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Gratitude

Sunday Sundries … COLD !!!

tumblr_lm5d60Hzy01qzhzruo1_500 flickr jamesclear

Courtesy: Flickr James Clear

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

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

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

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

Easier said than done.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One day at a time …

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries – 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 …

Thursday – Some People Don’t make It !

tumblr_m187ytnKBN1r3fvxmo1_500 thedarkblueThe weather is definitely cooler. The trees have begun their turns. Lots of yellows in the neighborhood. But I haven’t noticed bursts of color in other parts of my commute, as of yet. I was standing on my balcony today and noticed the trees.

The first holiday of the “2015 Holiday Season” is just days away. I went book shopping the other day and I noticed as I came down the stairs to the check out, that they had CHRISTMAS CARDS, out for sale. We are the beginning of October right now. I stepped up to the checkout and looked at the young lady behind the counter and said …”Christmas cards, really, REALLY !!!”

God Give Me Strength !

I’ve finished my read of The Great Reformer, Pope Francis.

It’s difficult not to love a man who lives simply, loves deeply and wants to bring Jesus to the people in every walk of life. A man who calls us to serve, “the least of these” because we can and we must. He wants to build community across racial, socioeconomic, ethnic and religious borders.

The church has had its stance on several fronts that hasn’t changed since the 1960’s. Some of these stances are never going to be changed, and others, it seems are on the table for discussion.

The Pope came to the U.S. with a specific goal in mind. He stayed away from Hot Button issues, however the Papal Nuncio to Washington, who famously, served in the Vatican during the run up to the conclave that elected Jorge Bergoglio pope. He had a major faux pas in bringing that anti-Christ woman to meet the pope. He clearly failed and we are told may pay dearly for that appearance.

One must admire a man, who has stayed “on message” for most of his priesthood. Prior to the Dirty War, Jorge Bergoglio saw the world in a specific way and he treated his priests and others, in a way that was not so papal. Jorge’s saving grace was his spiritual transformation that turned his world upside down. The message changed. And a man who only served the church became a man who served the people. And that changed the entire ball game.

The Pueblo Fiel, the People of God, are the most important part of church. Without them, there is no church. Francis’ entire ministry hinges on serving everyone. And that goes for everybody. Although Francis has shared certain words on specific subjects, the fact that he welcomes “everybody” is telling. We are all people of God, no matter our orientation, background, sin or omission.

If we don’t go out and love our brothers and sisters, who is going to do that for us ?

You might want to judge Pope Francis on his few words, or on what he might be saying, from behind the safety of Vatican walls, but you cannot ignore how Francis goes about his days and nights, the austerity in which he lives, and the way he sees church, which is a total 180 degree change from the Old Guard Papacies.

It is written that Pope John Paul II was a great man, who certainly had his faults. No pope is perfect, as Jorge reminds us. Nobody is perfect. Only God is perfect. I relate the story on one Christmas, before John Paul II became infirm, a group of Cardinals came to greet the pope and ignored the Swiss Guard standing at attention outside the residence. They did not greet him, nor did they acknowledge him either.

Afterwards, Pope John Paul II came outside and spoke to the young man and had a chair for him to sit down, because the Pope had brought him some food to eat. The guard replied that he cannot sit down, “on the job!”

The Pope replied … Well, I am the Pope, have a seat and eat this treat …

This story is a highlight in Pope John Paul II’s reasons for canonization.

When Francis was elected, he shunned extravagance. He paid his bills like any other priest. He rebuffed the papal suite and rooms to go with it. Like John Paul II who wore hand me downs, and very little expensive clothing, Pope Francis is particularly similar to John Paul II in many ways.

I am highly literate on John Paul II.

Pope Francis lives in Casa Santa Marta in a small 2 room apartment. He shares his meals and masses with those who work in the area, in the Vatican, and the residence. He does his daily prayer and meditation to start out every day at 4:30 in the morning.

He works during the day, and at night, he goes into his rooms and changes into simple street clothes, and goes out to meet the poor, to serve them and to be with them. His outreach to the “least of these” is an example of a holy man who forgoes the trappings of Church, and simply goes out and does what is right.

His concern for “the people” and as well, his Church, is indicative of a man who came to Rome, not expecting to become Pope. He had asked certain people back in Argentina to continue their jobs, that he would be back very soon.

As we know, things change. In a very simple but direct address to the cardinals in the pre conclave meetings, swung the pendulum in his favor. And it was because of that 170 word speech, Jorge Bergoglio became Pope.

He never got to go home again. And after becoming Pope, he still calls his friends, and invites them to visit, and he has brought the world he came from, into the world at large.

Before you judge someone or rely on preconceived notions about Pope and the Church, I highly recommend you read what has been written about Francis. It was a truly enjoyable reading.

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

Some People Don’t Make It

Another Thursday and another speaker. This night was reserved for our local DCM. That would be “District Committee Member,” who serves our district of the Island of Montreal fpr the area.

I, for example, hold a position as GSR for one of my home groups. That would be “General Service Representative” The GSR is the go between the group and the district. We meet once a month, to discuss news, hold workshops and do service for our specific groups.

Anyways …

The main message from her tonight was this … We should be so grateful for what we have, and to recognize just what we have in the rooms. That our program is one of “Spiritual Transformation,” that in order to reap the benefits, we heard it again tonight, we must be prepared to go to any length.

It seems the women have the market on this call.

They know what to do, and they do it gladly and willingly.

Some women suffer much more than the men do. And maybe this is why they work it as hard as they do. And some of us men, emboldened by their example have adopted their practices.

