Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. The Ferryland – New Foundland Iceberg Easter 2017. A Word Press Production.

The Work

Friday – The After Party

Do you believe in Love

“… Then too, damaging emotional conflicts persist below the level of consciousness, very deep, sometimes quite forgotten. Therefore, we should try hard to recall and review those past events which originally induced these conflicts and which continue to give our emotions violent twists, thus discoloring our personalities and altering our lives for the worse.”

This passage, from tonight’s A.B.S.I. is taken from the Twelve and Twelve, and it speaks towards Step Eight … Making that list you are going to use for Step Nine … The Amends.

The first step to make, in this effort, in my belief, is to forgive ones self. After probable years of self hatred, self abuse, self loathing, and beating ones self up with the drink, or drugs, we have come to the point, if we are IN our steps, that we have decided to get clean and sober.

But with that decision, comes a second decision we must make, in order to get better. And that is to take ourselves to task for what we have done, what others have done to us, and how we feel about those two factors.

I was talking to my friends after the meeting about these decisions. If we take these steps and we are moving towards completing our steps, we must be prepared for whatever emotions come up, whenever they come up and deal with them, (however we are able, at whatever stage of sobriety we are, at that point) This is not the easier softer way for most of us.

Dealing with the wreckage of our pasts, for some, as it was said tonight, creates for many, a state of P.T.S.D. about our addiction as it played out. Now we decided to get sober.

The deal is, that we don’t run back to the bottle or the drugs when things get tough. I want so badly for some of my friends to walk forwards and just DO IT.

That means the rest of us have to step up, get off our asses and DO SOMETHING.

If people, men or women, don’t have proper support, 24 / 7 then what good are we to our fellows? I did what I had to do to get better. And God provided me with opportunities to be present, and I take that responsibility very seriously.

It went as it was going to go. This reading brings up specific feelings about the past and many of us spoke to this issue. I was not the only human being in the room tonight, who has heartache and may not be able to properly complete my (read: our) steps a full 100%.

In the end I spoke my piece, not to seek pity or a love fest, but there are very few topics in my life today that spike me into un-sober behavior. This reading speaks, also, to emotional sobriety, which was also brought up tonight.

There are days and holidays which I work very hard to get through, and not loose my composure and I teeter on the edge of a cliff of un-sober thinking, acting and speaking. Steps Eight and Nine, for me, are sore subjects, because I will never get the resolution I am looking for because I have learned and come to accept that I am powerless over people, places and things.

At the end of the meeting, I was standing outside with friends, and the meeting matriarch came out and stood in front of me and looked me in the eyes as she hugged me, saying that I was a wonderful human being. I was almost driven to tears, because I knew what she was trying to tell me and show me, one human to another.

I love my friends. They make all of this possible. My friends have my back and I have theirs. I’ve said before that where else could one go to be loved so much and someone there for you when ever you need them to be?

We are totally blessed.

I am 47 years old and today the United States made history. Gay marriage is legal across the United States. So many Republicans and Preachers have the sadz …

The evangelic base is stirring like hornets. And the battle lines have been drawn. Obama Care and Gay Marriage are the wedge issues that are going to fire up those hell bent voters who disagree with both decisions, as the White House celebrate their winning streak.

Those wily homosexuals got their win today. And you can take that to the bank.

In the end LOVE WON.

All we want is to be recognized legally. And like a friend said earlier today, now everybody can be as happy or as miserable as the rest of those who have marriage rights. Divorce happens on both sides of the fence. Now the gays can do the same.

But I know, most gay folks put straight folks to shame when it comes to marriage.

We do marriage right, we do planning right, we get the flowers right, and we get the music right. Many old timer couples have been together much longer than their straight counterparts. NOW it is legal for their unions to be recognized by the constitution.

We will see who wins this argument in the coming years.

Heterosexual divorce is up there in numbers. I encourage my gay and lesbian friends to put those straight people to shame. We will show you just how good we do marriage.

Well Done Supreme Court.

It was Great day and a great night.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Thoughts

7 cardinal rules for lifeI think these lessons kind of point to what I am going to write below.

The normal human being, is mostly concerned about themselves. It is always about them, and how the rest of the world perceives them, and also how they perceive themselves. For most, the insane amount of time we worry about the exterior parts of ourselves, is the obsession of millions of people. We see it every day on social media. All it takes is one troll to get the ball rolling, and then we get “wildfire.”

Then a kid kills themselves because of said troll and their minions.

What a blessing to have learned all these lessons in sobriety. Real lessons that I use on a daily basis. It isn’t all about me. And it never really is. i was so happy when I got this down.

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It has been a stellar weekend. Albeit a little chilly this evening on the way home. They told us that it was going to rain for days, and to be prepared for lots of rain. A few drops fell yesterday early on, but it did not last, and skies remained clear and blue all weekend.

Last night I hit an off meeting to spend time with some of my guys. And I will get to see them tomorrow for the groups anniversary. Funny that the anniversary for an M.A. meeting falling on 4/20 !!! There’s a joke in there somewhere.

I told my friends that I would bring the weed …

Sobriety – Life – Work – and Everything that comes with it …

People get sober for a myriad of reasons. When we have been to hell, one way or another, we need to find some way to pick up the pieces and move forwards. You know there are many types of people in meetings, those who have full lives, some who have half lives, and those who have no lives.

Sobriety – as the Big Book says, “The only thing you have to change in sobriety is everything.”

Most people balk at this idea and they find or invent ways in which they choose to do things. They do it their way, they make half measures, or they adopt this way of living and they make it work.

When I came to Montreal, I had no life. So what I did was meetings, all the time, every day, until the next activity came to pass for me. One thing led to another and then life began in earnest. BUT the one thing I did that I kept doing, was my meetings. I worked very hard at building my outside life, around my meeting nights. And I was successful and still am to this day.

You build your life around your meetings, not your meetings around your life.

If you put anything before your sobriety you will eventually loose it. That is fact, I can prove it if you need it.

People who have lives, may find it difficult to amend their lives, and add sobriety to those lives, because they say they have no time to devote to sober things, like meetings, calls and working with others.

Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.

It took me 11 years to find the route to finding my message, and that took a lot of work, prayer and help of a sponsor.

Some people need sobriety,  then there are those who want it.

Sobriety is a gift that once in the game, we try to encourage you to adopt it and make it yours. We encourage you to find ways to make sobriety work for you instead of against you. Sobriety is something you live into on a daily basis.

It is a process that some find encumbering. They are reticent to adopt those rules or suggestions we give to to enhance your lives. BUT if you start with something small, and later find that it worked, then you add a little more and see if that works for you. So forth and so on.

Some people with full lives or busy schedules may find it a problem to HAVE TO do everything they are told to do, or suggested to do when they come in.

