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Snow

Tuesday … Rambling About Many Things … Insight About Others

tumblr_lbphrtqohD1qbs0f7o1_500 noneedtoaskmynameCourtesy: The Gargoyle – Nothing like a little vertigo !!!

We thought that the weather was going to get better, tonight, it snowed. It was cloudy when we started the meeting, and there was inches of snow on the ground when we left. Tomorrow’s hopeful positive digit temp, has been brought down to a solid zero (0c) tonight.

As of late, children have been in the news, and not for good reasons.

In What the Fuck News …

The first case, a mother was convicted because she poisoned her son with salt, that eventually killed him, all the while she was blogging about his illness, prior to his death …

A second case involves a Muslim mother, (we know this because proceedings are having to be translated into Arabic) she beat and starved her two twin daughters to death. A gruesome story, and the other day the judge stopped proceedings to ask the mother Why did you do that ???

I mean, WHAT THE FUCK OF IT ALL ???

A third story involves “Free Range” parenting … Two small children, were allowed to walk to the neighborhood park by themselves. Because the parents practice “free range parenting.”

The police were called and the children returned home and six police cars followed, with C.P.S service workers to indict the parents for child neglect… Meanwhile, the kids are playing outside in the yard, unsupervised, and the neighbors are going MADDDDDDD ….

I’ll tell you a secret story about children …

When I was in grade school, we used to be bused to daycare after school, my brother and I. We did that for a long time, but at one point, I was like, NO MORE DAYCARE … In those days we had private bus service with door to door transport for our neighborhood.

I forced the driver, to take us home, instead of day care. I was probably not more than ten. This was in the 1970’s in Miami. After that day, my parents gave me a copy of the house key, and from that point on, both my brother and myself went home after school, forever more. Nobody noticed. Well, the spinster lesbian couple across the street knew we were there alone, and minded us if need be.

Nobody blinked an eye, there was no C.P.S issues. Who would you call (back then) to report two small kinds home alone for a few hours, until their parents got home from work? I learned responsibility, I took care of the house, I cleaned, I cooked, (we got our first microwave oven) that was a bit of excitement.

I understand the safety issues of allowing children to navigate neighborhood streets alone, in today’s day and age. There are too many perverts, and sickos on the street and you never know who is going to harass, or kidnap and kill your children if you don’t have eyes/hands on them 24 – 7 …

Let’s just leash them and let them wander around the yard aimlessly, or keep them locked in the house or at some day care center where someone can watch them while the parents can’t !

It is not the same world I grew up in … sadly !!!

I just had to get that off my chest …

I’m better now

So it snowed. We sat a good group. We finished Bill’s Story, via Joe and Charlie.

This is important, why?

I’ve spent thirteen years reading the Big Book, over and over and over. I worked my steps several times and I am in them right now. Last year, our Sunday night group, finished a cover to cover read through the book as well. That took more than a year of Sundays.

There are meetings all over the world, and I know that many meetings use the book as source.

You could go from reading the book, to reading a chapter, to reading a page, reading a paragraph, and finally, reading a sentence. Each chapter/paragraph/word leads into the next in a specific way. Each chapter has its job, to tell you something certain, factual. Which leads into the next chapter, which tells you something certain and factual, so forth and so on.

You could parse down to sentences and words.

For the last year, I have had the honor of working with sponsees. Each of them see me weekly, for a chat/read/discussion. Over the past year, I’m reading the book four times, at the same time, with four guys. Separately.

Like I said I’ve read the book. But it wasn’t until I read it with a sponsee, that words began to jump off the page at me as we read together. I saw things, and realized things, that I had not, in the past. I’m fairly certain, that after spending years reading the book myself, with others (in a group setting), I learned something. So that wisdom was in my brain,

The first section of the book hasn’t changed in over seventy five years, so after so many years, we should have been able to memorize the front of the book. I do know certain sections by rote. And I know the rest of the read, because I’ve read it so many times now.

Nothing will guarantee us sobriety, like working with another alcoholic.

I mean, that’s how it works, doesn’t it?

I am working with a new guy and he is concerned that I should be getting paid for what I am doing in the meeting, and in working with him. I don’t think I explained how that works very well. Someone has to get paid for working with others, he asked ? I gave him his Big Book, and stuff to read, on the side, (we give books to newbies) better they go home with someone, rather than sit in the box collecting dust.

Tonight we heard Joe and Charlie talk about these insights from the book, in the chapter called, “Bill’s Story.” The steps hadn’t been written yet, as the book had not been thought of when Bill got sober in the beginning. But in writing Bill’s Story, the steps are written out. He tells us the steps he took to get sober. Those steps originated in Ebbie’s witness of the Oxford Group, Ebbie told Bill about getting sober himself, and they worked through the One, Two, Three Shuffle.

Bill wasn’t having any of that Religion Shit.

But he came around when ( in squiggly writing ) the book says, “Well why don’t you find a concept of your own ?” With that statement, Bill got on board. He then tells us how he saw, and understood the rest of Oxford’s Steps and how he turned their short list of proposals, into the twelve steps as we have them today.

Funny how Bill negated all that religious shit, when he got sober, but as he sat writing the book, he had religious men, who were advising him on spiritual matters.

And that’s the God’s Honest Truth.

There are those issues that split many people along fracture lines.

  • Religion
  • God
  • Spirituality
  • Faith
  • Practice

The concept of God is problematic. God is problematic. So find your own, but there lies the contradiction between the Big Book, and As Bill Sees It.

It reads: “You can find a concept of your own, whatever works for you is good, then the reading goes on to say, all that is well and good, but in the end it always comes back around to God.”

Well, fuck me sideways on Tuesday !!!

When we get sober, we get new hearts, new eyes, new livers, and new lives. The longer you stick around you get to polish the temple of God we inhabit and so on. The longer you stick around, the more we learn, and that knowledge comes to bear when we sit down with another alcoholic, and do The Work together.

It can be that good !!!

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Boy Is It COLD Outside !!!

thunder-snowWe are sitting at (-14c / -26c w.c.) at this hour.

