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Promises

Friday … The BIG Reno and Three Letter Words for $1000 Alex !

tumblr_lxerkgWVPI1r556eno1_500 followeedCourtesy: Followeed – Another vertigo inducing photo to end the week.

It was chilly tonight, but not as frigid as it was last night. Temps are on the way up and will peak, “hopefully” Wednesday with a Plus (6c) day. They keep changing that number.

They say, when you get sober, that the only thing you have to change is everything.

There is a rhyme and reason to the Big Book. Things are presented and come in a certain order.

Coming in, as I did then, with expectations on my lips was a bad idea, that had to be quashed.

Some think they can pick and choose which steps they are going to work, based on how they read the words on the page, which brings us to the Three Letter Word Category. But we soon learn that the steps are written in a specific order, for maximum effect.

If you don’t start with the foundation, how can you build a solid building?

We start with One and work our way through. And around Step five, the reading mentions “The Arch” we are supposed to walk through as free men and women, if we have properly completed the first five proposals.

Today’s reading mentions a gateway, through which everyone can walk through. We just need to find our way around, through, over and under, backwards and forwards, the biggest troublesome three letter word in the world …

That word is (drum roll please !!!) GOD.

I am getting a bit ahead of myself, so let’s back up.

You might be familiar with the reading of The Promises. Which are taken from the Book concerning the Ninth Step. I’ve / We’ve been listening to them for more than thirteen years now. They say that when we get sober, that eventually, the promises will begin to manifest and come true.

Hurry up and wait …

They don’t all come at once. And I have a little wisdom on the topic now. Many of the promises are long term proposals. All those things we get rid of, and all those things we get in return, if we are diligent and patient, are tantalizing.

Time gives one perspective. At least, that’s my take on them, as I speak to the old timers.

The one promise that has been outstanding and yet to manifest, after thirteen years is:

“Fear of People and of Economic Insecurity will leave us.”

This promise is the Ninth Promise of the Ninth Step Promises passage.

I don’t really have a problem of fearing people. The rest of this promise needs a back story.

I was eleven months sober, and I met my now husband. It was the holiday season, and he was going home to visit his family, he offered me to stay in our now HOME while he was away.

Actually, I never left … I am still here thirteen years later !

We had very little. The apartment was a mess. We had not begun to clean up the wreckage of hubby’s past, but that would begin in earnest very soon. We had ratty furniture, (which is the main subject of this actual post) we had a small black and white tv, with rabbit ears and foil. The walls were stark, medicinal white. And that was it.

We learned how to shop for two. We learned how to cook for two. And we began to clean up that wreckage, (read: Return all the empty beer bottles that were stacked 20 deep on the balcony).

We did not have very much money. And in the beginning, we dreaded the last week of the month, because we would have to choose what to do with regards to food and paying bills and buying much needed medicinals. We could not do all of them, at the same time, and that lasted for many years.

Money makes the world go round … It also is man’s greatest evil.

Not having enough of it, Needing more of it, relying on financial aide to get it, and having enough of it at the end of the month to buy food, pay bills and pay for an education all at the same time. Not to mention all those other things we “needed to buy” to survive. (read:Medication).

This journey of learning how to respect the almighty dollar is long and arduous.

We learned how to do it, starting with nothing and working our way up the economic ladder, one year at a time. We judged our upwards success, by our ability to get rid of all the shitty appliances we had, for new ones. That took many years.

This past Fall 2014, we jumped an entire economic bracket, for the first time since the day we met. We have risen from poor student status, to mid-range manageable status, to today’s, there is money in the bank, we can buy food all month, pay bills, buy necessities, AND have surplus money that for the first time since we met …

BE ABLE TO BUY BRAND NEW FURNITURE AND GET RID OF THE RATTY 40 YEAR OLD FURNITURE THAT IS HELD TOGETHER WITH DUCT TAPE, FURNITURE !!!

We have completed or finally achieved, the list of promises.

We have four items of old furniture. The living room, the dining table, our bed, and my desk.

Over the past thirteen years we have recycled all of our electronics. We painted the apartment, the kitchen and bathroom have been remodeled by our management.

Tomorrow we get to hit IKEA for the first time. Hubby picked out the new furniture, and I get executive veto so tomorrow we will finalize the deal and be able to afford the grand prize.

Sunday night, the ratty furniture goes on the trash heap. Monday the new duds come.

Hubby has cashed in all of our bargaining chips and saved up educational credits that come from the government, which gives us bankable cash. (read:Taxes)

We have rebuilt our home from the ground up. One item at a time.

So that is a thing … a really BIG thing !!!

Now we return to regularly scheduled programming …

“I’ll take Three Letter Words for $1000 Alex.”

We came full circle tonight, with the reading about Spiritual Kindergarten. We talked about God.

You cannot avoid it, The words is in the book.

Remember the other day when we spoke about Ebby and Bill. On that fateful day when the two friends met over drinks in the kitchen. Ebby with sober drink, Bill with his bottle. Here Bill thought that it would be frivolous and exciting, drinking with his old friend. That did not happen.

Ebby tells his story and concludes with “I’ve found religion!” (Read:The Oxford’s Religion)

Bill wasn’t having any of that religion shit. He read the first three proposals. But it did not connect with him at all, UNTIL, Ebby told him that maybe “He should find a power greater than himself of his own choosing.” (read: Squiggly writing in the book).

This is the blessed sentence in the book.

God, “As we Understood Him.”

But we come around to the contradiction in As Bill Sees It that says,

“You can find your own concept of a higher power and if that works for you fine, BUT in the end it always comes back around to God.”

When the book was written, Bill had counsel from a Jesuit priest, who spoke to him at great length, but to make God more palatable, we get the spiritual angle.

This is a tough subject for many.

When I got sick, and was waiting to die, I read every book I could get my hands on that spoke about the afterlife, God, spirits, angels, and i even consulted a medium to have a chat with my newly departed Grandmother, because I could not go to her funeral, and I needed to speak to her.

I was sober the first time – during this quest.

I got to my medium and his reply was curt and short: “She is happy where she is” and he left.

The second time I got sober, it was meant to be.

I had the God of my father, the traditions of my family, I added the intellectual university education about God and Religion, with degrees in Religion and Theology. Meanwhile I was getting sober.

i watched people get sober, because my mainstay was meetings.

If you STAY in the same meeting for YEARS at a time, you will witness people getting sober and eventually having their own spiritual experiences, IN a meeting.

That is where I saw God.

I believed in God my whole life, and I was still alive, I did not die as was told to me several times over.

There was something that was keeping me alive, I knew that.

I met God once, in human form. He made manifest to me when I most needed Him.

This time around i witnessed God move among my friends. In ways I had never imagined.

I’ve learned how to read the book. I learned how to read the book, when I read it with my guys.

We’ve all learned how to unpack the word GOD. It may take some time, and a little effort and elbow grease. Add water, and stir …

Every voice plays its appointed part.

The only thing we need to learn how to do is Learn, Serve and Love.

The book gives us direction, as one of my friends said tonight. It does not give us an end point.

That is up to us.

What ever you call that Power Greater than Yourself, is up to you.

All the voices and all the souls we encounter in the rooms, widens that arch we all walk through.

i want to live happy, joyous and free.