**** **** ****
It was a wonky start to the evening. I was up washed and ready to go early. Now several things were supposed to happen in a certain order. My cup man bought us cups for two meetings from Costco the other day, and I needed to bring him cash from one kitty.
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I packed my bag, and left for the church. Halfway through the Forum complex, I noticed that I had forgotten my wallet at home. I was going to be late. I turned around and walked back home, got my wallet, returned an email to a friend while on this stop. I didn’t take any cash from my kitty bag, and made a second departure for the church.
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I got to the church a few minutes before my early team got there. It was all good.
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We were standing outside the church when my cup guy showed up, and I was like, “shit, I forgot the cash.” Thankfully I had some cash in my wallet, 2/3’s is better than none, I guess.
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The reading was “The Businessman’s Recovery”
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Another war story taking place at the dawn of A.A. Our man goes from good to terrible inside of two years. He worked far a field for a while prior to the War. He enlisted, became a member of the armed services and his drinking took off in earnest.
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Fearing prohibition in the United States, and not being able to drink freely, he decided to remain in Europe to continue his drinking unabated. He ends up in a sanitarium, sick and confused.
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Miraculously, he is introduced to Bill W.
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Someone this evening said that when she got sober, all she had to do was Google A.A. and there it was.
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Imagine the odds of finding Bill W. in ones hospital room in the 1940’s.
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What are the odds ???
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This guy seriously lucked out. Imagine finding another alcoholic where you lived in the 1930’s or 1940’s. There were no tools like social media or computers. I just find it amazing that for some, the most opportune moment presented itself to certain human beings.
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Is that ODD or is that GOD ???
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The story is told, we get his introduction to the program, and the story continues with our man telling us just how good he has it and how his life has changed, everything changed for the better.
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An old timer commented that – the meat and potatoes were missing from the story …
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How did he go from sad and destitute to happy in a few sentences?
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Well, it is implied that “something” happened. In between down and out and utter happiness, comes all the work that we must do to attain sobriety. All those things it took me YEARS to figure out, because I had not seen it until it was introduced to me and I adopted the practice for myself, and then for my guys.
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There is the Book, The Steps, The Work … so to speak.
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You just don’t come in the door and miraculously get happy all at once. It just don’t work that way, and I’ve never seen it work that way either.
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Some people balk when we make suggestion to them that “aren’t in the Book.” Why do I have to do, what I am told, everything we share is suggestive only. You either want to be in it to win it or you aren’t. Sobriety and happiness are progressive. The more you put into your sobriety, the happier you are going to be.
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It’s really simple.
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Alcoholics are painfully stubborn. We over think things, we philosophize ourselves to death, and we worry about things like “I really need to know the gender of God…” before I can move forwards.
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Really, REALLY ??? are you serious?
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It’s like that Nike slogan ………… Just Do It !
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Do you want to be RIGHT or do you want to be HAPPY ?
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Simple question.
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A good night was had by all.
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More to come, stay tuned …

Tuesday – Change – In Many Forms

maybeThe temperature right now, is holding steady at PLUS 6c. Change is happening.

The week began with positives yesterday, and continued through tonight. It will be an up/down mix hovering above and below zero for the rest of the week.

I can say that the snow pack that has been covering everything that stands still, is melting. It will be some time, yet, before all the snow has melted away. But I think that sub zero cold is finished.

Last night, we had dinner as usual, and after dinner I went into the bathroom to brush, and one of my teeth snapped in half. It was a good thing that it snapped where it did, because I haven’t had any problems with nerves or pain. This morning, I called my trusty dentist, who was dismissed from the clinic at the General, at her office across town. I see her tomorrow afternoon to extract what is left of the broken tooth.

I HATE the dentist. With a Passion …

Sunday, we were supposed to install new blinds in the living room. That did not happen, because we were not pleased with what Home Depot was selling. We have West facing windows that span the entire west wall of the living room and the bedroom. Currently there are no blinds in the living room, so we are getting sun, all day, well into evening.

The new HD tv is on its way. We had to rearrange our schedule to make sure someone was here if it came, alas, it did not. I did get a pick up slip in the mail, someone sent something that needs a signature. Something to do on the way home tomorrow after the dentist.

I departed on time and made my transit without any problems. My new Skets came in the mail yesterday. They were a big hit at the meeting. Well, after the meeting, because we can’t wear shoes upstairs in the bell tower, we have to wear cozy knitted booties, because of wet/snow/water.

Joe and Charlie took us through the second part of There is a Solution. In that reading, there are several asterisks at the bottom of several pages. They do not appear in the first editions, but they do, in subsequent editions. The asterisk calls ones attention to Appendix II – page 567 in the back of the Big Book … Spiritual Experience.

Twice during the read of There is a solution, you are asked to see, Appendix II, and a third time, you are asked … “Please, see Appendix II.”

The reading at the back of the book talks about change. It is known that Bill talked a lot. And when he talks, he likes to use analogies and stories that we will identify with. If Bill really wanted to make a point, he often repeated himself, over and over. Not only does he repeat himself, each time he does repeat himself, he uses a word, similar to the one he originally used, or the same type of word, to get a point across.

Most of what we heard tonight, centered upon the Spiritual Experience reading. Several times Bill speaks about change … you find “personality change, spectacular upheavals, sudden revolutionary changes, immediate and overwhelming God consciousness, transformations …”

He continually repeats the theme of change over several words. That is what is supposed to happen when we begin to get and continue to stay sober. Change.

In the back of the book, there are stories. In some of those stories, the spectacular upheavals and immediate changes take place for some, the so-called, “Lightening Strike” changes. The folks who came, came to, then came to believe, they changed and their lives changed in ways they could not imagine.

Other of us, took the more gradual, garden variety path. Many of us have been on this path in the long haul. Learning, listening, reading and working, change comes gradually over time. I am all for the long haul method. You often hear some of the old timers say:

Stick around until the miracle happens.

I heard that often, the first time I was getting sober. I did stick around for that period of time, and yes, miracles did happen. I stayed sober, but more importantly, I lived …

And I continue living …

Most of my friends, who are sober today, carry with them memories of spiritual experiences that have changed their lives, and for some, was the impetus to come back again. Some of my friends who did not stay, went back out and returned, were great teachers for me.

I also want to see God move for my friends, which is why I keep coming back. I decided that right now, this is where I should be. And spending inordinate amounts of time with my friends, will guarantee that if I stick around long enough, we will change. I want to watch my friends get sober. Because I see them change and I see God move for them, and they have spiritual experiences, which proves, that God does exist. For me at least. That may not be the same for you.

I’ve got plenty of time to be able to say quite confidently, God does move in our halls.

The other notable thought that came from the tape tonight was that when Joe got sober, he met Charlie. And being no so happy with himself, thought that he wanted to be someone else when he got sober, so he endeavored to be like and to become, Charlie …

How many of us are not happy with who we are and we want to be someone else?

When I got sober this last time, I was an empty shell. What I saw, and what I heard began to make sense to me, and from many people, I took things that I thought would be good for me. so you could say that in the last thirteen years, I’ve met many people, and today I am an amalgamation of all those people, in one way or another.

