Tire, several business buildings (read: Towers) and many residential buildings (also towers) (read; Westmount Square), all incorporated into the original structure.

On the local scene, Le Square Condo project, just this week, raised its 20 story building crane onsite, that condo project is moving faster along, than Le Catherine, which is just a few spots down the street from home. Le Square, is on Cabot Square. Le Catherine, is on Ste. Catherine’s Street, just across the street from the new Starbucks that opened with the Seville Project last year.

With the loss of Provigo, and the addition of two MORE condo projects going up, the local shopping scene is going to change. Prices are either going to moderate in the existing stores, or they will go through the roof.

We will either Feast or Starve …

Time will only tell how the neighborhood is going to fare with loosing an anchor grocery store.

There are only 41 shopping days until Christmas …

Ho Ho Ho !!!!

More to come, stay tuned …


I’m Always Ok

tumblr_ma62hlMxSo1rdkscno1_500 rthompson80Courtesy: R.Thompson 80

How often do we say to our friends, that, “yeah, everything’s fine, and I’m ok?” And how often do we tell ourselves that everything is fine, and we really want to believe that everything is fine, when in reality, everything is not fine. In fact, things are in really bad shape.

When we are always going, doing, and being, amid the business of our days, we (read: I ) tend to forget myself, because as long as I am not feeling it, or do I feel in distress, I can keep going, until that proverbial wall comes up and smacks me in the face.

Many people run on the premise that as long as I look good to you, then I don’t have to look at me. As long as I put up a good front, you won’t see what a mess I am on the inside, and how unmanageable my life is, as I am trying to manage your life instead.

Try as I might, I never want to admit defeat, in any sense. Try as I might, I feel like as long as I am breathing, and can do things, that I must do them, to the detriment of myself. I tend to take for granted that I am not twenty any longer, and that I am closer to fifty then I am to twenty.

I tend not to, or ever admit that I am that old. Nor do I ever admit that I can’t do everything that I have always done, to the extent that I put myself in mortal danger of sickness, and in the worst case scenario, death …

I’ve been living on borrowed time for so long, that always doing “something” all the time, is natural.

There is a story that comes to mind about Bill W. He never said that he was an alcoholic, however he was. In his life, we alcoholics, wanted to be near him, with him in meetings, and or talking to him about a great many things. Bill could not go out to a meeting and be himself. He never could walk in an anonymous room, and be anonymous. He was saddled with who he was and what he represented to everyone in the rooms.

He just could not “go to a meeting, for himself.”

For a long time now, I have been responsible for many meetings, meaning, I either had the key and had to open, come rain, or come shine, or snow. Or I had to do service, be it coffee, or set up or something else. And I have been doing this for years now. There are not many folks, who come to mind at the moment, who have stuck around, to take over or do something other than coming to a meeting here and there. People just don’t stick and stay where we need them to.

And you can’t ask or force anyone to do anything, either.

For the last month or so, I’ve been sick. The proverbial wall came up and smacked me in the face. And I did not like it, to admit that, I could not do something, kicking and screaming all the way, I had to give up responsibility for some of my chores to someone else. I really needed someone else to step up and be accountable.

My doctor said to me that for a while, until I finished treatment, that I had no other choice than to stay away from the baby, because babies are toxic breeding grounds for sickness and infection, inherently because they go to day care. And kids get sick. And they carry that sickness home with them.

And so over the last few months, being immuno-compromised, found that every time the baby coughed or sneezed, I got sick. This last round got worse and needed professional drugs to get better. I finally got “the message” when over the counter drugs stopped working. Because I was not “getting better.”

So I followed medical advice. I stepped back. And others stepped forward. And I took care of me for the past two weeks. I cut back my schedule. I turned things over to friends. I only hit half the meetings I usually hit, and I spent a great amount of time sleeping and resting, because that’s what my doctor said to do.

This week, as it happened, I began to return to my old life. But now, I am not as “responsible” as I was a month ago. I don’t have to do anything, at the moment. On Tuesday, I visited Baby mama and the baby for the first time in weeks. I also hit the Tuesday night meeting, for the first time in a month. I went for my visit, I stayed a little longer than usual, because I did not have to be “ON.”

I was able to just be me. I walked into the meeting, a friend is opening for me, the coffee was made, another friend was in the chair, and I could sit down, and go to a meeting, and just be me.

I can tell you that there was an entirely different vibe, that I had never felt before.

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

The best gift we can give our friends is our presence. Being there, sitting with, showing up, and not necessarily having to do anything beyond, just being there.

I can do this today. Just be present.

Yesterday, I sat with one of my guys, and I listened to him work his Fourth and Fifth Step, in progression, in real time. I’ve never done that before, and I wasn’t sure just how to do that, so I prayed about it, and decided that it was necessary to see him through this portion of step work and that it just HAD to work.

Presence …

Tonight, it rained. Well, it pissed rain was more like it. Enough rain was falling to warrant an umbrella, but pissy enough that you really didn’t need one.

A young lady spoke. Turns out she is “family.”

So young to be so wise. She walked a long road to get here. But she is here, nonetheless.

In the end, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

She speaks about God and how she sees God, and connects to him.

She also said that when things are good, she is connected to God. She really doesn’t think about God. But when things hurt or things get tough, she tends to forget God, and she disconnects.

And she has learned that lesson the hard way. Now she respects the connection with her higher power, which she chooses to call God. and she says …

I am Always Ok …

We are always ok. It just depends on how we look at things.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries – Celebrations

tumblr_ln3takPnYT1qemrxpo1_500 dyingwontkillyouCourtesy: Dying Won’t Kill You

Another weekend is in the books. Today is day 4 of Nuclear Antibiotic Treatment. I was warned that they are the strongest antibiotics on the market, and they are also doing a number on my innards. I was very sick to my stomach this morning. UGH !!!

It has been an interesting week, and I get glimpses of clarity here and there.

I’ve spent so many months, being all things to all people, to the degree that I forget to pay attention to my own needs, mentally and physically. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for so long, that the time came when I got knocked out of rotation, because I got really sick.

My doctors warns me to take it easy. “Taking it easy and just being” is difficult when you are always moving and engaged. God, in His infinite wisdom, has done for me what I could not do for myself.

Only this weekend, my voice is starting to return.

I’ve been hitting meetings, here and there, but I am not back to full steam with all my responsibilities across town.

tumblr_m1lyltsDdZ1qgwqw9o1_500 pjbudI’ve been seeing the ugly side of my friends recently. And I don’t like what I am seeing, nor what I am hearing from their mouths. Sitting on Step Seven, God is showing me Character Defects and Shortcomings in the guise of my friends and fellows.

