Spring Cleaning – Fresh Things Up a Bit

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Last night, I went across my social media accounts and the blog, and got rid of all kinds of old information, photos and material.

You will see, today, the fruits of that late night effort. The blog has been scrubbed of old and outdated personal information. The photo log on the sidebar has been freshened up with new images, reflective of where I am in my life.

The last week of March, I began the Keto Genic Diet. Next week is the beginning of May. I will accrue two months and a little longer on the diet. At the end of May, I drop labs across the board. This Keto Diet, removes sugar, carbs, sweets. soda, and junk foods and moves towards an entirely new dietary regimen.

I continue to drop weight. Hence the sporty tone of the blog and my present state of mind. A gym and exercise schedule has been added to the dietary regimen. I am hoping that this change of lifestyle has changed the insides, as I was told they would, if I adhered to the diet religiously.

I’ve updated the Gravatar and updated the About Me section on Gravatar and above in the About Me Page up top.

The march towards fifty continues. As it goes, every day it feels a little more comfortable and this new way of life has been working well.

People are noticing the changes in my looks and my figure. This week people have been commenting to me that I’ve seriously changed physically, and they all tell me that I’ve never looked better in as many years.

Something seems to be working.

It is not too late to change your life.

My friends all care about me, and when it mattered, they spoke to me and told me that I needed to make some changes in my life. And I listened to them.

And now we are here, today.

Thanks to all my new subs and my dedicated readers to the blog.

“Because without you, I am indeed, talking to myself …”

Joey Elias, CJAD Comedy host.

Thursday … The Shoe Store

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I was talking to an elder friend at the meeting tonight and he was in Florida for a month. He had gone to a meeting, and met a very nice woman from India. They were talking about that meeting, on that night.

Every meeting has one, we all know what it is, but nobody who really engages in their sobriety, will utilize them. Where you sit, in a room, is a good barometer of where you are in your sobriety. Some call it, “Front Row Sobriety,” however, not a lot of people sit in the front row, except for those who are used to sitting there regularly.

Many of us don’t want to sit in the very front row …

I am a second row sober man. I always sit in my same seat on Thursday’s. On Friday I sit in my regular seat, right at the front of the table, next to the chair. That is my seat.

Every meeting has a “Back Row” of seats, right along the back wall. Various people, in various meetings, sit in that proverbial back row. Some sober folks with lots of time, who don’t necessarily want to draw attention to themselves, sit in the back row.

That is common.

Then, you have those people who are the last ones in, they either come right at the hour, or just after. So all the seats up front are all taken, by the time the meeting starts. Which dictates that, if you want a front row, or front of the room seat, you have to get there early.

The back rows of a meeting, are usually sat with folks who sneak in, just under the hour mark, and fail to get a seat up front, or further to the front.

The conversation my friend had with the Woman from India, concerned The Shoe Store:

And she said to him, “You know that back row of seats ? Yeah, he said, she continued:

That back row is the Shoe Store … You have the Loafers, the Sneakers, and the Slippers.

All the shoes are represented …

We had a good laugh.

Here, we know about that back row. Those people who come in last, or late. Usually, they don’t make it till the end of the meeting. Or, they are the last ones in and the first ones out after the prayer concludes. They come and go, with negligible contact with anyone, because they really don’t want to interact with anyone in the room, for one reason or another.

Seating in a meeting is time sensitive. The earlier you get there, the better seat you are going to be able to choose, if you choose. Most of my friends always sit in the same areas.

Those who sit in the front row, or those who sit in the middle of the action, and those who tend to hang back in the pack. In an unobtrusive seat, like I said, where they do not bring attention to themselves.

In all my meetings, I do service, one way or another. So I have my choice of seat. I see everybody who comes in the room. I try and shake hands with each one of them, as one of my other elder friends said to me once …

When you shake a hand, it is very important to ALWAYS make eye contact. And you always want to SMILE. Because we want people to feel welcomed and that we mean goodness when we shake their hands, and not seem like we are put out by having to greet, when we really don’t want to greet …

Before the meeting tonight, one of my friends, whom I have not seen in a while came. And we sat outside talking about Yoga, the Gym and Work.

