Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. Parliament Hill Ottawa. A Wordpress Production

Posts tagged “Family

Friday: After the Honeymoon Ends …

o-BRENE-BROWN-ORIGIN-MAGAZINE-facebook

The fact of life, when you are sober is, Life Does Not Stop, It Keeps On Going.

I know that feelings pass, as the days go by. The less we hold on to impermanent things, the better off we are. I’m sad about the death of a man who was uber talented. But that was yesterday. Being so many degrees separated from the epicenter of tragedy, tells me that I can mourn and move on.

So we move on.

I left really early, so I could commune with the dead via music. I arrived at the church with PLENTY of time to do my thing, ALONE. About ten minutes to seven, I was finished setting up and I went to sit outside.

Squirrels were bouncing through the tree canopy. And something very spiritual happened. Something I know to be true to me, that hasn’t happened in a very long time.

Birds are a very significant signs in my life. As I was sitting outside on the steps, I looked in a tree nearby, and there was a Red Breasted Robin sitting in the branches.

She came out of the tree, and landed about six feet from where I was sitting. And she came close and ran around the ground around where I was sitting.

The red breasted robin is significant, because the robin is a spiritual manifestation of my grammy. When ever she comes to visit, it is the robin who shows up.

All my dead relatives came back as birds. My grammy, my grampy and Memere.

That was spiritually significant. I had not been visited like that in a very long time.

We sat a full house, and then some. Lots of visitors from out of town. We are amid the summer visitor rush. The Friday night meeting is unique in many ways. There is not another meeting like ours, in all the city, on the English side.

Tonight’s read spoke about: The Honeymoon. Or as some may call it, the Pink Cloud period that sometimes takes place, in the weeks and months following our entry into the rooms.

Once you sink into your chair and you find your voice, one begins to participate in greater abilities. It seems, for some, that the realities of life, have been suspended.

We spend a little time with our fellows, and some of those fellows become friends as we find our ways. That is a good thing. We may need a little respite from the insanity we have come to learn how to let go of.

My warning to newbies is always the same …

You might be sitting on your pink cloud and everything seems in order as the insanity you walked away from is abated for a while. But like all things natural, life does go on around us. It just does not take a vacation.

It is just waiting for us. And hoping that we’ve learned something minimal by now is the key, so that when the cloud edge comes, you don’t fall off of it, and hit the ground with a THUD. Some go back out, and drink and use again, shit happens.

I’ve seen this happen. So I encourage our men and women to stick close to others in the rooms. Find commonalities. Use the rooms as they present themselves to you.

You CAN, figuratively, GET anything you need from the rooms. That worked for me famously. But times have changed. The rooms fifteen years ago, are not the rooms of 2017.

For me, the first eleven months were really great. I was connected. I had a sponsor that i was connected to with an umbilical cord through my first anniversary.

Sobriety, like life, happens, and sometimes sober people do really Un-Sober things.

At the eleventh month mark, I met my then boyfriend, and the race took off.

That Christmas of 2002, hubby went home to Ottawa and he gave me keys to the apartment we live in today, and said I could stay here, while he was gone.

I never left … tee hee

That was the beginning. Once that train left the station, it never stopped.

The honeymoon was definitely OVER.

Learning how to have a sober relationship took A LOT of work. Learning how to be responsible for another human being, was the beginning of my reaching the point I had been looking for for the whole of my life.

When does a boy become a man ??? Gay or Straight, the answer is the SAME.

Boys become MEN when we learn to put the needs of our significant others before our own.

Putting a home together took YEARS.

This apartment was sterile, dirty white. Take out containers were all over the place. The tv was black and white and had rabbit ears. We did not have a computer. We did not have food in the fridge. We did not have two nickles to rub together.

There were 300 empty beer bottles on the balcony, that took months and months to return, so we could buy groceries. Hubby was a pot head, so we had to cleanse the apartment of weed, rolling machines and papers … UGH !!!

Yesterday I was reorganizing the closet and I found another rolling machine, and a package of papers … Does this ever end ???

Needless to say, it was one thing after another. Mental illness happened. I learned how to care for my boyfriend who was sick for almost a year. That was a huge challenge.

Then he woke up, and we got married …In November 2004.

The Honeymoon was deferred until December that year. Things were honeymoonish for a few weeks.

That did not last for long.

Thirteen years would pass, until that final PROMISE came to pass …

Fear of People and of Economic Insecurities will leave us …

The grind of life took us on a life changing journey together. And we survived it.

In year thirteen and beyond life got exponentially better.

It was clearly NOT a cakewalk by any stretch of the imagination.

We both worked our asses off. Went back to school, we amassed 5 University degrees between us.

Sobriety grew on us and not without its challenges.

Life is SO much better today than it was a little more than fifteen years ago.

I had 11 months of non stop meetings. I had 11 months of a sponsor who was part of my life on a daily basis. I had aftercare rehab counseling for two years when I got sober this time. I had everything I needed and NOT a single thing more.

I worked my ass off, for twelve years in sobriety, before BOB came into my life and turned my sober life upside down. I thought I was doing everything right, WRONG …

Bob introduced me to Intense Prayer and Meditation, like I had never heard before.

Three – Seven – Eleven …

My sobriety was definitely enhanced.

Twelve through fifteen was all about learning MORE about the book.

Year Fifteen has been one Hellacious, Terrible, Emotional, Nightmare.

I never want to go through this kind of pain ever again in my life.

In ten days, I will be Fifty years old.

Hallelujah !

It works if you work it.


Monday: You are NOT ALONE any more …

IMG_0234

In the Book of Genesis, God said that it was not good for Adam to be alone, So he took a rib from Adam and created Eve. Adam was no longer alone.

  • How many of us grew up alone ?
  • How many of us are alone ?
  • And how many of us drank ALONE ?

My grandmothers, the two women I hold in my heart, believed in me. And while they were in my life, for those brief years, I was not alone. My father, in his misguided way, thought that we, as a family, were better off :

ALONE …

And over my childhood, alienated every family member out of our lives, so he could shape his family, in his own image, without the influence of anyone else.

As a thirteen year old, loosing that connection to the women who helped me stay alive, amid the violence and alcoholism that pervaded our family, was catastrophic.

For everyone.

I always kept to my room, even when my father took the door off the hinges. I was never alone, my father was always in my face. But there were times, when I was alone. And looking back now, I see how alone I really was.

Everybody knew about the alcoholism. Nobody spoke of it, or offered a solution to the problem. And Nobody wanted to hear what I had to say. Nobody allowed me to speak my mind or my heart.

When I had a job, that job was my life. There were several successive jobs that I really loved, and did well. I was not alone at work. The last job I had before I moved away from home was in a travel agency, where alcohol was served during business hours.

Over the ensuing years, those people I worked with got sober, while I remained a spinning tornado in their lives. In hindsight, none of them offered me “The Solution,” until I found my way to the rooms, by force when Todd saved my life.

I was a lone drinker, however, I drank in a bar, with people around me. I had many bell weather friends, but nobody who knew anything about life beyond drinking, drugging and having sex.

When I moved away to be Gay, I was told, by a shrink, that in order to fit in, I had to drink. So that is what I did. I never found the holy grail. I never found the answers I was seeking or the total acceptance that I was craving.

Being a lone alcoholic is a terrible way to live. Being around people, en mass, was not the answer. Nobody was paying attention, except to know what they wanted to take from me in the end.

It wasn’t until I got sober in 1994, that Todd had come to me, and picked me up off the parking lot pavement and took me in. For that first couple of weeks, he had stationed Danny in my apartment to keep an eye on me when we weren’t working at the bar.

Those first two years, with Todd, were the greatest period of my life. I was not alone any more. Todd was there to show me how to survive. How to live soberly, and he kept me above the water, when everybody else was sinking fast.

As long as He was there, I was fine. It was when he moved away, and I found myself alone, WITH TOOLS, but not having the ability to make things work by myself.

I just could not do it ALONE.

When I returned from my slip, I found a place to live, from a woman who thought it would be good to rent to me so that I would not be alone. And from that apartment, came the job that would change my life.