Everybody in the rooms is on their specific journey. Not all men and women sit at the same place on any given day. Some are taking it easy and trudging along as they are able, and for some of my friends, they are judgmental about the status progress of their fellows.

Judgmental enough to state that they have specific expectations of their fellows, and that, if you aren’t in it to win it, working your steps and being On Top Of Things 100% at their behest, that there is a certain price to be paid for lack of action.

And that price is the friendship and attention and care that some may bring others, because they feel as if they need to punish some for their inability to “get things done, on their time frame, to their liking.”

And I the thought came that those same friends who expect so much from others, aren’t even engaged in their own step work, none of them. Every time we bring that subject up, they are all busy.

I don’t suggest any work for any of my guys, unless I am it in myself. And I am.

How can you suggest something for another, and not be doing the same yourself?

A certain man I am working with is trying his best, and it hasn’t been a cakewalk.

But I stick with him, because I have faith in him. My personal motto is “You Don’t Turn your back on your friends, ever…”

Others do not share my vision. Having ongoing conversations with some of my friends, about what I can do, or what I should do, have been fruitless. Several suggestions were floated to try and get a pay out. But some of my friends, are unwilling to devote time to people, who aren’t in the solution, as they see fit. They either don’t have the time, nor are willing to spend the time necessary to see things through. (Oh, that’s too much work…)

After a heated conversation the other night, I spoke my opinion. That did not go over very well.

You don’t turn your back on your friends, ever …

That is treason to the soul.

Over the past month, my phone has rung less than usual. And I find that odd.

While I was here all summer long, keeping the meetings open and serving my fellows along with a rag tag handful of friends, who were not leaving the city, I did my best.

A second group of people were traveling the world, seeing other places, and working out of province. Now we are all back under the same roof. And everybody is where they are on the journey of life, as we speak.

We celebrated six months of clean and sober time last night, for one of my guys. And I opened the meeting and chaired, because our guy who was supposed to be there, was a no show.

I asked a friend of mine for a topic, and she suggested Step Seven. That was a fruitful discussion when all was said and done. The one word definition of Step Seven is “humility.”

When we need help, most of us, don’t realize we need help until it is too late. Or we think that we just could not ask for help, because we should man up/woman up, and do it ourselves. But that’s what our Higher Powers are for right?

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Most of us say we believe, but when push comes to shove, we forget our belief.

God, it seems, in lots of cases, seems to step in right when we need it, as we need it , as long as we need it. And that has been the case for my friends and myself as of late.

Tonight, I headed out for the Sunday Meeting. I was flying solo for set up, and I had only one chore for tonight, to give another of my men his first year medallion and cake. He has not had a drink for 365 days. We are all so proud of him.

Another of my friends, a fellow woman of our group, took a 24 year medallion and cake from her sponsor. It is still amazing to me every day, how much our women change when they get “into the work.” This is the model that I use for my guys. Reading the Book, doing steps, calling, tenth steps and honest hard work, really does pay off in the long run.

Many are at the stage in sobriety that they are “willing to go to any length to get sober.”

We hear that line read, every time we hear How It Works.”That 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.”

It took me almost twelve years in the rooms to understand quite succinctly, what that line really means. Because it happened to me. And it has happened to many others as well.

And so, with a little courage, and faith, we work with newcomers and each other. And we invite them to participate. The odds are against us/them. But there are those few who are ready to step up, because stepping back, would mean much more suffering.

The other line that means the world to me comes from A Vision for You …

“Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.”

Wow, is that line packed with meaning. For how many years, did I have to trudge this road, to figure out succinctly, what that meant as well?

I had to practice the work and do it myself, and see the results come. Along the way, I was working with a sponsor who cares about me and is always there, work my own steps, go to meetings, hit retreats, and hone my message, and find that voice that suited me.

And voila … God did for me what I could not do for myself. And the men and women who were put in my path, came for a specific reason.

It has become seriously obvious that some of my friends, in the rooms, are sober, (or not so sober) at the moment,(read: Dry) are sick individuals. My sponsor warns me to steer clear of them, and do not react, and not to say a word.

He did tell me to pray for them for 21 days.

I just cannot understand how friends can turn on each other at the drop of a dime.

I watch them act around each other and myself. I listen to the words that come out of their mouths. This is where my sponsor warns me to be vigilant with my words, thoughts and actions, and to pray. The words are incongruous, and I don’t understand detestable language or action.

Friends don’t turn on each other, friends don’t disrespect each other, and once again I repeat, friends don’t turn their backs on their friends.

Sadly this is going on right in front of us at the moment.

I learned a while back, that people may be in the rooms, and have time, but not be very sober.

We have been seeing this thought play out in open community.

Steps Six and Seven take time to present themselves, at least that is how it happened for me.

The diligence of time, and the grace of God and not drinking, has its perks.

It was a good night, capped off with laughter and lots of cake.

In a few weeks time, I hit the 14 year mark.

One day at a time. And by the Grace of God.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries – Darkness Falls

tumblr_lx61j9MbfB1qlqoewo1_r1_500 niqbaileyCourtesy: Niq Bailey

Last night, we all “Fell Back.” We were headed to bed early again, so that I could get some sleep, I turned all the clocks back and we went to bed.

When I woke up, it was light outside. But the skies were dark and foreboding. Clouds were speeding across the sky, rain was falling, thunder was rolling and lightening was streaking across the sky. It came so fast and furiously. It was a “carry” night.

I have spent the better parts of days and nights resting my body so that I can do what must be done, because for several meetings, I am the sole key holder. I departed for the church at 4:30 and met up with a friend in Westmount Square, and we walked together to the church.

When we entered the church, it was still light outside. And it was raining.

We took our time cranking out set up, because I am not back to 100% myself yet. I just don’t know when this cough is going to let up. It does not seem to want to go, no matter what I throw at it, medicinally.

An hour later, I went outside and darkness had fallen. It was not even six yet, on the clock, but the quality of the darkness made it feel like ten p.m. It felt like it had been dark for hours and hours, and the evening meeting, was taking place in the middle of the night, so it seemed.

And it is only going to get worse, darkness falling during the afternoon rush hour.

A couple of years ago, (the second week of November) it got dark, then it got cold, and then 60 cm of snow fell and the city went into lock down, having not been prepared for that kind of snow so early in the season.

On the way home one of my friends reminded us of this fact.

The 14 day outlook says this weekend we drop from double digit highs, to single digit highs (7’s,8’s,and 9’s) for the following ten days with lows in the (1’s.2’s and 3’s). We will see some rain, but as of tonight, thankfully, no snow …

We sat a packed house. We read all the way around and did not quite get back around for everyone to share.

The short version of tonight’s read …

I drank – I drank more – I blacked out – and could not find my car.

