Courtesy: Cris Art 2014
With the New Year upon us, the book of life is open to page one. What will you write on this first day of the new year? How will you begin this chapter of your life story?
Snow has been falling since last night, not too much to be a problem, but just enough to blanket the city and/or everything that will stand still is covered in snow.
After the ball fell, we washed the flutes and crated them away for another year, hubby got into bed and I decided to crate the tree and the decorations. The tree box is over a decade old, and is falling apart, it seems every year we box the tree, the smaller the box gets, that it came in. I can never get the branches to shrink, no matter how good I compact them, to get them into the box so they will fit, hence, the tree box is wrapped in layers of tape to keep it closed.
The closet we keep the decorations in, can only fit the boxes we have, which is why we don’t buy new decorations every year, because there is just no more space to store them.
Eventually I got to bed. And then I spent the day in bed because hubby had the day off.
It was a bit blustery and chilly out and like I said, it was snowing. The city has put back our local bus stops on the park downstairs, so we don’t have to walk three blocks to get the bus, which was good, had it not been so bitter out. With the construction going on, they took away the enclosed bus shelters so one has to stand in the open while waiting for a bus.
We had a full house at the meeting tonight. Where else would one be, on the first day of the new year, but at a meeting with friends. I seem to remember that on January 1st, 2014, we also hit a meeting on that night.
I listened to the message, and it got me in the end.
One night, in the first days of our speakers journey, she arrived at a meeting and the hall was empty of people, and there were several couches in the hall. And our speaker thought, “Well, I am a sick a suffering little girl, I might as well lay down and take a nap!” Our speaker was only 16 years old.
A woman walked up to her and said, “get up, you can’t sleep there. What if someone comes in the hall and sees you sleeping on the sofa? What would they think? What kind of message are you sending to the others that will show up here tonight, if they see you sleeping on the job?”
YOU MATTER … We all matter.
You might not notice you doing anything for anyone, at a meeting, but just from your presence, to how you present yourself at a meeting is noticed by others, if not noticed by yourself. We might not pay attention to the newcomer coming in the door, or that someone might need a kindness or a hand shake or a cup of coffee as important, but it is …
Our presence is required. And we should notice and pay attention.
That’s why we join a group, to do service. We get there early to set up, we make coffee and we get ready to shake hands as people come in the room, because you never know just how much you can impact someone in their first hours or days, merely by your presence and how we greet others, or how we “Don’t” greet others. That is entirely up to us.
She was like, or the gist of the message was … Don’t get caught sleeping on the job, so to speak.
I see certain people, who always stick to the fringes of the meeting. They hang outside until the very minute the meeting starts, they sit in the back row, and at the end, they may or may not stay for the final prayer, and can usually be found standing outside alone.
That is when the iron is hot, when I step outside and speak to them, to make sure that they are noticed, and that they matter, because it looks to me like, nobody noticed them, again tonight.
Then there are those who come to the meeting and make a spectacle of themselves, they arrive late, and clatter, clatter, clatter … They talk the loudest, and at the final prayer, have to be the only one that you can hear, amid the entire room full of people, yes, we see you, and we totally hear you as well, you really don’t have to shout or make a scene like you do every week. That really puts people off and they in turn ignore those folks. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Tolerance for those with different struggles.
When you go to a meeting, you might not get it in the beginning, or understand what it means, but we are happy people, who have “been there and done that,” and “we get you, even if you don’t get us,” our girl didn’t get that in the beginning, but someone paid attention to her on that first day, and that made ALL the difference.
Itty Bitty bad girls in early sobriety at the age of 16 is a daunting prospect.
How many kids in their teens, come, look around and stay? They don’t usually.
Because we are not usually present or think that we matter to someone new who just walked in the room. We are too occupied with ourselves to notice others.
Our girl knew that she had a problem. And at that point she realized that her “problem” was not her solution. And had presence of mind at sixteen to realize this, to know she needed help, and she actually asked for help and got it.
Ten years on now, she has found the “Solution.”
The newcomer is the most important person in the room, and it is our job to see them, to welcome them, and to make sure we present ourselves as ready for that job, every night.
You matter, to every person in that room, even if that word is not spoken directly, which turn back to this thought … We show up so that YOU will show up.
If we remember that, it all comes back around.
What will your first days of the New Year look like ?
In the end there was coffee, and cake and a twenty five year anniversary.
A good night was had by all.
Happy New Year. More to come, stay tuned …
Courtesy: Billy Pazionis Flickr
I offer you “Thirteen” a retrospective.
In May of 2013, I had been at Tuesday Beginners for eleven years. The New York women came to us and I began to watch them and listen to them. I watched what they did for a while and I longed for that kind of life to come to me.
The end of May came with the West Island Round Up. And I heard Lorna Kelly speak, along with a host of others from New York. And I learned, much to my dismay, that I’d been warming a seat for years, and not really doing anything about it. Comfortable at just being a talking head and showing up and doing service.
One of the men who spoke talked about prayer … I prayed, but not with the intensity or meaning that our man was trying to get across to the people sitting in front of him while he spoke. Three, Seven and Eleven, every day, like you mean it. You have the book, why aren’t you working it?
This is how we do it.
THIS IS HOW WE DO IT !!!
Are you listening??
I faded from my then sponsor and decided to go it alone. It was time. Days, turned into weeks, which turned into months. I changed up my meetings, added the Friday A.B.S.I. meeting, and I was doing the work, praying and being present for my friends.
In the Summer of 2013, I decided to leave Tuesday Beginners, opting for the “other” beginners meeting that was on earlier, because that is where my friends were, or, more to the point, the young men of that I needed in my life and it ended up, this meeting carried me through some tough times. And I gave back to that meeting.
On my 12th anniversary, December 9th 2013, I asked a friend to give me my chip, so it went. Since then, Vendome Beginners moved to the location we are at now, albeit in smaller numbers, we have a committed group of folks who come week in and week out.
There was an old timer there, who had the years, and I was in the market for a new sponsor, in January this year, we went to lunch and he interviewed me for the position. He had a few rules that I must agree to follow. I was supposed to call him every day for a month. I did that. At the end of the month, on the last day, I called him, and he said to me that I did not have to call him anymore. And I was like “What?” But I want to call you every day. That was the answer he was looking for.
It has been close to a year, and I call him every day. He also started me on the journey with the Men’s Intensive Big Book, Steps, Study. We have been working our steps in tandem with each other. My sponsors sponsor, my sponsor, and then myself. I had been doing the work, praying and acting As If.
And God seemed to be pleased because he sent me young men to work with, something my life had lacked for all the years I was sober. They have taught me many things, about themselves, and about myself, and about us.
In May of 2014, he invited me to my first Men’s Intensive Weekend at Mad River Barn, in Vermont. Being the only Queer in the bunch, I told them my stories about getting sober in certain groups. And the fact that people sent me away because I was gay! That changed everything. It was the first weekend where men from other places listened to me and spoke kindness to me. I came home from that weekend with lessons I still use today. I work the same way with my guys, that my sponsor works with me.
The weekend after then Men’s Intensive, it was my hope to share a round up with my guys. It was an ok weekend. The singleness of purpose problem was a barrier for my guys, and they felt left out of the US and segregated to just them and the just us club. But the message was clear from the Atlantic Group.
The Mantra was “THE WORK.”
Since May I have talked about the work, and how that has panned out over the past seven months. In October of 2014, we again returned to Mad River for the Fall Men’s Intensive weekend. Sadly, that would be the last time we visited that Inn. This time around, I was asked to speak. Actually, before I even got home from the Intensive in May, an invitation to speak was waiting for me when I got home. So I had months to prepare. I did not get a notice on what I would be speaking on in any case.
Half our number came for the weekend. People were not pleased with the Inn from the last visit and the price had gone up considerably. Nonetheless, I was the opening presenter for Steps One and Two for the weekend.
I met some of the same men as the first time, but also got to meet several other men who had come for the first time. I had been working my steps, working with my guys, and I talked about that with the guys, a handful of them disagreed with my style and approach, and voiced those opinions.
My Sponsor listened to what I had said and told me to ignore them.What I was doing was working, so don’t get caught up in old men being pissy.
On the way to the Mad River Barn, My sponsor, myself and a friend, took an excursion to East Dorset Vermont to visit Bill’s House, where he was born and was raised. We also visited Bill’s and Lois’s grave with a group of women making an intensive weekend there at the house. It was a life changing event for me, and for all those who were there.
Standing on Bill’s Grave, speaking about recovery, to others present, changed my life. I had the opportunity to visit the man who started it all. Then attend an intensive weekend, and then bring all that home for my guys, my friends, my fellows, the list goes on and on. On the way home from that weekend, we visited the next site of the Men’s Intensive for Spring 2015. A little place called Saint Anne’s Shrine in Vermont. About an hours drive from here.
We have celebrated Thanksgiving and we are coming up on Christmas.
Three seems to be the magic number for me. A few weeks ago, I was introduced to a man who came to our Sunday night meeting, and since. I’ve become his sponsor. You loose one, God gives you another one. They say, when you work with others that, you might find folks to work with, and they might decide that drinking is far more fun, and take leave of you. But when one goes, there is always someone waiting in the wings to take their place. And so that has happened.
The Pre-Cake roller coaster did not take off this year.
