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Posts tagged “The Art of Charm

Friday: Source of Strength


Next week Canada will Mark the 100 year anniversary of the Battle of  Vimy Ridge in Northern France, (At Vimy Ridge) remembrance of all those soldiers from all over the world, over 4,000 Canadian Soldiers, who died in service of the war.

Tonight, we read another Vignette from Bill, taken from the Twelve and Twelve, which was written after the first Big Book was published in 1939.

I have an original 1939 Copy in my library.

When WWII broke out, out A.A. dependence on a Higher Power had its first major test. A.A.’s entered the services and were scattered all over the world.

Would they be able to take discipline, stand up under fire, and endure the monotony and misery of war? Would the kind of dependence they had learned in A.A. carry them through?

Well, it did.

They had even fewer alcoholic lapses or emotional binges than A.A.’s safe at home did. They were just as capable of endurance and valor as any other soldier. Whether in Alaska or on the Salerno Beachhead, their dependence upon a higher power worked.

Far from being a weakness, this dependence was their chief source of strength.

I’ve never read, in any literature that is in my library, an account of soldiers who were sober, prior to WWII, then going to fight that war, remaining sober throughout, and came home, and stayed sober.

I brought up this thought in the meeting tonight, because there are friends of mine who might have something to add to this question.

We know that thousands of letters crossed from the U.S. and other places to the war fronts all over Europe. I know that G.S.O. in New York City, has a gigantic archive of letters that passed from Alcoholics in the states and worldwide, who were writing to sober individuals (Military Personnel) in Europe and all over the world.

None of those stories were ever included in any of the Big Book Printings.

The visual of war, to many in the room, was pertinent. Because Alcoholism is a disease, and the battle to get sober, is not for the feint of heart. For some, the odds are stacked against them, few make it into serious sober time, on the first pass.

One of our old timers, who had met, veterans, in the rooms, when he first came in over twenty-five years ago, spoke about how serious they thought sobriety was. And that they listened to some, in those meetings, at that time, making light of the fight that is Alcoholism.

Yes, we laugh a lot in the rooms, at our miserable failures, and sordid stories about what it was like, what happened, and what it is like now. But getting sober, is a serious business, it is not a joke, or something to take lightly. Lives are on the line, and if someone who is really down and out, comes in, and hears people joking and laughing, they might run in fear, and never come back.

Many stories in my memory begin with someone down and out, walking down some stairs into a smoky church basement, and hearing jovial laughter and happiness, is somewhat jarring at first, until they get across the threshold.

Last night, we heard a friend talk about his journey, and after twenty years of not drinking (Read: Dry Drunk) he figures out that he needs to step up his game and commit to really, getting sober. Which brought him right up to Step Three.

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

What he said resonated with the many who heard that story last night.

When I was a young seminarian, I had turned my will and my life over to God. This was just another pass at God, throughout my young life. But I was conscious of this decision, and I was willing to go to any length to prove my worthiness to God.

The common man was much harder to convince.

But life has a funny way of turning out.

The next pass at God was in the guise of Todd, when I got sick, and was going to die. I know, today, that Todd represented to me, the incarnation of God on earth. I had made that same commitment to God again. But alas, I could not carry it through, because of my own inability to trust myself alone.

At thirty-four, when I put down the drink for the last time, (let us pray) I spoke to God and in that moment, I had done Steps One, Two and Three, all at once.

To this day, every day, I turn my will and my life over, because I know, that God has done for me what I could not do for myself.

In the last week, I have listened to several Pod Casts, from my favorite channel, The Art Of Charm. We’ve heard of The Hero’s Journey, James Campbell, and Narrative Building.

If you grew up in the 1970’s and onward, you might have seen a few little Star Wars Films. We were introduced to the Jedi. To Obi Wan, and Yoda. We saw, for our own eyes, and most probably, learned the mythology of the Hero’s Journey, The Force, and The Rebels fighting the Empire.

