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We Are Star Stuff …

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“Millions of years ago, the universe was filled with light elements. Those light elements came together to cook and form stars. And those stars grew into heavier elements, and in time went supernova. And those new heavier elements scattered across space, and ended up in our solar system and became planets. Our planet is made of star stuff, and out of the planet we came to be, therefore we are star stuff.”

How immense a thought is that … We are star stuff … profound !!!

 

The week is coming to an end. And the weather has changed. It is not so humid as it has been. It was a great night for shirtsleeves. There were a multitude of people out and about tonight. It is the final weekend of the Jazz Festival. All along the Metro stations, the platforms were full, and so were the trains, out and back.

People are eating up this wonderful weather. For as long as it lasts, we will take it, because we know, eventually, the weather will change as the seasons change.

I headed out early. In fact, a bunch of people headed out early, it was a group effort setting up tonight. We sat a good crowd, that was a good sign.

The reading … Brain Power Alone.

To the intellectually self-sufficient man or woman, many A.A.’s can say, “Yes, we were like you – far too smart for our own good. We loved to have people call us precocious. We used our education to blow ourselves up into prideful balloons, though we were careful to hide this from others. Secretly, we felt we could float above the rest of the folks on our brain power alone.

Scientific progress told us there was nothing man couldn’t do. Knowledge was all powerful. Intellect could conquer nature. Since we were brighter than most folks (so we thought), the spoils of victory would be ours for the thinking. The god of intellect displaced the God of our fathers.

But John Barleycorn had other ideas. We who had won so handsomely in a walk turned into all time losers. We saw that we had to reconsider or die.

Listening to all the folks share on this reading brought a multitude of remarks. The most profound was the thought at the top of this post. “We are star stuff.”

If you think you know everything and have all the answers, pondering how the universe came to be in all its profundity, is humbling.

Because what do we really know ? Very little.

And even the best minds of science admit that, even they, don’t know everything, and don’t have all the answers. Some of the stupidest things I have ever heard have come out of the mouths of so called “educated and intellectual people.”

I may not be the brightest crayon in the box. And I know I am not the most intellectually smartest man. I only got so far in my university education, until the point when my intellect could not rise to the occasion.

I learned that I was limited intellectually.

And I know that because of this story.

Growing up I learned many things.

By the time I graduated High School, I was an active alcoholic. And I barely survived. I told a truth, versus cheating, and the one class I needed to pass (math) I was the only one who did not have a copy of the final cheat sheet. So on the last page of my exam I wrote to my teacher that “I was the only one who did not cheat on this exam.” I passed and graduated.

Coming from an alcoholic home, I had little control. I was abused. My father had it out for me. And the only control I had was being able to shut and lock my bedroom door. That was my only safe zone. Until at least my father realized what that meant for me. Because then he took the door off the hinges and put the door in the garage.

Talk about Fucked up …

When I left home, woefully unprepared, I did not do much thinking. I did do a lot of drinking. I did not get much training in thinking while living at home.

I got a stab at learning how to think in dealing with my own mortality. I learned a great deal of things. But it wasn’t until I failed and fell that I admitted I was licked and that it truly was time to grow up, and that took some thought.

At a year sober, I was 35 years old. I returned to university and I worked on a degree in Religion and a second in Pastoral Ministry. It was a success. I spent the better part of seven years getting sober while in school.

Being an older student in a university filled with teeny boppers, and self centered girls who needed to be the center of attention ALL THE TIME, I had few friends. When I graduated the second time, the Theology department BENT OVER backwards to court me to join their department for an M.A.

When classes began the next fall, all of my fellows crossed the bridge into greatness, and EGO and self centeredness.

I did not get that memo…

I knew on the first day of class that I had not risen to the intellectual heights that my fellows had risen to. I was not one of them. Over time, I realized that although I thought I knew my friends, I really didn’t. And they sure as shit did not include me in their bestie club.

I had become intellectually stunted.

There is that all powerful rule in an M.A. program that “2 C’s and you’re out!”

As fast as I was courted into the program, they, (read: the administration) turned their backs on me in an instant. I went from celebrated student to persona non grata overnight.

That was a kick in the rubber parts for sure. And it was a bitter lesson and for a long time a bitter pill to swallow.

But I did not drink over it. I must have missed the memo on building my ego, or becoming better than others, and knowing all things. Because my friends, who became my fellows became Prideful Blown Up Balloons.

And reading this reading tonight, I knew and felt exactly what that meant.

I used to say that in the end, I knew who God is and who God is not. That became my tag line for a long time. But being sober this long, I am not so sure any more.

I don’t have all the answers, and I would not presume to say that I do.

And knowing who God is … is presumption.

And who am I to presume that knowledge. When every day God reveals himself to me in ways I did not or do not expect.

I see God in my friends.

They are kind, thoughtful, insightful and wise.

They are humble, they aren’t arrogant or prideful.

They are far from Prideful Balloons.

We try, on a daily basis to stay “Right Sized.”

I think that borne down to simplicity, tonight’s reading is a warning and a reminder that we need to be “right sized” to be who we are. Because if we become puffed up popinjay’s we will not be who we are or who we are meant to be.

I don’t need intellectual friends. Because NONE of those people are part of my life today. I need sober, right sized friends. And a sponsor who talks kindly and kicks my ass when necessary. And I got it in spades…

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries – Fear and Giving Up

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Courtesy: Minhos 21

It was a miserable Sunday. Rain clouds are gathering right now, as rain is in the forecast for later tonight. But it was pissing little rain here and there, and I decided to carry an umbrella, even though I did not need it, and got a ride home after the meeting. If it was only a bit colder, we’d have snow.

They are hinting that we might get some flake later on in the week.

It was a gangbusters meeting tonight. Early on one of my friends showed up early and remarked that we might be low in numbers, but I said that it was a toss up. It is either feast or famine. In the end we needed an extra stack of chairs for all the folks who showed up late, but came nonetheless.

We read from the Big Book: The Man who conquered Fear …

Lots was said, but we didn’t get all the way around the circle. But fear and the getting over of said fear was the common theme.

And I was sitting in my seat thinking about fear. I never chalk up fear as a motivator but over time I could see where it played out. As a young person, were talking junior high, I used to leave the house hours early to get to school to hang out just to get out of the house.

I spent a great deal of time living at friends houses, weeks at a time, just to get away from my alcoholic father. never knowing when Jekyl and Hyde would appear. My father still had it out for me growing up, that didn’t stop when I grew from a child into a boy.

In both instances – my first last drink – I was fearing death … and my Second last drink – I was fearing growing up and not being able to hang on to my youth, I had to grow out of that fear in order to come to and begin the process of change.

I was alive – I lived, but I didn’t know how to grow up, I had no touchstones, nobody to show me the way. If it wasn’t for Troy at the end there I might never have made it back. But his calm, daily thought that “I did not drink today…” gave me courage to identify and to speak to him about my slip, brought about another recovery.

Fear doesn’t go away. And shit happens. Life is going to come, and it may get scary, and things may get shitty, and life goes on whether you/we like it or not. But within the rooms we find commonality, and we learn that we can survive this life, if we apply basic principles of I can’t – He can – so I will let Him … A little prayer (strategic prayer for some) helps.

At the end of the day, if I did not take a drink or use a drug, it was a good day. And that is sufficient.

I would ask for your prayers for one of my guys.