Some alcoholics come from alcoholic homes. And others come from homes where they never saw their parents take a drink. Many of us have siblings who drank, got sober, and either by their example we followed in their footsteps, or we got here on our own steam, many of those siblings went back out and paid the ultimate price.

I know, that a good number of our membership have lost family members to the disease of alcoholism. Which makes it a little more personal, why we stick so close to what we have and we go to any length to keep this going, even in the worst of times.

In the end, one of our men took 31 years. There was lots of Cake to go around.

There is only one book I need to read in order to understand where I come from, and quite possibly where I might be going if I stick around long enough to see the miracle happen for myself and my friends.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Walking In the Rain …

indian thought

They said it would rain. And it did. Just pissing rain. Enough to get wet, but not wet enough to carry an open umbrella, so we walked home in the rain tonight. However, the weather still has been stellar for a number of days.

Oh My God … I am so POOOOOOOPED !!!

Let’s back up a little bit and tell you about the week that was. Tuesday we talked about liquor and the fact that alcoholism is an incurable disease. Nuff Said about that !

Wednesday is my off night, which has become cook dinner for Baby Mama and Ms. LuLu. I started this little tradition when she first got here, one, to familiarize myself and the baby, and two, to cook her a meal that would last, which usually is a crock pot or casserole dish. But lately it has turned into “chicken” and doesn’t everything work out when it gets to chicken ???

We are still working to fill the apartment. We are still missing a sofa, for one reason only, there are no folks with trucks in the rooms it seems. We have all these resources but no truck owners. We got a quote for a mover who wanted to charge us $300.00 and mama was like fuck that !

So there is a single rocking chair in the living room.

Tomorrow, Saturday, I am installing an air conditioner for the baby’s room.

There are shitty things called by-laws that dictate just how you can install, where you can install using specific REQUIRED tools and wood and plexiglass shit ! UGH, they have to make this so damned complicated, I have an easy peasy, 10 minute hook up that I do here at home, but NOOOO that was just too easy and unacceptible to the apartment management.

God give me strength …

Well, you all know what happened last night.

The shit storm hack event of the century.

Today, Friday I worked my ass off.

There is no better work to do than be of service to someone that you can be present for.

A few hours of work changed two lives in the end.

Who needs Jiffy Maid, when you got me instead!

I came home for a couple of hours and headed off for the best night of the week.

Tonight’s topic … BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD …

Well, that was just one sentence of the reading, which came from a very early letter from Bill W.

it spoke about Bill’s consternation, early on that he could not convert the alcoholic to sobriety. In fact he failed several times over, trying to get men sober, and failed miserably, before going to talk to Doctor Silkworth, who told Bill that NO, Bill, you cannot convert the alcoholic. All you can do is share what you know, your experience, and that’s it.

You are not the center of the universe and You are not God. Hence,

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.

Still, to this day, our young people balked when the words Christ and God came within this reading. But they have come a long way in being open to discussions about God, over and over again.

Bill speaks a great deal about GOD in As Bill Sees It.

Continuously !!! Over and Over again …

I got the message I needed to hear.

It was a frenetic, exhilarating day. I worked my ass off with one of my guys. We had lunch and we hung out together all day long while we worked.

At the end of the day the only thing I wanted to know was, if for a few minutes tonight, sitting with his girlfriend that he felt, just a little bit, better about himself. And he did.

All I want is to be a vessel. All I want is for everybody to be well. We all want to be of maximum service to as many people as we can. And we do this in spades.

I am really grateful to have the friends I do.

I would not be the man I am without them.

Another week in the books.

We are all safe, sober, alive.

The computer is encrypted. I will eventually get all my money back.

It’s all good.

Be Still and Know that I am God…

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday – Life Update & Working with Others

BabyL2It’s a baby …

It has been a very exciting couple of days.

Monday early on, my lady friend and I set out for the airport, via the express shuttle from our local Metro Hub. Arriving at the airport, Baby Mama’s flight was due in twenty minutes early, which only gave us a few minutes heads up to get flowers for mama and a balloon for LuLu.

In the arrivals area, there is a barrier that one is not supposed to cross, into the baggage claim area proper. People were crossing the barrier in front of us.

Across the arrivals hall we spied baby mama and LuLu coming. I crossed the barrier and went and greeted her and gathered her luggage and stroller/car seat contraption.

It was a cathartic moment, the day we all worked so hard for, for the last year.

There were tears and lots of hugs. Then the realization that mama was here and that it really happened.

We gathered the bundles and ourselves and took a taxi to her condo where she is staying. It is right down the hill from where she will be living come July 1st.

I have to say that AIR BNB have some really nice properties. And kind folks running them.

The condo is a basement suite with washer/dryer, (read: Fully furnished to high spec) Full kitchen/dining room, Full size bed/room, Fully stocked bath. Security system and A.C. and Heating. The living room is handsomely furnished with a flat screen HD tv and surround sound stereo system.

While we unpacked, the reality was starting to hit.

My lady friend took mama and baby grocery shopping, my old sponsor picked me up and we headed home to get the boxes and furniture that has arrived here for the baby. We drove back to the condo and unpacked and I put together the furniture and un-boxed the rest of the goodies baby mama had ordered.

We were all famished and exhausted, it seemed neither of us got very much sleep Sunday night, we ordered some Chalet Barbeque and shared a simple meal. Miss LuLu was a handful and was beginning to realize she was some place new, a new home and lots of new faces.

I think it was all a little too much for LuLu.

