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Thursday … It Is COLD !!! … If You are Breathing, You have a Chance …

tumblr_lm5d60Hzy01qzhzruo1_500 flickr jamesclearCourtesy: James Clear Flickr

Boy, is it FRIGID outside tonight. We are sitting at (-15c/-21c w.c.). We got a little snow, and city workers, are tonight, hurriedly trying to clear snow from the streets. There is good news coming in the way of positive numbers beginning on Sunday with a trend moving from Zero to plus (+7c) by Wednesday next week.

That warmth cannot come sooner, as February was the coldest month on record here in the city.

Yesterday I welcomed a friend back from the U.S., the long nightmare that was Pittsburgh is over.

We had lunch, did some shopping, and sorted out various things that he needed to do so that he can reconnect with the community here. I had not been to the core malls in some time, so while we were there yesterday, we happened into Indigo Book sellers. and I invested in the next two books by Kathy Reichs, in the Temperance Brennan series, and last night, I could not get to bed early enough to start reading them.

Today was quiet. I was sleeping, and at one point, the same dream scene kept repeating itself over and over again, so I knew it was time to get out of bed, to try and reset the cycle. As I can only sit so long in front of this box, I spent some time surfing and stuff like that, and when I completed my circuit, I had two hours before I needed to get ready to go… I went back to bed for a short run.

Winter has not been kind to our folks. They are choosing to stay home, instead of venturing out in this frigid weather. I’ve been noting as well, some of our old timers have been MIA for a while. Which is out of character for some of them.

One of those men, returned to the fold this evening. I hadn’t seen him in a while, and I was starting to worry about him. Weren’t we all surprised when he got up there and spoke.

My friend has a number of years in, twenty seven to be exact.

For a while now, having listened to old timers talk and share at meetings, I know some things about them. Each of them approach the program differently. No two of them do it the same way, and I’ve written here, recently about folks who are just comfortable to warm a chair and occupy space.

If you hit enough meetings, and listen well, you sometimes get nuggets of wisdom, here and there.

I’ve talked to my friend who spoke tonight, in great depth over the months that have passed, and asked him why some folks, have put down their roots and roost where they are, and others keep to the notion that there is always something new to learn, and if you have the time to invest, they why not do that ?

While we were out there, most people have experiences of certain individuals who step in and stop us in our tracks which begins the slow grind out of hell, into life. As was the case for my friend.

He was working in a hospital, barely hanging on to life, trying to dry out after another ritual alcohol infused dance with massive amounts of cocaine trip. He was ordered to get a medical check up by his boss. So he goes to this office and sits down, as the doctor has his back to him. He, “the doctor” turns around and looks at my friend squarely and without skipping a beat says quite bluntly …

“Alcohol and Cocaine huh !!! ” Exclamation point …

He had not set eyes on my friend, nor knew his state. But he pegged him substance for substance.

That doctor knew him and began to sort him out and get him help.

The doctor tells him emphatically …

“You go and talk to this guy, do it now, Do it now, DO IT NOW !!!”

In a few months time, and after a few ins and outs, the miracle happened.

  • The admission of powerlessness over his chosen substances
  • The realization that there was a kernel of faith inside of him from his childhood
  • And that that Power Greater than himself could actually help him

This was another example that most of us are either born into – or are educated in, some kind of faith background. And for some of us, when we come in, are provided the grace to be able to appreciate it for what it was and is, and allow that grace to save us.

I am very keen to know and to learn perspective from my long sober friends.

That kind of dictates or allows me to see where I am in the grand scheme of things. I’m not just walking around aimlessly not doing anything with my time. That I am, in fact, using my time properly, I’m invested in my own sobriety, and I am invested in the lives of my friends at large, and then, on a daily basis, I am invested in the lives of the guys I work with.

Constant. Daily, By The Book.

My friend tells us that “If we are alive, and breathing, we have a chance to live a life of our wildest dreams, in the program.” Simply, “if you are breathing, YOU have a chance !!!” Exclamation point !

