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Gratitude list

Friday … Watching Loneliness Vanish … That Moment of Silence

SONY DSCCourtesy: Curve of the Earth (Archives)

Damn … It is COLD outside. We are sitting at (-17c/-23c w.c.) Winds are light, but it is still Frigid.

The week ended in a flurry of people, places and meetings.

The Work continues as new folks have been introduced into our sober family.

Pigeons have pigeons, which means we all have considerable work to do.

Friday is always the best day / night of the week.

I quadruple layered for my trip tonight, and yes, the rubber boots came in very handy.

Or should I say, Footy !!!

They keep my feet nice and toasty, not to mention warm European sox to go with them. A good portion of my wardrobe comes from other places.

I departed early because of snow en route. Tonight’s theme was, “you just missed the train …”

Both going and on my return, there were trains in the station, but my timing was a little off, because I watched them all leave without me, and I had to wait and entire cycle for a train. During rush hour, trains run every 3 to 4 minutes. Off hours trains run every 6 to 9 minutes.

Up on the North End, they are still plowing snow. It was piled up all over the place. The mini dozers were corralling snow for later pick up tonight. Which made it tricky for buses so they dropped us on the street, outside the berms.

We sat a large crowd as usual. And as I said, Friday is the best night of the week.

Every meeting begins the same way, but Friday, is a little different.

This is the place that all our friends come to. It is the rallying point for the weekend. Fellowship after the meeting is part and parcel of going to the Friday meeting. It is part and parcel for many meetings, it gives our young people stuff to do outside the meeting.

When we sit together, around the table, there are small table lights on the tables, and not that oppressive overhead fluorescent light. We call it Mood Lighting …

The chair rings the bell, and calls the room to attention, makes the necessary announcements. Then invites everyone to take a moment of silence before we say the Serenity Prayer.

And I wait all week for this one moment.

Our collective, friends, family, fellows and elders, take a deep breath and center ourselves for a moment, chairs go quiet, the room gets quiet, and for that moment it feels like we are ONE.

Then the chair calls for prayer, and it is spiritual song.

It is that way at every meeting, and everybody is important. Every moment of silence to think perhaps of someone out there or in here who is suffering …

The sound of my friends voices is music to my ears. This is the one night where we are all together in the same room at the same time. One says that “there is an energy in the room, that is palpable.”

The reading, from A.B.S.I. Watching Loneliness Vanish.

People drank to escape, People drank to be alone. At the bitter end, we are all alone, in varying degrees, suffering and lonely. We hear the common story from old timers about the slogan, that isn’t on a placard in many meetings, however it can be found,

“YOU ARE NOT ALONE ANY MORE.”

It is better to be on the inside, I heard it again tonight. I heard another young person speak about The Work Passionately, and suggest, quite seriously, that The Work is the way to go. That it saved their life after returning from a devastating slip.

Proviso … Sober people get lonely too. It is not uncommon.

That little voices tells us we are different and have nothing in common with others, which in turn, keeps us from connecting and engaging. And little by slowly, the space grows between people, and if that space gets wide enough, a slip is not that far off.

People suffer from “I am unique” and “I like to be alone and isolate.” Our young women are devastated by these ideas. They seem to suffer more the terminal uniqueness than do our young men. But we do find our men, don’t connect right away either, that takes time.

The girls feel, too much, the boys think, they over think too much. Both troublesome problems.

I tell and retell this story over and over, and it still gets discussion.

The first time I got sober, I was waiting to die. I was going to meetings in a hall that treated me like a race horse, with wagers on my head as to when I would skip out and drink again.

So that first year was a lap around the race track, and on my anniversary, I took that chip and told the guys there to go Fuck themselves… I never went back to that meeting. I had a job that I loved. I was well cared for. Everyone was sober, my sponsor worked there as well. I was safe for those two years.

I had everything I ever needed or wanted. I had a safety net that kept me alive, fed and sober.

When that run ended and I was the only one who did not go West, I was alone, and left to my own devices. I did not carry what I had inside forwards. i was clueless about what I was supposed to do with nobody to help me do it.

(Read: Move city, Move House, carry a life forwards, stay sober).

Remember I lived in the South, technically. Florida was South, and people were as ignorant and heartless as they were all over the deep red south.

At the two year mark, I was asked to speak to a particular meeting. Of course I said yes.

What I did not think about was disclosure and how that would go over.

There were a couple hundred folks in the meeting. As I was telling my story, the men began to get up and leave the hall, 100 men got up and left the hall while I was speaking. When I finished, I went outside to find them waiting for me. One stepped up and said …

“We don’t respect people like you, please leave this place and don’t come back.”

Go get sober some place else.

Now, I am a twenty something kid, with a bulls eye on my back. I was alone. New to the area and that meeting hall, I did not know anyone except a couple of folks. And they tell me to leave and not come back.

I was lonely, I was alone. Fighting a battle by myself, one to stay sober, the other was to stay alive.

The loss of my sober family and secondly, this toss off comment, drove me out the door and into a slip that almost killed me, because I went looking for something to make me NOT alone, it was the biggest mistake I ever made in my life.

Insert Slip Story Here … I’m not gonna tell it

On my way back, I had three friends. Two were out of sight and out of mind, the third was my drinking/drugging buddy. I lived alone, I worked alone, I had no life, and so I went to the club every Saturday night with my buddy. He would dope up and I would drink myself black.

Delusional thoughts of if I drink enough, they will notice me and take me in. If I drink enough, I will never grow up and I will become part of the “beach crowd.” None of those things happened.

I knew the last drink, when it came. I prayer for deliverance via another alcoholic.

He came.

I went to my first gay meeting. That did not go so well. Nobody noticed me. So I sat outside the hall until the 10 p.m. meeting where Fonda, Ed and Rob and Christian found me, alone on the stoop.

Fonda gave me a hug, and welcomed me into the room and brought me coffee.

They noticed me. And from that moment, I was never alone again.

With some time, I arrived here, sadly, a second time, I heard another alcoholic tell me to go get sober somewhere else. That I was unwelcome in their meeting. I never went back there to this day.

You want to alienate a human being who is new, alone, and seeking help,

Tell them to go get sober somewhere else.

It is a good thing I stuck around. I tell this story as a warning to the pitfalls of the human condition in the rooms. You need to connect, because there are sick alcoholics in some rooms. And they justify their ignorance behind sexism, homophobia, egos and attitudes. Good Christian values.

I did all the right things. I met all the right people. I owe my life to the fellowship in Montreal.

I’ve never been more happier than I am today. I am in it to win it. I do what I am told.

We are deep in The Work. All of us. Nobody is alone in our sober family.

NOBODY…

Now that I work with others, and I give it away, and I teach The Work to my guys, they are now teaching The Work to their guys. We are four generations strong tonight.