I got to create the man I am today, based on the example of the many I have come to know, over the years. I carried forwards, values from my family that I honor today, they have become my values, like love, family, honor, respect, dignity and so on. I’ve collected thoughts, sayings and practices from my friends that I practice myself today.

I’m not comfortable just sitting in a room collecting dust. I want to be In It to Win It.

Thankfully, all my guys are also In It to Win It. My sponsor makes that possible.

Change is possible, if only you give it a chance …

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Humility

tumblr_lrdn1q3v991qzjqrio1_500 flickr julianbialowasCourtesy: Flicker Julian Bialowas (Archives)

We are sitting at a frosty (-18c/-27c w.c.) with a low tonight going down into the (-30’s). Where Ontario is, at this hour, under a snow storm warning, there is a blowing snow advisory up for us, but we are not expecting snow until tomorrow. With 10cm falling during the day.

Thank Goodness I don’t have to go out tomorrow…

It was a quiet weekend. This evening I left a few minutes early, because I had a stop to make on the way. It usually takes me half an hour to make my transit. However today, I must have made good time, I had not looked at my clock when I arrived at the church, but cranked it out as usual. When I finished, one of my friends had arrived and I noticed that it was only 4:40 on the clock.

Time must have sped up or I left earlier than I had thought. Any who, it’s all good.

A few folks showed up early to sit and read, having the room open much earlier, allows for folks to come in a be able to sit and read for an hour, prior to the meeting.

Our Matron was away, and I was elected chair by a friend, so I chaired.

We read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step 7 …
Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings!

The buzz word for Step seven is Humility. Where does it come from, and how do we get it?

“Humility, as a word and as an ideal, has a very bad time of it in our world. Not only is the idea misunderstood; the word itself is often intensely disliked. Many people haven’t even a nodding acquaintance with humility as a way of life. Much of the every day talk we hear, and a great deal of what we read, highlights man’s pride in his own achievements.”

“… We saw we needn’t always be bludgeoned and beaten into humility. It could come quite as much from our voluntary reaching for it as it could from unremitting suffering. A great turning point in our lives came when we sought for humility as something we really wanted, rather than something we must have. It marked the time when we could commence to see the full implication of Step Seven: “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

One of my terrible shortcomings is the fact that over my life, my disregard for God, my living in “all about me,” and taking life for granted, usually landed me in the column of being bludgeoned into humility. This is one very long list of things that happened.

There was a time, that alcohol was ruling my life, when did it not rule my life, you might ask ???

In my twenties, I really could not give a shit about God or what was right, as long as it went my way. The drink, then the social interaction that came from it, fed my emotional, and sexual appetite. I really did not have a handle on the issues of the time (Read: AIDS), I was more concerned with getting a drink, and what would come with it.

When you take life for granted, a myriad of things can happen.

I was screwing myself into a tight hole. Literally !!! I made mistakes. I was not safe. In the heat of the moment, under the control of alcohol and with the drugs that usually came with it, meant that we were not thinking about circumstances, and shit happened.

I can’t be sure of the who, what or why of it. (what’s done is done)

I talk about all that God mumbo jumbo. How, for a time I was a good Catholic boy in seminary. Had they asked me to stay, instead of telling me to go, probably my life would have been different. But I took license with freedom, and took advantage of it as well.

My twenties was a futile effort in growing up. And I know that now. And I paid dearly for that error.

Loosing things, like cars, apartments, personal items happened. But I would just pick up and start over where, that would take place. Then I lost a loved one, to suicide. That loss was horrible. I drank my way past it, right into a therapy group for thirty two weeks.

But God really didn’t have my attention yet. It was still all about me. But Todd was there.

I was still unwilling to bow or get on my knees …

Lessons about humility began in earnest.

I was dating someone at the time, when I began to sero-convert. I got very sick. They gave us these little wallet cards that had this information on it … If you are having these symptoms, you might have AIDS.

Working at the bar brought me into direct contact with AIDS, and people with AIDS, and Todd made it perfectly clear, what my job was, To serve others, and not myself.

I did get sick. I did get AIDS. Doctors told me I was going to die.

I called Todd back from his vacation. He met me at the bar, and I told him that I was going to die.

He wept …

I was ready to bow. The end was coming, and I had nothing to loose any more.

Over the next two years, working at the bar, I had several opportunities to get humble.

I remember each one of them, like it was yesterday.

Every time I returned to “All about Me,” Todd would throw a lesson at me, to humble me.

Working in a bar was dirty work. Men are pigs, and they don’t think for a moment about others, and that bothered me. They would put cups in the toilet backwards and let shit and piss flow all over the floor, and it was my job to clean it up. However hard I protested, Todd ordered that I do the job and not complain.

I had to get on my knees.

Then he would add the clincher …

He would say that “If you can clean up others shit, one day you will be able to do it for yourself.”

I’ve said before that in Todd, God became incarnate. He was the man who saved my life, however hard I protested, at times, He had my best interests in mind. He took it upon himself to see that I lived, and did not die. Every night I came to work, I followed the rule.

“When you come to work, you leave your life outside the door. You come in and do your work, without question. And leave the rest to me.”

I turned my will and my life over to the care of God (read: Todd) every day.

I learned a great many things, that I have collected over in the PAGES.

I learned to serve others, and not worry about me or my needs. I learned valuable lessons like approval, ego, pride and humility. While people were drinking, drugging, and partying, and at the same time, they were dying all around me, Todd and I stayed one step above the water.

Being a servant, does not give you much time to be arrogant or prideful. Todd would have none of that. He kept me on a very short leash. One look and I would kneel.

Today, I am alive. Todd succeeded in keeping me alive. I owe my life to him. And I say that with all the humility of my being. If you want the whole story you can read it in pages.

I began my nights on my knees. And ended them on my knees.

There was no time to waste. When everybody fled, Todd stood firm. In the beginning, I had to grow up and I had to do what ever I was told to do, without question, and yes I did grow up. I learned a great deal from this experience.

When Todd moved away, I ended up alone. I had tools. I had my lessons.

But at the same time, without that hand in my life, I did not know what to do. But I survived.

Problems with people, attitudes and assholes, took me for a ride. I spoke about the space that grows between people, and that slip that is not far behind … That slip came.

Upon my return, I was not ready to bow …

When I knew the end was coming, I knew the end was coming, I got on my knees.

You see, I survived. I lived. I took that for granted. Which kept my slip going for a while longer.

I prayed for things from God. And One, Two, Three, prayers came to pass.

I had One, admitted I was powerless, Two, came to believe, and Three, made that decision.

I decided to grow up, and ended my run here. That is when I learned more about humility.

I got connected, found a home group, and I did service. All because that is what they told me to do.

You can’t keep it, unless you give it away.

I met my now husband, and I learned how to give to my partner, boyfriend, now husband.

I became a man, when I learned how to put the needs of another before my own.

Now that I think about that phrase, I learned this lesson with Todd. However I did not see it.

Even today, I see shades of self centeredness. It returns in my memories.

When life gets too hard to stand, kneel …

kneelI am reminded daily, to be humble. I practice, daily, getting down on my knees to pray.