And Man, was it cold out there tonight. We had snow, and lots of blowing snow, and it was cold.

I departed early to meet my guys at the church, and it was a good thing too. There was three feet of snow piled up outside the church door, which meant I had to find a way to get the door open so that I could get at the shovel, to shovel the snow away from the door at least. There was no shoveling the walk, because snow fell all night long, and I made several trips outside to shovel the stoop so that people could get inside. There was too much snow at the end of the night and I had to jam the door shut and try to get it locked a secure when we left.

Aside from the shitty weather, people came. It seems that folks are deciding against going out when it snows this way. It is too much for our older generation to go out in this kind of weather.

We sat a good group and we read from the Twelve and Twelve, and Step Eight.

“Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”

It is a good thing, that so many of our men and women are “In” their steps. Everyone seems to be devoted to The Work. Going through the steps is a useful tool so that we hear the steps read, followed by a discussion. Whether you are at that point or not. It gets the creative juices flowing and folks get a preview listening to people, who are either at this point, or have been past this point in The Work.

A common theme that arose from our discussion was one particular thought:

When we make our list, of people we have harmed, and we write them down, we must be sure to put ourselves on that list as well.

When we attend the Roundups every Spring, we hear A.A. speakers, along with an Alanon Speaker. People in the rooms, are usually not familiar with those who have been affected by our alcoholism. That is another point of learning for folks who do the round up. We don’t often think of those we hurt until we sift through the steps. Most of us are so self centered that we only think about ourselves, and how others hurt us …

Another fellow shared that he sits in this place that “why should we forgive others, when certain people did hurt us, intentionally, and did it without any thought about the consequences?”

Forgiveness is about letting go and releasing us from that kind of thinking.

The read mentions the family dynamic. And my family was fucked up for a long time.

I’ve said before that when it was good it was really good. My parents provided well beyond what they could have. We had everything we ever wanted and more. On the flip side, when it was bad it was very bad. My father was a very angry, vicious, bitter and abusive man.

How does one forgive a man who abused you severely for decades, told you, you were a mistake, and should never have been born, then when finding out I was Gay, called me an abomination, and toss me out of the house because he could not have a fag under the roof. Then add insult to injury, when I got sick and almost died, that same man would encourage me to die quickly, and humiliated me before friends and guests over the holidays. He was an alcoholic. But he was also a man.

I put my family on the list. But since we do not talk today, and have not spoken in more than a decade, I have tried to make amends, but they fell on deaf ears. So fuck me right ???

All those people I hurt in the past are miles away, and out of sight and mind.

When I moved here, I began my life with a clean slate. I was sober. I have not hurt anyone in the ways I hurt those I did when I was drinking and using. Today, sober people make mistakes. We hurt one or anothers feelings and we correct those mistakes in the moment, or in the day.

My sponsor explained to me his life, which is very similar to mine. We did what we had to do to get and stay sober. We make no excuses, because we want to survive. Amends may come or they might not. It is about our frame of mind and whether we live in forgiveness, or reside in resentment and anger.

I choose to live in forgiveness.

With age comes wisdom. I know the story, forwards and backwards. I’ve studied all the characters involved. Some people choose to live in their ignorance and call it Christianity. I can’t help someone who lives in that space. I choose to call it what it is, and I let it go.

All I ever wanted from them is respect and my dignity restored. I did not get that. I won’t ever get that.

What I am, what I suffer from, and who I am married to is more important to them than WHO I am.

This is WHO I am, like it or not.

It was a great, honest discussion.

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

Over the weekend, I was watching an old web series made by a friend of mine who lives in South America, Venezuela, to be exact. He and and his merry bunch of moto bikers travel the mountains and he films it on a Go Pro. So I’ve got the entire collection from the last round. Then on Christmas, they visit shanty towns and those less fortunate, and the give Christmas presents to all the children along the way. It’s a very good thing …

So we have the video, and then, there is the music. I have a program that will capture music from video and creates Mp3’s. I spent the weekend, sorting through video and music and I created entire new music playlists. Then I upload them to my phone, and it lets me sort them into playlists and to sort them as to the order I want the music to play in.

Over all it was quite a successful weekend.

Everybody is happy, sober and doing well.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … City Under Seige …

tumblr_m6mdjyafaO1qcv34vo1_500 splitminded

Courtesy: Split Minded

It is Very Scary out tonight. People are invoking the memory of the Great Quebec Ice Storm. And tonight, it is looking very likely that conditions are going to go from bad to worse over the next forty eight hours.

We are sitting at (1c) at this hour. But let’s go back a couple of days.

Friday night it was cold, a little too cold. But we all traveled to the meeting. It was a mega packed house. Everybody is back from coming and going. Almost all of our youth stayed sober over the holidays, save for a couple.

The lesson here: Family is a good thing, in small doses, when we are in early sobriety. Not having an out or a meeting to get to is fuel for the fire. Spending too much time with your family can really fuck up ones sobriety, as was proven by some of our folks.

The government website, and tv people and everyone else has been waving the “WARNING” flag for the last week, warning us that a storm was coming. We expected snow to fall all day Saturday and we would then have a ton of snow on the ground.

Snowfall did not start until around 6 p.m. Saturday evening, and it snowed into the night, with just enough snow to create havoc on streets and sidewalks. I had shopped like a madman so I wouldn’t have to go out unless it was an emergency, because they warned us a BIG storm was coming.

Well, it never came.

Saturday night came, it was snowy and very cold.

Early in the evening we got a call from my in laws, hubby’s grandmother, his father’s Mother, had died early in the evening. She had Alzheimer’s for many years. In reality, she left the building ten years ago, when she lost her ability to remember us. She was in an assisted lock down care facility, because she was a wanderer. Several times in years prior, she found ways out of the home in the dead of winter on several occasions, and it was good thing that she didn’t get killed or freeze to death wandering around Ottawa in her nighty.

She ended up in palliative care last week, and in the end, they doped her up to make her comfortable. Once you introduce sedatives, morphine or dilauded to the mix, death is not far away. Nana gave up her body after years of being absent to her body. A sad end in any case.