There were no massive upheavals, no major issues, no major problems. It has been a slow burn. However, this year, I have not only had myself to work with, but my guys and my sponsor. I’ve really had no down time to think of myself. When the phone rings, it rings, I answer.
It is one thing to be present for your own sobriety, it is totally a different fish, when you are accountable to young men with whom you work with. They call every day. We talk every day, except when life takes precedence. I meet my guys once a week to talk, to read the Book, and to do Step Work. One of my guys moved to the states, this past fall for his M.A. so we Skype every week.
Thank God for technology and sponsorship.
They have totally kept me on my toes and busy with something to do and something new to think about on a daily basis. Working with others is the greatest joy you can have in sobriety. Because it isn’t about me, it’s about them. I’ve truly grown this year, in ways I couldn’t have imagined. All because I have done my work.
Now they do their work.
Continuing the story … This post is a two parter. It is Tuesday and mother nature dropped snow on us today. A little worried about people not coming, my sponsor says … “We went to any length to drink, snow or whatever, people will come, don’t fret!”
Our usual group of folks came. We called New Foundland to talk to one of our women who is up there with her new daughter, and I thought that it would be nice for all of us to talk to her, so we did that. Have phone will chat !!!
We covered the second half of Step twelve. There were lots of laughs and giggles, but it was all business.
So what can I say for sobriety, I am in my steps. My sponsees are in their steps. My sponsor is in his steps. We’ve now heard the steps presented three times in the last year. Twice in an intensive weekend, and once at our meeting for twelve weeks.
This journey to where I am today, started some time ago, and only now can I say, I’ve reaped the rewards of really working my sobriety for all its worth. No roller coaster, no drama. Everything is where it should be and all is well in my world.
It was bittersweet because one of my friends, who was sober, when I FIRST got sober, was here tonight. He got stuck in the revolving door for a long time, and now he is back. He’s got six months. And I think about him a lot. Had he stuck and stayed he would be long sober, longer than I am today, had he stayed. But he didn’t.
I did everything I was told to do. I’ve been blessed to be able to maintain the sober schedule I built thirteen years ago. And I did not deviate from that schedule. Ever. I stayed sober. Many of my friends did not.
What did I do right, and what did they do wrong?
We are all suffering alcoholics. Some got better, some didn’t. At least tonight, all in our number are alive, well and sober.
I am very grateful for all that I have.
Thanks for reading. More to come, stay tuned …
With the weather holding steady, it is cold, but not bitter. We are sitting on the plus side at this hour, but temps will fall into negative numbers overnight. There is a lot of work going on in the neighborhood things that need to be done now, before it starts to snow in earnest. Closer to home, roofers are busy on several buildings. Not sure why they waited this long to get work done, but I guess apartment leaking is rampant all over the place.
Last night I made plans, and you know what they say happens, when you make plans…
With those plans in mind, I was up early. My entire day was planned around a single phone call, I was ready at the appointed hour, squeaky clean and raring to go. And this is when God laughed at me. I had an entire afternoon to fill at this point. I could have gone back to bed for a nap, but that did not happen. I really did not want to watch tv, because we all know what is monopolizing the airwaves as of late.
I packed up my bag with assorted books, milk, styrofoam cups, and my tunes, and I set out for the church. Holiday shopping has not swung into “frenzy mode” just yet. This year, Alexis Nihon has gone to greater lengths than in years past to celebrate the holidays. There is a stage on the mezzanine level with an animated reindeer that talks, a stage for performers, and a full schedule of things to come and see over the next few weeks.
There is massive construction going on in NDG … where the church is. There is work going on on all the major roads that connect several neighborhoods to bus lines and Metro stations. Which means, roads are closed and a handful of buses are rerouted around the work, which means, taking a bus to an original stop, that bus goes somewhere else now, which is a real pain in the ass.
A major thruway that connects lower NDG with upper NDG is closed. Which means one has to walk either up the hill or down the hill, if you need to access a location on that street. On the main, this is cut and dry, you walk. If work isn’t finished soon, we will be walking in the snow and the cold.
I made that mistake last week, forgetting that the bus route I needed to take was rerouted, I got on said bus and a few minutes into the ride, when the bus went straight instead of turning left, I was like, to the bus driver … “I want to get off here! and he says, you can’t get off here,” and he kept driving and in the end I had to back track to the church where I originally wanted to go ! F.M.L.
So I walked from the Metro to the church tonight.
All of my peeps came. So it was a good night.
We broke Step 11 into two parts. Tonight was part two.
“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”
Who is God.
What is God,
What is God’s will ?
And how do I know when it is God’s will ?
Moment of clarity … I know the rule about expectations. I also know the rule about praying for something that is unreasonable or unattainable.
Prayer … raising of the heart and mind to God.
Meditation … waiting/listening for the answer.
When one studies Religion, as I have, one learns about prayer and meditation. Every tradition prays, and also meditates. Some are better at it than others. It is true that when most people pray, they expect an answer, soon, very soon, and sometimes absurdly soon.
Like, right now would be good…
I don’t know about you, but God has never spoken directly to me, even with a degree in Religious Studies. I know how to talk to God. But I don’t know what His voice sounds like.
Which brings this clarity :
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with (Others).
When you think about it, it is more than likely, we may not think about it this way, right off the bat, but, when we pray, if God is going to speak, to any one of us, it is probably going to come from someone else, someone close to us.
Prayer and meditation then becomes an active endeavor. If you don’t listen well, nor take the time to do so, actually make time to listen, amid the business of the day, maybe you should. I’ve learned how to listen. Building prayer and meditation into your life can be learned. And the more you do it, the better it gets.
I have set prayers I say. We have set prayers we say at every meeting. Very often, I see prayer requests come across Facebook, for this intention or that one. In that moment, I bring said person’s image into my mind, and I speak their name to God. And throughout my day, the faces of my friends, or those that I think about in the moment rise and I speak their name to God.
When I have a resentment, it usually goes … “God give them every good thing I want for myself and more.” Then I get to think about that prayer. It becomes a meditation.
Most people cannot sit still for more than five minutes, let alone, allot 5 minutes to meditate. We are usually too busy to stop. But for those who make time to “STOP” the benefits are endless.
If God is going to speak to you, I can confidently say, that the voice will be familiar to you.
God’s will ? Thy will not mine be done.
When you can turn a prayer for a particular end to an open ended prayer, I think that is God’s will. We don’t know what God’s will is, but when we let go and let God, things usually turn out alright.
Bad things happen to good people.
Sometimes, disease and illness are unavoidable.
And for the most part, we are all going to the same place when we die.
When we can turn a selfish prayer into a humble prayer, we find God’s will. It may not be to our liking, but if we can let people and situations go and give them to God to sort out, it turns into “Thy will. not mine be done.”
A friend’s father is very sick with cancer. In the beginning she would pray for God to heal him, there is no healing in the offing. Now she can pray for her father and say, Thy will not mine be done. She has released dad into God’s hands. It is out of our/her hands. There are just things that medicine cannot heal or stop.
Letting Go and Letting God is a huge step in spiritual growth.
If we have the important three things in life, praying for more, is pointless.
If we have a roof over our heads, food in the fridge, and a warm bed to sleep in, we are in a much better state than millions of people on this earth.
Kind of puts it into perspective doesn’t it?
Another weekend is in the book. The snow that fell is slowly disappearing due to mist and rain. As is Montreal, the weather is morphing by the hour today. Last night we had ice pellets, and the sidewalks were slushy and wet. Today we had rain, that changed to mist, that changed to fog, that turned into dreariness. We are sitting above freezing at a balmy (6c).
Last night hubby and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary with dinner at Fire Grill on Stanley Street. We walked from home along Ste. Catherine’s Street, past the Ogilvy holiday window. This is a long standing tradition. They dress a window for Christmas, and every year it changes. The costumes on the characters are all hand made, from hand me down fur coats and donations for charity.
We don’t usually eat out at high end restaurants, so last night was a treat. The restaurant is finely decorated with comfortable booths around the main bar, which was not very busy at all. It was around 9 that we had reservations, and there were only a handful of folks sitting at the bar, the entire time we were there.
We dined on French Onion soup, Caesar Salads, New York Strip Steak and Rib Steak. The prices were a little steep, but hubby had budgeted for the dinner. The Steak portions allowed us to share the two entrees between us, and there was steak left over at the end as well. The portions on all servings were large and the steaks were plenty good size. Overall it was a nice place to eat, but not all the time.
**** **** ****
I departed early and there was fog, as thick as pea soup hanging over the city. I watched it roll in from the west and I could not see past my balcony, it had devoured space and time. I had missed the rain, or the rain missed me.
We cranked out set up in short order due to the fact that several of my fellows came early. I started working with a new guy these past couple of weeks. Well, I offered to work with him and he accepted. He is new and this past week he grabbed himself a Big Book, which he brought with him this evening and for the hour prior to the meeting, we sat and began reading the book from the beginning. That is something I do with my guys here, to read the book together, and we high lite particular sentences, and we discuss the read as we go along.
I have said that I am not one to bang someone over the head with the book at the outset. I would rather you come and find your way and when you are ready, we will read the book. Hindsight is very good when talking about the book. My book had a multitude of colors and notes in the margin, all my books are like that, seeing I have been using the same books for so long. And I just continue to add notes as we read and re-read.