He is in Fuck It mode. After I spent good hours tutoring him and talking him up for exams this week, instead of calling and saying that he was in difficulty, he just threw in the towel and did not call. But after several attempts to reach him, he texts me before I left to say that “he had given up and that he did not want to talk about it.”

What is it with this Fuck it mentality ???

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

At least he did not take a drink.

So that was the day.

More to come, stay tuned …


Walking the Path …

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It has been an uneventful weekend. We are sitting at a balmy (-11c/-16c w.c.) And there is snow on tap tonight. We are not much into football here so that is not a concern.

I was up and out early this evening because I had to make a couple of stops along the way. And there was Big Change at Alexis Nihon this week. Several more kiosks and several shops have closed in the past couple of weeks.

The most notable was the “Yellow” show store that used to sit right outside the Metro connect tunnel to the platform, Target appropriated their space so now the entire storefront property from Left to right on the Metro Level has now been taken up. The florist that used to sit in the middle of the tunnel entrance has closed as well.

The Yellow store moved from right to left as you come down the escalator. Which has changed the floor plan of Target. What seemed at first a total appropriation of all the store front space from left of the escalator to all the way down the mall proper to the Metro tunnel (encompassing the Yellow space), is now split up into two spaces with Yellow sitting in the middle of the store front space.

I’m not sure how the new Target is going to lay out with this new move, since the total space is interrupted by Yellow. I wonder what they are going to do with the left side space at the bottom of the escalator. I don’t know how they are going to utilize both spaces???

The Forum, across the street from the mall, that houses Cineplex Odeon Movies had housed a Future Shop that took up two floors of space has been closed this past week. Which means the Forum has lost a major anchor store. That brings the total of open space to three storefronts. Over the past five years we lost two restaurants on the ground floor and now the Future Shop that sat right besides these spaces.

Lots of changes going on on this end of town. And word is that Target will be opening in March. The Seville project has topped the phase three tower. The facade windows and all are going up slowly. I haven’t seen much work going on there in the last week. The weather has been too sketchy for cranes to operate and people be out in the open in the frigid cold on the upper floors that haven’t yet been enclosed by windows.

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

We arrived at the church about 5 o’clock. Our usual coffee maker was standing inside the door when I got there, she was waiting for our newbie to show up and make coffee. He was late so she set up the coffee pot and he arrived shortly thereafter. We schooled him in opening procedures for next week and gave him a key.

We got the room set up and we sat a fair number of folks tonight. We are continuing to read from the Big Book, Chapter 4 – We Agnostics… Somewhere along the way at some particular meeting eventually, the mention of God is going to come up. We’ve been sharing on Spiritual Experience and the notion of God, or a power greater than ourselves these fast few weeks.

Faith and God are spoken about throughout the Book. It is written in the steps, and you come to a meeting, you come to, and then you come to believe. What you choose to call it, or not call it, is all up to you individually. Eventually we experience the presence of God, in some sort or fashion. If you are open to the stirrings of the spirit, after a while, God presents himself through people and through the rooms. At least that is how it came to me.

In hindsight, over the last 47 years of my life, God has been present in one fashion or another. The problem in many cases is/was my inability to recognize him. However I knew who God was, from my upbringing. There were times in the past when I deliberately stepped off the path, hence my life became unmanageable.

But even when I stepped off the path, God was still there waiting for me to return to the path and to get “right with Him.” The first time I got sober, God made his presence known to me, by the presence of the men who cared for me when I got sick. I’ve told this story before.

In time, Sobriety Lost Its Priority, and I went out. And today I am sure that where I went God followed, waiting for me to come around again. And he set certain people in my life at the right moments to help me find my way back, however circuitous the route went. I eventually found my way back, because I spoke certain prayers and God heard them and answered quite specifically.

Coming into the rooms again was difficult, because I had to start all over again. And so it went. I came to Tuesday Beginners. I rooted and I did what ever they told me to do, even when I had all these erratic expectations. God did away with all of them in due time. All my needs were mt through the rooms. Whatever those needs were. If I needed something I took it to a meeting. And God provided for all my needs. God made manifest in my life in many ways.

I went back to school in sobriety and I studied God, six ways from Sunday, forwards and backwards, from one faith to the next. And over the past 10 years I have come to know who God is and who God is not. My academic studies augmented my sobriety in many ways. God has been part of my life, every day of my life over the last 11 years of my sobriety. You don’t need to convince me that God exists. I have seen him move in our meeting on several occasions.

Just watching people get sober over a long period of time, and you witness God in action as people come, they come to and then they come to believe. It is the most miraculous event that one could be part of.

… They show how the change came over them. When many hundreds of people are able to say that the consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason who one should have faith… Pg. 51 Big Book

God is alive and well and he is in this place.

We sing … “The Lord hears the cry of the poor, blessed be the Lord … “

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


As We Understood Him …

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Courtesy: Noneedtoaskmyname

It has been bitterly cold. The weather has been changing by the hour here today. What began as snow/rain squalls earlier today has turned into clear skies and bitter cold. The Temps at this hour are (-12c/-24c with the wind chill).

It was an uneventful weekend. But it has also been very productive for me, in ways that are different from the usual days in and out. I am enjoying my daily routine of getting up early, getting things done, and having my afternoon nap with hubby. I am really loving sleep. Because I’ve been practicing my prayer and meditation and shutting down my brain for a couple of hours in the afternoon and it seems to be working very well.

I am finding that it is in simple things that make my heart sing. I am taking bits of my day and learning to be satisfied with that, instead of woofing a huge plate of things. For some, who suffer from “more, more and more” it is a daily grace to be satisfied with a nibble. And this relates to our reading from today.

I set off early for the meeting. I was looking forwards to seeing if the mall had made any other significant changes to its floor plan. And that hasn’t changed in the past week. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t.

I arrived at the church with plenty of time to set up and settle in for the meeting, On the way our chair texted me and asked me to chair for him tonight, which was cool with me. We cover for each other when it is necessary.

We sat a fair number of folks. With different amounts of time. And we read from the Big Book, chapter 4, “We Agnostics.” It was a short read tonight which ended in the Appendix II, “A Spiritual Experience.”

… We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, Honesty and Open Mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable.

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” Herbert Spencer

We are instructed, early in the Big Book, to refer to this reading amid the text of the book. I remember hearing it read at other times as we have begun reading the book from the beginning this time around.

The notion of “finding our own conception of God” is taught to us from the very beginning. Because we find that many have differences of opinions about God, be he religious or not. But in reading the book, coming to meetings and sharing with another brings perspective about this “notion of God.”

I’ve written about my God in the Pages “Naked and Sacred” and how I was introduced to God as a child. And I followed that God for the whole of my life.

At one point in my life the “powers that be” suggested that I might want to pursue God in seminary. And I eventually did that. I loved God, I loved being with God and praying and studying God. And for a year I did that with reckless abandon.

But in the end, the man who decided our fates brought me in and told me that I would not be returning for a second year, that I had not shown enough zeal or that maybe, I just didn’t jive with my fellows very well. I was just a boy, trying to find my way in a system that was bent towards ego instead of selflessness.

I guess you would say that I was very angry with God. I returned to my home and went to work with friends. And my alcoholism really got out of control. For the next several years I drank  my way through life. And I did some stupid things.

So the story goes, I grew up, I drank, I got sick, and I got sober. I stayed sober because of the men who took hold of my life and helped me survive. God manifested himself in the guise of Todd, in all things. He did for me, what I could not do for myself. God made manifest in my life in great sweeping actions. God looked down on a simple boy and saved his life.

