Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. The Ferryland – New Foundland Iceberg Easter 2017. A Word Press Production.

Helping Others

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 …

Mary Untier of Knots

Mary-Untier-of-Knots

[Jorge Bergoglio] Made a pilgrimage to the Bavarian city of Augsburg where, in the Jesuit church of Sankt Peter am Perlach, he contemplated s Baroque-era painting from the early 1700’s known as Maria Knotenloserin, “Mary, Untier of Knots,” which was the object of a local devotion. The painting’s story goes back to a feuding married couple who had been on the verge of a bitter separation. The husband, Wolfgang Langenmantel, had sought help from a local Jesuit priest, Father Jakob Rem, who prayed to the Virgin Mary “to untie all the knots” in the Langenmantel home. Peace was restored and the marriage was saved; and to give thanks for the miracle their grandson commissioned the painting and donated it to the church.

At First glance, it is nothing out of the ordinary; the painting shows the Virgin, surrounded by angels and protected by the light of the Holy Spirit, standing on a serpent with the child Jesus in her arms. But the middle of the painting is striking: an angel to Mary’s left is passing her a silk thread full of knots that she unties, handing on the un-knotted thread to an angel on her right.

Father Rem’s prayer to the Virgin had been inspired by an ancient formula of Saint Irenaeus: The knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary.

Obedience was precisely Bergoglio’s knot. It is the key vow for Jesuits, and one he strongly believed in; it was what made mission and unity possible. Yet what he had been given was not a mission, but a means of getting him out (sic. Of Argentina) because he was an obstacle. What obedience did he owe?

Obedience comes from the Latin obaudire, to “hear” or “listen to.” The vow is meant above all to free the heart from the ego in order to listen to God, and submit freely to His will: the Virgin is the perfect model of such obedience.

What was God’s will, now, for Bergoglio, in the middle of his life?

Bergoglio took a handful of Maria Knotenloserin prayer cards back with him. In the 1990’s, after a local copy of the painting – known in Spanish as Maria Desatanudos – was hung in a church in Buenos Aires, it took off in an extraordinary way, leading Bergoglio later to say he never felt so much in the hands of God.


Sunday Sundries … Riding the Rails

Trains Depression photo Alan FisherCourtesy: Trains of the 1930’s – Photograph Copyright Alan Fisher

The weather did get better. I am sure that thousands and more enjoyed the Grand Prix this afternoon. Montreal shone in all its glory for visitors from far and wide.

It was a full day today. I visited with a friend before the main event of this evening. The construction season is in full swing, not only on local roads and highways, but also, many Metro Stations are being upgraded. I had not visited the Queen Mary district in a while, and I was there today, and the station is under construction, they knocked down and entire block of old buildings and built in its place, a modern brick build housing a Subway and a Pharmaprix, with apartments upstairs. This is noteworthy, because when I first got sober, I spent the better part of two years in aftercare, at the Chabad Lifeline House which HAD been where the new building now sits.

I went from uptown, back to Westmount for the meeting. My guys and gals were waiting for me as I arrived. I was just a few minutes off – because the trains were running on longer wait schedules.

The summer season is in full swing, as I spoke about earlier.

We sat a full number and read a story that went all the way around the room, and then halfway into it again. That’s what you get when you are reading a 13 page story. The chair reminded us of the time constraint so that everyone could share, and we hit the mark, it was fabulous.

Our story, Riding the Rods, comes from Edition One of the Big Book. Which means, all these stories took place prior to the first edition being printed in 1939.

Our man, in this story, at age 14, knew how to get around, that did not include, “walking.” Our young person began to ride the rails from one town to the next. Never staying in one place too long, In the beginning it is exciting. The travel, the not knowing, the adventure.

People did not have much back in those days, as was referenced in our story. So going to find fortune and life someplace else was appealing to some. But we are talking about an early alcoholic. At first he did not go looking for the bottle, but by default, you know he is going to end up inside one sooner or later.

Beer to start, but not the way to get over a hangover the next morning, so it was bootleg hard liquor to the rescue.

Take a hobo alcoholic, toss in a woman and a couple of kids, and what do you get?

A man who will end up with a job for a bit, but not for long. A man who will leave very little for his wife and children and take to the rails to make money but find insanity in the bottle, only to return to where he started, not knowing how he got there, needing help and is committed.

The end could have been tragic, but we always get to the Strength portion of the three part trilogy, one alcoholic, speaking to another, sharing experience, strength and hope.

At the time of printing our man had accrued two years sober, and in those times, two years, was akin to a lifetime, when all they had were each other, sitting in some nondescript living room, 40 at a time, listening to someone tell their story.

Thank God we have what we have today. Because if it weren’t for those first 100 sober folks, we wouldn’t be here afforded what we have.

Gratitude week begins on the 10th of June …

I have a friend, in the rooms today, who jumped out of his seat tonight, as we read. He is the only man I know today, who rode the rails with the hobos and tramps. At first drinking to find something he thought he needed and did not have. All the way to the end, where drinking was not for the finding, but the escape from the insane alcoholic state of mind he was in.

You know its bad when drinking to find becomes drinking to escape …

Every time I read an old story, I muse on the fact that I lived my alcohol story backwards.

In my twenties, I jumped into the deep end of the pool, all alone, with no real direction or goal or anyone to help me get there, had I had someplace to get to in any case.

I did not know from responsibility.

The more I pounded the alcohol the worse it got. I did not have a train to hop, but I certainly drove myself from one city to another and another, trying to find something, I thought was certain, and today I can’t remember what it was I started looking for.

In every stop, I had menial work, I waited tables in Daytona Beach, I sold jewelry by the inch in a shopping mall for a while, I worked in a hole in the wall bar, for Jabba the Hut, which almost took me into prostitution. All the while drinking my way around the state of Florida.

I was the alcoholic tornado twisting through the lives of friends and family.

I made a number of crucial bad decisions. I hurt all the wrong people.

The first time I got sober, I made some serious amends, others I was not so forgiven at all. I had three strikes against me by this point in the timeline, so who would forgive a gay, hiv+, on his deathbed faggot of his sins ??? Not many people.

I lived the alcoholic hell backwards. I did not have much, but what I did have I lost. I worked my way back a little, only to loose again. In the end I perfected my drinking so that I would not loose again. Once again, I got things back, but tossed it away with silent resentment and secrets.

I lost everything I owned on that last trip. And almost my life.

This is the longest I have gone, staying in the same place, sober in my life.

You could say that my childhood would be the first long term sober period staying in one place for a very long period of time. It wasn’t. We moved three times. I started drinking in my teens, and it only got worse. So let’s say from 15 to 20, I was already active. I would admit that those first fifteen years were sober, but they sure were hit and miss, when it comes to good and bad.

The last almost 14 years have been insanely good. I’ve been sober a long few twenty four hours. We live a good life. We have everything we need. Rarely an angry word has been spoken in all those years, and I’ve worked to keep the insanity at a distance.

Many of my friends all agree, that with the coming of the summer season, and the races and festivals here in the city that,

“The alcohol really looks inviting.”

Another friend, said that she, the first time, wasn’t “in it to win it.” And it took a slip to get her to pay attention and to finally be In it to win it. I tend to agree. The same thing happened to me. I had bigger fish to fry the first time, so I wasn’t really in it to win it. I was trying to stay alive.

After my slip, I got another reprieve.

This time I was in it to win it, but even that thought took eleven years to percolate in my brain, before a man pointed this out to us at a Round Up a couple of years ago.

I am In it to Win it …

A drink might sound really good at times.

I don’t think I have another recovery in me.

The founders remind us just how much we stand to loose if we give up and throw in the towel.

Failure is NOT an option, neither is taking a drink.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Goodbye May … Hello June

tumblr_lxerkgWVPI1r556eno1_500 followeedCourtesy: Followeed

The weather has definitely shifted overnight. Yesterday we hit the 30c mark. Today, when I left the house it was 14c. It was a little chilly, so it was a second layer kind of evening. I did not have to travel far today, the Tour De L’ Isle was today, thankfully they stayed away from downtown.

I left early and arrived at the church and was greeted by the church super. He wanted to tell me of the plans they are putting in place to uber secure the church, after the break in and theft that took place a couple weeks ago. He was able to purchase his stolen tools (read: saws, routers, and other assorted power tools), at a reduced price, less than half of what he paid for them originally, thank you Home Depot for the deals. New doors were put in and other security features will go in including an alarm in our end of the basement. Churches are very popular in the thieving ring in the city. Over the last decade, St. Leon’s has been hit several times.

I find it sad and also sacrilegious to steal from a church, especially one that is on the Heritage Site list. Surely, some people are going to burn in hell for robbing the parish.

