When a group of well organized jihadists scheme, plan, and execute an attack on innocent people, they further prove that men of radical bent, will kill with impunity, with No regards to human life, No religion, and No creed.
They are killing in the name of corrupt ideology.
They are not killing in the name of Islam.
And they surely are not killing in the name of the Prophet, Peace be upon Him.
I kept my counsel until now, because I wanted to watch how the rest of the world framed this atrocity on human life. To see if there would be a backlash on Muslim people, and what kind of repercussions would take place.
One mosque in Ontario was burnt to the ground over the weekend.
I’ve relied mostly on European new agencies for news so that I would not get the taint that Western media tends to spin on any given subject.
The questions have been posed. Who did this, Why, Who funded them, and how did they plan and execute human atrocity and nobody was none the wiser. It did not blip on any radar, no security services had been alerted before hand.
And I read that the French Security services HAD dropped the ball.
The odd parking ticket, left at the club, where almost a hundred lost their lives, led to a hot bed of Jihadi men. Someone is going to pay, dearly.
The nationalities of the victims are coming to light, which then invites international scrutiny and investigations, in addition to the French authorities and French Security Services.
If the war had not been ramped up yet, it will now.
Here in Canada, the official Conservative opposition party, has put a motion forwards to our young rookie Prime Minister, to change his tack, and instead of pulling our air fighters from the Syrian theatre, to keep them there to assist in the destruction of Is.
The world is interconnected. We are one human family. We cannot say that we are not sad, or that we are unmoved.
We must speak up as One People and say “Je Suis Paris …”
Here in Montreal there has been an outpouring of sadness and solidarity over the weekend. Our community has marched in the streets, gathered at the French Consulate, and have spoken out as one in saying that we feel for Paris, and that we are here.
Canada is not immune to terrorism. But we are oceans and miles away from the center of action. And I guess that somewhat insulates us from the broader conflict. But does not make us immune to that “one off” lone wolf attack.
People still go about their business. But I sense that our community is a bit more aware of their surroundings, when out and about. You never know when the next hit is going to come, or from where.
We send all of our thoughts and prayers to the people of Paris and to France at large.
You are never alone. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
The scourge of jihadi terrorism will not win. We will find you and we will kill you.
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
**** **** ****
It was an uneventful weekend here. I am still in rest mode. I did what I had to do over the weekend. I spent time with friends, went to a few meetings, and rested in between.
Tonight was a big night in Montreal Sobriety.
Our humble Sunday Niters Group celebrated 52 years of being a meeting tonight.
In time speak, we are one of just a handful of meetings in the city that are so old. We have an illustrious history, and many old timers who were part of earlier incarnations of our meeting came tonight to celebrate with us.
14 years ago, Sunday Niters was located in a grand church names Saint Jame United, which is on the East end of town near Place Des Arts. The room had vaulted ceilings and a large kitchen with double ovens and counter space. Back in the day we had two meetings. One, a Step Discussion meeting, and Two, a Speaker meeting.
The holiday’s were the best back then, because we cooked massive Christmas Feasts and we fed hundreds of people, in the meeting and off the streets. It WAS the place to be at Christmas.
In 2009, we moved from the East end to our present location, St. Leon’s Church in Westmount, which is just shyly west, of Downtown Montreal. I am just a fifteen minute walk away.
We carried two meetings for a while, until numbers dropped off to far, and we dropped our speaker meeting opting for our single Literature Discussion.
One of our elder men spoke, then we discussed the Home Group. Afterwards there was a feast of food and drink and cake.
It was the first time in my memory that we had this big a turn out.
A good time was had by all.
**** **** ****
There has been a rumor running around our neighborhood for the past few weeks. On the way out to a meeting one Thursday night, we met up with a friend who worked in our Provigo, just downstairs.
I had commented to her that (over Thanksgiving) that the selection of good had changed to no name brands across the store. I had noticed that many of the name brands I purchase on a regular basis, had been phased out, for yellow box, no name same.
Her reply was, “they are going to close the store.”
Tonight, on the way out, I had to get some soda for the celebration. Now, I know all the cashiers on first name basis. And as I cashed out, she said to me, “will you miss us?” And I asked her why, and she replied, “they are closing the store on January 6th.”
I was like W.T,F.???
The stores lease is up and the Toyota dealership that owns the building, is taking over the space. There is a car dealership, just across the street from the Provigo. Upstairs, above the grocery store is the Toyota service center.
There is going to be a massive move of sites, and the other speculation is that condos are going to be built above the 4 story building that sits on that corner.
There are 4 grocery stores that serve our neighborhood. The IGA which is in the Alexis Nihon shopping mall, 3 blocks down. There is Adonis, which opened on the ground floor of the Seville Condo Project, which is two blocks down. And finally, P.A. grocery store which is a boutique store (which is directly across the street from Provigo, up the block, above Ste. Catherine’s street), with a butcher shop, fine foods, fruits and vegetables. (I don’t consider them a proper grocery store because I don’t shop there except for specialty items I can’t get anywhere else).
It is said that since Adonis opened a year ago, the Provigo sales have slumped enough that closing the store was the only option. I shop at Adonis, well, I shopped at Adonis for a while, and it looks like they are going to become our go to grocery store, because it is closer.
The Alexis Nihon Commission spent millions of dollars over the last year in renovating and retrofitting the mall to bring it up to spec. The IGA footprint was expanded to double its original footprint, and they offer a great shopping experience. However, carrying bags of groceries from the mall – home is going to be a real pain in the ass.
I might have to invest in a roller cart.
Christmas Decorations are up at the mall, and on the way home, I noticed that workers have begun framing out the new occupant (read: Canadian Tire) in the defunct Target space. A wall is being framed in front of the original frontage wall, which has a huge panel of windows to one side that rise to the second floor of the mall. We shall see what direction they take the new store.
The Big Switch is going to take place. The Old Canadian Tire is located on the floor above the ground floor, on the mezzanine. They are going to move it downstairs. Which opens up another store for new occupants. Winners is stuck between the Second and third floor (read: Parking) and they will stay where they are.
The old Target space is a larger footprint than the old Canadian Tire upstairs.
But, their car detail department won’t have a bay on the ground floor, so I am not sure how they are going to work that out. In the building proper, there is a massive car wash, a car service center for Canadian Tire, several business buildings (read: Towers) and many residential buildings (also towers) (read; Westmount Square), all incorporated into the original structure.
On the local scene, Le Square Condo project, just this week, raised its 20 story building crane onsite, that condo project is moving faster along, than Le Catherine, which is just a few spots down the street from home. Le Square, is on Cabot Square. Le Catherine, is on Ste. Catherine’s Street, just across the street from the new Starbucks that opened with the Seville Project last year.