For some, the drink begins tamely, it is enjoyable, for awhile, until …

Then there are others, who begin to drink, and we enjoy that drink so much, that all we want is MORE, until the alcohol stops working for us…

I was warned about drinking and driving early on. I listened to that advice. And in the end, I can safely say, that “I never got caught.”

At one point, I got rid of my car. Which was a good thing.

In tonight’s story, our man is young, goes to fight in the Great War. And the story does tell us that he is Canadian. Canadians, know how to drink, drink well and drink hard.

He mentions that he gets on the wrong train, and ends up somewhere else. On several occasions, he mentions, parking his car in one place, drinking hard, and returns only to find that his car, is not where he had originally parked it.

Our folks tonight, spoke about getting on planes, trains and automobiles, drunk, not knowing where they were to end up, or how they got on planes as drunk as they were.

My experience with drinking and driving, drunk and high were not fun. Watching someone wreck a car (drunk and high), and survive that wreck, only to be airlifted to a hospital a hundred miles away, not knowing if they were going to live or die, was something I lived through.

You can only temp fate so many times, until you get the backlash.

The last year of my drinking was hit and miss. Periods of self imposed sobriety because I could not do the job I had drunk. 2001 was the cathartic year for millions of people. When entire populations of people suffer P.T.S.D. by extension, the drink comes in very handy.

I lived through that, drinking hard, then having the experience, of crash and burn, sobriety, then months of drinking as hard as we could. But that was not sustainable. Not in the long run.

My drinking went from a hopeful magical transformation into a beach buff god, to one of drinking hard, one night a week, ending up in a blackout, and not knowing who took me out of the club, how I got into a taxi, how I got home, and through two key locked doors, several times, before I finally put down the drink.

The end was coming, I could not answer my own questions about the who, what and where.

So I quit. I prayed. and God answered me swiftly.

That human contact, I craved so badly from people I was drinking to impress, turned out to be the wrong people I did not need in my life. In the rooms, I found that human connection that was right and correct. And those people, in that specific 10 p.m. SOBE meeting saved my life.

In the end our man figured out that he had a problem, when things began to happen that did not add up. Getting on the wrong trains, loosing his car, the continual blackouts that did not get better, only worse.

He found, in the rooms, as is told by everyone in those rooms, that we come and we find that which we have longed for for so long, that we thought we had to drink to find, are relieved to learn that we never have to drink again and that the rooms provide everything that we need.

The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, but Connection.

It is in the connection we make with others, that we find salvation.

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


Saturday – Halloween

tumblr_lb2snxcVRo1qzcspxo1_500 neko 1303Courtesy: Neko 1303

This is one of those images, that only apply to one day/night per year.

It sits in my image bank just waiting to be used. Tonight is that night for Neko.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (show) has taken Montreal by storm. It has been a smash hit this season, with sold out shows, and additional shows added. One of my guys is playing in the band, and everyone else has been to see it this week. I’ve not been 100% to go club hopping, but I am on second string to make sure the meetings are open for those who are going to show up.

I coming close to feeling myself. But not quite there yet.

I have rested all week, to make tonight possible. Everyone is out at the show, and or going to Halloween parties tonight. I opened the M.A. meeting hoping that someone would come. And in the end it turned out we turned out a meeting for a newcomer and a couple of others.

The day I was asked to chair the meeting tonight, the only thought in my brain from that moment on was “willingness, to go to any length to get/stay clean and sober.

It was appropriate for my guys tonight. I know tonight, that I am in the right place for the right reason, because my experience matters to my friends.

It was a great night and a great meeting.

All is well.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries – Thanksgiving

tumblr_lszd4uVmug1r1nriuo1_500 christopherjordanCourtesy: Christopher Jordan

It has been one fully packed weekend. And the rain stayed away. YAY !

All my planning and preparations came to fruition today. I cooked a massive Thanksgiving meal for my family today. This year, Baby Mama and Baby Lu Lu joined the table along with hubby, Bill and myself. It was my crowning achievement, to bring all of us together to share a meal.

I had ordered a HUGE turkey from my favorite butcher, which he gave me a deal on. It came fresh and already cleaned, so it went from freezer to fridge to oven ready. And it came off without a hitch. My Butter/Rosemary/Honey recipe was a smash hit.

It was important that I included everyone at my table. The baby had a great time. She ate and then we let her loose and she had a ball, running around the apartment laughing and giggling.

She loved the mirror we have in the bedroom, but she was amazed at my book collection. Lu Lu is a bookworm, even at her age. We have an entire collection of books at their house for her, which we read to her, often. She sat on my bed, and pulled one book after another off the pile and thumbed through them.

It was the first time that hubby and Bill got to meet the baby and share space with her. I was totally consumed with spending the time with her and mama.

The meal was a success, the dishes got done, and I set off for the meeting on time.

My coffee gal was waiting for me at the church, so we had a long chatty conversation.

I’ve never felt so alive as I did tonight.

And spending the couple of hours with friends was a great end of the day activity. On the way home I got to spend time, with another friend, I don’t always get to see during the week, so that was great.

Tonight’s Read was another story from the First Edition of the Big Book. I have a First Edition Big Book, that was published in 1939. The Story … Lone Endeavor is part of the collection in the book we are reading called Experience, Strength and Hope.

There is an asterisk at the top of the story that reads:

“This story appeared ONLY in first printing of the First Edition.”

Which means, it does not appear in any other edition printed, but we have it to read, because the story is so important. It tells the story about how the fellowship, that did NOT even have a book to send, because it had not even been printed, let alone, was incomplete, at the time this story took place.

The story begins with a mother, concerned for her son’s welfare and life, reads an article about a doctor who seems to have considerable experience, helping men stop drinking. It is the early 1930’s. She is so concerned that she writes New York City to ask for help, for her son.

Letters cross from one side of the U.S. (read: West coast) to the other (read: East coast).

The book is not complete, the only chapters ready for consumption are the First Two Chapters of the book. That would be Bill’s Story and There is a Solution. Those are numbered one and two in my first edition. The doctors opinion, is listed as xxii.

The office in New York sends a multilith copy. Their response to the mother reads as follows:

“About a hundred men, here in the east, have found a solution for alcoholism that really works. We are now preparing a book hoping to help others who suffer in the same way, and are enclosing a rough copy of the first two chapters. As soon as possible we will forward rough copy of the rest of the proposed book.”

“We are sending you a pre-publication multilith copy of Alcoholics Anonymous. We would appreciate hearing about your son’s condition and his reaction to this volume, as this is the first time we have had an opportunity to trying to help as alcoholic at long distance. Won’t you please write us?