We sat an uber full house. And we read from the Twelve and Twelve and Tradition Five.

“Each group has one primary purpose, to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.”

Over the years, meeting numbers go up and down. We attribute that to seasons and weather patterns, and also the frequency of hockey games.

I guess you could say that Sunday Niter’s does well in the “carrying the message” responsibility, because our numbers are way up from this past winter. Many folks, this evening, spoke to that effect. We have an open and honest bunch of folks, from across the board, with various lengths of sobriety, and we work very hard at welcoming the newcomer and making you feel at home for the hour or so you are with us.

Some of our folks keep coming back, and over time they learn to share what they have been given, and that keeps them in the loop, and reminds them of how important it is to reach out to new folks as they come in the hall. A day sober will perk someone’s life up, in unexpected ways.

Can you believe it, May is done and Tomorrow is June 1st.

Summer is some time away, but as things go here in Montreal, the Summer season has already started for tourism and the get outside event calendar. We are hopeful that our seasonal summer visitors will return. As the Summer concert series begin and film houses come to film here in Montreal, our numbers will swell. Sunday Niters is a very popular stop on the tour circuit.

Another successful month of meetings in the book. The jobs are all taken for June. The matriarch of our meeting has indicated that she is stepping down and she handed the meeting off to our small group of trusted servants, our main goal, as always, is to keep the doors open for as long as we can.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday … Now, Later, Maybe and Never

friends becomeThe Up/Down temperature swings have leveled off, and today we swung into sunny, hot and moderate humidex readings. Thank God for Air conditioning. I was wise to load it up a few days ago, when they warned us that this trend would come.

When temps rise above 18c and above, things begin to get sticky. Living amid the concrete jungle, here in Western Downtown, cement and concrete buildings, warm during the day, then radiate heat when the sun goes down.

We aren’t insulated for seasonal hot and cold. This building is concrete and most apartments have windows across one entire wall, no matter what direction you face. We face West, which means, we get direct sunlight from 11 a.m. through till sundown.

That gets very warm. We get so much sun, that over the past decade or so, we had hung blinds, we papered or foiled the windows to turn sunlight away, these things did not help very much.

When we renovated the space a few months ago, we splurged on special sun sensitive roll blinds that work really well. They cut the heat quotient in a great way. With the added a.c. unit in the bedroom, we can maintain the apartment at a steady cool and comfy level.

It was so beautiful today, that I walked from the Metro to the church on the way out. (read: there was no bus waiting at the station, so I walked it).

It was our fourth year anniversary for the meeting today.

It’s very funny, our meeting.

They say, that all you need to have, to open a meeting, is a resentment and a coffee pot…

You actually need at minimum $350.00 to do it right.

And that is exactly how Vendome started. ONE pissed off alcoholic and his resentments.

Many years ago, well, four to be exact, Tuesday Beginners was in transition. We dropped from two meetings on a Tuesday Night, to just one. One of our members wanted the key and said he would operate the second meeting himself, in our space, inside our window of occupancy.

That idea was instantly nixed …

So he left, and along with my current sponsor, opened a brand new meeting right up against Tuesday Beginners, but half an hour earlier. Which put it smack dab in the middle of the Five o’clock shadows meeting at 5 and Tuesday Beginners at 7.

All three meetings are close. They are all on bus and Metro lines.

A couple of years later, I decided to leave Tuesday Beginners and followed my friends over to Vendome. By that time, the original member who opened the meeting copped another resentment with the group, and he fled. Which left us with a meeting to run and populate.

We were at Trinity for a little more than a year, then the N.D.G. Food Bank, was tossed on the street by their landlord, so they really needed a place to operate, because the food bank serves the entire N.D.G. and surrounding Burroughs. They came to Trinity.

Our meeting was tossed into the auditorium where the food bank had set up all around us, so we were sharing space with them, and several other meetings that book ended ours.

That did not go very well, and we ended up moving the meeting to where it is now. Up the hill and close to Villa Maria Metro and the 24 bus route. Sadly, most of the folks who used to come to Trinity, did not follow. We could never figure out the why? It was only 2 city blocks away.

We’ve maintained the group, albeit, by the skin of our teeth. We aren’t making seventh, hand over fist, and funds have fallen off because we can’t seem to hold over many people, they just don’t come week after week, however, we do have a small group of committed members.

Along with our anniversary today, one of our old timers celebrated 29 years of sobriety.

There was cake, and other goodies to feast upon.

We are closing in on the end of our Joe and Charlie Big Book tapes.

AH, I can hear the angels sing …

We have reached Steps Eight and Nine.

It is said that alcoholism is a three fold disease. Spiritual, Mental and Physical.

In steps One, Two and Three, we realize our powerlessness, we come to believe in a Power Greater than Ourselves, and we decide to turn it over. For many, this might be their first time around with (a) god. But many know who God is, and they have turned away for one reason or another. That solves our spiritual problem.

In Steps Four, Five, Six and Seven, we set to paper all those things that hold us back. Resentments, Guilts, and Fears. After an exhaustive, moral personal inventory, we clear away the wreckage of our pasts. Then we unload it upon someone we trust. We figure out from that inventory our character defects and our shortcomings.

It is also said that we continue to work Six and Seven for the rest of our lives.

That solves our Mental problem.

In Steps Eight and Nine, we make our lists of those we need to make amends to, and prepare to do so, as we are able, with this proviso …

An Amends list is not something to take lightly, depending on how much damage you have done to yourself and others. (read: Family, Friends, Employers etc …)

Many come to this point and balk. So Joe and Charlie give us this tool:

  • Make Four lists:
  • Those we can make amends to NOW
  • Those we could make amends to LATER
  • Those whom we could MAYBE make amends to at some point
  • And those we will NEVER be able to make amends to

Reading the text out of the Big Book, Bill covers almost every single situation that might turn up for someone working at this juncture of The Work.

Many an old timer took to the work slowly. But it is what it is. Amends cross many areas.

  • Personal
  • Business
  • Family and
  • Financial

At some point in ones sobriety, we should complete this list, in any way possible, because we drank, for some, in any way possible. And if we had to Beg, Rob or Steal it, alcoholics and addicts have done that. It may take a lifetime, but we only have ONE lifetime.

So we better make it a good life, in the end.

I’ve done these lists. There are people on each of these lists. With the dawn of sobriety the second time, I had to make amends to certain people, which I did early on, because I could.

When I got sober the second time, about a month in, I met those friends I ditched opting for a geographic, instead of honesty and respect. Those amends were made directly, face to face.

Let me tell you, that was not easy. It took everything I had to look my friends in the eyes and ask for forgiveness.

With the dawn of Facebook, I made amends to my friends whom I had not seen in many years. Many of my drinking friends, are sober themselves, so that made it a bit easier, because they were in the program, and the amends were mutual and went both ways.

There is one woman, a good friend of mine, who is still in my life today, who WAS in my life through every stage of my life in recovery the First and Second time.

We had THAT discussion.

She forgave me. But to this day, my heart aches, every time I think about her or see activity on Facebook, because I have unfinished business with her. You see, she was the only friend who was financially involved with helping to take care of me when I was really sick, my family had long since backed out of any responsibility or desire to help me.

And she carried me to my geographical move and then she left and went on to her own geographical cure. I was all the way OUT, she was only PARTIALLY the way out.

Life went on. But I owe her more than asking for forgiveness. One day I hope to make full financial restitution to her in my own way, for everything that she did for me. But I have yet to say these words to her, because they have been a long time coming.

Then on the final list, are those who I will NEVER be able to make amends to. Those are the people who walked out of my life for various reasons, (which are all about them, and not about me, but really, it is all about me no matter how you cut it).

I was an Alcoholic. I was Gay, I was living with AIDS, and I reside in Canada.

All these things are liabilities.

So fuck me for surviving…

We’ve come a long way over the last year or so. Each pass at the steps gives us perspective, insight and then the gift of hindsight. The greater the vision, the greater the effort to sober up.

We grow up when we get sober, and hopefully, we do it right this time.

Maybe NOW, Maybe LATER, MAYBE sometime, and sadly, quite possibly NEVER.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Insidious

tumblr_m187ytnKBN1r3fvxmo1_500 thedarkblueCourtesy: The Dark Blue

It has been an up/down kind of week last week. Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom, gave us a week of roller coaster temperatures, from single digit pluses, to ground frost, to windy (I need a jacket) cool, and today we are in double digit pluses. People never knows what to pack, what to wear, so that was a thing…

Life has become very busy, and almost frenetic. I’ve spent a good amount of time with my friends, which has been a real good thing. Getting to spend time with friends outside the normal travel routes is a nice addition.