We might be there now.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Kicking and Screaming

tumblr_lm5d60Hzy01qzhzruo1_500 flickr jamesclear

Courtesy: James Clear – Flickr

It isn’t snowing, yet … But we are hovering right around ( +2c with a low of -2c) tonight.

And I just love this photo as well.

It is a bit chilly out. And last night we turned the clocks back, which fucked up overnight radio, but I slept a good night’s sleep anyways. Some folks did not get the memo over the weekend, and some of our number were all discombobulated worrying that they would be late, when in reality, they did not turn their clocks back last night.

I’ve been noticing that some bus stops have been moved farther away from their original locations, and now we have to walk farther to get a bus than the local usual stop. And the city workers have pulled up many flowerbeds and planters in anticipation of the coming snows.

They city does that, they plant great flower beds and tall growing plants in planters located all around the intersections all over town. Knowing that when it snows, those plants and flowers stand no chance of survival once snow begins to pile up, so they dig them up early, and most probably, they end up in a compost heap somewhere.

I got to the church, and I was soon followed by new people to make coffee, set up and greet. With numbers of folks, set up takes mere minutes. Then we all waited.

At 6 the bells ring in the bell tower. Most of the chairs were still empty. I figured that folks were slow today because of the time change, but in the end we sat a full house. This month one of our women who is new to the program and just crossed her year, is chairing for the first time, and that is always exciting. We are all so proud of her.

We are one more story closer to the end of the book, with the reading of “A Late Start.”

“It’s been ten years since I retired, seven years since I joined A.A. Now I can truly say that I am a grateful alcoholic.”

After reading a story like this one, one can easily say, “better late than never.”

Our woman who writes this story, had a life, a family, and everything else that came with it. Then, one by one, she began loosing things. First a child, then a husband, and her life soon followed. Drinking came late, but did not spare her suffering. No matter what age you start drinking, the end point is always the same for those of us who just can’t stop.

She came, she saw, and she scoffed. For a long time, she listened and at least she kept showing up. Like many people we see today, coming to and then the coming to believe is a tall order. The other kicker in this story is our writers inability to admit powerlessness over the drink. Many of us fight tooth and nail to maintain control, in some way, and end up kicking and screaming all the way to the bank, until we finally become willing to admit we are licked.

Many, have to come to the point that they are willing to be willing.

We hear the same words. We read the same slogans. And in time we either find it, or we end up warming a chair until that magic moment that we become part of. And in our writers case, after some time in sobriety she says, quite pointedly that “she will never be responsible to or for anyone else ever again!”

It took her years to become willing. YEARS.

Eventually she reached the point that she was ready and willing to give it away, and work with another alcoholic.

But as the book says in A Vision for You … “Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got!”

I heard a friend say tonight that it was his experience that he is stubborn, like our writer tonight.

“NO, I don’t need your help,

Fuck you,

Help me …

NO, I don’t want to talk to you,

Call me … “

Am I coming or am I going?

I am hearing a very familiar message from our women, who are homed at our Sunday group. They have all had the experience of getting sober and coming to and then coast for a number of years. At some point in the game they realized that they were stagnant, and they needed a pick me up. And so they found other women who knew the way into living in the book, in the steps and in the solution.

And now they’ve all really “Come to Believe” that the only way to LIVE IT is to be IN IT.

To be IN it to WIN it…

Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.

Nothing gives me/us more pleasure than to try and make a difference in another human beings life in that most important period of time, the twenty minutes before and the twenty minutes after. We got all the way around the room, and while we ate cake, we talked to each other. Trying to give hope that things WILL eventually get better. You just got to stick around and believe that WE believe in you and are here for you as well. And that simple statement can change a life in ways one would never expect.

Our five year celebrant this evening has just come off a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa …

That little tid bit of information got everybody going. It was very exciting.

I reiterated the thought about your chair, and learning to get comfortable in your chair, and to listen from your chair and that eventually, you will say something from your chair, that will change someones life, so stick around.

The only thing you have to change in sobriety is EVERYTHING. That’s what the book says.

And you know how control freak alcoholics resist change as if change was fire …

Eventually we learn that to let go, make the admission, come, and then come to, that is when life begins to change, and don’t you want to turn it around and help another alcoholic? That’s the whole point. To get better, to learn and to change, and then allow your experience, strength and hope to bring another human on board.

In order to keep it, we must give it away.

I think we did that in spades tonight.

We laughed, we cried, we ate CAKE !!!

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…


Hot Flash … “Desire” versus “Thought” … And Things Like That

tumblr_lh6xeiqS8U1qz72e6o1_500 poyi.orgCourtesy: Poyi.Org

Last week ended with the final discussions in the second interview for a new job for hubby. And over the weekend, we hoped that everything would work out. To that end, I’ve been reticent in getting over “elated” or “counting my chickens before they are hatched.”

We got word early this week that hubby did get that job. It pays very well. And it looks as if we will finally dig ourselves out of the hole we have been in for so long. We have been playing with virtual money as of late. There are things that we would like to do, on top of paying bills and taking care of household responsibilities.

Monday night “Max, my computer” went to bed as usual. I shut him off as I usually do and went to bed. Tuesday morning when I got up, I turned Max on, and he had a Hot Flash and died.

Computers have a mind of their own, and tend to crap out at the worst time, Thankfully there was money in the bank for just an emergency. Hubby bundled Max off to Micro-Bytes and they figured out that Max had a Hot Flash, who knew computers had hot flashes …

For as long as I remember, Max ran hot and loud. You could hear him whine in the hallway outside the apartment. Max’s heat synch needed to be replaced, and a new fan for the motherboard was added. After a good cleaning out he fired right up. We got him back on Wednesday morning. He runs almost silently.

It is good we have a laptop and that I have a second user account there, which has all my bookmarks and sites in the memory, so transiting between two machines was painless.

The weather has been nice the past few days. We got spits of rain here and there and not for very long. And the weekend is looking up.

Tuesday night we sat a small group, and my sponsor was in the chair and he opted for the default topic for any meeting, meaning … If you can’t think of a topic, the auto default is always gratitude. UGH !!! Gratitude again ??? Some of my friends do gratitude lists and write every day, I just can’t be bothered with a gratitude list. Tells you where I am for the most part.

Tonight I was ready to go early and I could not sit still, so I took off early and did some shopping on the way out. I needed a new Opus Card for the metro since my old card is expired. I’ve been using hubby’s card for months now, and he needs his card for work now so I needed a new card. And they would not sell me “just the card,” I had to charge it with something additionally.

I shop for several groups, Sunday Niters, Thursday Men’s, and Tuesday Vendome. Coffee, stirrers, sugar, tea … All those kind of things. It costs some good money to feed and fill the coffee and tea hordes of people every week. And I’ve been borrowing from each other when one runs short. Now I have to refill the coffers.

We sat a good number tonight. New faces and New members which is great. The chair, for the second week in the chair read from Living Sober, “Avoiding Over elation.”

There are happy times and then there are unhappy times, and alcoholics usually never needed a reason to drink, we just drank … And the reading continues …

“The thought of a drink is not necessarily that same thing as the desire for one, and neither need plunge us into gloom or fear.”

It is rare to find someone who “got it” on the first pass. And there are many who have made several attempts at “getting it.” And finally, there are those of us, who after periods of sobriety, went back out and had to come back in.

We drank because the alcohol worked for us for a time, then it failed. We drank because it was what we did, not for any reason but to enhance a good mood or bring a bad one up to par. And we heard tonight that “it is the first one that changes everything.” It isn’t the second, or fifth, or the tenth, but the First One.