I know for me, as I said to her, that, “You just got to stick around…” “You just have to STAY and watch your friends and your fellows.” I know that I watch my friends, and over the past many months, I see how hard I have worked, and how little others have worked. And it shows in their carriage and demeanor, and in their words, when they speak.

The amount of work you put into your sobriety, shows up over time. And every time you hear someone talk, you get an idea of just how MUCH or how LITTLE, they are contributing to their own sobriety.

I’ve been around a good stretch of time. And I know all of my friends. I know who they were when they came in, and what kinds of decisions they made, and how fucked up things got, in the interim.

My friend added … Yeah, Shit Happens. And that is true.

I, at least, have an idea of the trajectory I am on, and where I want to go. I feel good. I look good, because for a long time, I did not look good at all. I was just hanging out, waiting for something to happen. I really wasn’t concerned with my well being, all that well. Not Good at all.

I was sober, but I was physically, COASTING …

Back in February, I got a kick in the ass at the doctors office. For the first time, in a long time, I really noticed that my body had changed for the better. I had settled for my pear shaped, bloated belly, ass hanging out HIV look.

For a good decade, I was resigned to the shape my body had taken. I had said to myself,

“Well, fuck it. This is the body God gave me so I better get used to it.”

In February, through diet, exercise and medical treatment, My body did actually shift in the positive direction. And I noticed it. Which sent me into overdrive, mentally and emotionally. I changed my wardrobe. I got sexy. And damn, I looked good.

And my friends all noticed. That has changed my outlook in ways I had not really considered.

Here we are today.

Fifty is beginning to feel good to me. And thankfully,

I am not sitting in the Shoe Store.

Suffering and Sacrament: On Finding Connection as a Grocery Store Cashier

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Borrowed from: Stephen – S. Bradford Long Blog – Daily Reflection.

Every day, I go to work as a grocery store cashier at a family-owned business in a prosperous region of the more generally depressed Appalachian mountains. This work has transformed my life, not because it is the exciting, high-impact, high-power job so many of us dream about in our twenties and thirties, but because it brings me into direct contact with humanity.

I am sometimes astonished by the suffering, just beneath the surface, that permeates the air. I see it in the grocery store in a way I might not see it in other careers, because all humanity – the miserable and the joyful, the ill and the well, the rich and the poor – need to eat. Therefore, the grocery store is a gathering place where all social lines breakdown. We are united by the commonality of food.

I see a young man – eyes drooping, so thin I can see his spine poking against his teeshirt, dragging himself through the aisles as if he is dragging a tank behind him. I watch him through the aisles, I check him out at the register, and he is often rude, empty. Being a depressive myself, I know the marks of an inner Hell that is tearing him to shreds.

I watch people dying slowly and miserably of terminal illnesses that they cannot afford to address. Some are full of bile, their regret cast before them like a long shadow, while others are trying to soak up as much life as they can.

I remember the old woman who received a phone call while in my line to inform her that her grandson had just committed suicide. She wept, and I listened hard to her stories of her grandson. She thanked me, and went on her way.

I remember the man who wandered through my line, tears in his eyes. He looked at me as if he were starving for something I couldn’t give him, and he said, “My best friend just died of a heroin overdose. Please, please, value your friends, value every moment you have on this earth.” He wandered out the door, lost in his grief.

An old woman came through me line once, and her cart was full of frozen cakes. She met my eyes. “My daughter just killed herself,” she said. “These frozen cakes were her favorite. I will save them, I will keep them forever.”

I see meth addicts, skeletons of their former selves. I see alcoholics, the smell of whiskey heavy on their breath. I see the mentally ill, talking to people who aren’t there, and I see the homeless, wandering in from the street because we have air conditioning and cheap food. I see shreds of humanity abandoned and forgotten.

I see joy, too. I see the old woman who had finally, after years of saving money, finally got teeth. And, to top it all off, she got an aesthetist to remove all her facial hair. Now she flashes her brilliant smile at everyone she can, and she is radiant with joy. All she ever wanted was teeth, and now she has them.

In this setting, in which new suffering walks through our doors every day, mixed in with the mundane, the regular, the blithely happy, feeding the public is transformed. It’s no longer a chore, but a sacrament. When I hand people whatever nourishing food they’ve chosen off the shelves, I hear the words of Christ, “This is my body, broken for you.”