The first read, I think I was trying to wrap my head around what the book said. And having a meeting where all we did was read the book, several times over, these past thirteen years or so, was good. Sunday’s we spent the better part of a year and more reading the book again, and I realized several things on this passage.
When we got to the end of the book, the “Stories” section, I found that each of them had information that was pertinent to everyone, and in certain cases, I now come to believe that certain back stories should be read before you begin the front read.
And that wisdom comes, after reading the book from front to back. We began reading the book from the beginning, for both my guys. And I also suggested to them that it might be interesting for them to read the stories from the back of the book, concurrently as we start our study together, along with their journals and the daily phone calls.
So that is a thing.
There has been a burning question in my head for some time now. A question I have been asking myself for a long time. I can’t really answer it now, because it concerns the past. What happened happened, and life went as it did. But rhetorically, what would have happened, if someone had said the word “STOP” when I was in the thick of my alcoholism when I was in my twenties ???
Every time we read Step One, I get hung up on this one line from the read:
The read tells the story about the first edition of the Big Book being written for the Low Bottoms. It goes on to say …
“It is a tremendous satisfaction to record that in the following years this had changed. Alcoholics who still had their health, their families, their jobs, and even two cars in the garage, began to recognize their alcoholism. (then comes the kicker for me) … As this trend grew, they were joined by young people who were scarcely more than potential alcoholics. They were spared that last ten or fifteen years of literal hell the rest of us had gone through.”
Twelve and Twelve, pg. 23
When I was in my twenties, I was more than potentially an alcoholic, I was ONE. And nobody was none the wiser. Who knew from recovery in the bar business, who knew the word moderation, or better yet, the word STOP !!!
I imagine in my minds eye, the life I would have had, had I gotten sober in my twenties. Where I was living, what I was doing, who I was associating with. But that was not to be. It is written, in the book, that “Nothing, Absolutely Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.” Then that means, the journey I had, happened, and not by mistake, and by Divine Direction.
If that is so, then God had one fucked up idea with the journey He took me on.
I did have free will, at any time on the journey. I could have stopped the ride and gotten off at any point, it was my choice to ride the ride, in any case. You could say, my first go at sobriety, was getting off the ride, and finding God’s Grace. Sadly, I failed in that attempt.
I talked tonight about Powerlessness. And about example.
Had someone showed me the book, early in my life, I would have realized that I was living, the “Big Book Live,” for the whole of my life. I knew early on what alcoholism was. I say my grandfather’s were type one’s, my father was a type two, and I came along and perfected alcoholism into type three.
Living with active alcoholics, types one and two, was a Master Class in just what alcohol does to a human being. And what that addiction does to the immediate family. However, in our cases, nobody ever made a scene, or spoke out, or said “Why don’t you stop drinking!” ever…
I learned what all those words meant as a young person. However I did not know it at the time. I was powerless over my father, and my mother. Children are powerless over their parents. They used to say that as long as we lived under their roof, it was by their grace and by their rules.
When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was really bad.
I learned a great deal by listening. That I did very well. By listening, I planned my exit from home. I knew where I wanted to go, and why.
But where ever you go, there you are. I took me with me.
But my alcoholism followed. I was completely powerless over it. From the word GO !
And it took me until I hit the age of thirty four to finally understand what that meant. There are two parts to that step … One – that I am powerless over alcohol, and Two – that my life had become unmanageable. In my life I went from an unmanageable state, to a functional state.
The really terrible things that usually happen at the end of ones drinking career, happened in the first decade of my drinking, and I survived them, miraculously. After that I began to perfect my drinking, trying different methods, different locations, different people. At one point I added drugs to my history, that was a complete failure of rationality. That last year, I could not handle drinking every day, so I turned to binge drinking. Until failure was the only option.
And I knew the end was coming. I asked God for help.
The rest is history.
All I wanted when I moved here was to never drink again. 16 days and counting …
It was a good night. I worked with my guys. I spent an hour with my friends. Nobody drank since last Sunday. And everybody is still sober, thanks be to God.
“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.” Pg. 552
So it is a little colder tonight. ( -8c w.c. -14c) It was not so bad, without wind in your face. However I chose to layer a little better tonight, than last night. I have a particular polar sweater, which I never wear, because it is cumbersome and warm. Add that to a Henley, and it was downright toasty!
Friday’s are productive and when all my work was done for the day, I got my power nap in before having to get ready to go.
And damned if I had one of my regular dreams, this one repeats itself in varying ways, its the same people, the same situation, but the way I work out that situation is different every time the dream comes to me. And it usually ends, without resolution. (read: my alarm clock always gets the last word, and the dream is incomplete, EVERY time).
I knew I was in this dream, and I was hell bent on seeing it through to resolution. The dream involves me having to get myself away from someone (who shall remain nameless) it doesn’t really matter. But I was involved with her a long time ago.
Getting away … It isn’t as cut and dry as it seems, the getting away is always complicated, each dream presents a new problem/route, that I never get to the end of, so I guess the dream repeats itself every so often, to see if I get to the end or not.
In which case, today, I finally got to the end…
How do you get away from someone who makes it totally difficult to just walk away, of ones free will?
This time, it was getting past a security system. And people who work in the security office, who do their damnedest, to make sure you can’t get away. And once you got past security, you had to secure a ticket for a bus, that comes on a schedule, (that took several attempts in the dream) I got stuck several times in the office, which is at the entrance to the property which I am trying to get off of.
Moving from the main house, where one is stuck, getting all your electronic devices which have been tampered with, intentionally, (read: my phone) which was hacked and killed… I had to get across a plot of land to the exit security office. Then get past the watchers. Get myself to the station, just down the road, get a ticket, and finally be able to get on that bus, which took me away …
I needed my phone, and I had to get it away from the person who had it, (that took several attempts in the dream). Finally I secured my phone, but in the end it was useless to me. All the while, as I am trying to move through these steps, there is always someone trying to drag me back to the property against my will. I would get past the office and to the station, only to be thwarted repeatedly.
It just kept cycling over and over, and each cycle I got closer to the bus.
I could feel I was coming to the end of my nap cycle. The alarm clock was getting very close. I was cradling one of hubby’s pillows sleeping, and he came in and pulled it away, and I was just at the brink of success, and I wanted it to end, finally, so I held on to the bitter end.
Then the alarm clock rang …
**** **** ****
I had a half hour to get ready to go, made a couple of phone calls, and headed out. In some areas, there is black ice crusted on the sidewalks, it was a very gingerly transit. When I got to the church, there was a blanket of snow in the yard. The yard is big enough that when it really snows, you have to use the sidewalk, and not walk through the snow across the yard.
We sat a full house. As usual.
“Following a gossip binge, we can well ask ourselves these questions: “Why did we say what we did? were we only trying to be helpful and informative? Or were we not trying to feel superior by confessing the other fellow’s sins? Or, because of fear and dislike, were we really aiming to damage him?”
This would be an honest attempt to re-examine ourselves, rather than the other fellow.
Grapevine, August 1961.
The rest of the reading speaks about inventory, credits and debits. And ends with, even when we have tried hard and failed, we may chalk that up as one of the greatest credits of all.
So, Gossip, Inventory, Words …
In the book it talks about resentment, selfishness, self centeredness, dishonesty and fear …
There were several threads …
Personal situations, work situations, life lessons, Inventories and gossip.
At some point after we get sober and begin our steps, we get to step four, in our own time and at our own pace. This step is always a work in progress, because it never comes out perfectly, and we get to repeat our steps continually, as we stay sober, long term.
We all have situations that arise daily. And we either do (A) get riled up, come out firing with guns blazing, shoot our mouths off, and intentionally hurt someone else, or (B) before we open our mouths, we engage our brains, and think the thought through carefully.
In May, I attended my first Men’s Intensive weekend. And in my notes, I have written, “First Thought Wrong.” Meaning, the young man who said this, said that usually when he has a thought about a certain situation, that his first thought is wrong. Which brings a modicum of process when finally he decides to speak.
Words are powerful.
Used correctly, they can change, uplift and encourage.
Used incorrectly, and those words can destroy, tear down and discourage.
I’ve learned from my past that I listened to my father tear me apart, in many ways. I swore I would never become him. But coming into my own, as a gay man, I learned how to be catty and bitchy from the best drag queens on earth. It was ones pedigree, to be able to cut someone to pieces in short order. (read: taking someones inventory, either in front of them or behind their backs).
I have that ability. And sometimes, in the past, I have used it liberally, without thinking through the consequences.
I have grown up …
I have said that sometimes, I talk with my friends, and sometimes we don’t usually pay attention to words. But for the most part, when needed, words come, and they usually are from someone other than myself. Sometimes I sit here and write words that come from another part of me, I get wisdom from a source other than myself.
When I work with people, on a sober or pastoral level, words have power, and if I misuse my words, I take liberty with someone else’s life. It so happened that I was asked for advice, and knowing the human being I was talking to, before I answered him, I picked my words gently, and carefully.
Sometimes I don’t do so well.
And other times I do do well.
It all depends on thought.
Am I using words to build up someone and encourage them and to enlighten them? Or am I just spouting words, without thought, never considering the consequences of those words?
