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There is a Solution

Sunday Sundries – Thanksgiving

tumblr_lszd4uVmug1r1nriuo1_500 christopherjordanCourtesy: Christopher Jordan

It has been one fully packed weekend. And the rain stayed away. YAY !

All my planning and preparations came to fruition today. I cooked a massive Thanksgiving meal for my family today. This year, Baby Mama and Baby Lu Lu joined the table along with hubby, Bill and myself. It was my crowning achievement, to bring all of us together to share a meal.

I had ordered a HUGE turkey from my favorite butcher, which he gave me a deal on. It came fresh and already cleaned, so it went from freezer to fridge to oven ready. And it came off without a hitch. My Butter/Rosemary/Honey recipe was a smash hit.

It was important that I included everyone at my table. The baby had a great time. She ate and then we let her loose and she had a ball, running around the apartment laughing and giggling.

She loved the mirror we have in the bedroom, but she was amazed at my book collection. Lu Lu is a bookworm, even at her age. We have an entire collection of books at their house for her, which we read to her, often. She sat on my bed, and pulled one book after another off the pile and thumbed through them.

It was the first time that hubby and Bill got to meet the baby and share space with her. I was totally consumed with spending the time with her and mama.

The meal was a success, the dishes got done, and I set off for the meeting on time.

My coffee gal was waiting for me at the church, so we had a long chatty conversation.

I’ve never felt so alive as I did tonight.

And spending the couple of hours with friends was a great end of the day activity. On the way home I got to spend time, with another friend, I don’t always get to see during the week, so that was great.

Tonight’s Read was another story from the First Edition of the Big Book. I have a First Edition Big Book, that was published in 1939. The Story … Lone Endeavor is part of the collection in the book we are reading called Experience, Strength and Hope.

There is an asterisk at the top of the story that reads:

“This story appeared ONLY in first printing of the First Edition.”

Which means, it does not appear in any other edition printed, but we have it to read, because the story is so important. It tells the story about how the fellowship, that did NOT even have a book to send, because it had not even been printed, let alone, was incomplete, at the time this story took place.

The story begins with a mother, concerned for her son’s welfare and life, reads an article about a doctor who seems to have considerable experience, helping men stop drinking. It is the early 1930’s. She is so concerned that she writes New York City to ask for help, for her son.

Letters cross from one side of the U.S. (read: West coast) to the other (read: East coast).

The book is not complete, the only chapters ready for consumption are the First Two Chapters of the book. That would be Bill’s Story and There is a Solution. Those are numbered one and two in my first edition. The doctors opinion, is listed as xxii.

The office in New York sends a multilith copy. Their response to the mother reads as follows:

“About a hundred men, here in the east, have found a solution for alcoholism that really works. We are now preparing a book hoping to help others who suffer in the same way, and are enclosing a rough copy of the first two chapters. As soon as possible we will forward rough copy of the rest of the proposed book.”

“We are sending you a pre-publication multilith copy of Alcoholics Anonymous. We would appreciate hearing about your son’s condition and his reaction to this volume, as this is the first time we have had an opportunity to trying to help as alcoholic at long distance. Won’t you please write us?

Sincerely Alcoholics Anonymous.

multilith: definition: a brand name for a small photo-offset printing machine.
In the end, the son does receive these first two chapters. He is alone, on the West Coast, with only what he has om hand.
And wouldn’t you like to know, that he Got It on the first pass.
There wasn’t a fellowship out there to turn to. He had no personal contact with another alcoholic, Yet. But he got the message, and he turned around and started helping others in his town.
He not only Got it, but got sober, and knew what to do with what he had received.
Would we have had that kind of knowledge and fortitude like that? From two chapters, he got sober, and found others to share it with.
He later writes to New York, telling us that he read those two chapters, and got sober.
He did not have a fellowship of people to turn to. He did not have anyone there to explain what he was reading, or meetings to go to, (at that time, yet). He did not have the lingo we have today.
I imagine for myself, what reading just the first two chapters mean to me, and if that would have been enough, to help me get and stay sober?
The one word that came up in the circle after the read was Willingness.
He sends his story to New York by mail. And he explains his journey to get sober. We certainly take for granted what we have. Tonight’s read, tells us how it really worked without all the bells and whistles and an entire fellowship to turn to.
It was one human being talking to another, via a Very Long Distance.
Incredible.
The story closes with this communication: Via wire …
“Just received letter, may we have your permission to use letter anonymously in book as first example of what might be accomplished without personal contact, important you wire this permission, as book is going to printer.”
His wire arrived next day:
“Permission granted with pleasure, lots of luck.”
This particular story does not appear in my copy of the First Edition, which I said was printed in 1939. So there must have been an earlier printing than the one I own.
How do you end a day like today?
Lots of Gratitude.
More to come, stay tuned …

Thursday … You Can’t Get Sober and Keep Your Ego !

tumblr_mny6xdcYk61qmbg8bo1_500Courtesy: The Moon and the Stars and the Ocean

Wow, it seems like ages since I last wrote something. Not that there hasn’t been anything to really write about, but at the end of the day, I wasn’t sure I had anything interesting to write.