But as time went by, the universe shifted and I found myself left to my own devices. Without that controlling force in my life, I had no one to rely upon and soon I was off to the races and out the sober doorway and into hell.

Years would pass and I found my way back to the rooms. I relied on people to help me stay sober. With folks who took it upon themselves to see me sober once again, on a daily basis. I needed fellowship, someone to look to, someone to hold their hands with.

When I moved here and found my home group I had my list of wants. But the old timers kept telling me to “keep coming back” and “one day at a time.” It took me a long time to learn how to stay in my day. To learn about God, as the book directs us, and I did that.

My then sponsor, David was a godsend. We were attached at the hip for a years time. We did everything together. We grew quite close, and I loved him. They gave me my fourth edition, we read it, worked our steps and went to meetings.

At the end of a year, he still had his ego and our relationship ended. A rather sad ending. Bitter words were spoken and he cursed me saying that “I would drink again…”

On my first anniversary my addictions counselor asked me “Now that you have stayed sober for a year, what are you going to do for yourself?” I decided to go back to school. Which was the logical thing to do since the government payed my way through University.

I was sober. One day at a time. My fascination with God was apparent, since I joined the department of Religious Studies at Concordia, and met my now best friend and mentor Donald. I spent the next seven years studying God every way from Sunday. I have two degrees, in Religion and Pastoral Ministry. And I came away from university wanting more.

Since I did not make it in seminary, my thought was that if I can’t seek God through the church, I would seek him outside the church. I would climb that ladder to God from the outside of the building.

Donald, today is a deacon and will be ordained a priest this year. It was mentioned to me in passing some time ago that maybe I should consider Holy Orders. I’ve been sitting on that thought for a long time.

In order to do that I would need to complete the last pillar of good Christian practice, which is finding and settling into an active prayerful Christian community, like the Anglican Cathedral where I worship on the odd occasion. I have yet to make that kind of commitment.

That does not mean that I do not seek God in my daily life. Learning the A to Z of God, studying traditions and religions from all the major faiths in the world, East and West, left me wanting more. I had studied God, By the Book. Now I needed to incorporate that into my life.

Ten years into sobriety, I was ready for some excitement. And I got that in spades. My eleventh anniversary passed with little fanfare, this past December and I’ve been living one day at a time for ever and a day. And God has been showing me new ideas and I spoke today about that “more” mentality.

Wanting more – from my perspective is a very broad view. I look to open sky and my vision is of everything that is possible. And I’ve been learning, over the recent past that, I can’t have everything.

And I need to be satisfied with a little bit each day. I’ve been learning how to focus my needs to one simple idea a day, or one word a day, or one passage or prayer a day.

I’ve been practicing the “Parsing of Sobriety.” I’ve read, indulged and re-read the book. And like any good alcoholic, we always want MORE. You know what it is like to sit in front of a full plate of “MORE” food, and know that you can’t possibly eat all that food on one go… It is like I am on a spiritual diet.

Last week a friend offered me a prayer in his words. Subtle but effective. And I took those two words he spoke (YOU) and (ME). And so I settled into the notion of You and Me. And I have been satisfied with two words. And I meditate on those words daily, and I find that satisfying. Which relates back to my daily routine.

We read from the book today. And we talked about finding our own concept of a God of our understanding, and I heard twenty five different ideas, to chew on for the next week. And we read from Appendix II. Spiritual Experience.

Over the last eleven years, I have learned about God, and I’ve seen him make His presence known to a room full of people. I’ve seen God’s light come down from the church and alight on people’s heads and into their lives. So I am sure that God exists, I am totally sure of that fact today.

I’m still alive. I know who told my heart to beat. And I am present to my breath.

There is a particular one young girl who I have come to know in the rooms, and she has been hoofing it every day. She struggles with “thirst” yet she keeps coming back. She is amid her steps and she’s doing the work.

And for the last two to three months I find myself whispering her name to God in my daily prayers. But whispering people’s names to God is something that I just do … I so want her to stick around. And as a man, I must stay a step apart, because men work with the men and the women work with the women.

But today I stopped her after the meeting and told her that yes, I have been praying especially for her every day.

And that made a difference for her today.

God is alive, and he is tending the flock, every person, every day.

I am grateful for simplicity. I have “enough” today and I don’t need “more.”

And I am good with that.

It was a great night. More to come, stay tuned …


Recall your very first day(s) of school …

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Courtesy: Supercuteboys

This is a partial Plinky Prompt. I am going to amend the question.

The original question: Recall your very first day of school, how did you feel?

I am sitting here recalling my first day(s) of school. I have brief glimpses of places and people. I attended nursery school in a church hall in the town I was born in, New Britain Ct.

Kindergarten for me was at Smith School in New Britain, the school was a multipurpose school that housed many grades. The school had sections where particular grades were located. Kindergarten was two huge class rooms, separated by a great “mud room.” I remember that there was a kinder kitchen in our room where we used to play. With wooden pots and pans and those little wooden milk bottles that came in a set of six. All different colors of the types of milk of the times.

We attended music lessons in a hall close to where our classrooms were located. At some point we practiced the Wizard of Oz and I played the cowardly lion.

First Grade was Miss. Heslin. She was the mother of a friend of my father’s, who played on my then father’s softball team. He was quite the athlete when I was very young, while we still lived in the North East.

Then we moved to Florida and I attended school at Homestead elementary school. That is a bit of a blur.  I have certain memories of that school, and the cafeteria. We lived just up the street from the school.

We moved a second time, a year later into a larger home, farther north in Miami proper and I attended Coral Terrace Elementary School. My brother being three years my junior he was in kindergarten when I entered elementary grades. This was the bulk of grade school for me, 2nd through 6th grade.

These were the years during the Cuban boat lift. And immigrants were coming to Florida from Cuba and that is also when we were afforded bi-lingual education that I enrolled in. I had a choice to stay in English only classes or go dual, and I went dual. And I think this is the best way to learn a second language, from an early age. Because you can do comprehensive learning every day for many years. I am of the mind that it takes a good ten years to comprehensively learn a second language.

There were many First days of school. The family shopping days that preceded the first day of school. Getting up early on the first day to take pictures and the new book bags and sundry school items. We used to be bussed to school and we would all gather in the cafeteria to wait for the teachers to arrive. The cafeteria also doubled for the assembly hall. The tables converted to seating when turned on their sides.

From this point, we moved a third time to the biggest house we had ever lived in, and the one my father employed family choice on. Meaning, that my brother and I got choice to pick the next house we would live in. The Power House.

I attended sixth grade at F.C. Martin Elementary. It was located in a black suburb. Back then neighborhoods were racially segregated. There were distinct lines of demarcation between white and black neighborhoods. At the same time, my brother attended school in the predominantly white neighborhood of Coral Reef elementary, on our side of town.

I was bused to 6th grade for the half year, after we moved to the Power house.

On the bridge between elementary school and middle school, what we called Junior High School, I was introduced to South wood Junior High School. This was my first visit to a school where we had 6 periods a day, meaning lockers, classes in different class rooms, and meals in the cafeteria. We would need to learn how to arrange our days and sort out getting between classes and going to lockers and having P.E. (that’s when I realized that I was different). They took us several times to “sit in” on classes and learn how that system worked.

