Always pay attention to the coffee maker, at whatever meeting you go to…
Six months ago, when it came time to change up my meetings, I realized that there was a meeting, just down the hill from home. Essentially, a 10 minute walk through the tunnel to a little church of a building, not far from home.
The Padua Center, is a building that houses the remains (read: Altar, Statues, Lectern) of an old church that was demolished, but the core of that church had been kept, and now mass is held in that building on Sunday mornings.
Many years ago, there was another meeting that was began by an old friend, who has since died. I used to go to this little meeting, when it was up and running.
Fast Forward to November 2016. I looked up Love and Tolerance in the meeting list and headed down one Monday night. Every meeting, has its resident coffee maker. One of the most unsung jobs in the fellowship. Nobody cares WHO made the coffee, but it better be damn well perked by the time those ungrateful alcoholics walk through the door.
Hell hath no fury like an Alcoholic, with coffee not ready to go…
Danger Will Robinson, DANGER !!!!
I’ve known some crazy coffee makers in my time.
That night I met our coffee maker extraordinaire. Back then, the meeting was sparsely attended, and only needed a small, 12 cup perk coffee maker. Over the last six months our intrepid coffee maker invested in a full bore 60 cup, standard issue, coffee urn.
The number of meeting attendees, has more than doubled in six months. And all of us are grateful for the coffee maker. He is there every week, busy or not, making coffee.
This past Monday, I asked him if he could give me “thirty minutes?” He understood that I was asking him to come to a meeting to hear ME speak.
Funny that …
This afternoon around 1 p.m. he texted me saying that he could not make our date for the meeting. I was on my way to the bank to prepare for my trip to N.L. next Thursday.
I came home and made two phone calls. One came back as a NO, and the other message was not received prior to the meeting. I took that as a sign, to trust God and head to the meeting as usual. While setting up, I told one of our women that I needed a speaker, and she volunteered to speak for me.
Not ten minutes later, my coffee maker texted me saying his late meeting at the office had been cancelled and that he was on his way. Little did he know that HE was the one who was speaking and not ME.
That realization came about 5 minutes before I introduced him to the room.
Color him surprised…
It all went as God had ordered it. He knocked it out of the park.
After the meeting I told him that newcomer quote I heard a couple of weeks ago that:
If you get asked to Speak at St. Matthias, You Have Arrived …
Our little Monday, Love and Tolerance meeting is a wealth of Sober Experience, that I have been tapping since I joined St. Matthias a few months ago. Lots of sober men and women who don’t usually hit the Thursday meeting, so, fresh minds are fresh stories to hear.
Last week, into last weekend, New Foundland was hit by a severe blizzard, which prompted some serious considerations of not making the trip next week, due to weather concerns. I called Air Canada, and spoke to them about weather. Then I called the bank, and tried to get some insurance on my $650.00 airline ticket. (That was a bust)
Tuesday would be the day that I would decide to either get on a plane or cancel my trip, because getting an airplane into St. John’s is dicey, frequently. Wind, Weather, Snow, are a given on any day. Tonight, it seems that the weather will be looking up, thanks to Environment Canada’s six day forecast.
I have cash in hand, and a good weather forecast, at the moment. In New Foundland, weather is never a given. All it takes is a little weather headed into that area, and Mother Nature can dump up to sixty centimeters of snow on any given day.
It has been pissing rain in Montreal for two days now. A Rain/Snow mix may fall tomorrow night, and more rain. We have heard, mentioned, double digit positive temps for this weekend … Let Us Pray …
Friday, last week, a good friend of mine witnessed me, two nights in a row, drinking my favorite Orange Soda. He was not impressed with that. On Friday night he said to me that I needed to stop the sugar intake and that I needed to look into the Keto Diet.
Saturday night, I did some serious investigating and came away with a diet plan that I was willing to work with. The Keto Diet, is strict. Lots of No, No’s. And very little leeway in the eradication of sugars and carbohydrates.
The Keto diet has a scientific basis. On the second link, you will find all the scientific data with Diabetes and Cancer patients.
I haven’t had a sip of soda in five days. I haven’t had any sugar whatsoever, in five days either. I wrote down the dietary restrictions on the fridge, and now we both eat very well, based on the Keto Diet restrictions in place.