I take for granted that I lived, more often, than I like to admit. And I usually don’t think about being grateful for being alive, except of course, every time I stand at my medicine cabinet and take my pills.

I rely on doctors, my medication and God for life. I also rely on God to help me stay sober.

I grew up. I’ve learned my lessons about being beaten into humility.

There is so many things to be grateful for. If I think of all of them at the same time, I would weep.

Humble …

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday … Watching Loneliness Vanish … That Moment of Silence

SONY DSCCourtesy: Curve of the Earth (Archives)

Damn … It is COLD outside. We are sitting at (-17c/-23c w.c.) Winds are light, but it is still Frigid.

The week ended in a flurry of people, places and meetings.

The Work continues as new folks have been introduced into our sober family.

Pigeons have pigeons, which means we all have considerable work to do.

Friday is always the best day / night of the week.

I quadruple layered for my trip tonight, and yes, the rubber boots came in very handy.

Or should I say, Footy !!!

They keep my feet nice and toasty, not to mention warm European sox to go with them. A good portion of my wardrobe comes from other places.

I departed early because of snow en route. Tonight’s theme was, “you just missed the train …”

Both going and on my return, there were trains in the station, but my timing was a little off, because I watched them all leave without me, and I had to wait and entire cycle for a train. During rush hour, trains run every 3 to 4 minutes. Off hours trains run every 6 to 9 minutes.

Up on the North End, they are still plowing snow. It was piled up all over the place. The mini dozers were corralling snow for later pick up tonight. Which made it tricky for buses so they dropped us on the street, outside the berms.

We sat a large crowd as usual. And as I said, Friday is the best night of the week.

Every meeting begins the same way, but Friday, is a little different.

This is the place that all our friends come to. It is the rallying point for the weekend. Fellowship after the meeting is part and parcel of going to the Friday meeting. It is part and parcel for many meetings, it gives our young people stuff to do outside the meeting.

When we sit together, around the table, there are small table lights on the tables, and not that oppressive overhead fluorescent light. We call it Mood Lighting …

The chair rings the bell, and calls the room to attention, makes the necessary announcements. Then invites everyone to take a moment of silence before we say the Serenity Prayer.

And I wait all week for this one moment.

Our collective, friends, family, fellows and elders, take a deep breath and center ourselves for a moment, chairs go quiet, the room gets quiet, and for that moment it feels like we are ONE.

Then the chair calls for prayer, and it is spiritual song.

It is that way at every meeting, and everybody is important. Every moment of silence to think perhaps of someone out there or in here who is suffering …

The sound of my friends voices is music to my ears. This is the one night where we are all together in the same room at the same time. One says that “there is an energy in the room, that is palpable.”

The reading, from A.B.S.I. Watching Loneliness Vanish.

People drank to escape, People drank to be alone. At the bitter end, we are all alone, in varying degrees, suffering and lonely. We hear the common story from old timers about the slogan, that isn’t on a placard in many meetings, however it can be found,

“YOU ARE NOT ALONE ANY MORE.”

It is better to be on the inside, I heard it again tonight. I heard another young person speak about The Work Passionately, and suggest, quite seriously, that The Work is the way to go. That it saved their life after returning from a devastating slip.

Proviso … Sober people get lonely too. It is not uncommon.

That little voices tells us we are different and have nothing in common with others, which in turn, keeps us from connecting and engaging. And little by slowly, the space grows between people, and if that space gets wide enough, a slip is not that far off.

People suffer from “I am unique” and “I like to be alone and isolate.” Our young women are devastated by these ideas. They seem to suffer more the terminal uniqueness than do our young men. But we do find our men, don’t connect right away either, that takes time.

The girls feel, too much, the boys think, they over think too much. Both troublesome problems.

I tell and retell this story over and over, and it still gets discussion.

The first time I got sober, I was waiting to die. I was going to meetings in a hall that treated me like a race horse, with wagers on my head as to when I would skip out and drink again.

So that first year was a lap around the race track, and on my anniversary, I took that chip and told the guys there to go Fuck themselves… I never went back to that meeting. I had a job that I loved. I was well cared for. Everyone was sober, my sponsor worked there as well. I was safe for those two years.

I had everything I ever needed or wanted. I had a safety net that kept me alive, fed and sober.

When that run ended and I was the only one who did not go West, I was alone, and left to my own devices. I did not carry what I had inside forwards. i was clueless about what I was supposed to do with nobody to help me do it.

(Read: Move city, Move House, carry a life forwards, stay sober).

Remember I lived in the South, technically. Florida was South, and people were as ignorant and heartless as they were all over the deep red south.

At the two year mark, I was asked to speak to a particular meeting. Of course I said yes.

What I did not think about was disclosure and how that would go over.

There were a couple hundred folks in the meeting. As I was telling my story, the men began to get up and leave the hall, 100 men got up and left the hall while I was speaking. When I finished, I went outside to find them waiting for me. One stepped up and said …

“We don’t respect people like you, please leave this place and don’t come back.”

Go get sober some place else.

Now, I am a twenty something kid, with a bulls eye on my back. I was alone. New to the area and that meeting hall, I did not know anyone except a couple of folks. And they tell me to leave and not come back.

I was lonely, I was alone. Fighting a battle by myself, one to stay sober, the other was to stay alive.

The loss of my sober family and secondly, this toss off comment, drove me out the door and into a slip that almost killed me, because I went looking for something to make me NOT alone, it was the biggest mistake I ever made in my life.

Insert Slip Story Here … I’m not gonna tell it

On my way back, I had three friends. Two were out of sight and out of mind, the third was my drinking/drugging buddy. I lived alone, I worked alone, I had no life, and so I went to the club every Saturday night with my buddy. He would dope up and I would drink myself black.

Delusional thoughts of if I drink enough, they will notice me and take me in. If I drink enough, I will never grow up and I will become part of the “beach crowd.” None of those things happened.

I knew the last drink, when it came. I prayer for deliverance via another alcoholic.

He came.

I went to my first gay meeting. That did not go so well. Nobody noticed me. So I sat outside the hall until the 10 p.m. meeting where Fonda, Ed and Rob and Christian found me, alone on the stoop.

Fonda gave me a hug, and welcomed me into the room and brought me coffee.

They noticed me. And from that moment, I was never alone again.

With some time, I arrived here, sadly, a second time, I heard another alcoholic tell me to go get sober somewhere else. That I was unwelcome in their meeting. I never went back there to this day.

You want to alienate a human being who is new, alone, and seeking help,

Tell them to go get sober somewhere else.

It is a good thing I stuck around. I tell this story as a warning to the pitfalls of the human condition in the rooms. You need to connect, because there are sick alcoholics in some rooms. And they justify their ignorance behind sexism, homophobia, egos and attitudes. Good Christian values.

I did all the right things. I met all the right people. I owe my life to the fellowship in Montreal.

I’ve never been more happier than I am today. I am in it to win it. I do what I am told.

We are deep in The Work. All of us. Nobody is alone in our sober family.