With the loss of Provigo, and the addition of two MORE condo projects going up, the local shopping scene is going to change. Prices are either going to moderate in the existing stores, or they will go through the roof.
We will either Feast or Starve …
Time will only tell how the neighborhood is going to fare with loosing an anchor grocery store.
There are only 41 shopping days until Christmas …
Ho Ho Ho !!!!
More to come, stay tuned …
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 …
One of my friends does this yearly retrospective, taking the first sentence of the first post from the twelve months of the past year. It took a little work, but here is mine. A one sentence view of the last year, in brief.
January – 2014 – VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis made an impassioned New Year’s peace address on Wednesday, saying the heart of humanity seemed to have gone astray and too many people were still indifferent to war, violence and injustice.
February – 2014 – It is Superbowl Sunday, We don’t get U.S. commercials here, so there is really no desire to watch football, not that I watch football anyways …
March – 2014 – It is the weekend. Light snow is falling. Although it is a bit milder tonight, but the cold continues for next week.
April – 2014 – Today it was “Warm.” Warmer than it has been in as many days. This week will see single positive digits, and beginning next week, we will hit double positive digit temps.
May – 2014 – It was a Big Day today. Changing Attitudes celebrated its One Year Anniversary this evening. All of the remaining founders were present. It has been a good run. We have new members and we have been able to pay rent and keep the doors open, which is a good thing. They say that when you open a meeting, you can do the groundwork, the rest is up to God. And if a meeting makes it and is meant to exist, God will provide. And He has over the last year.
June – 2014 – Oprah’s Masterclass is on. Earlier was an encore presentation of Maya Angelou, and now Whoopi is sharing. It was important to listen to Maya again to remind me of how I am supposed to live(rightly), to know who I am, (a Child of God) and how to treat others, (when you know right, Do right).
July – 2014 – We salute our Country and who is more Canadian than Sid the Kid !!!
It is Canada Day today. 147 years since Confederation.
It is the final Canada Day Celebration for one of my guys. Kind of bittersweet, but it is what it is. It was another SCORCHER of a day today. We are sitting at a balmy 27c with a humidex of 34c. And not a cloud in the sky for miles.
August – 2014 – The city is humming with people coming and going. The Osheaga Festival opened tonight and runs through the weekend, The Berri Transit station was packed with concert goers this evening.
September – 2014 – I was ready to go early, and as I locked the door and called for the elevator, it arrived and I had forgotten my BIG umbrella, so I had to go back and get it, I missed my elevator.
It was going to be one of those days …
I made stops on the way, and got through the turnstile, and down to the platform, and as I walked onto the train, my belt popped and my pants fell down on the train. One hand was full carrying BIG umbrella, and the other was holding my phone (read: music).
October – 2014 – It has been a quiet week. The weather is holding, and the trees in the neighborhood are bright yellow, red and orange. Not all of the trees have turned so brightly as they have in the past. It seems the trees in the church yard have been bitten by the blight once again, so they won’t turn at all, but fall dead and green just like last year.
November – 2014 – Hey, how are you?
Happy Halloween apparently. I don’t really know what it is because I grew up in Australia. A country on an island in the middle of the ocean, far far away from most. But, i did just watch Blood Diamond. An amazing film that shows how a civil war was fought by soldiers stealing children and retraining them into soldiers by shocking them with ultra violence. At the end of the movie the father character finds his brain washed son, who points a gun at his Dad.
December – 2014 – Sister Cristina Scuccia – suor Cristina is an Italian Ursuline nun who won the 2014 season of The Voice Italy. I happened across Sister Cristina on You Tube. Since we don’t get international television here, one has to resort to online platforms to enjoy something a little different.
Thanks to all of you who come and read. It has been a pleasure writing for you.
I wish you all a very happy, safe, sober and wonderful New Year, where ever you are.
It’s a New Year Almost … Bring it on …
It is safe to say that nobody has gotten the weather correct over the past few days. Environment Canada states a few observations, and tv presenters tell us something totally different, then Mother Nature gives us whatever she likes.
Is it gonna rain, or snow, or flurry, or a combination of all three ?
Standing outside the church before the meeting, I could have sworn snow was falling, but there really wasn’t enough cloud cover to make it really snow. It is still chilly, and temps over the next few days will plummet into negative double digits.
All the snow that WAS on the ground, is gone now thanks to rain on Christmas Eve and above normal temps since then. I had a conversation with a friend last night who said a snow storm was coming, but none of the websites I have looked at say anything about BIG snow coming. But that isn’t to say that it isn’t possible.
Geographically, we sit in the sweet spot, it all depends on where the wind blows.
It was a weekend home alone as hubby visited his family in Ottawa. Friday I thought about just sleeping in all the time, but decided to hit the Friday meeting. The reading spoke about:
Life is not a dead end …
Over twenty years ago when I was diagnosed to die in less than two years time, at that time, if you had told me then, where I would have ended up today, I would have laughed at you. It seemed to me that life became a dead end, because I would end up dead in the end.
Todd had other plans for me. So did God. When all my friends were dying, I was in the other extreme, you could say I was flourishing. Did I get it right? When I finally accepted that life wasn’t a dead end, it came all the way around for me.
Sobriety in two hits, taught me a few things. The first time I was too busy learning how to live, to pay the attention to sobriety the way I pay attention to sobriety this time around. At the end of my slip period I was sitting in a dead end. I sure as shit would never had the life I have now, had I stayed in that dead end city, in that dead end job, with no friends or family to speak of.
But I would never have imagined that life would have gotten as good as it has, had you told me then, when I got sober the second time, where I was headed. But I guess I had some idea of where I wanted to go and what kind of life I wanted. Because I made that fateful decision that changed my life, the rest is history now.
I stuck it out. No so much in spite of myself. But because I turned it all over to people who knew better than I did. I trusted then, bar none. They did not disappoint at all.
I love my life. Sobriety is not a dead end, because, we did not get sober to be Miserable.
I did not get sober to be miserable.
This afternoon hubby returned with a booty of gifts from the family. Now we have to find the space to store all the stuff we got this year, along with all the stuff we got last year. I have a very small kitchen, with little to no counter space. And we got all kinds of spices in a nice spice rack, more olive oils and vinegars, salts, and cooking add-ons.
This year, I noticed that we only got one big wooden bowl, and not three or four baskets, which has been the norm in Christmases past, like we have any more room to store more stuff, we don’t actually.
We got a hefty food card for Provigo, so I shopped like a mad man before leaving for the meeting. We get to shop till you drop at Target too, which is what we really needed. We got practical gifts this year, rather than the normal fare.