Let me tell you that Detoxing from Sugar is BRUTAL … The first three days, I thought I was going to loose my mind. I was hormonal, and seriously demented. I had headaches, and I was terribly, emotionally, cracked.
One of my women, whom I work with, read my F.B. Page and she has serious time invested into the Keto Diet. So she called me the other night and we tweaked my plan, with a few changes and substitutions.
I spoke about having realized in February that I had, in fact, lost ten pounds, which spurred me into a radical lifestyle change, personally. I want to feel good, and look good, and look good doing it too.
People are noticing.
Thursday, after the meeting, is my “teaching night.”
My Elder friend in Utah, and I talk weekly via Google Hangout. We get to see each other and talk about how his life has changed since he ended his mission in Montreal. It was important that we kept our friendship going, because i want him in my life and we are friends, and each week, I get a little Faith Boost from him. General Conference was last weekend, this year, he got to see it live and in person. I get to watch it here at home.
His takeaway was this:
Community is important. Faith is Important. Charity is important.
Distilling a theological message to three points …
The number of walls you can knock down when ministering to your community, friends, and family, the better. We don’t need any more walls, we need community, we need love, we need charity and we need to love one another fully.
This message, in three parts, is familiar to me. I’ve heard it repeated many times on many fronts over the past month or so.
The Blessings of Easter is quickly approaching. The whole reason the Atonement is central to the church and her people. The sacrifice of the Cross makes this life possible and grants us life, love and faith.
Tomorrow is the Best Night of the Week.
Surely more to come.
“The more you realize, the more you realize that there is nothing to realize. The Idea that there’s somewhere we have got to get to, and something we have to attain, is our basic delusion.”
“Accept the Past with No Regrets. Handle the Present with Confidence. Face the Future with No Fear…”
Montreal weather, this week, has been all over the map. A flurry here, some freezing rain there, terribly dangerous conditions ensued. As the rain came to an end on Tuesday, Wednesday, it was warm enough that all that ice melted, not before wreaking havoc on the population.
Last night, clouds began to form from fronts coming from the Great Lakes, and warnings went up for some serious snow to fall. It snowed all day, and into the evening. When all was said and done, there was about 6 to 8 inches of snow on the ground.
Twitter exploded early this evening telling riders of rapid transit, that buses would be running late (read: Or not come at all) because of heavy snowfall.
I listened to Rafa’s advice, so this afternoon, I downloaded the UBER app to my phone and filled in all the info for tonight’s trip.
I told the app where I was, and where I wanted to go. I set up my payment option and hit the “Request UBER.” Within three minutes my driver was at my front door. He actually called me while I was coming down in the elevator to tell me he had arrived.
I will NEVER take another TAXI in Montreal, so long as I live here.
Taxi drivers here in Montreal have been up in arms about UBER operating here and decimating their bottom lines and livelihoods from direct competition.
If there is one dishonest taxi driver out there, there are more, I am sure !
Thank you UBER.
This will be the last post of 2016. I am looking forward to the WordPress end of year report that comes on New Year’s Eve. After a year of writing, I get the specific stats on just how well we did this year in regards to trends, numbers and readers.
God has been very busy this year, taking many of the most important people that entertainment has ever seen, and will never see again.
In 1977, I was TEN years old, ( My apologies ) when Star Wars came to New Britain, Connecticut. The first time we saw Star Wars was at the Twin City Theatres, across the street, from the store my mother worked in when I was a kid. The name escapes me at the moment.
Star Wars has been a HUGE part of my life, for all of my life. I remember when Return of the Jedi came out, And I specifically remember sitting in the theatre, weeping. I had had a spiritual experience, one of many through the franchise of films.
“Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, You’re my only hope ….”
While God is calling home luminaries of stage and screen, there are those who are speaking petitions to the Almighty, to remove certain people off the face of the earth, specifically. By name …
And I have to agree with them.
Death is never a good option, but, while God is doing what He is doing, why not take a few more for good measure !!!
Let Us Pray …
It is crunch time in the rooms of recovery. We’ve been prepping for this weekend for an entire year. making sure our folks have everything that they need, in terms of time and sobriety. And we even have printed worksheets for people to take home with them, along with a copy of Living Sober, for good measure.