NOBODY…

Now that I work with others, and I give it away, and I teach The Work to my guys, they are now teaching The Work to their guys. We are four generations strong tonight.

We are part of a grand collective of many faiths, hearts, traditions and languages.

Unified under a common affliction. And we deal with it together as one.

Nobody is left out in the cold. Our men and women know they are no longer alone.

You too can Never be alone again …

Gratitude. Lots of Gratitude.

More to come, stay tuned…


Sunday Sundries … Words .. Experiential

tumblr_nevv18edhk1sl7p6vo1_500 freshieCourtesy: Freshie

We are sitting at (-14c/-23 w.c.) It is COLD.

I got ready to go and thought I was properly layered, but when I got downstairs, and went outside, I turned around and came back up and put another layer on, just to be safe. I have this odd problem of always leaving my scarf at home, then regret leaving it behind, once I get outside.

#First World Problems

The U.S. is bracing for a record breaking blizzard over the next few days.

I’m reading all these, “End of the world, Armageddon like reports” threat to human life, dangerous conditions coming … Don’t get caught out in the storm kind of warnings.

Here in Canada … Ah, just another snow storm … We live for them. At least some of us do !!!

Once again, Montreal is sitting in that sweet spot. Environment Canada is not calling for snow, except for a couple days this week, but no storm or accumulations are in the forecast.

It was a quiet weekend. Last night, hubby went to bed as usual, and I stayed up to watch a Nova program and at 2 a.m. on the nose, I was sitting here and darkness fell. Once again, the power went out and we were plunged into darkness. No heat, no water, no electricity.

And I said to myself, it will be a quickie and the power will come back on. Twenty minutes, tops. Well, twenty minutes turned into forty, and forty into sixty minutes. No Joy.

I had plans. Mother Nature had hers, guess who won?

I had the light from my phone. After waiting for an hour in the dark, I resigned myself to the fact that No, indeed, the power was not coming back on any time soon. I got myself ready for bed, took my pills and covered the bed in blankets, because we had no heat. And I went to bed.

At 4:30 a.m. in the morning, the power came back on.

The T.V. the computer, the radio, and the clocks all whirred back to life. I got up and adjusted the clocks, rebooted and shut down the computer, and went back to bed.

We seem to be on a different circuit than the rest of the neighborhood, because the streetlights in the neighborhood did not go out, and the rest of the buildings that sit next to ours all had power, while we were sitting in the dark. My friend who lives two blocks from here (East), went dark as well, so a big section of this section of downtown, went dark again.

I left early to meet one of my guys for our Sunday read and discussion.

We are reading the Big Book together, and we are on Chapter Six … Into Action.

This section covers steps five through ten, that’s as far as we went.

None of the words in this section of the book have been changed in seventy six years. Yet, I am reading the book actively again with someone else. And we read through the Ninth Step Promises and a new word came to me, as I explained what they meant for my guy.

Sobriety is all about perception, and the changing of our perception. It is also Experiential as well.

Reading the Promises people usually zero in on:

“We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.”

For a program that is so “forwards thinking,” we sure do spend a great deal of time, dwelling on the past. In order to move forwards, we need to learn from the past. It is in getting rid of the wreckage of our past, cleaning house, working our steps, and helping others, that true freedom will come.

I’ve seen promises come true in my life, and in others lives.

Sometimes quickly, Sometimes slowly.

Some promises, seemed, to be unapproachable or unattainable in my life. But after years and years, the one that dogged me to the end of the earth, finally came to pass.

I said to my friend tonight that the Promises are Experiential. That was the first time I had ever said that word, in relation to reading them. And I caught the use of the new word. And they are …

We get the book in the beginning. And someone reads it with us. This is, in my opinion, time sensitive.

We don’t read on the first day and expect any of it to make sense. But when the time comes, we (read: Sponsors and Sponsees) know when the time is right to start reading.

We’ve read the first five chapters. And we begin our steps. Meanwhile we are reading through the book from the beginning each week. Are we putting the cart before the horse ??? No …

At first we read through How it works, and up to Step Three. That is when I introduced Step One to the one who is ready to start. Meanwhile we are reading. We had the discussion about adding prayer to ones day. Steps Three and Seven Prayers, every day. From the beginning. And we see how that is working on a weekly basis.

We’ve now read up through Step Nine. And the homework is to read pages 84 through 86, covering Step Ten. Now we have begun the book, introduced prayer, and we now add a daily review, from the start. The Tenth Step.

This is where I deviate from process and tweak The Work.

Having something to look at and write on a daily/nightly basis, gives us something to talk about. If you get used to writing right away, as practice, and use it as a tool to see ones progression, that’s a good thing, Yes ?

We might not have eyes to see in the beginning, and we may not have ears to hear, in the beginning, but if we introduce “things to do” in the beginning, then we cultivate those eyes and ears.

Getting sober is all about experience. We have had experiences, some we may wish to forget, and in time we get to see/learn about the wealth of those experiences, and in time, we learn that wisdom.

Every time we look at specific situation and stories we get to look at them, with the eyes we have “in the moment, at that time.” And every successive look we get, over time, we have new eyes to see and new ears to hear with. The cyclical nature of time and the past repeats, hence the wisdom of:

Not regretting the past nor wishing to shut the door on it.

This ties directly into the reading for tonight. January, Month One, We read Tradition One.

“Our common welfare comes first, personal recovery depends upon A.A. Unity.”

There is wisdom there. And it comes over time.

How does an organization run properly and well, if there are no bosses, no money and no real organization and nobody in control? They ask …

Take a rag tag bunch of drunks, give them a coffee pot and a church basement, and see what happens. I’ve spent thirteen years getting sober in St. Leon’s Church basement.

When I came, there had already been over fifty years of experience in that said hall. A lot of people, a lot of experience, tried, tested and proved. I walked in not knowing anyone, not knowing anything, and needing help. They welcomed me, they gave me simple jobs to do, and I sank in.

That unifying presence welcomed me, took me in and taught me everything that I needed to know, on a need to know basis. When we walk in the door, and down those twelve steps (yes, there are actually twelve steps down into the church basement) whatever is going on outside stays outside, and the purpose of the rooms become clear, if we stick around.

We know that we can’t do this alone. And we also learn, that once we darken the doors, we are no longer alone, that we don’t have to be alone any more, unless we want to hold onto our misery.

The unifying purpose of the rooms is to welcome the newcomer and share the message of recovery with the alcoholic who still suffers. Only an alcoholic or a drug addict, can help another. Because we have shared experiences. Where else can you go and listen to people share, and realize that hey i was there once, I did that, they were there once, and they did that too !!!

Each group has its ways and means. Passed down through the years from those who came before us, and we carry them forwards, tweaking them as necessary, to serve the greater good. We rely on the goodness and faith of a power greater than ourselves, God as he speaks to us in our group conscience.

I’ve never had to leave the security of the A.A. Circle for any of my needs, in more than thirteen years. Because I was taught that if I had a need and if it was necessary, that I should take it to a meeting and speak it, I did that, the rest, they say is history.