I along with many of my peers stated matter of factly, that we may have another drink in us, but not many of us may have another recovery in us. Like a cat’s nine lives, many of us have used up all of our chits …

When I got sober the very first time, twenty years ago this month, had I stuck and stayed I would have celebrated twenty years of sobriety this August. At the time I was working in a bar. And I have said before, that job was the best job I ever had in my life. When I put down the drink, I did not pick up again. I had far worse things pressing in on me and a drink would not have solved those problems. I don’t ever remember, maybe one night, that I desired a drink. My sponsor came in handy that night.

When I chose to make that move in sobriety, with no back up, I found myself with another person handing me a joint and a beer, which I smoked and then I drank. It wasn’t like I was desiring either of them, I never thought about it really. They appeared and I was defenseless.

I pick up and I was off and running until oblivion …

In the end, I drank because I thought I needed to. It was delusional drinking. What I desired was inclusion. And the alcohol was going to get me there, until it failed me ultimately. That last year, I had imposed stretches of sobriety, when I did not desire a drink, nor did I really think about it. And that’s why it took another year to get back here.

I put the drink down and I walked away from it. I never set foot in another club after that.

Wow … That was weird … The power went out and everything went dead. And I just figured out where this post went to try and recover it and not have to start all over again…

Thank you Word Press … You saved it again …

The second time I got sober, when I got here, I not only quit drinking, but I quit smoking as well. And both are formidable attempts. On St. Jean Baptiste Day, June 24th, 2002, I was at the Old Port and there were hordes of people double fisting beer and alcohol.

In that moment I really wanted a drink and I wanted a cigarette. I was craving both.

At the wrong place at the wrong time, I needed to get my ass out of there.

My sponsor had told me that if it came down to a choice between a smoke and a drink, that the better choice was a smoke. I did not drink.

I never Craved a drink again.

But “Thinking about a drink” is something that happens, to everyone. Maybe not so often, but it does happen. I know what to do when that happens. I stay out of sticky places.

They say that when you get sober, everything changes. Things start to get good. And that is the time we need to be wary. Left to our own devices, a drink in a good moment might sound good but in the end, won’t taste every well, if you blow sober time on a fancied drink.

I stay connected. I do service. And I take it one day at a time.

Live – Easy – But – Think – First …

Desire is not the same thing as thought …

More to come, stay tuned … 


Sunday Sundries … Listening to the Wind … Messages … Seeds

coffee cupThe weather held for the weekend’s festivities. The summer concert series is in full swing. There was and will be lots of music to come over the next couple of weeks. Osheaga was this weekend, and Coming up will be Thirty Seconds to Mars (Jared Leto and friends) with guests Linkin Park. That was a ticket i would want to buy, but coming in close to $100.00 is a little steep. I, however have all the latest music on my phone already. I’m not sure I want to find myself in a mosh pit with screaming teen-agers.

I guess I fared well with all that’s going on in my head and heart. You can’t make someone love you and you sure as shit cannot change someone who is stuck in hate and ignorance. However broken hearted I am about the situation, I must remember that I am powerless over people, places and things. I did however send another message through last night when I got home from dinner, the channel is still open and I haven’t been blocked “Yet.”

We had dinner with my sister in law while she waited on her kids to attend the concert last night they got home close to midnight, and mom left for Ottawa this afternoon and another set of parents are here to chaperone them another night and to La Rhonde tomorrow then they will all return to Ottawa Monday night.

It was another festive Sunday afternoon. The weather has been glorious and we will take it while it lasts. I cranked out set up and sat outside on the stoop to await my peeps. And we sat a full room. I had imagined that we would get through the entire story (read wise) and have a full discussion, But we read the entire circle (Listening to the Wind) and I stopped the read a few pages short, it was quite a long story with lots of insanity, and that’s where I left it tonight, next week we will get the resolution and the solution of the story.

Folks were like “damned … I really wanted to get to the end …”

Keep em coming back for more is my take on it.

Which leaves us only a few pages of reading next week, because we usually only stick to one story at a time, since we are in the “total insanity” chapter of the stories in the back of the book.

In the fourth edition, several stories were removed from older editions, several new stories were inserted, and a few were renamed from older editions, and there are several topical sections that set apart sets of stories as they were published.

Insanity was the one thing I took away from this read.

When I left home, all that I knew how to do was drink. Who knew from responsibility. We were young and pretty back then. And I lived in an apartment complex heavily populated with Disney employees. You either were one, or you knew someone who was.

It seemed that what ruled the day was the amount of alcohol one could consume on any given night, and between the gay bars, Southern Nights and the Parliament House, and the Disney bars located at Downtown Disney, we had all of our bases covered. You could drink very cheaply no matter what night it was. And who you were friends with usually dictated the alcohol and drug consumption. I was not interested in drugs early on, alcohol was much cheaper and it was legal.

From beginning to end, several times, I was the alcoholic running riot through people’s lives. And reading from the back of the book, in several stories, you could insert me into a story because at some point I was the writer.

For whatever reason, I graduated from staying in one place and attempting to live responsibly, which at one point I could not, and many room mates later, and several failed relationships, most ending in horrible ways, I began the geographical moves. I followed the boys from town to town.

I moved from Miami to Orlando to be gay and come our at the Parliament House. I failed at relationships so I moved on to Daytona Beach and Up and down the coast for a period of time.

I was always on the loosing end, meaning that I had lost everything several times. I had a couple of neat room mates. But that only lasted so long. There had to be alcohol and there also had to be good sex. Because if you were young and pretty, the world was your oyster.

In my twenties I remained slender and cute for a while. I eventually ended back in Miami for the grand crash and burn. And from that jackpot I rented from a friend, and ruined that relationship over alcohol.

When I lived in Orlando I dated a young man who I was very much in love with, but he was a seasonal Disney employee. And while the getting was good, we dated. And every day after work, we would talk and it would either be “Bottle or Blender?”

You were either going to bring a bottle or you would bring the blender.

We would get tanked, watch Mary Poppins drunk and then the night would take off. That was during the best of times. Eventually I transited into the worst of times. i really did not know why i was having such problems. Because nobody ever mentioned alcoholism to any of us, not that any of us would have responded well to an inquiry like that.

Nobody said STOP.

Nobody ever intimated that any of us had a problem with our drinking.

Imagine what life would have looked like had I gotten sober in my twenties.

The rest they say is history. I am learning so much this time around. Every day it is something new. I read, I talk to friends, I study the book, and I look at the past with new eyes. I almost feel sorry for that young man that I was. I had some friends, but no one substantial to stop me when I should have been stopped. I “wung it” for a long time.

Eventually someone did step in and tell me to Stop.

I had no choice then. Death was the only alternative. And I did not want to die.

I am committed to my sober journey and the sober journey’s of the men i work with. We are all planting seeds in our own ways. We all have something to give, depending on what we have in our virtual banks of sobriety. But the book does say that …”Obviously you cannot give something that you don’t have …”

Which is why we keep coming back for more.

I am ok tonight. Tomorrow we move on.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Countdown

tumblr_n854u9is0Z1r92k5yo1_500 sweetsoles

Courtesy: Sweet soles

Mother Nature is in a tug of war at this hour. The clouds moved in today and attempted to drop rain on us earlier, i felt a few drops and that was it. I figured the skies would open during the meeting and soak us. That did not happen. But it is dark and foreboding at this hour. It’s not a question of if it will rain, but when at this point.