Christmas and New Years can be real killers, both Figuratively and Literally.
As is usual, the stats go down through the weekend, and come January 1st, the stats rise and we welcome folks from all over, to the rooms. We’ve worked very hard this season to anchor our men and women in the rooms.
But, in the end, it all comes down to choices.
There are sober places to go on New Year’s Eve, all over the world.
Sober people really know how to throw a good New Years Eve Party. At least we do, here in Montreal. There are several choices one can make here in the city. Nobody has to be alone, or need to drink. You don’t have to be alone.
I thought about writing a retrospective on the past year, but decided against it.
Good Riddance 2016. It was my toughest year in sobriety for many reasons.
In the end, I am still sober and I listened to good advice where necessary
People might have LOTS of years, but some of those men and women, are not very SOBER.
There but for the Grace of God go I.
Let us turn towards goodness, hope and love.
Goodnight, for the last time in 2016.
I thank all of you who have stayed around, for those who read, and for a certain author, of my acquaintance, who LOVES the LIKE button.
You know who you are.
Many words have been written this year.
On Saturday we will see just how many words were written.
Thank You So Much.
You never know when something you do, or something you say, will impact a life.
I’ve learned in my life, that it isn’t about STUFF, really. It is about connections, love, giving, sharing. Where in the world can you go, on any given day or night, and know, that every single soul in a particular room, has your back 100% ?
The most important job I have in this life, that I live, is to make sure, the meeting I do service at, is opened, set up, and ready to receive whomever walks through that door.
Service is a thankless job. If we don’t do service, the men and women who count on us to be there for them, will be left standing outside in the cold, with no where to be among their own for the hour they chose to visit us.
When I was young, Christmas was a family event. We all participated in decorating the trees, and bushes and anything that stood still long enough to be lit up with lights, to make sure, our house was the best LIT house on the street.
My parents provided wonderful Christmases throughout my life, until of course they found out that I was gay. Then all that good cheer went out the window. It did not matter that I was still family, what mattered was that I was a confessed homosexual.
Baby Jesus and Homosexual did not compute !!!
I remember my first sober Christmas, this time around. It was the year 2002. I had met my then boyfriend just a couple of weeks before Christmas. He lived in the apartment we live in today. But the home we live in today, is light years from the apartment we had back then.
He was going to Ottawa for Christmas. And he gave me a set of keys to this apartment. And he said that I could stay here while he was out of town.
I never left …
We did not get a Christmas tree until Christmas 2003. Because by then, the world had shifted, and not in a good way. The mental illness roller coaster had left the station, and for the first and last time, I went home with him for Christmas. To guard his privacy and protect him from everybody else, because nobody knew the struggle he went through, and to this day, nobody knows about how hard he struggled and what we had to do to keep him safe and sound.
Christmas is an important event in our lives. For a long time, and for many years, after we first got together, Christmas was very paltry. We could not imagine participating in the holiday to the degree that the family participates in Christmas. We just did not have the money to pull it all off.
Peter’s Brother and Sister, have more money than we will ever see. Every Christmas, it is guaranteed, that we will get three sets of gifts. Baskets full of nice things. Useful things, stuff, we would not necessarily purchase for ourselves.
I remember the first year that we could spend money on gifts for everyone. All the adults, and especially the kids in the family. There are five young men and women today. Everybody gets a gift.
Christmas is a well planned event.
Over the years, we have learned the value of a dollar. We live in a very spartan apartment, so there is not a whole lot of room to put STUFF. We do share gifts together. But our lists are very short. And we get to open presents on Christmas gifts on Christmas morning.
For the last ten years, I have opened our home to friends who do not have families, locally, and I invite my friends to our dinner table, both on Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is a tradition that my step mom taught us about.
There is an incalculable gift when you invite your friends to dine at your table on the holidays. It isn’t about anything but the simple gift of sharing.
Two years ago, Mama and the baby came into my life. Lu’s first Christmas was spent visiting grandma and grandpa in St. John’s. I was here, they were there. This is Lu’s second Christmas. And I am all in.
Today, the shipment of gifts I sent to St. John’s arrived. Lu and Mama will have Christmas in the best possible way. Even if I am not there with them.
I will win the best Christmas Gift EVER award this year for sure.