When we make an inventory, we are taking stock of goods, thoughts, problems, Issues, resentments, etc … An inventory, is an excellent tool for use, post inventory. Some people burn their inventories when they finish, I did that several times. This past round, it is in a nice little notebook, I keep on my desk. From that inventory, I work six through eight.
It is good that I have someone to talk to every day, (read: my sponsor and a choice couple of others)
It is good to get a really SOBER take on life, from some one much longer sober than myself. But my sponsor is a little crazy at times, and has a sense of humor, but he always comes back to brass tacks: In the end, if I did not drink to day, it was a good day. And that simple thought, keeps it simple.
Every day we use words. How are you using yours?
Think about it.
More to come, stay tuned …
Well, it is a common occurrence that the weather forecast changes by the hour here, and the snow that appeared the other day, is gone now. It will be too warm for snow, so it’s going to rain instead ! BOOOO ….
Another week begins and on Tuesday Canada will stop to remember. It will be a very bittersweet Remembrance Day this year, because of the recent events that two Canadian soldiers lost their lives because of terrorist activity here in Canada. Our men and women are proud to serve their country and to also wear their uniforms. As one soldier said the other night, “We Will NOT Be Intimidated !!!”
Security will be stepped up at all gathering locations.
Hopefully, nobody will do anything stupid on Remembrance Day.
It was an uneventful weekend. I have spent a good chunk of hours before bed reading “Price Lestat.” I am impressed with the way the story is unfolding so far.
I departed early. The weather is chilly, and the trees are quickly dropping leaves all over the place. The church had raked ten bags full of leaves that got picked up last week, now they have to re-rake the yard because the entire lawn is covered again. Best to get them up before the first snow fall.
We had a gaggle of women for set up. Not that there is really, a lot to do, once the coffee is on, setting up chairs with more than three people takes little time. I have a newbie that came with a friend, and he joined the group and we exchanged numbers so we will see where that goes. He’s on the call every day program. Hopefully he will take.
We set out all of our chairs as usual, but in the end, many of them were empty. We sat just the right number of folks because we read all the way around and them shared all the way around just under the wire.
We are one story closer to the end of the book. “Freedom from Bondage…”
We heard several key words from this read … Power, Control, Ego, Self Centeredness, Obsession …
Step Three Prayer says .. “Relieve me from the bondage of self that I may better do thy will…”
In the beginning our writer was of the mind that she could never trust another human being, and that what ever it was she wanted, she was supposed to go out and get it. Kind of like, King and Master of ones life. Through trial and error, well, mostly errors, it took her a long time to figure out that, the attainment of “things” or “people” or “situations” was not really what mattered.
Drinking to escape ones self and constantly trying to find ones self in the act of marriage, whether that marriage was for money, or children, trying to fix ones self, by adding people or things to the mix was not the solution.
We also heard about emotional maturity. Something I can identify with.
They say that when we begin drinking, whenever that is, we stunt our growth, emotionally.
When I started drinking, I was woefully prepared for the big wide world, and totally immature to handle adult situations.
When I got sober the first time I was forced to grow up, as I was able, to deal with life threatening illness.
I conquered that situation because I was sober and had a guide.
Then I lapsed, and gave back the gift. And turned my back on it.
When I got sober the second time, I was at that crucial jumping off point.
I was too old to keep drinking the way I was drinking. The alcohol was not going to add years to my life. And sure as shit, it wasn’t going to turn me into a buff beach boy that I wanted to become or regress into.
Fear was ruling my life, because I was really not ready to grow up, but there was no other way to go.
God had a plan, and when I finally surrendered, I trusted in where ever He was going to take me.
I did grow up, into the man I am today, and if not for the rooms, I don’t know where I would have ended up.
Our writer says in her story that “I get everything I need in A.A. And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.”
If you are in, I encourage you to stick and stay. Because in time you will learn the same truth. Everything we need will come from the rooms and the people in them. I guarantee that to you.
You always get what you need when you step in a room.
We welcomed newcomers. We helped a woman trying to get help for her partner. We got another member. We had visitors from out of town. And it seemed that everybody got fed along the way.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned …
It is Monday night and the internet has been restored, thankfully !!!
“Before any dream can come true, there must first be a dream.” B.B. pg. 527
It was a pleasant week that was, lots of meetings, lots of discussion, lots of thinking about what is to come. October is a jammed packed month of “things to do.” This weekend was Thanksgiving, and I cooked a feast, more on that later … A few more meetings for the month, and about thirty of us, hopefully, will head to Mad River Valley in Vermont for our fall convocation of the Men’s Intensive Step Weekend with my sponsor.
On Tuesday night we read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step Five. My sponsor went to Vermont with his sponsor last weekend, past, and did his Step Five, while they were driving in the car to “Stepping Stones” the home where Bill W. lived with his wife Lois, and they are buried on the property. My sponsor will be taking me to Stepping Stones on the way to the retreat in a couple of weeks. That is when I will complete my Step Five.
There is also a tradition when visiting Stepping Stones. On Bill’s Grave sit “medallions” that have been brought by visitors to his grave. When you visit, you bring the medallion for the year that you are on, and you leave it on the grave for someone else who might need it when they visit. And if there is a “next” one for you, you take a chip from the grave, but if there isn’t a chip near your anniversary year, you just leave your chip for someone else.
I will indeed have photos for you to see upon my return. I’ve read all about Bill’s life and have seen the home on film and in the books I have in my library. But to see it live and in person will be a spiritual experience for me. To thank the man who gave me back my life and blessed it beyond measure.
Thursday I ran some errands down to the village for some things I wanted, I get a humble amount of spending money every two weeks to spend on myself, and I did that. When I got home I fiddled around with my purchases I was not pleased when I realized that a piece of clothing I bought (latex) was cheaply made and did not fit very well, and in the end two holes popped in the item – and on the site for the store, this item was made by a reputable production house, so I thought, which is why I bought it, only to turn around on Friday to go return it for a full refund. UGH.
On Thursday night, we read again from the Twelve and Twelve and Step Six, since one of my sponsees is on that step presently, and life has been a teaching time for the last few weeks, that I thought reading and discussing that step would benefit him.
Friday morning I got up early to take another run into the village again, since I never get to the village on my regular days, and got a refund for my purchase. Then I walked down the road to a little shop that I visited with friends a couple of months ago “Fetiche Armada,” a new gay store that opened on the West side of the village, with really great people running the store, however, they are a bit clingy, and follow you around the store wanting to help you and to comment on everything that you look at or take off the racks, probably hoping that you are going to buy them.
You can’t find shoe/boot laces in many places. I’ve looked for them high and low on my side of town, and I got lucky once with my red shoe laces I bought for my Nike’s at the mall up the street. You can get laces on Ebay, but what a nightmare that is.
The only other place I know that one can find boot laces is at the Dock Martin shop over at the Sherbrooke Metro stop, which is a two train journey from home, all the way across town to Berri and a change from Green to Orange and up to Sherbrooke.
While I was in my little shop I noticed that they carried boot laces, in the color that I wanted, and not too expensive. I bought some socks and some laces, which goes to an outfit I am still procuring; at this time it is incomplete. When I got home and re-laced my boots I found the laces a bit short, well, a lot short.
I may have to venture out farther to get the ones I really need. That will have to wait
I made an extra stop on the way home to Indigo. I could not pass up an opportunity to browse the shelves. I had made a list of authors the night before, hoping to find something juicy to read. Late night in bed is an ideal time to read for me. I struck out on several names, but hit pay dirt with Kathy Reichs.
She is an author who writes as a Forensic Anthropologist here in Montreal. She writes a series called the “Temperance Brennan series.” I’ve read two books, “Bones of the Lost and Bones are Forever,” I forget the order they come in, and I read them out of order because of when I got them from my friend Danny.
This trip I scored two more books in the series … The next two books in the order of writing, “Flash and Bones, and Spider Bones.” If you read her you will know that several threads are written into every story, and I found those threads when I started reading her. I was not disappointed with the new book.
So I ran around all afternoon on Friday and by 3 o’clock I was pooped. I waited for hubby to get home from work, and we took an evening siesta. I decided I was going to take the night off from the regular Friday meeting. It is nice that if I don’t hit a regular meeting that I usually hit like clockwork, I get at least one phone call from a particular friend to make sure that I am ok.
I finished my holiday meal shop on Saturday for some odds and ends. Provigo is notorious for running out of stock on certain items on the holidays, so you have to buy early and pack your cupboards.
Saturday night I was sitting here at the computer about 12:30 in the morning and I was surfing as usual while SNL was on, and it seems our ISP decided to turn off our internet AGAIN!! Hubby paid the bill on Thursday and called it in, and they still shut us down, not only on a weekend, but to boot, a holiday long weekend. Needless to say, several pissy messages were left and a couple of terse emails were sent. And we probably won’t hear from them until at least Tuesday, so no internet.
But you know what they say … I am not in control and I have to turn it over and that acceptance is the key to all my problems. But if I had my way, someone’s head would roll for the lies and the shitty service as of late.
This entry is being written Sunday Evening, in a Word document for a copy paste when the internet comes back.
Today, Sunday, I was up early to put my turkey in the oven, and I timed it perfectly. I was quite pleased with myself actually. In at ten and out at two. I cranked the heat for an hour, then I dropped the heat for a long bake, and the last hour I gradually turned up the heat back to where it should have been all along. And it came out juicy and tasty.