If I were still drinking we would be amid the great countdown to the birthday, which is on Thursday this year. The drinking party would have begun on the seventh day out and we would party every day ending with a grand slam drinking event that always took place on the birthday.

 

Thank God I am no longer drinking. And that I have never had a drink here.

I spent the afternoon with my sponsor going over the shift that is taking place in my brain and got his advice on what I should be doing, what is my responsibility and what is not. Marriage is work, don’t let anyone tell you differently. Knowing what to do, how to do it, when to do it and when not to do it … Learning careful and thoughtful ways of speaking … and how two people relate to each other, in the many ways possible. We even had “THAT” conversation.

You know, “That” conversation …

The most intimate way two people communicate.

So that was a thing.

I arrived at the church a half hour early because we were just up the road at Second Cup, and i cranked some tunes and cranked out set up. My coffee gal showed up and we made coffee and sat and talked for a while. She was also chairing tonight, which was a tradition meeting.

7th month, 7th Tradition … Money !

“Every A.A. group should be self supporting declining outside contributions.”

They had a tough time with this one, back in the day. But wisdom spoke when the fellowship decided to decline outside contributions because … “Whoever pays the piper is apt to call the tune.”

We need money to keep a group open. It costs a pretty penny to open a meeting in today’s day and age. Among five original members, our Thursday night meeting just makes rent on a monthly basis, because we cover whatever we are short at the end of the month. We haven’t been able to raise prudent reserve yet, a year later.

Then one factors in a coffee pot, literature, supplies, cups, coffee and a cabinet to put your stuff in AND then pay rent on a monthly basis.

I was told wisely, when we opened that “if the group is meant to be, God will make it so, and so far He has. Larger groups make more cash on a weekly basis and keep a prudent reserve and covers all their operating expenses. It is vitally important that we keep the doors open because you never know who is going to show up on any given night.

If I calculated how much money I wasted on alcohol, I try to put money in the kitty when I can.

Then the entire question of financial security came up. Many struggle with this issue, and so keeping the doors open is an imperative. It is suggested that at home, one should have a prudent reserve of three months salary in the bank, in case of emergencies …

We’ve never been able to do that, as of yet.

Money makes the world go round, and is one major cause of all marital discord, along with sex, secrets and infidelity.

It was a short discussion tonight, lots of passes. I had expected a larger crowd, but we were happy with who showed up. We are set for jobs next month.

It was a good night overall.

More to come, stay tuned …


We Don’t have to live Alone

tumblr_n2w3uhcDia1rvyjllo2_500 spoonsdammitCourtesy:Spoonsdammit

With the weather holding, it was another stellar day. A bit breezy and not as humid as of late.

We hosted a small group on Tuesday night. And we read from Living Sober. It is good that the same core group attends, which means over the months we have progressed together, in a roundabout sort of way.

Working this Fourth Step, I realized tonight, is like a cork screw. First we looked at life in all its years, and what we felt (emotionally) from year to year. Then we made a list of resentments, fears and guilts. Now we are looking at each entry on each list, drilling down into the respective issue and scrutinizing them, sort of like a corkscrew going into a cork.

(read: the whole drilling down action)

I left a little early and I was mostly done with set up by the time the bells rung at six. Again tonight we sat a small group. We read from A.B.S.I. and We Don’t have to live Alone.

The reading as a whole, speaks about being alone, then the reading turns specifically to steps four and five. In the sense that we are not alone any more, that steps are the way to go, and that the process of four and five seem insurmountable, but working with someone (read: Sponsor), the word does not appear in the reading, but it is implied, Eventually all the stuff we are holding on to at some point must be discussed with someone else.

I thought about what “Alone” means to me. It is one thing to want to be alone, and wholly another when we are Alone.

When I was a kid, growing up, I was really good when I was alone in my bedroom with my stereo and my records, when I was drawing, ( I used to be a good drawer), or when I wanted to be alone, I could, in essence shut my bedroom door, that was my choice.

I also had bunches of friends. At any given time, I was never really alone, ever …

When I got sick in 1994, and doctors told me I was going to die, and everybody, including family scattered, I was totally ALONE. I know what that feels like. I know what it is like to be secluded, not by ones own decision, but by the choice of others. I know what it feels like to be shut away and excluded. To be sorted into a group of untouchables.

But then, people stepped in and I was no longer alone.

And for a while that worked for me. I got and stayed sober.

When my group of friends all moved away, I found myself alone again.

Not having the structure and the people around me who created and maintained some sense of normalcy to my life, I was left to my own devices, I (in essence) was pushed into the world that I was ill prepared for and did not know what to do for myself.

I stayed sober for a while longer. In the end, after being pushed aside by people of no matter, I pulled away and into myself. I started creating “alone.” I stopped reading the book, and talking to my friends ( at that point), and I planned my slip.

And now I am really Alone, in a place I was not prepared for, with no one to call, nor nowhere to run to in case I needed to get away.

I moved from point A, to point B, to point C.

At point C, I was living alone. I quit using, but kept drinking. I like to say that during this last phase of my drinking life, had I dropped off the radar, nobody would have come looking for me.

How much worse can it get that I was delusional, thinking that the drink would bring me inclusion and acceptance into a community I thought I so badly needed and desired.

I was drinking ALONE in a dance hall full of people, who probably never even noticed I was there. Big, Buff, Beautiful people don’t notice chaff in the same room, unless of course you look and act like they do.

This time around, I stuck close to the rooms. I learned how to be part of and I worked very hard at that for the last twelve and some odd years. I learned early on that if I needed “Anything,” read this correctly – If you need anything, you bring it to a room and you ask. You’d be surprised in just how great that works. If you learn this early on, that you are no longer alone, and that you can rely on us, that when you get to a need that you need, bring it to a room. Put it down on the table or into a group and you ask. You’d be surprised to find another human being very willing to help you attain what it is you need.

I’ve not been alone in a very long time. And I choose to live that way.

They say, “Now, you are not alone, anymore.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … So Long for Now … Changes

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Courtesy: Alex Stoddard (Archives)

The weather is looking up for the next few days. It could stay like this for the Summer as far as I am concerned.

The long goodbye continued tonight. My guys are coming to the end of their time with us, and our little community is growing smaller. We said goodbye to one of my guys at the Metro station, tomorrow is move day and Saturday he will depart for the rest of the Summer. Hopefully, he takes with him all the he has learned over the past four months. Canada Wide Calling is going to be very useful.

I departed for the church and met with my other guy for set up. He is going to be a much harder goodbye because he is moving from the city in the coming weeks. I will get to see him on his off days throughout camp weeks.

Again, we have filled him with everything we have got to give.

We read from Daily Reflections, Fear and Faith.

We carry one similar trait. Most of us carry a modicum of fear from our lives into recovery. And in life, a modicum of fear is a good thing, if only to remind us that we are human, and do feel.

There was a great deal of fear in my childhood. A lot of violence heaped upon a small child, if only because he had been born to a father who did not want him. And spent the better part of a decade trying to bring about the end of said child.

What do you do when you are drilled with fear, because you are unwanted, or better yet, being told that you were a mistake. Only to grow up and see the proverbial writing on the wall, and come to know your adversity.