Sincerely Alcoholics Anonymous.

multilith: definition: a brand name for a small photo-offset printing machine.
In the end, the son does receive these first two chapters. He is alone, on the West Coast, with only what he has om hand.
And wouldn’t you like to know, that he Got It on the first pass.
There wasn’t a fellowship out there to turn to. He had no personal contact with another alcoholic, Yet. But he got the message, and he turned around and started helping others in his town.
He not only Got it, but got sober, and knew what to do with what he had received.
Would we have had that kind of knowledge and fortitude like that? From two chapters, he got sober, and found others to share it with.
He later writes to New York, telling us that he read those two chapters, and got sober.
He did not have a fellowship of people to turn to. He did not have anyone there to explain what he was reading, or meetings to go to, (at that time, yet). He did not have the lingo we have today.
I imagine for myself, what reading just the first two chapters mean to me, and if that would have been enough, to help me get and stay sober?
The one word that came up in the circle after the read was Willingness.
He sends his story to New York by mail. And he explains his journey to get sober. We certainly take for granted what we have. Tonight’s read, tells us how it really worked without all the bells and whistles and an entire fellowship to turn to.
It was one human being talking to another, via a Very Long Distance.
Incredible.
The story closes with this communication: Via wire …
“Just received letter, may we have your permission to use letter anonymously in book as first example of what might be accomplished without personal contact, important you wire this permission, as book is going to printer.”
His wire arrived next day:
“Permission granted with pleasure, lots of luck.”
This particular story does not appear in my copy of the First Edition, which I said was printed in 1939. So there must have been an earlier printing than the one I own.
How do you end a day like today?
Lots of Gratitude.
More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries – Emotionally Unavailable

maybeThey say, or it was said to me, in the beginning, that

“The only thing you need to change when you get sober, is Everything !!!”

There is a common thread running this past week. Change …

In speaking at length with my sponsor, last week, his advice to me was simple. I need to avoid certain people, to the best of my ability, keep my mouth shut, and not attend the Friday meeting any longer. Because of the unhealthy topic on the table, I am told to just stay away, and not involved myself any further in the drama.

So I add another night to my baby watch.

When does a baby, realize time (read: what day is it), days and presence?

The baby is clearly awake to certain things that we did not expect her to be at this point.

I have a regular, consistent schedule, with Mama and the baby. Sunday afternoons in the park, Wednesday dinner, and now Friday dinner. This past week, we changed up my arrival times, to coincide with the baby going to bed. Instead of her staying up later, we try and put the baby down at a more manageable time.

Wednesday, Mama asked me to come later than I usually do. Not a problem. In the early evening, Mama tried putting the baby down, before I had arrived. But the baby wasn’t having any of that. She wouldn’t go to sleep, and was clearly acting differently.

I’ve kept this Wednesday date since July, so it is consistent. We are now October.

I arrived at the apartment, and mama came down to let me in, and the baby was wide awake.

Clearly, so it seems, she realized, we think, that I had not come, as early as I usually do, and we think, the baby has a grasp on time and presence. I set down dinner, and mama put the baby down and she went for some toys. We put her in her chair to eat, usually she will eat dinner that I make on top of the dinner she gets earlier (read: baby food).

She indeed did eat some chicken, we spent half an hour together, the baby then decided it was ok to go to bed, we think, because she had seen me, and maybe she had been missing me earlier, she demonstrated behavior we had not seen before, in this manner.

Saturday I went to the Saturday meeting, a new addition to the weekly schedule.

I have a book in the works, that I haven’t been writing towards, because I’ve been mulling things around in my head these past few weeks. And it revolves around family. This topic has been on the front burner these past few days.

And again, it was talked about in today’s reading.

Our guy, living in the early 1900’s, told a story about San Francisco before the big fire that destroyed the city. So the story is older, and appears in the First Edition of the Big Book.

Simply, our guy became a drinker, to get over the fact that his father was emotionally unavailable to him growing up. Not satisfied with staying in one place, he starts moving from one location to another. Eventually joining the army, and seeing action in the Great War.

He tells his mother, on the day of his deployment, that if he survives the war, that He will come home and be present and make his home with his mother.

He indeed survives. But already, he is drinking himself two ways from Sunday. Always being able to find liquor, even if it was banned to American troops, as was said in the story.

Anger and Resentment, fear and missing something are all good reasons for an alcoholic to drink, right? Yes …

I have many thoughts in my head tonight. And I chose not to speak at the meeting. But as it went around the room, family was the topic of conversation.

I don’t know when, as children, we ever got the “talk” about being emotionally available to our parents or our brother’s and sister’s. I didn’t. I guess you could say, growing up, that I WAS emotionally available. I had to be, both my parents were consummate drinkers. I had my brother to consider. But as far back as I know it to be, my father always encouraged my brother to be my rival, never to listen to me, or respect me either.

That is a thing.

Growing up, when I got to that jumping off point, and I knew I had to go, I indeed moved out. My brother drove my car up, while I was in the moving truck. We never really had emotional conversations, and he was just “doing a job.” Either to get rid of me, or not, I don’t know.

But in the end, I left. And I left him behind, with my drinking parents.

Should I have thought more about this? Was there more I should have done for him?

This is one particular existential question I ask myself.

Later in life, my brother was never my keeper. Nor my protector. Nor someone I counted on for anything. He never stepped up and said or did anything for me, even when I got sick. He could not have been bothered, either way.

And that was the way we left things in the end.

I wonder, if my parents ever think about emotional unavailability. The fact that when I moved out, i was only thinking about myself, and nobody else. And in the end that was a problem. Because as repulsive as it is, I was irresponsible, and in the end, laid my problems on my father’s shoulder’s without any thought.

He did what he thought he should do, and he bailed me out, the the tune of $30,000.

That was a kick in the rubber parts.

He never mentioned it. And I never brought it up either. But the damage was done.

When I moved out I was emotionally unavailable to the parents, who became emotionally unavailable to me when they figured out I was gay, and it got even worse when I got sick.

As long as I was a straight boy, my father had time for me. Sex talks, learning to drive a car, taking care of the house and cars, he was all in it. Up and Until he figured out that I was gay. So he drank, he beat me regularly, and never said a word about it, ever.

Like He’d ever admit what a fuck he was and what he did to me.

It was like they were relieved of their responsibility, and the fact that maybe they should care, and maybe they should be present and help me, one way or another. But they had made their choice, I was on my own, my father’s humiliation at Christmas Dinner was a dead give away.

Neither my parents, nor my brother and his wife, nor myself are in any way emotionally available to the other. There is just a black pall over us, the lights are out and communication is not a possibility. I made my choices, and now live with the circumstances for those choices.

My brother and my father are both on Facebook. And to this day, neither one wants to even be my friend, or speak to me. And to this day, this fact blows my mind and turns my insides out.