Another friend, tonight, spoke of us as Padawan’s, and not necessarily Jedi. I’m not sure I’ve met a Jedi in the rooms, to date. In the rooms, there is “A Force.” We come in and we see it in others, and we watch and listen to them, and eventually, we either want what others have, or we don’t.

In an Earlier post, we spoke about the Spiritual versus the Religious.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a spiritual program. With as many people in the rooms, there is a vision of what we are, who we are, and what we do in meetings.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.

Lorna Kelly, a long time sober member of the New York Community, who died last July, says that the Preamble is one of the most important pieces of literature ever written. Because it tells us who we are, what we suffer from, and how we achieve sobriety.

Together …

It is said, that in war, that there are no Atheist’s in foxholes.

Atheism was also mentioned tonight by one of my friends, who asked the question, “What about those members or people, who may not have had identified a Power Greater than Themselves, or really believed in God, in the time of War, he wanted to know, where they were, and if they were, how they stayed sober, during the war ?”

I was reminded by one of my best friends, what I really needed to do, to safeguard my spiritual well-being, when it comes to others in the rooms. Something I have mentioned ad nauseam over the past month or so.

He also gave me some advice in stepping up my health and well-being game. He said that if I was in for a penny, that I should be in for a pound. That is something I will be adding to my life toolkit.

I spoke briefly, about two men, who went to war. Jimmy Settle, P.J. in Alaska’s 212 Pararescue Unit. Jimmy went to Afghanistan, and was shot and almost killed by the Taliban. His story is grueling. And for me, it was a very emotional experience, just reading his Hero’s Journey.

The Other is Romeo Dallaire. Who Commanded Canadian and United Nations forces, during one of the worlds worst Genocides, in Rwanda, after that of Nazi Germany of course.

Jimmy trained, went to war, came home, and served his country valiantly. Alcohol was not much mentioned in his story, because if you are going to be an elite soldier, drinking is the least of your problems. (Read: Read The Book Yourself)

Never Quit: by Jimmy Settle and Don Rearden.

Romeo, was shattered, watching and collecting visual and written proof of genocide in Rwanda as it happened all around him. Shake Hands with the Devil is one serious book. And not a tome to take lightly, by any means.

When Romeo came back to Ottawa, he was living on the Gatineau side of the Ottawa River, a bridge walk to Ottawa proper. His bottom came, as one night, he bought a bottle of Scotch and walked the bridge to Centennial Park, on the Ottawa side, along side Parliament Hill. He suffered greatly, in silence, until that night, when he drank that bottle, and was found almost dead, on his stomach, drunk, with his face in the mud.

War is War, and War is hell. Death, Terrorism, Genocide, you name it, if you are fighting for your country, you pledge to serve your country to the best of your ability.

You will go into your experience, as one kind of soldier, be they Man or Woman. But we all know, from some serious experience, that the soldier you were, when you went in, you will not be the same soldier, when you come out.

We know, here in Canada, how many men and women, after serving our nation, and the world at large, came home injured, broken, and certainly changed people, on the other end.

And we know, sadly, how many of those men and women came home to ingratitude, a lack of services, no mental health services or for some, any services at all, and in the end, many, so many young men and women, took their own lives because of the trauma they experienced over seas.

Alcohol, is the least of their problems, when men and women go to war …

Bill write the above noted story, because, I believe, he either met some soldiers, heard stories, read letters, or spoke to someone as second-hand, the experience I wrote above.

Bill’s vignettes, in my opinion, were on his mental radar. He had some experience in what he was writing about, because this story comes in the Twelve and Twelve. This particular story was collected then added to that particular book, which came much later than the first publishing of the First Edition of the Big Book in 1939.

God, the three-letter word that keeps multitudes of people from freedom.