I came to the rooms knowing not much. And for many years I sat in the warm and safe nest. During that time I made a lot of meetings, and did service. Two years ago, after eleven years of nesting, the fire was lit and my quest for MORE began.

What alcoholic isn’t obsessed with wanting MORE ???

I listened to people tell me about More, They told me how to get More, how to practice attaining More, and told me that if I did these things, MORE would come.

Then miraculously, I’ve been working on MORE. And More came. I was then ready to step up and be able to share the message with the alcoholic who still suffers. You just don’t step into the fray from the beginning and have everything you need to do and share The Work off the bat …

Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got !!!

It took me more than eleven years to see that wisdom. And now the fire of More burns.

The sisters of recovery and the brethren of New York live in this solution based fire of More.

I get to share this with my guys, and they get to share it with their people.

It’s freaking amazing.

Unity, Recovery, Service … The Three Legacies.

We come, We come to, And we all come to believe. Each in our own way.

The goodness of the rooms are fortified in that, for every human being there is experience. No two people are the same. How useless we would be if we were all the same. But we are unified under one common purpose to recover from a hopeless state of body, mind and spirit.

Rooms are everywhere. We are everywhere.

Where else can you go in your life where people are genuinely interested in your welfare, without the expectation of personal gain, who only want to see you succeed and will go to any length to help you get there ?

The world is a busy, noisy, wonderful and terrible at the same time, place.

But once you step in the door, you will find calm in the middle of the storm, a place that you can go to unload for an hour and recharge your batteries for a pittance.

All the money in the world won’t get you freedom from pain and misery.

All the money I spent on drugs and alcohol, I can never get back; and I wasted a ton of money drinking and drugging myself into a stupor. Today my loonie goes a lot farther in my recovery, than it did when I was using.

We have a solution. That works.

It is what we do.

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday … Our Nightly Review … a.k.a. 10th Step

tumblr_mz3e3aHkI71sv37tvo1_500 cameronjohnCourtesy: Cameron John

Sometimes the image speaks to the message I will write, and sometimes, it is just an image.

We are sitting at (-2c / – 9 w.c.) at this hour. Not as chilly as other nights, and they tell us there might be flurries, maybe that is a stretch…

I went to bed a little late last night, and I spent some time reading before bed as usual. I did not have anything pressing that needed to be done today, but I woke up and knew that I wasn’t going back to bed again, like I usually do. I don’t watch daytime t.v. and I can only sit in front of this box for so long before I want to pull my hair out, so with nothing to do, I usually nap …

Not the case today.

I did some supermarket safari, early. I usually do it on my way home from the meeting. I’ve been waiting for several packages to come in the mail, so there were excessive trips down to check the mail throughout the day, because our mailman comes at his leisure and not on schedule.

No Joy today.

I got ready to go early, which meant I departed early, I needed to pick up a script at the pharmacy and it was on my way out. I got lucky all my trains were prompt and running for that matter. When I got to the church a friend told me the green line had been down the entire rush hour period.

Honestly, trains ONLY go down during rush hours. Totally Predictable.

I did not see anything on social media prior to leaving. I made my transit and I have hours and hours of music on my phone, and I listen to certain songs over and over – In a certain order, by single selection. I have a collection of dance hall mixes that I like, and if I had the equipment, I would seriously consider mixing my own sound files. Alas, no mixing board here.

My little phone does amazing things. It also has a mind of its own. Androids do funny things. If you upload a tune, in a specific folder, my phone will sort that music by itself, and shuffle those tunes into the select screen, in the order it wants, and not necessarily the way I want. It knows where music comes from and how to sort it. I’m not sure how it knows this, but it does.

I have a few sorted files of dance hall mixes, all single shot pieces. They aren’t on an album, but I’ve pulled them singularly, and sorted them where I want them. On certain files, my phone makes no distinction, but on others, it auto sorts music the way it wants to.

  • You get the album sort screen.
  • You get the artist sort screen.
  • You also get the “single” screen, where it lists every song alphabetically
  • Then you get a “playlist” screen – Those you create on your own

My phone creates playlists by itself. I am not sure how it does that, but it has pulled certain music that I listen to often, and sorted it into playlists. I finally decided to create a couple new playlists, one is dance hall mixes and the other is my Annie Lennox massive mix. Very cool …

Those playlists will cover an entire transit from one end to the other.

Tonight’s fare was a reading from A.B.S.I. and the Nightly Review, a.k.a the Tenth Step.

Steps are merely suggestive. At some point or other, you do them, in the order they come in, with a sponsor, is your best bet. Listening to others from other places, there is wisdom in doing certain things, and in my opinion, there are things I ask my guys to do, which fall out of order. Some old timers have told me that I am wrong in my approach, my sponsor, on the other hand says that, if it works, then keep doing it.

A nightly review, for anyone, is something we learn to do later on in the process. I am of the mind that if you start with prayer and you learn to write, from the start, it becomes second nature. Writing a list gives us (my sponsees and I) something to talk about nightly. So they write. I write as well.

The calling every day, is something that is a tall order for some. It is something that does not come easily, and for years, I did not do that either, until I was shown how that worked, by people who were doing it themselves. I adopted practices from many, into one set process that is my sponsor model.

My sponsor gave me certain things I must do every day and for that matter every week.

  • Call me every day
  • Make a meeting with me once a week
  • Work your steps
  • Help others

I do this every day and every week. I had to practice, myself, these things, before I could be able to share them with others. “Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got !”

Everybody has their comfort level as to what they can or will do to stay sober. And I think about this thought, most of our folks went to the round ups in 2013, and 2014. They heard the same messages I heard, and we all go to the same meetings every week. I can see now, two years later, where those messages got me, and how I applied what I learned and made it my own. And also where my fellows are in this same time period.

I also know, now, that people with considerable time, are comfortable, dropping anchor in a familiar meeting, doing service, and navel gazing. They don’t feel the need to spice it up, or crank up the heat in any way, that would shake their equilibrium. And I wonder why ?

There is a reason my old sponsor is not my sponsor any more. He was comfortable sitting in his chair and not going to the round ups as we all did. It was also the way he spoke to me that cranked me up in a negative way. I don’t allow people to shit on me no matter how much time they have.

Last night I heard him share. I did not get to speak to my sponsor at great length today because he was busy entertaining guests at home, so after the meeting tonight, I spoke to another friend who’s got twenty five years as well, and he is in a different place than other folks with the same time.

I explained to him my observations. He knows me personally, and he knows how I do my thing. He knows my guys and we hit the same meetings week in and week out. He does meetings across several spectrum meetings, A.A. C.A. and such in two languages. French and English.

He listened to me talk, then I listened to him talk. He explained to me how he sees things, and what observations he has himself. He went on to explain how he sees life at his twenty five years and what he does, and how he does it.

This is a program of action, that is merely suggestive.

You either take the action or you don’t. It’s very simple.

At some point I was fired up to do something MORE. I wanted MORE. Some people are comfortable with doing just enough. And doing nothing more than what they believe is what they should do.