A few weeks ago, I went to see my main doc for my spring checkup. While I was there, he floated the idea that he might be able to put me on brand new next gen HIV medication. I’ve been on my present regimen for almost ten years now.

But because of the transition from multiple sites, into the main Glenn site, everything is upside down. Medical files are currently being digitized and uploaded to computers, because the Glenn is attempting to be paper free.

This has posed numerous problems.

For the last two weeks doc has been trying to find my archive file, which has all of my genetic coding information. They rotate old paper into archives and store them in the basement, so you have to actually go looking for them.

UGH !!!

We’ve been talking on and off for the past week. Monday last week, I got the call about the switch. Doc did eventually find my file, and double checked the genetic profile. When I was diagnosed many years ago they did genotypes and phenotypes to type and cross reference my particular virus type. This will tell doctors what will and won’t work, on a grand scale.

Depending on the viral typification certain drugs are automatically disqualified for future use.

Genetic testing has been useful to optimize drug success. But it also is problematic, because even if new drugs come online, if you don’t match, you don’t get new drugs. Even if they have been reworked and strengthened.

I failed the mark this time around.

Which means, I stay on the present regimen for at least another year, until the next round is released. Bummer …

I’ve been keeping an eye on my baby birdies on the balcony, and I think that mom has abandoned her chicks, because she hasn’t been in the nest for days now, and I am not sure what to do, beyond calling the ASPCA and getting someone out here to take them and nurse them.

Yesterday, it was a double layer kind of day. It was that chilly. Today we are in the twenties, and I chose to walk the outer route to the church. Everyone, well, most of our folks were at the roundup this weekend, so I pulled all the jobs tonight.

We sat a good number and read another serious war story.

The take away:

  • Alcoholism is insidious
  • If nobody says STOP the alcoholic will keep going
  • Where ever you go, there you are
  • Functional alcoholism always devolves into insanity
  • Eventually, if we are lucky, we find the solution

We read all the way around, and the shares went all the way around. What started as many message discussion, turned into a meeting for one particular woman.

Before the meeting started, I was alerted, by a friend, that there was a newcomer in the crowd, which falls to the 12 step rep.

I was feeling a little iffy early on today. I just had a sinking feeling that something was just not right. I can’t tell you where that came from, but it is what it is. I knew my Sunday guy was out at a function, and that the women were at the roundup, so nobody came in early, to either read or help set up. My uneasy-ness was confirmed shortly after the meeting started.

A friend, who is fresh, was sitting in a lump, and I knew there was something wrong.

“The alcoholic will drink again …”

You never know when it will come, but at some point, the only thing that stands between you and your next drink, will be your higher power. This time, it went unused.

Been here and done that.

It only takes a millisecond. One moment of freak. One action, putting a drink to ones lips.

For a few minutes everybody listened.

Anguish is a very heavy emotion. What do you say, what do you do?

At least she made it to the meeting, in one piece.

I just knew something was off tonight.

We strolled home, and I phoned a friend to pick up the pieces.

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 …


Thursday … Should I Stay or Should I Go ???

tumblr_ld9721OgLN1qzhiyso1_500 canada kidCourtesy: My friend Joel … Canadian Photography

We are sitting at a very frigid (-17c/-29 w.c.) We did not get the snow they called for “yet” but whatever is on the ground, is, at this hour, not where it fell to begin with. It is very windy which made it doubly cold on the transit tonight.

Things have been moving forwards nicely. We are amid the first pre-sale of the Spring Round Up that will happen in May. This is the first big sober event of the year in Dorval.

The meeting tonight was sparse. This kind of weather is keeping people indoors, instead of traveling to a meeting. The core group who always show up, showed up.

We’ve talked about young people at great length here. And we’ve also talked about what happens when they don’t have like minds in the room with them when they come in. (read:They Don’t Stay).

Or they stay for a bit, get it together, then they decide to leave and not come back.

I’ve written this story over and over, and tonight, I heard it come from a speaker.

Everything happens for a reason. And not long ago, a friend of mine said to me that maybe I needed my slip for this period of sobriety to come and work for me. The first time being a gift, and the second time, you really have to work for it.

Our woman came in in her twenties, and the older hens, were, not up her alley. But she stayed sober for a year. Upon attaining her year, her husband said to her that “now she was well, and that she didn’t need to hang out with “those people” any more.”

Little voice says … hmm. I think you are right.

16 years go by, the obsession to drink has been absent for a while.

A while later she is sitting at dinner, and a client orders wine. Little voice says, “you can have some wine” and she has one glass, then another, which leads to MORE.

In a few weeks time she is drinking as bad as she was before her first hit.

Her second hit, later in life, she realizes that she needs help, and does rehab.

Not a very nice and plush, Spa Rehab. But the down and dirty, just out of jail rehab…

She returns to the rooms, and as she enters the hall, a woman who knew her from her first hit, almost twenty years earlier, greets her at the door. “There are no small miracles.”

Now she has a job, working in a rehab here in the city. And you would count yourself lucky to be able to say, that every day, she sees miracles happen. How many of us have jobs that allow us that kind of grace?

Funny, I see a lot of things, meet a lot of people, and hear many stories along the way.

And sometimes God shows me that things that I have observed really do happen to human beings.

It’s not all, just in my head.

It was a good night. Saw some friends, got a ride home. Brrrr….

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … Not Closing Well

tumblr_lwdrzs4X441qhzv6oo1_500 darkandchaosCourtesy: Dark and Chaos

We are sitting at a very chilly (-18c/-25c w.c.). We have begin grumbling about the cold again. February came in, the same way January did, bitterly cold. We are hoping that in a matter of weeks,we may begin lifting out of this cold and darkness. Lots of other places are battling snowfall amounts that are just too much. Snow has overwhelmed the Maritimes and points south.

I had stuff to do today and plans to go spend some serious money at the advertised “Target: Black Friday Liquidation Sale” that began today.

But First, I went to the salon and had my hair cut. Another sweet buzz. I think I am beginning to warm to the idea that the brush of grey hair that has appeared is distinguished looking, so says my stylist. But that did not stop me from hitting the pharmacy for some retail hair color. UGH !!!!

Should I color it or accept that I am just getting “older ?”

On the way to the salon, you look down over Target, on the ground floor. On the front window panels are these huge liquidation signs stating upwards of 30% off stock. So I went into the salon saying to myself that finally I was going to get a real deal on something that I really can’t live without !

After my cut I did, in fact go down to the store. Every single shopping cart that is usually stacked in the front of the store, because, there are never “that many” people in the store at any given time, even on the “Open” event. Every cart was in the store, meaning there were corresponding shoppers connected to those carts, and they told us that we’d get “Black Friday” pricing. So they said …

Imagine Black Friday shoppers, fighting, pushing, shoving and being all kinds of insane …

They have stacked TV’s, Microwaves and other Boxy type merchandise all over the store, wherever there is free space. Yes, In fact, there were tons of people milling about.

I started in bedding, hoping to score a deal on a new sheet set, (Which we seriously need). As it happened, all the mid-range products were sold out. (Queen and Full size) and we were left with only Twin and King.

I sure as shit know that not many downtown renters have king size beds. And you don’t see many kids, so twin is another wasted product. Unless of course you have a dorm room on campus.

Pricing ran from $39.99 to $79.99 retail for what was left on the shelf, but all that they could manage in discounts was 10% … Ten percent.

WTF ???

I did not get my sheets !

I then walked over to the men’s clothing section. All over the other clothing areas, there were clothes littering the floor from one end to another. It was no different in men’s. The t shirt kiosks that you find nicely folded shirts for sale, they were all rumpled and unfolded, like someone rifled through them and left them laying in a pile, like you would find on someones bed room floor !

I did not see anything earth shattering. We had made purchases from Christmas so we really did not need anything, and there wasn’t anything on offer, that I couldn’t live without.

I did not see one item at a greater discount than 10%.

So that was a bust !

I was two for two, and I decided that there wasn’t anything else I wanted or needed, so I left the store and went to Micky D’s for lunch.

All day the web was buzzing with comments like:  Black Friday sales a bust … Target cannot even close right … Canadians leave target more disappointed than they expected …

When they opened, the store did have promise. It was bright and shiny new. We hoped that it would knock our socks off with selection and pricing that would compete in the market. You can’t run a store with empty shelves, and only offer certain products in a number of areas, and not all of them. They really did not dig out of that problem. And the holidays were a bust for Target. They just could not move product with the pricing they had.

People are disillusioned with Target. They came in with a BANG, and are going out like a DUD.

The discounts did not match up to the hype they were feeding us.

I came home after lunch because I had bottles to return. So it was an up down thing…

You know when you go into a grocery store totally prepared to buy everything on your mental list, it is mental, because you didn’t go far enough and write things down, and once you get home, you realize that you keep forgetting the same things over and over ???