We aren’t getting any younger, and my delusional self longs to believe that one day we will all wake up from this terrible nightmare, and all sit at the same table to talk.

Fat Chance …

I know better than to try and put into words what is in my head. That would be too much emotional and mental energy to point in a direction that probably, still to this day, would be met with silence and derision.

Alone and with one’s thoughts … A mixture, for some, that would lead right back to a drink.

I don’t have that option, it is NOT an option.

I can’t drown my thoughts with alcohol like I used to. And sometimes growing up and coming to is a bitch, because the longer we are sober, and the more hindsight we have to the past, and the more meetings we go to, and topics come up, we re-tread old pain and sorrow, and see it from another perspective, once again …

What do we do with it, when solutions are not forthcoming ?

God only knows, right ???

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday – Feed the “Right” Fire

tumblr_ntaba8OmhQ1uaouwuo1_500

Our local weather has indeed turned. We are sitting at (10c) at this hour.

Last night it was cool enough to warrant a little heat, just to break the chill. Today, as it happened, I crated the A.C. for the Winter. We won’t need it again this year. It was cool and comfortable all day, but as the sun went down, it was markedly cooler.

I broke out the winter jacket and my toque collection.

It is October already, can you believe it? Thanksgiving is not far away. The second Monday in October, but I always cook on the Sunday. And This year I have a full table, with the addition of Baby Mama and Baby LuLu. Which meant, today, I went to my local butcher shop and ordered a 15 lb turkey that will be in on Monday for pick up.

It was a full day of coffee dates and get togethers. I had more coffee today than I usually drink in a weeks time. My tummy is not happy at all.

We headed out for our usual Thursday fare. And a very good friend of mine was in the hot seat.

I’ve known her since she came in. I’ve been present for her, at several meetings in town. And tonight, we got to hear her share.

Oh to be young again.

It is, on one hand, great to see young people in the rooms. But at the same time, it is terribly sad to know that alcoholism is an equal opportunity predator. I was as young as she, when I came in the first time. But I lacked a lot of what I see today in our young people. And I don’t see it the same way in many people, but there are a select few who, have learned about:

“Feeding the right fire.”

I haven’t heard those words in a long time from any of my friends, put so succinctly.

Once a fire is lit, in order to keep that fire burning, we need to feed it with fuel. And for many of us, as young people, we learned of “fire” and were enamored by it. It was warm and soothing, and in the beginning, it kept us warm and shed light on our pains, and fears.

More like, burned away our pains and fears …

But like many, once that fire was lit, it felt so good, that we heaped all the fuel onto that fire that we could to keep the burn going for as long as we could.

Sadly, in the end, we all came to that terrible “Crash and Burn” end.

Some end up in jail, some end up in hospital, many end up dead.

My young friend, at the end, was lying in a tub of water, a broken bottle on the side, and thinking that she could not go on any longer, contemplated joining the “27 Club.”

Ten points if you get that reference …

Most women I know, when the end comes or life takes a serious turn, they do what comes natural, “they call their mothers.”

That started the ball rolling, not to mention closing up shop, moving provinces, and living under “family rehab” as she put it.

She, like many, fed that fire of addiction to its bitter end. She had to stamp it out, once and for all. And she needed help. Months later, she came to us. Now she is one of our gang.

A beautiful young woman of courage, faith and beauty.

She talked of spirituality, that which she chooses to call God. And she warned us tonight that recovery is no laughing matter. And is not for the feint of heart.

Shit is going to get real, and it is going to take work.

Those who begin and end their days praying and meditating, interspersed with meetings, inventories, sponsors, and sponsees down the line, learn about the “Right Fire.”

Spirituality is a fire, that when lit, will warm our hearts and keep us warm in the cold. Because alcoholism is a cold and patient predator. But if we learn early on, what that fire means for each of us, that becomes powerful, personal flames.

Today we feed the Right Fire. And we do what is necessary to keep that fire burning.

Because we all know, each of us, what it felt like to get burned from the inside out, gong down in a hail of drugs and alcohol. It wasn’t pretty in the end.

But as young people, we get sucked into bad fire, and once sucked in, we are on for the ride until it kills us.

Thankfully, our young people lived through burning destructive fire.

Now they are here, safe, clean and sober. They never have to go back.

The rooms might not have been where they really wanted to end up, but for most, I can safely say today, was the best choice they have all made in their lives.

And I get to know these young people.

The best part of my community is that young people are so glad to have us.

That thanking hug was the best part of the night.

Not to mention giving my number to a man, on his valiant return after a slip.

Pray for him.

Feed the RIGHT fire within …


Tuesday – Act or Not to Act – The Thin Line Between

tumblr_l8s7v2G5CF1qaz2rlo1_500 steffrawrThe last line of the Serenity Prayer says … “And wisdom to know the difference.”

Tonight we read from Living Sober and “Avoiding Anger and Resentment.”

Every time I come around to these topics, some of the same thoughts come to mind, the same old pains and hurts and sometimes new thoughts come as well.

When I think of anger, it brings up my delusional self that has a bent towards revenge and vindictiveness. The alter ego of the man I am today, who wields a very large aluminum bat.

Quietly plotting in the back of my mind, onerous things.

Tonight, that thought came, and I realized that I’ve already inflicted pain and suffering right where I wanted it to land. All because I chose to act.

Every action has consequences, either good or bad consequences.

I remember points of anger as they played out and I spoke of them to my friends.

It is always good to have men who are more than twenty five years sober to talk to.

When I got sober the first time, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times.

The location I got sober, was not healthy at all. The location I worked in was very healthy for all the right reasons. So I overlooked the negative.

The first year, when I got to a year, I had won the race. My horse came in first. I stayed sober, even while my fellows were all betting that I would go back out and drink, and made it plainly aware that the bets had been laid down.

As my sponsor gave me my chip, I told them all to go fuck themselves.

Not healthy at all. And that clouded the rest of the time I was still in the rooms. That unhealthy beginning only led to more unhealthy decisions and actions not to mention, unhealthy and not so sober men and women.

The second time I got sober, I followed the local playbook. And I played by the rules and did what ever I was told to do. And I have to say that, over the last 13 years and some months now, I have lost more friends to anger and resentment, in sobriety, than I did growing up.

When I was newly sober, I stayed away from conflict and kept my head down and when shit happened, if it didn’t involve me, I walked away. Said nothing. Did nothing.

As it went, people I loved and respected and adored, usually became casualties of their own shortcomings. It was my loss, but it was their anger and resentment that drove the wedge.

Today, in sobriety, I have a choice. To Act or Not to Act.

In most cases, if it does not directly involve me, I usually avoid the problem.

That has been my personal decision over the years.

The longer I am sober, I grow up, and I change.