The most important job I have today, is making sure the meetings I go to are opened, and ready to receive.
I’ve worked in the nightclub business for a long time, when I got sober the first time, and I know very well, the lengths that people go to, to party on holiday nights. Holidays are some of the best nights in club business.
Alcoholics, in recovery, need just as much attention, as their drinking friends and family.
I’ve seen many, many people suffer through the holiday’s. I know what they are going through. I’ve spent fifteen years watching people make choices during the holidays, that were not necessarily, well thought through.
I once spoke my mind to a suffering alcoholic, at Christmas time, and we never saw her again. Where she went, or if she is still alive, is unknown.
I know today, that the best thing I can do for my friends, is to make sure that whatever room, I am in, on any given holiday night, is open and ready to receive.
The hour that people come to the rooms is sacred. You never know, 100% what is going on in someone else’s head, but we all have a idea. We are all there for the same reason.
It is in that hour that we can affect change. You never know, to what degree, an act of selfless kindness, will do for someone who is suffering or just needs a place to be themselves for an hour without judgment or argument.
The room is set up. There is coffee ready to go. And usually, there are treats on the coffee table as well. We really know how to do holidays right, in Montreal.
Spend enough holidays in the rooms, and you will see just what a difference you make in someones life, every year they return to spend an hour with you.
That is the way we form relationships with people. One cup of coffee at time.
One conversation at a time.
One day at a time.
We are called to be kind. We are called to be just. We are called to be merciful. We are called to care. And we are called to do good in people’s lives, because we must.
That is the message of Christmas.
There were no smart phones in Bethlehem. And there was not a single Big Box Store in all of Sinai.
We give because we can, if we are able.
There is so much suffering in the world today. The world needs a day where EVERYONE is kind and just and merciful.
All we can do, is what we can do, on a daily basis, for someone else, because that is what we are called to do.
Find a kindness and do it …
“And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost.” 3 Nephi 9:20
Quote taken from The Broken Heart, Applying the Atonement to Life’s Experiences by Bruce C. Hafen.
My life pivot continues. I may not know everything, I do know, that I have a solid group of missionaries standing with me in faith and support. As the days go by, knowing what I am feeling and going through, and not being able to share it with anyone breaks my heart.
The only person I trust, knows, but he is not here.
The week has not been without its heartbreaks. Conversations with certain people in my life, led to my severing my service commitment to my Sunday meeting, where I have been a trusted servant for more than ten years.
I know I am not perfect, by any stretch. Having my difficulties tossed in my face like shrapnel is painful, and to be told that I have issues that have scared away an entire population of people from said meeting, was painful as well. With that information on the table, being delivered by a woman I trusted with my life, forced me to resign from my service positions at said meeting.
Monday I attended Family night at the church with my friends. Thursday I am hitting St. Matthias, and committed to service for the next month, while several members are away for vacations, leading up to the holidays.
Christmas Trees and Christmas Decorations are already up in both the Alexis Nihon Plaza Mall and the Old Forum, Cineplex Theatre. At the Forum, there was a huge Halloween costume shop set up in an old restaurant location on the first floor. They had not even been able to vacate the store of the Halloween stock, before the Christmas Trees were hauled out of storage for the season.
I did notice that the trees were decorated differently this year, so they obviously went to great detail to put out something different than last years trees.
As it is Friday, it was the Best Meeting of The Week, night. And it was a special occasion. North End English celebrated 67 years tonight. Sixty seven years ago, a group of drunks got together and opened our meeting.
To put that in context for Quebec Alcoholics Anonymous, Dave B., began Alcoholics Anonymous here in Montreal in the year 1944. North End English opened its doors just five years later in 1949. This meeting was one of the first meetings opened that far back, that still operate to this day.
In my fifteen years sober, here in Montreal, North End English has been through several incarnations and formats. Generations of folks have come and gone in those fifteen years. Attendance was up, then it was down, then numbers fell drastically for a while, until a viable format was put in place, that we have to this day.
Several years ago, with few in number, we had a back room, As Bill Sees It – meeting, that took hold. And over a three year period, people began to show up. We once, filled the back room, then we filled the overflow room in between, because we did not have enough chairs, and once we reached that threshold, we moved into the main hall, where the meeting is today. What started with less than a dozen people, we now count upwards of 40 to 50 people on any given Friday night.