I remember like crystal the first day I went to gym class and had to change from street clothes to gym clothes. It was very stark. I knew innately that I was different. But I would not engage my sexuality for many years, however, my father left reading material out for family consumption. I knew of his proclivities early on in my life. And I had made it a point to enlighten myself on available reading material. Nobody was none the wiser.

I learned a great deal during junior high. I worked a great deal with  my teachers and I used to go in early, I was given a key to the science department teachers lounge to grade papers and to ready the classes by (dittoing papers and readying biology experiments). I eventually got the American Legion Award for Service to the school by the Legion group in  my neighborhood.

Those were good years. I graduated from junior high to High School and I attended Miami Palmetto Senior High School. High School was a big blur. When I arrived at high school, I was a very small boy compared to the upper class men that I met that first year. There was a distinct difference from the older boys and myself. They seemed much older and bigger than I was. But I did well.

I played soccer, I wrestled and I was on the swim team for a while. That was also the time during tenth grade that I was introduced to church and contemporary Christian friends. I was invited to lunch at the Church Youth Hall just a short walk from the school. So that became the norm every day.

It was in my tenth year of school that I was introduced to Jesus. The youth group used to have retreats on a YMCA camp about four hours from home up on Lake Okeechobee in Central Florida that we were bused to for weekends away from home. I find it ironic that I lived a double life. I lived a life outside of home that was full of love, friends and fellows.

I spent a great amount of time living at other people’s homes because life at home was really not nice. It only got worse the older I got. Because my father’s alcoholism got worse exponentially.

That first year on retreat we got letters from home and from one side of my parents mouths they would say how much they loved me, and at home they spoke out of the other side of their mouths saying that I was a mistake and should never have been born and also my father’s physical abuse got worse …

We were introduced to having a personal relationship with Jesus by committing our lives to Jesus and going to church, praying and reading the bible. That was quite a culture shock, carrying around a bible and I took, eventually, a bible class in high school. There were two types of people, the Christian’s and the non- Christians. We even had a sect of satanists or witches. I remember those kids because they used to terrorize the teachers by threatening their children.

I eventually graduated High School, and barely, by the skin of my teeth, because my math grades were so bad. I was hired by Junior Achievement to work in their offices in the city they gave me a scholarship to the local junior college, because we (or more to the point) my parents could not afford university.

I did a year in junior college and a year following that in Catholic Seminary.

You never know where I would have ended up had I been accepted to stay in Seminary. I would have become a priest in the Arch-Diocese of Miami.

There are a lot of stories here, during this period of life that I have already written about in the Pages section of the blog. I just needed to spit something out tonight.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries …

Courtesy: Flickr BillyPazionis

The sun is shining still at this hour. it was a beautiful day today. It was a little iffy earlier today, but the sun won out.

The week passed by quietly. We got to St. Matthias on Thursday night and Friday night I opted to stay home. The choice of television has been crappy at best. That makes staying at home boring. We have this huge cable system and all these channels and all they play is crap !!! Repeats of shoes that have been on over and over again. oh well…

It has been a quiet weekend. However I got out of the house earlier today to do some supermarket and Zeller’s safari. I needed some sox because I have been charging though all the sox I have in my chest of drawers. So it was off to Zeller’s to do some shopping. They did not have any of the ones I wanted so I settled on a Sportek 12 pack. As I tooled around the men’s wear section there were a few things that I would have liked to buy, but I have a budget this month, until my payments from Ebay hit the bank, I can’t spend outside my budget.

On the way back I stopped off at Provigo for a little supermarket safari. I didn’t need much because hubby shopped the other day for dinner stuff and I bought an assorted bunch of munchy foods the other day. Hubby has found that IGA is the better supermarket when it comes to fresh meats so he has been going to Alexis Nihon for groceries which is a couple blocks up the street from home.

I came home and we farted around for a little bit and decided to take an afternoon nap. Which was very fruitful. Now it is after 7, and I missed a meeting because hubby got up before me and I had had time, but I wanted to go back to sleep to finish the dream I was having, and that went very well.

So that has been the weekend at a glance …

Tomorrow is my last class /exam in Psychology. It is also my very LAST class in my educational career. Tomorrow night I will officially end my educational career. I’ve done all my studies and hopefully I will do well on the exam. I have to look over my notes and re-read a chapter or two tonight.

It’s all good.


Blue Thursday …

Courtesy: ChristopherJordan

The week is progressing ever so slowly. And it rained today. Real sustained rain for some hours, and into tonight it was just a little drizzle. Another one of those, I really don’t need it, but I will carry an umbrella anyways… Pain in the Ass !!!

We are waiting on our final grades on our short essay paper the week. As tonight was the deadline to electronically turn in ones paper. Mine was in on Sunday, which afforded me some extra points for early submission BOO-YAH !!!

Monday is my final exam in Psychology. And boy did the prof take the easy route this time. No multiple choice. No, on this exam he gave us ten questions from the book that we had to answer, and on Monday he will choose a few of the questions that we will then have to regurgitate back to him. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy !!!

I am finding my groove now that school is now at an end. I have to get out of the house for at least an hour a day, to do something with my life. And as Oprah says, “if you are waiting for someone to come and do it for you, you might as well stop waiting. You are responsible for your own life.”

And to that end I think I have some idea of what I want to do. I’ve been reading Kyle Shewfelt’s Blog. Kyle is a Canadian Olympic Champion and he lives in Calgary and I’ve been following him for a long time, since the last Olympics he competed in a few years ago. And his big deal this season is training for a marathon (42.2 kms) coming in May 27, 2012 – The Calgary Marathon.

Running Blog Journal 2012 …
Entry #1

Now, I am in no shape to run a marathon … not right now. And I have time on my hands and summer is coming and Montreal is quite picturesque in the summer. There are plenty of places to run to, around, in and towards. All I need is a pair of running shoes and some summery clothes. Maybe I can enlist my friend Jon in this – I haven’t spoken to him in a while with school and all he’s very busy working on his PHD !!! I have friends in high places…

So I think I want to start running. I am not getting any younger and I need to loose some weight nonetheless. And my doctor would be totally down with me getting fit at my age. And also, the training schedule and the lessons you learn as you learn to run are priceless. Kyle has changed so much over the last six or so months and I want to experience this for myself. So with that I am taking charge of my life, so it seems.

I spoke to friends about places to visit over the next few months. I am banking on a trip to South Africa at some point to see my friend Jorge. He gave me an invitation, I just need to make it happen. During Lent, my friend Vic went to South Africa for a six week retreat and he had a wonderful time. I imagine what it would be like to run in South Africa … THIS would be REALLY Sweet !!!

Now that summer is coming – the Tams may be starting up. Which is a Sunday afternoon event that happens every weekend at Parc Mont Royal. There is another name, but it escapes me. At the base of the mountain on Parc is a statue that was renovated last year where they come to bang their drums, dance, and gather in a non threatening way. And after you’ve had some time at the tams you then climb the mountain up to the cross and lookout and then by the chalet house and back down. It is a day event.

The first year I was sober, I did it with  my sponsor, but we did it in the middle of the night in the dark. I bring newcomers up there as a sober activity. i even bring friends who visit from out of town to see this beautiful place.