We took our leave around seven, when the second string ladies came to visit with mama and baby, so she was not alone. By the time I got home, I was pooped. I crashed.

This evening I met mama and we walked up to the meeting, stopping to show her where she would be living next month. Everything is local. The daycare is just down the road next to the new hospital complex, adjacent to the Vendome Metro station.

The new apartment is up the hill just a few minutes walk, and is equidistant between Villa Maria and Vendome Metro’s. The Tuesday meeting is just across the street from home.

The folks at the meeting tonight were warm and welcoming. The issue of the baby did not come up, it was wise that people kept that opinion to themselves, because by the end of the meeting Mama was in tears of gratitude that she was so warmly welcomed.

All part and parcel of who we really are. Warm and welcoming.

We finished Joe and Charlie. 35 weeks of Big Book lectures.

And the angels sang, Hallelujah !!!

If there is one thing this group has proven in the last year, is that we will go to any length to help our friends. Inside or outside the room. It took a village to make this event yesterday come together. Finding a home, seeing it and securing the address, going to the daycare and arranging baby care, (that was no small task). Then taking care of arrival and getting into her home, away from home.

This is departure week for my guys. Summer Camp starts next week, so people are traveling to get settled in early. Summer Camp is home away from home, it gives our folks another perspective so that they can devote their other skill sets to the task at hand.

Bittersweet because they will be gone until late August.

We are all very grateful and we could not be happier to have baby mama and miss LULU home with us. Their new chapter of life is now open.

More to come, stay tuned …


Designer Baby

BabyL2Sometimes my image gallery comes in very handy. I spend a good amount of time looking for images for the blog.

So that is a thing.

It was a very productive day today. And it was another stellar day, but rain is on the way.

My laundry day has been moving from one day of the week to another. Wednesday was always my laundry day, because it was an off day. But for the last month or so, laundry has been moving across the week, and even to the weekend when necessary.

I did laundry today.

We have one H.E. washer and six regular washers. Every time I go upstairs to do laundry, I have to wait for the person ahead of me. There is a sign in the wash room that states a ten minute rule for laundry left in either the washer or dryer.

Being patient is not a strong suit when it comes to laundry. And I have taken to counting the ten minute rule when it comes to my schedule…

I got my laundry done, went grocery shopping and got the super to come fix a light switch that was on its last leg. When they came to treat us for our ant problem a few weeks ago, the team that did it came in and wrecked the apartment removing all the plates on all of the electrical outlets, switches or plugs, and leaving poison behind them. They were none too gentle with some things.

It only took a couple of minutes for our guy to fix it.

I spent a couple hours surfing the net, and then I took care of some chores I needed to do, in getting the clothing, stuff and shoes changed over for Spring. What do you do with old shoes???

I chucked them into the closet for now. But really I should bag em and toss em.

I took an abbreviated nap, which ended prematurely when hubby got home.

We made it up to the stop, and as we walk up the hill to catch said bus, usually one passes by and we get to wait for the next one. Tonight, that early bus was still back up the street so we made an earlier bus than usual, which got us to the church early.

Our set up guy got the message loud and clear that the institutional chairs go in the back of the room and the patio chairs go up front. Last week he had not placed the comfy chairs out and several of us switched our chairs before the meeting.

There are things you never ask someone.

  • Like, never ask a lady her age.
  • Never OUT a friend.
  • Someones sexual orientation is not necessary information, unless given to you directly.
  • And Never, Never, offer your personal gossip to someone, about someone else, to others.

It was a last minute thing, our speaker was a pinch hitter tonight. And he was a friend.

Every gay has a story about what it was like, what happened, and what it is like now.

Synonymous with our program of recovery.

  1. It doesn’t pay to be the designer baby of the family
  2. Reparative Therapy is useless
  3. Parent should love their children, no matter what, how often, that is not the case
  4. Money can’t buy you happiness
  5. People, Places nor things will ever define us
  6. You – Define – You
  7. Sometime taking the bus and being happy, is better than driving a Mercedes Benz and being miserable

I wonder how much money our man spent in therapy, to get over reparative therapy, that was supposed to change him and failed …

What happened? A martini would be good right about now, so it was.

Having faced death either ones self, or having witnessed a death in your family, is something you cannot take from a human being. Death changes you in ways you just cannot imagine.

Most people, take life for granted. And they mock those of us who have been to hell and have stories to tell. And I just look at them and say … “one day it will come for you, and it will be over!”

Then you will understand.

People who have yet to face death themselves, are clueless to the pain we have seen. Hence, taking life for granted.

People who get sick, don’t usually have a choice.

They get sick, they suffer, they come close to death and (1) survive, and/or (2) pay the ultimate price. In my case, I can’t plead innocence. I still, to this day, don’t know the who, what or why, I got sick, or who gave it to me. And I stopped worrying about that, because once its done, it is done, I had to get on with living or I was going to die like all of my friends.

My friend lost his brother, which took him to the lowest point in his life. And one night, in his garden at home, with a martini in his hand, ready to drink, the thought came to him …

“My brother didn’t have a choice, BUT I do …”

He put down that drink and returned.

He’s got a few months in. It isn’t a cake walk, by any stretch.

Moving from filthy rich and privileged, to taking the bus, I don’t need things to define me, is one hefty swing from one extreme to the other.

Portioning a house one shared with someone for over twenty years, ending that relationship,  jettisoning those “things” that need to go, and making peace with that process is difficult.

He did what he had to do, He is doing what he needs to do. And he chose not to drink over these things, God is doing for him what he cannot do for himself.