We are part of a grand collective of many faiths, hearts, traditions and languages.

Unified under a common affliction. And we deal with it together as one.

Nobody is left out in the cold. Our men and women know they are no longer alone.

You too can Never be alone again …

Gratitude. Lots of Gratitude.

More to come, stay tuned…


December 9th 2014 … Thirteen

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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 …


“The Work …” Courtesy of The Atlantic Group NYC

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Courtesy: Tyler Oakley

O.M.G. I am SPENT !!! Spent I tell you…

This weekend Dorval hosted the 40th Annual West Island Roundup. And our guests came from New York City, and the Gigantic – Atlantic Group of New York City.

They have meetings SEVEN nights a week, and the most anticipated meeting of the week brings out 600, yes that’s SIX HUNDRED people for a meeting.

Imagine a meeting that size here. I don’t think there is a hall open in our city that would hold that many people. HUGE !!!

The theme of the speakers was “The Work.”

You have to Do the Work. In order to be happy, joyous and free, you need to do “the work.” It was a similar message from all our speakers.

Last night, Saturday, we heard from the Founder of the Atlantic Group.

Today we heard from similar group members.

This morning our first speaker right out of the gate got up there and knocked it out of the park. Once that meeting was finished, the copies of his talk went up in smoke. They could not keep up with demand. And by the end of the day they took payment, addresses and told us that they would send us the talk, for those of us who bought ALL of the talks for the weekend.

Our guy got up there and extolled the virtues of “the work” and how it changed his life, from the life he was stuck in, using, abusing and hurting the ones who loved him, not to mention himself. That group is known for its bent on unapologetic Big Book Thumping.

The message here: Don’t waste your time with folks who don’t want it, because there is always someone in the wings waiting for you to work with them.

The odds of success are slim from the start. The percentages are not good. 1%

That only should embolden you to get up from your seat, get a book, and find someone to walk you through it.

Later on this morning we heard from an Al-Anon speaker.

And then they served everyone lunch from Scores restaurant. The place was packed for today’s events.

After lunch we got a One Two Punch by a couple who met in the Atlantic Group and later got married. We got to hear how a long sober couple works together in love and how they work with others.

Us alcoholics suffer from a hopeless malady of the body, mind and spirit.

And the way out of that misery and malady is through the solution that is laid out in the first 164 pages of the Big Book.

I spent the entire weekend with my friends. The people I love the most. The people who give to my life those things that nobody else can give me.

And a year to the date, exactly, I got to share this weekend with my guys. We listened, we chatted, we broke bread, and we discussed.

It is my hope that this weekend made some kind of impression on them that they can take into their lives and their respective sobrieties.

A year ago, I attended my first round up and it turned my world upside down. And I started doing “the work,” truthfully, I had a sponsor that was a hands off kind of sponsor, who really didn’t do “the work.” So I began to move away.

I changed up my meetings, I practiced my prayers for a year. I read the book. I participated in the lives of newbies for months. That is how I began “the work.”

I practiced until God put a new sponsor into my life. And after that my life changed again.

After 12 or so years, two men stepped into my life, and I got the opportunity to start “The Work” with them. Nothing makes sobriety more important or special that having someone to work with. Because they keep me on my toes. I must now do “The Work.” I must have a sponsor who does “The Work.”

I am, what they call, SANDWICHED…

I have a grand sponsor, I have a sponsor, I have myself, and I have my guys.

Not to mention all the others I work with or I am friends with. All those folks who come to my meetings, that I see every week. Meetings are important.

But more importantly, the guy who opens the door, sets up, makes coffee, welcomes guests, reads, shares, discusses, and then cleans up afterwards.

If there is no one there to do “The Work,” If there is no one to welcome the newcomer, then how would we survive? How would they survive without us?

Thankless jobs, but so vitally important. I have done that for the whole of my sobriety. Week in and week out. Month by month, year by year.

It is unrelenting work.

And in the end it all comes down to gratitude. Because I am only carrying on “the Work” that was shown to me by those who did “the work” before me.

And this weekend, I got to spend time with the one woman who welcomed me to my first meeting at the home group I began here in the city. She lives far away now and I don’t get to see her very often, so that was a treat.

It was a great weekend. And my batteries are charged. And so commences “The Work” that will carry us for the next year.

It was a great investment of time, talent and treasure for my guys.

And to close I got an email from the member who drove them out and took them home all weekend. saying how impressed she was with my guys’ kindness.

A great weekend was had by all.

IT IS TIME TO DO “THE WORK !”

Let us begin anew.

More to come, I am sure…


A Grateful Heart … Day 24 of 365

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Courtesy: Alexander

Another cold night. But not as cold as it was last night.

We are sitting at (-11c / -21c w.c.) and they are calling for snow. Not sure how they are working that one out I guess we will see.

The running joke in sober circles is this … If you can’t come up with a topic that isn’t half bad or useful to the group, the default is Gratitude…

And the people groan in their chairs …

I have to look and see just how many times the subject of gratitude comes up in As Bill Sees It. It is timely since the last few weeks of readings, it was bound to come up sooner or later.

Firstly, it is Friday and I had done laundry yesterday and all my shopping so I had not much to do today, so I slept in. Meaning I skipped my morning routine again. My bed is much warmer with me in it, than when I am sitting here in front of this box.

Hubby came home at his usual time, and joined me for the afternoon nap period, usually if I am up we take an afternoon nap. But because this was a meeting night, nap is earlier and shorter. Twice I got up and pushed back my alarm. I had the half mind to stay in bed and not get up but that is not a good reason to skip a meeting.

I got up at the latest prep point to be out the door by 6:30. Which I made with no problem. Transit was quick and easy. Lots of people in the stations – but the trains were not packed.

I arrived at my usual time to my friends joking and cutting the rug and we finished set up between a handful of guys. Lots of irreverent jokes being shared.

It was a full meeting. However not full enough to warrant splitting the group into two.

Every day is a day to be grateful. It is an unspoken gratitude.

Coming from a country where I had to choose whether to buy food, or pay my rent or purchase much needed medication that I so needed, I came here where those questions were settled on the first day I got here.

I have a home. I have food that I purchased in my fridge. And I can afford all of my medication every month. And they say the U.S. affords everyone what they need, when they need it.

Not so for people with terminal illnesses who live below the poverty level in a country that boasts that everyone is taken care of. Not True …

I am still alive. And that is the base for everything else. Everything else is icing on the cake. Along with Awakenings came lessons that were so very important for me to learn right off the bat.

Over there —> under the title The Lesson about Approval is one of them.