Times are tough for so many and grasshopper is having a hard time and I try as I might to help him see the other side of things but in the end, it is all about powerlessness over people, places and things, and sometimes that lesson can be a bitch. So anything I can do to keep his spirits up will help him. And me too…

We hit St. Matthias tonight. And one of my friends got up there and knocked it out of the park. We were upstairs because of a church bazaar so the room was packed, cramped and the heaters were on high and I was sitting by the window and the radiator was on full blast, and I was like Really! REALLY !!!

The month is progressing along with step 5 from the book. Today’s reading talked about Freedom. The freedom one gets when we share our lives with ourselves, God and another human being. Once you start to work of clearing the wreckage of your past – we become free. All that junk we were carrying around gets put away once and for all, (and that may take some time) but in essence the journey begins towards freedom.

I hope you all had a great day. Where ever you are.

Comment, Like and Subscribe … as Rolly says … You know you wanna !!!


To Watch Loneliness Vanish …

Courtesy: Wrestlingisbest

Almost without exception, alcoholics are tortured by loneliness. Even before our drinking got bad and people began to cut us off, nearly all of us suffered the feeling that we didn’t quite belong. Either we were shy, and dared not draw near others, or we were noisy good fellows constantly craving attention and companionship, but rarely getting it. There was always that mysterious barrier we could neither surmount nor understand.

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

Life takes on new meaning in A.A. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends — this is an experience not to be missed.

As Bill Sees It Pg. 90

It is raining, well, it is trying to rain. And you know, here in Montreal, it never really rains for long, if it does at all. It was a drizzly day today. The kind of drizzle that makes you have to carry an umbrella and for the most part not use it because it is just a pain in the ass, but you carry it nonetheless, because you never know if the sky is going to open and real rain fall from the sky.

The week had a great start. My Ebay purchase is in the pike to me as I write tonight. On Sunday I filed my last paper for Geography, my prof is going green and wanted us to submit electronically, instead of going to school and handing in a paper copy. We are now waiting on final grades for our final exam and final paper this coming week. On Monday I had my last Psychology class, and next Monday is our final and I will then be finished with my educational career FOREVER !!!

Today was a good day. I wandered to the church as usual. I have a few MP3’s on my phone of “E.P.C.O.T.” (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). I downloaded some of the ride music, like from Horizon’s ( that no longer exist), Imagination, Spaceship Earth and so forth and so on. I have them on loop and they play over and over again… So that has been my soundtrack as of late.

I finished set up by 5, because my girls come early to read their books. And tonight one of our women brought me a gift of a $15.00 I-Tunes Card as a thank you for just being present. Very cool.

The meeting was packed. We sat 42 folks. And we read from As Bill Sees It, from the above noted reading. Everybody in the room got to share, sans myself. My sponsor noted that newcomers take precedence and since I had ten years that it was ok that I did not get to share. So I will do that here.

Early on in my alcoholic career I always surrounded myself with people, be they friends, acquaintances, or allies. I never drank at home, it was always done in a club, with music, drag queens and club kids. And that life lasted long into my twenties. As long as I was young and pretty I was fair game.

Then the series of life tragedies came my way and life got ugly. Still in my twenties my diagnosis turned me from a pretty boy, into pariah overnight.

I became “other.” Something not to be touched or acknowledged. But still the drinking continued. I went from partying in the presence of friends and fellows, to partying on the periphery wanting so much to be part of, but knowing deep inside that I would never be ” Part Of ” ever again.

It was good that at that point I got sober. Because I was terribly lonely and if the fellows who came into my life during that period had not, I surely would not be here today.

That first few years of sobriety were years of heartache and pain. Queens can be very catty and mean. And they made it very difficult to maintain, but I did it just to spite them. I was not One of Them. I wouldn’t call that first sober community fellowship. And I think that those first four years were all about staying sober on the periphery. And I think that’s why I went out …

By the time I was partway through my SLIP, I had moved back to Miami Beach and I was well into my 30’s now. I drank to fit in. To be part of. But it was a lonely slog. I wasn’t 21 any more, I was defective and I was as far from buff, beautiful, and brawny as I could be. But still I kept at it, partying in the club with the big pretty boys and I was alone in a crowded room. It was a terribly lonely existence.

I had very few friends. And there was nobody there to take notice that I was so lonely. It was just me and an empty studio apartment. I don’t know who it was that poured me into a taxi and brought me home week in and week out after blacking out at the club. I never figured that one out.

But loneliness would come to an end. And thank God it did.

Someone up there was watching out for me. Maybe my landlord, or the man who gave me something to do with my down time. I later learned that he was sober some time, when I finally made it back.

When I first hit that 10 p.m. meeting, my friend Fonda welcomed me and took me in and then the group took me in and I became “One of them.” It was good that the meeting was ever night, at the same time at the same place. Because it gave me some place to go every night. And after every meeting there was fellowship. We broke bread together almost every night. They kept me on the straight and narrow for a good long time. It being December and all …

And that went on for the first few months until I decided to move here.

And once again, I got involved in fellowship. I met my next sponsor and we took together like best friends. We did everything together. There was not a night that went by that I was alone or lonely. And I was grateful for that gift.

But one night my sponsor had an ego attack, and our relationship ended quite abruptly. Sad, that in sobriety, how hard people fall when their ego’s come to bear.

I have been part of the same fellowship for more than 10 years now. With the dawn of social media I am never far way from another alcoholic, either by phone or by Facebook or at a meeting. And I like it that way.

It is a gift to sit in the same room week in and week out for years and years because I get to see newcomers come in and get sober. And they come in and they are lost, and at some point they “GET IT!” And the elevator goes to the top of the tower and the light comes on and they get their spiritual experience. The first of many to follow.

We get to see 40 plus people come to the meeting every week. And we hear them and watch them and we care for them, because we are community.

It is an experience that must not be missed…

It was a good day, and a good night was had by all.

Stick with the winners, my sponsor shared tonight. I’ll take that …

Good night from Montreal.


Tuesday Thoughts …

Courtesy: RawrDaniel

There is a chill in the air and it was a grey day today. It spitted misty rain all evening and we are sitting at 9c at this hour. They say it’s gonna rain …

Tonight I won my EBAY item that I had bid on like a mad man over the past week.

Funny that, I posted a bid and the item went wild with other bidders, but I just had a feeling. So I punched in enough money that I would carry the listing all the way to the end. And so it went, the price remained steady for a couple of days and then someone would challenge my bid, and I would crank up my bid by $10. Every time someone else bid, I cranked $10.00 more.

At the end I bid a total of $160.00 for a pair of boots I have been looking for, like forever. I won with a total price of $105.50. And I know the person I won these from, he is a fellow blogger. I am one happy camper !!!

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

The week started off with a bang. It feels very good to be financially secure for the first time in a long time. My M.I.L. is not doing very well after hip surgery, and she is in a short term care facility and my F.I.L. is all by himself, so hubby is going to go visit him soon for a few days to sort him out and make sure he has everything that he needs and that he is not alone. Hubby’s brother and family live in Ottawa as well, so they are going to triangulate Dad’s care so he’s not alone for a long time.

I cranked through my second Psychology exam and passed it. Last night we had class and one more next week and then the final exam on Monday the 14th. Tomorrow is my final exam in Geography. I still have to finish writing my Colony Collapse Disorder Essay. That’s due on the 9th.

There are huge stacks of exams sorted all over our living room floor as hubby’s grading contract is coming to an end, and he had hundreds of exams to grade and sort this past week. He finally finished the grading and got the grades in last night.