Sometimes I feel sorry for my friends, because of life’s lumps. Sometimes I weep during a meeting, because I just can’t understand that some human beings, should never have children, yet here we are, telling our stories, as survivors of those parents, who should not have had children to begin with.

There is a question I asked myself on the way home. I’m not sure that it would be prudent or beneficial to ask it to anyone else either.

My friend is sober tonight, and we are all grateful for that blessing.

Another friend took her twenty two year cake tonight. That woman is the woman who handed hubby his Big Book when he got sober, just before we met. She got him sober, and he has been sober ever since. She has been a fixture in my life for many years.

It was a very good night.

Everybody is sober another night.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … It Can Be That Good

tumblr_lw1xczBKEE1qfbc2to1_500 weheartitCourtesy: We Heart It – Four is the magic number !!!

February is behind us, Thank God and hallelujah !!!

It is not so bad tonight, (-6c/-9c w.c.) with light snow falling. Wednesday is still pegged to be the best day of the week coming. A positive temp, in the middle of negatives. That is a start.

This week, is sitting in the minuses, but next week, we will flirt with just above and just below zero. This comes from the weather channel 14 day outlook. Hopefully March will be the transitional month there is snow on the map, into March, so we will see how that plays out.

It has been a fabulous weekend. And this week will see all my guys reunited here in Montreal.

Last night there was lots of cake, cards, and candles, and medallions.

Nothing can compare with seeing your folks achieve milestones.

The First Year is the hardest. But he came, he saw, and he conquered. It doesn’t get any easier from this point but Two Years is the Silver Oval Chip, that once you get it, you keep it, and hopefully, when you reach ten years, that chip gets engraved and dipped in Gold for Ten Years. That’s a tradition here in the city, if you know who to go to to get that done.

Today I left early because I had to meet with one of my guys and set up for the meeting. We had our meeting before the meeting, and new folks in new jobs, and we sat a good group. In keeping with the series, we read Step Ten …

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

Once again, a few of us, when all was said and done tonight, scratched our heads, over things that were spoken. No two people work the program the same way. So you have to give them that.

When I realized that I wanted MORE, I had to find a sponsor that was MORE.

I had things I needed and he had some requirements for me as well.

  • Sponsees call every day
  • We meet once a week to chat
  • We read the book together weekly
  • We make one meeting a week together
  • And they do daily inventories from the beginning

I can’t ask another human to do something that I am not doing myself. If I am going to talk the talk, I better walk the walk. I do that.

There are several types of 10 step inventories. From the small, to the exhaustive. From up to the minute, to the seasonal house cleaning. A daily inventory, only if brief and simple, in the beginning, is useful for everyone. It gives one a chance to look at ones day, in simple terms, and gives us something to talk about daily. So by the time we hit step ten, eventually, in the series, they are used to writing, and have it down as rote.

It has been proven that this model of recovery works, at least for my guys it does.

I learned this from women I respect and love, and if they can do it, I can do it too. It was just that, not many men, that I know, are committed to recovery as hard as I am or as the women are. It’s a stepped up game that is proactive, engaging, and workable.

Each of my guys are unique. Each has their own needs, so I have to work with each of them and set them up for their strengths, and to help their weaknesses into strengths. In turn, I can tell you that they push me to be a better man every day. They challenge me to grow.

Working with others, is the best job you can do in your sobriety.

Sobriety is a full time job, and working with others, just makes that job much better.

It is Transformational. It will change your life in ways, you could not even imagine.

It is going to be an exciting week ahead. And I am SOOOO ready for it.

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday … Learn, Serve, Love

tumblr_l8s7v2G5CF1qaz2rlo1_500 steffrawrCourtesy: Steffrawr

It was a little frigid tonight. It is cold still, at (-13c/-23c w.c.) It was the wind that made the transits rough tonight.

It was a quiet day. Friday, “the best day of the week, and the best night of the week.”

I spent the day shopping for the anniversary party tomorrow night. One of my friends asked if I had gotten a card, I will need to do that on the way tomorrow evening. But I said that he could bring a card if he liked. You can never have too many cards.

I left around twenty after six, and made my transit clean. Halfway up the bus transfer one of my friends got on the bus, and we got to the church a little after seven. The room was lit, and one of our men had already set up the room, got the milk and was making coffee. There was little to do.

We had almost an hour to sit and chat.

We’ve been comparing notes between friends lately, how much time have you got, how did you get that far, how many meetings do you make a week. Then the discussion turned to age. We had been talking about a friend of mine and how old he really was, and I was like, really? Are you kidding me?

None of my friends, look their age, in a good way.

After all that pickling with drugs and alcohol, our bodies were preserved, so now into sobriety, we get to perfect our temples of God. I forget that folks with serious time in the high double digits are about ten years ahead of me on the time line.

I’m not quite fifty yet myself, but I am surely on the way there.

Fifty is the new Thirty … It’s all about attitude and taking care of ones self.

The room was full. We had guests. And we had cake.

The reading … A.B.S.I. … “In All Our Affairs…”

“The chief purpose of A.A. is sobriety. We all realize that without sobriety we have nothing.

However, it is possible to expand this simple aim into a great deal of nonsense, so far as the individual member is concerned. Sometimes we hear him say, in effect ‘sobriety is my sole responsibility. After all, I’m a pretty fine chap, except for my drinking. Give me sobriety, and I’ve got it made.

As long as our friend clings to this comfortable alibi, he will make little progress with his real life problems and responsibilities that he stands in a fair way to get drunk again. This is why A.A.’s Twelfth Step urges that we practice these principles in all our affairs. We are not living just to be sober; we are living to Learn, to Serve, and to Love.”