I put everything away, and changed out of traveling clothes. I sat down at the computer and settled in. Only to get up twenty minutes later and change back into traveling clothes, to go back out and hit the dollar store for some stuff I needed and then go back to the grocery store to buy what I forgot, only to walk through the store and add more stuff to your cart than you had planned. because you had a hankering for J-E-L-L-O !!!

You can eat jello at any time of the day and that’s exactly what I did when I got home.

I had time to burn and nothing to do so I took an afternoon nap before the meeting.

We arrived at the church and settled in, and within minutes the chair walked up to my friend I travel with and asked him to share, right on the spot. (you never say no, usually) and he said yes.

I don’t remember the last time I heard the whole story, in one full sweep. But I have been listening to him for years, so I knew the story in pieces. It is always good to hear different old timers talk about what they do, how they do it, and how they do their Work …

All the older men I know, do it differently. And some don’t even do that at all.

Among our young members at several meetings, including myself, we invested in the lives of our old timers. This is, on the main, simple. They aren’t alone. Someone spends time with them weekly. Some of our guys teach music lessons, we share meals with them, hit meetings together, and we include them in our holiday gatherings.

We had two cakes. 18 and 19 years. Lots of cake. Frivolity and Fellowship.

Tomorrow is the best Day / Night of the week.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Humility

tumblr_lrdn1q3v991qzjqrio1_500 flickr julianbialowasCourtesy: Flicker Julian Bialowas (Archives)

We are sitting at a frosty (-18c/-27c w.c.) with a low tonight going down into the (-30’s). Where Ontario is, at this hour, under a snow storm warning, there is a blowing snow advisory up for us, but we are not expecting snow until tomorrow. With 10cm falling during the day.

Thank Goodness I don’t have to go out tomorrow…

It was a quiet weekend. This evening I left a few minutes early, because I had a stop to make on the way. It usually takes me half an hour to make my transit. However today, I must have made good time, I had not looked at my clock when I arrived at the church, but cranked it out as usual. When I finished, one of my friends had arrived and I noticed that it was only 4:40 on the clock.

Time must have sped up or I left earlier than I had thought. Any who, it’s all good.

A few folks showed up early to sit and read, having the room open much earlier, allows for folks to come in a be able to sit and read for an hour, prior to the meeting.

Our Matron was away, and I was elected chair by a friend, so I chaired.

We read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step 7 …
Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings!

The buzz word for Step seven is Humility. Where does it come from, and how do we get it?

“Humility, as a word and as an ideal, has a very bad time of it in our world. Not only is the idea misunderstood; the word itself is often intensely disliked. Many people haven’t even a nodding acquaintance with humility as a way of life. Much of the every day talk we hear, and a great deal of what we read, highlights man’s pride in his own achievements.”

“… We saw we needn’t always be bludgeoned and beaten into humility. It could come quite as much from our voluntary reaching for it as it could from unremitting suffering. A great turning point in our lives came when we sought for humility as something we really wanted, rather than something we must have. It marked the time when we could commence to see the full implication of Step Seven: “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

One of my terrible shortcomings is the fact that over my life, my disregard for God, my living in “all about me,” and taking life for granted, usually landed me in the column of being bludgeoned into humility. This is one very long list of things that happened.

There was a time, that alcohol was ruling my life, when did it not rule my life, you might ask ???

In my twenties, I really could not give a shit about God or what was right, as long as it went my way. The drink, then the social interaction that came from it, fed my emotional, and sexual appetite. I really did not have a handle on the issues of the time (Read: AIDS), I was more concerned with getting a drink, and what would come with it.

When you take life for granted, a myriad of things can happen.

I was screwing myself into a tight hole. Literally !!! I made mistakes. I was not safe. In the heat of the moment, under the control of alcohol and with the drugs that usually came with it, meant that we were not thinking about circumstances, and shit happened.

I can’t be sure of the who, what or why of it. (what’s done is done)

I talk about all that God mumbo jumbo. How, for a time I was a good Catholic boy in seminary. Had they asked me to stay, instead of telling me to go, probably my life would have been different. But I took license with freedom, and took advantage of it as well.

My twenties was a futile effort in growing up. And I know that now. And I paid dearly for that error.

Loosing things, like cars, apartments, personal items happened. But I would just pick up and start over where, that would take place. Then I lost a loved one, to suicide. That loss was horrible. I drank my way past it, right into a therapy group for thirty two weeks.

But God really didn’t have my attention yet. It was still all about me. But Todd was there.

I was still unwilling to bow or get on my knees …

Lessons about humility began in earnest.

I was dating someone at the time, when I began to sero-convert. I got very sick. They gave us these little wallet cards that had this information on it … If you are having these symptoms, you might have AIDS.

Working at the bar brought me into direct contact with AIDS, and people with AIDS, and Todd made it perfectly clear, what my job was, To serve others, and not myself.

I did get sick. I did get AIDS. Doctors told me I was going to die.

I called Todd back from his vacation. He met me at the bar, and I told him that I was going to die.

He wept …

I was ready to bow. The end was coming, and I had nothing to loose any more.

Over the next two years, working at the bar, I had several opportunities to get humble.

I remember each one of them, like it was yesterday.

Every time I returned to “All about Me,” Todd would throw a lesson at me, to humble me.

Working in a bar was dirty work. Men are pigs, and they don’t think for a moment about others, and that bothered me. They would put cups in the toilet backwards and let shit and piss flow all over the floor, and it was my job to clean it up. However hard I protested, Todd ordered that I do the job and not complain.

I had to get on my knees.

Then he would add the clincher …

He would say that “If you can clean up others shit, one day you will be able to do it for yourself.”

I’ve said before that in Todd, God became incarnate. He was the man who saved my life, however hard I protested, at times, He had my best interests in mind. He took it upon himself to see that I lived, and did not die. Every night I came to work, I followed the rule.

“When you come to work, you leave your life outside the door. You come in and do your work, without question. And leave the rest to me.”

I turned my will and my life over to the care of God (read: Todd) every day.

I learned a great many things, that I have collected over in the PAGES.

I learned to serve others, and not worry about me or my needs. I learned valuable lessons like approval, ego, pride and humility. While people were drinking, drugging, and partying, and at the same time, they were dying all around me, Todd and I stayed one step above the water.

Being a servant, does not give you much time to be arrogant or prideful. Todd would have none of that. He kept me on a very short leash. One look and I would kneel.

Today, I am alive. Todd succeeded in keeping me alive. I owe my life to him. And I say that with all the humility of my being. If you want the whole story you can read it in pages.

I began my nights on my knees. And ended them on my knees.

There was no time to waste. When everybody fled, Todd stood firm. In the beginning, I had to grow up and I had to do what ever I was told to do, without question, and yes I did grow up. I learned a great deal from this experience.

When Todd moved away, I ended up alone. I had tools. I had my lessons.

But at the same time, without that hand in my life, I did not know what to do. But I survived.

Problems with people, attitudes and assholes, took me for a ride. I spoke about the space that grows between people, and that slip that is not far behind … That slip came.

Upon my return, I was not ready to bow …

When I knew the end was coming, I knew the end was coming, I got on my knees.

You see, I survived. I lived. I took that for granted. Which kept my slip going for a while longer.

I prayed for things from God. And One, Two, Three, prayers came to pass.

I had One, admitted I was powerless, Two, came to believe, and Three, made that decision.

I decided to grow up, and ended my run here. That is when I learned more about humility.

I got connected, found a home group, and I did service. All because that is what they told me to do.

You can’t keep it, unless you give it away.

I met my now husband, and I learned how to give to my partner, boyfriend, now husband.

I became a man, when I learned how to put the needs of another before my own.

Now that I think about that phrase, I learned this lesson with Todd. However I did not see it.

Even today, I see shades of self centeredness. It returns in my memories.

When life gets too hard to stand, kneel …

kneelI am reminded daily, to be humble. I practice, daily, getting down on my knees to pray.

I take for granted that I lived, more often, than I like to admit. And I usually don’t think about being grateful for being alive, except of course, every time I stand at my medicine cabinet and take my pills.

I rely on doctors, my medication and God for life. I also rely on God to help me stay sober.

I grew up. I’ve learned my lessons about being beaten into humility.

There is so many things to be grateful for. If I think of all of them at the same time, I would weep.

Humble …

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Words .. Experiential

tumblr_nevv18edhk1sl7p6vo1_500 freshieCourtesy: Freshie

We are sitting at (-14c/-23 w.c.) It is COLD.

I got ready to go and thought I was properly layered, but when I got downstairs, and went outside, I turned around and came back up and put another layer on, just to be safe. I have this odd problem of always leaving my scarf at home, then regret leaving it behind, once I get outside.