I can’t begin to put to words the amount of gratitude I have for the men who kept me alive and focused on living when everyone else around me was dying horrible, painful deaths. Why I was chosen is beyond me. Not everyone had the willpower to commit to living, and they made their exit choices. Those choices were removed from me from the get go.

I would live, they would see to it, and wild horses would not stop the march into life that took place.

I may not openly live in gratitude on any given day, because I am enjoying certain aspects of ability that have come by way of work and sobriety and lets not forget marriage.

I may not practice full gratitude on any given day, I am blessed to have everything I need today, I just don’t make use of everything on any given day. It doesn’t mean I am not grateful.

My cup overflows.

I accept where I am today. There is nothing I really need beyond what I have, but on the odd occasion I add to my list of “things” I like and want. But those wants are very small, I don’t live in want.

On the main, it is simple, I don’t have to be popular. I don’t have to be rich. And I don’t need any more letters added to my already hard learned degrees I have earned.

I’ve seen what higher education does to people. It makes them crave more, and it feeds their egos, and people become “better than” and that happened in my social circle. Friends I have had since I got here have excelled in their studies and no longer take the time to be my friend. They have far bigger fish to fry, and why do they need to associate with me now?

People like that you have to let go and give them to God and wish them all the good things that you want for yourself. The resentment prayer …

I hope you get all those things I want for myself and more …

My friends who know me joke to me “Let it Go and Turn it over…”

It is a mantra that is passed between us in lighthearted conversations and even on the odd day by text. Little reminders that we do think of each other and we take each other seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

I am grateful for every person I know in the rooms. I watch them come in and come to, then eventually they find their voice. Which is what happened on Thursday night. A young man I am getting to know has been around for a few weeks, and he comes in and says little. And for the first time the other night, he spoke. And tonight at the Friday meeting I was able to speak to him and congratulated him on finding his voice.

I get to see all this going on around me. So many people to be grateful for because they are my friends. You just can’t be a part of this circle and NOT be grateful, simply…

It is the weekend.

More to come, stay tuned …

 

 


Tuesday … Avoiding Self Pity

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Courtesy: ConnorJon

For the last week we have been monitoring the weather very closely because of rules and regulations at the parish where the Tuesday Meeting meets. We’ve shopped for mats for wet shoes, and tonight we got a blessed BUMP in numbers. Me thinks my flyers are doing their thing well. I have to thank my elves the next time I see them for distribution.

So, it is snowing. The first big snow event of 2013 for Montreal has begun. Some say straight snow, the tv people say it will be a mixed bag, but the number 20 is being bandied about as in 20 cm of snow in total in a 48 hour snow event with rain and freezing pellets to come, so they say.

When I left it was cold, but not freezing cold, as you would expect before a snowfall. And that little temperature difference can make a difference between snow or rain. Instead of rail, I opted for the bus, since it drops me at the corner of the parish we meet in. I was carrying an armful of mats for the church, so I wanted the easiest transit.

When we came out, there was a light dusting of snow on the ground, and the kids at the Manoir Judo/karate school were tossing snowballs at each other.

Like I said, we doubled our attendance tonight. Which was the most folks we have hosted at the new location since our move.

The topic came from Living Sober: Avoiding Self Pity.

I have to say that my defects of character and my foibles are really presenting themselves to me over the past couple of weeks. I posted a rant, which I should have thought better of, but it did garner one response that kicked me in the ass…

Have I really forgotten what it was like to be a newbie???

I deleted said post, and along with that the comment, I should have kept it so I could have thanked the poster for the kick in the ass.

My pre-cake roller coaster is running swift and painfully through my life right now. I am not happy with my self review. I am not happy with where I am in my life, and as I was reminded tonight, I had the power to change it, and I sat on my hands waiting for someone or something to drop out of the sky and fulfill the desire I had for New York Style Sobriety.

There are old timers in my life. Men I can learn from. They all attend the Thursday Night Men’s meeting. They are my friends.

It is just what it is.And it’s the truth …

New York Came to Montreal, and when they left, so did their energy and power. Nobody I know reaches into the depths of study nor works as hard as some of our intrepid storytellers.

And for me it was all or nothing.

I could do New York, by skype and email and on the phone. I chose not to do that, because I did not want a long distance relationship with someone in another country.

In my head, I feel I am lacking in my program. I feel like I am going to meetings, and I drop counsel whenever possible, but does it matter? Do I make a difference? Do I matter? Doesn’t this wreak of “All about me?”

You can’t sit in all about me when you are working to serve other folks. Which is why I go to meetings and I talk, and I help with group responsibilities. This is not all about me, but my disease wants me to sit in this pity pot and say WHY ???

Another member would tell me “Why Not?”

Others would say … Get out of yourself.

Another suggests practicing Gratitude more often.

I am where I am, and as the Acceptance Statement says:

Nothing, Absolutely Nothing happens in God’s World by Mistake.”

I seem to have words for other people.

I just don’t seem to have them for myself.

I have the holy trinity … A roof, food in my fridge and a bed to sleep in.

For the first time in 12 years, “Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us,” has come to pass. It took twelve years for this promise to come to pass.

Taken to bare bones and simple thought … I haven’t had a drink in almost 12 years. Not that I even ponder a drink, but when that pity pot voice starts to talk, it is akin to taking a drink.

Poor me, Poor me, Pour me a drink …

Go to a meeting, I am sure there will be someone who is worse off than you and you can get out of yourself and help them.

I did that tonight. I rode the bus, with a friend. On the way out I met a lady friend on the bus from T.B. and that was nice.

It is snowing. My Ave Maria moment happened.

I am where I am, and I should be satisfied with that.

I could be sick. I could drink. And really, I could be dead as well.

My days are book-ended by pills. That keep me alive.

They are still working. Gratitude…

Plenty more to come, stay tuned …


Introspection – What do I do Now ???

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Courtesy: Billy Pazionis Flickr

It was another glorious day today. Fresh Air and Blue skies…

It was a busy day today running errands and taking care of business here at home. Finances have been tight and the promise of ” fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us” comes to light in such situations. It is good to be UP on financial responsibilities and on top of the bills and home finances.

I was a little late tonight, having to make stops on the way that took longer than I had expected, because they could not find my huge bag filled with pills in the mass of bags that had been filled recently at the pharmacy. I saw new faces behind the wicket so that was the challenge.

It seems the mall is in the final stages of preparation for the BIG REVEAL that is coming very soon now. The spaces on the mezzanine level outside of IGA and Pharmaprix are coming along. The ground floor is still in process as I noticed tonight that they are again working on the floor and other shop spaces that were open are now blocked off and being worked on.

Set up went quickly. And I set out more than enough tables tonight, almost begging God to bring us more folks tonight. I am of the mind that “If you build it, they will come!” and come they did. We sat a fair number tonight.