When I got sober, this second time around, it was a good thing that I did not have a whole lot on my plate, responsibility wise. I had a roof over my head, a part time job, and meetings to go to. And I was fine with just that, because that was about all I could handle.

For months I was read to, I was ministered to. I was fed and I was encouraged to STAY.

When I got HERE, something in my head said that it was ok to “expect!” WRONG!!!

I thought I needed things, that in the end, I really did not actually need, or got.

For the first year, I did meetings. All day and every night. I had a great sponsor who cared for me and in the end I cared for him deeply. Sadly, egos got in the way.

At the one year mark, I decided to go back to school. I also added a relationship. And I added the apartment that we live in today.

I went to meetings.

Then we had to clean up the wreckage of hubby’s past, we had to learn how to shop and cook for two. We had to learn how to pay bills responsibly, and it took 13 years to become financially secure. That one took a very LONG time.

I was making a home together with my then boyfriend. I was learning a great deal of how you take care of another human being, because, let’s face it, I was barely taking care of myself, when I quit drinking this time around.

Shit happened. it got very dark for a year.

I had to step up and be responsible in ways that I was woefully unprepared for.

AND I was starting my University Career.

If I did not have the meetings, and the people in those meetings, I would never have gotten this far.

In all my affairs …

I got sober first. And I put sobriety first. Before I did anything else, I went to a meeting. I spoke with my sponsor, I did service, I made my home group, every week, for more than thirteen years now.

I’ve said before that life came in stages. And not all at once, yet you would observe that at the one year mark, I added several things, that came unexpectedly, but were divinely ordained.

If one particular moment did not happen the way it did, in that very moment, I probably would not be where I am today, and where we are together.

You never know when Mr. Right is going to appear, or when that moment will present itself to you. So if it does, you better be ready to act. I chose to act. And in the end we won.

If you put anything BEFORE your SOBRIETY, you will loose it.

Trial and error proves this adage amongst my friends.

I hear my friends talk about themselves. Some of them are bat shit crazy, even in sobriety. And I love them warts and all. We are all crazy to some point, which is why we need to gather and talk amongst ourselves daily and weekly.

I’ve learned how to be responsible. In stages. And over the past two years, I’ve been able to really give back what was freely given to me.

I can’t tell you the pride and happiness I feel, knowing that tomorrow night, one of my guys is taking his 1 year chip. How do you quantify a years worth of work, in helping another human being rebuild his life, from the ground up. Now I have four of them. They are all building lives for themselves.

My heart is full.

If you aren’t giving back, WHY ?

There is no greater joy than walking another human through sobriety together.

I practice these principles in all my affairs.

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.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


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…


Friday … T-Minus 5 days, Heart full of Gratitude

220px-Montreal_StViateur1_tango7174Paroisse Saint Viateur d’Outremont

This is the centuries old parish church in Outremont, where our Friday night meeting meets. It is part of today’s story, I just needed to right image to accompany this post.

There are 5 shopping days until Christmas.

Thanks to online merchandise, PayPal, and a little creativity, I am really good at finding places that will ship to Canada, because not all online shops in other countries will ship world wide. It may be Online, but what you want, may not be available, depending on where you are shopping from. I do my best to buy “in country” when ever possible.

It was another blur of a day. We have been triangulating get togethers with friends who are in town for a short time. Tomorrow they are all scattering across the country for Christmas, so today was an entire day of food, friends, and fellowship.

I had dinner with friends earlier this evening before heading out for the Friday Night Meeting.

Our local hangout “Dundees” on Crescent Street, not far from home, is my go to restaurant. That place has hosted scores of lunches and dinners with influential professors, academic advisers, friends, and family over the last 13 years. The place has changed up its menu and also changed up how they present food on the plate. It was really nice. As always the food is fantastic.

I wrote the remaining cards out for my friends last night.

How do you Card scores of friends you see all the time? It really isn’t possible, that would cost a pretty penny in the end. I picked the Friday meeting crew to card. But there are upwards of 50 people at that meeting on any given Friday.

So my method of carding is this: The first circle starts with folks that are close to me, the ones who I see at set up week in and week out, people I spend the most time with, those folks who I invest a little more umph into. The next circle is friends who I talk to regularly, those who are part of my sobriety, I can’t know everybody, there are just too many people. The third circle is people that are on the fringe, the folks people tend to ignore, the ones who come early, do all the work, and nobody notices them and they leave with not a word from anyone else.

This is called a little random act of kindness move.

After dinner a friend and I set out for the meeting across the Metro. We took another route so that we could stop for bagels at the premier bagel shop, St. Viateur bagels on the plateau. Because if you want bagels, you go to the ultimate source! On the way we were on a bus that turned out, not to be very reliable, it kept stopping and going, beside its regular stops. We were on a tight schedule, and at the end of the ride (when we got off the bus) we sat at a stop light for like 4 rotations.

We were like WTF???

We walked the rest of the way up Parc to the bagle shop, got bagels, then got back on a bus going back in the direction we just came from to get to the church. We squeaked in just under the wire.

The house was packed for the party afterwards. Two of three of my guys were in attendance, it was the last time we would be together in the same space until January. It was a good discussion.

After the meeting we broke bread together, and I did my run around the room.

I am kind to everyone in the room. I listen to people week in and week out, who comes, who doesn’t, who’s on the fringe, and their stories. Stay long enough and you will learn this magical ability.

I just don’t fold a blank card, sign it and toss it into an envelope.