Still drinking, I had to get to the end. And I did eventually.

The day Troy walked into my life an uttered those simple words …

I did NOT drink today … He led the way into sobriety again, the second time.

When I moved to Montreal, Tuesday Beginners became my home. I went there religiously for the following eleven years. That was the home group that made this life possible. Because my Home Group was hallowed ground.

My first sponsor, David, attached himself to me with an invisible tether. For a year, he took care of me, and I was not alone.

On my first anniversary, he ceded control, and that very night, was the first night I spent with my then boyfriend, who is now my husband.

God spoke and said that “it is not good for Jeremy to be alone …”

I’ve not been alone, from that moment on … To This Day.

There have been times, as I sat, where I am sitting at this very moment, in the middle of the night, as midnight closed in on me, mentally and emotionally, and felt that I was terribly alone with my sorrows, my trials, and my tribulations, when hubby was sick.

As long I was hitting my meetings, I was never alone.

I am better at being alone today. And I love the hours of the day when I am home alone. Because for many hours of the days, weeks, months and years, I am never alone.

I don’t think I could ever live alone again. And I am not sure what I would do if I ever found myself alone, for some UN-forseen circumstances.

The rooms provide.

That is a refrain that I repeat to my friends. The rooms of 2001 and beyond, here in Montreal, are not the same rooms in 2017. People have long since come and gone.

The rooms, and their people, are not as giving as they once were. But there are exceptions to that rule. Because, if you ask, people show up and step up.

That is a given, in many situations.

People today, still have problems asking for help. But I tell my friends that if they need something, anything, to bring it to a room and put it down on the table.

You might never know the results you might get, if you choose NOT to ask them.

In our story tonight, “He lived to drink” a successful, evangelical young man, with promise, God, family and a good job, falls into the addiction to alcohol.

All it took, was that FIRST drink, on his FIRST visit to a cocktail bar with friends from school.

From that point on, he was off and running.

He ran so far, that he ended up on skid row …

“It still did not register that the drinking might be the cause of all of my misery. I sold my blood. I prostituted myself; I drank more. I became homeless and slept in the bus and train terminals. I scrounged cigarette butts off the sidewalks and drank from a common wine bottle with other drunks. I drank my way to the men’s municipal shelter and made it my home. I panhandled. By this time I lived only to drink. I did not bathe or change clothes; I stank; I became thin and ill; I had begun to hear voices and accepted them as death omens. I was frightened, arrogant, enraged, and resentful of man, God, and the universe. there was nothing else to live for, but I was too frightened to die …”

It was at this point that a woman who was a social worker on skid row and a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous sat me down in her office and told me her story – how she drank, what happened, and how she got sober. No one had ever done this before.

I had been been preached to, analyzed, cursed, and counseled, but no one had ever said, “I identify with what’s going on with you. It happened to me, and this is what I did about it.” She got me to my first A.A. meeting that same evening.

Once our man, a black man, accepted goodness and love into his life, and he opened his heart to his fellows and later God, He realized that he was not alone.

And it is for this reason, in A.A., that you are not alone any more …

And that you never have to drink again …


Monday: St. John’s NL Review – Ferryland

Picture courtesy Rhonda O'Keefe Arsenault, Ferryland Cottage

Courtesy: Rhonda O’Keefe Arsenault – Ferryland Cottage – Ferryland Iceberg, St. John’s.

I am home from my Easter Holiday’s with Mama and Lu. The weather was good, for the most part. But St. John’s, being on the Eastern Edge of the Island, weather is always hit or miss, depending on when the wind begins to blow.

I arrived on Thursday afternoon, and Lu was very surprised to see me. She actually was good for three days. On Easter Sunday, knowing she was on a build up to detonation, we were on pins and needles all through dinner. We had to extricate her from grand ma’s house and it was not pretty at all. We got her home, and both Mama and Lu passed out from exhaustion.

Little St. John’s Factoid … There are seagulls in the city proper, since we are just off the ocean. Garbage pickup was delayed a day for the holiday, what I learned about garbage in St. John’s is this … You don’t just put your trash out for pick up by itself. Because the seagulls will destroy your garbage and strew garbage all over the street.

So everyone has a NET that they cover their bins and garbage with, to avoid the seagull attacks on garbage day. If you don’t NET your garbage, you will be fined by the city.

Garbage strewn all over the neighborhood is unsightly.

IMG_0213

On Friday, we took a tour of Signal Hill. There was a little ice on the coast, and you could see the Ice Pack just off the Eastern Shore of the Island. You can see a small ice berg almost center frame to the right just off the coast.

I took a boatload of photos. I won’t upload all of them because they are single photos and the blog does not have an album setting for multiple photos.

The First Image above is of the Ferry Land Iceberg that was siting just off the coast in Ferryland, where I was staying with Mama. It was about twenty minutes from the house. I did not take the photo. There were massive traffic jams on the island, with people coming from all over to see it.

Sadly, there were no boat tours during my stay, but they start up on May 1st. Since the icebergs are coming down the coast very early this year. The fisheries operations are all out of whack because of Ice. Many of the fishermen were called back to port due to the Ice Pack and Icebergs coming down the coast.

IMG_0220

On my flight into St. John’s we flew over the Eastern shore of the Island and there were massive icebergs out at sea as we flew over them. An Iceberg close to shore will affect the weather in St. John’s.

IMG_0217

IMG_0214

IMG_0225

IMG_0221

IMG_0226

This is out little tour group on Signal Hill, and a very big furry New Foundland dog that was with his owner when we got to the Hill. Signal Hill and the port in Downtown St. John’s. The Oil and Fishery ships are HUGE … Not as huge as a modern cruise ship, but HUGE for a sea going vessel.

I flew home this afternoon. The weather had turned sour, with fog, rain and it was cold. While I was sitting at the gate, I watched a military transport Hercules C-130 Military transport fly out of the airport. It hung up the entire airport traffic, as incoming helicopters from the oil patch and regular commercial aircraft use the airport all together.

Like the trip out, there was total cloud cover from coast to coast. On the way in, when we got to the Eastern Coast of New Foundland, the clouds parted and gave us the view of the Icebergs just off the Eastern Shore of the Island.

More to come later on. Have to get ready to go.

 

 


Monday: Memories, Promises, Spirituality

20140127-pope-x624-1390859938

Our story tonight, comes via a man who is of the Jewish faith. This story highlights the conundrum that many face, when they come to the rooms. The dichotomy of a program of recovery, that operates on a Spiritual, rather than religious model.

You can’t get away with calling a program of recovery “Spiritual” when the word “GOD” appears in the Book, and through the steps. This One Single Three Letter Word, keeps many from getting sober, no less, having a spiritual experience that everybody needs, at some point in their journey.

How do you separate the Religious from the Spiritual ?

…The last big hurdle was closing the meeting with the Lord’s Prayer. As a Jew, I was uncomfortable with it and decided to talk to my sponsor about it. So I said, “The Lord’s Prayer bothers me. I don’t like closing with it.” “Oh,” he said, “what’s the problem?” “Well, I’m Jewish and it’s not a Jewish prayer.”

“Well then,” he said “Say it in Jewish.” I said, “It would still be the Lord’s Prayer.” “Right,” he said. “Then say something else that you like. Your Higher Power, whatever you call it, is helping you, and you need to say thank you.”

That was a big step for me; I finally began to separate the religious aspect of my life from A.A. Spiritual program. Now the big difference to me is that religion is the RITUAL, and we all differ there, and SPIRITUALITY is the way we feel about what we do. It’s about my personal contact with my personal Higher Power, as I understand Him.

I laughed to myself as I read this story. This man, who came in, and against his better nature, did get sober, and found a life beyond his wildest dreams. He, a Jew, comes in and has problems, not with G-d but with The Lord’s Prayer, and its recitation to close a meeting.

I’ve spoken about the promise made to God, by Memere, about me, when I was just a boy.

Last night, I was reminded of that promise, by a passage in a book I am reading at the moment about Pope Francis.