Most of our guests, aside from the group members who have considerable time, are new to the program. A good sign, that we have work to do and people to work with.

Our chair for the evening spoke to us in opening the floor to discussion with recent events that will translate into a topic.

A number of his sponsees are working their steps, and having transited 4 through 9 – the actual writing and inventory and personal house cleaning they have reached the “MAINTENANCE” steps … 10, 11 and 12.

And the question invariably comes up … “What do I do now?”

We’ve just spent the better part of our sober time working on ourselves and writing the garbage that was our past on to paper and we’ve made lists of character defects and shortcomings, we’ve discussed them with our sponsors and each other, and we step into the final part of recovery.

Most people who get here get the stock answer … “let’s turn to page 84 in the Big Book and let’s read the Tenth Step.”

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it …”

For the women, who really know how to pound the book, would tell us that this is a written step that one does every day. To actually sit down and write a tenth step in order to speak it to our sponsors the next day during our appointed call time. For those of you paying attention … The women are always working on something. And calling every day EVERY DAY, is standard operating procedure.

Most men do not call each other every day or every other day for that matter.

We read from the book, on ten, making that impromptu inventory, we then set it to prayer and meditation (step 11) and we go to meetings and we work with others (step 12).

In the beginning we rely on the book and a good sponsor to guide us into the parts of the book that will, over time, become rote. We learn what it means to work 10, 11 and 12, we read the book, we act it out for ourselves, and each other and we carry the message to others coming up the ranks.

Once we’ve taken the inventory steps and done the work, we know a little about who we were, what happened and we now sit with what we are like now. And in some cases, here is where we get our lives handed back to us to actively work towards building the life we have been promised in the book.

And it is work. But it is not the big, bad and demeaning work, but it is positive and uplifting and enhancing to our sobriety. We have, for some, found a power greater than ourselves that we turn our lives over to every day, for most, it is God, but there are some, as I have said recently, cannot find God, if he came down from heaven and stood in front of them …

But I digress …

On a daily basis now, we take spot inventory during our day. We notice where we might be off and where an amend might be prudent. And I’ve heard it said over and over, if you are having a bad day … You CAN start your day over at any time of the day as needed.

There is also the practice of writing a gratitude list every day, to keep us mindful of all the good things in our lives on a daily basis.

We should, by now, have begun the formation of spiritual practice. Post finding that power greater than yourself we learn how to pray, for those who may not know how to pray or who to pray to, the universe, God or something that brings you peace and comfort.

For me that is God.

A while back a good lady friend of mine gave me a package of prayer cards, 12 in fact. A prayer for each step and a few dropped in here or there. I keep these cards by the computer and I read them every morning and every night before bed. A little help in the prayer department never hurt.

They say that Prayer is the speaking to God bit, but after we’ve spoken our words, we should cultivate “time to listen” for an answer. And that is where meditation comes in. (Step 11)

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood him. praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.”

Prayer comes in many forms and can be done throughout the day and night, as we learn how to incorporate this practice into our lives. The serenity prayer is very popular. For the religious members, The Our Father and other assorted prayers come to mind.

And now, we should have, as I have mentioned in the past, built our lives around our meetings, and namely our Home Group. A Home Group is a non-negotiable night. You always attend your home group, because that is where we get connected and we learn to do service.

Because it is in working with others, that we get to practice the 12th Step.

“Having had a spiritual awakening as THE result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Nothing guarantees our sobriety like direct work with another alcoholic. If we have read the book, worked with our sponsors and gone to enough meetings, and we have come – we’ve come to – and we’ve been restored to sanity, we get to share our experience with others who come up behind us.

Our lives, our stories, the what, where, who, when and why of our stories is what makes us who we are. And at some point, someone is going to ask you to share/speak at a meeting. I would say that when we speak, we have arrived.

We’ve spent hours, days, weeks and months talking in discussion meetings, We’ve been a numerous speaker meetings, we’ve been to Big Book and Step meetings, and all along, we are working on ourselves.

We have, in essence, been polishing the diamond that is our lives, with a little help from the God of our understanding, and each other.

The final three steps are meant to get us into the practice of actively living and working a sober lifestyle. It is our choice what we do with our lives, once we’ve cleared the wreckage of the past.

The promises state that (in time) we will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.

We are not who we were, or what we did or what we have said.

You are WHO you are at this very moment. Right now, as you read this. It was your choice to change and your choice to cultivate the life you are now living.

I have said over and over that there is no greater blessing than to attend the same meetings over the years and watching folks get sober.

Because when they come in they are sad and disillusioned. They come, they come to and they begin the work. And in time, the gem begins to appear and over time that gem gets polished, and in the end it sparkles with the life that has been renewed and that is YOU.

Embrace the 10th, 11th and 12th steps.

They will dictate the person you become, as you work the program.

It was a good night.

Now it is time for dinner. More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … A Vision for You edition

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Courtesy:The Dark Blue

And here we are back around again, the beginning of another week. And hopefully this week will prove to be very promising in many areas.

Let Us Pray !!!

For a while, it seemed, that rain was imminent. There were dark clouds rumbling overhead for a while upon setting out for the church. Umbrella in my bag, I set off a few minutes early to make some stops along the way.

When I arrived at the church, a helper was waiting for me for set up, which when worked with two or three people seems to go much quicker. I pumped out an urn of coffee and we went to sit outside and enjoy the evening.

The meeting tonight was well populated. All the chairs were sat, just enough. And tonight we reached the culmination of months of reading from the Book, and after all the reading, studying, working of steps, hearing promises at Step 9, we arrive at the hopeful end of the real studious reading, the Vision for You statement.

We heard a lot of “God talk” go around the room, we also heard the words surrender and abandon. The process of coming into ones own, with regards to God and spirituality takes, for some, a long time.

A good friend happened into the meeting tonight with a new prospect, and we chatted for a bit. And she has come into her own. I can remember, like it was yesterday, how hard she fought for sobriety, and I remember when she had her first spiritual experience in that very room many years ago. And it seemed, in passing she made reference to that experience.

Like I always say, God prefers that room. He makes the odd appearance to folks over the years. I think that St. Leon’s is one of the best rooms in the city for meetings. It has such a long and hallowed history over the last 50 years.

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

In these last few pages of reading all the reading we did and the work that followed comes back around in summation to prepare us for the world around us. Needless to say, completion of all the steps takes time, as does ones acceptance and surrender to the God of our understanding, which also takes time.

Did you know that there are 182 promises in the Big Book.

At some points in the book as we read through the steps, there are certain promises that are attached to certain steps, like Steps 5 and then up in Step 9.