When there is injustice or inequality or an inequity within my friends, for the most part, I am invested in the lives of my friends, I will sometimes offer counsel. Only when asked.

I never assume to have all the answers, because it is not all about me.

When my friends come to me for advice, I can do one of two things, One, give a solid answer, or Two, allow them to choose what they want to do, enlightening the subject they have asked about.

My friends trust me because every once in a while they come to talk.

Recently, I have shared a situation that has been on the stove.

The situation does not directly involve me. but when more than one friend comes to talk about the same subject about another friend, I chose to act. That action came full circle and I lost in the end. Not because of me, but because of someone else’s anger.

I spoke to several old timers about this situation, and not one of them had the same answer for me.

I owe and amends, I don’t owe an amends, I did the right thing, I should have stayed out of it altogether.

My sponsor has the last word in the consultation process.

But I see today, how sobriety has affected what I listen to, what I devote my time to, what I chose to act on, and what I choose to ignore and walk away from.

Situations arise. And the fine line is drawn. That fine line of wisdom to know the difference.

I see that today, that although I don’t always think about life in these terms, the serenity prayer always applies to any situation I have on my plate.

In the beginning, the better wisdom was to do nothing and not get involved.

Because, I did not have the ability to be objective and solid. They say that hindsight is our best teacher. And I have that today. The old timers have much more than I do.

Tonight’s revelation came when I realized that fine line that sits between action and inaction and how that applies to my life. And everyone in it.

People are where they are in their lives. And we have to allow them that latitude. Sober people are all over the map, when it comes to people, places and things. I am powerless over my friends, and I surely don’t want to be like some of my friends.

So I keep a safe distance, and I learn what NOT to do, based on the actions my friends choose to make on any situation. I’ve been doing that for almost 14 years now. My friends have been my greatest teachers. A good number of them drank again. And some of them never made it back and are either drunk or dead.

I stayed sober, because I did not follow the trend. I sat back and watched the fireworks.

Knowing when to act or not to act is wisdom in the bank.

“Wisdom to know the difference.”

More to come, stay tuned…


Friday – Choices

tumblr_lndtyet7pF1qhlja3o1_500We are sitting at 11c at this hour, but I could have sworn it was colder than that.

I had checked the forecast prior to leaving, since I had been out earlier today, and it was markedly cooler outside. One layer was just not enough, so to play it safe tonight, I layered and wore a big comfy hoodie. My toque came in handy. I think next time, I am just going to go with my jacket, it’s warm and one layer …

Trains were in both stations on the way out and back, which made it painless and quick.

Tonight’s fare from A.B.S.I. was about choices:

“Looking back, we see that our freedom to choose badly was not, after all, a very real freedom.

When we choose because we “must,” this was not a free choice, either. But it got us started in the right direction.

When we choose because we “ought to,” we were really doing better. This time we were earning some freedom, making ourselves ready for more.

But when, now and then, we could gladly make right choices without rebellion, hold-out, or conflict, then we had our first view of what perfect freedom under God’s will could be like.”

When I was a boy, I listened to a great many things people said around me, and because of those words, I was faced with a choice that I had to make. There was nobody to talk this choice over with, nor was there another “choice” offered.

I could not be GAY at home, hence I had to leave to find my fortune.

The ONE piece of advice I got, was from a shrink who said the following:

If you want to fit in and become part of, go to the bar, sit on a stool, and have a drink, hell, have two, and see what happens.

That really wasn’t a choice, it was more like a command. Thinking, at my age, that that was my destiny, that that was what I had to do to find my way in, I took that choice. I know now that it was a bad choice, because my alcoholism followed me out of home, to where I went (read: Orlando).

Once again, I did not get any other choices offered. Nobody said Stop, and Nobody thought to ask me if I thought I had a problem.

I HAD a problem from day one.

When I turned twenty five, I hit one tragedy after another. The only way out of the pain was to drink. I did not see any other choice to deal with it. At Twenty six, when I got very sick and doctors told me I was going to die, once again, I made a choice, I tried to drink myself to death.

Another bad choice…

When Todd stepped in He finally said the word STOP. He really did not give me a choice in what was going to happen, but I guess you could say, I could have said “go fuck yourself!”

I didn’t.

He wanted me to live. And to do that, I would have to turn it all over to Him, (read: God) I “must” quit drinking, and I “must” find the will to live. These choices were “MUSTS.” They started me in the right direction.

But that success was short lived, because I got lonely, and based on that loneliness, I made another choice, once again, ill informed and solely based on self will.

I drank again.

When I took my last drink in December 2001, I had made another choice. A choice that I “ought” to make, because it was the right thing to do. I knew it was the end of the road, because to continue would have probably hastened death much quicker.

I wanted a way out of dead end living in misery, and getting sober was only one portion of that decision (read: Choice). The second came when I was offered a way out. I came to Montreal.

Once again, because I “ought to” take this once in a lifetime opportunity.

This time I did it right. I chose to connect with other folks in the program from the outset. I got connected right away. Those right decisions changed my life, in ways I did not imagine.

It has taken all this time, to find God, because that is who I was seeking. He didn’t need finding, He was right here all along. I just needed to reconnect. I’ve worked very hard at that over the years.

I am not ever alone. There are people to talk to. Life is full of things to do, people to see and choices to make. I’ve learned the importance of having the ability to NOT make decisions or choices all by myself any more.

I trust my God. And my days are not always carefree or easy. I must apply myself every day to make sure I do the right things, make the right choices, for the right reasons, at the right time.

Working with others, is a daily practice. And must come from the right place as well.

All I have to do is ask, when I am in need.

And God provides.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … “Siempre Adelante …” Always Moving Forwards

20140127-pope-x624-1390859938Tonight, Pope Francis is in New York City.

“Siempre Adelante …” Always move forwards,

is a motto Pope Francis has shared for years and years.

I’ve listened to what Pope Francis has said so far. And he has stuck to a theme, a Catholic Theme of being “Our brother’s keepers,” “Charity,” “Being good stewards to the earth,””Respect for life,” and that we should go out from our homes and serve the least of these with all that we have, because as Christians, we are called to serve.

Along this process, I am reading, “The Great Reformer,” about Pope Francis.

Last night, as I was reading, I came across a sermon that the young Archbishop Bergoglio was giving to the church in Argentina. And I found that the message he was sharing so long ago about people, the “Pueblo Fiel,” and what a nation must do to build up its people, to care for the poor and to take care of the world, is the very same message Pope Francis has spoken in the U.S.

Along with his words, are words that come from politicians, who believe they know something particular of the Holy Father, and they speak with indictments against him. One Marco Rubio says that “The pope know nothing about the poor, and also that he wasn’t a scientist, so should keep his counsel to himself.”