It was dark when I left. If the days are getting longer, it ain’t happening here just yet.
But it could be worse, like minus (-20c) outside and snow all over the place. Mother Nature can remain on hiatus for as long as she wants. It’s all good.
We sat a small group. It being the end of the month, we read Tradition Twelve.
What I do and how I do it has evolved over the years. But the rules of engagement are the same across the board. I have no problem talking about me, just as long as I don’t talk about you.
Over several meetings, besides the anonymity statements that are read you hear a few other things.
The one that I think about says, you can carry the message outside this room, but names and personal details stay here. Or If what you hear here can help someone in their recovery, by all means use it, but names and personal details stay here.
Our meetings are safe spaces, where ALL are welcome. No matter what you do, how you do it, where you do it, or who you are. And that has been the norm over the past year, because of the folks who have come to our meetings from far and wide.
There was a time, when I was early in sobriety that someone said to me that an underground system had been set up in our city to keep us from them, and that certain people were being directed away from our meetings, opting for a more private atmosphere.
That is not the case today or so it seems. Our folks are good honest people who respect each other.
All is well for another weekend. The New Year is right around the corner.
I remember growing up in my teen age years, the ritual family New Years Eve party at one of my friends house. All the grand parties were held at this particular house. A fine dinner prepared for twenty or so folks, served on Wedgwood china. Beer, Liquor, Champagne and Wine aplenty.
The Orange Bowl Parade. Fireworks on the ocean. Dick Clark and the famous ball drop.
Drunken hilarity ensued.
Now we have Ryan Seacrest and his bevy of performers. We watch the ball fall and call it a night. I haven’t been to a New Years Party since I got sober. In fact, the last New Year’s party I went to/worked at was 2000 into 2001. The last day I saw my mother, New Years Day, 2001.
I got sober that following winter 2001.
That’s all for tonight. More to come, stay tuned …
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 !
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.
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?
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.
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.
We are under a special weather advisory this weekend. The snow on the ground is surely going to melt and wash away due to massive rain that is in the forecast for Christmas Eve and Christmas. We are sitting at (-8c) at this hour, but temps are going to rise well above freezing into positive digits.
It won’t be a very White Christmas this year.
There is not much going on here. All the Christmas packages that needed to be mailed were completed yesterday. Now we are waiting for stuff to arrive that I purchased online last week.
We sat a fair group tonight. People are busy with traveling here and there. It seems everybody has places to go so they, at least, won’t be alone on the holiday, and meetings are open on Christmas night so that is a good thing.
We read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step 4.
We heard lots of good stuff.
Here’s hoping I get mail tomorrow.
More to come. Stay tuned …
This is the centuries old parish church in Outremont, where our Friday night meeting meets. It is part of today’s story, I just needed to right image to accompany this post.
There are 5 shopping days until Christmas.
Thanks to online merchandise, PayPal, and a little creativity, I am really good at finding places that will ship to Canada, because not all online shops in other countries will ship world wide. It may be Online, but what you want, may not be available, depending on where you are shopping from. I do my best to buy “in country” when ever possible.
It was another blur of a day. We have been triangulating get togethers with friends who are in town for a short time. Tomorrow they are all scattering across the country for Christmas, so today was an entire day of food, friends, and fellowship.
I had dinner with friends earlier this evening before heading out for the Friday Night Meeting.
Our local hangout “Dundees” on Crescent Street, not far from home, is my go to restaurant. That place has hosted scores of lunches and dinners with influential professors, academic advisers, friends, and family over the last 13 years. The place has changed up its menu and also changed up how they present food on the plate. It was really nice. As always the food is fantastic.
I wrote the remaining cards out for my friends last night.
How do you Card scores of friends you see all the time? It really isn’t possible, that would cost a pretty penny in the end. I picked the Friday meeting crew to card. But there are upwards of 50 people at that meeting on any given Friday.
So my method of carding is this: The first circle starts with folks that are close to me, the ones who I see at set up week in and week out, people I spend the most time with, those folks who I invest a little more umph into. The next circle is friends who I talk to regularly, those who are part of my sobriety, I can’t know everybody, there are just too many people. The third circle is people that are on the fringe, the folks people tend to ignore, the ones who come early, do all the work, and nobody notices them and they leave with not a word from anyone else.
This is called a little random act of kindness move.
After dinner a friend and I set out for the meeting across the Metro. We took another route so that we could stop for bagels at the premier bagel shop, St. Viateur bagels on the plateau. Because if you want bagels, you go to the ultimate source! On the way we were on a bus that turned out, not to be very reliable, it kept stopping and going, beside its regular stops. We were on a tight schedule, and at the end of the ride (when we got off the bus) we sat at a stop light for like 4 rotations.
We were like WTF???
We walked the rest of the way up Parc to the bagle shop, got bagels, then got back on a bus going back in the direction we just came from to get to the church. We squeaked in just under the wire.
The house was packed for the party afterwards. Two of three of my guys were in attendance, it was the last time we would be together in the same space until January. It was a good discussion.
After the meeting we broke bread together, and I did my run around the room.
I am kind to everyone in the room. I listen to people week in and week out, who comes, who doesn’t, who’s on the fringe, and their stories. Stay long enough and you will learn this magical ability.
I just don’t fold a blank card, sign it and toss it into an envelope.
Every card has a specific message, meant for that specific person. Which is why I chose the folks I did this year to card. Friends I want to know better, people who are the most important to me, personally. Everybody is important, but people and personalities sometimes do not allow direct contact.
Investing is an art. To know what to say, and how to say it.
And the payout, the looks on people’s faces, when you hand them a card, totally not expecting a random act of kindness, smiles, tears, hugs,
An investment into my friends, to let them know how much I appreciate them and what they mean to me, at a time, when people struggle the most and feel the most alone. And a dash of words, meant specifically for them. Words are power, put in the right order, from the heart, can change a life in ways, one cannot imagine. Kindness on the holiday can also mean someone gets through a holiday, that someone took the time to think of them specifically.
I love that.
It isn’t about me, its all about my friends. Because without them, I am just one man.
I got a great book from a friend for Christmas. I got to meet new friends, I hit a meeting with my guys, and on the train ride home, another one of my guys called from out of town. It was a full night of smiles, tears, kindness and love.
The Best kind of night.
A heart full of gratitude.
Don’t you love it when your day, when you look back at it, was one BIG BLUR ???
Today, kind of started in the middle of the night last night.
The first day Christmas cards went on sale at the mall, I spent $40.00 on two boxes. I put them on the dining room table, and there they sat for more than a couple of weeks. I had even went so far as to gather all my little slips of paper, addresses, envelopes from last year, and my choice for who would make “The Cut” this year.