A vision for you is the summation of all the promises, and sends the reader away with hope and gives us direction of what we should do every day to stay sober. But it states in the book that:

“We know what you are thinking. You are saying to yourself: “I’m jittery and alone. I couldn’t do that.” But you can. You forget that you have just now tapped a source of power much greater than yourself. To duplicate, with such backing, what we have accomplished is only a matter of willingness, patience and labor.”

And on the next page we come full circle.

“Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask him in your morning meditations what you can do each day for the man who is still sick.

The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others.

This is the great fact for us:

Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.

May God bless you and keep you – until then.”

We read these 164 pages of the book, and we arrive at the sentence that says: We realize we know only a little … God will disclose more to you and to us.

There is that word “GOD” and He’s going to disclose more to us, and with all these people out here, how many things will be disclosed???

Another speaks about not being able to transmit something you haven’t got !

When you walk into a meeting, by your works you shall know them, and by their spirit, all that you have will be made known to your fellows. People have their “signs above their heads” like I have written about. Some, over time get it and some have it, and some want it.

You know right off when someone “has it” and if it looks right and good, maybe someone else will “Want it.”

I guess the founders assume by now that one has had that crucial spiritual experience, and has found a God of their understanding. Because we arrive at the “Abandon yourself to God, as you understand God” we should at least know who that is, or we are on the way to finding out who that is in our own ways.

This chapter ends in hopeful words, of what we have studied, what we have learned and what we shall find if we stay on the path.

“You will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny!”

I leave you with a story about one of my friends.

Many years ago he came into the rooms. Got the book, and read it, and came away with a “no” to God and this is a cult, and I just can’t bring myself to change enough to work the program correctly to the best of his abilities.

Went out – came back – went out – and so forth.

Hit his bottom again, and phoned his father in Eastern Europe. Dad flies all the way from there to here to see and visit with the son. Dad has stopped drinking and is in the program, (yes, there are rooms in Eastern Europe) who knew???

So, son asks dad how did you get sober … ?

And his answers was: In A.A.

It was at this point that our young man came in and is now more than two years without a drink. He, among a few chosen others, I count as my friends. We are part of each others lives. And we help each other in many ways. This story resonates with me for some reason and it is the second time I heard him recount this story at our Sunday meeting.

We have all been blessed to pass this way. And I am grateful for all the folks who come and spend time with me, with us and with each other.

More to come, stay tuned …


Why Wouldn’t I ???

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Courtesy: Heath (Iheefz) Chicago Photography

It rained … all . day . long …

Enough rain to warrant carrying an umbrella. And Lawd knows how I hate carrying my huge umbrella anywhere. But this morning it was necessary because we had to travel in . the  . rain.

A few days ago, hubby mentioned his graduation ceremony was coming up but he wasn’t expecting me to attend because it was, in his words, “long and boring!” The topic came back up the other night and he once again intoned that he wasn’t expecting me to go … and I replied “Why Wouldn’t I??? ”

Two years work. Watching him toil night and day pounding out his thesis and defense for his M.A. I went to his defense. We were all so proud of him. And so today was the culmination of all that work, a 15 second walk across a stage in front of his peers to get his M.A. Diploma.

The program opened with bagpipes, piping in the graduates, then the faculty.

And One very special man – LtGen. The Honorable Romeo A. Dallaire (Ret’d), O.C. ,CMM,GOQ, MSC,CD, B.ES., LLD , Senator.

He was presented with an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters.

And he gave a short speech for the graduates and encouraged them to step up and be change in Canada. Because in politics and government, he spoke, they have not risen to their ultimate abilities.

2017, is a special date and there are a confluence of dates and events, anniversaries and commemorations that will come during 2017, and Canada does not have a plan to mark the occasions.

Offering questions in the Senate and to the M.P’s in Parliament, what is the plan and what are we going to do ? the answer was – We Don’t Know !!!

This is our time to rise. To become active in the affairs of the nation be it in your community, your home, your job or your country, He encouraged us all to become change.

He spoke a bit about the children in Rwanda and the deaths and situations he witnessed. He spoke of a young boy, sitting in the road there in Rwanda distended, poor and in need (in a bad way), looked in those boys eyes, and the vision of his sons eyes came to mind.

He encouraged us to go abroad and work in developing countries. To see, witness, feel and participate in the lives of those who need more than they have today. They have very little, compared to the have’s and the have not’s in the developed world.

It was a tall request. But not out of reach. If you know where to look.

I know of people in Europe and the U.K. who actually go to Africa and other trouble spots in the developing world to work for charities helping those who need it most.

It is part of Gap Year work, Charity work, and just a great character building exercise to spend time in a place that will change the person you are, just by your presence.

We don’t often think about traveling so far away – it isn’t a North America thought, just because it is “over there” out of sight, out of mind.

But numbers of Canadians do great work in Africa and areas beyond.

If I could do it, I would. But the time needs to be right.

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

Once hubby did his walk across the stage, he was in the first two rows of graduates, he texted me. I was sitting about ten rows behind him on the aisle so we could make a quick getaway. The ceremony started at 3 p.m. and I needed to be at the church at 5, so we made our way out shortly after the B.A.’s started their march to the stage.

We took some photos with his cape and gown and degree for his parents, turned in his robes, and we came home. We got back around 4:30. And I was back out the door at quarter to Five.

And . It . Rained …

I arrived at the church, a little damp and the hall was a bit damp and cold. I cranked out chairs and tables. My sponsor showed up a few minutes after I arrived to make coffee and help with set up.

Little gift …

At the roundup a couple of weeks ago, all the shares were taped for mass consumption and sold on site. For quite a chunk of money. So a few folks bought a master copy of all the shares. And now they have been duplicated and are being shared amongst us.

I had mentioned that I wanted a copy of them, and one of our sober women did the duplicates and brought them to the meeting tonight. But there were a few women who have not heard them, like we got to hear them live, so I told her to give them to someone who hasn’t heard them yet before I get them.

I was sitting in my chair waiting for folks to show up and one of my friends came up and handed me a cd, with all the shares and more on it. Just because !

Then I was standing near our literature table talking to some folks, and my sponsor walked up and had a gift for me. He was given a cache of Big Books and other texts we use regularly. And from a private collection, he has already given me a copy of the original manuscript of the Big Book. Tonight he had another book for me … A Second Edition of the Big Book.

Which has an extra large collection of stories in the back of the book.

There are four editions of the Big Book in circulation. First editions are rare and cost a pretty penny. Seconds and Thirds are in circulation. But for the most part, unless you need a 2 or 3, Inter-group sells Fourth Editions, solely.

The Book, Experience, Strength and Hope is a collection of stories from Editions 1 , 2 and 3. We read that book on Sunday Nights some time ago.

But now I get to read all the stories from the book in the Second Edition.

The meeting was packed. Which was good. Lots of newcomers. And great opportunities for our girls to get out there and pound the pavement.