So that happened early Saturday night.

Somebody was on a plow late Saturday night a few blocks from us East, and they hit a gas main, and it exploded. Which plunged our section of the city into darkness. The power went out just after 11 p.m. as the news was starting.

When the power goes out, we loose heat, water and electricity, in one swoop ! We were on the Western edge of the blackout. And thanks to text messages we figured out how far to the East the blackout extended.

My neighbors on our floor began to panic. Really, it was the first time I have seen my neighbors all at the same time. Nobody knew what to do because the lights went out. Like the super was going to be able to turn the lights back on just for the asking … um, NO !

We have an emergency generator that operates the elevators in case this situation occurred.

Someone was stuck in the elevator that is not served by the generator. We have two elevators. One gets juice the other does not. We got the car to ride down to the ground floor and those folks got out. And like good frantic people, some had to go out to see what happened.

I was like – it’s almost midnight, It’s freakishly cold out, and you want to go outside and find the damage? WTF ??? Why not stay inside where it is relatively warm and safe ?

I eventually went downstairs to talk to people on the ground floor to see what they knew, and I found a bunch of folks who lived farther east of us, from their dark buildings, sitting in the darkness in our building, hoping to find electricity and when they got here, we were dark too. So they sat in the dark for hours until the power came back on around 1:15 a.m. in the morning.

We decided that there was nothing to do but to sit in the dark and stare at a single candle burning. Just after midnight we went to bed, the heat had been off for a while, and it was starting to get chilly, so I piled extra blankets on the bed and we went to sleep. Only to be woken by the sound of appliances coming back on, the computer, and finally water being pumped up to our floor and to the ones above.

Massive amounts of people all over the city and far and wide went dark since last night, and crews are working double time to get them all reconnected.

I had an appointment with one of my guys early so I was up and ready to go before I needed to go. It had warmed up enough that the snow that fell, melted. Which in turn created standing puddles of water at every intersection. Water, Water Everywhere …

The house of slush and puddles …

I really need a pair of rubber boots. Because even with my winter boots, my socks got wet.

Imagine folks stranded on street corners not knowing how to ford the lakes of water without getting their feet wet, and trying to get around mounds of snow that had been plowed creating these lakes all over the place. The trek out was tedious.

I got a couple of emails from folks who were not going out. So I opened, chaired, collected the kitty and closed the church. My peeps helped out in between.

Step Four was on the table. Lots of good stuff.

I was afraid nobody would show up, because the weather was frightful. The ice and snow that had collected on the roof of the church fell in great bangs to the ground while we were inside. I could not shovel the walkway, because the snow had turned to ice. Everything was covered in ice. I could only shovel the stoop in front of the doors, so people could get inside.

A handful of hearty weather goers showed up. The hardened “In sleet, rain, snow or ice, nothing will keep us from a meeting” crowd.

Temps warmed up, snow is melting, there is ice covering cars, sidewalks, streets, etc …

We will drop to Minus (-10c) by tomorrow, and (-20c) on Tuesday. Anything that is not iced over right now, will be iced over very soon. Then things could get really dicey.

Getting home was a challenge. It took a bit longer than I had expected because of lakes, puddles, ice and snow. Freakish weather. A lot freakier than it was last winter.

It has been a freakish, sad, and tedious weekend to say the least.

More to come, stay tuned …


The Great Return

football-mario-gotze-fc-bayern-munich-munchen_3183483jersey cropA Very Mario Christmas Continues …

Guess what came in the mail today …

The excitement of the holidays has begun.

We welcomed friends who arrived from out of town, just in time for the Friday Night Meeting. People will be coming and going over the next two weeks, and our social schedule’s for those weeks have been already planned to maximize all the time we have together, before people go back to their respective schools across Canada and the United States.

In other news … Unlike the downtown core, where there is little snow piled up, basically because it has already been plowed away, up on the plateau where the Friday Night Meeting resides, there is snow piled up ALL over the place. Cars are buried, sidewalks are passable because the city workers plowed away enough snow to make them passable.

I suited up, with many layers, incorporating my new jersey, front and center, bundled up and headed out. There are 2 stations on the same line that are equidistant from home, one up towards the college, Eastbound, and the other down to the mall, three blocks Westward. I needed tickets in any case, and I can get them at the pharmacy, which is in the mall, above the train station.

So that was  my plan.

There were lots of people coming and going. People are certainly taking part in the holiday shopping binge. The mall stations were packed with merry holiday goers. So I made my transit, and I was amazed to see that my phone actually works on the train across both the Green and Orange lines.

They have been upgrading the cell reception and service across the core stations and it seems they tweaked the outbound stations on the Orange line, that I take to get to the meeting. For the second time recently, I got a live text while in the tunnel, with the train in motion. YAY Telus !!!

We sat a good group. A friend that I haven’t seen in some time, came, and actually, I had been thinking about him specifically, over the past few days, and I like to believe that when we think of people. we send a ripple out to the universe, and within hours, or sometimes, days, they show up.

The universe is funny in that way.

These are hard times indeed. Our folks have been coming from other places, and new folks that don’t usually come, have shown up and visitors from out of town are in for the holidays. We are happy to oblige. We talked about A.B.S.I. and “We cannot live alone.”

This particular reading speaks about steps four and five respectively.

“… We cannot wholly rely on friends to solve all our difficulties. A good adviser will never do all our thinking for us. He/She knows that each final choice must be ours. He/She will therefore help to eliminate fear, expediency, and self deception, so enabling us to make choices which are loving, wise and honest.” Grapevine August, 1961.

I remarked to a friend that there is always something to take away from every meeting. It might be a word, an exercise, or just an identification.

In the beginning, folks are very leery about step work. Especially when they consider the “what we think” daunting process of writing our step four. Then speaking it through Step five. Tonight, there was not one horror story. Many of us have done them, and found that they were truly enlightening, freeing and liberating. Everyone had a unique story to share on the topic.