At one point in As Bill Sees It, Bill writes in one passage that your Higher Power can be whatever you want it to be. A seeming plausible system of belief, that comes as a relief to many, but on that same page, the final sentence reads:

But it Always comes back to God …

Tradition Three, in the Twelve and Twelve, expands on the idea of who can attend a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. You are an A.A. member if you say so, nobody can keep you out, no matter how far down you have gone… you are a member if you say so …

Over the many decades, literature has become a little more fluid, and not so set in stone as it was read, by those in the early years of the program.

God as we understand Him, can be, if you just allow it, for a moment, can be as fluid as you wish it to be. As long as we realize that there is a Power Greater Than Ourselves, and that:

We are NOT that Higher Power …

Monday: The Great Pivot Continues


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.”

  1. Make your decision based on gut instincts
  2. How to express your decision in words clearly and directly
  3. Deciding WHEN to have that discussion
  4. Communicating that Decision
  5. 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:

  • Citizens
  • Werewolf’s ( there were three )
  • A witch
  • A Fortune Teller
  • Hunters
  • 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.




Top Pod Casts You Should be Listening To


Technology is an interesting companion. Having an I Phone that does many things, has changed the way I live my life. It keeps us connected to one another, feeds our addiction to Social Media, and allows Blogging by mobile apps, but the most important function my phone does is Pod Casting.

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Here is my list of Top Podcasts that I listen to daily, weekly, and so on.



The Art of Charm with A.J. and Jordan Harbinger
Learn how to Crush it in Business, Life and Love
Jordan and his guests are Must Listens.


Next … We Turn to Talk, News, Politics and Life
The Ezra Klein Show @ Vox.com
If you are familiar with MSNBC you should know Ezra Klein
Ezra talks to many important and influential news makers and writers

One of Ezra’s BEST interview was with The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah
A Must Listen…


Need a little mystery in your life, a voice in the desert, Cecil Baldwin, Fellow and Narrator
of this little Mystery Podcast
Welcome to Night Vale

And Associated Podcasts:

Within the Wires and Alice Isn’t Dead


I was listening to Jordan and A.J. on The Art of Charm the other day and they spoke very highly of our next offering …
Lore Podcast.com

Winner of the iTunes “Best of 2015” Award

Lore is an award-winning, critically-acclaimed podcast about true life scary stories. Each episode examines a new dark tale from history, and presents it in a style that’s been compared to a campfire experience. With over 3,600 5-star reviews and 2.5 million monthly listens, that’s clearly a good thing.

New episodes are released every two weeks, on Mondays.

Our fears have roots. Lore exposes the darker side of history, exploring the creatures, people, and places of our wildest nightmares.

Because sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction.

Aaron Mahnke

Aaron is the writer, host, and producer of Lore, as well as the author of a number of supernatural thrillers. Aaron has a deep love of the mysterious and frightening that began with Unsolved Mysteries and The X-Files — a love that continues to this day. Basically, he’s a nerd for anything unexplainable or supernatural.

Aaron lives with his family in the historic Boston area, in the very heart of Lovecraft Country and the epicenter of the Salem witch trials. You can follow him here on Twitter, and learn more about him on his website.

Guest #1- Patrick Ruffini- Republican Political Strategist
Guest #2- Jonathan Alter- Senior Editor, Newsweek
Guest #3- Dr. Cornel West- Princeton University
In Studio Guest #1- Phillippe Cousteau, Jr.- CEO, EarthEcho International
In Studio Guest #2- Scot

I have been a fan of HBO since I was a kid and since we don’t get HBO here on our cable system, you can find Bill Maher’s Podcast on your mobile browser.

Real Time with Bill Maher

Politics, Round Table Discussions, Guests, News Makers, Politicians


For the Harry Potter Aficionado there is something to offer you too…
Muggle Cast – The Harry Potter Pod Cast

For Everything Harry Potter and the Cursed Child News, Trivia and Discussion on
All things “Potter.”