We read from Living Sober, page 10 – Live and Let Live …

A good topic. Lots of good shares. Many people all over the place on the slogans.

Live and Let Live
Easy Does It
But for the Grace of God
Think, Think, Think
First things First

You see them posted at every meeting we go to in the city. Keeping our side of the street clean. Not getting into other folks drama. What people think of me is none of my business. I am powerless over people, places and things.

I can’t change you – I can only change me.

And people are struggling with this slogan. On a daily basis.

It was a good night. Fun was had. I walked home.

A good day over all Me thinks.

More to come, stay tuned…


To Guard Against a SLIP …

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Courtesy:RThompson80

T minus two days and counting.

It was a warm day today. For some strange reason, my alarm clock was an hour fast. I don’t remember re-setting it last night, and I programmed a wake up ring for 4:30 this afternoon. It rang and I got up, I came into the living room and “The Cycle” was on. I was an hour off. I just reset the clock and farted around for an extra hour before getting ready to go.

The Tuesday meeting was well attended. I did some networking and invited the guys to the Thursday meeting. Each of them gave me an excuse as to why they could not come. Oh Well …

We read from As Bill Sees It and the slip.

Suppose we fall short of our chosen ideals and stumble? Does this mean we are going to get drunk? Some people tell us so. But this is only a half truth. The Tuesday meeting is a beginners meeting and we had them in spades tonight.

The sober time in the room varied from one day to double decades. And the discussion went – how to avoid the first drink.

We hear it often from newcomers how hard life is in early sobriety, because things were so upside down when they came in, that telling them to stick around and it will get better, (but not have a firm date as to when that will happen) is somewhat problematic.

The key here is to help them keep coming back, and to teach them to Act as If ! All those little key slogans that help us in the early years. For some, they are hard pressed to listen because the voices in their heads are vying for the ear.

I’ve been stirring up sobriety by going to new and different meetings, because the time came for change. I needed new voices and new stories. I have found that every one who shares in a meeting is either one of two things, (1) a warning or (2) a lesson.

Since I don’t have a drinking history here, I don’t want to start one. I came here sober and I want to die here sober. We’ve been hearing all the key warnings coming from old timers slipping, and newbies slipping, and folks in the mix of what one should NOT do and what one SHOULD do to guarantee sobriety.

You need key things to stay sober.

1. You need to go to meetings

2. You need to work your steps

3. You need a good sponsor

4. You need to build your life around your meetings

5. You need to do service

6. You need to read the books

All these things will help you guarantee sobriety. Stay away from sticky places and don’t go into your head alone. And keep coming back, even when it hurts and when things are good. Because when things are good you can learn gratitude, and when things are bad, you have banked time to hold onto sobriety and not take that first drink.

A good night was had by all.

It’s Tuesday but Thursday’s a coming …

More to come, stay tuned…


Master’s Managed …

peter8

What a day !!! What a day !!!

We hit the sack early last night, because bright and early this morning we were up preparing to go listen to Hubby defend his Master’s Thesis on the Tea Party.

But before that all happened, I did not sleep much at all last night, and I got out of bed around 5 a.m. because I got a bug up my ass … And I should know better than to get up out of bed to do what I thought would be easy and painless …

I’ve been singing songs from old movies lately, to myself. And I thought, why not download the tunes for my phone. So I did that. Now my SD card in my phone, a 2 gig SD, is very itchy. It is tempermental when I try to add or subtract music from it, and I should know better then to try doing this while hubby is still in bed, or when he just goes to sleep late at night.

After several failed attempts to get the two files moved from my hard drive to the sd card, my computer crashed and fucked up my sd card. I don’t know what I did to it, but it wouldn’t work. Hubby was not having any of my drama this morning because it was all about him.

He set off around 8:30 for the college and I went over about 9:30. It was a small gathering of panelists and guests. Hubby had printed out his 20 page presentation to follow. And it was a full stop SUCCESS !!! He blew his readers and his adviser out of the water. There were two rounds of questions from the panel and on the first round, one of his readers just twisted him up and was on this “Debbie Downer” trip.

Needless to say, Hubby fought tooth and nail for his defense. The second round was much better. Lots of compliments and kudos. In the end they granted his Master’s Thesis Defense. His supervisor said that he did far better work than an M.A. researcher, and it was good enough for PHD work. And after their consultations after the presentation, they accepted his thesis fully and without any needed revisions. Which is quite a feat of academia.

We were all so proud of him !!!

After the ordeal we went our separate ways, I had errands to run to drop off our rent for the month of May. It was lunch time, so I missed the secretary. But it got paid. On the way back through the tunnel and the mall, I stopped at the Telus store to try and get my sd card fixed. That was a no go. They said that I could reformat the card on hubby’s laptop, but he didn’t have a reader converter. UGH!!!

I did some sundry shopping on the way in, had some lunch and went to bed around 2:30. It was a great nap because at the end I was having this massive technicolor dream about Christmas and as someone asked me a question like, “are you coming for Christmas??” I woke up.

Actually, hubby was woken up first. Me thinks we have a ghost in the apartment. Because things happen, the tv turns on by itself, not all the time, and not predictable. So about a minute before my alarm clock was set to go off, the tv turned on by itself again !!!

I got dressed and departed for the evening event, which was a trip out to St. Michel to pick up our new cabinet for the group at the church. The cabinet is beautiful. Just what we needed. And just the right size.

On the way out I stopped by the Telus store because I had called them to see if I could buy an sd converter card for the laptop, and they said that a brand new sd card comes in the packet. They don’t sell separately. The girl that helped me earlier was still there and I asked for a 2 gig sd card, and she sold me a 4 gig sd card for the price of a 2 gig sd card … SCORE !!!

Hubby left me some directions on the way home to shop and get groceries and now we are home, he is having Chinese food for dinner and I am having Subway.

Later on, I need to reinstall ALL my MUSIC AGAIN !!! UGH Kill me now ! Albeit on a larger sd card so that should be painless, Let Us Pray !!!

All in all it was a great day.

More to come, stay tuned …


A Dubious Luxury …

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Courtesy: Enoemos

It rained today. But more sun is on the way for tomorrow and much warmer temps by the end of the week.

The FLU has been a formidable foe here at home. It just won’t go away. And I’ve been plying hubby with pills and trying to get him to eat every day. I’ve been shopping for foods that he will eat and be able to keep down. I cooked for us last night and have left overs for tonight’s dinner. He asked for Indian for dinner tonight so I bought him a couple of meals that hopefully he will eat.

We’ve been hitting the hay earlier than usual for the last week. Which has totally thrown my schedule off – but sleep is something we need. My nightly ritual has been chopped to death and my body is not responding with proper working.