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

The great coffee drama is over …

Over the past few days I have been writing here, much to the consternation of a few folks over at F.W.E. And it all came to a head yesterday when a member dropped off new keys to me for the cabinet. And once again I got scolded like a child for writing on my blog. I am 45 years old and if I wanted to be scolded for being myself, I would move home. I don’t need to be scolded by anyone.

So I was finished with them. I came upstairs and went on Facebook and deleted everybody from my sober Montreal circle. I un-friended 10 people and turned off subscribers. Then last night I asked grasshopper to drive me to drop off those keys to said member this morning.

I wrote a termination notice, signed it and put it and the keys in an envelope and delivered the package to the matriarch early this morning. Last night I had a long talk with my sponsor about this whole debacle. And he is of the mind that there are some people who go to that meeting who say they are sober, but in real life they are miserably abstinent and not very sober. And that I don’t need that kind of drama in my life and that I still had a home group where people love and need me … So I turned in my keys and ended my relationship with Friday West End.

So I have to find a replacement for a Friday meeting and I will probably substitute Thursday Night St. Matthias right down the street from here in stead of a Friday night meeting. Because traveling to the butt end of NDG West End is a bus ride from hell and getting back is a pain in the ass. Hopefully my sponsor will want to hit Chateauguay one Friday night here and there. We haven’t been there in a long time.

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

This afternoon I got out of the house earlier than usual, because I figured that after knowing folks come to the hall for 5, that I would make sure that the room was set up by 5 tonight. Well, it was 10 past 5 when I finished up. But nobody showed up until around 5:30.

We packed the house and sat 40 folks. We read from the Big Book, and the last story in Edition #4. “AA Taught him how to handle Sobriety.”

After the past couple of says, when it came time for me to share, I just passed because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say, and when that happens, I’d rather keep my mouth shut and listen. The shares went all the way around the room, everybody got in tonight. We had a handful of newbies take chips. It was a good night overall. Everybody was happy and joyful.

I went, I did my service and people were grateful for the meeting.

They say that every day we should be grateful for 5 things …

  • Hubby made a fantastic stir fry last night for dinner
  • It is Tuesday and I am always grateful for Tuesday’s
  • I rid myself of needless drama once and for all
  • Hubby is making a great dinner tonight
  • School is almost over
  • There is food in the fridge
  • There is a warm bed to sleep in
  • And a roof over our head

I have everything I need and a little more, thanks to Ebay and Ruff.

A good night was had by all.

Stay tuned, more to come…


Joyful Discoveries …

Courtesy: Sean Klein

“Fear of people and of economic insecurities will leave us…”

We read these promises at every meeting, well, not all meetings, but I hear them at least once a week in a meeting. It goes without saying that not all the promises come true right away, and for some, they might not come at all at first. But if you stick to the rooms and honestly put yourself into the steps, promises start to materialize, sooner or later.

This is my next INK project. I like it, but my artist has altered it a bit so that they are not the same. This is part of my summer project. It is a 4 hour job and at $100.00 an hour, may take a few sittings. I am in no rush.

Today’s Daily Reflection is Joyful Discoveries …

Great events for this recovering alcoholic are the normal everyday joys found in being able to live another day in God’s Grace.

Grasshopper would have read this reading this morning at the Wood meeting, so reiterating it is pointless. But I wanted to write my take on the reading for you.

This week has officially begun the next stage in hubby and I’s life. And he said to me that now we are in our forties we should be able to live comfortably and without stress. We’ve spent the better part of ten years in school collectively.

We both have several degrees under our belts. I saw a video last week by Philly D, who spoke about the top ten looser degrees you can attain in college.

Religion, Theology, English and Sociology were all in the top ten looser degrees.

Was it all a waste of time and money, I guess you answer that question by what the degree has done for you since graduation. None of my degrees have done one iota thing for me since spending all those years in school, spending countless amounts of money to attain them.

For Hubby, he is an English Major, a Sociology Major and a MA in Sociology that is coming over the summer. They say if you get an MA you have a better chance at a real paying job, than without one. And as we being this next stage of our lives getting a good job over the summer is going to be the big payoff.

When I wrote The State of Our Union some time ago I set forth the plan of action that was going to take place this summer.

I have been pondering what life is going to look like as I count down the last days of my educational career. And if you watch enough Canadian television and see all those commercials for Newfoundland and Labrador, it speaks of making sure that one chapter of your life is exciting…

That’s the plan.

I’ve learned a lot of things over the last ten years. I am still vulnerable. And I still feel. And tonight I felt angry and stepped on. And almost resentful. The resentment from tonight flitted through my brain on the way to the bus stop and I dismissed it after it settled in my brain, because he is not worth my time…

I have heard friends talk about learning to love themselves. To grow past hurt feelings from family and friends. Learning how to break free of that which brings us down and to break from that and move on into a life one would be proud of.

I think I have attained a modicum of pride for what I have achieved in the last ten years. And I have poured all that knowledge out here for you to read. There is, I think, a healthy dose of pride one can have without getting a big head.

Hubby has attained such high high’s in the last seven years that I just can’t begin to explain to you how hard he worked to get here. He has truly trodden to road of happy destiny, and with my father in laws donation to his education yesterday, it just made the uphill climb that much sweeter.

A few of my friends have had the opportunity to travel to far flung destinations around the world in the past few months. And their stories have inspired me to dream big for myself. I have an outstanding invitation to go to Cape Town South Africa when I can get there. And come hell or high water, I will get there one way or another. Kilimanjaro is also on my Africa to do list. As well as a gorilla trek. I don’t know if that will ever happen, one destination at a time.

I finished reading 1000 Years Of Sobriety last night. 20 stories of folks who are 50 plus years sober. It is quite an amazing read, to hear the stories of people who have been sober longer than I have been alive. Where they came from, what happened and what they are like now. I know that I never want to drink again, because if I do, I may not make it back and from hearing the stories about drunks, slips, jails, institutions and insanity, I don’t ever want to go back there.

Grasshopper is making his own way into the world today. He has come upon one of the greatest mysteries of his life in learning some things about himself, and I must be here to help him along the spiritual path. We are all moving forwards in one way or another. I forsee life changing events coming over the next few months for us and for him.

And what a joy it is to be on this journey sober and joyous and free.

Discoveries are just over the horizon. I hope you will all stay tuned for the next chapter of the journey.

I always hoped that at ten years sober that something exciting would happen, I’ve been praying for it, and waiting patiently for it. Waiting for God to “HIT ME!”

One day at a time.

We’ve turned the corner and the world is our oyster. I can’t wait to share the future with all of you. Let’s see what we can do together.

Time for bed.

Goodnight.


The Miracle Is …

Courtesy: EErodaniell

The weather has been nippy for the last couple of days. We are sitting at 7c at this hour. Days have been nice and sunny with a breeze, but nights are still on the cool side, and they say rain is on tap for the next few days. The trees and grass really need a good watering. I’ve been noticing that the trees in the neighborhood have been slowly greening up. As the trees are coming back to life, so the seasons are slowly changing.

We are in the final three weeks of class. I have an exam on Monday night, my introduction and bibliography for my Colony Collapse Syndrome paper is due on Wednesday, and our final exam on Wednesday is on the 2nd of May, and the final paper is due on the ninth. The last Monday class is on the 14th and that is the final exam for Psychology.

I am working on a daily schedule to get all the work done and studying for exams and doing what I need to do everyday, so it’s all good.