For those who enjoy Space
Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Star Talk Radio

the yellow wall

And Finally, for all you Footballer’s Out there, who Love Soccer and can’t get enough
I am a huge fan of Mario Gotze and now he’s back at BVB
Borussia Dortmund – Germany
So it only make sense to listen to the BVB Podcast
The Yellow Wall Pod Cast

Wednesday – Welcome To Night Vale


Oh My Goodness … I missed my Sunday Blog. That’s ok, I really did not have anything to write about anyways.

I have to say that, our brand new bed, is VERY dangerous. Once you get in, there is no getting out. Suffice to say, I’ve been in bed a majority of the hours that I have nothing better to do. I also cannot be bothered to watch television, (read: News) programming.

I’ve found my way into NIGHT VALE

The Pod Cast, is the best new thing since sliced bread. Having an I Phone brought with it all kinds of new experiences. The Pod Cast is one of them.

What am I listening to:

A while back, one of my “reads” who lives in Adelaide, Australia spoke about this strange pod cast he was listening to. I did not have my I Phone yet, then, so Pod Casting on my Android was non-existent.

A few weeks ago, I pointed my pod cast to Night Vale, and subscribed. Let’s just say that, every waking hour or odd hour off I have, I am listening to Night Vale. I have a few years of catching up to do, because season five began on August first.

I rolled back to January of 2015, and I am listening forward.

There are four years in the bank that you can listen to, in addition to a few other story lines, and assorted meditation type casts.

The Art Of Charm – Jordan Harbinger

If you really want to learn how to “CRUSH IT” in Business, Life and Love, you must go, right now, stop here and click the link, NOW, RIGHT NOW, and subscribe to Jordan’s link at: The Art of Charm. Jordan Harbinger and his trusty sidekick will take you on a journey, where you get to hear smart people, talk about relevant subjects, to help you learn how to CRUSH IT in business, life and love.

Stop listening to the television and all that political crap, and turn your attention to really great listening that will help you enrich your life.

Welcome to Night Vale, is a scripted somewhere around 30 minutes a show, pod cast, set in a desert place, called Night Vale. There are characters that you will instantly fall in love with, (Read: Cecil and Carlos) yes, they are an item.

When Carlos says …On the Voice Mail Episode …

“I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, Ok! Ok.  I love you Cecil, talk later…

My heart just melted.

What else is going on, folks are returning to the city this week. So our M.A. numbers will get a solid boost and I can let our returning folks step up and take some jobs, that I have been doing by myself all summer long.

All else is well. I just wanted to throw these pod casts out to you and hopefully, you will get to Night Vale, and maybe get a hit of Bill Maher, travel to Hogwarts on Muggle Cast, and finally, CRUSH IT, with Jordan on the Art of Charm.





Friday – Reasonably Possible …


This post is brought to you by The Art of Charm.

Rafa and I have been on this journey of getting to know ourselves together, and each on our own, we do our own things, then we share them together. The other day I was in bed, “literally, I was in bed” one morning and I get a text that says, check out The Art of Charm podcast.

So I go to my podcast channel on my phone and I subscribe. And I have to tell you, I am so impressed with this channel. For the past few nights, instead of listening to the dronings of late night radio … over and over and over … I get a daily download podcast that I can listen to, and I can listen to a multitude of podcasts in their library any time I want.

So that is a recommendation for you.

Got a smartphone ?

Turn your podcast to The Art of Charm with AJ and Jordan Harbinger.

Now on with the main event …

Between the Extremes

The real question is whether we can learn anything from our experiences upon which we may grow and help others to grow in the likeness and image of God.

We know that if we rebel against doing that which is reasonably possible for us, then we will be penalized. And we will be equally penalized if we presume in ourselves a perfection that simply is not there.

Apparently, the course of relative humility and progress will have to lie somewhere between these extremes. In our slow progress away from rebellion, true perfection is doubtless several millennia away.

Do You Do what is reasonably possible ??? Getting sober, and clean, is an act that is reasonably possible. The Work is necessary, because without it, there is no reward.

If you do The Work as suggested, the possibilities are endless. Happy, Joyous and Free are your for the taking. For mere, reasonably possible, work.