#First World Problems

The U.S. is bracing for a record breaking blizzard over the next few days.

I’m reading all these, “End of the world, Armageddon like reports” threat to human life, dangerous conditions coming … Don’t get caught out in the storm kind of warnings.

Here in Canada … Ah, just another snow storm … We live for them. At least some of us do !!!

Once again, Montreal is sitting in that sweet spot. Environment Canada is not calling for snow, except for a couple days this week, but no storm or accumulations are in the forecast.

It was a quiet weekend. Last night, hubby went to bed as usual, and I stayed up to watch a Nova program and at 2 a.m. on the nose, I was sitting here and darkness fell. Once again, the power went out and we were plunged into darkness. No heat, no water, no electricity.

And I said to myself, it will be a quickie and the power will come back on. Twenty minutes, tops. Well, twenty minutes turned into forty, and forty into sixty minutes. No Joy.

I had plans. Mother Nature had hers, guess who won?

I had the light from my phone. After waiting for an hour in the dark, I resigned myself to the fact that No, indeed, the power was not coming back on any time soon. I got myself ready for bed, took my pills and covered the bed in blankets, because we had no heat. And I went to bed.

At 4:30 a.m. in the morning, the power came back on.

The T.V. the computer, the radio, and the clocks all whirred back to life. I got up and adjusted the clocks, rebooted and shut down the computer, and went back to bed.

We seem to be on a different circuit than the rest of the neighborhood, because the streetlights in the neighborhood did not go out, and the rest of the buildings that sit next to ours all had power, while we were sitting in the dark. My friend who lives two blocks from here (East), went dark as well, so a big section of this section of downtown, went dark again.

I left early to meet one of my guys for our Sunday read and discussion.

We are reading the Big Book together, and we are on Chapter Six … Into Action.

This section covers steps five through ten, that’s as far as we went.

None of the words in this section of the book have been changed in seventy six years. Yet, I am reading the book actively again with someone else. And we read through the Ninth Step Promises and a new word came to me, as I explained what they meant for my guy.

Sobriety is all about perception, and the changing of our perception. It is also Experiential as well.

Reading the Promises people usually zero in on:

“We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.”

For a program that is so “forwards thinking,” we sure do spend a great deal of time, dwelling on the past. In order to move forwards, we need to learn from the past. It is in getting rid of the wreckage of our past, cleaning house, working our steps, and helping others, that true freedom will come.

I’ve seen promises come true in my life, and in others lives.

Sometimes quickly, Sometimes slowly.

Some promises, seemed, to be unapproachable or unattainable in my life. But after years and years, the one that dogged me to the end of the earth, finally came to pass.

I said to my friend tonight that the Promises are Experiential. That was the first time I had ever said that word, in relation to reading them. And I caught the use of the new word. And they are …

We get the book in the beginning. And someone reads it with us. This is, in my opinion, time sensitive.

We don’t read on the first day and expect any of it to make sense. But when the time comes, we (read: Sponsors and Sponsees) know when the time is right to start reading.

We’ve read the first five chapters. And we begin our steps. Meanwhile we are reading through the book from the beginning each week. Are we putting the cart before the horse ??? No …

At first we read through How it works, and up to Step Three. That is when I introduced Step One to the one who is ready to start. Meanwhile we are reading. We had the discussion about adding prayer to ones day. Steps Three and Seven Prayers, every day. From the beginning. And we see how that is working on a weekly basis.

We’ve now read up through Step Nine. And the homework is to read pages 84 through 86, covering Step Ten. Now we have begun the book, introduced prayer, and we now add a daily review, from the start. The Tenth Step.

This is where I deviate from process and tweak The Work.

Having something to look at and write on a daily/nightly basis, gives us something to talk about. If you get used to writing right away, as practice, and use it as a tool to see ones progression, that’s a good thing, Yes ?

We might not have eyes to see in the beginning, and we may not have ears to hear, in the beginning, but if we introduce “things to do” in the beginning, then we cultivate those eyes and ears.

Getting sober is all about experience. We have had experiences, some we may wish to forget, and in time we get to see/learn about the wealth of those experiences, and in time, we learn that wisdom.

Every time we look at specific situation and stories we get to look at them, with the eyes we have “in the moment, at that time.” And every successive look we get, over time, we have new eyes to see and new ears to hear with. The cyclical nature of time and the past repeats, hence the wisdom of:

Not regretting the past nor wishing to shut the door on it.

This ties directly into the reading for tonight. January, Month One, We read Tradition One.

“Our common welfare comes first, personal recovery depends upon A.A. Unity.”

There is wisdom there. And it comes over time.

How does an organization run properly and well, if there are no bosses, no money and no real organization and nobody in control? They ask …

Take a rag tag bunch of drunks, give them a coffee pot and a church basement, and see what happens. I’ve spent thirteen years getting sober in St. Leon’s Church basement.

When I came, there had already been over fifty years of experience in that said hall. A lot of people, a lot of experience, tried, tested and proved. I walked in not knowing anyone, not knowing anything, and needing help. They welcomed me, they gave me simple jobs to do, and I sank in.

That unifying presence welcomed me, took me in and taught me everything that I needed to know, on a need to know basis. When we walk in the door, and down those twelve steps (yes, there are actually twelve steps down into the church basement) whatever is going on outside stays outside, and the purpose of the rooms become clear, if we stick around.

We know that we can’t do this alone. And we also learn, that once we darken the doors, we are no longer alone, that we don’t have to be alone any more, unless we want to hold onto our misery.

The unifying purpose of the rooms is to welcome the newcomer and share the message of recovery with the alcoholic who still suffers. Only an alcoholic or a drug addict, can help another. Because we have shared experiences. Where else can you go and listen to people share, and realize that hey i was there once, I did that, they were there once, and they did that too !!!

Each group has its ways and means. Passed down through the years from those who came before us, and we carry them forwards, tweaking them as necessary, to serve the greater good. We rely on the goodness and faith of a power greater than ourselves, God as he speaks to us in our group conscience.

I’ve never had to leave the security of the A.A. Circle for any of my needs, in more than thirteen years. Because I was taught that if I had a need and if it was necessary, that I should take it to a meeting and speak it, I did that, the rest, they say is history.

I came to the rooms knowing not much. And for many years I sat in the warm and safe nest. During that time I made a lot of meetings, and did service. Two years ago, after eleven years of nesting, the fire was lit and my quest for MORE began.

What alcoholic isn’t obsessed with wanting MORE ???

I listened to people tell me about More, They told me how to get More, how to practice attaining More, and told me that if I did these things, MORE would come.

Then miraculously, I’ve been working on MORE. And More came. I was then ready to step up and be able to share the message with the alcoholic who still suffers. You just don’t step into the fray from the beginning and have everything you need to do and share The Work off the bat …

Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got !!!

It took me more than eleven years to see that wisdom. And now the fire of More burns.

The sisters of recovery and the brethren of New York live in this solution based fire of More.

I get to share this with my guys, and they get to share it with their people.

It’s freaking amazing.

Unity, Recovery, Service … The Three Legacies.

We come, We come to, And we all come to believe. Each in our own way.

The goodness of the rooms are fortified in that, for every human being there is experience. No two people are the same. How useless we would be if we were all the same. But we are unified under one common purpose to recover from a hopeless state of body, mind and spirit.

Rooms are everywhere. We are everywhere.

Where else can you go in your life where people are genuinely interested in your welfare, without the expectation of personal gain, who only want to see you succeed and will go to any length to help you get there ?

The world is a busy, noisy, wonderful and terrible at the same time, place.

But once you step in the door, you will find calm in the middle of the storm, a place that you can go to unload for an hour and recharge your batteries for a pittance.

All the money in the world won’t get you freedom from pain and misery.

All the money I spent on drugs and alcohol, I can never get back; and I wasted a ton of money drinking and drugging myself into a stupor. Today my loonie goes a lot farther in my recovery, than it did when I was using.

We have a solution. That works.

It is what we do.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … The Story So Far

tumblr_lhm3taXmPm1qbk0jto1_500 thrashcoreCourtesy: Thrash core

It has been on the cold side. as of late. Tonight we are sitting at (-10c/-17c w.c.). Yes, it is cold and people were muttering tonight that an early spring would be nice. However, it isn’t as bad a last years winter cold.

Rewind back to Tuesday for a few moments. After my emotional melt down over the past week, I had dinner with my sponsor Tuesday before the meeting, and I shared with him everything that was going on in my head. His thirty years sober yields much wisdom from his perspective.

Blessedly, the nightmares stopped. Working ones steps actively, comes with the warning that over time, we get to review the past, or certain memories from the past, in greater detail, which usually coincides with brain overdrive.