THEN …

We heard about a writing exercise, that is said to be the most powerful writing exercise that is used at the famed Betty Ford Clinic.

  • Pen to paper – Write out the Third Step prayer
  • Pen to paper – Write out three lists: Resentments, Fears and Gratitude list
  • Pen to paper – Write out the Seventh Step prayer

We do this on a daily basis, first the prayers, then our lists for that respective day. You must put at least three things on the Gratitude list every day. And as we do this writing exercise, we watch how items move between the lists and eventually land on the gratitude list.

If you can commit to this writing exercise, it will prove to be a most useful tool.

Every little bit of experience pays off from time to time. Our young people can never get enough of stuff to do to keep them “on the beam.” And those of us who have some time and experience, adding a little something here or there tends to be very useful in our daily ritual of prayer and writing.

I am very keen on having the guys I work with follow simple suggestions.

Like I mentioned yesterday, eventually, for better or for worse, your sponsor should help you along with tools that will make your life easier, which is to say, a good sponsor knows what they are doing, and I work very hard to be that person. And If I suggest something to my guys, again, for better or for worse, following a suggestion usually ends up in the positive column often.

If I’ve done it, or heard that it can be done this way, or know someone who had results doing something specific, I do it myself, then I suggest that idea out, and I watch the results.

It all comes down to The Work …

You are either In It or you are IN IT TO WIN IT …

Which leads back to How it works, chapter five … If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.

Little did I know, how that sentence changes in literal meaning, the further IN IT you get.

I mean, this seminal reading we hear ad infinitum at every meeting, read over and over, day after day, night after night, these words now leap off the page when I hear them read. Because now I know what it feels like to go to ANY length.

Imagine it only took me eleven years to understand this.

It took another member who was IN IT to tell me that I need to be IN IT and how to do that.

What a rush …

I love my life. My friends. My fellows.

It was a love fest tonight, that will continue until January 5th.

I’ve heard about gratitude living, and there I usually roll my eyes …

But I truly know what that feels like and means for me.

We need people in our lives, but in the end, the final choices should be ours alone, given with good guidance from people we trust. Not having to pollute ourselves helps a great deal in learning how to make right and good decisions, soberly …

More to come, stay tuned …


Live Life With Enthusiasm

tumblr_l8yrf9m0gc1qb730lo1_500 thiswillnotdefineusCourtesy: This Will Not Define Us (Archives)

… And it snowed. it snowed so much, there is snow all over the place. Yes, it snowed, but it is not piled up like I have seen it in the past, where everything seems to be buried in snow. The one shit problem that comes with snow is the dreaded “Slush Puddle.”

That is the convergence point on every corner of every intersection. where snow has melted and now there are deep puddles of slush/water that one must trod through, jump across, or find another way around them.

Thankfully I have a sturdy dry pair of winter boots that make this possible.

It began to snow on Tuesday and it snowed until last night, when skies finally cleared. Light snow is falling again on the city tonight, and it isn’t as cold as it should be.

I had plans early this evening.

But First … This morning a friend of mine came over with a box full of clothes he was getting rid of, thinking that I might want some of them, and when he got here it was snowing, there was slush all over the place, and I really did not want to stand in the snow and sort stuff, so we decided that it would all go to charity instead.

I hate mornings, and I usually don’t do them, unless I necessarily have to.

So I went back to bed.

I set my alarm clock for my afternoon meeting with my sponsor, but I was secretly praying that I did not have to go out in this shitty weather twice in one day. While I was sleeping he texted me and cancelled, I got up, checked my messages and went back to bed.

Glorious !!!

We departed for our now, regular, Thursday Night Meeting. We are getting reconnected to folks that we haven’t seen in some time, and the thought came to my mind as I was standing in the hall that had I not met several of my friends who were present tonight, I would not be where I am today.

How do you convey that kind of gratitude to your friends ?

Tonight we got to hear another First Share, this time was a woman from St. Matthias.

I heard very familiar themes.

Alcoholic home, one or more parental unit caught in the disease.

Parents can be loving people, but hindsight teaches us just how unprepared they / one or the other / are prepared to be a parent. The disease of alcoholism doesn’t help these matters.

I’m not sure about my parents. My father drank, and if by providing bells and whistles, (when it was good) and providing a roof over ones head, there was always the flip side, the very worst of human emotion and anger pointed at the children and the mother.

I also heard the theme of (us) being labeled as less than, or not fully realized …

Father being the commander and chief and we are merely, lowly players.

My father was parent to a children he conceived, but for the whole of my life, in his house, he would abuse me saying that I was a mistake and should never have been born!

Was that the reason I became an alcoholic? NO

It seems, and I hear it from many people, that WE are the last to know or realize that we suffer from a disease, that disease is called alcoholism.

We, as children, see it in our home lives. We watch people drink, and some go to their deaths from the drink, and at some point we cross that invisible line between responsible drinking, and downright disgusting and compulsive drinking.

Ten are not enough, and one is too many

In the end, when we get sober and we truthfully look at ourselves, honestly, we find that the people in our lives when we were drinking, we hurt the most. And only now can we make living amends to those people by achieving sobriety.

She talked about early sobriety, and that she did everything that was suggested.

Not always knowing the WHY ?

In the beginning, most folks take one of many paths into sobriety. I’ve found wisdom in working with young men, who are early on. We take them in, we get them connected, and we provide infrastructure for them to keep them in the loop, so to speak. (At least I do that).

And it was done that way with me when I got sober.

I met all the right people at the right moments in my life.

If you are willing to go to any length to get and stay sober, you will, for better or for worse, do as you are told, and I say that in the most loving way.

All we have are merely suggestions. Take them or leave them.

I’ve found that people who take them (Suggestions), get and stay sober.
And those who leave them, and try to do this on their own, usually drink again.

Over time we learn the “Why” of “Why do we do the things we do?”

We did not get sober to be Miserable …

There are three types of alcoholics.