And your destiny …

Then with time, one grows up and has made a life proclamation only then to be branded an abomination. That only adds to the fear of being “other.”

I never made the connection, in my drinking history early on, that I was drinking out of fear. I never blamed anyone for my drinking. I was taught that to be part of that we drank. So that is what I did. To fit in.

I was young and impressionable. I seemed to “fit in” I had all the right friends and drinking buddies. I was part of a greater “Whole.” A Community of sorts. The men I called friends took care of me and cared about me, seriously. They are all long dead now. For what it was worth, I would not have changed one bit of it.

Nobody said stop.

Life threw its curves, and I got sick. It was at this point that I began to drink out of fear. Fear of misery, fear of pain, fear of pain, and most importantly, fear of Death.

I thought it would be better to do myself in before the misery, to save me from what I was seeing in my friends lives. What do you do when a doctor hands you a death sentence and actually tells you when you are going to die?

Thankfully, Todd did for me what I could not do for myself.

He kept me close. He allayed my fears. He gave me a purpose and helped me deal with my fears with practical life lessons that paid off in spades.

I lived …

Most people I know, that means, most of YOU out there, probably never think about your deaths or the end. And you usually don’t think about death until it happens to you within family or friends.

For some of us, that came in spades. What do you fear, after surviving your death date? What could be worse than facing down your own death and surviving???

Everything else after that pales in comparison.

Yes, I went out and returned. The blip on my life radar.

I made certain choices and arrived here. I really did not fear the future because I had all my bases covered. I made sure, this time, that I was going to do it right, from the get go. And I did that.

There has been fear. But I managed. We managed.

I was never alone, at any point in my journey. I worked on my fear, resentment and guilt list on this fourth. All three lists are very short.

I am powerless over people, places and things.

I won’t ever get my day to state my case to certain people. I will never get to defend my life choices to state my case for becoming a grown adult man who is successful, despite the past and the way I was treated by some.

And I have to be ok with that.

I won’t ever get to say goodbye to certain people, if only because they set the rules and I have been forced to comply, not that I haven’t tried to assert myself. People die and I am here and they are there. What do you do when you don’t get to say goodbye? You go on with your life.

When people show you who they are the first time, Believe them.

I should have heard this lesson many years ago. It would have made it so much easier.

And I have to be ok with that.

I don’t fear my death any longer. When it gets here eventually, it will come on my terms, when I am ready to go. After I have fought death to the bitter end.

We choose when we will die. When we at last release our spirits from this life, in the hope of the life after. I’ve earned that choice.

Life is good. Life is as life is.

I have everything I need. And I am ok with that. I have ENOUGH…

I am working with some new folks as of tonight. We’ll see how that turns out.

It is trues that if a number isn’t used within the first 48 hours, it will never be used.

That is why we require a call every day. I am required to call every day, for my own sanity and sobriety.

When you know, Teach. When you have, Give.

There are always people waiting in the wings for someone to reach out and say, “I think you are important.” So let’s begin.

And so we have.

Pray for my guys. They need our faith and prayers.

More to come, stay tuned …


Better than Gold

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Courtesy: Hike Now Nyiragongo Volcano

“… The newcomer feels like they have struck something better than gold. They may not see at once that they have barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if he mines it for the rest of their lives and insist on giving away the entire product.”

A.B.S.I. #57

It rained again today. But the skies were dry during the outing this evening. And the rails were running efficiently and on time. There was no sign of yesterdays tragedy in the Metro when I got there.

The above reading is truncated. But the thought that I want to use comes from this portion of the passage. the visual of “mining for Gold.”

Some felt this passage in its entirety was lacking, because it doesn’t tell you how to begin. That from day one, we have to pick up the pick axe. And over time to begin excavating our own mine for the wealth promised by recovery.

I’ve spoken before about “the chair” and what that means. It took me over a decade to realize this piece of wisdom. It isn’t about us, or me.

We come in and find our chair. It is custom where ever you go, if you hit the same meetings continually, people always sit in the same chair, where ever it is in the room. I find that people usually sit in their comfort zones, either up front “at the table” or more to the back of the room.

We listen from our chair, we share from our chair, and over time we learn that where ever we go, there is a chair for us, any place in the world. Over time we learn from our chair, and in time, when it will come, we speak from our chair, and you never know when something we/you say, will impact another soul, by identification and in that moment a life may be changed.

Do we have to go to meetings for the rest of our lives? Yes, if we want the long term rewards of this mining process. Alcoholism never leaves, we are never really cured, or recovered. It is a one day at a time effort.

And serenity comes when we maintain our spiritual condition. Sobriety is contingent based on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. The outside world doesn’t change. We have good days and bad days, but the good news is that we don’t ever have to drink again.

And we begin to learn the wisdom of “The Work.”

It took me a long time to get the message that my life could change in even bigger and better ways if I undertook “The Work.” In the beginning when I first got sober I did a round of work, and I coasted. In years past, I did another round of work, and let it go. I coasted for a long time, upwards into my 11th year of sobriety.

I thought I had learned all that I could. Boy was I WRONG !!!

Coming out of year ten into eleven I met a group of women who pounded “The Work” with their girls. They were passionate and committed. And over time, I realized that I wanted that passion and commitment as well.

The Roundup of 2013 came and I heard the message loud and clear.

There was more Mining to do. This was year twelve and into this year.

I picked up my pick axe and started working. I dug deeper and deeper, it seemed for months and months. I dug with reckless abandon. A new sponsor came and I hit another round of “The Work.” Then sponsees came into my life. After years of meetings, making coffee, sharing and learning, the time came for me to give back what I had mined to another alcoholic.

In order to keep it you must give it away. Hence the fact of the above passage, “We insist on giving away the entire product.” The gold isn’t ours to keep or hoard. We don’t get to keep the gold, we get the gold, we bring it inside ourselves, we learn and integrate, then we have to give it back to the source.

We must freely give what has been freely given to us.

When we work with others, we hand them their own pick axes. And we encourage them to start digging themselves. And they get to experience their process and one day they too will give it back when they get to the point that they get to work with others in their lives.

There is wisdom in the book. And as each person is able and willing, we hand them the book and we read it with them, side by side.

In the beginning for many, warming a chair is all that they can do for a time, until they get their feet wet, and find their way into the fellowship.

There is Gold in them thar hills. Go find it. But be reminded, you can’t keep even an ounce. You must give it back.

The only thing they tell you must change when we get clean and sober is Everything. And that this is an inside job.

If you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.

Eventually you will find that there can be life without the drinking and drugging. And there are plenty of people to participate with you. Find them.

Come on in, the waters fine, Leave on shore your troubled mind. We don’t care where you’ve been just so long as you come on in …

And old song we used to sing on retreat weekend in school.

More to come, stay tuned …


The Easier Softer Way …

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Friday has come and almost gone. I left uber early to meet with one of my guys to plan his next assignment. His first 4th Step. We celebrated his three months tonight. People tend to celebrate milestones at the Friday Meeting as of late.

We read from A.B.S.I. and “Seeking Guidance.” The act of praying, and then actively listening for the response, and what do we do if that response does not come? What do we do next, as in the right decision or the next right thing.

The shares went around the room. And I listened.

After my conversation after the meeting last night with Mr. Google, I spoke to my sponsor about it. And before I went to bed, I rifled off an email to Mr. Google about half measures, balking, and willfulness.