Every card has a specific message, meant for that specific person. Which is why I chose the folks I did this year to card. Friends I want to know better, people who are the most important to me, personally. Everybody is important, but people and personalities sometimes do not allow direct contact.

Investing is an art. To know what to say, and how to say it.

And the payout, the looks on people’s faces, when you hand them a card, totally not expecting a random act of kindness, smiles, tears, hugs,

PRICELESS …

An investment into my friends, to let them know how much I appreciate them and what they mean to me, at a time, when people struggle the most and feel the most alone. And a dash of words, meant specifically for them. Words are power, put in the right order, from the heart, can change a life in ways, one cannot imagine. Kindness on the holiday can also mean someone gets through a holiday, that someone took the time to think of them specifically.

I love that.

It isn’t about me, its all about my friends. Because without them, I am just one man.

I got a great book from a friend for Christmas. I got to meet new friends, I hit a meeting with my guys, and on the train ride home, another one of my guys called from out of town. It was a full night of smiles, tears, kindness and love.

The Best kind of night.

A heart full of gratitude.


Live Life With Enthusiasm

tumblr_l8yrf9m0gc1qb730lo1_500 thiswillnotdefineusCourtesy: This Will Not Define Us (Archives)

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

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

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

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

I had plans early this evening.

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

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

So I went back to bed.

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

Glorious !!!

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

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

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

I heard very familiar themes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was that the reason I became an alcoholic? NO

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

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

Ten are not enough, and one is too many

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

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

Not always knowing the WHY ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We did not get sober to be Miserable …

There are three types of alcoholics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, That Day …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You got to be in it to win it.

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

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

We live life with enthusiasm.

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

It was a great night.

More to come, stay tuned …


December 9th 2014 … Thirteen

tumblr_l8yig0qgFp1qbsveko1_500 billypazionis

Courtesy: Billy Pazionis Flickr

I offer you “Thirteen” a retrospective.

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

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

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

This is how we do it.

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT !!!

Are you listening??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mantra was “THE WORK.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank God for technology and sponsorship.

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

Now they do their work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am very grateful for all that I have.

Thanks for reading. More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … The Mississippi Pay Dirt

coffee cupHello Sunday Readers. It is a little chilly, and it is wanting to rain, but that did not happen on the way home. The theme of this past week is turning out to be the number 11. The way the readings have come this past week, and the way the month ends, on this particular Sunday, the last Sunday of the month, we focus on Tradition 11.

Attraction rather than promotion.

Not sure what the reason is, but our numbers have fallen off the past few weeks. Students are in the final push with exams and the end of term, and the beginning of the holiday break starts as well. I’ve said before that this period of time is the toughest time of the year for many, normies or not.

Friday night, I pilfered a couple Grape Vines to read, because I am between reads on my bedside table. And upon reading one of the issues, one writer talked about volunteering at the Bill W. house that I went to see in October. And I was like, HMMMM …

I had some literature that was given to us at the house, that I really did not read through, so I went back to it and found that they indeed have a list of things they need, certain people who can do certain things, skills, building, plumbing and all sorts of house care abilities. Later I spoke to my sponsor and put a bug in his ear about maybe returning to the house next summer to volunteer for a while.

Tomorrow is December 1st. World AIDS Day.

December already, Can you believe it ???

We are nine days out from my anniversary.

The second booklet I was reading from had a particular story based in Mississippi. And I want to share with you part of that story…

… A tall, thin man … had a treatment house for drunks out in the country. My uncle knew about him from the church and took me out to this house to get me some help after finding me drunk once again. This man talked about how he felt before and after he drank.

He taught me from the Big Book.

At this house I heard things like, “I didn’t get drunk every time I drank, but every time I got drunk, I had been drinking” “The first thing you have to do to stop drinking is to stop drinking”“Reveal yourself to God and ask God to reveal Himself to you”

Red, you’re doing everything backwards.

You are trying to get clean before you get in the bath, It’s the purpose of the bath to get you clean” … and … “All my life I ran from the bears and tigers, when the fleas and ticks were about to carry me off.”

When the time is right, and we are prepared to listen to the message, the right folks appear and speak the words that will, hopefully, take root, and change our lives.

We encourage folks at our meetings to grab the free stuff, those pamphlets that usually gather dust in the cabinet. We also tell them to read that literature then leave them where someone who might need it, will find them.

Buses, Trains, Doctors offices. Subtle, don’t you think?

Many of us have had opportunities on the many modes of transportation in our city, to be able to be present for another human being. It is not all about us. I am reminded of a certain young woman who I have not seen in a while, but one night she saw someone in need on a Metro platform, and she sat with that person and talked to them about experience, strength and Hope.

What we do, we do out of the goodness of our hearts. To share and to help others. It’s not about personal gain or accolades. We talked about the paradox on Friday night. The loss of ego, the loss of selfishness, to the state of humility and the acts of selflessness.

I can talk about me, and I can tell stories, and share insights with you.

We are all on a journey together. And like I have said before, I don’t know what God’s voice sounds like, and I know that if I do hear it, that it is going to come from someone familiar. You never know when you are going to hear something or say something that is going to change a life.

I know, that many folks who come to meetings, on any given night, come to hear their friends, and to participate in the journey’s of our fellows. We all want what each other has. There is something attractive about every human being I know.

I was talking to one of my guys tonight about growing up. And I told him that I took what I needed from my parents, and left the rest that was unnecessary. When I got sober the second time, I went to meetings, and I met all the right people. Men and Women.