I beg to differ…

Jorge Bergoglio was a Jesuit who worked in the Jesuit order for his entire adult life, until he left the order upon assuming the Throne of Peter. He worked in the slums of South America, with the poorest of the poor. Many Jesuit priests worked with the poor, much to the consternation with the church hierarchy, and at one point, with Jorge Bergoglio himself.

Which leads to the term the Pope of the slums …

Jorge Bergoglio is also schooled in science. He is very well learned for a pope.

It was the issue between many of the priests who worked in the favelas, who thought that their work was too important to be stopped. And two priests lost their licenses and ended up being kidnapped by the guerrillas and held captive and tortured.

When American politicians speak about what THEY think is the truth about the Pope, and try to indict him, those men should really shut their damned mouths.

There are common themes that Pope Francis repeats over and over again. They are themes that were born when Francis was a young Jesuit. And as he rose in the ranks of the church, his influence only grew. And the words became flesh for him, in the way he worked so hard for the “pueblo” and what he saw as justice, charity and peace.

We could all learn a little about the life of Francis, and what he sees and believes as important.

But we need to dig a bit deeper to learn that knowledge. The papacy of Francis is still young, but there is a wealth of words written about him, if you know where to look.

I think the themes of Charity, Love and Caring for others is universal. In his speech to Congress today he quoted the Golden Rule …

“Do unto others, as you would have them do unto You.”

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

It has been a challenging few days indeed. I work every day to be present and accountable; consistently. If it were possible, I could use a few more “me’s” right about now.

I had a conversation with a friend the other night. And I am confused as to why people are the way they are. I am powerless over people. And sometimes I place unattainable expectations on them, knowing, that I am flirting with stupidity.

To this end, still, people continue to astound me with their selfishness and self centeredness.

I am not preaching from some lofty perch, like God. And I am surely not arrogant to think I hold sway over anyone except myself. I hear my friends speak words, and they don’t ring true. I have implored my friends with things to do. Certain, Specific, things that need to be done.

We must succeed, or else, great failure is at hand.

We must go out and serve our brothers and sisters with all that we have, if we are able. I am able, and I devote serious time to that outreach work. The more I talk, the less goes into action, by any of the people I need to act. Before I speak, I consider my words carefully. And the other day I found an opportunity to talk and I did that. Hoping that it would bring results.

I am saddened to say, nothing has changed.

I was talking to my friend and I told her my story. Well, one big story. To demonstrate where I learned to be present, accountable and consistent. And she does not dispute my abilities.

But she said to me that There is only one of me. And she fears that I will burn out and go away when I have had enough. I’ve learned that lesson, I am in it to win it.

But she is of the mind that every human being needs three Strong, Present, and Consistent people to guarantee their survival. She doesn’t have those three people. She has me and one other woman, who’s mother is suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease, but when needed she shows up and attends to what needs to be done. The other couple of folks, are unreliable, and inconsistent and can’t be depended on, not for lack of trying, but the lack of desire to be 100% present.

We all have lives. But one of our number is in dire need of support and I do not know what to do for her but to repeat, as often as I can, that right now, I am here.

I fear that message isn’t going to be enough to ground her permanently.

If I can’t get any other players into the game, and things don’t start looking up soon, my friend is going to pack up herself and the baby and go back to New Foundland. Forever.

I don’t know what else to do. My words fall on deaf ears, and my friends are unable to rise to the occasion. And that IS a problem, that I have no solution for.

In the end, I am only one man. I am not God and I can only do so much.

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

I drank, I stank and I sank …

That is the short version of the share we heard tonight.

One of my friends spoke tonight. It was simple and to the point. In seeing another alcoholic drink, get drunk, loose his family, his job, his home and end up sleeping in the park, our man got sober.

Coming in, at first, he believed we’d all be brown baggers, dirty clothed, and sleeping in the park, but much to his surprise, we were happy, clean and well dressed people who welcomed him.

It was the commonality, the identity, and the honesty that kept him.

And for more than twenty five years, our man hasn’t had a drink since.

Tomorrow is Friday. We’ll see what that brings with it.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday – The Baby Almost Killed Us All !

tumblr_lnf35rFEG61qg5qxfo1_500 falloftheromanempireCourtesy: Fall of the Roman Empire

I did A LOT of this over the last six days.

Our visit to the M.U.H.C. hospital last Monday, was the beginning of a weeks worth of pain and suffering. What we did not know then, was that a toxic mix of baby/gastro/sick kids was running rampant through the daycare where the baby goes during the day.

They did not inform the parents that this was a problem. It WAS a problem.

Tuesday morning I dropped labs, that I had some results on Saturday when I saw one of my doctors.

Wednesday, was the Madonna Concert. And like I said, when it was over, I was like, “Is that it?” I wasn’t particularly moved. And now I can safely say that I was hours away from critical mass, the incubation period for gastro was in process.

I had peaked emotionally, Wednesday night.

I had reached critical mass and exhaustion on Thursday morning.

Thursday as the sun rose, and hubby was getting ready for work, I come flying out of bed, and spent all of Thursday, ALL DAY LONG, hugging the porcelain bowl. You would’ve thought I drank a huge amount of liquor or something like that.

I was THAT SICK !

I was so thirsty that I went thought bottle after bottle of juice, several jugs of water, and six or seven ice trays of ice, trying to hydrate. The more I drank, the more came back up. It was so violent that by the end of Thursday, I had no voice.

It was Gone, Shot, See Ya !!!

Between bouts of being sick, I got dressed and went to the pharmacy to get some much needed gravol pills and Pepto. I stopped off at the grocery store for more juice, which was a no win scenario.

I slept through most of Thursday.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were a wash out as well.

Saturday I had a doctors appointment, that I did make, But that was it for Saturday.

On Wednesday morning at first light, baby mama’s parents flew in from New Foundland to visit and to see the baby. By Friday morning, both were deathly ill. They came, they saw, and they got sick, themselves.

The second string folks who took care of baby mama on Sunday afternoon into Monday both got sick themselves. That would be seven people who were infected inside a weeks time and got deathly sick.

By Monday evening I was feeling well enough to attend our monthly GSR meeting. I had some of my voice back, so that was good. I came home right after, made some dinner and went back to bed.

I was out of commission until today. I went to see baby mama and the baby, on my way to the meeting. It seems, everybody is on the mend. This was the first time that we’ve seen sickness hit so many people in such a short time.

Babies are toxic … Especially when there are several sick babies in a day care.

None of us thought that we would get so sick, taking care of baby mama and the baby, in the hospital. That obviously was the last thought on my mind at the time. I had a job to do and I did that job, until I was finished.

What happened next, almost killed me.

Add sickness, toxic sickness, to someone who has a compromised immune system, this could have ended much worse, at least I did not end up in the hospital myself.