  • One group are those who will die from the disease
  • Another group who will go insane
  • And the third group who will live life with enthusiasm

I can safely say that for the most part, all of the people I know who are sober are in varying degrees of living life with enthusiasm, from early on to long time sober. I find it a grace to see someone who is graceful, full of life, and embraces enthusiasm like our woman does. And that is why we go to meetings, because we need to witness that, and in turn we get to give away what we have.

We show up, so you will show up, and in the end we are sober another night together.

I heard another trilogy of sound advice, that I tell others who are new …

  • Go to meetings
  • Call another alcoholic
  • Work with another human being

Nothing guarantees sobriety, like intense work with another alcoholic. It gets us out of ourselves, it shuts down the committee in our heads, and keep us Right Sized.

Many of us, come in shot to hell, miserable, with little hope, and dejected. Then there are those who come in with Egos the size of Mount Everest. That is a daunting task…

We learn many things as children and growing up, that we don’t necessarily understand at the time. I know for me that a number of things happened in my life, that I did not understand at the time, and I did not have words for them. And only now, in hindsight, I know what they were, and why I turned out the way I did.

So it goes for us as well. We learn either by teaching or default, how to grow up. And we are either stunted by it, or we are able to use what we are taught positively. An alcoholic in training doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt in many cases. We are usually destined for disaster …

Until we get to that day, You know the day I am talking about …

Yes, That Day …

  • The day we admit we have a problem.
  • And for the first time, the person who was the last to know,
  • Now knows what the problem is,
  • Who the common denominator is,
  • And what we call it.
  • The disease of alcoholism
  • And then we ask for HELP

We all get there, hopefully, and later on we are grateful for it.

Because now We own it, We speak it, and We name it.

  • And if we are lucky,
  • and the stats are very slim,
  • we get sober,
  • and hopefully we are in it to win it,
  • and we stick and stay.

I was thinking in the shower tonight that I believe that today, I have been sober a little longer than my drinking career lasted. At some point in sobriety we cross that line where we are sober longer than we spent drinking. I’ve given my liver a reason to live.

And pondering my retrospective, I have friends I am eternally grateful for, because it was by their example and their love and grace, that I am where I am today. I count a specific group of particular women who have changed my life in ways, I could not have imagined.

I did not know it could get like this. It is all down to The Work.

You got to be in it to win it.

I have friends who are in it, despite themselves, and they are just there. I look at my friends, some of them, and I have this knowing, I can see it. I was just IN IT at one point, then I heard a speaker light a fire under my ass, and I got IN IT TO WIN IT.

And that changed my life, and the lives of my guys by extension.

We live life with enthusiasm.

Because it is our right and because we’ve earned it.

It was a great night.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Welcoming the Maiden

tumblr_lcky3typQB1qbcq2wo1_500 simplypoohTonight we welcomed the maiden to Montreal. She tempted us this afternoon, and I knew it was coming, and I was rewarded with what I consider, one of the most important spiritual experiences of the year … The first snow.

We have spent the better part of the last eleven months watching the seasons come and go. Most of the trees are now bare, Fall has come and gone, so to speak. As I exited the church, I was greeted with snow falling on the yard. This is the night I have waited for, for months. I have the right music for the occasion, and I walked home and thought of the maiden and I welcomed her once again, in my heart of hearts.

We have shut the windows for the last time this season. And now the stillness and calmness and the quiet of winter descends upon us. And that is the quiet that one either appreciates or hates. Everything gets very quiet as snow begins to fall.

There are places, on any regular given day, that one can escape to for quiet. A church … A synagogue, A mosque. Montreal has such wonderful spaces that welcome people from all over the world and from our city as well.

Now the entire city becomes one GIANT cathedral where we can commune with the maiden for the season.

And in the past, the season has shown us that, by the end of the season, people are full and ready to get rid of the maiden as quick as she came in, to usher her out because the multitudes tired of her all too quickly.

Now the city becomes that church, that synagogue, that mosque. This is the season where one can go outdoors to listen to the silence. And in sobriety, I have learned to welcome, and also appreciate the silence. For it is in that silence that we find our heartbeat, our breath.

For without them, we are dead.

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

It was a quiet weekend. Really cool things are happening for our people, and for my guys. You never know when God is going to give you an opportunity to reach out in the way, that could only be described as a spiritual experience. And that is the kind of weekend it has been for us.

After more than a year of Sundays, our little group that could, completed an entire read through of the Big Book. The last Story in the Book, A.A. Taught him how to handle Sobriety … was our reading for tonight.

We have explored the entire book from cover to cover. In essence we have worked rooms full of people through the book and through their steps. We’ve read all the stories, good, bad and in between.

And on page 559, we get the final thought of the book, and a handful of folks picked up on it.

” We are taught to differentiate between our wants (which are never satisfied) and our needs (which are always provided for). We cast off the burden of the past and the anxieties of the future, as we begin to live in the present, one day at a time. We are granted “the serenity to accept the things we cannot change” – and thus loose our quickness to anger and our sensitivity to criticism.”

That’s the program of recovery in a nutshell.

Now is the time to grab hold of our people. Now is the most important time of the year. The silence descends. the cold gets colder, and people begin to fade into the background. It is well known that when it either rains or snows, people stay home, rather than venture out. That is a very enticing invitation to indulge.

The holiday season is ripe with temptation to drink again.

Now is the time to reach out to our elders, and those who are alone. Now is the time for you to reach out to your friends, fellows and neighbors. To make sure that they have food, warmth, and someone that cares about their welfare. Not that we shouldn’t do that every day, and for the most part, who has time to pay attention to anyone else but themselves?

We do.

That is our job.

I heard a common topic rise in the minds tonight. The most important two words in this story.

At one point we made a decision to stop drinking. Now the most important part of that decision is to

STAY STOPPED …

And how do we do that?

By going to meetings, talking to others, sharing with our sponsors, and each other. By suiting up and showing up as often as we can. Because most folks come because of their friends, to see them and to talk to them.

But selfishly, we need to show up for ourselves as well.