I always welcome an old friend for the holiday dinner. It is our responsibility; in my community to make sure our older members are included and taken care of. A holiday is not meant to be spent alone. So everyone has a job to do.
Everybody has a talent/task, and some of our older guys have talents as well, that we enjoy fostering into life and we match talented people up with folks who need support, lessons, or assistance in some way, some of us teach music, some spend time, we share meals and nobody is alone.
So it went. We feasted on a full turkey dinner, cooked in my tiny kitchen. It was fabulous. Long Time Companion was showing on M PIX while we waited for the bird to bake, this movie was so important when I first got sick many years ago, an homage to my friends and all those who died from the plague. I had not seen it in probably more than a decade. Never forget your friends; they did not die in vain.
It is also the Holiday Harry Potter Marathon, all seven movies over two days. Right now, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is just ending, that means I get the final instalments before bed tonight.
We arrived at the church, and there were tons of people walking in the neighbourhood. As we got closer to the church, we realized that they were all coming from INSIDE the church, which also meant that there were people in the basement and that once again, I had not been advised.
Blessedly, everyone was gone, and we set up without delay or issue.
I was hoping for a full house, it being a holiday and all. Some folks have a hard time on the holidays so we have to be open for them. I made a full urn of coffee, expecting a crowd, and I was not disappointed. I chaired. Our matriarch came, coughing and sniffling, but grateful nonetheless. She did not linger after.
We are reading from the final grouping of stories … Grounded, about a Native Indian who served his country, became a pilot, became a drunk, lost his licence, went to prison, was humiliated by community, and television, (I came to learn this guy is still alive and spoke at a convention a friend had attended and heard him share this story live) Got sober, worked his program, got his license back and regained his pilot license all in all it was a great story to read. This is an abridged version, for the full effect I suggest you read it in its entirety.
Take Aways … Acceptance is the key to all my problems. Sometimes you have to just let go, no matter how hard that is. In the end, we are not in control and really, who wants to be when you can turn it all over to God and let Him do it for you! That only comes when you get and maintain sobriety.
We sat a full house and almost made it all the way around for sharing. I saw faces tonight that I have not seen in years, and they slipped in after we started, and slipped out before the basket went around. Damn. I missed a perfect opportunity to speak to them, but I was in the chair, I just could not get up and go make them wait for the meeting to end to be able to speak to them. UGH!!! Not sure if they will make it to another meeting that I am at, but we can be hopeful, right?
I saw an old friend who is sober awhile now, and lives in Calgary now, he got sober here with us five years ago, and he was in town for the weekend and he came to see us, which was a treat.
Our “more than a year read through of the Big Book” ends on November 16th, so in the meantime we need to select which book we will read from next. Since our matriarch has been MIA for weeks now, we haven’t had a proper business meeting yet, so we are hoping for the last Sunday of this month to iron out all our plans for the next read and for the holidays.
In the end it was a very successful day, I fed my family and a friend, I chaired a meeting for a room full of friends, and came home to no internet, but a blank word document. Harry Potter is on …
Let us Be Thankful!!!
More to come, stay tuned …
It was a hit or miss weekend for weather. A little of this, a little of that. Our good stretch of weather came to and end overnight Friday. All that rain they called for did not fall. ( they called for four days of rain).
I always attribute the “hit or miss” aspect to the weather to the frequent flyovers of high altitude aircraft that crisscross the island dropping whatever they drop from planes into the air above the city.
So that is a thing …
Friday was had a good showing and we talked about God, (as we understood Him) in the reading from A.B.S.I. The read speaks about what we call our power greater than ourselves. For every human being that walks into a room, there is a concept. And in the spirit of respect, every point of view must be respected. There is a dichotomy …
This reading #73 comes from a letter written by Bill W. in 1950.
He writes here that you can believe in ANY power greater than yourself, whether that be the room, its people, or God for that matter. It is a liberal thought that whatever works for you is good.
BUT in the Big Book, it says that we eventually come to the point where God comes into the picture. The notion of God is written into the book, as if everyone comes to that one same conclusion. In the back of the book, the book reads that:
… many alcoholics have nevertheless concluded that in order to recover they must acquire an immediate and overwhelming “God Consciousness” followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook. Appendix II – Spiritual Experience.
Here is the rub … On one hand Bill says that whatever concept you come up with will work, and nobody has the right to tell you that you can’t or that it is wrong, that we should respect each others beliefs. BUT on the other hand, it all comes down to God Consciousness.
Some people find themselves at odds with this dichotomy.
I know what my concept of a Higher Power is, and that would be God. But that isn’t the same for a number of my friends, and my guys as well. Some may not believe in God, but they have their own concept that works for them, so be it.
I tell this story to my friends. Come to a room and stick and stay, Watch your fellows get sober. This is a long term proposition. Eventually, one or another is going to have a spiritual experience. I’ve seen it happen, many times. The light rises from the belly, up to the head, and comes to rest above them, it is a figure of speech, but the idea is that they have an experience of God, or the power greater than themselves, and if you are there and paying attention, God moves.
So that is a thing …
We sat a full house tonight. We are 5 stories from the end of the Big Book. It has been a year since we started reading the book. That’s a year of Sundays and we will complete the read on November 16th. Between now and then we need to come up with our next reading plan. We are flying by the seat of our pants as of late because our matriarch has been ill and hasn’t been here to chair the next business meeting. The meeting must go on, and we all pitch in to make sure it does.
Tonight’s read … Empty on the Inside.
I identified with feelings and parts of the story. Our writer was a low bottom drunk. Once she started drinking, she never wanted to stop. She flunked out of school, married a man she didn’t really care about, had children she could not possibly take care of nor love properly. Finally she came to when she writes about having one of “THOSE hangovers” and the signs fell before her, one after another.
It is actually emphasized like that in the book.
For me, I prayed for one of “THOSE” hangovers. I needed that final recognition that the end was in front of me. It was one of those signals I needed from God that yes, it was time to STOP. It was great, this evening, that a couple of old timers I really enjoy listening to at meetings came tonight, and I heard that story I hoped to hear.
One of them, was deluded, well, terribly deluded, that he could drink, and drink, and drink. And that his ability to drink copious amounts of liquor was all due to the fact that he had superior genes, that allowed him that ability. Until he had come to the end and had one of THOSE hangovers …
It wasn’t good genes. It was delusion.
Since the crowd was big, we did not get back around the circle. But is was a good evening.
It was a bit chilly on the way home. Definitely a night to layer clothing.
For the last week, I have been in some serious pain. I don’t know what did it, or how it happened. But from my right shoulder to my right wrist, there has been unmanageable pain. Not banging, not pounding, but slow and steady pain that wares at my consciousness. My right arm is my dominant arm, my writing hand, and my mouse hand. Sitting at my desk is becoming a problem. Hubby got me some creme for my arm that I use, and advil to try and alleviate the pain, but that only goes so far.
I called the doc last week and he won’t be in the office until Tuesday coming up. I believe it is an internal problem, and not external as in “a creme will make it all go away.” Not sure quite what the problem is, but it is becoming a real pain in my ass. (Well my shoulder really!)
And that is the last thing to talk about tonight.
“The Alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power.” B.B. pg. 43
It has been a quiet week. The weather is holding, and the trees in the neighborhood are bright yellow, red and orange. Not all of the trees have turned so brightly as they have in the past. It seems the trees in the church yard have been bitten by the blight once again, so they won’t turn at all, but fall dead and green just like last year.
We hit new high’s on Tuesday with an infusion of new blood in our step series, and that bodes well for the rest of this time commitment for the Tuesday group. People are willing to travel across the island from far and wide to share with the group. I hope this trend continues with the seasonal change that is upon us, people will begin making their choices of just where they will go and to what extent they will commit to attending meetings, once the weather goes North … as happens every Winter.
My guys are working their steps from another fellowship and so tonight we covered Step Six and again as well, lots of new faces, some who are where we are in the book, so that enhanced our discussion as well. Our older members are already beginning to wear down and Winter isn’t even upon us yet, and now I can see where Step Six comes into play with myself specifically in regards to my friends and fellows.
If you want to see your “miracle grown” character defects come to the fore and live outrageously, spend time in a city that has four seasons. As I shared tonight, my greatest test of who I am or more to the point, who I thought I was, was made pretty stark over the last Winter. Simply put, I was not charitable, understanding, nor patient with my friends. And ever since that time, in the past, I have consciously worked on being a man that I could respect myself.
When we make our lists after Steps four and five, we get to see the glaring problems we have with ourselves. Then we get to work that out in real time. Whatever negative trait or feeling one might have, we learn what to replace it with from the garden of goodness and love.
I find that I forget too easily. I find that I need reminders of who I want to be, and my friends and my fellows help me along with my sponsor. I tend to forget that at the farthest point out, my lessons in who I wanted to become began twenty years ago. Had I stayed sober the first time, I would have hit twenty years this year. But I can see just how long those good lessons lasted and when I took my will back and thought that I knew better.
I did not have the personal strength to see through what I had learned and I pissed those lessons away because ” I needed …” I stopped communicating and took matters into my own hands, and in hindsight, I know that taking matters into my own hands is a true recipe for sure disaster.
Sad, that people decide to take matters into their own hands, and we are powerless to stop them.
I worked very hard at what I was doing for the last year. “We are defenseless against the first drink!”