There is an International HIV Conference here this weekend at the Queen Elizabeth that grasshopper is volunteering at. He came to the meeting tonight. It was good to see him. He’s been so busy with life lately that I haven’t seen much of him in the last couple of weeks.

Lizzy was up and around this evening to bring me for set up. It seems that someone has been pilfering things from our cupboard, first it was a box of coffee cups and tonight we realized that our medallions were missing from where they should have been, somebody is stealing from us…

It was a packed house. We drained two urns of coffee and tea tonight. And I filled both of them full upon set up.

Our speaker tonight came from the Lachine area. Almost 9 years sober. Tonight our speaker took us down a short road of qualification. If it weren’t for cocaine, he probably wouldn’t have reached his bottom as hard as he did.

Denial of the problem is so prevalent in the rooms. But eventually we/he got to the point that yes, we are addicts and alcoholics and our lives have become unmanageable. Lucky to be old schooled from Beaver (treatment house), his minder drilled into him that

“NO, you can NEVER drink again.

And SLIPPING is not an option…”

That is a good thought to remember, that NO we can NEVER drink again… not maybe, or someday or one day, but NEVER. He came into recovery via Beaver, but graduated into the rooms. And suffice to say, when he got here, he really did not want to be here, because surely he wasn’t “one of us!”

Like a good newbie, he did what he was told. He went to meetings, sorted out his life, cleared away the wreckage of his past, and began to work with others. This is the recipe for success.

It has not been an easy road for our man. Yes, when we get clean and sober, life begins to get better, but that is no guarantee that everything in our lives will magically change. Life happens. People get sick and they die. That is one fact that we really are not prepared for early in sobriety. Loss, of any kind.

But today, our man is caring for a mother who is in the last stages of a battle with Cancer and today he can be there for her. And along with his family, they care for her and will care for her until she takes her last breath. And that is a gift of sobriety.

Because we know where things could have gone … thankfully they didn’t.

The take away from tonight’s share … PAY IT FORWARD.

If you’ve never seen the film, then put it on your Netflicks Queue.

Today our man does his meetings several times a week. He works his steps along with his sponsor and now his three sponsees. He does the work, so he can pay it forward to the men in his circle. You can’t reap the rewards of sobriety until you are ready to give it away.

It was good to hear someone get up there and talk about true gratitude in action. To see just how the program works in the lives of so many each week we come together there.

And he commented about an Old Timer Tommy M, who grew up and got sober here in Montreal in the 1950’s, today Tommy M is in his 80’s and in the book I am reading “1ooo Years of Sobriety” He asks the question:

“Does A.A. work ???”

Yes, it does work. If you do the work. Suit up, show up, work your steps, clear away the wreckage of your past and give freely of what you have …

It pays off in spades when you do something kind for someone else, just because.

At the end of the meeting one of our group members took a 5 year cake.

A good time was had by all. We had food, and conversation and we all went home fulfilled again.

What kindness have you done today?

More to come, stay tuned …


Growing Up …

Courtesy: Cameronjohn

The essence of all growth is a willingness to change for the better and then an unremitting willingness to shoulder whatever responsibility this entails.

As Bill Sees It P. 115

Sometimes when I’ve become willing to do what I should have been doing all along, I want praise and recognition. I don’t realize that the more I’m willing to act differently, the more exciting my life is.

The more I am willing to help others, the more rewards I receive. That’s what practicing the principles mean to me. Fun and benefits for me are innate results. Being a little kinder, a little slower to anger, a little more loving makes my life better – day by day.

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

Were you forced to grow up before your time? And how did that impact your life then, and how has that shaped the man/woman you are today?

There is truth in the statement that sick kids are forced to grow up much faster than their more healthier counterparts. I know that AIDS forced me to grow up very quickly when I was diagnosed, because I was facing my own death in short order. Thank God for good teachers.

But before I talk about that topic first the bullet notes for the day.

  • It is (5c) outside. A little nippy and it was cold in the hall tonight as well.
  • I left extra early for set up – and nobody showed up until 6 ugh !!!
  • My Geography Prof. lives in Westmount. He came upon me sitting outside the church on his way home from school. (busted !!!)
  • We will get another week extension on the mapping assignment (WIN!)
  • We sat 40 folks around the circle. Everybody got to share.

The shares went around the circle, and one of my friends spoke about being thrust into adulthood as a child and that experienced scarred him for life.

I’ve been thinking about the past for the past few days and nights. I’ve been dreaming about my grandmother and the house and events that took place in that house when I was a child. It is almost a physical place I can go in my head when I want a change of scenery. Hence my story …

Both my father’s parents were felled by strokes. A year to the day apart. My grandmother was struck down first. I was in 8th grade. It was 1981. My father took me out of school and flew me 1500 miles back to Connecticut to work on bringing my grandmother out of her stupor. Since I was the first born child and it was thought that my affinity with her would prove invaluable to them in rehabilitating her back to health.

It was a night flight North from Miami. The next morning they suited me up and took me to the hospital. I was not properly prepared. At All !!!

I walked in the hospital room, and there in a bed was a lump of a body. What was lying there was not my grandmother. (If I only knew then, what I know today, I would have known what to do) I did not recognize her, but upon seeing her in that moment, I collapsed to the floor and they had to take me to be examined because my head hit the floor none too gently.

It was believed that familiar faces could rouse stroke victims out of stupors. That affinity with certain people can do great things for someone so sick. Well, I must tell you, that is not true. At least it wasn’t true for my grammy. She had terrible brain damage. He entire right side was paralyzed. Her face was misshapen and she could not talk. The only words she remembered were shit, god dammit, and things of that nature. Grammy was not a swearer but it was all she had going for her.

Days went by, then weeks went by and nothing changed. What can you say for occupational therapy in the 80’s? Doctors did not know shit and there surely weren’t staff to do the job like they can today.

So you know, When things did not pan out, they sent her to a sanitarium and flew me home to complete my year at school. I was scarred for life. Over the next decade that she survived, she regained the ability to walk with a cane/brace. We eventually moved them both to Florida to live close to the family. Where I got to work with them as I was able. I was just a kid. What did I know about rehabilitation?

It was scenes like this that are scattered about my childhood all the way into my teens. Taking care of the home. My brother. My parents. Myself.

I grew to become an all or nothing alcoholic.

When doctors told me that I was going to die, everything changed. I learned a lot of lessons from my teacher Todd. As I grew up, and learned lessons and did certain chores I expected praise and recognition. One of the hardest lessons he taught me was about expecting recognition. I’ve written about that lesson in the Pages.

I had to grow up. I had to learn how to take care of myself and in that vein, take care of others like me. Because I was learning from others as well. I had to change and accept whatever responsibility that entailed. It was do or die. And dying was not an option available to me. At least my handlers made sure I never went there mentally, or physically.

I got sober the first time during this period of time and I racked up 4 years of sobriety before I went out. Life had changed several times over during those four years, and I was not as connected to people as I was in the very beginning, and that lack of connection only exacerbated my slip.

When I returned from my slip, I went back to doing what I should have been doing all along. I reconnected. With old sober friends, and new sober friends. I was in my mid thirties and I had to make a choice, I could either remain static where I was and become stagnant, or I would grow up. When I realized that growing up was the only viable choice, I grabbed hold of that decision and went to town with it.

I made decisions in sobriety that brought me to this place I am in today. It has come to pass for me that growing up came in stages. I read the book, worked the steps, went to meetings and did things by the book.