I got a response earlier today, but I did not read it until I came home after the meeting. I wasn’t sure what kind of response I was going to get back.

And after the meeting I was on the way home with one of my guys and I spoke what was going on in my head with him.

When I went to Vermont, I met guys who were severely addicted to hard core drugs and alcohol. Addiction is not a game. This is some serious shit. This is our lives we are talking about here. This is not a joke or something to be trifled with.

When I speak to someone about program or sobriety, I want my words to come from the right direction, and the right place. That I am not just spewing bullshit from the left side of my brain.

I began “The Work” over a year ago, and my life did change. Shit happened. Shit that I did not expect, but I asked for. And because I did “The Work” the universe paid out in spades.

“The Work” is ongoing, it never ends. Sobriety is not a destination it is a journey.

The day you take your last breath, that’s when the journey ends. But until then, we keep going. Experience, Strength and Hope is cumulative. It is a mass of information you collect on the way, the shit that happens when we least expect it.

Maya Angelou said … “People won’t remember what you did, nor what you said, but they will remember the way you made them feel…”

I’ve been working days, weeks and months on life and on “The Work.” And it isn’t about my ego or that I know more than some, or that it is all about me. It isn’t.

I took the lessons that were given. And I practiced. I humbled myself before God. There is something miraculous that happens when you humble yourself before God when you drop to your knees and pray.

I feel the embrace. And I know, for me, that there is something that hears my prayers and does for me what I could not do for myself. One of my friends doesn’t believe that there is anything on the other end of his prayers.

I have time under my belt where practiced is concerned. I have spoken to very wise men in sobriety who have done the same. Men who I came to know and respect. They laid it all out for us. And you either took it and adopted it, or you wasted the time and left with nothing to carry back to your guys.

It is one thing, to spout from the book and the left side of ones brain. But it is an entirely different beast when it comes from pure, unadulterated daily practice.

This is no joke. These are our lives. The good news is, is that with a little practice and a little faith, and a little humility, we never have to drink again.

One day at a time.

I am very grateful for my guys and my friends.

More to come, Stay tuned …


“The Work …” Courtesy of The Atlantic Group NYC

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Courtesy: Tyler Oakley

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

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

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

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

The theme of the speakers was “The Work.”

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

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

Today we heard from similar group members.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am, what they call, SANDWICHED…

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

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

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

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

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

It is unrelenting work.

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

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

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

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

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

A great weekend was had by all.

IT IS TIME TO DO “THE WORK !”

Let us begin anew.

More to come, I am sure…


Thursday Practice … And a Taste of Summer

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Courtesy: CatchFire

It has been unseasonably WARM these past couple of days. We are sitting at (+21c with a humidex of +26) at 3:16 a.m. in the morning.

This is the warmest it has been yet this year 2014. The last time we saw heat like this was last Fall. People are eating it up. Break out the shorts and t shirts. Back in Vermont last weekend, it was cool, but not really “cold” being higher up in elevation had something to do with that.

We will see a bit of rain over the next two days. Hopefully it WILL rain and not just piddle like it has been the last few weeks.

Round two of Sober Fest begins on Saturday. We are all lined up with transport to the West Island. I am looking forward to the culmination of a years worth of “Practice.”

Today’s topic from April’s Daily Reflections read at the meeting dealt with finding faith, that doesn’t come over night, it has to be cultivated. Like sobriety, you can’t just sit down and warm a chair. Eventually you will have to decide that you either want it or you don’t. And if you do, then start practicing. Which also comes from the reading.

The age old question …

“How do you get to Carnegie Hall??? Practice, Practice, Practice.”

A year ago, almost to the date, we all went to the Roundup. We listened and for myself, I was conflicted with sobriety, because New Yorkers promised us champagne and caviar if we worked the program the way they did.

We don’t get champagne and caviar here in Montreal sobriety. I don’t think we even get steak, for that matter.

I listened to the words and the way they were delivered. Which sent me on a quest to find that kind of sobriety. I began to practice my craft. More than I had been. I moved away from my old sponsor and free dove into the sea of newcomers alone.

I said my prayers. I read my book. I studied it with others. I worked with others and I later found a sponsor who wanted champagne and caviar too. And that is what we aim to get from our respective journeys.

Funny that the intensive weekend fell the week prior to this years Roundup. It was a great run up event to the Big Show. And if last year was any indicator of just what is in store, it will be much better two years on.

It is amazing to be able to report on just how much my life has changed over the last year. I did the time. And I am grateful for every person who was part of that journey. Sadly, some of the guys that were such close friends, have taken their leave of the program. And heaven knows I try to be friendly to them, my words fall on deaf ears it seems.

We gathered at the church for our regular meeting. Only a handful of people came, some are out of town, others had family obligations to tend to. But I get to see my guys and spend time with them. An investment of time, talent and effort. And they are worth every minute of my time.

And on Saturday I get to share champagne and caviar with them.

I am hoping that they too get the sobriety bug, and go nuts. soberly that is…

It was a good night.

It is late. I need to sleep.

More to come, stay tuned…


Mad River Barn Weekend – Let’s Discuss

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And We’re back … From Vermont that is …

I have to say that the weekend amongst my brothers/fathers/friends in sobriety rocked the house to the ground. I am so fortunate to have the sponsor I do and had the opportunity to spend the weekend listening and sharing with such honesty.

Hands down this weekend was the best weekend I have had in sobriety thus far. And it only took 12 and a half years to get here.

We departed on Friday afternoon, playing follow the leader out to Vermont. My sponsor and friends in one car, and myself and my friend (the driver) in the other.

It was all smooth sailing until we hit the U.S. Border. They got through quickly, where as when it came to our turn, we got grilled. Never tell a border guard you are sober, or that you are an alcoholic, in recovery or NOT !

So, in the end we got through. It was a smooth drive into Vermont. We (read: our car) ate at McDonald’s before leaving the city. One of our guys forgot his passport so they had to go back and get it …. (read: such a dunce!)

We made it all the way to Colchester where we stopped for Food for three and more food for us. It was good fresh food served to us by a witty happy waitress.

After the meal we paid for our food and set off for the Barn. Which would be a couple of hours later. We were following for the first 10 or so miles, when my driver realized that he had left his jacket (WITH) his passport, at the restaurant.

I madly texted the lead vehicle finally calling via cell to advise that we were turning around to go back to Colchester. We hit an exit that was not correct, had to ask directions and then find our way back to the diner.

We pulled up in the parking lot and parked, got out of the car, and got to the door. And wouldn’t you know it – The diner was CLOSED !!!

Panic set in. We started banging on the door hoping that there was somebody still inside. A few minutes later the check out girl opened the door and handed us the jacket and passport. They figured we would be returning and waited for us to get there. Imagine if we had not realized that the passport was left behind.

It was a scenic route into the Mad River Valley, thank God we had printed directions and talent at following them.

The Mad River Barn is a working Bed and Breakfast Inn. Not far from Sugar Bush Mountain, (which, by the way, still had snow on the runs).

They sorted us into rooms. All the guys in my room were from Montreal. The Inn has been recently refurbished and reopened on December 26th 2013.

Our room slept 6.

A suite with a queen bed, in the main room, a set of bunk beds and two beds head to head in the second room. The bathroom was state of the art, with complete service (Towels, shampoo, and all that good stuff). I didn’t need all the shit I packed and brought with me.