Now, if you know that reference, you are really good.
Time has been moving at light speed, as we are six days from Christmas and things have been ramping up for a while now. It seems that every day there is something specific that must be done, People to see, meetings to go to, coffee to be drank, conversations to be had, yadda, yadda …
Tuesday night I still had not written a single card, and to that end, I posted that fact on my timeline, everybody I send card to is on the “Book.” so why bother ??
Wednesday night, in the middle of the night I was sitting here and thought that there were certain people I really wanted to card. So it was 3 a.m. I was sitting right where I always sit, and I wrote out a very select group of people to card. And those cards went out this morning.
Most of those folks are in Canada, and Canada Post is really good at holiday mail, so chances are they they will get to where they need to be before next Thursday.
Sadly, only two Americans made the cut this year. I just wasn’t up to writing all those cards, when the return rate is so low.
I was ready to go early today because I had a beauty appointment at lunchtime, and so I was a bit early, and I’ve never seen the salon in such a frenetic state. Chairs were full, people were waiting, there was hair all over the floor. It looked like a marathon cut was taking place.
Oh, but this … Prior to going to the mall, I sorted my cards and got them in the mail, and went grocery shopping in the space between then and where I was going. Now I know every check person at the grocery store, well! We are all on first name basis, because we shop there every day.
Ok, so I am standing in the express lane, and a friend is checking out. The express person has to contend with returns, refunds, lottery tickets, flat screen tv’s (yes, they sell flat screen tv’s at the grocery store), bottles, cigarettes, and the one phone connected to the store, the office downstairs, and THEN check out customers. All at the same time, well, you know what I mean.
In one moment, a guy wanted to exchange a flat screen tv, another wanted a lottery ticket, people were standing at the bottle return, AND the phone rang, and there was a customer in front of me.
What do you do first?
I just stood there wand waited for the fall out to happen. And it didn’t take long.
The guy in front of me was buying one item. LUNCH …
My checker lady had her hands and ears full. Imagine just for a moment, that you are that checker lady with everything going on, all at the same time …
She is taking the call, a bag boy is taking care of the tv, the others can wait.
She swipes the lunch box, amid a conversation and pauses for a brief second what happened next shocked both of us, but it is not uncommon …
The guy looks at her and says … “Can’t you fucking speed up?”
I held my breath.
My friend is not one who is short on words, nor colorful expletives.
She hung up the phone and completed the sale.
The guy did not say thank you, have a nice day, Nothing !
He walked out of the store.
I stepped up to the cash and she exploded with a number of colorful expletives.
We both laughed …
I go home, unload groceries and go to the salon, where the story is already in motion …
I walk into the salon, with the scene I set above. In the first chair, well, there was not first chair there at that moment, but a wheel chair. The cutters there are very familiar with random acts of kindness.
And at that moment, a random act of kindness was taking place.
It swelled my heart.
I waited for a bit and watched the frenetic scene until they were ready for me. The books were cooking with appointments, and from what I was told, it had been like this all week, with the run up to the holiday.
Holidays, a little nasty, a little humbug, and in the end you get a random act of kindness.
I did some Christmas shopping. The mezzanine is rather innocuous, so I passed through “The Tire” without even a hiccup. I hit some Micky D’s for lunch and came home. Thank God for online shopping, it has saved my sanity. Packages are winging themselves here as we speak, all I have to do is wrap them when they get here. BOO YAH !!!
Our little neighborhood has been BUZZING with activity for months now. The park is shut down, and they are rebuilding it. The children’s hospital is slated for closure in five months, a building on the main is being demolished to make way for a brand sparkling new condo block, with is going to KILL my view of Westmount Square when it goes up, The Forum approach has been blocked off for forever, traffic was shunted to two lanes instead of three, concrete barricades went down the block, and a makeshift path was created by fencing to get you through the madness.
From my balcony I get to watch everything from above.
Last night, a miracle occurred.
They pulled up the plastic on the newly poured sidewalks. They fenced in the tree boxes (where they will plant trees next spring), The concrete barricades are gone, the fencing is gone, they added light poles and stop lights, it looks clean, bright and ready for traffic.
Now, how many months does it take to strip a city block strip of sidewalk, 25 feet deep from street to building?
Answer: 8 months
On the demolition site the building is tucked in between a stretch of other buildings in the middle of a very long city block. So you can’t maneuver cranes, lifts, or any BIG Tonka truck rigs. There is no room to set them up.
They are using a one man “mini” bulldozer, lifted to the roof, where it is covered in snow. There are five guys to demolish the building using hammers, a mini dozer, and a Blow Torch.
Behind that building stands an apartment building on our block, we are kind of set up between the block behind this scene looking down on it.
The entry way for cars to park in that buildings parking garage is accessed by an alley that runs behind said building being demolished. They are knocking down a building at the same time that a working alley for another building is still useable. They can’t block the approach.
They knocked in the first floor walls (facing the car park entrance) from behind. They knocked down everything on the roof. They had to dig through the snow to get to hatches to the roof.
Now, they need to knock down brick from the second floor from above, because they can’t get to it from the ground. No truck access …
What do they do?
A man rigs a line, connected to one wall on the roof. The line is then tied to the man. The man hangs over the edge of the building, with his hammer, (literally!!!) knocking bricks out, immediately below him, on the same stretch of wall he is hanging over by a rope.
Do you see the logic here ?
No, I didn’t think so.
So that is a thing …
When all my travels were said and done, I had an hour to kill before I had to leave for the far end of Westmount to meet my sponsor at his condo. We sat in a McDonald’s and had our chat. I had another hour to kill from when we finished, until I needed to leave for my second trip into this end of Westmount.
I rode the train home for 45 minutes, and departed with friends for the meeting.
Our speaker was a few years sober, on the 27th he will have four years.
To open: Our chair, a woman I know very well, called this young man at 5 o’clock this evening. He was in his car, he was bringing his kids home. Both of them were fussing and crying, and it was a little insane, when the phone rung and she asked him to speak tonight.
Obviously, you never say no to another member when it comes to service.
We remarked after the meeting that
“when we were using and drinking, we are a tornado wrecking the lives of everyone around us, and we don’t even see it happening.”
When you are standing in the middle of the cone, you don’t necessarily see the winds whipping around you.
Hence, our man was a tornado.
His story was a type four alcoholic. (Meaning: A blackout, not knowing what he had done, said or drank or used the night before). Singleness of purpose be damned.
In the end, his last drunk, he had a wife, whom he thought he loved, a child that was 2 months old, and ended up in jail, after two days of binge drinking (over Christmas that year) inside a hale of drugs.
Obviously, he wasn’t thinking about his wife, nor his child, his only thought was
“Where can I get MORE?”