You never know when God is going to step in and sort you out. Be mindful.

In my life, God, or angels, or particular people, stepped in when I most needed it and gave me a chance to get out of hell and get sorted out and clean up my life. When that happened in my life, it was not by my own steam, or by my choice, in those cases, it was divinely ordained. There are no two ways about that.

My friend tonight, had that same experience, when he most needed help.

God stepped in and rescued him from hell.

One day at a time, this past January, he celebrated twenty seven years sober. And in April, he will turn sixty six years young, Some old timers, with oodles of time, have aged very gracefully.

Others, not so much.

I remember the words spoken by another long sober member here …

CONSTANT VIGILANCE !!!

Alcohol and drugs are pernicious, patient and deadly.

If you go back out, it is a foregone conclusion that you will return to where ever you left off, when you quit, and will wind up in a much bigger jackpot that you could have imagined.

Meetings, Prayer, Meditation, Working with Others …

When you come to us, you get the recipe for life. My friend lives in that recipe.

i want men like him in my life, because they challenge me to cook.

What are you cooking ???

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday … Learn, Serve, Love

tumblr_l8s7v2G5CF1qaz2rlo1_500 steffrawrCourtesy: Steffrawr

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

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

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

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

We had almost an hour to sit and chat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I went to meetings.

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

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

Shit happened. it got very dark for a year.

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

AND I was starting my University Career.

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

In all my affairs …

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

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

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

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

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

Trial and error proves this adage amongst my friends.

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

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

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

My heart is full.

If you aren’t giving back, WHY ?

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

I practice these principles in all my affairs.

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

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … The Sun Shone on Us And we were Glad

tumblr_l8yrf9m0gc1qb730lo1_500 thiswillnotdefineusCourtesy: This Will Not Define Us

The Oscars are on. The opening number just ended. We love N.P.H !!!

It was a warm one today. Warmer than it has been recently. (-5c/-12c) We had a little snow last night, and in certain places (read:Westmount) snow is piled up about two feet deep in some yards.

It has been a beautiful weekend.

It was an early night last night, and there will a number of early mornings this week. I have to drop labs tomorrow morning, and I have a midweek doctors appointment. Has it been six months already? My doctors have dropped me from four visits a year down to two visits.

The Super hospital is opening in a few months, so they are consolidating services and closing hospitals as they are absorbed into the larger super building. To that end, my one clinic at the General is staying open, but that may change this week. My other doctor is seeing me at his private office on the other side of town, but I don’t see him until April.

I departed on time and we cranked out set up and our guys and ladies, came to do our hour prior read and discussion. I can honestly say that I am inspired by my guys. They, each in their own way, inspire me to be a better person.

The sun shone down on us today and God was good, prayers were answered and a miracle took place, all in the space of ninety minutes. If you don’t believe that miracles happen, they do.

We sat a small group.

One of our women gave birth to a healthy baby boy yesterday. We are so proud of her. Babies in A.A. are miracles in themselves, because the women who gave birth to them are miracles as well. The miracle baby phenomena now counts four children strong.

It was the last Sunday, therefore a Tradition meeting. Second month, Tradition Two.

“For our group purpose there is but one authority – A loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern.”

I am not God. And I am not the center of the universe. And it isn’t all about me either.

Over the years, I’ve learned a great deal about this tradition, because I have seen what egos and attitudes do when they collide in a meeting. And I have been guilty myself, of being less than charitable or kind. We all have grown past these problems and all the players are good men and women. Each in our own ways.

We see Tradition Two come together at every business meeting. I can sit back and let my friends partake in the miracle that is recovery. Everyone plays a role in the group, and as a community, and finally in their own recovery. We defer to our chair for wisdom, and to God to guide us. And that model seems to work.

It was a night for miracles. And I am grateful to have been present to see it happen.

A good night was had by all. Please pray for our guys.