That everyday moment is transfigured into something sacred, for it is full of the recognition that this is another human soul, and that this human soul is capable of galaxies of silent suffering. That connection with suffering, and that offering up of nourishment – that is holy, that is sacred.

Every day, I am reminded that we all feel pain. We all suffer. We all yearn to be seen. And this realization fills me with a tenderness that words cannot express. I can’t put it into words, this seeing of humanity. I wish I could share this tenderness with everyone I can. I wish I could tell everyone who seems dubious of my work, “no, you don’t understand. Working in a grocery store is not a waste of time. It’s not a waste of my talents. If only you could see what I see.”

Why the only future worth building includes everyone. Pope Francis, Ted Talk

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Translated by Michele Gianella
Reviewed by TED Open Translation

0:11 [His Holiness Pope Francis Filmed in Vatican City First shown at TED2017]
0:15 Good evening – or, good morning, I am not sure what time it is there.
Regardless of the hour, I am thrilled to be participating in your conference.
I very much like its title – “The Future You” – because, while looking at tomorrow,
it invites us to open a dialogue today,
to look at the future through a “you.”
“The Future You:” the future is made of yous, it is made of encounters, because
life flows through our relations with others.
Quite a few years of life have
strengthened my conviction
that each and everyone’s existence is deeply
tied to that of others:
life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.
1:27 As I meet, or lend an ear to those who are sick, to the migrants who
face terrible hardships
in search of a brighter future, to prison inmates
who carry a hell of pain inside their hearts,
and to those, many of them young,
who cannot find a job,
I often find myself wondering: “Why them and not me?”
I, myself, was born in a family of migrants; my father, my grandparents, like
many other Italians,
left for Argentina and met the fate of those who are left
with nothing.
I could have very well ended up among today’s “discarded” people.
And that’s why I always ask myself, deep in my heart: “Why them and not me?”
2:35 First and foremost, I would love it if this meeting could help to remind us
that we all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent
“I,” separated from the other,
and we can only build the future by standing together,
including everyone.
We don’t think about it often, but everything is connected, and
we need to restore our connections to a healthy state.
Even the harsh judgment I
hold in my heart
against my brother or my sister, the open wound that was never
cured, the offense that was never forgiven,
the rancor that is only going to hurt me,
are all instances of a fight that I carry within me, a flare deep in my heart that needs
to be extinguished
before it goes up in flames, leaving only ashes behind.
3:38 Many of us, nowadays, seem to believe that a happy future is something
impossible to achieve.
While such concerns must be taken very seriously, they
are not invincible.
They can be overcome when we don’t lock our door to the
outside world.
Happiness can only be discovered as a gift of harmony between
the whole and each single component.
Even science – and you know it better than
I do –
points to an understanding of reality as a place where every element
connects and interacts with everything else.
4:27 And this brings me to my second message. How wonderful would it be if
the growth of scientific and technological innovation
would come along with
more equality and social inclusion.
How wonderful would it be, while we discover
faraway planets,
to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around
us.
How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient
word,
were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default
attitude
in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships
among individuals, peoples and countries.
Only by educating people to a true solidarity
will we be able to overcome the “culture of waste,” which doesn’t concern only food
and goods
but, first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our
techno-economic systems
which, without even realizing it, are now putting
products at their core, instead of people.
6:08 Solidarity is a term that many wish to erase from the dictionary.
Solidarity, however, is not an automatic mechanism. It cannot be programmed
or controlled.
It is a free response born from the heart of each and everyone.
Yes, a free response! When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many
contradictions, is a gift,
that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can t
hey withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being?
6:50 In order to do good, we need memory, we need courage and we need creativity.
And I know that TED gathers many creative minds. Yes, love does require a creative,
concrete
and ingenious attitude. Good intentions and conventional formulas, so often
used to appease our conscience, are not enough.
Let us help each other, all together,
to remember
that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face.
The “you” is always a real presence, a person to take care of.
7:52 There is a parable Jesus told to help us understand the difference between
those who’d rather not be bothered and those who take care of the other.
I am sure
you have heard it before. It is the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