I’ve never really sat down and talked about portions of my story, because I just haven’t. And I’ve been pondering other fanciful stories that are sitting on the front of my brain tonight.

Among other stories is this one …

I once had a job, at the Port of Miami, working for Royal Caribbean Cruise lines, during their Sovereign class release. Those were really good times. The job I had prior to this stint, was in a travel agency, where I was manager. I was a young and vibrant alcoholic. In the office we drank, openly, and shared it with clients.

Funny, almost all of those folks I worked with later got sober, including myself.

Working at a Cruise line was Top Drawer employment. Every ship that was put into service, brought with it the employee party on board with open bar, as much as you could drink so forth and so on. That was always a fiasco. Every good thing that happened to the company was shared with the employees, ten fold. It was not uncommon to get a champagne lunch frequently.

The bar I drank at sat halfway between the port and where I was living during this time. I would leave work and hit happy hour for starters. I would drink and then drive home, usually eyeballing the road. I would change my clothes and return to the bar for the night shift. I drank my weight in alcohol, and it was good to be “in” with the bartenders, and the bars use of “drink tickets.”

Every night the “drink tickets” would go out, but the colors changed every night. You bought a drink, you got a ticket. We all had “drink ticket” boxes in our cars, where we could go to get the tickets we had collected over the weeks, every night we went out to drink.

It was not pretty, I could have killed someone. This was not a joke.

I only lasted there for a couple of years. Then things got really out of hand. I was renting a room in a mansion owned by a good friend. A woman I loved and respected. When I was kicked out of my parents house again, because I was gay, she took me in. And I took advantage of her terribly.

By this time I was commuting to drink. I wasn’t happy with Miami drinking, So I would drive to Ft. Lauderdale to drink, and then drive all the way back to Miami on a full stomach. My ability to find the worst deadbeat friends and boyfriends was my specialty. I was a total failure.

I was drinking away my rent money. I was either late, or I had none to pay out. Which ended up with me coming home in the middle of the night drunk, and finding the door locks changed and her son at the door, telling me that I could not come in until I had the money to pay for rent. Which landed me back in Ft, Lauderdale, commuting from there to work, I finally made the rent, and was asked to move.

What I did not know, at that time, was that the woman I lived with, and had worked with at the travel agency for so long, was getting sober. Much to my surprise. I was the alcoholic tornado running wild through her life. If you read the Big Book, there is a prominent story about me.

Years would go by, and when I finally got sober that first time, after a few years in, I had moved from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami. One afternoon I decided to hit a meeting, so I walk in the room and who is sitting IN the Room was my lady friend. Needless to say I had some serious amends to make to her.

There are little, read it in the Big Book stories, I can tell about my life.

Some of them are funny, but the moral of the story is this … Nobody asked or said Stop.

I’m not sure I would have been ready to turn it over and stop anyways.

We are listening to Joe and Charlie on Tuesday nights. If you never heard them before, they are an experience. It is hit and miss with our folks. Many did not make it past the first night. And they did not come back. This week we heard all about the Big Book.

Writers write books all the time. Every story has its method, its storyline, and its form. The Big Book has its method. You can drill down from the book, to the chapters, to the paragraphs, and even down to the sentences. The Book is a manual about how to get sober. Each chapter is written to tell a certain story, and share with you certain truth. Each chapter leads from Chapter One through the first 164 pages of the book.

  • Each chapter speaks to certain information, which leads into the following chapter.
  • Chapter One talks about the problem.
  • Which leads into Chapter Two, There is a Solution,
  • Which leads into Chapter Three, more about alcoholism.
  • Chapter Four, We Agnostics,
  • And into Chapter Five, How it Works,
  • Chapter Six, Into Action,
  • Chapter Seven Working with Others, and so on.

Within each chapter is written stories, with words written that string together.

  • You can read the Book
  • You can read a chapter
  • You can read a paragraph
  • And, you can read a sentence.

In other places, this coming from people who traveled far and wide, Certain meetings run on the Big Book, and all its derivations. These four choices are the stuff of meetings in many places.

It has taken me years to see this wisdom. I’ve read the book, several times. I’ve been to meetings over the years where all we did was read the book. But it was only when I saw the women reading the book together with their sponsees, week in and week out, that that was something I wanted to do as well.

I don’t read the book with my sponsor, but we are actively working our steps.

I learned what I needed to do to step up my game in sobriety. And I did that.

Tonight I heard my OLD read: Former – sponsor speak at the Thursday night meeting.

I heard the message. I’ve heard it before. He did not say anything new to me. His story is unique, and he was my sponsor for a long time, until the fire was lit for me. He talked about his story, and when it came to the words … I Worked my Steps, or I am working my steps, I did not hear that.

At twenty five years sober, he was trying to Live the steps. He has three sponsors. One, his higher power, a Second service sponsor, and a Third, who lives in East Asia.

There came a point in our relationship that I knew I had to do something different, and I did that.

It is all well and good to go to meetings, find a home group and give back. Read: Do Service.

That is all well and good, and can take you along for a while. Sobriety offers us a wealth of work and a wealth of experience, if we fire up and find someone to feed that fire, I did that.

I could not sit still any more, after hearing New Yorkers tell me how they do it and WHY?

Today, I work it like New York.

It begins with prayer. And runs into the Book. And into Meetings. And then working with others.

I read the book with my guys, every week. All three of them, at different times, get to read the book with me, and I get to see the book through their eyes and through their understanding, along with mine.

The one thing that the speaker said tonight was … “That if I lived to be 150 years old, I could not repay what A.A. has given me.” With that sentiment I agree. That goes the same for myself.

My sober journey is different than all my friends. Not many people can commit to hard core working it for all it is. A friend I know, who has been to all the meetings I have, and to round ups as well, got sober for a while, over the holidays he drank. He came back and I gave him my number and said, call me every day, because his sponsor was out of the country.

People balk at Call me every day …

I told my sponsor about that the other night. And he gave me direction with what to do now.

I did that tonight. I said hello, I shook his hand, and that was it. He did not want to have a conversation with me past hello. And that’s fine.

I reach out to folks, I give my number, but usually, if you don’t use that number within 48 hours of getting it, you won’t use it at all. On Tuesday night, I put my number in a Big Book for a newcomer, my phone has yet to ring.

Ah well… what can you do ???

This afternoon I had to make the trek to the other side of the city to see my doctor. A health issue arose a few days ago, and was causing me intense pain and discomfort, I called him on Tuesday, I got to see him today, Thursday. The pain has subsided. But the problem still exists.

I thought that the removal of my piercing was the issue, and the healing process that went awry? That was not the case. Diabetes is a little monster. It seems I am having issues with my body in relation to my diabetes. That was a surprise. How often do you get to show your dick to your doctor?

That was a first for me in all the years he has been my doctor.

He told me what to do and he prescribed medicine to treat the problem.

I only get away so far, before my body revolts and does something totally out of left field.

Diabetes will do that to you.

On the Great side, I lost 9 pounds. And I lost two inches on my waist. My doctor is pleased.

I was very pleased to see him up and around and able to walk.

The last time I saw him, he could not walk without a cane, or holding on to furniture. He got old very quickly when his body turned on him. He has since had hip replacement surgery, and he says now, he is made of plastic, and titanium. My good old bionic doctor that could…

It was a good day. All’s well that end’s well.

More to come, stay tuned …


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

tumblr_nhh1gukofI1qh2nv9o1_500 cris art

Courtesy: Cris Art 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YOU MATTER … We all matter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tolerance for those with different struggles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If we remember that, it all comes back around.

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

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

A good night was had by all.

Happy New Year. More to come, stay tuned …


Merry Christmas 2014

tumblr_lw2bl4yyhC1qzcvqpo1_500 rawrdanieltumblr_m87fjdSpOA1ravgvuo1_500 jackandfinnCourtesy: RawrDaniel and JackHarries – Christmas Past

I stayed up late last night watching the Tubes for a while. Our local radio station that usually does overnight radio, is running Christmas music ad nauseum, ugh enough already !!! BAH !!!

Like I have said before, we really don’t get into that shop till you drop mentality. So Christmas is a little subdued. A couple of gifts, things we need, or maybe a surprise or two in the mix. Holidays are really about family and friends, and the table we will sit at later today.

This Christmas was all about Woks, headphones, and Max …

Hubby is Le Chef de Mission here at home. Keeping with tradition, he gets the latest and greatest cooking pans on the market. One of our staple meals is stir fry. And we needed a new Wok, so that was under the tree.

Then it was the Big Box – gifts for both of us in one swing. That was a big hit. New headphones.
Thank you Skull Candy !