More to come, stay tuned …


Are You Who You Want to Be ???

loveThe World is battling the greatest fight of its spiritual life. And we as its people must stand and declare ourselves ready and willing to battle the darkness and proclaim the Light as loud and as Hard as we can. We cannot allow the powers of darkness to win this battle, no matter where this battle is taking place. We must stand up for Justice, Freedom and for Life.

There is no middle path. This IS the path.

Many words have been written about recent events taking place a world away from us. Many of my contemporaries have written words extolling the virtue of a free press and the ability to express ourselves as we wish, in our respective countries where the rule of law is Democratic. Yet, no one I know and have read, approaches this subject matter as I have done so.

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

It was another cold day, snow fell, but it was much warmer today in relation to how cold it has been earlier in the week. I could not reach my friend who usually travels with me on Thursday night, his phone was busy all day, he did not respond to email, and he is elderly, so I worried.

I half hoped that he was just busy and would meet me at our designated spot to catch the bus, but that did not happen. I got to the park side stop and the bus followed soon after. I arrived at the church and spoke to another friend who attempted to reach our friend by cell at the meeting.

We came to figure out that the power has been out at his building, which is only 1 block away from us, all day long and was only restored around 7:30 this evening. He was trapped in his building. They had no water and no generator to operate their elevators, so the entire building was held hostage all day long into the night.

I knew several days ago who our speaker was going to be this evening. When I got there, the chair asked me to thank the speaker. Little did I know what was going to be said.

Every story is different. We are all different. But there may be shared events in our lives that cross the identification line. I heard several threads that I identified with.

There is something to be said for people who find themselves trapped in a body that is not theirs, and realizing this problem, find a solution, then grow into the people they are meant to be. I speak here for the courage and trials of someone who is transgendered.

I’ve known our speaker for as long as I’ve been sober. We’ve crossed paths over the past decade or more but I’ve never heard her full story until tonight.

She mentioned things that I really did not think about before, but were parts of my own story.

My father fought in a war, loved another man, lost that man in war, and came home and created a life and named that child after the man he lost in the war. In hindsight, I could never fill the shoes of the man I was named after. I was living a life stuck between great love and great hatred.

Our speaker was born into a family that lost a child, and she was the replacement, but she could never fill the shoes that had been left empty by death.

My extended family loved me hard and fought for my survival for years. Where all my father wanted to do was destroy me and kill me, and repeatedly told me that I was a mistake and should never have been born.

She spoke about grievous death.

Early in my life, I suffered grievous deaths, when I lost my father’s parents to strokes, that in the end took their lives later on in my life. But at the time, as a teenager, I worshiped the ground they walked on, the loss was acute. I had lost my greatest protectors. And I faced a much worse threat of imminent death, had my father succeeded in his desire to see me finished.

Those two events took a serious toll on my father and the family by extension. Loosing the people who loved me in opt for parents who did not love me as they should have, left me at a great disadvantage.

I knew early on that I was different, that something was off. I could not name it, but my survival and listening to my folks talk amongst themselves and friends, told me exactly what my problem was and what I had to do to escape.

Alcohol was the vehicle I used to get me where I thought I was supposed to go. And for a decade or more, I never thought about the love I had lost and just how much that loss affected me in my soul. It was like I had entered a time of suspended animation, what was going on inside of me was put to sleep by the repeated use of alcohol.

When the other shoe dropped and I lost the only other human being that cared for me more than the mother who bore me, and was denied the right to attend her funeral because of my homosexuality and my sickness from AIDS, I was devastated. That was a terrible blow when I was newly sober the first time. My parents believed I was insignificant and that I did not matter.

That theme was echoed by our woman tonight.

I would experience several more grievous deaths, and insist that I had to drink to escape the visual and emotional damage those deaths had caused me. How could I live with the vision of a dead boy on an autopsy table, half there and half not, for the rest of my life?

it would take the threat of death to stop my suicide by alcohol.

I had forgotten what it meant to be loved. I had forgotten what it meant to be comfortable in my own skin, because for as long as I could remember, I was never comfortable in my own skin, because growing up, I was a mistake and that I did not matter. I guess the alcohol soothed that ache.