When Jesus was asked: “Who is my neighbor?” – namely, “Who should I take care of?”
he told this story, the story of a man who had been assaulted, robbed, beaten and
abandoned along a dirt road.
Upon seeing him, a priest and a Levite, two very
influential people of the time,
walked past him without stopping to help.
After a while, a Samaritan, a very much despised ethnicity at the time, walked by.
Seeing the injured man lying on the ground, he did not ignore him as if he
weren’t even there.
Instead, he felt compassion for this man, which compelled
him to act in a very concrete manner.
He poured oil and wine on the wounds of
the helpless man,
brought him to a hostel and paid out of his pocket for him
to be assisted.
9:26 The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of today’s humanity.
People’s paths are riddled with suffering, as everything is centered around
money, and things, instead of people.
And often there is this habit, by people
who call themselves “respectable,”
of not taking care of the others, thus leaving
behind thousands of human beings, or entire populations,
on the side of the road.
Fortunately, there are also those who are creating a new world by taking care
of the other, even out of their own pockets.
Mother Teresa actually said:
“One cannot love, unless it is at their own expense.”
10:26 We have so much to do, and we must do it together. But how can we
do that with all the evil we breathe every day?
Thank God, no system can
nullify our desire to open up to the good,
to compassion and to our capacity
to react against evil,
all of which stem from deep within our hearts. Now you
might tell me,
“Sure, these are beautiful words, but I am not the Good Samaritan,
nor Mother Teresa of Calcutta.”
On the contrary: we are precious, each and
every one of us.
Each and every one of us is irreplaceable in the eyes of God.
Through the darkness of today’s conflicts, each and every one of us can become
a bright candle,
a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the
other way around.
11:27 To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is Hope.
Feeling hopeful does not mean to be optimistically naïve and ignore the tragedy
humanity is facing.
Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn’t lock itself into darkness,
that doesn’t dwell on the past,
does not simply get by in the present, but is able
to see a tomorrow.
Hope is the door that opens onto the future. Hope is a humble,
hidden seed of life
that, with time, will develop into a large tree. It is like some
invisible yeast that allows the whole dough to grow,
that brings flavor to all
aspects of life.
And it can do so much, because a tiny flicker of light that feeds
on hope
is enough to shatter the shield of darkness. A single individual is enough
for hope to exist,
and that individual can be you. And then there will be another
“you,” and another “you,”
and it turns into an “us.” And so, does hope begin when
we have an “us?”
No. Hope began with one “you.” When there is an “us,” there
begins a revolution.
13:16 The third message I would like to share today is, indeed, about revolution:
the revolution of tenderness.
And what is tenderness? It is the love that comes
close and becomes real.
It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches
the eyes, the ears and the hands.
Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other,
our ears to hear the other, to listen to the children, the poor, those who are afraid
of the future.
To listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and
polluted earth.
Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other,
to take care of those in need.
14:13 Tenderness is the language of the young children, of those who need
the other.
A child’s love for mom and dad grows through their touch, their gaze,
their voice, their tenderness.
I like when I hear parents talk to their babies,
adapting to the little child,
sharing the same level of communication. This is
tenderness: being on the same level as the other.
God himself descended into
Jesus to be on our level.
This is the same path the Good Samaritan took.
This is the path that Jesus himself took. He lowered himself, he lived his entire
human existence
practicing the real, concrete language of love.
15:23 Yes, tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous
men and women.
Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of
solidarity, the path of humility.
Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more
your actions will have an impact on people,
the more responsible you are to act
humbly.
If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other.
There is a saying in Argentina: “Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach.
You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting
yourself and those around you,
if you don’t connect your power with humility and
tenderness.
Through humility and concrete love, on the other hand, power –
the highest, the strongest one – becomes a service, a force for good.
16:52 The future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, of
great leaders, of big companies.
Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility.
But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other
as a “you”
and themselves as part of an “us.” We all need each other. And so, please,
think of me as well with tenderness,
so that I can fulfill the task I have been given
for the good of the other, of each and every one, of all of you, of all of us. Thank you.

Tuesday: The Many Faces of Amazon

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Do you shop on Amazon, from where you live ?

In the quest to be the best looking sporty man who I can be, takes me on the hunt for the latest and greatest sports gear, from around the world. In my purchasing history, I have found that one needs multiple Amazon accounts, spread over all of North America.

Including accounts on Ebay as well.

You need several platforms of purchase power at your disposal. That means all of Ebay, world-wide, and all of Amazon world wide. Because history has taught me severe lessons in shopping off platform.