The biographer is telling the story of the child, Jorge Mario Bergoglio and how his grandmother introduced him to a life of faith and prayer. A story, very similar to mine.

It was my grandmother who took me to church, promised me to God, and faith followed me, and God was always there, I just wasn’t always interested in listening.

Until I got sober the second time.

I read this passage last night and it rang so very true for me …

May the Man not betray what he promised as a child …

I had not made that initial promise, but I HAD made a promise to God, in church, as I was being groomed to enter the seminary. And while there, I did promise God my life, from that point in my limited life, to the extent I believed I could.

It only took me thirty four years to figure out that I needed to rekindle that promise and make my way into life with God in the drivers seat. And to be honest, I was good for that.

Life is there, for you to choose what you are going to do with it.

But if you are on Train B, and you are on your Do Over, better buckle up and do this right, because you may never get another kick at the proverbial can of sobriety.

Petty complaints, and a lack of trust and faith will destroy someone coming in the rooms with an “I Know Better” attitude.

It was Chabad, A Jewish Organization, who pointed the way for me, and IS the bedrock of my program of recovery. An Organization that still operates in our city today.

I find it funny, that our writer tonight, is a Jew who has problems with a Christian Prayer, and it was a Jewish Organization that helped me get and stay sober.

I owe them a debt of Gratitude.

A factual memory that rises to my mind when reading this story… The story of Louis and Irene Ziff, survivors of the Holocaust, and the Auschwitz concentration camp. I knew this couple well, they were friends of the family when I was a boy. They used to dine at our table for many years, before they both died.

I remember them fondly.

 

 


International Women’s Day

sandy paula 2

My Aunt Paula and my cousin Sandy.

What would the world be like with NO Women ???

How often are women treated as second class citizens, toughing it out, trying to climb the ladder in work, taking care of babies at home, shopping, cleaning, cooking and everything else that us men, don’t do ourselves.

I think men fail to realize that WOMEN make the world go round. Women are under appreciated, and mostly scorned for wanting better for themselves.

I am a man of the late 1960’s.

My life was filled with women. Across the board.

It fell to the women of our family to do all of the heavy lifting, when it came to family, because all of the men in our family were saddled with work and alcoholism. And the women bore their crosses well, and rarely complained about their lots in life.

If it were not for the women in my early life, I surely would have ended up dead, because that is what my father intended from the very start.

We lived in Connecticut. Most of the family were concentrated in New Britain, but aunts and uncles were scattered in other areas, one needed a car to get to.

My Grandmothers, Camille, and Jeannie, and my Aunt Paula, were my main caregivers. I could not have asked for better people in my life than them. They provided for everything that I might have needed.

Back in the day, we lived simple lives. We did not want for anything, because we had everything we needed. I don’t ever remember any of them going without. But back then, there really was not much else we needed to “get,” like I said, life was simple.

We had a large family that was extended from Canada. The Québécois faction of the family always gathered at Aunt Paula’s house during the summers. Aunts, uncles, cousins and everyone else in between.

I knew I was loved by everyone else, except my biological parents. The women in my life fought to keep me alive. In the words of Toxic Parents, my mother was the silent woman in the family. She did what she had to do to survive.

My father imported her from Montreal, and began to strip away every vestige of who she was, who she knew and he pried her apart of every family member that stood in the way of him making my mother, “In His Image.”

She would become an American Wife, if it killed him in the process.

For a long time, my mother gave us what we needed, and growing up, my brother and I, never wanted for anything. We climbed the social and economic ladder very quickly and very successfully. My mother was not perfect, but she provided. My mother, like my father, was a successful functional alcoholic.

As a young person, I listened very carefully to every word I heard come out of my parent’s mouths. And it was from those words, that I made my life decisions, because they openly shared what they abhorred, and sooner or later, I would become all of what they abhorred.

My mother suffered. And today she is a shell of who she once was, and is a miserable, insufferable, vindictive, bitter old woman. I don’t know who she is today.

I was the one who got out. Who broke the mold, and lived the life, in the end, today, that I was meant to live.

ALIVE.

As I grew up, illness began to creep into our lives. And little by slowly, the women in my life began to disappear. My brother and I would travel North to visit family on vacations and during the summer.

Memories of my brother are negligible. He is not a person who is heavily imprinted in my memory at all. My brother, taught to be my adversary, kept a fair distance from me, even if we were in the same house at the same time, and that included during family vacations.

Camille and Jeannie, and Paula, kept a good eye on me. They taught me about life, family, love and devotion. And I was devoted to them, and still am to this very day.

In the eighth grade, Jeannie suffered a tragic stroke, and the woman she was disappeared, and as hard as I tried, I could not bring her back from the abyss. She was gone. She lost her memories, most of her movement, and much of her speech.

She remained a tragic disabled woman, along with my later stroke ridden grandfather. They lived in rest home after rest home, in Miami, until their eventual deaths, when I was in High School.

Camille languished in a rest home in Connecticut, as I grew into my twenties. When I got sick with AIDS in 1994, my mother banned me from family gatherings, however, I did go home once for Christmas, where my parents humiliated me in front of a dinner table full of friends and family. I never returned…

In my twenty-ninth year, I was living in South Miami, I had been very sick at the time, and Camille died. For weeks after her death she visited me. I wrote letters to my mother, dictated to me by Camille, and I mailed them blindly, as they came to me. My mother must have thought I was crazy, because she never mentioned the letters to me ever.

When the funeral was arranged, in Connecticut, I was devastated. Now the only other woman I was connected to, who I knew loved me inside and out, was dead. My mother banned me from going to the funeral. I had a lump of cash, I was sitting on, and I thought to myself that I would go anyways, but that did not happen.

My mother did not want any other family to know I was sick. Because she was ashamed of my presence. I knew, from listening to her talk over the years, before I left home to “come out” I knew what she thought of homosexuals, and especially, men who had AIDS.

I was now, one of them. I had become abhorrent.

It was my experience, that my grandmothers, and my aunt loved me unconditionally. My mother, did not, in the end. Like all human beings, we fear and abhor what we do not know or understand. And it was my experience that normal human beings who loved their families and children, turned into raging animals, who did not know their asses from a hole in the ground when it came to AIDS.

I’m kind of glad that Camille and Jeannie never saw me, as sick as I had gotten. They had only seen the best of who I was, as a young child, into my early teens. AIDS came after they began to depart my life.

All of my family, Alexander, Jeannie, Camille, Carol … Each one of these people, came back to me after they died, in one form or another. I knew them. I saw them. I experienced them in the spirit world.

Jeannie came back to me and used to stand at the foot of my bed for years. When I got sick, living in Fort Lauderdale, Jeannie, had come back and she watched over me for a year. I know this because a friend of mine, who was a medium, at that time, visited me, and confirmed she was there in my apartment.

Alexander came back, when I was in high school. So did my uncle Paul, who returned to my uncle’s house in Connecticut. As the story went, in the end, Paul and Alexander, brothers in life, reunited in death at my uncles house, after they both appeared in two cities, for two families at the same time.

My Aunt Paula was a dignified woman, along with my cousin Sandy. My mother had a love/hate relationship with them. Resentments ruled our family dynamics. At one time or another my mother was pissed at one or the other, throughout my entire young life.

AIDS killed my family. It shattered the very foundation of all we had been.

I moved to Canada in 2002, to follow the maternal blood line of my mother, back into the historical past of our family, much to her consternation.

I then met my great-aunt Georgette, who was living just two blocks from the apartment I live in today. I had two years with her, before she died of cancer, I collected all the stories she had of herself and Camille, because sister Georgette’s family, took Camille in when the Spanish Flu killed thousands of people in the twenties and thirties. Camille had been orphaned by the flu.

My life, is a testament to the dignity and love that I received from the women who made me who I am today. I had but a few generous years of them in life. My life today, is a testament to their spirits that inhabit me.

You might not consider the strength of the human spirit, but it is a life force that can sustain human life. Because I am still alive.

Thank God.