Because you may have time. But if you aren’t actively progressing through “THE WORK” you aren’t doing anything but warming a chair. And that untreated alcoholism will take you down, with a simple whisper … “aw, come on, you don’t need them, you are ok, it’s just one drink, nobody will know?”

It’s that little demon in our souls. The disease that says we don’t have a disease. The one that attempts to lull us into a false sense of security. It worms its way into our brains and takes root. We all have it. Some might deny it, but for many, tonight, we heard the warning.

I admitted that being not perfect is a good thing sometime. That little voice in my head is devious, vindictive, mean and angry. That fantasy of doing something really grandiose and stupid is always there. And the only way I get rid of it is my ability to talk, go to meetings, and talk it out.

Oh, did I mention that working with another alcoholic is the best guarantee we have against the drink?

But obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.

Staying Stopped is a job, a vocation. A way of life. In for a penny, in for a pound.

It is ALL or NOTHING.

How many people do you know who are all or nothing kind of men and women?

What are you going to do for your fellow men and women this season? Are you going to sit on your ass and do nothing, safely saying, aw, it’s not my problem? Or are you going to choose to step up and say, I can be accountable. I can be reliable. I can help you !

We are not meant to be alone. Especially now. This is the most miserable season for many an alcoholic. and especially those who come in prior to / or just after the holidays. So many parties, so much alcohol, so little time to ponder what to do.

If we don’t step up now, we may loose a good number of our folks to temptation.

For many of us we have learned how to handle sobriety. Now is the time to reach out to our fellows and lead them through the minefield that is the holidays, one day at a time.

When I got sober this time around, all I wanted was to never drink again. In a few weeks it will be thirteen years, I’ve kept that promise to myself and to God.

God has done for me what I could not do for myself.

” I get everything I need in A.A. – and everything I need I get. And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.”


Record Snowfall on Montreal Thursday …

tumblr_lm5d60Hzy01qzhzruo1_500 flickr jamesclear

Courtesy: Flickr James Clear

There is a lot of snow on the ground. 45 cm worth. The snow began overnight and fell into today. I went out to the Provigo a little while before I was to set out for the meeting, and there was snow everywhere. Un-plowed snow reached three and four feet deep in some areas. Crossing the intersection was a chore.

The plows were working overtime to get the streets passable. I was supposed to meet a friend at the corner to catch a bus at 7:20, so we set off around 7 to walk up to Cabot Square, it was slow going. Like I said, there was snow everywhere.

We waited a few minutes for the bus as it came up Atwater hill to the stop and several people got on. It was a short ride to Metcaf and Westmount has its own street plows besides the city plows and the streets were plowed the sidewalks were un-passable. So we walked up the street.

Outside the church someone was shoveling snow from the doorway, but between he and us was a 4 foot snow drift that we had to climb over to get to the sidewalk, my friend started over the drift and at the top he doubled over and fell head first into the snow rolling over his head – it was quite funny. I fell over the drift as well, I had snow all over me. Thank god nobody got hurt.

A small group of people braved the snow to come to the meeting. You know the die hard folks who brave a winter storm to get to a meeting. I knew the speaker and I got to thank him at the end. I heard many common themes come from him and the take away was this … The best idea to come from the Big Book, is the idea of a Power Greater than Ourselves.

I was watching Oprah’s Master Class last night and she talked about God, or a universal power that was greater than she. And she said that we grow up and go into the world – but we go out not alone. We can’t do it on our own. We need something bigger than ourselves to help us. And that is God.

Before many get sober, the idea of something greater than ourselves is foreign. But eventually, when we get sober, we learn about this concept and we come to find that power greater than ourselves.

Our caravan driver made it to the meeting, so we had a ride home and didn’t have to wait for a bus in the snow.

It was rather pretty out – freshly fallen snow piled high here and there. We hit a new record with today’s storm accumulation. 45 centimeters.

It was a good night.

More to come, stay tuned …


Doom and Gloom …

Courtesy: Tylerbear

They called for snow today. And so it snowed. Hard, fast and furiously. We were all waiting last night for the front to come, the warnings were all up and nothing happened until 3 this afternoon. From 3 until almost 9 it was still snowing when we got to the church.

It was a quiet day and grasshopper told me that he would drive to the meeting tonight and so he did. There is snow all over the place. We took back roads and got stuck behind several snow plows that were clearing the streets during the snow storm.

We arrived on time so that I could get the urns perking. I made two full pots of water for tea and a full pot of coffee, you never know how many people were going to show up for the meeting in the middle of a Friday night snow event. As it was the last Friday, we had a business meeting.  All the jobs were doled out and we are set for the next month. Our group Conscience is on March 8th and 7 p.m. for all of you who read here, write that date down.

At the end of the meeting I went back into the hall and told grasshopper to join the group since he was driving and helping me set up, he might as well join the group and so he said ok.

Almost all of the people who showed up for the meeting were all members save for a few people here and there. So it was like a private meeting for the members of the group. We number about 35 signed on members and most of them were present for the meeting.

Our speaker came from Loyola. Went to Loyola High, is a member at Loyola Church and also a member of the Loyola A.A. group as well. It was a good share. Our chair told us that his sobriety was well fought and well earned, and from his story tonight, Alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful and also very patient. His story was full of doom and gloom.

For a good ten years he was stuck in the revolving door of recovery, working, using, going to rehab such and so forth, but never really got it until a member told him that she was starting chemo for cancer treatment. And this thought came to mind “I should never give up !!!”

And for the group he listed the most important ideas from his program.

Firstly, the 4 H’s.

  1. Honesty – You have to be honest about everything
  2. Humility – You have to be humble and not let EGO take you to a place that you begin to “E.dge G.od O.ut.”
  3. Higher Power – Always connect with your higher power
  4. Helping others – When you don’t know what to do, work with others

At last he was redeemed and he got sober a few years ago. The good thing he had working for him was that he never gave up, and members from the Loyola Group never gave up on him. And after several failed attempts at sobriety, he was able to return and to work on all those things that he did not do the time before which gave him something to work with.

Just Don’t Take The First Drink.

We are powerless over the first drink.