It was then, looking in a mirror, in JAIL, he had his moment of clarity.
He gave it up. All of it. And made his way in.
He had ruined his son’s first Christmas, not to mention hurting his wife.
In the end, with tears in our eyes he said this:
“This Christmas, my wife and children (he now has two), will know that daddy loves them very much.”
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
He has stopped the tornado. He cleaned up his life. He has a job, a life, a wife, two children, a brand new home, he is an upstanding man in our community.
The Twelve Step rep got up there at the end and said that:
“Tonight, would be a really great night to start your journey. A LOT better than starting it next week or the week after.” Any takers … there were two, in fact.
Like myself, many of my friends today, got sober over Christmas, I am early December. So they will be celebrating anniversaries this coming week.
When we got to the meeting, favorite newbie was sitting in the seat I always sit in, well, the seat I started sitting in a few weeks ago. You KNOW we like to sit in the same seat at every different meeting, I KNOW you do !!!
I walked up behind him and said … Hey, You newbie, get out of my seat !!!
We just laughed.
Tonight we even had a serious conversation, I asked him if he has detected “The Force” between the women at the Tuesday night Beginners Meeting, where I used to be a member for for a long time.
He laughed …
Yes, he said, He’s got a few months now. We heard him three weeks ago speak.
At first, the happy peppy women scared him, he wasn’t sure how to react, being so new and raw.
Today, he watches and listens, and he is beginning to “get” the happys…
I have encouraged him to stick and stay at that meeting.
He is doing all the right things. And I am very proud of him.
And that folks, is the end of tonight’s tale of Flash and Bang to Calm and Sober.
More to come, stay tuned …
“The Christmas Card Cut” – Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil…
The weekend is in the books. Little by slowly, the city is clearing away all that snow. At this stage of the game, we do not have a Christmas Forecast, but we always hope for snow on Christmas Day.
I posted the piece on the Universe last night, and I tweeted several people. And wouldn’t you guess, the biggest fish in the sea came and read me, someone I have been listening to on the radio for years and years. The esteemed Ian Punnett famed host of Coast to Coast A.M.
And he tweeted my piece to his followers. I feel like I’ve had my five minutes of fame.
He tweeted that I was “close.” I must have said something right.
Bringing together all the knowledge I have on a certain topic is a synthesis of many books, hours and hours of study, lectures, science, the afterlife, and the paranormal. I go back and re-read several books that are in my library, because they give me different takes on “how the universe works and how we live in this universe and what happens when we die.”
Learning about God, is something that is continual. An education and those little pieces of paper that I earned are gathering dust in my library. Neither of them did one bit of good in the end.
Was University a waste? No, not really. It gave me a platform to stand on and the ability to speak my passion with the book knowledge and a lifetime of experience to back it.
I also seek the guidance of a number of people, who know God a little bit better than I do. Several of my friendships are very important in spiritual terms.
God has been on the front burner lately.
And all the writing I have done over the past month is starting to become useful with my friends and fellows. It is one thing to have thoughts and observations, and be able to synthesize them into print.
Lately, I have been having conversations with my friends who want to know where God is, why isn’t He speaking back, when I pray, and how do I turn it over ???
I touched on all of these questions in pieces I have written over the past couple of weeks.
And as of late, all that insight, has become very useful.
We’ve been covering the Steps on Sunday Nights. That is one of the best ways to introduce steps to newcomers. They can hear them read, in long form, then listen to the room, work it out in real time.
We sat a modest group tonight. And tonight’s offering was Step Three.
We’ve been hovering over the word God for a while now. And the most important job that we, those with considerable time in it, can do is to support and encourage folks to stick and stay, and do the work. As we have talked recently about God and what He would sound like and when that voice is going to come, because He isn’t answering fast enough and I am not getting the answers I want …
Tonight, someone I am working with came with a burden on her heart. And I’ve encouraged her to speak those burdens to the rooms, whatever room it is on what ever day it is, no matter the topic on the table, if you’ve got to get rid of something, you must speak it.
Usually, as it goes, someone has a word for you, or a contact, or a piece of advice that can be useful.
Tonight it was no different. She prayed, and God didn’t speak. So she was unhappy.
I asked her what she needed and she told me. Luckily, I know a few people, who can help her. There was her answer. I told her that she would need to seek out my old sponsor at a particular meeting and if he could not help her, he would know someone who could. Most definitely.
Then she countered, but that night is my home group and I can’t miss that meeting.
My answer was this, if you need something and there is someone you should seek, going to another meeting might be necessary to make that connection. There are plenty of women at that meeting that she would have enough in common with.
Ugh… newcomers !
In the end, God spoke. She didn’t necessarily want to take the advice on the first pass, it was her choice. If you really want something, sometimes footwork is necessary.
We have all been reminded that tis’ the season for Misery and the Poor Me’s …
With that said, we are all stepping up our games, so as not to be taken down into Misery and the Poor Me’s…
I’ve said this over and over lately that we did not get sober to be miserable.
Some did not get that memo.
Sadly, I’ve come to know, recently, that several members I know well, who had decades in, went back out and drank again. This is not uncommon. It happens more frequently than we like to admit.
Some folks with serious time, forget.
- They forget that we suffer from a cunning, baffling and powerful disease.
- They forget that they should be living in the solution.
- They forget what it was like to be new.
- They stop reading the books, and going to meetings and speaking to others.
- They stop calling sponsors and take matters into their own hands.
- They are so far from their last drink, that they forget what it was like.
- And finally the think that they are cured (read: Deluded) and so, they drink again.
Bringing folks back into the fold, once they go back out, is tenuous. One’s approach must be carefully planned. But most importantly, what we know, based on what we do today, has to matter, when working with folks on the bubble.
I made a huge mistake and ruined a relationship some years ago, when I openly chastised a very close friend who had serious time and after a bout with cancer, drank again. She was in the U.S. and I was here. We spoke every week, sometimes more often. During that whole time she never told me she was drinking, and when she returned she walked into a meeting and took a chip, and I reacted, terribly.
I took it very personally, that she could not confide in me that kind of truth and I said as much.
I don’t know if she is still sober, but that all but ended our decades long friendship.
Ah, the things we learn about ourselves in sobriety.
Even with time, every once in a while, I open my mouth and stick my foot in all the way up to my thigh.
Big Mistake. Lesson Learned.
It is not going to be an easy holiday. All those warning signs are starting to pop up.
Thankfully, all my guys are sober. All of them are in the city tonight. And I get the pleasure of spending quality time with all of them through till January.
It was a good night, it was a challenging night. We have our work cut out for us in the days to come.
If you pray, pray for our folks, especially our newcomers.