We had a third meal at dinner time, along with the 50 men who were present.

Food – We had three meals a day with dessert. All the coffee you could drink, and I noticed late Saturday Night that there was a soda gun on the coffee stand. Needless to say that I was over caffeinated, leading to no sleep on Friday night.

We had presentations on the Steps as outlined in the Big Book, and the Twelve and Twelve. One guy would speak on the step for a few minutes and then the floor would open for discussion.

There were twelve discussions. over three days.

The opening salvo came to a head when Step One was introduced,

“We” admitted … This is a WE program.

And I raised my hand and told my story about : Go somewhere else and do not return to this meeting. Where I had hit two meetings in sobriety and was told it was a “We” program but “I” was not included in that “WE.”  In front of everyone.

Jaws dropped. People were angry, several people turned in their chairs. That was the majority of the discussion on that step, and would be touched on throughout the weekend.

I took my sponsees with me in spirit. Because After each presentation, I spoke to the person who spoke on the step about a great many things. My sponsor was there and heard everything I said in the meetings.

We had cell service in the Mountains, and if I stood in one particular spot on the sidewalk out front, I could get a clear signal, as I was calling Montreal several times checking in with them over the weekend.

I learned a great deal about working my steps, as the others had worked them, how they applied them to their lives and what I could expect if I did the same. I spoke a lot during steps 1 thru 4. Because I have done Steps 1 thru 4.

I worked on my 4th step during the weekend. But my sponsor isn’t done with his yet, and HIS sponsor was also there for the weekend.

I took a bunch of notes. I listened to all the other steps as they came up. And I took those notes home, and planned to discuss them with my guys.

After each session we had a break to get out of our chairs to spend some time talking amongst ourselves outside the meeting format, and to huddle with our chosen mentor of the moment.

I went to bed late both Friday and Saturday. And I woke early both Saturday and Sunday just so I could get a conversation in with every person I could over the weekend. We drank a shit load of coffee and smoked packs of cigarettes. Not to mention several boxes of cigars as well. They were very popular.

By Saturday night we were spent to death. Everybody got good sleep.

Location, Location, Location … There was a separate section of the building where guests we roomed. They served them meals upstairs on the second floor which had a bar, games tables, tv’s and seating for meals.

All very well appointed. The others, who had been here before kept remarking at just how GOOD a job they did with the rebuild.

During our afternoon break on Saturday I chose to nap, while others went on hikes into the mountains. We were warned about Bears and Moose! And yes we did have sightings.

Today – read: this morning … We met for Step 12. Discussed, and people began to scatter, as it was Mother’s Day and the guys/husbands/fathers, needed to get on the road to spend the rest of the day with their significant others.

These guys were all good guys. I did not get a whiff of ego, or that stupid heterosexual Men’s Pissing Game. We did play several practical jokes on people which was quite funny.

We departed about 11:30 this morning. And we took the scenic route over Sugar Bush up the mountain, across and down the other side all the way to Burlington. A drive that took us an hours time.

It would have been quicker had we taken the route we came in on. The views were stellar. I can’t wait to see what that scenery looks like come fall, which is when the next intensive is scheduled.

We arrived back in town about 2:30 in the afternoon.

I loved Loved LOVED the weekend. How ever much we enjoyed the weekend, by Sunday we were all ready to come home. And when I got home, I wished that we had stayed longer. If only to spend more time with the others and get to enjoy more of the surrounding mountains.

I unpacked and chilled until I had to leave for the Sunday Night Meeting.

It was a stellar day. If this is the tip of the sobriety iceberg, I can’t wait to see what is underneath. Because I want MORE …

I am pooped. I need dinner and to sleep in my own bed.

Which leads me to the fact that I have never slept on such a comfortable mattress than the one I slept on over the weekend. I want One … Down/memory foam.

FABULOUS !!

That is all for tonight. More to come…


Friday …The Coming of Faith

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Courtesy:Freeminded

No matter where you go, you take us with you.

The end of the week is here. And all that rain they said would fall, Didn’t.

It was a quiet day. My sponsor is on the mend after surgery on Wednesday morning. He can’t walk, but he sounded better today. He has to stay off his feet (literally) for a week so he can heal.

I set out early because I had to get goodies for the meeting and another card for another chip. I need to get a third card for the Monday M.A. meeting. I made good time across town and arrived early enough to help set up.

And as usual we sat a good crowd. All the happy people came and a few more.

We talked about faith, and the good thing about all these people, you always get a cross spectrum of thoughts on any given topic.

“… To me, this means a belief in a Creator who is all power, justice, and love; a God who intends for me a purpose, a meaning, and a destiny to grow, however little and haltingly, toward His own likeness and image.

Before the coming of faith I had lived as an alien in a cosmos that too often seemed both hostile and cruel. In it there could be no inner security for me.”

“When I was driven to my knees by alcohol, I was made ready to ask for the gift of faith. And all was changed. Never again, my pains and problems notwithstanding, would I experience my former desolation. I saw the universe to be lighted by God’s love; I was alone no more.”

Some are not comfortable with letting go absolutely. Life is life and sometimes shit happens. Sometimes good and sometimes bad.

Life doesn’t always end up sunshine and roses.

People have hardships and problems. They just don’t go away when we get sober. The good thing is that when we do get sober, we can look at life in a real way. Without getting blotto and/or stoned.

Some say that when we are taken to our knees, we get the gift of desperation. We can’t do it on our own, it works when we sit amongst others who share the same disease.

Life has not been easy, by any stretch. But it seemed to me that the way I got sober this time did the trick in helping me navigate life on life’s terms.

I moved here sober. To a new city and new people. I got connected.

I got rooted and homed. It came to pass that I would get some time in the book, time to discuss and learn and integrate. Then like clockwork, God would throw me something; an issue, a problem, a hardship and I would have to then work it out soberly.

If I did not have the certain people in my life, it could have gone worse. But I have survived each challenge as it came to pass. Faith came in new ways. I learned to stay in  my day. I learned that I was powerless over people, places and things. And that I am responsible for my self and my own actions. And that the only thing I could change is myself.

I’ve also learned, in the grand scheme of things, that the sooner I eradicate things I am powerless over (read:the past), I don’t have to rehash it, or ponder it or live in it, I can go on with my life.

I surround myself with people I love, care about and trust. I don’t waste my time with folks who irk or irritate me.

Faith comes in the form of those people I spend the most time with on a weekly basis. I get from the rooms everything I need, in good times and bad. The good thing is that the bad times don’t last, as long as they used to because I have years of time and a lifetime of experience at my disposal.

And I also have the time of my friends and their life’s experience to add to my own. What a gift that is. Where else can you go to be able to plumb the depths of knowledge of so many people on a daily basis?

No where that I know of.

The long goodbye continues for my guy.

It was a good night. We all had fun.

More to come. stay tuned …


Thursday … Stay “Here.”

SONY DSC

Courtesy:Mattnstuff

It is a little chilly outside. But warm enough for shirtsleeves. The weather is bobbing between rain and sun for the next few days. Today was a beautiful day. And days are usually quiet and serene.

My guys are traveling out of town tonight and tomorrow. It will be a weekend of checking in from far flung places. But they are good to go. This evening I called my sponsor and he is very interested in how I keep things so calm and serene. This is the ongoing conversation that we have been having. It took a long time to get here.