I was up early today because I had to drop labs for my HIV doc today, seeing my appointment is on May 15th, it takes a month to prep my labs. I marked the testosterone box on the lab sheet just to see where my numbers are, seeing my body is doing what it wants to do, and not what I want it to do !! UGH !!!

I walked over to the stop for the Cote de Neiges bus, and another bus was sitting there in its place. I got on. The bus pulled away from the stop and up Guy towards Sherbrooke. Instead of continuing up the hill he turned left and I freaked out. Where was he going? As the hill was blocked off because of construction and we ended up at Atwater to go up the hill the other way to get up the hill and cut across above the construction and to the hospital. Crisis averted…

I stopped by the diabetic clinic to get my appointment and lab sheet, I thought my doc would want to see me sooner that six months from now. He was out and the nurse said he would see me in six months unless my sugars were high, which they are not. They’ve gone down considerably on the double Glyburide.

I crossed the hall to the test center, the room was packed to the rafters. usually Tuesday early is a good day to drop labs because there aren’t so many people, usually. That wasn’t the case today. I took a number. I pulled a 53, and the number on the wall sign was on 20.

I had time to kill. So I prayed.

A couple of recitations of the Serenity Prayer worked its wonder. They ran the numbers and I got right in.

The phlebotomist, I think she was green, because she kept looking for a vein for about five minutes. I have good veins and I said to her, if you can’t get the needle in the first time, please find someone who can. She hit her mark, and nine vials later she let me go. I made it to the 144 stop with a few minutes to spare until the next bus passed by.

I came home and farted around while hubby built up some steam to get out of bed and I decided to take a nap and he followed. Sleep is good. I’ve been using my alarm clock frequently, and it seems that I set it and don’t use it because I get up just prior to it going off naturally. I sorted myself out and got ready to travel for tonight’s meeting.

It was a good meeting. I saw a bunch of friends I need to see often, because they are kind and I feel better when I am hanging with them. The topic was ANGER !!

Anger is a dubious luxury that alcoholics cannot afford to have. People are angry. Everyone is trying to navigate their feelings. Our emotions don’t just go away when we get sober. They are stronger without medication and inebriation.

Coming from the home I did – with all the mental, physical and spiritual abuse that was heaped on me – I always find it amazing that I never returned the favor. The older I got, I put distance between myself and those angry people.

It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with AIDS that anger took over my life. I was all over the place with emotions. I was spinning out of control. Trying to drink my feelings away until I took my last drink.

I learned a lot of lessons during that time. Working in a bar while getting sober was just what I needed to keep me busy. Todd kept my mind focused on work and my sponsor kept my sobriety in check. I had to learn how to harness my anger and turn it into useful energy, rather than a destructive source.

Do you know how much power negative emotions carry? If left to their own devices they will destroy you. Anger seeps into your soul and your heart. It bleeds power from your t-cells. When the body is in conflict, so the body goes.

Learning how to turn negative energy into healing energy took a long time. But I learned how that worked. Anger is wasted emotion, because in the end we are powerless over people, places and things. The more energy you waste on people that don’t matter – the farther down the ladder you get. We need to rise above our anger – pray – and let it go. Anger hurts us from the inside.

This is a tough lesson to teach newbies. They have to live into this way of life. And the only way we can transmit these lessons is to suit up and show up at as many meetings as is necessary for them to leech from us how it works.

We had two cakes at the end of the meeting. A 24 and a 27 year cake. Our man who took his 27the year cake has changed so much in the last year. He was hopeless for such a long time. And I’ve been seeing him on Tuesday nights regularly. He is 185 pounds lighter than he was a year ago. He has come a long way, and we all love him dearly because he is kind and gracious.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…


Living in Ten, Eleven and Twelve …

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“What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.”

“Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities.”

It is Sunday. And it seems that we have run our course with flu. After a week of sniffling and coughing and sleeping and not eating very much, because let’s face it, when we are unwell the last thing we want to do is cook full meals. I’ve tried to eat something good at least once a day. Hubby is feeling better today.

I had errands to run on the way out and arrived at the church on time. For some reason the coffee pot seemed slow in perking. I don’t know what’s up with that, but eventually we had good black coffee.

We had a good showing. And we finished reading Into Action and steps ten and eleven. The next chapter is totally devoted to Step twelve in Working with others.

This week was a study in how to be of service to others. Namely hubby. When push comes to shove and I practice these principles in all my affairs, it seems that everything works as it should – because I am not in the way of God.

It has been a very fluid week. Actively working my daily inventory for the house and for myself it is the action that matters. There were plenty of opportunities to meditate and pray as we spent a great amount of time in bed.

It is good we are reading through the book, and we get to hear other folks talk about how they understand the reading and how it applies in their lives.

If we ask God to direct our thinking at the beginning of the day, and we live in God’s will, our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.

Take good thoughts in a send good thoughts out.

It was a good meeting. Everybody was happy. We took caravan home.

More to come, stay tuned…


Sunday Sundries… Amends …

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Courtesy: ChristopherJordan

Whew. What a week and weekend this has been. I remarked to a friend this evening that I haven’t been this busy with things to do in a long time. It is raining tonight, little wispy rain.

Our little meeting that is shaping up made a huge leap forwards today. The founders of the group met and we polished the minutes and readings, we talked about what we want to concentrate on and how things will play out. We also ponied up, paying our first months rent, which I will pay tomorrow. Word of mouth is working in our favor. All of the young men whom I have spoken to over the past few days seem positive that they will come. That may play out for a great showing on our first night (May 02 Thursday) …

We headed out to get the coffee perking and set up early for the Sunday Night Meeting. We sat a good group of folks. And we continued reading from the Big Book and Into Action through step 9.

” Made direct amends to such people, where ever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.”

We read in the book that “The Spiritual life is not a theory. We Have to Live It.

It was brought to attention that the end of that sentence is italicized, which means that it is important and should be made note of.

In my life, as it pertains to family, we had a tit for tat relationship. Many of the decisions I made, in sobriety the first time AND the second time, were in response to something that was done to me.

My father poisoned the well between my brother and myself and I haven’t been able to mend that fence. My mother was ambivalent, and she lives in resentment. In my life, if she copped a resentment against you, she would shut you off like flicking a light switch. And they did that to many family members, not only me.

Being Gay and HIV+ was a death knell. My father said some very hurtful things, and for a long time as I was growing up he would constantly tell me that I was a mistake and should never have been born. How do you counter something like that? What do you do? I did the only thing possible and I legally changed my name as to leave the family once in for all. And I was sober when I did that.

My father told me that I would never live up to the man he named me after, a soldier who was killed in Viet Nam. And a man I know my father felt something more than friendship, since a room in his house is dedicated to him openly.