After a period of study, I was given time to work out practically, what I had learned over the past couple of months or few months. And over the last ten years of sobriety, you read the book, go to meetings, work your steps, you get time to work them out in real time in life. And that process has led me to this point in my life.

I have tons of memories in my head. I also have a list of lessons that I have accrued in my time bank to apply to my life today. And I am willing to do whatever it takes to grow. Because growth is eternal. You can either choose to be stagnant and get complacent, or you can choose to learn and grow and evolve.

I don’t expect big things. But I have gained grace and peace. I do what I can every day to do the right thing. I pray and I work. I work with others, and I do service twice a week on Tuesday and Friday nights. I sponsor people near and far. And I work with my sponsor when I can.

I am still alive almost 18 years later, I guess I learned something.

The most important growth I can speak of is my marriage. Because I learned how this boy that I was grew into the man I am today. By learning how to love another, and to put another’s needs before my own.

That’s the whole focus of Stage Two Recovery. How to have a real, loving, sober relationship with another. That’s what was in the book I spoke about a couple of weeks ago here on the blog.

I am kind today. I am gentle with others and myself. I am slow to anger, I don’t get angry usually, even at the grocery store when the fast cash is backed up ten deep and I really need to get out of there …

I went back to school in sobriety and racked up two degrees. I will finish my educational run this May. When Hubby and I will move into a new phase of our lives together. And it will be great.

I can’t say that there isn’t a little fear there. But I am promised that if I stay on course, and do the next right thing, then good things will come to pass.

What did you do today to grow ???

Welcome to all you new folks.

More to come, stay tuned …


Fundamentals …

Courtesy: stuart parmley tgkw flickr

It has been a quiet start to the week. We are sitting at (8c) at this hour, but it feels much cooler out. I am still wearing my winter jacket at night. It was a beautiful day today, with lots of sunshine.

The week began with a trip to Dorval and Sunday Breakfast. It was a packed house as usual and breakfast was much appreciated. Grasshopper and I have made Sunday mornings part of our meeting routine.

Classes are moving along quickly. Term ends on May 14th. So we are grinding to the finish with a paper due in two weeks time, and then our second test of term, the last test will fall on the last day of class (for Monday classes). We had a mapping exercise in Geography last week, which went well because we got to work in teams.

Today I got out of the house earlier than usual because some of our women are coming earlier and earlier to do their book studies, so I opened the room 45 minutes earlier than usual. As long as people are coming, we will open the room accordingly.

I was supposed to chair tonight, but it was decided to push ahead with rotation and so reluctant sponsee chaired the meeting using my topic that I had prepared, I had an idea of what I wanted to share, but the discussion went around the room on the concept of God. It seems that God – Good orderly Direction – or Group of Drunks – is a common theme at our meeting. People seem to like the topic.

We sat 40 folks – the room was full and the share went almost all the way around the room/table.

Some of the ideas from the reading are as follows:

  • Love your neighbor – Where else but in A.A. could you find half a million people dedicated to love, and really love each other? The love of one alcoholic for another is something never seen before in the history of the world.
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – In A.A. we do unto others what’s already been done unto us. We help others as we have been helped.
  • As you think, so shall you be – I grew to believe that every deed we perform in our entire lives is just the outward manifestation of an inward thought.

I was chatting with one of our women before the meeting, because she commented on how much work goes into getting a meeting rolling each week, that I’ve been doing this for more than ten years now. Every week, without fail.

I guess at this stage of the game, I am going back to the fundamentals, since we are approaching this transition period in our lives here at home. And with not knowing what I will be doing next, the best thing to do is to keep doing what I know how to do best. Set up, make coffee and be present for others. Keeping it simple is the best way to keep things simple.

It was a good meeting, a good night was had by all.

Maybe I will have more later, we’ll see.
More to come, stay tuned …


Doorways …

Courtesy: Stormyspics

What a messy day it has been. First a little snow, that fell all day into the night. It was snowing when I left for the church and I was covered in snow by the time I got there. I had to make a few stops on the way at the mall on the way.

Numbers tend to fluctuate when the weather is dicey. Weather is the biggest excuse we hear when numbers are low. Oh, it’s too hot and I walked by a terrace and I had to stop. or Oh, it is too cold and snowing that I could not make it…

I bet you went to any length to get a drink in the winter.

BUT, I cranked out set up and had plenty of time to relax before the meeting, I was hoping to see my groupies show up early to read their books, but no one came. We were missing a good number of people. On the flip side, we had good numbers. We sat 25 around the circle. A number of old timers came to see my sponsor take his 22 year cake. The room was full of experience, strength and hope.

We had some newbies there for their first meeting. And we shared on a story from the back of the 4th Edition … “Me an alcoholic???” Lots of identifying, and the whole circle got in to share.

We are up another member tonight. And we had two milestones. One member took his 6 month chip from me and he asked me to temp sponsor him. And secondly my sponsor took his 22 year cake. He is an amazing man. He is unassuming and quiet. He doesn’t bang you with the book, but he gives sound and sane advice. That’s why people respect him so much as I do. He’s never given me a bad bit of advice and he has helped me through some serious events in my sobriety.

Since our group is growing so big, we began to offer temporary sponsorship to our guests. We used to do that many years ago, but that kind of died, and has been revived since our group is growing and we have a bumper crop of newbies in the hall each week.

School starts tomorrow night… UGH !! Kill me now !!! Hopefully this choice of Geography will be a hit and not a miss. I hope the experience will be of use and not a waste of time. I have psychology on Monday nights. This is just something to keep me busy and out of the house for a few hours each week.

The snow turned to rain as the meeting began. And it is cold, so there was a solid layer of ice on the van windows when we left to come home, so we had to scrape windows before we set off. And it is supposed to rain into the night. UGH !!!

Not much else to report here. More to come, stay tuned…


Walk the Line …

Courtesy: Splitminded

It is a brisk (-7c) out. The snow never came and more may be in the mix for later on in the week. It got progressively colder as the day waned on.

The weekend was uneventful, and Quebec City came through and our financial aide came over the weekend. All the bills got paid and the rent and my tuition for the winter term that begins on the 18th.

It was an early call this morning because I had to go to the clinic to drop labs and one of my friends was going the same direction (to the clinic) to drop his labs, we got to go by car, which made it an “In and Out” visit. It took all of 20 minutes from door to door – which gave me plenty of time to go back to bed for a disco nap before setting out this evening.

It was a usual Tuesday night. People came early to read. And one of our members, I found out tonight, that she’s only lived here for a few months and we chatted about history and what Montreal was like hundreds of years ago. She asked me to take her on a personal tour of the city from my point of view. That should be good fun. I don’t know if I want to do all that walking in the cold.

And yes, they say that “no self respecting Canadian would complain about the cold!”  A really good tour of the history of this city is better in the summer when the sun is high and the skies are blue. Because you start in Old Montreal and end up on the mountain and the Oratory. I thought to give her a book that was passed on to me by my great aunt about Mere D’Youville. One of the first saints of Montreal.

We sat the circle and a good number of side seats. We read from the back of the 4th edition of the Big Book, a story called “Listening to the Wind” about a native woman who gets sober after a long and arduous battle with addiction.

The shares went almost all the way around the room, but we ended short because we had two cakes tonight. One a nine year and the second a 22 year.

A good time was had by all.

Not much else is going on. So maybe more will come later.