I can’t make you sober, and You are not going to make me drink again…
True lesson …
Winter is coming. And we are all growing older. Now is the time to connect to your fellows. Now is the time to reach out to your elders, your neighbors, your friends. Now is the prime time to open your life and your hearts to those who might slip through the cracks when snow begins to fall, and people will need that helping hand or that kind word, or even an invitation for a meal, holiday or not.
Look around at your friends, fellows and neighbors, and see where you can be of service. Don’t wait for snow to fall or temps to drop. Plan now. Do now. I will tell you that that will make the difference in your life as well as in the lives of others.
This year we are prepared. Last winter lasted entirely too long and took a huge toll on our men and our own peace of mind. So let’s not allow that to happen this year.
Thanksgiving will be here in a couple of weeks. For Canada, that is …
Being present to others, will totally, keep you and your character defects in check.
I learned that lesson the hard way. I don’t intend to repeat it a second time.
A beautiful day and a wonderful evening, turned to sadness, with a single email from a friend.
Which proved once again, that if one fades into darkness, from daily contact, it is a fair conclusion that they indeed went out and drank again.
I am powerless over people, places and things.
More to come, stay tuned …
It has been a beautiful weekend. A little on the warm side, but tolerable.
A couple of weeks ago when we dropped into single digits, I figured that that was going to be the trend, so I crated the A.C. for the winter. Well, that did not last very long, and temps rose into the high twenties with humidexes in the 30’s.
It was getting too warm to sleep and the heating of the day roasted the apartment. So on Friday, I un-crated the A.C. and hung it back in the bedroom and put plastic back over the hole, so we have had the a.c. on all weekend.
A friend of mine who lives in Southern Ontario posted a tweet that it was going to SNOW down there tomorrow !! We are going to see rain for the next couple of days, with temps in the low to mid teens.
Where we are situated geographically on the map usually protects us from weather tracking North of us, and what tracks South of us. That all depends on where the jet stream is on any given day.
I left a bit early because we were down several members tonight, and it was just me setting up. And when I got to the church and unlocked the door, there were decorations hung all over the place, and I was like SHIT, there is a function and nobody told me. Thinking I was going to have to either cancel or work around them, I stepped into the hall, which was also decorated with a valentine’s theme, one of the church supers was waiting for me. The party was over, and he wanted to tell me that there was food left over for the meeting, as they were preparing to leave. “crisis averted!”
I cranked it out and went outside to enjoy the evening and people watch. Our corner is dog walking heaven. The church yard is large and many folks walk their dogs on this stretch of land. The communal poop can is on the property so we see lots of traffic night and day.
It is the last Sunday of the month, so we read Tradition Nine.
“A.A. as such, ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.”
Most words of advice, in the program, are just “merely suggestions.” The fellowship serves millions of people, from one solitary office in New York. I am involved at the group level, as a G.S.R, group service representative for the area we are in. And I do service at several groups I attend.
Someone has to open the door. To set up chairs and tables, and most importantly, make coffee.
Each group is autonomous. And we have simple organizations to make sure all the jobs are covered so that we can do what we must, and that is to welcome the newcomer. I know almost everyone I see at my meetings by name. I know their stories from what I have heard, which makes it much more important that I keep showing up, and when I can, do service to welcome them should they visit a meeting I go to.
There are jobs that must be done to insure a meeting operates smoothly. Someone needs to buy supplies, set up, make coffee, handle the 7th and such and so forth. Having opened a meeting fresh, I know that at bare minimum it needs people to form a group, and in our last case, it took $300.00 to open a meeting.
Someone had to foot that bill, pay the rent, buy all the supplies, AND a cabinet to put it all in when all is said and done. And that does not happen on its own. So each group, in and of themselves is a minor organization, put together to serve one purpose, to work with the newcomer, and anyone else who shows up.
When I got sober this last time, when I joined my home group, there were rules set out by the group, and to an extent, some of those rules still exist, as in, time limits to do certain jobs. The first job is chairs and tables, then followed by coffee. Anyone can do that. Usually three months is the time limit for 12 step rep. And a year sobriety to chair meetings. Most groups in our city are governed by simple rules that people follow, just because. It is the way you work yourself into a group.
You can’t transmit something you haven’t got … by the book.
Nobody can tell another what to do, and each meeting has its rhyme and reason. I’ve said before, what you do outside the hall is your business. Once you step over the threshold, we are all equal, serving one purpose, to reach out to and to welcome the newcomer.
That is why we suggest you join a home group and stick and stay. That will be the best investment of your time and talent. Finding your seat, having a job that you do every week, as jobs are rotated on a monthly basis, everyone gets a turn to do something. Which is also why we suggest the twenty minute rule as well … come twenty minutes early and stay twenty minutes after…
That is prime opportunity to work with others, network and to get phone numbers.
There are all kinds of things we do to serve our community. Little rules, that are not really rules, but again, merely suggestions. Rooms are life. People are the most important aspect of a meeting. And once you get into the rhythm everything falls into place.
Some have balked at the rooms, and what they do, opting for their own ideas and preconceived notions. But given a chance, and a little time in the room, you will learn that what we most care about is YOU.
Because without YOU there is no US.
And if there is no US there definitely can be no WE.
And the program is based on that most important word … WE !!!
From the top down, and side to side, each group is simply, optimally, organized to serve the greater WE at large. It all begins with WE.
Without you there can be no WE.
More to come, stay tuned …
The week came to an end, uneventfully. There were meetings and people, and everybody is good. I kinda dropped into a funk Friday, and took the night off, since it is the only night that I don’t have to do anything, or be responsible for putting on a meeting. I was not feeling all of myself, and if I can borrow a phrase … I was in the “lurgy!” Just feeling Blah and lethargic. I slept the balance of the weekend away. Sometimes my body just needs to sleep, and when that happens, I have no choice but to listen. That comes with the territory.
I departed early tonight to get coffee, which is on sale for a couple more days. We’ve been scooping up multiple cans of coffee for all the meetings in this area. IGA is good for cheap coffee, since my Costco shopper has been MIA for a awhile.
We sat a good crowd. We read “Gutter Bravado” from the Big Book, pg. 501.
We read the whole circle, but did not get back around before time was called.
We sit a good bunch of young people at this meeting. All of them are at different stages. The constant is that they keep coming back, no matter what. They’ve all decided to come for the solution, and that if they come, eventually the path will open.
The story tonight says many things …
- “Sobriety is about the journey and not the destination.”
- 3 Words of the Twelve Steps continue, improve, practice
- Humility is the Key
I picked up on a few things from the read, and a clear picture opened up in my brain as soon as I closed my book. Our writer spoke about his drinking as like a musician, “Practice, Practice, Practice.”
He tells the story of growing up in the Mid West in the 1960’s and visiting the West Coast and how enamored he was with it. He talks about school being a futile effort and then he decided to strike out West, where he quickly devolved into a hobo.
He wasted a good portion of his young life sunk in the bottle and other assorted drugs and such. I could identify with a stretch in the story. I came from an alcoholic home. And my parents used to green light us, drinking at home, they rather preferred us drinking at home than outside.
My drinking picked up in High School, to the extent that at the end of that run, I could have failed out of high school, had it not been for the hand of providence and the truth. I can see, looking back that it began with beer, as long as it was available. We threw in the odd bottle of hard liquor when we could get it. You could say, quite easily, that I spent a few years practicing my drinking before leaving home.
I had to go, and never thought about staying. Nobody offered me another option. And at that point, I did not know what was good for me. I had some good jobs, that paid well, and I did well in them. But the theme was alcohol. And nobody ever said Stop …
If you are a young person, my warning is simple. Don’t waste your young life sunk in a bottle or on drugs. Young people cannot contemplate sobriety early in life because, how would they live without it, until it becomes a problem and the need to be led out of that mine field.
A young life, barely out of the starting gate of life is better off clean and sober. Yes, we all have to have some drinking history, but it is proven that many young people have found their way to us, because it got too bad for them. I don’t know what my life would have turned out like or where I would be right now today, had I gotten sober when the very first warning flag went up. But like I said, I was too dumb, too stupid or too drunk to care, and nobody said STOP.
That is the most important word … STOP !!
I needed to hear it from someone else, because left to my own devices, I did not stop nor would I have stopped. I would have killed myself with the drink rather than facing the music of AIDS so many years ago.
Todd saved my life. And I am forever grateful to him for that life he saved.
I was in a middle class family. But the thought that they would assist in paying for college was a far stretch. I got a years scholarship for junior college, which I used up. But getting any farther was pointless, because One, I didn’t have the grades and Two, I could not afford it.
I grew up, decided that to be myself I had to move away, and the adventure of moving to a new place, only lasted for so long. A few months earlier, I visited Orlando and some new friends I had made. They lived in a certain apartment complex just down the road from the Tragic Queendom.
I loved the complex and set forth the idea that I must live there as well. And that is exactly where I ended up. I barely had the money to afford it, I had a job, that did not go very far, because I was drinking away my car payments, rent and bills. I was terribly woefully ill prepared to be responsible for myself. I was not ready, and nobody stopped me, so I guess silence gives consent.
When I got sick in 1994, Todd said STOP and THAT was ENOUGH. For the first time I got a stab at responsibility and peace of mind. So lets say I began drinking at an early age, (my teens) and stopped for the first time at twenty six. I was on the wagon for a few years.