And nothing more.

I’ve had more than a decade to figure this out. And it has been a fact finding, and practice inducing activity. In the beginning, I sat and listened, and did what I was told. I sat in meetings, did my steps, did service and got comfortable, until the ladies came and shook up my world.

That changed my entire trajectory.

Listening to New Yorkers talk, just fired me up to want to do more and to push the envelope as far as I could in The Work. When my guys came, we spoke of what we could do together, they wanted to get clean and sober, by any means. So The Work became their work as well.

I’ve talked about giving my number and expectations.

My sponsor explained it this way.

  • If someone approaches ME and asks me to help them, I offer them my plan. I ask of them the same things my sponsor asked of me. They get my number and they follow the plan. It is their decision to step up and do the work, or they don’t. They came to me.
  • If I approach someone and offer to help them, and give my number, then I cannot expect any return on my investment. They did not ask me, I offered. Again, it is their decision to either do or do not do something. I can say, call me every day, and we know how that turned out. Calling every day is a tall order for many people. I went to them.

For every human being in the program, there is a way to do it. No two people are the same, and no two people do the same thing, unless of course you follow the suggestions of your sponsor.

In New York, you do The Work, as it is given to you, the way it is given to you, by the book. They have rules for their meetings in New York. Something we have never done here, to the extent they do it there, so when they came here and told us how they did it, most people tuned out to the severity of just how hard they work at it and share that message with others.

Things are way laid back here.

I had never heard of these methods until I met folks from other places. Even when I go to Vermont and I listen to folks there talk, they don’t do it the same way either. The path I choose to walk myself and with my guys is an amalgamation of the methods they use in New York, with a tweak here and there.

How it Works says … “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.” I have my method. My guys chose to follow them, and they are all the better for it. And I am as well. Thanks to New York and my sponsor.

It is the weekend. The weather is looking up. Everybody is sober and happy.

What more can you ask?

More to come, stay tuned


Tuesday … Much Better than Monday !

tumblr_ln3takPnYT1qemrxpo1_500 dyingwontkillyou

Courtesy: Dying Won’t Kill You

Today it was much warmer than it was yesterday (it is still cold) and last night. As I said over the weekend, things would get worse, before they got better. With the wind chill last night, temps dropped to Minus (-26c) over night. It was windy, and brutal. The shelter buses were running all over town gathering the homeless to take them to sites that had beds for them.

And I actually heard one of them say, on the news last night, that “some homeless folks won’t take shelters up on a warm bed and hot food and coffee, because of pride, and obstinacy.” Sadly, they would rather sleep in a snow drift, or in a cardboard box, or under a bridge instead.

The metro platforms across the city are choice sleeping sites because they are warm, BUT they aren’t open all night, and will eventually have to be vacated, so they end up outside in any case.

No matter how hard we try to work with those who have nothing, some choose having nothing rather than accept help. Kinda makes you throw up your hands …

All the snow that fell in the previous week, has turned to ice. They have not plowed several streets near home or in NDG tonight. So all those snow drifts that exist, are now ice castles. it was a dangerous trek tonight, with sidewalks and streets covered in ice, and then snow fell this evening to top it all off … This cold snap continues through the week, and we will see minus twenties again.

After my Sunday event of trying to get from home, to the church and back home with dry feet failed, I had to do something. My favorite pair of boots failed on me again. I had a hair appointment Monday afternoon. Afterwards I went to “The Tire” to check out pro style rubber boots. I must say that they aren’t cheap. Fifty dollars later I had a pair of my own.

I had a conversation with a friend last night and told him about my trek and purchase, and I learned something from him … “Never let your feet get wet and cold” because that will kill you fast !

I’d never heard that before. But I never had a problem with wet socks and feet up until now. I always managed to get around slush puddles well. It was just terribly bad on Sunday. They had cleaned up that mess overnight, don’t know how they did it, but the puddles were all gone today.

I made the trek out this evening. When I got to the other end, it was slip and slide all the way down the hill to the church. People were lined up like penguins following each other step for step, managing the slick ice covered sidewalks.

We began a 35 week survey of the Big Book, with Joe and Charlie. Joe and Charlie are two sober members that host Big Book Weekends. I don’t know if they are still alive today, but we have the tapes, nonetheless. Once you get past the southern accents and the drawl speaking, and some don’t, they go over the book section by section. But they don’t just go over the book, they tell stories around the section of the book they are on.

Reading a book on any given subject is good. Going to university to learn about a topic or subject is good. You have a book to read, lectures to hear, and papers to write in the end. But I found over ten years of study, reading books that lie “around” my subject was also a good decision.

I have all kinds of books in my library that touch on many areas of let’s say religion, or theology, or spirituality … and on and on. Then I have books that I’ve collected that I have read to broaden my reading into other, familiar areas. I call that “Side Literature.”

The Big Book, is a stand alone read. It tells us about the problem, what doctors and others say about the problem, as it pertains to them, then it tells us the method on how to get sober, and offers a solution to our three fold problem, that being bodily, mentally and spiritually.

You can get sober if you read the book, hopefully with another set of eyes, to help you along. I’ve been reading the book for more than thirteen years, and to this day, every time I read from it, something new comes to light, even if the words are still that same.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve read all the historical books: A.A. Comes of Age, Dr. Bob and the Good old timers, Language of the heart (Grapevine articles), and Pass it On.

Aside from the main story told in the Big Book, the “side literature” speak about all those involved in the very first years, decades into today. It is good reading. The broader view of the main players in the fellowship give insight to how it all happened.

Now I listened to the first section of the tape tonight, and I heard the guys talk, and I knew what they were talking about and the who, what, where and why, because I added the side literature. This is all added knowledge for the guys I work with.

For a long time, I skimmed the surface. And that was sufficient to a point. And I thought tonight, that yes, I read the books, worked my steps, and did all that was told to me. And that was all well and good, again, for a while …

But I witnessed people doing something different, and I wanted to do it too. And I stepped up and joined the party going on around me. I went to round ups and listened to new people tell me how they did it, and what happened because of that work, again, I wanted that too. So I stepped up my game, and I did what they told me to do, and that made all the difference in my life.

There is a wealth of information to be had, if you know where to find it. All those books you see on the literature table at any given meeting, are meant to be read, not just meeting decoration on a table nobody really pays attention to. Yet we put it out at every meeting.

Pamphlets and literature are what keeps up going in between meetings.

This is merely a suggestion … Read the Books.

A new study method was introduced tonight. Not everyone was pleased with that choice. Hopefully they will come back for more, because this is a long haul project.

A good night was had by all. More to come, stay tuned …

It was a good 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.”


Friday … Responsibility

tumblr_md2lb5P8Ep1qenwdto1_1280 laurenmarekCourtesy: The Best … Lauren Marek

Another week has come and go. The weather is getting cold. This is the time of year where I enjoy sitting on my balcony watching weather come and go overhead.