We really want them to make it. Getting them through is the job right now.
And you know how stubborn an alcoholic can be at times.
I want to speak to God, and I want an answer right now on my terms !!!!
UGH … God don’t work that way missy !!!
More to come, stay tuned …
More to come, stay tuned …
Guess what came in the mail today …
The excitement of the holidays has begun.
We welcomed friends who arrived from out of town, just in time for the Friday Night Meeting. People will be coming and going over the next two weeks, and our social schedule’s for those weeks have been already planned to maximize all the time we have together, before people go back to their respective schools across Canada and the United States.
In other news … Unlike the downtown core, where there is little snow piled up, basically because it has already been plowed away, up on the plateau where the Friday Night Meeting resides, there is snow piled up ALL over the place. Cars are buried, sidewalks are passable because the city workers plowed away enough snow to make them passable.
I suited up, with many layers, incorporating my new jersey, front and center, bundled up and headed out. There are 2 stations on the same line that are equidistant from home, one up towards the college, Eastbound, and the other down to the mall, three blocks Westward. I needed tickets in any case, and I can get them at the pharmacy, which is in the mall, above the train station.
So that was my plan.
There were lots of people coming and going. People are certainly taking part in the holiday shopping binge. The mall stations were packed with merry holiday goers. So I made my transit, and I was amazed to see that my phone actually works on the train across both the Green and Orange lines.
They have been upgrading the cell reception and service across the core stations and it seems they tweaked the outbound stations on the Orange line, that I take to get to the meeting. For the second time recently, I got a live text while in the tunnel, with the train in motion. YAY Telus !!!
We sat a good group. A friend that I haven’t seen in some time, came, and actually, I had been thinking about him specifically, over the past few days, and I like to believe that when we think of people. we send a ripple out to the universe, and within hours, or sometimes, days, they show up.
The universe is funny in that way.
These are hard times indeed. Our folks have been coming from other places, and new folks that don’t usually come, have shown up and visitors from out of town are in for the holidays. We are happy to oblige. We talked about A.B.S.I. and “We cannot live alone.”
This particular reading speaks about steps four and five respectively.
“… We cannot wholly rely on friends to solve all our difficulties. A good adviser will never do all our thinking for us. He/She knows that each final choice must be ours. He/She will therefore help to eliminate fear, expediency, and self deception, so enabling us to make choices which are loving, wise and honest.” Grapevine August, 1961.
I remarked to a friend that there is always something to take away from every meeting. It might be a word, an exercise, or just an identification.
In the beginning, folks are very leery about step work. Especially when they consider the “what we think” daunting process of writing our step four. Then speaking it through Step five. Tonight, there was not one horror story. Many of us have done them, and found that they were truly enlightening, freeing and liberating. Everyone had a unique story to share on the topic.
We heard about a writing exercise, that is said to be the most powerful writing exercise that is used at the famed Betty Ford Clinic.
- Pen to paper – Write out the Third Step prayer
- Pen to paper – Write out three lists: Resentments, Fears and Gratitude list
- Pen to paper – Write out the Seventh Step prayer
We do this on a daily basis, first the prayers, then our lists for that respective day. You must put at least three things on the Gratitude list every day. And as we do this writing exercise, we watch how items move between the lists and eventually land on the gratitude list.
If you can commit to this writing exercise, it will prove to be a most useful tool.
Every little bit of experience pays off from time to time. Our young people can never get enough of stuff to do to keep them “on the beam.” And those of us who have some time and experience, adding a little something here or there tends to be very useful in our daily ritual of prayer and writing.
I am very keen on having the guys I work with follow simple suggestions.
Like I mentioned yesterday, eventually, for better or for worse, your sponsor should help you along with tools that will make your life easier, which is to say, a good sponsor knows what they are doing, and I work very hard to be that person. And If I suggest something to my guys, again, for better or for worse, following a suggestion usually ends up in the positive column often.
If I’ve done it, or heard that it can be done this way, or know someone who had results doing something specific, I do it myself, then I suggest that idea out, and I watch the results.
It all comes down to The Work …
You are either In It or you are IN IT TO WIN IT …
Which leads back to How it works, chapter five … If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.
Little did I know, how that sentence changes in literal meaning, the further IN IT you get.
I mean, this seminal reading we hear ad infinitum at every meeting, read over and over, day after day, night after night, these words now leap off the page when I hear them read. Because now I know what it feels like to go to ANY length.
Imagine it only took me eleven years to understand this.
It took another member who was IN IT to tell me that I need to be IN IT and how to do that.
What a rush …
I love my life. My friends. My fellows.
It was a love fest tonight, that will continue until January 5th.
I’ve heard about gratitude living, and there I usually roll my eyes …
But I truly know what that feels like and means for me.
We need people in our lives, but in the end, the final choices should be ours alone, given with good guidance from people we trust. Not having to pollute ourselves helps a great deal in learning how to make right and good decisions, soberly …
More to come, stay tuned …
It is a bit chilly at this hour. (-12c/-17c w.c.) And we are under a special weather advisory as well. We haven’t had our first BIG SNOW just yet, it looks like that may happen this week. Tuesday they say will be the day, and just what I need, a massive snow storm on a meeting night, with certain streets already blocked by construction, that only makes things worse, because we have to walk from the station down the hill to the church on Tuesday !!! F.M.L. !!!
We are only Two days out from my anniversary.
This week’s theme is multiples of Two.
I left home uber early so I could spend time with one of my guys, before the meeting. So we cranked it out and got down to business. It was very productive. We sat a fair group, lots of new faces, and a new lady in the chair, so that was a good thing.
We read from the Twelve and Twelve, and Step Two.
The reading is very “meaty.” My book, being as old as it is, has multiple colors and underlining and high lighting in it. In that reading we talk about faith, and practice, and “coming to…”
It was very likely that someone in the room was going to mention the word God.
Following all the words I have spoken about said subject, many of our young folks are satisfied with the “mystery” that is God, the “not having to KNOW it fully” and the fact that as it played out, the same truth came from many mouths … “I came to the room, and it was in the room, with all of you people in it, that I came to know and understand.”
Nobody really knows Who or What God is. Even the brightest religious and theological minds can really give us one specific answer to that question.
There are several paradoxes in several books, when talking about God and Higher Power.
In the Twelve and Twelve and Step Two it reads: A.A. doesn’t demand you believe in anything.
In A.B.S.I. one passage reads: You can believe in anything you want, as long as it works, BUT it always comes back round to God.
The Big Book reads: The term “spiritual experience” and “spiritual awakening” are used many times in this book which, upon careful reading shows that the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms…
… Though it was not our intention to create such an impression, many alcoholics have nevertheless concluded that in order to recover they must acquire an immediate and overwhelming “God consciousness” followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook.