In the end a good night was had by all. We also got a report about our matriarch and her husband. Ron had a bad week, and things did not look good, but as of today he was sitting up, eating food and very much present to his visitors. Which is a very good thing. But as always I would ask you for your continued prayers for both Linda and Ron. She did not come tonight, as well, we were missing many of our West Island members. I was all ready and raring to go with my old timer friend since I was reading Pass it On, I was hoping to have a conversation with him about the story. I guess that will have to wait until next week.

So Linda, we are all thinking about you and we hope you are well. We missed you tonight. I know she is going to read this tomorrow morning.

That was the night in brief.

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…


Friday snow day …

Courtesy: Flickr Janekrat

We are sitting at (-6c) at this hour, as Montreal begins to dig out from more than a foot of snow that fell throughout the day today. It has been a dicey day on the roads for many trying to get around amid a blowing snow storm, this was the first really big snow event of the season. We’ve had little snow here and there but nothing that dumped this much snow on the city.

We have spent the better part of two days scrubbing and cleaning the apartment from top to bottom. A few days ago, our next door neighbor found bed bugs in clothing in their apartment, and reported that to the office which then led to a mandatory cleaning/scrubbing/fumigation effort on three floors, the one  above, ours and the one below.

The apartment hasn’t had this level of cleaning in a while. We were up first thing this morning and waited for the men to come and do the deed. They came this morning and doused the apartment in poison spray. They doused the mattress top and bottom, and even the bed frame. They took it all apart and made sure they covered all the bases. They sprayed all the rooms and went from apartment to apartment. And in the end the apartment across the hall from us, showed a positive infestation of bed bugs, and since he did not prep for the spraying, he will be charged for the team that came in and cleansed his apartment.

We do not know how the bugs got into the building. If they came in via the mattress delivery team that dropped a mattress next door a couple of weeks ago, nor do we know how long our other neighbor has been harboring the little beasts.

But we haven’t seen a bug in our apartment in forever. So they did not have to douse all of the furniture.

We did a comprehensive laundry day washing all the bed linens and towels from the bathroom. We had to wait four hours before we could remake the bed and set it back in place, because it was all in pieces after the spray.

I only got a few hours of sleep last night, and with the excitement of the day, I did not get to take a nap until almost 4, and I had to be out of the house at 6:30 to take the train/bus out to the meeting because Lizzy decided not to brave the roads, as did many tonight, we only had a 35 person head count for the meeting tonight.

I got to the church around 7:15 and got the urns perking and set up the chairs, I set them all out because people usually sit in the same seats week in and week out. It was a good meeting. The artist spoke and I got to thank him.

We cleaned up the hall and a friend gave me a ride home instead of taking the train back into downtown. At first he was going to drop me at the metro and because we were chatting in the car, he drove past the stop and decided to take me all the way here.

The plows are all out working through the night cleaning up the snow that fell today. It is quite beautiful out. It snowed all throughout the set up/meeting. And when we left the hall the plow was clearing the church of the snow that had piled up.

A good night was had by all.

Only the brave and die hard members showed up tonight. It was good to get to a meeting and to have the space open for our folk tonight.

Time for din din. The news is on and I am pooped …

Goodnight from Montreal.

 


Christmas Day Roundup …

Courtesy: Iheefz

It is (-7c) out.

Another Christmas is in the books. The snow began very early this morning and lasted all day long and into the night. We got quite a dusting and a little bit more. Not enough for plows or salt trucks, but enough to make ruts in the streets.

After we cleaned up after our home Christmas dinner we watched a little television and hung out. And I got out of the house around 4:30 to set up the hall for the Sunday night meeting. I had plenty of time to do what I needed to do. The Sunday setup is not as labor intensive as my Tuesday meeting set up.

I had expected at least 20 people to show up so I made 40 cups of coffee in the urn, I had the tables set and the books out with an hour to spare until the meeting started. We sat a dozen folks around the table. It was a nice night for a meeting. Since it was the last Sunday of the month it was a tradition meeting. And it being the 12th month, we read from the Twelve and Twelve and the Twelfth Tradition.

The discussion is always interesting when we talk about anonymity. You begin to understand that people across the board have varying opinions about the topic. From people with a little time, to people who have double digit time, the opinion changes over time as they got sober.

After the meeting we tucked everything away and everybody was off to their next stop on the Christmas Day sober train.

For the first time since I’ve been in Montreal, a friend of mine invited me over to his condo to share a Christmas Night meal with his partner and a friend. It was very festive. He had baked a 20 pound turkey with all the fixings, fresh bread, and a bevy of sides and a very impressive dessert selection afterwards. This would have been my second meal in as many hours …

It was great to just kick back and relax with sober friends and enjoy each others company. A good time was had by all.

So my Christmas day has been successful. We had family, I did a good deed for someone else just because, and I got to share some time with friends as well.

I hope you all had a good day as well. Tomorrow is Boxing Day and a shopping we will go for sure at some point in the day. That will be exciting.

Thanks for spending some of your time with me today.

Goodnight from Montreal.

 


Twas the evening before Christmas …

Courtesy: Bluepueblo

It is a cold ( -13c) at this hour. They are calling for 4 to 6 cm of snow tomorrow. Reports say that snow will begin in the morning and last until midnight, which means if conditions are right, a lot of snow can fall in more than 12 hours for a snow event. We shall see …

Today was a busy day. I went on a supermarket safari to get some needed items for dinner tomorrow and to stock up on sodas, juices and munchies for the next 2 days, since the stores will be closed on Sunday.

I attacked the fridge with a vengeance. I tossed a bag of garbage from the back of the fridge that has been sitting there for I don’t know how long. Once a leftover hits the fridge – is disappears into the void of no-return, and it doesn’t see the light of day again. It’s a bad habit, and we don’t usually cook enough to have leftovers, but they collect over time, here and there.

I cleaned the fridge and scrubbed the kitchen clean and tossed some old rusted cookie sheets that should have been tossed long ago, seeing I bought hubby a new collection of bake ware for Christmas.