The city is little by slowly getting taken over by elf magic. Decorations are going up in the stores, in the malls, on lamp posts, if it stands by itself, one can put lights on it, it seems.

From where we live, up as high as we are, weather is a huge feature of this home of ours.

Every night the sky is different. Every night, the sunset can be spectacular, and sometimes it is just meh ! This getting dark in the middle of the afternoon is definitely disconcerting.

Yesterday I was sitting outside and I watched a lone cloud, move from West to East, around the West end, and over the South Shore, (read: The south side of the St. Lawrence River), we are on the North side, the island of Montreal.

There were no other clouds nearby, not over our section of the city, that we can see. And this one cloud dropped rain over the South Shore, in one fluid movement, moving West to East.

Tonight, it was somewhere around 5:30 or 6:00, hubby had just gotten home from work, saying that he saw snow. I walked outside, and once again, there was a single cloud hanging over the South Shore, and it was snowing from that one cloud.

Our view is quite expansive. On a clear day we can see all the way to New York State, to the West, Mount Royal to the North, the South Shore to the South. The lighting in the section of the city is not white. It is more like an amber color in the streetlamps. The buildings on the west end are up lit from their roofs. And it is an optical illusion, but when it is cloudy or stormy, it seems the clouds drop out of the sky, and are lit from the ground and the buildings. Sometimes they cover the top of the mountain.

It is especially cool in the winter to watch the clouds come over. One can usually tell when the clouds are fit to burst with either rain or snow.

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

This was an ordinary week, so far. Nothing exciting going on here.

Tuesday we sat a small group, and we read through Step Ten. All the usual suspects came, but we were missing some folks. Thursday we sit the same group of men, the ones holding together that meeting, one month at a time. We read from Living Sober … Getting Enough Rest.

Tonight I traveled across the city to North End English. The Friday Who’s Who meeting of the week.

Tonight’s reading … Who’s Responsibility ???

“… That is why sobriety – freedom from alcohol – through the teaching and practice of A.A. Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of the group ( read: or a group). If we don’t stick to this cardinal principle, we shall almost certainly collapse. And if we collapse we cannot help anyone.”

An A.A. group follows the singleness of purpose rule, our job is to welcome the newcomer, and anyone else who needs a meeting. That is our job. The first order of business, when we stop drinking, is to stay stopped. And the way we do that, is by coming, and listening, and watching. And learning …

We cannot solve all your problems. Social, Marital, Financial, etc …

An old timer spoke tonight telling the story about his life. He had all those kinds of problems. Our One Common problem, between us all is that (a) we were powerless over our alcoholism, and (b) that our lives had become unmanageable.

It is usually a foregone conclusion that if we remove the alcohol, usually, everything falls back into place. But not every situation is like that. Sometimes by the time we quit the drink, we have wrecked our relationships, our families, our spouses, and the lives of children, if we have them, our jobs and our financial security, sometimes all at once, or they fall, like dominoes, one at a time.

The first thing I (read: me) had to do was put down the drink. Because at that point, I was sick and delusional. I could not go on drinking like I had been. And for the first five months, this time around, I went to meetings, and I listened to people talk, I went through a couple passes of the Steps, Living Sober, and the Big Book. I was pretty well set, when I moved here, to get started.

I got connected right away. I worked very hard at doing everything right, hoping that I would never “want” to drink again. One of my friends and I were talking on the way home about wants and needs.

When I came back, I had thoughts about things I wanted … Things I thought were important.

God had other plans for me.

In the beginning, I relied on meetings and the people in those meetings, like I had never depended on anyone before. I wasn’t dependent on them, but I depended on them. Never in the last thirteen years, (almost), I have never had to go outside the rooms for anything.

Our meetings follow the singleness of purpose, true. The addendum to this is this …

We always get what we need, whenever we walk into a meeting. And in this program, if you’ve ever come in, went back out, and come back a second, third or fourth or fifth time, you gotta really “want it” to be able to get it.

I heard it tonight. A friend came in crazy, worried and afraid, and she spoke it to the meeting, and at the end of the meeting, several members stepped up and said, “We will help you …” Situation averted!

If there is something on your heart or on your mind, speak it to a meeting. If the need is great, and the desire is genuine, God will provide, one way or another. It may not come right away, but I’ve seen God turn things around within an hours time.

They also say that be careful for what you pray for, because if God thinks you are ready, He will give it to you. Without even an expectation on the books.

Many people have come and gone through my life in sobriety. Not everyone is meant to be with us for the entire journey. I can tell you that there is only one woman, who is still in my life today, who was there when I got sober in the beginning. I see her at work, because she doesn’t go to meetings any more, but we are still close friends. I can always count on her for support.

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

This reading also talks about personal responsibility.

Firstly, We are responsible for ourselves and the decision we made to stop, and to Stay Stopped.

Once we put down the drink, we may or may not be very responsible, but we get there eventually. A good sponsor steps in at the right time, to support you. Our job, to help you stay sober, and get you through your steps. But not all at once, and surely not right away.

I’d rather help you sink into your seat and get comfortable with where you are, before The Work begins. In the beginning, all I had to do was get me to a meeting. I had to learn how to do that in a four season setting. That took work. A lot of work.

They gave me jobs to do in the beginning. Chairs and tables, for a long time. Months …

Then I made coffee, for a long time. I still make coffee to this very day.

That’s almost 13 years of weeks, making coffee for a meeting at least three times a week.

An urn usually holds 30 cups of coffee per night. I go to 4 meetings a week. I make coffee, three times a week. That is three urns of coffee a week, at thirty cups a night, times thirteen.

30 cups x 3 times a week x 365 days x 13 years = that’s 427,050 cups of coffee in 13 years.

I learned how to be responsible for simple things, which prepared me for the bigger things.

I had good people in my life all along, from the very beginning. Who taught me very important lessons about life, love, responsibility, accountability, etc …

I got that all from the meetings, and the people in them.

Little by slowly, I got a life.

Little by slowly, I got the man.

Little by slowly, I got the home I wanted.

Little by slowly, I got the education.

Little by slowly, I got the marriage. Next Thursday it will be 10 years …

And little by slowly, in December, I will reach thirteen years sober on December 9th.

It did not come all at once. I learned that I go to meetings. I talk things out. I work my steps.

Then God says … ok, now you’ve done the homework, let’s see you work it out in real time.

And one by one, I get a little study time, a little think time, and a long period of work it out time.

Then the cycle repeats itself. Season after season, year after year.

I am responsible.

Whenever anyone anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. to be there,

And for that I am responsible.

God has been good, to me and my fellows. Not all times are good. Sometimes things can get very shitty and it seems that God steps out of the picture for a time, I’m not sure why that happens, maybe we need to learn something about ourselves ( read; study period) then He re-engages.

The only thing we have to change when we get sober is everything.

It isn’t always fun. Sometimes it can be downright HARD !

But they tell us, wisely, to stick around until the miracle occurs.

More to come, stay tuned …

“I get everything I need in Alcoholics Anonymous – 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.”

Big Book, Freedom from Bondage, page: 552.