My aunt Paula and my cousin Sandy are a part of my life today. They love me for who I am and both of them contribute to my life today and I am grateful for their presences.

Now, in sobriety, I know many women. In the beginning it was the women who helped me get sober. All the women who ran Tuesday Beginners, when I came in, taught me How it Works, and What to do to stay sober. Margo, my therapist, the first two years of sobriety, took care of me in every way possible. Margo set me on the road to my university education. It was she who afforded the decision to do “something for me” after reaching a year sober.

There are too many women to mention all of them in this post. All of those women who have been or are, presently, part of my present sober life.

Like I said, at the top, Where would we be without the women in our lives ???

Women make the world go round.

 

 

 


Saturday: Odds and Ends, and Everything In Between

tumblr_ombbgjnhan1qbrivdo1_540

On my trip to see Alexander, we engaged in serious debate about the state of the world. I am not the best at politics, world issues, and everything in between. Our lives at home consist of one cable news channel, and at 11 p.m. we turn to CTV for our nightly news fix.

I cannot go to bed without the last word coming from Lisa LaFlamme.

I’ve never been totally political, as in, devoted to politics or politicians of any stripe. I’ve always known where I sit on issues of the day. But expanding my brain to other news outlets only began when I moved to Canada in 2002. And over the time I have lived here, I’ve explored other points of view.

Alexander encourages that I step out of my bubble and echo chamber to see the world from other points of view. And this is one reason I love my best friend, because he is from somewhere else, (read:Brazil) and he has world knowledge that I do not. He has a smarts about him that no one I know have themselves.

So I read, I watch, and I listen to other points of view. If you polled me online, I rank in the NDP sphere of thought. But I voted for Justin. And he is proving to be a challenge to me.

Alexander sits on the Conservative side of life. And that is NOT a bad thing at all. Because he forces me to see the world, like he sees the world. He challenges me to spread my vision and take in others words, and not just accept words by people I am accustomed to listening to.

Politics and world events are two different spheres for me. I care very little for U.S. politics. And I do not consume politics like I used to because I cannot be bothered on a daily basis to know or listen to repetitive redundant news about a mad man in the Oval Office.

Cannot Be Bothered.

I spend a good amount of my sober life, buried in books. I learned long ago, while in University, that reading “other literature” that situate itself “around” a topic I was studying, as it went along, was very useful.

Reading side literature around a specific topic whether that literature be fiction or non-fiction, built a world for me to engage with on a wider basis, rather than on a single note in time.

I read, Every night.

There are places in the world that interest me. There are social issues that I am passionate about as well. Issues in the world, and issues right here at home are on my dashboard, quite often. I worry about our less fortunate, our homeless, and our indigenous population.

Because I am in the rooms, I’ve seen so much suffering. Friends of mine, in the program have gone on to work in those specific areas of helping the less fortunate. So I am engaged in their work.

Studying Religion and Pastoral Ministry opened my eyes to World Religions, as well, taking care of those people I am engaged with on a daily basis. I have stayed away from posting anything incendiary on this blog, certain world issues, that I am not clearly well-rounded or well versed on, to write coherently or knowledgeably.

I’ve always been interested in Israel and Palestine. Our Jewish Community here in Montreal served my early sobriety solely. The Chabad organization does work all over the city for many people, I just happened to be one of those people.

During my studies I spent time at the Ghetto Shul at McGill during my Judaism studies. And I often said that if I would become anything other than a Christian, I would certainly be a Jew. Palestine is a new subject for me, since being introduced to that area by a friend who wrote a book on the subject, from a point of view we don’t hear about ever.

When I finished the book, all I could write about was what was in Ben’s book, by the words he wrote. Which began my reading slant into books that were written, on the ground, within the Palestinian community. There are not many in circulation, that don’t begin with a premise situated in Israel, and merely spits on Palestine.

I need to figure out what I know, what I need to know, and where I sit on the spectrum of politics and on the ground situations. I know where I would like to be, but that point needs to be plotted on a map so that I can see it clearly.

Israel and Palestine is such a deep topic with some serious history, people, and problems, that I am unable to touch because of the complexity of the state of that area of the world. But while in Ottawa, I picked up another tome that I am reading at the moment.

I just cannot read a handful of books and expect to be able to write anything that is worthy of print on this blog, because that would be stupid and green of me.

The entire Middle East is a quagmire of instability, political strife and religious intolerance. And we just cannot say, incendiary things about people we know little about or those points of views or lives that we don’t even care about informing ourselves about, because it is easier to hate outright, then find a point of agreement or understanding.

How many people do you know who really care about the Middle East beyond blanket hatred of those we don’t even know, or care to know ?

Because they are not “Christian?” or “Jewish?”

If we don’t read, or listen to other points of view and study areas of the world that interest us, and take the time to get informed, how can we relate what we are reading/studying?

That is a thing …

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

Colorful Metaphors

Any Star Trek fan knows the line from Star Trek IV the Voyage Home, where Kirk and Spock are on a bus, and Spock relates his confusion of people’s use of “Colorful Metaphors.”

I don’t know if it is age, or my sensibilities to certain colorful metaphors and words, used by people I listen to, or something else, but I’ve grown weary of people using certain language.

Since the dawn of the Pod Cast, when I got my I Phone for Christmas, my nightly bed time schedule was shifted when I started listening to Pod Casts. They competed with my traditional book reading time before bed.

Over the past few months, I’ve listened to a number of Pod Cast presenters. And I’ve come to the point that the Ardent Screaming Host, or the host who litters his show with the word FUCK, every other word, I just delete their shows from my phone.

I love me some Bill Maher. But he is incessantly insane. And over the last month, I’ve also grown weary of him as well, because his devolution into insane screaming by the end of the hour podcast.

People who talk on the Pod Cast, are not bound by ethical language rules. Although many men and women, do take listeners into consideration when it comes to words. Others, not so much. I just don’t have the mental energy to listen to people swear and use foul language. It is just no longer appealing.

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

Social Media

Over the last year, I have had to unfriend many people from my Face Book Profile. Certain friends litter my time line with shit I am not interested in, and they persist. Others, all they can do is post POST after POST of political bullshit, incessantly.

I went as far as to neuter my feed from showing me anything related to topics I have no interest in. That meant turning certain people off, for my own well being and sanity.

Aside from news online, that I do consume, Face Book and Twitter are two sources of news and current events that I utilize on a daily basis. But I don’t do either on my phone, so I deleted the apps from my phone.

  • I make phone calls on my phone.
  • I listen to music on my phone.
  • And I Pod Cast on my phone.

That’s it.

I am trying to set some news boundaries for myself. I have built a wall around me on social media that is useful, because I have a life, and I am not connected to social media 24/7. That is insane.

I turn on my computer when I wake up, I run my set. All those sites I look at and participate in and when I am done, I just shut off the computer until I need it again, and I go read, or better yet, I nap …

All the time…

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

Sober Realizations

I wrote to a friend of mine recently …

I no longer have the desire to engage most people who believe so strongly what they do, contrary to any evidence of acceptance and respect of humanity in others. Religion, like politics, are two areas I intentionally stay away from, because I know who I am, and what I know, and that is good for me. Sobriety teaches me that I don’t always have to argue when it is not necessary to do so.

He replied that this portion of my comment is a post in itself.

I spend my days working with others. I spend a few nights a week in meetings. Only three meetings a week now, instead of my prior, six meetings a week, spread over two fellowships.

I love what I do. Because the men and women I work with are accountable. We are all moving forwards. And that is a really good thing. Because I am not a born leader, however I think I “could” lead. I’ve had time in the past where what I did and what I said meant something to those I spent time with.

You never know WHO you are going to meet or what conversation you are going to have with them, until the meeting happens, and conversations take place either before or after.

I want a clean break going into my fifties.

God has made that something that I work on daily. Recently, certain friends have gone dark, for one reason or another, that I am not understanding at the moment, but it is what it is.

I have a routine that works. I have a life that is fulfilling. I have friends whom I love and adore. And a best friend, second to none.