For many of us, myself included, God, or Faith, or Belief, has evolved over the years. We’ve discussed in great detail, the word God, how to read it, what to do with it, and how to work around it, because I’ve also said, when it comes to God, there is more than one way to skin a cat.
The one piece of advice I share willingly is this … In order to see things as I see them or how others see things, takes a long time. This is a long term prospect. The suggestion, and it is merely a suggestion, is that you stay in your day and live in your 24 hours, and don’t worry about the future, or more to the point, don’t forecast too far into the future.
Meaning: You gotta stick around until the miracle happens.
I have said that I had to learn lessons, I learned once before, over again. They came in another order, because the circumstances I came back in were different that the first time around.
I did whatever they told me to do. And tonight I was sitting in the room I got sober in, (read: the room I have spent the most number of hours in over the last 13 years) with a new sponsee, and I shared with him this piece of advice.
When we come to a room, it is all about ME. Over time, All about ME, changes to All about US.
We begin to exercise the paradoxes. And over time, we come, we come to, and then we come to believe. For some this is a tall order, which is why the Twelve and Twelve says what it says.
As soon as I stopped arguing and judging, and dropped the intellectualism and the emotionalism, then I had a chance.
For many of us, every day is a choice. We do good, we pray, we help others, we help ourselves, and no two days running are the same. We are apt to make mistakes and do things wrong. But there is the lesson for us … it isn’t supposed to always be easy… If God gave us everything we wanted on a silver platter, then where would the challenge be?
If we didn’t have to work for our lives, then what’s the purpose of living?
Prayer is a Up Down Process …
Conscious Contact with God as we understand Him is an Up Down Process…
Expanding that thought as I have done recently, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact ( with:God/read:others) praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out…
Working life out turns from all about Me to All about Us.
Coming to a meeting, leads to coming to believe on our part.
And I don’t know what God’s voices sounds like, and If I am going to hear it, it is going to come from someone familiar, someone I know. But if I am not paying attention clearly and wrapped up in the committee in my head, I may miss God speaking to me.
You never know … I tell my guys that when they pray, pray humbly and honestly. That takes time and effort and practice. I then add that it is difficult to remain connected to God all day long, with the business of life going on around us, and I was sure that someone somewhere would bring an answer to certain prayers, if we were paying attention. Hence … Going to a meeting, is also a chance opportunity to hear from God.
Because like I said, you never know where the next good word is going to come from.
When I talk about God, and hearing God and Seeing God move, it is always associated with the hall at St. Leon’s Church. He likes that room, because over the last thirteen years, He has been very good to our people. I may have a university, (read:book) education and also have a family faith background, I knew God existed. But having spent so many years going to meetings, I was given eyes to see Him.
When I was in Seminary, many years ago, I had plenty of time to pray and to find God. And I did that. Sad that human beings, who thought they knew better, thought that my conscious contact with the God of my understanding was not good enough for them !
I kind of wonder what God thought of that judgment?
Water under the bridge they say …
I don’t argue with people over God. Once you come in, STAY. And I promise you, very truly, if you stay and you take suggestions, and you do the work, you WILL come to believe, just like every other human being in the room. Those four words give you plenty of latitude…
As We Understood Him
**** **** ****
Unless you have been living under a rock, there has been plenty of words written about Mr. Nick Jonas. One of the trio of the Jonas Brother’s Fame. Nick has produced his first self titled album, Nick Jonas. I wasn’t a Jonas Brother follower. Not being a teenage girl …
But Nick has been all over Tumblr as of late. He has quite the boy following.
The album, I think, is a lot rhythm and Bluesy. It has a specific rhyme and reason. If I download an album, I first listen to it on the computer, then if I like it, it goes to my phone, which gets an additional listen through, at that point, it either stays or goes.
Nick is a keeper.
It is well worth the price. He’s got a unique sound.
That is all for tonight. Next Stop … 13 years … Cake and Frivolity !!!
The next multiple of two comes on Tuesday, with Step 12 …
Having Had A spiritual awakening …
Stay tuned, more to come, definitely…
Snow is falling on our fair city tonight. Lots of decorations up, twinkly lights, and lots of real Christmas Tree sales points are open.
With all my weekly chores done, today was a lazy day. And I took full advantage of it.
There has emerged a theme to this week, as it went. One Word, “Trouble.”
My relationship with my sponsors answering machine continued today, day three. It wasn’t until I arrived at the Friday meeting, that I found someone who knew why he was M.I.A.
“You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille …. ”
I’ve been feeling a little out of my league as of late. Second guessing myself, and wondering if what I have in my bank is worthwhile, and if the words I have used as of late, have done the job, I intended them to do?
As a writer, I study lots of things. People, Books, Speeches, Ted Talks, you get the picture.
I have said in the past that I am an amalgamation of everyone I know, and you could also say that some of the words in my bank, came from other people, along the way, and little snippets of advice or teaching, come from various places. (see above illustration).
Working with others, is our greatest defense against that next drink, or any drink for that matter.
And my guys keep me on my toes.
I have something intimate in common with each of them. Each for a different reason. In 47 seven years of life, I have collected a wealth of information. Language, Culture, Faith, the Common substance abuse issues, a University Education and 13 years of Sobriety to offer (well, 21 years if you count the first time and the time in between).
With my sponsor out of reach for the time being, what I have from him, in the bank, is what he has taught me, and what I have learned about myself in the past year, working with him.
When I cannot talk to him, I rely on others to fill that void.
If you don’t know what to do, in times like this, call someone else you trust, or just go to another meeting, where, as it always happens, the right topic goes to the table for people to talk about, which was the case tonight.
You never know the challenges that people are facing on any given night. Which translates to the thought, “Always be kind to others, because you never know the burdens they carry.”
Which also leads to “be careful the words you use, because one slip up can destroy a human spirit.”
I’ve had to really trust in my ability to choose words wisely, and even then, I second guess myself sometimes. When another human being relies on you, it isn’t about me or my ego. And if I ever forget that, I just think of David. (long story)
Some sponsors let power and ego go to their heads, which always ends up in disaster.
We sat a fair group. Not a huge number, sufficient for the hour. We welcomed friends home for the holidays, and that will continue for the next week or so, everybody will be in attendance by next weekend. Our Christmas Party is set for the 19th.
The Friday meeting is very special. People from all over the city come. Folks you don’t usually see at our meeting have been showing up, for various specific reasons. Even in sobriety people have tough times, and our young people keep it green for them.
Tonight’s read relates to the Fourth Promise …
“No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.”