Monday was M.A. night, I get to see my guys all together for a meeting. Tuesday it was another chapter on Joe and Charlie, we put the cd on and let it roll. It was a good thing that I had looked at the clock when I did, because this particular chapter was going ON and ON and ON.

That’s what happens when we get to Step four in The Work. Anyways by twenty five past seven I shut off the cd and we had a very abbreviated sharing.

Wednesday was my night off.

I’ve been doing some online shopping, and I made a purchase over on Ebay and made the payment and all that stuff. That night I get a note from the seller saying that she could not ship the item through the mail because of its weight, and her other options like Fedex or UPS was going to run in excess of $75.00 … I was like WTF ???

So this was the first time a seller actually voided a transaction, which has tied up funds on the Pay Pal side, since when you make a purchase with Pay Pal, they automatically, electronically send funds to your sales point ahead of them coming out of your bank.

I went online and found a similar product to the ones I really wanted, from a seller in Pennsylvania. Their shipping rates Ground to Canada were $30.00 via UPS, including taxes and fees. I am waiting on my package that should be here Monday.

The weather has been great all week. It has been warm. The kind of warm that is heavy and not much breeze, so it seemed warm in the apartment, I  half imagined putting the A/C in the window but it is way to early to hang the box.

We set off on time for our Thursday meeting. But the STM had other plans. We usually miss a bus that usually passes as we walk up the hill. We had hit that early bus by chance a couple of times, today, though, the bus was late, and it was packed to the rafters. And successive stops just added more bodies to the bus.

We got to hear a young person share tonight. I identified a lot with what she had to say about drinking, partying, expectations and higher education.

It was a good thing I quit drinking before I moved here. Tonight we heard another insane story about what the drink leads some to do just to keep the buzz going for as long as they could.

Now mix copious amounts of alcohol, the desire to be great and unique, and the attainment of Grad School degrees all at the same time.

It is a well known fact, in one particular educational institution, that once you cross the bridge from a bachelors degree into Grad School, it is necessary for you to find yourself, build your ego and become better than your fellows.

Grad school is an egomaniacs play ground.

I tell this story about my time in university.

I did ten years working on two degrees, one in Religion and one in Theology.

The Theology department really wanted me for their Grad program in Theology. I had the grades, and they bent over backwards to fit me in. That was in the late spring after my last graduation.

I had a tight group of friends. We had been friends since the beginning, traveling the same trajectory. By the end of that next summer, we all returned for our first semester of Grad School.

The day I walked into class, that very first day, I knew something was off. Those people I had called friends, didn’t even notice I was in the classroom. They had “cliqued” amongst themselves, and I did not get the memo …

I think I am pretty easy going, and I really didn’t see the writing on the wall about the ego I should have acquired over the summer. I did my best to be part of, but it was clear that I was knocked out of the loop socially.

I had the grades for a while, but my work began to slip. I could not perform like my friends, I wasn’t one of them, so that put me at odds with them. I reached the 2 “C” rule, and they, as hard as they tried to get me in, they turned on me and showed me the door, unceremoniously.

I had been shut out.

Now, I watched several of my friends go through this, and they drank over it, after being sober for a while themselves. I didn’t want to make those same mistakes. I stayed sober, I ended my grad school run with a slow, fail out of the system.

You can’t get sober and keep your ego !

Our young lady spoke to this problem about her ego and how she has managed to let go of some of it, for where she is today. Some people believe that A.A. may not be the only way one can and should get sober.

Perish the thought…

We all take the route that serves us best. There are more than one way to skin the proverbial sober cat. I will never say that you must take this path or that path. All I will say is that If you have a problem with the drink, we have a solution.

Thankfully, she is heading into the solution.

She just isn’t kicking and screaming her way down the steps.

It was a good night.

The summer begins in earnest this weekend. People will begin coming and going so quickly for the next three months.

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 … 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 …