Discussion was brought up the other night, by someone I trust, when he asked me why I just did not adopt the baby, and give her a father, who wants to be in her life, and someone she can rely on, because I am reliable and accountable to her and Mama.

And my reply was this … I want the biological father to pay his dues like the law states. Because he is a dead beat and a looser. And I want him to pay up.

I don’t want to step in and absolve him of any responsibility towards the baby.

I need to research this before I head to New Foundland in April.

I think I know what I want of life and of myself. But that is subject to change because sobriety is not a one trick pony.

Shit happens. Life happens. And you never know what to expect when you walk into a room full of your friends and fellows.

You might just learn something you did not know, or realize something you had not before, and it wasn’t until that particular moment that God opened up your eyes and spirit. And you heard something you realized you really needed.

But did not realize you needed it until right then.

This is the filler that happened between the lines over the last little while.

Sobriety is Magic. Sobriety is Miracles. Sobriety is God, it is Us and it is We.

I love the “We” that I am part of today.


Blood is Thicker than Water … Or is it Really ?

Buddha with a view

For many years I didn’t understand the definition of the word “family” at all; I confused it with the word “relatives.” Your “family” isn’t necessarily blood related; it is the people in your life who want you in theirs; the people who accept you for who you are. They are the ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you no matter what. Blood makes you related, but it’s loyalty that makes you family.

We’ve all heard the phrase “Blood is thicker than water,” and I always assumed it meant that blood-related family is more important than anyone outside that circle. It wasn’t until recently that I learned the origin of that phrase: “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” It literally means the opposite of what I always thought it did! — From Chapter 4 in Faithfully Religionless


Friday: The Beauty of Islam

100910_grandmosque03

This is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Photographed by a friend of mine who lives in the U.A.E.

The week that I had crossed my first year sober, my addictions counselor asked me a question… She said, “You’ve been sober a year now, what do you want to do for you?”

I really had to think about my answer. In the end I decided that, at age 35, I would go back to school, and complete my studies in a field that I had begun in, when I was only nineteen years old.

I did not make it into ministry through the front door. And a lifetime would go by until the day I reached the point that I would finish my religious studies “in the field.” Almost a decade in studies took place, and I got my two diplomas.

World Religions and Pastoral Ministry …

It was odd, getting sober, in the rooms, AND studying Religion, by the book. I learned about God, by the book. I found Him as real, IN the rooms.

A requirement that we were invited to do was, at each unit of study, in whatever religion that was, we had to in-bed ourselves in that particular faith community. We did not just study the books and go to class, we participated in every religion we studied.

Islam, was a unit of study. The good thing about Concordia University, is that there is a very high population of Muslim students, from all over the world. And in the Hall Building, the university set aside two rooms that are dedicated prayer locations, so that students can come and make their prayers and participate in their own community and not have to leave the university while they are there.

I have Muslim friends. I am intimately familiar with the Muslim population here in the city, mainly because of my participation in the Muslim community when I was a student.

For many Friday’s, I attended Friday Prayers with my fellow students, both men and women. Those first few years, after coming to Montreal, I had to find my own footing. politically, mentally, and spiritually. The many faith-based communities helped me find my way.

The way people hate so hard is common, around the world, no matter where you come from. In my case, it began at home. I learned how to hate hard by my parents.

Thankfully, I never hated that hard in my life.

People tend to hate what they don’t know, it is easier to hate, then expanding their minds to learn about others, so that understanding is possible.

In the United States, Americans live in a predominantly Judaeo-Christian society. What did we know about Islam, for a very long time? I had NO exposure to any other religion than Christianity and Judaism.

I was not introduced to World Religions on a grand scale, until I moved to Montreal.

My father lived in the thought that, He loved his country, fought for his country, and you either loved it or left it. New comers to the states, be they immigrants or religious minorities or religious communities, the “Other” was always viewed with suspicion, as if something “New” had come to supplant what was already there.

The old Judaeo-Christian conquest conflict of East Meets West, Islam is coming to the West to take over the world mentality, is pretty scary to people who grew up in generations past, with all they know of is Christians or Jews, to have to expand to open themselves up to Islam, or Asian religions, or South East Asian religions was preposterous and not to be attempted.

People tend to freak out, as we have seen over the past fifteen years since 9-11.

It is easier to hate everybody and not know why we hate, then to figure out who we hate, and why, and not pigeon-hole Everybody into One Lump Hatred Society.

And by Everybody, I mean that because of some men who choose to do what they did, we hate all Muslims no matter where they come from, because we saw One thing and came away with One opinion. Because we were fed that opinion by the media.

We did not spend any time learning for ourselves what was either True or False.

And the way the media and society spins that hatred is mind-boggling.

And depending on where you live, that hatred is spun into an evangelical frenzy.

Evangelicals are some serious people who believe in a set way of life, with set scriptures and set teachers and believe they have ALL the right answers, no matter what ever info exists to the contrary.

Hatred, in many places, is as potent as Evangelical Frenzy.

Because Hatred that lives in an Evangelical vacuum is seriously dangerous. You cannot teach anyone who lives with evangelical truth or hatred, Anything… Because they know who God is and He is Christian, and nobody is going to teach them anything else, from any other perspective.

God said it, I believe it, that settles it …

I’ve spent a great deal of time studying the Quran. I’ve read it. Learned about it. I have a Quran in my reading library. Islam is part of my life today, because you know, there are Muslim men in the program of recovery here.

Many of them are my friends.

Before you judge ANYONE else based of country of Origin or Origin of Religious faith, take a step back, and think about respect and dignity. Think about their humanity. Think about their families.

You cannot go very far in Montreal, without meeting someone of Muslim faith in any shop, any restaurant, or any service industry, in this city.

The Middle East – all of the Middle East is fraught with serious conflicts.

Middle East religions were not part of educational curriculum when I was a kid in school. That was not introduced until University here in Montreal. Many, MANY people in the West know Nothing about Islam, but for what the media feeds them on any given night from television.

Or from the pulpits of their churches. 

And the more evangelical that news presentation, the harder the hate and misunderstanding and misinformation. The harder the media tries to paint ALL of Islam by ONE brush, with ONE vision, and only ONE understanding, what does that do to those who are fed that message ?

They hate as hard as they are fed that message.

100910_sheikh-zayed-grand-mosque02

Do you know Muslim men and women, Do you know their families ? Are there Muslim citizens living in your community ? Do you know or do you even care ?

Hatred and Islamophobia is alive and well here in Canada. We are not immune to the messages of Hate and Exclusion. Social Media and right leaning news organizations fit that bill very nicely, not to mention the media that comes out of the United States.

You cannot blame ALL of Islam, for the failings of certain specific communities. We should not paint every Muslim man, woman or child with the same brush.

For decades, the Middle East has exploded into calamity. That portion of the world, that is so Steeped in Religious history, is fraught with complications, like I mentioned earlier.

The Powder keg that is the Fertile Crescent has fallen into mass civilization destruction and genocidal death.

Where do all those people go to flee war, killing, death, starvation ???

Europe is on their doorstep. And we all know how that turned out.

For the Christian West, as happened, was the bastion of freedom, of life and of the pursuit of happiness. Why would people NOT come to the West, to seek a better life for their families? And why as we, as Christians, not welcome the refugee ???

I mean, why does the Statue of Liberty stand in that Harbor, welcoming the huddled masses from all over the world.

We have forgotten or refuse to admit, that North America began with people who came from someplace else FIRST…

I mean, do we all get that Jesus was a refugee ? That when he was born, his parents took him from his home and fled to Egypt because of King Herod wanting to kill him ?

Do we all get that Jesus was not a Caucasian white man ? He was of Middle East parentage, and had Middle Eastern looks, and a life spent living in the Middle East, and preaching there as well ?

So why do we hate so hard, when Jesus taught us how to treat each other with Love and Charity ? I don’t get how you hate so hard and believe in a God that taught you what you should do, and in reality, you could not be bothered to accept the “Other” and love and respect them as God has taught you to.

All because they worship God in another form and tradition, and that threatens your safe and sound ideology that does not serve you well.