I am an amalgamation of every human being that I have known in the past thirteen years.

I watched and listened to all those people over the years. I did what they did. I learned about me and I did it one day at a time. I really had all the time in the world, and when they told me that “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” it made sense. I was in no hurry to grow up.

But I did grow up. And what I have and who I am, is a direct result of the hundreds of hours that I have spent in the rooms themselves with the people I love and adore.

December 9, 2001. Day One. 365 days x 13 = 4,745 days.

I’ve lived almost 4,745 days one day at a time. I wanted what I wanted. I worked for every sober day I got. And I lived. When I should have died a long time ago. I’ve lived 21 years past my expiration date. Because I moved here. I met the right doctor, the right men, and the right women.

All of them participated in my recovery and in my life.

Montreal was an attractive city. Montreal IS an attractive city. And If you’ve never been here, then one day you must come here and see it.

The program was attractive. It was not pounded into me. I was shown, a day at a time, how it worked, and if I wanted it, and I was ready to go to any length to get it, then it was mine to have.

And now I have the opportunity to share that with you. I share with my friends and fellows, and with my guys, not because I have to, but because I want to. Today, people want to know me and be my friends. It isn’t about me, in the end. It’s about my friends and how much they enrich my life.

Words are important. Make sure you use the right words.

I hope I have used the right words tonight.

I want to end on the right word.

Gratitude …


Sunday Sundries … Empty Seats

tumblr_n5wtzkmAyw1sh33qco1_500 blamboyzCourtesy: Blamboyz

Well, it is a common occurrence that the weather forecast changes by the hour here, and the snow that appeared the other day, is gone now. It will be too warm for snow, so it’s going to rain instead ! BOOOO ….

Another week begins and on Tuesday Canada will stop to remember. It will be a very bittersweet Remembrance Day this year, because of the recent events that two Canadian soldiers lost their lives because of terrorist activity here in Canada. Our men and women are proud to serve their country and to also wear their uniforms. As one soldier said the other night, “We Will NOT Be Intimidated !!!”

Security will be stepped up at all gathering locations.

Hopefully, nobody will do anything stupid on Remembrance Day.

It was an uneventful weekend. I have spent a good chunk of hours before bed reading “Price Lestat.” I am impressed with the way the story is unfolding so far.

I departed early. The weather is chilly, and the trees are quickly dropping leaves all over the place. The church had raked ten bags full of leaves that got picked up last week, now they have to re-rake the yard because the entire lawn is covered again. Best to get them up before the first snow fall.

We had a gaggle of women for set up. Not that there is really, a lot to do, once the coffee is on, setting up chairs with more than three people takes little time. I have a newbie that came with a friend, and he joined the group and we exchanged numbers so we will see where that goes. He’s on the call every day program. Hopefully he will take.

We set out all of our chairs as usual, but in the end, many of them were empty. We sat just the right number of folks because we read all the way around and them shared all the way around just under the wire.

We are one story closer to the end of the book. “Freedom from Bondage…”

We heard several key words from this read … Power, Control, Ego, Self Centeredness, Obsession …

Step Three Prayer says .. “Relieve me from the bondage of self that I may better do thy will…”

In the beginning our writer was of the mind that she could never trust another human being, and that what ever it was she wanted, she was supposed to go out and get it. Kind of like, King and Master of ones life. Through trial and error, well, mostly errors, it took her a long time to figure out that, the attainment of “things” or “people” or “situations” was not really what mattered.

Drinking to escape ones self and constantly trying to find ones self in the act of marriage, whether that marriage was for money, or children, trying to fix ones self, by adding people or things to the mix was not the solution.

We also heard about emotional maturity. Something I can identify with.

They say that when we begin drinking, whenever that is, we stunt our growth, emotionally.

When I started drinking, I was woefully prepared for the big wide world, and totally immature to handle adult situations.

When I got sober the first time I was forced to grow up, as I was able, to deal with life threatening illness.

I conquered that situation because I was sober and had a guide.

Then I lapsed, and gave back the gift. And turned my back on it.

When I got sober the second time, I was at that crucial jumping off point.

I was too old to keep drinking the way I was drinking. The alcohol was not going to add years to my life. And sure as shit, it wasn’t going to turn me into a buff beach boy that I wanted to become or regress into.

Fear was ruling my life, because I was really not ready to grow up, but there was no other way to go.

God had a plan, and when I finally surrendered, I trusted in where ever He was going to take me.

I did grow up, into the man I am today, and if not for the rooms, I don’t know where I would have ended up.

Our writer says in her story that “I get everything I need in A.A. And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.”

If you are in, I encourage you to stick and stay. Because in time you will learn the same truth. Everything we need will come from the rooms and the people in them. I guarantee that to you.

You always get what you need when you step in a room.

We welcomed newcomers. We helped a woman trying to get help for her partner. We got another member. We had visitors from out of town. And it seemed that everybody got fed along the way.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday – Dependence Healthy or Not ?

tumblr_n8awedCgkN1s25jg6o10_500Courtesy: Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho

Another week has gone. Slowly the sunsets will come earlier and earlier. The trees are beginning to turn, but not as brightly as they should just yet. It is still early.

There comes a time when we need to let people be who they are and to allow them their process. There is a point when one says, choose your battles wisely, and know when to remain quiet.

All I can say for myself is that my life is hundreds of times better than I had ever expected, God has done what I could not do for myself. And I have nothing but gratitude for the people in my life today.

On Thursday night we read “Gratitude in Action,” The story of the founder of the program in Quebec in 1944. This year is the Seventieth Anniversary of that beginning. When you read the book through as we have been doing for the last year of Sunday’s, a common occurrence happens.