It does not bode well, if I second guess myself, when giving advice to someone, who is doing that same thing themselves. Sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot for no good reason. And sometimes in sobriety, we are our own worst enemies. When we second guess, we think we are less than, or not good enough, we defeat all the progress we have made to this point in time.
I find myself returning to my bank for words. My collection is vast and comes from many places. In a ten year education career, I have studied various things, religious and theological. My library of books, here at home, is massive. I have more than a hundred books that I have read over the years. Many subjects, many traditions, such a so forth.
And I find when I don’t have words, that I know where to get them.
In the end it all comes down to two basic thoughts, in every case.
ONE – Where ever you are on your timeline, at what ever point on that time line, you are right where you need to be and right where you are supposed to be, at any given moment.
“Nothing, Absolutely Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.”
TWO – When it comes down to brass tacks, If you did not drink to day, it was a good day.
“Acceptance is the KEY to ALL my problems.”
We all have troubles. In sobriety we learn how to rank them, sort them, then deal with them properly, and that takes time and lots of work. Which is why the Friday meeting is so important. because I never leave that meeting without learning something from someone.
Edit … much later
The literature rack in any meeting is the least used item in the room, on any given night. We put it out at every meeting. We also encourage folks to take some, and subtly leave them around where someone who might need them, find them. We pay good money to stock our literature racks with plenty of stuff to read, that for the most part, goes unread.
Tonight I was on the train coming home and I was sitting in the front car, off to the left side against a window, as is usual for me. I did not notice it when I boarded the train, but when I got to my stop, I looked down to the floor, to the left of the door, and there in French, was a piece of literature, left on the train for someone to pick up. I smiled to myself. Some crafty member found some place to leave something for someone to later pick up.
At least someone on the French side makes use of literature !!!
More to come, stay tuned …
that sells the authentic jersey’s from players all over the world. I now own two Prime Real Estate Jerseys, the real deal, Mario Gotze: Bundesliga F.C. Bayern Munich and Germany World Cup jersey’s …
They do not come cheap, and cost a pretty penny.
Especially when you want a specific player’s jersey.
Hello Sunday Readers. It is a little chilly, and it is wanting to rain, but that did not happen on the way home. The theme of this past week is turning out to be the number 11. The way the readings have come this past week, and the way the month ends, on this particular Sunday, the last Sunday of the month, we focus on Tradition 11.
Attraction rather than promotion.
Not sure what the reason is, but our numbers have fallen off the past few weeks. Students are in the final push with exams and the end of term, and the beginning of the holiday break starts as well. I’ve said before that this period of time is the toughest time of the year for many, normies or not.
Friday night, I pilfered a couple Grape Vines to read, because I am between reads on my bedside table. And upon reading one of the issues, one writer talked about volunteering at the Bill W. house that I went to see in October. And I was like, HMMMM …
I had some literature that was given to us at the house, that I really did not read through, so I went back to it and found that they indeed have a list of things they need, certain people who can do certain things, skills, building, plumbing and all sorts of house care abilities. Later I spoke to my sponsor and put a bug in his ear about maybe returning to the house next summer to volunteer for a while.
Tomorrow is December 1st. World AIDS Day.
December already, Can you believe it ???
We are nine days out from my anniversary.
The second booklet I was reading from had a particular story based in Mississippi. And I want to share with you part of that story…
… A tall, thin man … had a treatment house for drunks out in the country. My uncle knew about him from the church and took me out to this house to get me some help after finding me drunk once again. This man talked about how he felt before and after he drank.
He taught me from the Big Book.
At this house I heard things like, “I didn’t get drunk every time I drank, but every time I got drunk, I had been drinking” … “The first thing you have to do to stop drinking is to stop drinking” … “Reveal yourself to God and ask God to reveal Himself to you” …
Red, you’re doing everything backwards.
You are trying to get clean before you get in the bath, It’s the purpose of the bath to get you clean” … and … “All my life I ran from the bears and tigers, when the fleas and ticks were about to carry me off.”
When the time is right, and we are prepared to listen to the message, the right folks appear and speak the words that will, hopefully, take root, and change our lives.
We encourage folks at our meetings to grab the free stuff, those pamphlets that usually gather dust in the cabinet. We also tell them to read that literature then leave them where someone who might need it, will find them.
Buses, Trains, Doctors offices. Subtle, don’t you think?
Many of us have had opportunities on the many modes of transportation in our city, to be able to be present for another human being. It is not all about us. I am reminded of a certain young woman who I have not seen in a while, but one night she saw someone in need on a Metro platform, and she sat with that person and talked to them about experience, strength and Hope.
What we do, we do out of the goodness of our hearts. To share and to help others. It’s not about personal gain or accolades. We talked about the paradox on Friday night. The loss of ego, the loss of selfishness, to the state of humility and the acts of selflessness.
I can talk about me, and I can tell stories, and share insights with you.
We are all on a journey together. And like I have said before, I don’t know what God’s voice sounds like, and I know that if I do hear it, that it is going to come from someone familiar. You never know when you are going to hear something or say something that is going to change a life.
I know, that many folks who come to meetings, on any given night, come to hear their friends, and to participate in the journey’s of our fellows. We all want what each other has. There is something attractive about every human being I know.
I was talking to one of my guys tonight about growing up. And I told him that I took what I needed from my parents, and left the rest that was unnecessary. When I got sober the second time, I went to meetings, and I met all the right people. Men and Women.
I am an amalgamation of every human being that I have known in the past thirteen years.
I watched and listened to all those people over the years. I did what they did. I learned about me and I did it one day at a time. I really had all the time in the world, and when they told me that “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” it made sense. I was in no hurry to grow up.
But I did grow up. And what I have and who I am, is a direct result of the hundreds of hours that I have spent in the rooms themselves with the people I love and adore.
December 9, 2001. Day One. 365 days x 13 = 4,745 days.
I’ve lived almost 4,745 days one day at a time. I wanted what I wanted. I worked for every sober day I got. And I lived. When I should have died a long time ago. I’ve lived 21 years past my expiration date. Because I moved here. I met the right doctor, the right men, and the right women.
All of them participated in my recovery and in my life.
Montreal was an attractive city. Montreal IS an attractive city. And If you’ve never been here, then one day you must come here and see it.
The program was attractive. It was not pounded into me. I was shown, a day at a time, how it worked, and if I wanted it, and I was ready to go to any length to get it, then it was mine to have.
And now I have the opportunity to share that with you. I share with my friends and fellows, and with my guys, not because I have to, but because I want to. Today, people want to know me and be my friends. It isn’t about me, in the end. It’s about my friends and how much they enrich my life.
Words are important. Make sure you use the right words.
I hope I have used the right words tonight.
I want to end on the right word.