In fact it makes you hate harder, instead of Loving your neighbor better.

If we loved as hard as many Hate, the world would be another place …

That is what the rooms teach us. How to love ourselves, and each other. And we learn to serve each other, in the least of these on a daily basis.

Lessons the world at large could really benefit from.

Right now, here in Quebec, our Muslim communities have opened their mosques to the public, for us to come and participate in and learn from their community.

Will you participate ?

Hatred is NOT a Christian Value.

In fact it goes against EVERYTHING that Jesus taught us.

The reason so many people hate as hard as they do, is because they listen to only those people who feed that kind of fire. I call it Evangelical Hatred.

Evangelical hatred is much more energetically potent vehicle because God is behind that kind of hate. Gay men, during the AIDS crisis and to this day, suffer that same hatred by many.

Now the world is saturated with this kind of hatred of Islam and the “other.”

Hate everybody, because that’s what we are told to do by those who teach hatred from their pulpits. And all those people, voted for the man, in great numbers, who just banned Muslims from seven specific countries in the Middle East and Africa.

But he did not ban Muslims from countries where the President has business ties.

Hmmm … Business Security comes before National Security. 

We cannot live in a world of peace, until we end systemic and evangelical hatred.

Systemic evangelical hatred is poison for the soul.

It tarnishes our souls, and separates us from truth and love.

It pits One God over Another, Allah.

Jesus against the Prophet, Blessed be His holy name.

Religions of the world exist.

And we are all here, because our God created us, and gave us a faith of origin. And what right do we have to be judge, jury and executioner, to say that one religion is the Ultimate Religion, and Truth, and that No Other Religion or Truth will be Listened to, Learned about, OR Accepted as Legitimate.

We sit in the balance of the war between the Christian God of the West versus that Muslim God of the East.

Nobody will win this war … More will die to defend their faith, than will survive it.

Where will you stand in this religious battle for truth ???

Will you love or will you hate ?

God weeps that we have let our world fall into this abyss of conflict.

When it all comes down to LOVE.


Sunday Sundries: Christmas Wrap Up 2016

tumblr_lcw9mhnpqe1qb62c4o1_500-sunsurfer

Our Christmas Holiday 2016, is over.

Hubby visited his family in Ottawa Thursday to Saturday and returned early Saturday afternoon. The nieces and nephew are growing like weeds. They have grown so much over the past few years.

My in-laws are not getting any younger. And for a long time, my mother in law has been infirm and was in a cast, so she could not stand and cook, hence their Christmas dinner was catered. My father in law was gifted Netflix for Christmas, and he became a kid in a candy store.

We got lots of goodies, and gifts from everybody.

The packages I sent to St. John’s arrived on Thursday morning. And this morning, mama was up with Lu at 3 a.m. I woke up around 5:30 this morning anticipating a Skype call around 6:30. Sadly, Skype would not work on their end, so I got a blow by blow on the phone. The HUGE PINK TURTLE I sent Lu was a big hit, after she realized what it was.

Everything I sent to mama and Lu was appreciated.

My friend Ben, returned from Palestine last weekend, and gifted me my own Keffiyeh from Palestine. I wore it to a meeting on Thursday night, and what a conversation starter that was. One of the elders who sets up with me, is Palestinian, and has family in Palestine and abroad. He and his wife, live here in Montreal. We had a very lively discussion about world politics and we share very similar thoughts on a great many things.

Here at home we exchanged gifts, and hubby got some more earthenware bowls that he wanted, and I got a new bathroom suite decor in Silver, Grey and Whites, and a stainless steel towel/sundry rack for the wall. The bathroom was the last room to get new fixtures and decor.

I had painted the kitchen and the accent walls a few weeks ago.

We had a family dinner around 2 with my friend Bill and Amy, both from the fellowships. Sharing meals is tradition here at home. And it was very nice. There was plenty of food and conversation. We all left the table 10 pound heavier …

The weather was cold, but no snow. We are sitting at (-8c) with a freezing rain warning in effect through tomorrow morning. UGH…

Just what we need, more ice on the sidewalks. I took a dive on Friday night coming home and ruined my clean white pants. Yesterday I was going to do laundry, and I noticed that I misplaced my laundry card. We have a coin-less system now.

We have prepaid cards that you fill with a credit card and it debits when you do laundry. So no card, no laundry, until I find it, or get a new one on Tuesday. I am hoping I left it in the laundry room, and someone turned it into the office, which is closed tomorrow.

December has been a rough month for some of my friends. We lost a number of friends, and parents earlier this month, Christmas this year was bittersweet.

With a week to go until the end of the year, 2016, was good.

More on that later.

 

 


Thursday – The Quiet before the Deep Freeze

tumblr_lwgvbf381L1qcz4s2o1_500 rawrdaniel

 

The weather, as we speak, is going where it has not gone yet this season. Double digit Minuses which will last for the next 48 hours or so, with another dump of snow coming over the weekend.

But this IS Canada, don’t ya know !

It has been said that Winter has come much earlier than forecasters had told us it would, or that they had expected …

And I have to be out tomorrow afternoon, Christmas shopping.

It snowed the beginning of the week, enough that the plows and dump trucks have been out two nights in a row. And the bane of our existence, are those trucks with the sirens on them, that drive up and down, SOON TO BE PLOWED streets, alerting the owners of cars parked in PLOW zones, that they must be moved immediately or else be towed at the owners expense.

It has been a quiet week. Another quiet week on the front that really needs some noise. I am beginning to believe that, people who don’t want to see you, or won’t make time to see you, are not worth waiting for, any longer. This saga has been going on for two months with no resolution.

I’m just not hedging my bets any longer that I am going to get the answer I seek. And the other day a good friend of mine that I studied with, and he played the organ at our wedding said this to a question posed …

How many sins must one repent and atone for, before God accepts our sacrifices to Him ? And the answer was stern and swift ….

You don’t have to. He has made the sacrifice; offering himself to God and to man. Live your life. As for those who cannot accept you, “leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” Their stubborn pride is their shame, not yours.

I also listened to the advice given to me a few days ago about taking care of my self and my spirit. I have been doing that. I’ve spent time with people I enjoy being with, I had coffee with an elder last Friday night, and I’ve devoted much of my Christmas to my friends and people I care about.

It’s funny really, our Christmas Lists are very short. Hubby does not ask for anything for himself, it always has to do with cooking or food. Hence, home.

I don’t really need anything that much, because I have everything that I need. And today was pay day and I had errands to run, and gifts to get into the mail first thing this morning. I did my grocery shopping, I got my hair cut, and finally came home.

I trolled every site that sells stuff that I think I need. And after that run, of so called “Window Shopping,” figured out that I really did not want to buy anything.

My friend Lisa says this about shopping soberly …

  • Do I need this ?
  • Do I really need this ??
  • Really, Do I need this ???
  • If you answer No to any one of these, then don’t buy it.

I only have one running list of BOOKS, I would like.

I have found the ease and cheaper pricing of Amazon.Ca. I bought a couple of books from them, but my heart rests firmly at Indigo Book Sellers, right up the Green Line.

Twitter is wonderful for news and shopping aggregation.

The New York Times Best Sellers List, The New York Times, Best Books of 2016, are great, and the popular Indigo Recommendation page is also good. I gave hubby a list of books I wanted to add to my library, and in case he gets me a gift card, I can use it online to buy all the books that are presently collected in my virtual shopping cart.

  • The Return by Hisham Matar
  • The Dispossessed by Szilard Borbely
  • Barbarian Lost – Travels in the New China by Sasha Trudeau (Brother of the PM)
  • Israel and Palestine by Alan Dowty – EXPENSIVE at $80.00 cad
  • Where Memory Leads by Saul Friedlander
  • Fragrant Harbour by John Lanchester

All of these come highly recommended, so they are currently, like I said, sitting in my cart. And at night I get that little email saying … “We think you left something in your cart, are you going to buy them?” Hopefully, one way or another …

With Christmas, I either get maudlin and angry and resentful, or I can turn it around and remember that I have the choice to do what is good for myself and my friends.