On a platform you are Guaranteed Product, Insured, and Shipped from a reputable seller. You do not get these assurances shopping on suspect (off platform) sites that look too good to be true when they offer items you cannot find anywhere else.

Buyer Beware …

China and Shanghai are terrible for buyers because the possibility of suspect items, counterfeit and bogus sales are a dime a dozen. And the R.C.M.P. here in Canada saved me some serious cash when I got ripped off for more than $300.00 cad.

After that buying nightmare, I will only shop on a platform that guarantees their sellers and the products they sell.

A while back, I wrote to Amazon about the problems of shopping in Canada. Many products one purchases on Amazon will ship Internationally here to Montreal.

That is not always the case though …

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When I was shopping for the Nike Hyper Cool Woodland Dark Emerald and Total Orange tights, I saw in this photo, I scoured the world-wide web looking for them. After an exhaustive search world wide, I finally found 1 pair on Amazon U.S.

Sadly, they would not ship this specific item to me here in Montreal. A friend of mine who lives in the U.S. received my package from Amazon U.S. and forwarded the package on to me in Montreal.

I wrote to Amazon to inquire about their shipping strategy and procedures. I sent a lengthy email which got a very extensive reply from an agent at Amazon. And I was directed to look at shipping guidelines and they also offered another platform to buy from as well.

  • There is Amazon.US
  • There is Amazon.CA
  • And There is Amazon Global

The other day, I saw an item of clothing that is HOT, right at the moment, from Under Armour. (Photo above) of the Under Armour Exo Compression Leggings, Men’s Black, Cobalt and Bolt Orange.

I looked around Ebay and Amazon.CA for the item. The list price for this item of clothing started at $200.00 plus shipping and import taxes for a total of $225.00 for one item of clothing.

That is ridiculous. And cost prohibitive.

But I carted the item, nonetheless, because I could not find the item anywhere else.

Until about an hour ago.

I have an Amazon Global Account. That account affords me the ability to shop on the Global Market Amazon Wide, and have it ship directly to me here in Montreal.

Amazon Global runs on the U.S. Dollar. And the Loonie took a HUGE tumble today because of the American Administrations levy on Lumber imports to the U.S. Border politics, affect every area of Canadian Business when it comes to the United States, and what rules they place on our international businesses.

I plugged the item into Amazon Global and was rewarded handsomely.

That $200.00 CAD item on Amazon.CA was selling on Amazon Global for $70.00 U.S. plus taxes, shipping and import taxes. (shipping was free)

I bought that item right away, because it was too good to be true that a $200.00 CAD item was selling for only $70.00 US on another partition of the same Amazon.

In the end I spent $87.00 U.S / $121.00 CAD for a $225.00 CAD item. Saving $100.00 CAD in the end.

Boo Yah !!!

The world runs on Online sales. One must be careful in who one trusts On Line.

On our Indigo/Chapters book site, when you purchase books online from their site, you pay the online price. When I shop in the brick and mortar store here in the city, you pay for stocking, rent, and shelving price, that can run upwards of $30.00 more in purchase price.

I’ve heard it said by people I know, that they won’t shop brick and mortar stores. BUT, they will visit the store, find the item they want, figure out the discount, go back home, and visit the same online version of a brick and mortar, and make their purchases.

It pays to belong to as many wide platform selling sites that you can, because if you are a savvy shopper, there are deals to be found. Those deals come with those particular guarantees that single online websites don’t necessarily offer. Even if the suspected website boast of its guarantees. They don’t necessarily, Guarantee anything.

They just want your money and your account information…

Those dime a dozen Chinese sites are numerous and you can never tell if they are reputable because counterfeiters and bogus sites hide behind trusted web addresses located in Countries, that for the most part, are reputable by reputation.

We have found that bogus Chinese sellers hide behind the CO.UK suffix, or the CO.AU or CO.NZ. You think you are buying from England, Australia or New Zealand, when in reality you are purchasing from a seller that can be located anywhere in the world, and if you are not careful in your shopping choices, you too will be taken for a ride financially.

I shop the EU for specific clothing like sneakers and socks. Sneakers and Socks are BIG business in the Euro Zone. Soccer is as well in the UK and in the Euro Zone. I do shop on single seller sites in the UK and the Euro Zone because I have bought from them before, and once I buy from a trusted site, that is guaranteed, I bookmark and shop there often.