Max got an upgrade with a 1 GB memory stick. That was much needed, because my library is pretty full as it is. I also got a shiny new mouse pad. My old mouse pad was really in bad shape.

That’s it for gifts. Nothing too grandiose.

The bird is in the oven, and we are on track for an early afternoon dinner with friends.

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

A Christmas Reflection 2014

Today the Queen of England spoke about reconciliation, and the pause in hostilities during the Great War, where British and German troops, in dug out trenches, put down their guns, as the German soldiers sang “Silent Night,” in the night. The British followed suit.

What happened next is the story of legends. The next morning, Christmas Day 100 years ago today, the soldiers came out of their trenches meeting in no mans land for a game of footy, and to exchange presents and greetings.

Imagine, if the world today, took a collective breath, and hostilities were stopped for one day. Imagine, if the world could bring the many, into reconciliation, and END hostilities world wide !

IDEOLOGIES …

I have a friend who eschews holidays, those consumer driven celebrations that pop up every once in a while, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Christmas … Love is an every day feeling. Family is an everyday gathering. Celebrating the lives of others, is a 365 days a year event.

We’ve learned, over the years, what is most important. When the tree goes up, it is a family event. It is a celebration of love, because we created a ritual for the tree. At Christmas our extended family goes well beyond to gift us all with something particularly special. And we return the gesture in kind.

For the past few years, our older members in the fellowship have been alone, they live alone and only go out for meetings, or shopping, or they go without. Us younger members have taken on the work of living in community with our men and women.

We break bread with them regularly. We celebrate holidays together, some share musical talent with them. All so that we do something good on a regular basis, with them, so that they are not alone. My guys are all connected to helping others when they can. Because they are able, and it is the right thing to do.

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus. A blessed birth come to pass in a humble manger in Bethlehem. Yes, the birth of Christ is important. It is the beginning of the story. But if you think about it, the end of the story of Jesus, is the culmination of God becoming man, and having a human experience, to sacrifice himself for the good of mankind.

Christ came to speak words of truth, to heal the sick, to chastise the greedy and wealthy, to give food to the hungry and pardon the sinner. He called twelve men to follow him, they would eventually follow and begin to create simple Christianity, that has blossomed into the Christianity of today.

The end of the story, the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, is Man’s Saving Grace. Sacrifice is God’s greatest gift to mankind. He came so that we could have life, and life abundantly. Christ dying on the cross is the pinnacle of the meaning of Christianity. Coming to save man, by dying on a cross.

Sacrifice … Love … Salvation …

I remember when I was a young boy, going to my first retreat, and hearing the words, and listening to people speak about God, Jesus and Salvation. And at the end of it all, the altar call came, and one by one we stood and turned our lives over to this man we call Jesus.

It was a Mountaintop experience.

But like Moses, we too, had to come down from the mountain, and re-enter the world.

In those days, open carrying a bible in public school, was akin to having leprosy for teens.

It marked you as different. Odd. They called us Jesus Freaks, and we were. For a while at least.

I can’t say that I succeeded in my zeal for Jesus given the home I lived in and the schools I went to.

But that time is not lost on me considering my university education and the work I do every day.

Imagine what it was like to proclaim the life of Jesus as a follower to your fellow man. Imagine what it was like for those apostles and then the people. It was like that for us. I’ve learned a great deal of what it means to follow the man we call Jesus today.

That is a 365 day journey. Not just on Easter Sunday or Christmas Day, or Epiphany.

We should love one another every day. We should honor our mates every day. We should honor our children every day. The holidays have been Frankensteined into conglomerate days of greed, money and consumerism.

If it ain’t black Friday, it doesn’t matter.

Tomorrow, bar none, people will be lining up, getting dirty, and fighting tooth and nail to get that 6 a.m. door buster prize. And I guarantee you that by 6 p.m. there will be numerous reports of holiday cheer going out the window as people beat each other up, or shoot one another for that Big Screen tv, or pair of high end sneakers.

Christmas is a day. I’ve encouraged my friends to go out into their communities and serve the less fortunate. But this too is not just a Christmas job, it is an every day job. I’ve said before that if we took all that money we spend on national and international defense and war spending and putting that money to better use, we could change the lives of millions in short order.

Sadly, the world operates on the conflict of the people, whether we like to admit that or not. It is Big Business. And those who have all the money and power rely on the conflict within the people to make their millions, billions and trillions of dollars.

The Christmas message is lost on them totally.

If you miss the real meaning of Christmas, let me remind you of a few point of order:

  • It’s not about the gifts under the tree, but the people around it
  • It’s not about how much money you spend, but the love that you share
  • It’s about family and who sits at your table for your holiday meal
  • It’s about that checker girl/guy at the grocery store, be kind
  • It’s about the less fortunate and random acts of kindness
  • It’s about the birth and beginning of the life of a man who would change the world
  • In the end it is all about the Sacrifice for the salvation of the world
  • It isn’t about what religion you profess, but the God that gives you life
  • It is the peace you share, and the fact that we are spiritual beings having a human existence

The Holidays are a “WE” event. It is not an “I” event. Dinner later on will be a We event.

And later tonight, WE will gather for a Christmas Night Meeting.

More to come …

Part 2 …

The weather held for the evening. But man is it windy. Where is all that wind coming from, and where did it originate? The wind was buckling the windows all evening while we napped after Christmas dinner.

Dinner was a nice meal, with friends and family.

We set out a bit early due to the fact that the buses are on Sunday Schedule for the holiday. Arriving at the church, a good number of people came out for the meeting. I half expected more to come, but we filled the room nonetheless.

Tonight we heard one of our women. One of the many women who feed my desire to be a better man, a sober man, who has done his work, and gives it away to others who want it as well.

In the beginning the story is the same. We were born, most, into dysfunctional families, feeding us mixed, and sometimes the wrong message about ourselves. And that leads into us becoming who we are in that period of time, and usually, but not in all cases, the messages we are fed, lead us into the world of drugs and alcohol to escape, to enhance, and even to blot out what we are hearing and in the end feeling.

Some, in the beginning, come, they look around, and they leave. We find this the case with our young people. How can I, (read: Being so young) have such problems that would need the intense work that we provide to them? For many young people, youth means that they have at least ten to fifteen years of good partying life ahead of them, and the mere thought of turning it all over and coming in for good is such a Tall Order …

Some come, and they stay, and they make a life out of it. But the stats are not good.

The WOMEN I speak so highly about so often, changed my life. Most of those women, by extension and by lineage, are sponsored, grand sponsored and great grand sponsored by women who live in New York City. The message came from one, to the next, and the next, and then finally to them personally. I was in the right place at the right time to hear this and see this in action.

And I wanted so badly to be part of it. And now I am. They say it is difficult to blunt a raging forest fire. Imagine for a moment, a bunch of crazy women on fire for the book and the solution. I had lunch with one of my ladies yesterday. They all warm my heart.

If you stick around, and you get the right message, that the book gives you, you too can join the fire for the book as well. They say that if you want to hide something from an alcoholic, put it in the Big Book. Because most alcoholics won’t read the book, until it is imperative they do so. You can only sit in your chair for so long, until someone sits with you and offers to take you through the book like we do it.

The Solution … I’ve learned that I can be with myself. Alone, quiet, in the center of the storm where the winds are calm. I’ve learned that I don’t have to save anyone, that all I have to do is take care of me, and with that done, I can help take care of someone else.

No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

Listening to sponsees, reminds me why I am here. Because I hear what happened to them, and I know that some of the same things happened to me as well. Good Healing Fire spreads quickly. We hear our friends share in discussion meetings, but it is also good to hear them share on the open stage at a speaker meeting. I’ve heard her before, and tonight I got to see and witness personal progress.

We claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection.

Every day we get a daily reprieve, contingent on our spiritual condition.

I understand what that means to me. Because I learned how to do it myself. You may not be one for prayer, or meditation. And in the beginning who can sit still for more than five minutes, at that? I had to practice. And that practice took months upon months, With serious time under my belt.

I had to step up my game if I wanted to reap the rewards of spiritual fitness.

Three, Seven and Eleven … daily, on your knees, humble before God. It is an act of humility to get down on ones knees to pray. Because they say, “When life gets too hard to stand, Kneel.”

Everybody has a journey to take, and no two journeys are the same.

THE WORK is the same for all of us, out of the same book, heading in the same direction.

That’s why I read the book with my guys once a week. That’s why I read the book with my sponsor.

Today, I, like many of my friends, live in the solution.

It was a good night.

My other observation for the night was of one particular homeless man, who has been homeless as long as I’ve been sober. And probably longer than that. The homeless in our city have a routine.

Whether they begin in the East and and work their way West, or from West to East, they either ride the rails, or ride the bus. From one side of the city to the other. Most of them go without food on a daily basis, but they have enough money to provide a bus pass to travel.