When I came back the second time I was in my mid thirties. Too old to be young, and too stupid, sunk in the visions of a delusional mind. I was just hanging on. When I made that decision to stop, God stepped in and my life took a turn for the better.
Now almost thirteen years later, I never imagined that my life could be this good, that I would be where I am, with the people I want in my life and the partner I always wanted to have. We all have to trod our own paths. I know that had ONE day changed in the past, had one thing changed along the journey, I probably would not have arrived here and live this life I am living.
Everything happens for a reason. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.
Some folks are not meant to be in our lives forever. You never know when the lesson is going to happen. I must have missed the warning signs, or was too stupid and drunk to realize they were there, but I didn’t care about anything that getting my next drink, in my twenties … FUCK !!!
It did not take long for alcoholism to get its grubby hooks into my soul.
I was fucked from the word Go !!!
Thank God I did not die along the way.
A friend of mine had lunch with a friend who is wanting to make it in, but hasn’t yet. And she came to the meeting and said to us all, what a grace it was to be in that conversation, but she had a question for God … “You have a plan, right ???”
There is a plan. It is not mine. It will become yours once you make that decision. I can’t tell you how it works, or why it works, or what it will do for you. You only need to decide you want a solution, and as soon as you do, heaven will shift and take you in, and put you on the best journey of your life,
All is well. We celebrated a cake. Lots of happy sober people.
More to come, stay tuned …
Canada Post has been cutting service, and combining package and mail delivery to one person instead of two. Back in the day, we had early day delivery. One guy with packages, who would actually bring them to your door, instead of leaving them downstairs, or sadly, leave you just a slip for pickup at a local drop spot. The other would deliver our mail to the building. We got word a few weeks ago about the mail cutback. We have a package delivery sheet outside in the vestibule, but it is a pointless piece of paper.
I have been noticing that the mail does not come until after hours for some strange reason. The office is already closed for the day, so packages go undelivered or a drop slip is left. Last night the mail came after 6 p.m. And today it came late as well.
My copy of “I Heard the Owl Call My Name” came along with my Mario Gotze #19 Germany jersey. I was afraid that it would not be original or come from a far flung place in the world. But no, it was a genuine Adidas Jersey with the original tags attached, and in my size. Such a Sweet Deal !!!
Once again, EBAY did not disappoint !!!
It was a tad bit warmer the past two days. And the rain stayed away tonight, which was a good thing.
Last night I went to a G.S.R. meeting with a friend (General Service Rep).
Cabot Square is all torn up, all the grass is gone, the trees are all bundled for protection from construction, They are doing something funky at the kiosk entrance on our corner, a huge trench is dug and a coffer dam was erected to keep the earth around it from falling into the pit. Rumor has it they are re-purposing the kiosk with restrooms down below ground level.
The regular bus stops are all discombobulated and moved to the Tupper Street approach. Before stops were located all around the periphery of the park. It is said that reconstruction will take a year, UGH !!!
I made my transit well and cranked it out and made coffee and sat outside the church for a bit before folks started turning up. Once again we sat a good group. New faces and our core group of attendees. Tonight we read Step Three from the Twelve and Twelve.
I always tell the same story of meeting God incarnate when I got sick, and how he moved in my life and what I have learned in these past twelve years and some odd months. In the book, it talks about “electricity” how it is there, all the time, and how we depend on it for survival. We can’t see it, but it is there. In some ways, God is all around us, but some can’t seem to find Him, or, they just can’t conceptualize Him, or they can’t wrap their heads around turning it over to Him.
I look at some of our newcomers. One especially. She struggles around God. But at the same time, she has a faith in God in the religions of her father and mother. She sees God there, and she prays and goes to Temple, but when she walks in the room, there is an evident disconnect.
So I was thinking on the way out that she keeps coming back. She likes the group, those in the group and what we have to share every week. And for an hour a week, she climbs the same stairs we do, gets her coffee and takes her same seat, and she let’s go … I don’t know if it makes sense that she is letting it go when she comes, but it evident in the way she speaks.
You can’t push someone into belief. It has to come organically. Watching others begin their journey, is a spiritual experience. The best place to see God move is in a meeting. It is a privilege and a grace to share this time with our fellows.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.
It was a good night. Everybody is good. The weather is holding.
More to come, stay tuned …
It is another single digit night, with a low coming in tonight of (5c). Last night, it was very chilly.
In weeks time, the temperatures have dropped considerably and a friend commented tonight
“Where the fuck did September go?”
We usually get to the end of September before we hit single digits, but that is not the case here right now. I decided last night to crate the A.C. for another winter. We actually turned the heat on to take away the chill last night.
The Sun tossed earth huge C.M.E’s but we here in Quebec, well, most probably, Montreal, did not get to see any auroras. But many in Canada did get to see them. It was clouded over, overnight both Friday and Saturday night.
It was a quiet weekend, and it was interesting last night, when we went to bed, there was no background hum of the A.C. Just the sounds of the streets rising into the tower.
I set off uber early to work with a friend on a new blog project. That is always fun, trying new things, and seeing what WordPress has to offer new writers. It was all too much to try and fit into a 90 minute consult. Finding the right theme, with the right perks takes time and patience. Knowing what you want the blog to do, is key, then you find a theme and template to match.
WordPress offers a huge amount of choices.
I have been using the same template and interface for many years. I have tweaked my site for optimum efficiency. If you go and make a serious changes with a new template, then you have to go back and redo everything that you had done already for a new space. That takes too much time, and I don’t need that kind of headache.
We got to the church on time, having walked up the block from Second Cup, and cranked it out and made coffee. It was a good crowd. Some new faces, and good discussion.
We read the story “A Vision of Recovery.”
We will soon be at the end of the book before too long.
I listened to the read, and I kind of trolled off topic, since a handful of folks started a tangent thought, so I fed off that for my contribution.
The same themes come up, but I took notice of “Insanity, Promises, Words and Higher Power.”
The insanity of the fact that, it is never just one, there is always more. The promises we make to people in our lives, namely family, that always get broken. I was reminded of what my father always said to me … “Be careful the words you speak, because once you speak them, you can never take them back.” And finally, finding a higher power, or a concept of one.
In the story our man is in the deep end of the pool, not knowing what to do, either attend a neighbors party and drink again, call his sponsor, who did not answer his call, or call on God to help.
He chooses the latter saying, “Well I guess it’s just you and me bud!”
He survives that night, and eventually gets into a meeting and sobers up.
The story ends with two years of sobriety, and his mention of working his Eighth Step.
Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
I’ve said before that my steps have been incomplete since the day I got sober, because of extenuating circumstances. You can’t make amends to someone who does not want to be in your life, for reasons well out of your control.
You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends, and create the family that you want.
Many people I know, in the rooms, have done just that. We’ve all build our family out of our fellows, male and female. Sometimes you need to detach from people, places and things that do not serve you anymore. In sobriety we grow up, sadly, some people on the outside, do not …
I can’t compete with some of the words spoken to me by family. It’s funny, my father thought that he was the fount of wisdom, and that every words he uttered, advisory or not, was to be obeyed and never questioned.
Sadly, he spoke words, but did not heed them himself.
I remembered those words. So you could say that I was an alcoholic, who did not speak. Rather, I acted. And they say that actions speak louder than words. My actions probably screamed, and I am paying for those actions to this day.
We all grow up. And move into our adulthood’s and lives. There will be people who may not necessarily agree with your choices and the way we choose to grow up. And I’ve learned that expecting someone (read: Family) to grow up and understand is one expectation too many.
Especially when you hear the words …”If either your father or me die, no one will call you and no one will tell you where we are buried.”
Be careful the words you speak, because once you speak them, you can never take them back.
Sadly, she did not heed those word either.
Another week is upon us. It will be a great week, because I will get presents in the mail.
Everybody is sober another night.
More to come, stay tuned …
There is a theme here, it will become apparent as we go along.
The weather is getting markedly cooler. We are sitting at a tremulous 13c at this hour, with a low of 8c forecast for overnight. And for the next few nights, we will hit single digits as well.
Tonight’s topic was all about CHANGE …
And as I began typing this entry, I got an email from the seller of the Mario Gotze German Jersey that I bought this morning. I did not get my first size choice, but I took second choice and he threw in an Argentine Messi Jersey for free for the lack of stock that I wanted originally.
But I am getting ahead of my story here, so let me back up …
Lately our ISP has become nightmarish. Since hubby started his new job, we have been furiously trying to regain ground by paying backed up bills in large chunks, which leaves little wiggle room for spending and food. This week, we have a wider berth and I got some play money out of it.
Two weeks ago, we had a payment arrangement with our ISP. The night before the payment was due, around 12:30 a.m. in the morning, the ISP shut off our internet. When they do that, you can’t navigate anywhere, you just get their “please call us – it’s important page.” Well that pissed me the fuck off.
The next morning the payment was made, and they turned us back on.
Last night (Wednesday) the same thing happened again. A payment arrangement was made with a promise that they would NOT turn us off again. (READ: THEY LIED !!!) I was sitting here doing some very important internet sleuthing about some purchases I wanted to make and the internet went dead.