Google translate does very well when shopping internationally in the Euro Zone.

But, you usually get killed on the Exchange Rates on the Euro and the British Pound. That has to be factored in when shopping the Euro Zone.

In my purchase history with Euro sites, I have made purchases and my bank does the conversion for me. When the transaction is slated on my account, they adjust the exchange rate on the day the bank slates my purchase.

I have worked on my skills at seeing a photo, figuring out what the name of the item is, and then locating it within my trusted online platform sites. It is skillful work, to be sure.

A little Tumblr, a little Google, a lot of Amazon and a lot of Ebay.

Not all Websites are just like the others …

If you are not careful, you and your money will soon be parted.

And whatever item you bought, becomes a ghost in the ether …

Monday: You are NOT ALONE any more …

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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 …

Friday: Tolerance … And It’s Price

love

 

Sadly … Another friend of mine from my former second fellowship has relapsed.

That would be three in total …

It is a common theme over the past months, of people we know, very well, from around town, are stuck, and have either gone back out and are still out, or as in tonight, a friend I know well, for many years, who had some time, decided to jump out of a window and use again.

If you have decided what we want and are willing to go to any length, then you are ready to take certain steps.

Addicts and Alcoholics are terribly INTOLERANT people.

And the Friday meeting, is one of those meetings, that has been through the crucible of intolerance. In as many years, we have all stayed around, through adversity and intolerance, we survived.

Intolerance has cost us a great deal over the years. People with time, deciding at one point to be intolerant of some who come to that meeting, because they feel welcomed, were, at one point, asked to leave, because of intolerance of some of our number.

Tonight, one of the men who fled that drama, was sitting in the room. I have not seen him in many many months.

Everyone sitting at that table tonight, must have been thinking about what happened to us, a while back, when friends became enemies, and silence fell and people fled that meeting.

Because of INTOLERANCE.

God, in his infinite wisdom has done for us, what we could not do for ourselves.

Wisdom speaks to me tonight and says … If you stay, and you pray, God Will Move.

Once again, I am sitting in a room, and God is moving among us.

Last year, intolerance raised its ugly head and disbanded an entire community of people, sending people running for the hills.

Sadly, three of those intolerant people, used and drank again. And they have, over the past few weeks, returned to the sanctity and acceptance of the Friday meeting.

Is that Odd or is that God ????

I left a community, and people left me in return, because of intolerance.

I remained at the Friday meeting, making it my home group some time ago and I have been sitting in that room, doing service, and waiting on God.

God has not disappointed …

“Gradually we began to be able to accept the other’s sins as well as their virtues. We coined the potent and meaningful expression “Let us always love the best in others – and never fear their worst.”

“Finally we begin to see that all people, including ourselves, are to some extent emotionally ill as well as frequently wrong. When this happens, we approach true tolerance and we see what real love for our fellows actually means.”

Shit happens in meetings, and more especially in business meetings.

Normal everyday alcoholics, while sitting in a meeting, practicing tolerance, will step into a business meeting, and the gloves will come off and dust begins to fly …

Tolerance goes right out the window.

I’ve seen what intolerance does to people who are terribly intolerant. And at one point, I pointed that out to a particular friend, and in doing so, cost me several friendships.

Some of those friends decided against their better natures to use again.

This is what happens when communities fall apart, and contacts disappear.

People use again, because they feel that they cannot talk to you because of

  • FEAR
  • SHAME
  • EGO

I sat with that friend, before the meeting, and I am sure that look of pity crossed my features when he told me that he was just a week clean and sober.

And I asked one question … What did you NOT do that you should have DONE ?

Those answers are always the same.

A Room is a Furnace. A Crucible. A Testing Ground. An Ego Buster. A Humility Teacher.

We are all wounded, one way or another. And at times, the best of us, gets swallowed up by the worst of us. And usually that happens in front of and to our friends, who are closest to us.

The chair spoke tonight and he said … We are evilest to those closest to us, and we are gracious and accepting to a perfect stranger …

He also added: Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate, and Hate leads to Suffering …

We quote the Jedi in our meeting on Friday.

All I can do is be present.