I chose the l latter of the two.

This afternoon I did some laundry and around 5, I was gonna take a nap, but that did not happen, because my mind was racing. I’ve been re-reading Ben Ehrenreich’s … The Way to the Spring, Life and Death in Palestine again.

I wanted a Kaffiyeh, Because Rafa has one that is beautiful. Thank you Amazon. I also ordered a book,

“Palestine, Drowning in the Tears of God,” by Rev. Anthony J. Mucciolo D.D.

There is so much terrible in the world, and innocent civilians, men, women, and children and young men, are dying by the tens of thousands because of war and strife.Not All Men are created in the image of a terrorist. And outright killing everybody, is a WAR CRIME for sure.

The question of Palestine and Israel is a subject I rarely talk about, because it is complex and fraught with complications, that dipping my toe in the water of education, would take decades. But I know enough to know where to stand in this debate.

Firmly in the Middle of the road …

Like my best friend, and probably because of the way HE sees the world, he encourages me to study the hard truths. And So I’ve been slowly doing that, reading good books, by good authors. Ben Ehrenreich was on the ground, in the thick of it, when he wrote his book about the conflict from the Palestinian side of the equation.

So that is a thing …

After that I decided to to some serious heavy lifting here on the blog. My first blog has been sitting dormant for almost a decade that I’ve been paying for upkeep, space and domain. Why pay for two blogs when I only use one.

That First Blog, has been exported off the main frame, and imported into this one. There are close to 4,000 entries now indexed in the back end. And over a thousand images sitting in my image bank now. When I attempted to do this a few years ago, images would not transfer across, now they do. I purchased an image bank upgrade to complete the import, so for those electronically inclined, there is fifteen years of blog in the archives.

Tomorrow, well, in a few hours from now, when temps will be in the MINUS double digits, my intrepid lady friend who lives across town is meeting me for a shopping extravaganza trip so that I can shop for Baby Mama and Baby Lu Lu.

My quest is simple. I need to find the perfect Christmas Present that will knock to socks off of a two year old little girl. Not to mention her mother as well.

Christmas is coming to those I love dearly this year.

It will be merry and bright for sure …

 

 

 


Friday – Our Family Has Grown – Best Night of the Week

mormon-dot-org

The weather has turned cold, and a little of the white stuff may fall over the next few days. Sadly, not enough to make a difference on the ground. The hope is for a White Christmas.

I’ve met my new Elders this week. We spent family night together, and it was their first “Family Night” because this community event was not part of where they had been prior to coming to our ward.

The Holiday Event for the LDS church began: Mormon.org Christmas Message

There are twenty five days of giving on a daily schedule. After the short film we played a crowd favorite: Werewolf … gather your folks, each has an identity, and it is a day and night game, with a narrator who guides the game. One of our local Mandarin Elders is really good at that, and our new Elders had never played before so that was a treat to watch.

Wednesday I started my Christmas shopping for home and New Foundland. I am sharing Christmas with Baby Mama, she recently moved into her new home with baby LuLu. And given recent events, and child support still up in the air, money is an issue. So I have been collecting Christmas for both of them. We have a date at a food bank Christmas Gift Program, and a lady friend of mine is going to go shopping with me, for Mama in the coming days. All that will go by Express Post as soon as we’ve collected everything that needs to go to New Foundland.

Today, I had my first “Discussion” with my new Elders. We set the stage for continuity of ministry, I shared with them what my LDS mentors in Salt Lake City have said about my circumstances. Now they are consulting the Mission President so that I can sit with him and have a discussion about me, because his no win repugnant suggestion is totally off base and disrespectful to me and my husband.

I came home with time to spare, so I got a disco nap before I had to head out. We welcomed a couple, (Who are now new parents) from Toronto. These young people have been staple members of the group for a long time. Tonight they brought their new baby.

Babies make things brighter. We are so proud of both of them.

We are marching towards the holidays. And I’ve made some suggestions to our young people:

  • Go and find someone who might not be IN the meetings, and CALL THEM, and do something good for that person. Coffee, Meals, Meetings.
  • Go into your community and find someone, or a family, that might not have enough to make Christmas really special, and give something because you can.
  • Christmas is a time of miracles. Go Be a Miracle for someone.
  • The Holidays can be sketchy, and we have options and guides to help make things a bit easier. We introduced them this evening. (READ: Living Sober)
  • Invite a member to your Holiday Dinner if you can and are able.
  • Make sure your elderly neighbors are not alone. Check on them, make sure they are alright.
  • Meetings are OPEN on the holidays. There are very few closures and cancellations here, so there is no reason you can’t make a meeting on the holiday.

The Holiday Season is a a season of happiness and giving. But it is also a season of misery and sadness for some. And this is a fact. We see this every year. So I’ve been working tirelessly in making sure there is a room to go to and people to care for their neighbors and their fellows.

Numbers always fluctuate during the holidays. And Sobriety Looses Its Priority for some. The factor of a slip versus making it back after the new year are slim. So our job is to keep our numbers stable, because we always see numbers spike in January, so everybody needs to be on deck. Every good moment we create NOW, will carry through the Holidays.

GOOD DEEDS COUNT TWICE ON CHRISTMAS EVE …

Go Do Good Deeds.

 


October 31 – 2016, 35 years

tumblr_lb4ve0duag1qacnrho1_500

Thirty five years ago tonight, Lily and James Potter lost their lives to Voldemort. Leaving Harry alone to grow up without parents.

We Remember them today.


Sunday Sundries – October Welcome

tumblr_lsdqf5xezg1r45jjjo1_500-ninatang

Hello out there. Today is October 2nd – I’ve noticed in many places, the leaves are beginning to turn. Thanksgiving is next Sunday and I am cooking a feast for my little family once again.

Imagine, next Monday, here in Canada, The battle for Christmas will begin. An entire month earlier than you folks down in the U.S. of A. They won’t be closing up Halloween shops until the end of the month, and in the meantime, the competition for WHO puts up Christmas decorations FIRST is always a holiday mystery.

I know that in St. John’s New Foundland, Christmas trees are up in stores there already. Winter always hits the Atlantic Provinces first.

It has been a very busy week.

This week my meeting routine takes a turn for something a little bit different. My sponsor has encouraged me to seek out a new adventure, since completing this round of “Booking.” (read: The Steps)

The Set Aside Prayer

God, please set aside everything I know about

Myself
The Twelves Steps
A.A.
Meetings
And You God

 So that I can have a new experience, Please let me See the Truth

Tomorrow night, we hit a new meeting, just down the hill from home, called “Love and Tolerance.” It’s very close to home, and very convenient.

Before the meeting we had been talking about changing it up, and my sponsor then asked me to do something totally out of left field. I’ve been learning French, via the Metro Method, (read: There are tv’s in most of the Metro Stations that show news, weather and train times) and they all run in French. And I’ve noticed that my French is getting better, well, my reading comprehension.
With that said … I am going to start hitting our sister meeting on Thursday night, ( Jeudi St. Leon) at the same church we meet on Sunday night’s, IN FRENCH. My friends from that meeting, who are native Francophones come to Sunday night, and other English meetings to learn, or improve their English. So they invited me to come on Thursday to begin integrating into the French community, which will be something totally new for me.

I brought home a French Big Book to look over, and one of my friends is going to send me the prayers, translated into French so I will at least learn them before Thursday.

Instead of hitting an English meeting, I will be hitting a French meeting.

Saturday is still up for grabs. I hoped to initiate a Saturday night Date night for hubby and myself, seeing we never go out ever unless it is a special occasion for dinner or something.

Fall is certainly on its way. My favorite season of the year, because in just a few short months up here in the North we traverse three seasons, and everything changes so much, very quickly. And in the Fall we get to see the Majesty of Mother Nature in all her Grandeur.

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, (read: The ass crack of morning 8 a.m.) the building workers will begin the destruction of my balcony. They have been knocking down all the balcony banisters and walls on the entire building. 7 apartments. Ours is the last one to be started. Last week, they asked if I would clean all the crud that was on the balcony floor, (read: All that Shit that has been under the floor boards for the last 42 years).