Hubby was already sleeping, but he got up for cookies and I said that the internet was turned off again, needless to say, that pissed HIM the fuck off. I was not happy at all. This morning he called and made the payment as agreed, at the total they requested, then they turned us back on again.
I got up early in the morning because I was on a BUY deadline. Which leads to the jersey story. If you go online and search Gotze jerseys, (One) the price varies from location to location. (Two) if the jersey was on the field, or near the field, the price was much greater. (Three) If the jersey was signed it was astronomical.
I paid a pittance for my jersey, and got a free second jersey for the size mix up. I took a photo copy of the Gotze jersey from the Ebay listing, and when I saved it, the file name was $75.00, which must mean that this original jersey was much more expensive, than the price I paid for it.
Just because something is on the internet, doesn’t guarantee that you can buy it right off.
Adidas is a sponsor of many soccer teams and their star players, from boots, to clothing to other assorted items. I wanted the GOTZE jersey, and if I could get them, the German team socks, because I am having a love affair with all things German as of late. I’ve been buying a lot of clothing from Germany as of late. Expensive, but well worth the price. Because you can’t get them anywhere else.
There was an article I read online which listed the assorted sellers of German gear.
I chose the easiest one … ADIDAS…
I went to the site last night, opened an account and carted my sock purchase. I thought it was going to be a cut and dry process. This morning I went back to my account and filled out the buy form. I soon realized that it defaulted to Great Britain, and would not let me enter Canada.
Flummoxed… I signed on to the chat service and spoke to an agent who then told me I could only shop on the site associated with Canada/U.S., and not the U.K. Just because it is on the internet, doesn’t necessarily mean that you can buy it.
I go to the Canada/U.S. site, and there is NOT ONE German soccer related item to be had.
Well, if you can’t get it on the Internet, it HAS been proven that if you really want it, then your next stop is EBAY. I can attest to the fact that almost every retail item I have bought that I can’t get local, came from EBAY.
And wouldn’t you know it, there was a U.K. seller, selling the socks I wanted about a pound fifty more than the Adidas site was selling at. They were selling on my side of Ebay so I could buy them, and they only had one pair left. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and just BUY IT …
- The Gotze jersey is a Large instead of an XL.
- I got a free Argentina – Messi jersey for the mix up
- Shipping was FREE on that sale
- I got the last pair of Germany Team Socks
- I spent $65.00 in total. Not a bad haul for one day !!!
After a successful shopping trip abroad, I came back to earth. We needed groceries, and I needed coin for laundry. It rained all afternoon. We have 7 washers and 7 dryers. They are located on the Penthouse floor (20th floor). The exhaust pipe for the dryers goes outside to the roof. When it is muggy and/or rains, you need more coin to dry than usual… UGH !!!
I finished my chores around 3 and took a short power nap. I would have preferred a couple hours or so, but you take what you can get. We had a great wind storm during the rain, and we are on the 17th floor. When the wind blows it shakes the windows and the building buckles. Listening to the wind hit the building is quite unnerving.
I took off early to make stops at the mall on the way, and cranked it out and sat on the stoop for almost an hour before folks began showing up. We read from Daily Reflections. June 8 …
Opening up to change.
The book says that “The only thing you have to change when you get sober is EVERYTHING!!!”
And every day we get a daily reprieve contingent upon our spiritual condition.
The reading speaks of many things like Letting Go and Letting God. Surrender, and Belief.
We talked about relationships being like a garden from which our character defects grow. And I added to that thought that, in my garden, I like to pour MIRACLE GROW on my character defects.
We are all learning about ourselves, no matter how long or young we are in sobriety. Lots of folks on Step 4 from the Men’s Intensive format.
If you really want to learn about yourself, get into a relationship, better yet, step it up and marry that person. This year marks 10 years of marriage for us. And 12 years of being together. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my husband. From one end of the spectrum to the other.
It is a good sign that we can spend inordinate amounts of time sitting in the same room together, and not want to kill each other, and knowing that we KNOW each other, so well, that not one unnecessary word is spoken. Nor has to be spoken.
A rainy day opened up to a breezy beautiful, but rather cool evening.
We all think that jackets may be required from this point on …
It was a good day. A little Yin and a little Yang …
More to come, stay tuned …
Did you see that MOON last night? At 5 a.m. this morning, I was standing on my balcony and the moon was still up, quite far from setting, even at that hour, sun up was coming quickly, It was quite a sight. Under a cloudless sky, the moon was sparkle bright, lighting up the city from above and there was plenty of light shining down on me.
I awoke to a flurry of email from a bunch of people, one, for the upcoming Men’s Intensive in October, and secondly, great email from friends from afar.
I wrote a short time ago about the headphone debacle that turned into a $60.00 repair mission. I applied for a warranty refund online, then printed out the form that it generated and mailed my broken headphones to B.C..
Today I got an email response from them, saying that my claim had been processed and a resolution was reached. They offered me a coupon for $29.99 for the refund. Not enough to buy a pair outright without using extra funds. On their site the same exact pair I had costs $40.00 plus shipping and handling. And if I want to use the refund towards a new purchase, I will have to pay the balance with a credit card, which we got rid of them a few months ago … UGH !!!
The upside of this is that My direct deposit comes to R.B.C next month, instead of going to a U.S. bank where we were charged outrageous fees for cross border transfers and fees, so I opened a mirror account from my Canadian Bank Institution. I have a brand new Visa/Debit card just waiting to be used, once fund begin redirecting into the account.
That coupon refund is good for a years time. Eventually I will be able to replace my headphones.
On an entirely other thread …
I scored a #19 Mario Gotze German National Team World Cup jersey, AND I found the site that sells everything else that I want and everybody takes Pay Pal, which is a great coup.
It has been a beautiful couple of days. Weather is an ever changing beast, and every time you click the National Environment Canada website, the numbers are different. Suffice to say that this weekend we will see the first pass through single digit temps. Enough of a kick that may begin the Fall turning of the leaves. All we need is a few days with single digits to jump start the process.
I departed with plenty of time to make my transit, and went all the way across and my bus stop at the other end of my transit was reopened, so I rode the bus down the hill instead of having to walk. A nice little perk.
It was week two of our Journey through the steps … And Step Two !
The announcement went into our local Blue Sheet event calendar which is published and mailed out across the city to every group registered with inter group. I sent a short blurb, and in the end we got a full “across the page” event announcement, instead of a small mention. And that must have done the trick, because we sat twice as many folks as we have been sitting for the last few weeks.
Came to Believe … That a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
It does not read (Come to Believe) it reads “CAME” to believe, past tense.
Some would say, and I heard it tonight, that we get to this step, and it already happened. I also heard the phrase “Find God and Find Him Quickly.” The reading outlines the problems some folks may have, and what happens when that happens. It gives options for those averse to the word God.
And we also heard what some of our newer folks did to get to this step and allow it to work for them. I didn’t get a chance to ask her, but one of our women said that her sponsor told her to repeat a short mantra for thirty days, and to see what happens. It did the job. But like I said, I didn’t get to ask her what that mantra was.
I know for me this time around, I did not have an issue with God. As delusional I was at the end, I at least had a clarity of mind that allowed me to pray. And pray as if my life depended on it, and I think that that was what did it for me. God is there, He just waits for us to call upon Him.
Then He moved …
It took a few months for my head to clear up. The “Not Having” other life issues hanging over my head, allowed me to concentrate solely on sobriety. It was also good that within the first five months of coming back, I sat through a step intensive prior to coming here.
And I remember, I was here for a few months, and I told the guy who was my sponsor (read: for a very short time) that I felt I was ready to work the steps.
And he replied … “Steps? I don’t work steps!”
I dropped him like a hot potato. He eventually went back out and drank.
That set me up for my next sober encounter and my journey through the steps in a 17 week Men’s Intensive. Some make it and some don’t. We started out with twenty five men. By the time we hit Step Four, half that number went back out and drank. At the end of the series, there were only four men left. Myself, my sponsor, a second man and his sponsor.
Coming to believe has become organic. Watching God move is a blessing. Having studied God through Religious and Theological studies in university gave me a book sense. But the richer God experience has come from direct contact with my fellows, watching them get sober. By the book, we may say, there is a God. And religious folks say that they believe in God. And that He does work in their lives.
Hands down, the most ecstatic encounter with God comes, when folks come in and have their spiritual experiences. I have seen it many times. I’ve seen God move in meetings, around us, through other people, that have concretely shown me that God really does exist.
If you question the existence of God, or that you may not believe the same way I do, find a room you enjoy going to, sit in that room, stay in that room, days, weeks, months and years. I promise you that eventually, you too will see God. Hands down it is the best experience I can tell you about.
We are trudging away.
I ask for your prayers for one of our women, who learned recently that her father is very sick, with K.S., I’ve never heard of straight people suffering from a condition, usually associated with AIDS. And it may be that when he was being treated for Leukemia, he received a tainted transfusion. This began twenty years ago. And for a very long time, the doctors did not know what he was suffering from, K.S. began to present but doctors did not catch it or name it until it was too late. What straight doctor thinks of Cancer beyond the vernacular cancer symptoms?
Anyways, Dad is dying. He may have 6 months, maybe a year on the outside.
So if you pray, pray for my friend. She needs all the help she can get.
The one good thing is that she accepts “Thy will be done.” and so do we.
Amid the sadness of terrible news, we laughed with her.
More to come, stay tuned …