It only works when there is service to be done, and friends to welcome each Friday Night.
The Miserable Holiday Season
I worked in the bar business for a long time, when I first got sober in the late Nineties. Both behind the bar, and on the floor, and also looking down from a DJ Booth. Some of the busiest nights in the Bar Industry are Holiday Nights.
Just the same, in the rooms, some of the highest traffic nights, fall on Holiday Nights. U.S. Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday. Christmas falls on a Sunday. With Winter knocking on our door, (it was 2 degrees Celsius) today, people go into seasonal planning mode.
Seasonal Planning Mode: Depression begins to set in. So people look at their schedules and their meetings. When temps drop and snow falls, attendance fluctuates widely. People plan how long it is going to take them to get from HOME to a TRANSIT POINT and then on to a MEETING. They spend their hour and the plan of attack going home runs in reverse.
If travel time is greater than fellowship time, people just drop off and don’t show up at all, because, why bother ??? Add to that Minus temps or big snow on the ground.
If you go to meetings, we all know the story of the venerable Literature Rack. We take it out at every meeting, we talk about it with the 12 step rep, who pumps the books, and the pamphlets, but as it goes, barely anyone looks at or takes anything from the rack.
I 12 stepped tonight. The holidays are almost on top of us. And there are going to be plenty of miserable people out there, on the sober side and on the no so sober side. The Holidays are some of the toughest times for the most people, for one reason or another.
Nobody escapes the Holidays unscathed.
I’ve seen hundreds of people come in just prior to the holidays, and in huge numbers after the holidays, sadly, almost none of them make it. The odds are against them to begin with.
I cautioned our folks tonight, to be on the lookout for someone who might need the gift we usually take for granted. I begged them to take literature and to put it to good use this holiday season. The holidays are not always jolly and bright.
I know that there will be misery all over the city. And we can only do so much. But there IS a place to Go and People who will LOVE and CARE for you.
You don’t have to be miserable – there IS a solution.
You might change a life in ways you might not imagine, if the options of Happy, Joyous and Free, are pitted against Pitiful, Incomprehensible, Demoralization.
Today, the mail man came early. The mail man usually does not hit our building until after dinner time. A couple of weeks ago I ordered a couple of Books from Deseret Books, out in Utah. (This is a Latter Day Saint Bookseller).
My two books came in the mail.
In Quiet Desperation – Fred and Marilyn Matis and Ty Mansfield
The Broken Heart – Applying the Atonement to Life’s Experiences – Bruce C. Hafen
During my discussions with my Elders, I was introduced to a man I now call a friend, who appears on the Voices of Hope website. A collection of stories from Men and Women, who are part of the Latter Day Saints, who deal with Same Sex Attraction, and how, through faith, they found their way to Heavenly Father to hold on to their faith.
A good potion of my Pivot, has to do with being on the back side of Gay. And the fact that Gay is no longer what defines me. It isn’t who I am any more either. The only two things that would speak to being gay is my HIV and my husband.
I’ve cleared the Missionary List to Baptism.
But I want to know how men and women, who deal with same sex attraction, think, feel and experience life. And in order to be able to minister to new brothers and sisters, friends in the L.D.S church here, I need to study, I need to read, I need to identify, with a process that came second hand to me. What was sexual attraction, when it comes to competing with a drink or a drug ?
Alcohol always settled that problem. I had my standards, as did every other gay boy I met back in the day.
Drugs and Alcohol made the process much easier.
For me it wasn’t all about attraction. It first started with a drink. Then a drug. If you were pretty then it was all the better.
I get on the Metro these days and I look around me at the people I travel with, and I see just how beautiful they are. When the specter of sex leaves the equation, people become human once again. And I truly appreciate human beauty.
Lots to read now. I’ve added several books to my bedside table.
There is always time to read, at least for me there is.
In business, like in life, or in love, we may come to a crossroads, where a major decision has to be made. It is called a PIVOT. And listening to The Art of Charm today, we heard from Jenny Blake.
“Get Unstuck – How to Separate Difficult Decisions From Difficult Conversations.”