Where does that money come from, who provides it, when they can’t afford to eat?

Meetings run on similar lines across town, North, South, East and West. You can get to any meeting by rail and by bus. Our homeless population are well known in our circles, because they show up diligently on time for the meeting, for free coffee and cookies, and/or whatever free food is on the table. That is probably the mainstay of their meals on any given day, unless of course they visit a shelter or food station downtown.

Our city and by extension, our country hides a dark secret, out in the open, and we are powerless to affect change. The city can only do so much. Volunteers can only do so much, and the shelters and food stations can only do so much. Winters are brutal for our homeless. Because there are so many, there are spare resources for them on any given night, so they troll the city from one end to another every night.

Some collect bottles and cans. That is certain money in their pockets. Can and Bottle return is a booming business. The grocery store on the corner does really good business every day. I see the same folks come day in and day out, with tons of cans and bottles. One of them, I don’t know where he gets them all, but he probably collects a thousand cans a day add to that boxes of beer bottles as well.

There are entire populations of people who go without. Entire populations that live well, WELL below the poverty level. People at high levels of government have asked the Prime Minister what he will do for the those who need so much, and last week I heard him say on tv, that “well, they are not even on our radar, to be honest!”

How can you run a country that has so much, and gives so much away to foreign nations, that so many of your own people go without, and come off saying that they are not on your radar and that in turn, they are not important for the country, the provinces and the entire nation?

How can you stand yourself knowing that you ignore entire populations of people, because it isn’t expedient or that it is beneath you – or not politically sound to care or even act like you care for votes when the time comes?

That’s a political hot potato.

Human interest stories at the governmental level are ignored.

No government is perfect, anywhere in the world.

In a country that is so rich, a first world nation, we have entire populations of people who live in third world conditions, and that is terribly sad. I have ideas to float for all of these problems. They sound easy to me when I repeat them in my head, they sound good, they look good, but in the end, to make sweeping changes that many of us agree need to be made, that would take money. More money that most governments want to throw on people who do not matter to their bottom line.

VOTERS.

Most of those people do not vote. Most of those people have substandard homes if they have that at all, countless numbers of them are homeless, drug addicted and alcoholic. Many of them have mental and emotional problems that are never addressed because there is no money and not enough resources to help them all. Hell, even in first world populations, in the biggest cities, across the country, many people face these same problems, and they too go without.

We are heading into election territory in 2015.

Getting these issues onto a stage where they are heard and dealt with is wishful thinking.

Another Christmas, and some of our folks went without. again …

It costs money to take a homeless person off the street. Clean them up, first, then try and find them someplace safe and economical to live, but then you need to find the money to allow them to pay rent, utilities, buy food and live a substantive life. Treat their problems accordingly, but with what resources and from where? How do we do that ?

I asked a friend on the way home about the man I am speaking about now, and I said that he has been homeless as long as I’ve been sober, how do we get him off the street ? And his answer was simply, that he doesn’t want to get off the street ! Now is that by choice, by default, or lack of concern for his own welfare?

This is all terribly troubling when we live these lives of having everything that we need. And on the fringe, just below the radar, so many have little to nothing to call their own.

What did you do for the least of these today?

jersey crop

And with that, my Very Mario Christmas comes to an end.

Thank you for reading, for subbing and for being a part of my life.

Goodnight.


Tuesday – Tomorrow is Christmas Eve – 1 Shopping Day Remains

PCU1582bChristmas Window – Place Ville Marie – Montreal

It is the final push for holiday shoppers. One day left to get that done. I am very glad that I did not partake in shopping madness this year. The whole shop till you drop mentality has worn off over the past few years. It’s not like we need “things” above and beyond what we already have. Breaking the bank on Christmas gifts is something we don’t do. We shop for the nieces and nephews, and simple gifts for the family that we exchange every year.

So that is a thing …

Last week I ordered some new headphones for both hubby and myself. When Target opened I purchased some Skull Candy headphones that did not last very long before they crapped out. I went to their website and found the warranty and filed a claim for a replacement pair. I sent them back and they gave me a credit towards a new purchase, which I redeemed last week.

Sadly, the style that I had was no longer in stock, which meant an upgrade purchase for another pair, which were more expensive, and I bought two of them to boot, in actuality, I got my credit, towards the pair, and then paid the difference. This year I lucked out in that all the places I purchased from this season all took PayPal, so I didn’t need a credit card.

Here in Montreal, ads have been pushing shoppers to use their Interac Cards, rather than a credit card. An Interac Card is our debit card that pulls directly from your bank account.

The packages was mailed last Wednesday, and it took a few days to get here from Surrey B.C. Yesterday I waited all day for the mail, because the office was only open yesterday and today to receive packages, then it would be by slip and pick up afterwards. I made several trips downstairs to check the mail to no avail. By 5 o’clock I resigned myself that the mail wasn’t coming.

Hubby got home and we set down for a nap for a few hours before dinner, and at 7:15 p.m. there was a knock on the door. The mailman actually walked my box upstairs to me instead of leaving me a slip. I was pleasantly surprised. Now there is a Big Box under the tree for Thursday …

All my peeps are where they need to be for the holidays, and a few of them are traveling tomorrow because of work responsibilities.

Environment Canada issued us weather warnings a few days ago because of a massive storm, they predicted would begin pelting us with freezing rain and rain for the next three days. It was damp out all day, but no drizzle nor rain fell. However, I carried to the meeting just in case. And in the end i got a ride back up to the train.

I departed on time and made my transit. Many of our regular folks are out of town, so tonight’s meeting was going to be hit or miss. We sat a usual small group. Minus a few heads. Folks brought all kinds of holiday foods; cookies, crackers and cheese, and the always freshly perked coffee.

The past few weeks, we have been filling time with discussion topics until January, when we will begin a new format, one that I have never seen before in sobriety. We are running the Joe and Charlie tapes for the next few months, beginning in January.

Tonight we read from an old Grapevine, “Having fun in sobriety…”

All of us with time, told similar stories. We range from a few weeks, to a few months, to a number of years, then the jump to 25 and 30 years sober. We had a single newcomer attend tonight, who is in his first weeks. Listening to folks with time talk about how they have “fun” in sobriety is somewhat problematic, because in the beginning, who is having any fun, having come fresh off the street, finding that they are alcoholic and need help, and listen to people talking about having fun!

Many people I have heard speak to this topic, talk about walking down into a church basement, and much to their surprise, expecting bag ladies and bums with trench coats and brown bags, come to find that there are actual, well dressed, happy, smiling and joking people at the bottom of the stairs, and how disconcerting this was for them on their first days in.

I heard lots of good things, like:

  • Getting sober in a city I never drank in, in watching and listening to people who come and go, I learned where not to go, and where to go, what not to do and what To Do.
  • I found a Home Group and got connected
  • I had a sponsor from the very beginning
  • I was never alone for very long
  • I kept busy, meetings, aftercare, service
  • I maintained a stable meeting schedule that has served me well over 13 years
  • I did not do what my friends did
  • But I did do what I was told by the old timers

I spoke about learning what responsibility was, and how that came over time. I first connected to a home group and got active. I’d hear something in a meeting, a topic or a lesson. We’d talk about it over time, I’d learn the lesson, then get time to work it out in reality for another period of time.

That’s how I learned responsibility. It came in stages, over months and years. I met each challenge, soberly and with good advice. When I was sober a year, I took on a second challenge, University. Then a third, was a relationship, (not in your first year, they say) I squeaked in at 11 months.

As long as I used my meetings properly and kept to my schedule, worked with my sponsor and listened accordingly, life tended to work out in my favor. Because I was rooted and In It.

Over the past almost three years I have been IN IT TO WIN IT.

Which is an entirely different beast than when this all started. Sobriety has totally ramped up and my life has never been the same. I imagine, in my minds eye, if a fire this big had been set under my ass in the very beginning, what the possibilities could have been. But I am where I am and life turned out the way it did, by the design God set out for me.

All in its good time I guess.

Yes, you too will learn to laugh, to have fun and live life to its fullest. That’s what the Promises talk about, and also A Vision for You.

We did not get sober to be Miserable.

For we are not a Glum Lot.

Sobriety is our goal, and church basements or bell towers are instrumental for that to happen.

We learn how to live outside those spaces over time. That’s the whole idea, isn’t it ?

I don’t go to sticky places, I don’t shop in liquor stores, I don’t go to bars or clubs. I stay away from city festivals that require one to drink. Listening to my friends, who get stuck in the revolving door, I’ve learned what Not to Do. And that lesson plan paid off in spades.

You Will Get Happy.

One day at a time.

Stick around until the miracle occurs.