And it goes with the reading for tonight from “Came to Believe,” Getting Ahead …

“… I did not know then that if you want to get ahead with any degree of peace, you must first learn to Stay Here. It takes guts to stay here; it takes self-discipline and resolution. Anyone with sufficient energy and a one track mind can get ahead; witness the robber barons, the dictators, the demagogues.

But to Stay Here, you must know where you are before you can know where you are going. You must seek before you can find, and you must ask before you really learn to seek. It take humility to ask, patience to wait for the answer, and faith that the answer will come. These, it strikes me, are hardly bulldozer “Virtues.”

We have newbies in the room, and I picked up my Big Book earlier in the week as I was pondering what we would read, and we have rehashed so much Book, that I was bored with it already. So I went with the Red Book instead.

The first time you get sober is a gift, the second and subsequent times, you have to work for it. And that adage has proven true for some of us, who got second and third kicks at the can.

The first lesson that came after a few months of settling in was to “Stay in my day” and to work with the 24 hours afforded me on a daily basis. To keep my mind from returning over and over to the past, and also to keep my head out of worrying about the future or Tomorrow…

This is not an easy task at first.

Because we are hard wired by our feelings, and in the beginning I was saddled with thoughts and feelings that were about yesterday and tomorrow. And they kept telling me to keep coming back and to stay in my day. I mean really, I can go one of two ways … Depression that keeps me in the past or Anxiety that wires me to the future.

Why can’t I stay in the day?

It took a good eighteen months to learn this lesson, one day at a time. I am no longer ruled or saddled by the past, and I am not anxious about the future. Once I learned how to be good with the day I don’t have to worry (as much). It isn’t realistic to think that I don’t worry about tomorrow. I do. It just doesn’t consume me or occupy my mind for long periods during the day.

Things are good. I have been on a good run for a long time. I do what I have to do on a daily basis. My days have routine. (again, that was learned). I hit my meetings, talk to my sponsor and my sponsees on a daily basis. I keep it simple (stupid). And that tends to work. Much to my sponsors dismay.

He is fascinated with my ability to stay calm, because what alcoholic do you know, that can remain calm amid a disease of the mind? This is a work in progress. Daily work and progress.

Getting honest. Humility to ask for help. Patience to wait for an answer.

The practice (daily practice) of prayer … Saying the words, Meditation … waiting for an answer, is something we learn to do. Most people balk at this stage saying that they don’t have time to pray or to sit and wait for an answer.

Well, God speaks in many ways. Cultivating an ear to hear is the key.

We might pray in the morning and meditate for a few minutes, then we go on with our days. Meanwhile, we spend our days waiting for that answer. And you never know, when you sit in a meeting that the answer might come, from someone, not necessarily from God himself, and if you aren’t paying attention, you might miss the communication.

It is good to have a routine. To have things to do every day. To keep us busy.

Because left to our own devices, helter skelter is the norm.

We want to Get Ahead. And there is a way to do that.

Stick around until the miracle happens.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday … It Works !!!

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Courtesy:Thiswillnotdefineus

It was a dreary night and today was a dreary day. It rained. Enough rain to warrant carrying an umbrella, but when I got out there, it was just spitting rain, so I carried for no reason ! UGH. The snow is beginning to disappear.

They have been tearing up Ste. Catherine’s street the past couple of days, and barricades are up and the system of bus stops up the block have been turned upside down. People loose their minds when they loose access to mass transit at a major hub, as this one is.

The Sports Bar/Resto on the corner is almost ready to reopen the entire restaurant. A long time ago, all the tenants on the strip were evicted, and all the walls knocked down to expand the resto. The small (initial) space was open while they built the new space. They then opened the new space and closed the old space to renovate. They worked on the upper floors and are now bricking up the walls above the resto, and when I walked by on my way home, the new (old) space has all the monitors up and chairs and tables. The build is complete.

With summer coming, and the entire resto open, with a tiki bar in the back, which is open, and during the summer he opens a patio out front, which takes up an entire lane of traffic about 500 feet long, they will be bringing in Big Bucks this season.

The Great Big News that came today was that tickets for the West Island Roundup are on sale, and one of my gal pals is picking me up three tickets for me and my sponsees. This is a “Must Attend Weekend” of the year. May 17 and 18. New York is coming to Montreal once again, last year’s event was earth shattering and changed my life, so bringing new guys to experience a taste of New York Sobriety will be a treat for them.

I left early to run some errands and arrived to a very quiet church. Quiet is good. I can take my time setting up and I get to spend time reading. I cherish amounts of time that I can sit and read during the day, because I don’t do that at home. Reading time usually occurs before bed.

I have arrived at my 4th Step with my sponsor. And it is quite an undertaking. To lead off the step is an exercise to plot feelings and emotions that “happened” from the day I was born until today. (so on the way home I picked up a diary to write in, so that I can carry it with me) when I meet with my sponsor. I have particular memories in my minds eye, but not necessarily a year to correspond.

So I have enlisted my aunt to help me peg a few dates so I can complete the work. The assignment is 15 to 30 minutes, every other day for as long as it takes. Which is a 46 year assignment. Add to that the regular question and answer form that will follow, and then the actual writing of a 4th step.

We sat a fair crowd. More than we had expected. AND several folks came, who came for the anniversary last week. So we gained a few guests. The chair read from the Daily Reflections from March 1st. (March is the third month, therefore all the entries cover Step 3).

The reading is simply, “It works … it really does.”

The passage talks about finding faith, and coming to believe that a power greater than ourselves can work for us, and that we learn to trust it. And how do we do that? Three things … Go to meetings, find a sponsor, work the steps.

Once again the word STAY came up.

Our newbies are getting used to rooting at a home group and making it their own. Meeting and learning to trust the room and the people in it. To devote time to reading, working and saying a few prayers here and there. All this is on a steep learning curve. It all takes time to change old habits, and learn new ones. Coming to believe that a power greater than ourselves has our best interest in mind. You might not see that on the outset, but if you can trust others, and see how their lives change, one day, your life will change as well.

Getting sober a second time had its advantages. I got a Do Over.

Lessons I learned the first time, that I forgot, when I went out, came to bear. Without the specter of death hanging over me, I was free to focus on myself unlike the first time. ( I was wrapped in a death shawl for years waiting to die) and I didn’t.

I hit a ton of meetings that first year. I rooted in One Meeting and I stayed.

I did whatever I was told to do without argument. The right people came into my life and I depended on the folks at my home group like my life depended on it and that served me well.

Over the years, staying in one place for a long time had its perks. I got to watch other people come in, sit down, stay for a season or two or three, and get sober. There is nothing more gratifying than watching God move in people’s lives. I knew who God was, and he had already moved heaven and earth to get me here, so that was a no brainer.

But at St. Leon’s, I have said before, God likes that room. I’ve seen the light come and rest. I’ve seen people come in lost and find Him. I learned a great deal about people as they came down those 12 steps into the hall. I studied it like science.

That’s when I came up with the Neon Sign Theory.

We all have one, hanging over our heads. And it tells the world things about us, but we might not see the sign for a while, but it is there. And if you stay in one place long enough, you will begin to see them yourself. People who come, and come again and again, over the years, that sign changes depending on our moods and feelings.

It was that light that I was searching for. And God did not disappoint.

So if you are new, stick around until the miracle occurs.

It was a good night. Everybody is sober another day.

More to come, stay tuned …