Coming to Canada was another decision I made in sobriety. One because I could not afford to live in the states any more. And my mothers propensity for lying paid off for me giving me a birthright into Canada. How could I pass that up?

I tried for years to make amends. To keep communications open. I guess I expected blood from a rock, knowing my family history. The last things my mother said to me was that if they got sick and died, nobody would call me.

Fuck me for trying.

Amends are tricky things. And there were many takes on the topic tonight. Someday in sobriety I won’t be expectant of any kind of response, if there was a response. Silence is a bitter pill to swallow. But in my family silence is the tactic to punish those who have fallen out of favor.

That’s why we pray. To accept things I cannot change, and to accept that I am powerless over people, places and things.

I am grateful for the people in my life and the good things that come from meetings.

All is right in the world tonight.

More to come, stay tuned…


Bill W. …

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Courtesy:Phoenix House

This evening we set out for Victoria Hall and the screening of the Bill W. documentary. A number of folks already saw the film when it came to theatres a few months ago up on Parc. It was considerably more expensive at a theatre than it did tonight. Members paid $2 a head for the showing and got free coffee and a muffin before the show.

We heard from our Public Information workers here in our area, which is Area 87 in Quebec. You might ask what public information does, it works to make sure that “when ever anyone anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. to always be there and for that we are responsible.”

We need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of Press, Radio, TV, and Film. Public Information is the group that handles dissemination of program materials to the public. Because we as members, if we are to do this work, of helping folks get and stay sober, we must always be ready to reach out a hand to the suffering alcoholic. For every member in A.A. there are 25 suffering alcoholics in our city. Exponentially there are hundreds of thousands of people in Quebec, 1/10th of those are in the program, on both the French and English sides.

There were hundreds of people at tonight’s screening. A great time was had in fellowship. It seemed that many of the folks present tonight were from our downtown meetings. Some from the West Island, and some, I had never seen before. The balcony was full of folks, as was the main floor.

Bill was not a saint. But he was just a man, who held the world on his shoulders in creating the fellowship and getting words to paper and into print. It was hard going in those early days. But when A.A. Came of Age in St. Louis, Bill handed over the fellowship to the members. But because of the man he was, a normal life was never close. He had his issues and problems. He suffered from depression and was close to many women in his life, including Lois his wife of more than fifty years.

The film documented the formation of A.A. out of the suffering of a handful of men who came together after their “spiritual experiences” to form the beginnings of A.A. We saw how the book came together, how the Steps and How it works came to be and finally the traditions, through the vehicle of the well known publication “The Grapevine” our meeting in print.

Bill used the Grapevine in its infancy to write his pieces on what he was thinking while he was writing the book Alcoholics Anonymous. The Steps keep us in line. Where as the Traditions keep the groups in line. Bill, working from the Oxford Group steps which were few, sat on his bed one night and wrote out the steps on a steno pad, coming up with the round number of 12. A providential number in Christian and sacred texts of other religions.

A.A. has changed the face of alcoholism and is found in hundreds of countries around the world and has been translated into many, many languages. Who knew that this little movement would save millions of people from a fate worse than death, the disease of alcoholism, the suffering Body, Mind and Spirit.

Some call Bill a genius, and he was just that. Many of us would not be here if not for the tireless work of those who came before us.

Lots of gratitude tonight.

Where do we aim what we thirst for ???

This question plagues the suffering alcoholic. Because we all thirst, for one thing or another. A drink, A drug, An addiction. This question is not lost on me, once we get over the desire and thirst for a drink, we eventually will have an experience that tells us that there is a God, one way or another.

The most important part of the steps is: God as we understood Him.

This was the inclusive sentence that would help us all come and come to.

Thirst was a theme that I wrote about on my tenth anniversary, so much that my Tattoo in Hebrew, on my arms speaks “I Thirst…” Mother Teresa spoke of Thirst, the thirst of Jesus for our love and prayers. And the program speaks about our thirst – once we come to the end of our alcoholic thirst, we set our eyes upon something spiritual to maintain our sobriety for months, years, decades and so on.

Where do you aim what you thirst for?


Thy Will Be Done …

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Courtesy:Wrestlingisbest

What a busy week it has been. And it has only just begun. Our new group is meeting on Sunday afternoon to go over the specifics and odds and ends of putting together a brand new meeting from scratch. Exciting and Daunting.

Tomorrow will be a busy day for our folks. The Tuesday meeting is having a group conscience tomorrow morning with all their new members. This may prove to be quite a meeting of minds and attitudes. Thankfully I won’t be there.

Saturday evening the community of sober Montreal will meet at Victoria Hall for fellowship and food and to meet trustees from New York City who will be speaking prior to the screening of “Bill W.” a documentary. It is a sold out event. There will be more than 200 folks showing up – which is always exciting.

Tonight we headed up the plateau for North End English. A new man is in the chair this month so we went to support him and to see the others who come. I am liking this meeting because there is open and honest discussion on the topic from the book we are reading, “As Bill Sees It.”

” Even so, when making specific requests, it will be well to add to each one of them this qualification: … if it be thy will.”  A.B.S.I.#329

We spoke about prayer and we spoke about God. We heard good things from folks who have been waiting and trusting in God in their lives, and it was all good news. When we let go and trust, God seems to move vividly.

And some, even with time, are having a hard time navigating the “time of transition or down time.” The question, “What the fuck does God want from me came up…”

One of our men is on his way to finding a concept of God that works for him. It is a grace to witness someone coming to find their “god” small g. Because not a lot of people trust “God” Big G. But the process of coming to believe is one of grace and love. And what we heard tonight from him was this …

If I go within, and find that quiet place, where everything is good, and the feeling is good, and I contact “someone” and it is good, then it is good for me. It may not be God at the moment, but he is frustrated at fighting this “good.” But he has realized that there is “good.” And what is God, if he isn’t good ???

Many of us have come to realize that we don’t ask for things directly. It seems the direct route is harder to accomplish rather than thy will be done. In Catholic circles they say that if you wish anything of God, that you take the back door route and ask Mary to intervene on our behalf. Mary gets things done.

But you can’t offer that kind of advice at a meeting. With people having trouble with the God word, what are they going to do with Mary to boot ?

In my life, I’ve found that making plans, in the long run, is pointless. I have done this in the past, made lists and expected things prematurely, when in reality God had other plans. And with this I would get resentful and angry because I expect. And you know what happens when we expect !!!

I try to stay in my day today. To say my prayers and to turn it over and trust that God knows what he is doing. I kind of like, flying by the seat of my pants, not knowing all the answers, or know what is coming or how things are going to go.

It was a good night. Lots of friends and a little gratitude.

Always try to end your day saying Thank You and having a little Gratitude.