By the By, I am reading Far and Away, a book I mentioned a few posts ago. And while I am reading this book, about an artist, who travels all over the world looking for artists and talking to them, he’s also on the pulse of change as it happens over twenty five years.

The book opened in Russia, and now we are in Beijing, China. The other night I asked myself, “Why am I reading this book?” And was rewarded by the answer that came to me, these are important stories, and there is something here to be learned along the way.

So I kept reading. And was rewarded with this line in the book:

…in speaking about Chairman Mao and the cultural revolution…

“It’s like an unhappy childhood. You cannot dwell on it all the time and impose it on others, but if you disown it completely, you will be an artificial or incomplete person.”

This thought follows a discussion between the writer and his friends who are artists and lived a life in China for generations, and the disconnect between the way the West sees and participates in the world and the Chinese, and the way they see and participate in the world themselves.

This thought related directly to the reading for tonight. Ask any normal, but what is normal, human being, how they see their lives and the past, many of them would say that they would like to forget the past, or rewrite it, or shed a better light on situations and stories that might be a bit savory and tart.

In recovery work, folks doing the work are going over the past, finding the nuances, and meanings of people, places and things. The Book tells us in the promises that:

We Will Not Regret the Past Nor Wish to Shut The Door On It.

The other day I saw an Oprah clip and she said:

Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different

What happened, happened. What matters is What I do about it?

I believe that the universe conspires to help us, even when we don’t realize it. I also know that a little bit of us, that which makes us, exists in our soul. And that little bit that is in us, exists in great quantities in the cosmos.

With that said, even before we know it, or feel it, or think it, the universe is connected to us, all the time. Then we think, or we ponder or we pray, and before the words coalesce in our brains, the universe already knows.

tumblr_md2lb5P8Ep1qenwdto1_1280 laurenmarek

Why are certain people in our lives ? I believe in synchronicity. And Serendipity.

“When people show you who they are the first time, believe them.”
Oprah …

I am learning, over and over, that not everybody wants to be your friend. And not everybody is going to like you. Recently I extended a hand to someone, and in the end, he turned around and told me to go fuck myself. Not in those words, but they were close.

I do what I do, because I have the ability to do what I do everyday, because of my husband. I spent my life trying to figure out what to do with my life, and this is where I ended up.

Everyday, is a work in progress. Some days are tougher than others, but for the most part, life is good. I have friends in my life, and people I work with on a daily basis.

Then, there are those people in my life, that I want in my life, for one reason or another. I try to be a good human being, and try and help my friends in whatever way I can.

Every human being has a story. No two stories are the same, and there is something to be learned from every human being in our lives. Oprah said that.

She was right.

Why did I call you ? Well, it was the right moment. When you ponder the thought that the universe conspires to help us, on the grand scheme of things, it was the universe, at some point in our lives, that we first connected.

What we do with that connection is what matters. You either invest or you don’t.

It’s your choice.

Today, I get to choose who I invest in and why. I have my reasons. If I trust my Higher Power, God, then I try and do the right thing, when the moment hits me.

Sometimes that is sitting outside a church and dialing your number, because I need to hear your voice, and hoping on the other end, I will do the same for you.

Friends are few, we know.

Family is not all that it’s cracked up to be.

Fortunately, in this life, when family FAILS, we get to CHOOSE, who we want as family. And sometimes having the CHOICE is better than anything we got from the dealership.

At some point, in this life, we get to the point that we say:

I Have Had ENOUGH of YOU…

Captain Kirk said that …

Now, you get your friends, the people you trust. We are all here for a greater purpose. And sometimes we don’t need to know why, we accept it as what we need to do.

The reading above speaks about perfection, and the fact that perfection is unattainable, because we are human, and the warning we get, if we think we are perfect, or have found perfection.

God is perfect. And I surely am not God.

As long as I remember that, I am good to go.

Goodnight Boo …