And I was like, “How am I supposed to do that ? I don’t have a freaking shed in my bedroom with cleaning tools and leaf bags, and by the way, a shovel would be great for that kind of thing.” Our Super came up and told me this in French, and I did not get it at first, so about half an hour later the building manager came up to translate, when I then inquired about “Tools and Bags.”

They got me a square shovel and a handful of bags. A plastic shovel at that.

There is a hanging wall of plastic over the opening and I stirred up a shit load of dust in doing the job, I failed to remind them that I am immuno-compromised and that I will probably get sick from dust and allergens from the shit on the ground…

Of course I did …

2 leaf bags later, I had completed said work.

Now tomorrow at the crack of dawn, jackhammers will announce the arrival of morning before I even get out of bed. Which at such time, I will have no choice but to get out of bed because my bed, is just inside the balcony door, and sleeping while jackhammers pound the building is a lost cause.

More to come. Stay tuned …

 

 

 


Sunday Sundries – He Said “Hello”

1372165866_3865776220001_video-still-for-video-3865684819001

Life is busy. Fall has come. Single Digits followed. The A/C unit is in its box until next Summer. And we have the windows open until it gets cold at night, and they have to be shut.

Thanksgiving is 2 weeks away. And then PUSH for Christmas will begin.

UGH, God Give Me Strength !!!

For a few weeks now, folks have been in a funk. The funk of untreated alcohol/marijuana addiction. There Is A Solution. It just seems that not many people WANT that solution, and I am totally frustrated with how hard my friends want to make life, when it could be much easier.

Let’s go back to Friday.

I had a doctors appointment in the morning. BOTH my doctors have been bemoaning the fact that my sugars are up a bit, and my triglycerides are high again. Not that they’ve managed to fall with all the pills I put into my body.

My diabetes doctor wants me to further curb my diet, when I don’t even eat three meals a day, because I just don’t. I might eat lunch occasionally, when I am bothered to go get something to cook. That happens here and there. On Thursday I always treat myself to some Burger King on the way to the meeting, if I am not book shopping, or I do both.

My HIV doctor has been giving me the same complaints …

I was dumbfounded when, on Friday, Dr. George says to me …

OH I HAVE A MAGIC PILL THAT WILL DROP YOUR TRIGLYCERIDES TO ZERO …

I was like, how long have you had this ACE in your pocket ? You’ve been on my ass about this for a year, and now you decide to drop this little pill into my life now ? Now we add another pill called EZETIMIBE to my regimen for a month to see what happens. I have another appointment on Tuesday for my HIV doctor and I am going to chew him out as well.

The day gets better from there, Friday …

The Book of Mormon …

I walk back to the Metro at Acadie and I am standing on the platform and a couple of CUTE Mormon elders came down and stood next to me. One walks a little further away, and One stands just off to my left. We stood there for a few minutes, when the young Elder says to me “Salut” in French, ( Hello for those who don’t speak French) I said Hello to him in English.

He let out a breath and sighed … “Oh God, you speak English!”

Wiping his brow …

We got on the train, and a flurry of conversation began. When we got to the terminus of the Blue Line (Snowden) I was transferring to the Orange line to get to a job I was working next, our young Elder handed me his card and smiled … Call Me Anytime.

The next afternoon, I did call him back. We have a date for coffee on Tuesday evening.

I rode the Metro to Vendome and walked several blocks to a small church in Westmount where I had been hired for the day to do a theatre installation for a photography group in the meeting hall.

The group had paid $7,000.00 for a theatre sized motorized screen that needed to be mounted and hung in the rafters above the stage. This monster weighed about 400 pounds and it took 5 guys to build the framing, figure out how we were going to hang the beast and make it all work in less than five hours.

We made a trip to Home Depot and bought the supplies, and returned to build 2×4 trusses for the rafters, from which we would hang the screen. My friend (in the program) is in construction, so he had all the major tools we would need. It was a precision job to get the screen up and hung. It was a great success.

In hanging heavy machinery, you need good framing. You need solid metal works, and you need to double your fail safes, in case the brackets on the end caps of the screen give way and fail. We used high quality chain in the rigging and solid metal works for the hooks and clamps.

When all was said and done, on the way home, I said to my friend that, we might want to secure the chain looping in the rafters further, because there are two clamps on each end that connect chain to the screen. and the chain hangs from large hooks in the framing we had already hung.

If one of the clamps on the screen end caps fail, the chain is going to go into the rafters, come out of its ring, and the failing end of the screen is going to fall to the floor, and probably bring the other side down with it. My thought was, if we secure the hanging ring and the chain with a larger C clamp, that will prevent the chain from running loose and bringing down the screen.

At $15.00 dollars an hour, my advice is not cheap.

Light and sound is a great business to be in. Having built a nightclub from the ground up in the past, and working in the nightclub industry, this job was right up my alley.

The job ran me right up to my Friday night departure at 6:15. I had twenty minutes to spare when I got home. Enough time to unload groceries and change into clean clothing.

While at the doctors earlier in the day, I had updated my apps. And I’ve never seen my battery go from 85% to zero in like thirty seconds. Which meant my phone was dead for the rest of the day, because I had left my charger at home.

 

 

 


Sunday Sundries – “I’m Paying Attention”

tumblr_msohxxcsvw1qkwkmpo1_500-minhos21

Because we need a happy dog photo right now. It’s my favorite image too …

Every one wants to be noticed, to be acknowledged, to be seen, and to be loved…

How often we see people come in the room, and we notice them, but at the end of the meeting, we watch them walk out, because WE did not step up and say, “I noticed you.”

There are two young people in our community, that I have been watching bounce in and out of the rooms, stuck in the revolving door of alcoholism and drug addiction. I noticed them a long time ago, but back then, as my young man said to me tonight, “he wasn’t in it to win it.” But I watched.

I reminded my young lady friend of a story she shared at a meeting a long time ago, about a specific spiritual experience she had one night on the Metro. Indeed, she had forgotten that story, tonight, I reminded her of it.
I decided that the time was right to step up and do something. I asked one question of him after the meeting … “Who is invested in your sobriety?” He replied, no one specifically.

So I told him the story. We spoke for a while, and he has my number, and I asked him to call me every day, to at least, connect with one alcoholic every day, no matter what.

He is working with a man I know, who is good people, so he has a sponsor now.

My friend said something in the meeting we all thought important to remember:

“IF YOU ARE WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO BRING YOU FLOWERS, PLANT YOUR OWN GARDEN.”

A funny statement that is in tonight’s read:

I HAVE YET TO FIND A PLACE IN THE BIG BOOK THAT SAYS “NOW YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE STEPS; HAVE A NICE LIFE … “

I’ve said it before, sobriety never ends. Once you begin, buckle up, because this is a long ride, through ups and downs, good times and bad, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do you part…
See the pun there, did you notice it ?

I’ve been listening to several pod casts lately. I’ve told you about them in earlier posts. One of them is quite good. The writing is stellar, the pod cast is one I look forward to.

A couple weeks ago, I bought a couple of his books. Sold “in house” and not on the “open Market.” Halfway through the first book, I put the book down.

I think I read too much, across the spectrum. So I’m thinking to myself, someone who spends hours upon hour writing scripts, should be well versed in certain research for his books just the same. That is not the case it seems.

Reading a simple story is simple. No expectations, or demands from the read. I read for story. I read for content. I read for details and spins. Don’t waste my time with a book that goes no where, but the simple straight route from point A to point B. End of story.

I am spoiled by Kathy Reichs and Donna Tartt. I am spoiled by several other authors who write stellar books, that I am guilty of holding up expectations for other authors who “should” write like them with attention to detail and story method.

Sadly, not many writers got that memo …

October is getting closer. The holiday season is just weeks away now. I could give you a day count, but that would be a little compulsive, don’t you think ?

If you go to a meeting, notice people around you. And go say hello to at least one person before you leave that meeting. Tell them that “You were paying attention.”

I am paying attention …

You never know when you are going to save a life …