We return to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries – The Relationships you have …

tumblr_lwdrzs4X441qhzv6oo1_500 darkandchaosCourtesy: Dark and Chaos

The weather has been hot and steamy. We have been under heat warnings for days now.

People have been marching in the streets calling for Government action on the refugee crisis in Europe. However we all want our politicians to do the right thing, for the right reason, nobody seems to agree on just how that is going to work.

We want open borders. We want the red tape to end. We want to help. I think that is the main goal of these actions, that we, as Canadians, are strong and reliable people, and when we see people who need help, our people, North, South, East and West, English, French and everyone in between step up and do what we have to do until the job is finished.

Our Prime Minister believes that there are several things we need to do.

  • First we need a combat strategy to fight Isis, militants and enemy combatants
  • We need to eradicate them off the face of the earth
  • We need to find a way to end the Syrian conflict
  • We need to find a way to end the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East
  • Once we figure out what we need to do, we can act on that intelligence
  • Then comes the humanitarian crisis; what to do with all those displaced.
  • Where do they go, how many do we bring here, and/or send them back home

Conflict zones are no go zones. Have you seen what these conflict zones look like? For many of these human beings now on the move, even if we thought to send them back, there is nothing to return to. Cities, towns and villages have been decimated by bombs and combat.

It would take decades to rebuild critical infrastructure to be able to even think about repatriating people back to where they came from.

The emergency measures that opened up borders between Hungary, Austria and Germany are going to be slowly curtailed. They won’t last much longer, and refugees will have to abide by the U.N, resolution as to the first country they entered for processing, which means, those in transit need to make that transit quickly and without pause.

Those still stuck behind them, might find themselves in registration camps, if they don’t start moving in the next 48 to 72 hours.

Bringing souls from conflict zones to North America is fraught with difficulties.

  • First, there are security issues with National Defense, they say
  • Bringing people to Canada, they need sponsors to get them sorted out
  • They need proficient language skills to enter certain Canadian provinces
  • They need money to bring with them, because that is something the government does not provide. That is where churches and N.G.O’s and the public come in.
  • They need homes to move into.

Pope Francis posed a very serious challenge today.

He called for all Christians, and their churches and parishes Europe wide, to open their houses and give shelter to refugees. I think he wants open doors for those that need them so badly.

Since the four party leaders are at odds with just what to do, and in what order to do it, and how that is going to play out politically, we don’t see much movement coming very soon, or quick enough to make a dent, the numbers they tell us, they will move, is a paltry number, based on a several year plan for immigration.

The European Union is going to have to come to some agreement on just how Everybody, all the E.U. Member states, are going to attack this humanitarian crisis on their doorsteps.

There is no magic bullet and no quick solution. This is going to take some time and serious discussion between governments and their leaders, not to mention their citizens.

Muslims moving into mainly Christian countries is going to be problematic. That solution is going to take some work on everybody’s part. In the end, and from the start, these refugees are Human Beings first. If we remind ourselves of that main point, then we have a starting point.

My final thought is this … Conflict need to end.

That’s what we need to do.

Stop the killing, and stem the bleeding, get rid of them once and for all.

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

Relationships

The Relationships you have today, are a direct result of the work you put into them, to begin with. Who your friends are, in whatever circle they are in, who your spouse is, and the depth of that relationship, is, right now, the direct result of whatever work you put into them.

It is a fact, that people don’t necessarily put the same effort or “investment” into everybody they know. Family is the same way. Whatever you invest, you get back in that specific connection.

I’ve learned a great deal about people in sobriety.

I’ve learned the crucial role that “presence and investment” plays in my relationships.

Marriage is a constantly evolving organic relationship.

Friendships are the same way. Some friends are close, others even closer, depending on the need of the people involved.

Over the past 3 years, I have worked very hard at my friendships. Outside of my daily ritual, and my marriage, my friends come in a close second, as to the amount of time I put into them.

We learn, in the rooms, the importance of the telephone. Some have learned this lesson, and others could not be bothered by it. Most just don’t care to be honest. But people need friends, one way or another, that’s how we do this thing …

Over a year ago, baby mama went back to Newfoundland to have the baby. In her anxiety and haste, she thought it better to go home, because she did not trust those around her to do the job she asked of them. She needed care, she needed trust, and most of all she needed someone to be in the room with her when LuLu was born.

None of her so called “friends” would rise to the challenge, so she left us.

I had her phone number.

We did not know each other well enough at that time, that that connection might have been fruitful to the point that I could have started there, instead of where I started here.

I made a phone call, and had one conversation. And I did that without fail, consistently.

Over the weeks and months, one call a week became several calls a week.

And I did that without fail, consistently.

A year would pass, and her plans to come home were hatched. We worked them out. We talked about how that would sound to her family. We scripted conversations until the day that she got on that plane with the baby this past July.

Had it come to it, had she needed me to, I would have gone to get her, to make sure she got on that plane without fail.

Over that year, I encouraged her friends to invest in her.

I did that without fail, consistently.

The relationships they have with baby mama, is a direct result of whatever work they put into that specific relationship. I did not interfere, but calmly and quietly encouraged them to be present and accountable, consistently.

Sadly, today, they have not risen to the occasion to the degree I had hoped they would. And that has cost Baby mama a great deal.

I believed that if I wanted to be her friend, I was going to have to step up and be accountable and trustworthy, every day, consistently.

And I did that.

Before she moved back, there were chores to do, and I wrote about every step of the way to get her off that plane and into her condo. When I asked certain people to step up and do just One Job, they did that admirably. But that was that.

When she got here, we spent time with her and the baby, forming bonds and a family for her.

I can only be in one place at a time. And I am only one man.

But I resolved a plan of action that was consistent.

I talk to her every day. I see her several times a week. One night a week, I bring dinner and I cook for her and the baby. Consistently. Without fail.

Today, “our” friends are not happy with me because of the depth of my friendship.

Every time I talk about her to the others, or talk about my progress with the baby, they call her and mock me, and are snarky and from what I am told, they are jealous. Rage jealous.

This has been an ongoing problem.

But I return to my original thought. I asked them to step up and be counted. I encouraged them to build their own bonds with her in their own ways. They did not. So what they have today is a direct result of half assed efforts to be friends.

I’m not sure why they are jealous. They had their own opportunities to build meaningful relationships, and they failed in that effort.

That is not my failure, it is theirs.

A text is not a phone call.

A phone call is person to person, direct and in person.

You can’t expect a text relationship to flesh out into a full blown relationship, it just doesn’t work that way. I use my phone, I only text when I can’t get a human on the other end.

This is all bullshit and I need to call it out. Soon !

But this was on my mind tonight. So there it is.

More to come.

Stay tuned …