- Make your decision based on gut instincts
- How to express your decision in words clearly and directly
- Deciding WHEN to have that discussion
- Communicating that Decision
- Responding to reactions and any ensuing consequences and follow up
There have been many serious pivots in my life, thus far. The last great pivot took place when I decided to move to Canada, and to Montreal. It was a gut decision, based on spiritual faith. I was sober.
Since that time, I have been sitting in a safe harbor. And people around me are in one place in their lives and sobriety, and I am where I am right now as well. No two people, are ever at the same place together, experiencing the program together. Little by slowly, Heavenly Father is showing me where I need to go, and what does not serve me. And contrary to the opinions of some, I am headed where I need to go.
This Major Life Pivot took place when I met my Elders on that Metro Platform some time ago. That series of discussions led to my reviewing my life and major a major life decision, that is EPIC in size. This move into a faith community IS a MAJOR PIVOT.
I regret saying anything to some of my friends, because now I am seeing just who they are, based on the words they are speaking, I should not have opened my mouth, but it is what it is.
Heavenly Father, in His wisdom is pivoting me away from people, places and things that no longer serve me. And I have a community of Elders both Men and Women who are taking out specific community farther along, each of our respective paths.
I know who I can trust, and who I cannot.
Monday is Family and Friends fellowship at the church. We meet each week for a teaching video from an Elder of the Church. This week we heard from Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
You can find him on the General Conference Page on the LDS.ORG website
He spoke on the story about the ugly duckling. And spoke to the effect that we are all Children of God, and when we look in the mirror, we will see exactly who we are. We are Children of a Loving Heavenly Father.
We had a room full of Elder young men and women tonight, who all come from different parts of the world, speaking a multitude of languages, but together we shared, in a common language. After the teaching and share, we play a game.
Tonight we played Le Citoyen … The Citizen.
We had about a dozen people, each were given an identity:
- Werewolf’s ( there were three )
- A witch
- A Fortune Teller
- and A Mayor
It is a close your eyes, open your eyes game, led by a narrator who tells a story involving the people sitting in the circle. Nobody knows whom is whom, except for the narrator who leads the game. And it is a kill the werewolf’s and save the citizens.
The witch can either kill or save someone who is killed by a werewolf. Th Fortune Teller is given information he might need from the narrator to save the community. The hunters are trying to figure out, as the game progresses who the werewolf’s are so they can kill them, before the werewolf’s kill them and the citizens.
It was a good game. I won round two.
All is well. Tomorrow is another day.
My Friend Dan at DanNation has been working with this organization that is coming on line in a big way as we speak. The other day a request was made on Facebook for us to share with you this new venture in uniting LGBTQ kids and folks from around the world into communities of support and assistance. No matter where you are “by location” there are people just like you who have been through the things you might be experiencing.
A world where all young people and their families get to learn ways to foster a healthy, happy, and safe growing up experience”
There’s a world of support out here. We’ll let LGBT youth get to know they are not alone. No matter what.
We’ll let youth know that others just like them have grown up in the same towns, schools, and congregations, and have had to deal with the same communities. Regardless of where they are, and what they feel like, we will show them how others before them overcame those challenges in the past.
People’s experiences will get to transform and empower young people and their families.
We’ll empower youth by safely letting them explore what has worked for others like them in the past, and we’ll bring them comfort from the unique hostility they may still face in their daily lives. We’ll empower them to be active agents of change.
An international & netroots movement
Equalize Youth will let young LGBT youth—and the wholed world—tap the collective knowledge gathered by the LGBTQ community at large and their loved ones. We believe that every LGBT adult around the globe does want a better tomorrow for the youngest ones in their community: our vision is to give them an irrefusable value proposition that maximizes their impact, and keeps them safe and engaged.
We’re missing a button.
Our current platform doesn’t enable searches to our database, and our team is currently focusing on an indiegogo campain to raise funds so that we get to program this unique backend system. Please consider helping us by making a contribution to this meaningful project here. To develop the Fundamentals of this 21st century platform, we need help! You don’t have to contribute financially to the campaign to help us–check out other ways you can make it happen, and help us make this a functional and powerful resource.
Join the movement. Help us get them started. Continued support is the key. Take some time to investigate their site and see where you can become a “part of” and let kids from all over the world know that they are not alone and that things can definitely get better.
Thanks for your time and consideration.