I cleaned the apartment and vacuumed all around and that was the afternoon in a nutshell. I watched Memoir of a Geisha on dvd waiting for hubby to get home from the bus station, which he did around 3:30.

My in laws got us some cool coffee mugs with gourmet ground coffee, a new cook pot to add to our collection of fine cook wear. We also got a huge HBC Bay Blanket which came with its own book to tell you how it came to be the best blanket around.

Lots of good and tasty cookies, a Belgian chocolate cookie box, which I love !!! And a few odds and ends. We got some money from hubby’s parents, which is always appreciated.

Tonight we will do turkey prep and get ready for tomorrows big event.

I was thinking about going to the 11 pm service at Christ Church Cathedral, which would run us right up to the last train of the night coming through town, since they are running a regular Saturday night schedule, I don’t want to get stuck having to walk all the way home from the core to the house here.

It’s a long walk in the cold from there to here…They say any red blooded Canadian would never complain about the cold… I beg to differ !!!

I think I am going to prep my bird and get to bed early because tomorrow is going to be hectic.

All’s well that ends well.

Stay tuned for my Christmas Day post.

Make sure you set out cookies and milk for Santa and veggies for his reindeer, and that you go to bed early and make sure you read the story Twas the night before Christmas…

Toodles …


Monday Madness …

Courtesy: Rawrdaniel

We are sitting at 1c at this hour. Skies are clear and the chance for snow on Christmas looks bleak. One does not know who to trust for a snow forecast, there are a couple sites who provide 14 day outlooks and if this one website is correct, we may, May, get snow on Christmas day. I have my hopes up.

I spent the weekend studying my ass off for my sociology final exam which I sat at 6:30 this evening. I got there an hour early so that I could read up some more and my prof came in with boxes of doughnuts and cookies for us. A sweet treat.

The exam was a non-event. I headed for the essay questions first since that’s what I was focusing on in my studies. I figured that the exam would be a carbon copy of the mid term, which it was.

I jammed the essay questions and the theory. Then I went back and did the multiple choice questions, which I had studied very well. Most of them we had covered in class on review night and a few that came from left field.

It took me less than an hour to write the exam. And by 7:45 the holiday season officially began. I am officially on vacation.

I set off for Provigo to get some odds and ends for our Christmas Dinner on Sunday night. Hubby is off to Ottawa on Wednesday for a few days. And I have a couple of dates lined up to see friends this week.

Tomorrow I have my tattoo appointment for a touch up and a consult on my next piece of work. I am hoping they were able to do something with it. We shall see.

Tonight I can go to bed clear and free and I retired my textbooks. I need to be up by 11 to get showered and out by 11:30 to be at Adrenaline by noon.

Tomorrow is Tuesday so there will be more coming along …

Stay tuned …

Toodles …


The First Snow of the Season … 23 Nov 11

It came quietly and without fanfare. The first snowflakes of the 2011 Winter season has begun to fall upon our fair city. And I was on the balcony to welcome the maiden of the silence. I bade her welcome and blessed her arrival as I do every year on this night.

This is the front of our building. If I were to go down and photograph it – the picture would be the same. So the batteries are in their charger and tomorrow we shall venture out into the snow and bring you more shots of what came down over night.

 


Conscious Contact …

Courtesy: Some Ponies …

It is Tuesday, and it was a good day for all. Oh My Goodness it’s gonna snow !!!

I wait for this night to occur every year. I watch the skies waiting for snow clouds to appear over the mountain. And usually I load up my player with some classical music and I wait. And on the first snow, go outside and welcome the maiden of winter. A little Ave Maria … A little prayer and a lot of walking through the snow.

So we read from the Big Book … A flood of feeling … We sat 25 folks around the table and the discussion went the entire period. What stuck out for me was the mention of the Third Step Prayer and turning it over.

I’ve been really proactive in my sobriety. I have moved from yeah, yeah, I know the principle and the words like rote, to really putting into practice what I want from my sobriety. And I think that entails getting really honest and laying everything out on the table. Talking to my sponsor and really allowing God to do what he is going to do for me because that’s what I’ve been praying for.

We are focusing on the Third Step Prayer this week for homework at the step group, preparing to begin writing our 4th steps. I’ve been reading Mother Teresa’s meditations and I am in awe of the conscious contact she had with her God. To the extent that she writes about conversations she had with God which lead to the formation of the Missionaries of Charity and their work in the slums of Calcutta.

And I’ve been seeking that kind of contact with my God as well, to the degree that I seek him in my prayers like never before. And over the past few weeks I have had issues come up that weigh on my heart and soul, and I just want them to leave me and I want to turn them over and truly feel like God has taken these concerns from me and put them on the altar in heaven.

And the other night I met my God over the burn barrel and I prayed a prayer and I let something go. And it went. And the difference this time, is that there was no residual. I say to God I let it go, go, go, go … And the whisper goes.

And usually I speak the letting go but I hold on to it emotionally, not really allowing it to fully leave me. But as of late, I turn things over and I give God my everything not denying him anything. And that is a constant prayer of Mother Teresa that she turn everything over to her God, not denying him anything. Under the pain of mortal sin, she gives it all 100 %.

And it has turned into clarity for me. Something I have been praying for in this period for me, the more effort you put into your sobriety the more you get out of it. I have changed and my life has changed in small ways, but noticeable changes are apparent.

What kind of problem do I have? A drinking problem, A stopping problem, A starting problem, an emotional problem? For me it has been recently an emotional problem, because I stopped and I have stayed stopped, for almost ten years now. Perceptions and emotions are the big offenders these days.

Little by slowly my perceptions change and my emotions soften and life seems to make a turn when I bump up my conscious contact with the God of My understanding.

And tonight it will snow, and the peace and serenity of God will fall upon the city. It is amazing the hush that falls following a snowfall. It is palpable. And after the fall comes, you go out and you stand there in the snowy cathedral that is our fair city and you come face to face with God himself.

In the peaceful quiet of the night…

We await the first snow and we welcome it into our lives…