When the program began and the book was written, there was a question about how were we going to pay for it, and how were we going to get it out to the suffering alcoholic?

Little by slowly, people stepped out of the shadows all over North America. In cities like Akron, Cincinnati, Montreal, and cities far and wide, people began to contact the General Service Office in New York City. And a letter would begin the interaction, and a response would take place. The book would be sent and another human being was helped to get sober.

In each city the same thing happened. Once a rapport was achieved, the original first contact would get a package of letters from people (in their town or city) that had been written to N.Y.C, for help.

From that contact, each garden blossomed, like mushrooms in the dirt. There were so many letters at G.S.O that the possibility of answering all those letters was slim, so as cities came online, they were able to serve those people who so needed help.

We know where the house sits today in Montreal, where it all started, for both the English and French side. I know men who knew the founder, There are a few old timers who can still tell the tale. This year, at our convention in November, the family of the founder will speak and a celebration of the 70th anniversary will take place.

I missed last Friday night, so I left early to make my transit. I don’t know about you but, some of our bus drivers have issues. At my bus pickup there were several buses sitting in the bay. Their drivers sitting across the street at the depanneur (local store) smoking and talking amongst themselves. Several buses went by us while the queue got longer. Finally a bus came off a run after dropping its passengers and took the run. While the other buses sat there unoccupied.

Tonight’s read A.B.S.I… Dependence, healthy or Not ?

From birth was are dependent on our parents to feed us, change us and keep us safe and teach us about life. I never wanted for anything. I had everything a young person could want or ever need. It was not about riches or being better than another. Interspersed with all the goodness were times of terrible badness. All part and parcel of growing up in my home.

It’s funny, retrospectively, how things and people and situations can turn on a dime.

A label get applied, a sickness takes place, and voila, shit happens.

People are going to do what they are going to do. And sometimes we are on the end of receiving something bad. Funny, that, in life, how easily people who we are supposed to depend on for love, guidance and support, fail and fail badly.

But it had happened that as people fell away, unable to cope or not wanting to deal, others stepped in and became not only reliable, but dependable. When the chips fall badly, you really get to see what people are really made of and just how much you really mean to them.

When I moved away from home, I wasn’t yet dependent on alcohol. But it became clear to me, with the advice of a mentor that alcohol was going to do for me what I could not do for myself. And I did not know any better, and I should have.

It is the same story – across my life when it came to the drink. And as time went on, it only got worse. There is a fine line that is crossed when dependence becomes delusion.

When I got sick many years ago, if you did not get it fast, someone and something to rely on, humanly and medically, death was a sure bet. I was not wealthy, by any means. It was just me. And I depended on the system, and on people, to help me survive.

Let me tell you that being dependent on a system or a person for your survival is the lowest form of torture.

I learned quickly. I could go from mild mannered human to Cast Iron Bitch in sixty seconds when necessary. When someone tells you that they are going to do something for you, and doesn’t, heads will roll, if they fail to keep up on their words.

Coming off my slip, the system told me where I would live, who would bring me food, who would help me pay my bills, and where I would get all that money to pay for medication that I sure as shit could not afford all on my own. And drinking was not helping. Having to choose between paying rent, buying food, paying for medication and drinking was difficult. Until I took my last drink.

The other variables did not change. I just removed the alcohol.

That is dependence in the worst way. The system expects you to die quickly and not survive. At least that is what they think, but won’t tell you that directly, but it is implied.

I’ve said before that the how and why I got here was divinely inspired. When I turned it over, God moved heaven and earth for me. And that was the most freeing act I have ever felt. I had felt that freedom once before, and it lasted for a while. So I knew what it felt like.

I got here and got connected. I met all the right people. I’ve depended on my friends and fellows like I’ve never been so dependent on anything else in my life, besides God to begin with. As hard as I was dependent on alcohol and drugs at one time, I was equally dependent on sobriety and the people involved.

Everything I have, Everyone I know, Every gift I have received, came from the rooms directly. My life, my marriage and my husband came from the rooms. Marriage is an act of dependence. I depend on my husband and he depends on me. When we met, it was a spiritual connection. When we spoke our vows before family and God, we spoke our dependence on God and each others.

Dinner break …

They put brand new signage on the mall at Alexis Nihon Plaza, and tonight they turned on the new L.E.D. lights very flashy ! It will be nice for Christmas.

They say, in the rooms that, if you put anything, people, places or things before God, it will be a foregone conclusion, that you will loose them.

I’ve learned that lesson, and many others have as well.

Marriage is a union of two people. God plays a central role in my life and our lives. And I learned how to do that by the examples of the many men and women I know today. The women do it far better than the men do. What I know so far, came from them. And I’ve worked very hard to help my guys do it well, as well.

Going to meetings is not an addiction transference. We go to meetings because they give us life and teach us how to live soberly, in a world that revolves around the addiction to things, drugs, alcohol, money, personality, celebrity and so on.

If you want to learn about how to live life soberly, to get around slippery places, I suggest you pick up a copy of Living Sober. That will kill any ill conceived expectations you might have about coming to the rooms.

When the meeting starts and we take that moment of silence, listening to my friends pray in unison is such a wonderful sound. This night is unlike all other nights, however every meeting begins the same way, it just feels differently on Friday’s.

Our men and women come to hear each other. We depend on each other to help us, to hear us, to support us, and to celebrate with us. And we do that in spades.

It was an awesome night. I am very grateful.

More to come, stay tuned …