But I never attributed my alcoholism to those factors. I just drank.

Because that what I was told to do to become who I wanted to be.

I spent a little more than a decade, drinking and searching for someplace to BE.

I did not find it because like they say, where ever you go, there you are.

You can’t escape yourself, you carry your baggage with you where ever you go.

I could not escape myself no matter how hard I pounded the alcohol.

This self realization our speaker spoke about in her life, happened to me at age twenty six. Someone loved me in my rawness. Saw that I needed to be loved and cared for, and that was the cathartic experience I needed to begin to build the life I wanted. I had two good years at self realization.

I lost the calm, loving hand that guided my life and was left to pick up the pieces, which did not go so well, and I returned to king alcohol.

The turning point came when I put down the drink the second time. I was broken and delusional, like I have shared many times before. I had a choice to make and I made it.

The changes I began in early sobriety the first time, were completed the second time I got sober.

I set the stage for where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do, and why…

My father believed that extended family was useless, that they must be eradicated from out nuclear family lives because they did not fit in with his worldview of complete domination and control. He succeeded in alienating every living person who cared about me in any way.

In the end, when I moved to Montreal, it was an entirely spiritual decision.

My Grandmother, the woman I adored more than life itself, my mother, who had lived here most of her life, until she married my father lived here in Montreal. And later as I learned from my mother in one of our final conversations, I learned of another human being connected to my past.

I came here to connect to the spiritual root of my family. I came here to connect to the spirit of those women whom I adored and were blessed to have in my life, for the short period of time I had them.

That decision was a direct stab to my father’s heart of hearts. I knew that.

I had executed three knife hits to his heart, those hits were unforgivable in his eyes.

I really did not care. How can I respect a man who would never respect me?

The time was ripe for me to grow into the man I was meant to be. And that is when my life intersected with our speaker tonight. I met her in familiar places. We spoke together and we shared together.

We are spiritual beings having a human existence she said. And on our journeys, we are gifted by God to share a bit of the journey together. As we find ourselves and grow into the men and women we are meant to be.

I’ve come through the crucible of hatred and bigotry and homophobia. I’ve come through the crucible of AIDS, and I survived and I live today to tell that tale. My friend who spoke tonight lived through her own crucible being born into a body that was not hers, and she undertook the steps to rectify that problem. And today she is a shining light of love, perseverance and hope.

I did not realize until tonight, just how much the loss of certain people in my life so early in my life had truly cost me. But I did learn about unconditional love. I learned about family, what family really meant, because my family did not live that way in reality.

The kernel of love, faith and family was planted in my garden well before I needed it.

It took me until I arrived in my mid thirties to realize where those kernels were in my soul and I had found the place to plant them, here in Montreal. Once I was settled here, the kernels were planted by God, and I lived one day at a time, and one by one, those kernels sprouted into the life I live today.

I am reminded of just how much I was loved by those who I deemed most important.

I am reminded of just how great a loss it was when they departed my life.

And I chose, by coming here, to honor those women who gave me love and life.

When I crossed the northern Border, there was no turning back.

To be who I wanted to be cost me a nuclear family.

Any L.G.B.T.Q. person will attest to this, that at some point in our lives we are faced with a choice, to live inside a closet or inside a body that is not ours, always looking for who we are meant to be while battling those around us who demand we remain in the boxes they put us in for their own sakes and not for ours, or we break free and we create the family we want with the people who mean the most to us.

Too many teens have died because of this lack of care and love. We MUST break that cycle of abuse and death, if there is to be a future for our young L.G.B.T.Q. people.

I did what I had to do. I do not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it, because even today, I see that life, as it was lived, in a different light, once again.

Sobriety, like life, is cyclical.

Every time we get to review the past, we find further insight to it.

I find it amazing that my friends constantly give me food for thought on any given night.

All it takes is a little time, and a bunch of drunks sitting in a church basement to realize life changing truth. The truth we all share, as we become the men and women we are meant to be,

One Day At a Time.