Friday … Fathers and Their Babies …

rockyAnother busy week is in the books. Lots of people to see, things to do, Steps to be worked for some, and sharing meals with people I care about. That’s the kind of week it has been.

The weather has been stellar. Lots of Sun, Heat and a little humidity, but not like the heat they are getting over in Europe or down in the South. Thank God … For air conditioning…

This week I practiced being present to my friends, and breaking bread with them as well, two of the most important things we can do to create “Connections.”

Which leads quite nicely into the next paragraph.

The Opposite of Addiction is Not Recovery it is “CONNECTION.”

I heard this a while back, probably on another Ted Talk. Today a friend of mine who works in Colorado posted another similar talk to his feed. So I went and watched it.

One can never get enough of Ted Talks in my opinion.

When we were/are out there using, for most of us, we are isolated, and alone. And we engage in soul destroying activities like drinking and drug use. We become, “Disconnected” from ourselves, our families and our friends.

A well known psychologist in the U.S. studied this problem, also looking at how the U.S. and other countries punish, shame, incarcerate and disconnect addicts from their lives and others.

In Portugal, they decriminalized all drugs and began providing “connections” for them. They got them help, the state actually participates in rehabilitating addicts back into society, wherein they go to a business and say to them … “if you will employ this person, we will pay half their salary.”

They are building people up, instead of tearing them down.

Punishing, shaming and incarcerating addicts is the wrong approach, as said by those who have studied this problem, Worldwide.

Another scientist took lab rats and in one case, put a solitary rat in a cage, with two water bottles. One was regular water, the other water laced with heroin.

The lone rat, with no connection or activity, drank the heroin water until it was dead.

He placed another rat in a cage with the same two water bottles. But in this cage he added a rat run, with slides, caves and things to do. The second rat, ignored the heroin water, never drinking from that bottle and it stayed clean.

He never mentions ways to get sober in his talk. The entire talk was centered around making human connections, for addicts, and just how we can do that for our friends and families.

The Human Connection is the most important aspect of our lives, whether we are using drugs and alcohol or not. In today’s day and age, with the prevalence of social media in all its forms, humans are devolving into their smart phones and gaming consoles and music delivery systems and totally disengaging themselves from other human beings.

Everywhere you go, people are connected to some kind of electronic device.

On the bus, on the train, and even while driving a car, sadly …

When people in our groups come to us, they are broken, soulless, and alone. But for one reason or another, they have come to a meeting. The most important part of the meeting, for any meeting, is when we welcome the newcomer.

We invite them to connect. We invite them into the one act that might change their lives in ways they can’t imagine, at that very moment.

But it is the connection we try to make.

We offer our time, we offer our phone numbers, and we offer coffee and meals, to bring people into our lives, because we cannot keep it, unless we give it away.

And then you hear those words, maybe for the first time in a long time …

YOU ARE NOT ALONE ANY MORE …

For many, this is the first time they have heard those words in a long time.

Today, being present, available and accountable to my friends is what I do with much of my free time. And you would be pleased to hear someone tell you just how important that connection was and is to them, and how that connection sustained them during dark times.

“PRESENCE” IS THE GREATEST GIFT WE CAN GIVE FRIENDS AND FAMILY.

Over the last two to three years, I have worked very hard at “Connections.”

And that has been the huge difference in the lives of people I count as friends.

Every night we come together, to connect. And that is the God’s honest truth for our Friday Night Meeting. People come to this meeting to see their friends. It is the one night a week, where we are all in the same space at the same time, it is the best night of the week for us.

Tonight, we heard a reading from a very old Grapevine and the second portion of the reading was taken from Step Ten. The nightly inventory.

The reading warns us about the fact that we have no opinion about outside issues. And the reading centers around the models people use to get better. People, worldwide, use various tools to be better, to get better, and for some, to get clean and sober.

Be that Religion, Spirituality, Counseling, Therapy, and many other modes of help.

The Book tells us that we do not own the monopoly on sobriety. And we are also not the Be all End all solution to your problems.

However we offer “A” solution.

The step reading talks about restraint of tongue and pen, and how important that little phrase should have on what we think, what we say and how we say it.

The flip side of this notion comes like this, as was stated by one of our women.

“Yes, we should always practice restraint when we might keep our mouths shut, unless we have something to share, BASED on life experience, but also, to know when to say NO, you have stepped over a line, and you are wrong, and I need to stand up for myself.”

There is a fine line between argumentativeness and Self Preservation and Boundaries.

I’ve been in situations where I was attacked and I had to learn how to defend myself, whether that dealt with my personal being, my education, and my sober life. In the end, I just had to leave them alone, wait patiently, they would tire of attacking me, and finally go away.

This is true …

  • I earned a B.A. in Religious Studies
  • Certificates in Theology and Pastoral Ministry
  • I am unabashedly a Gay Christian
  • I’m sober almost fourteen years
  • And I am married

It took the attainment of these things for me to see the wisdom in the words that are contained in the Book and the Twelve and Twelve. That has taken many years of study and guidance of fellows and my sponsor.

It has been a beautiful week. I have beautiful friends.

On the way to the meeting and on the way home, I saw two fathers carrying their sons in those body hugging wraps. It was so sweet.

On the train ride home, a family was in my car, and dad was carrying his son, holding him close to his chest, hand on his head, and it just made me smile a big smile. And it warmed my heart to see love like that between father and son.

All kinds of warm fuzzies …

It was the BEST night of the week once again. As is usual.

More to come, stay tuned …

Friday – The After Party

Do you believe in Love

“… Then too, damaging emotional conflicts persist below the level of consciousness, very deep, sometimes quite forgotten. Therefore, we should try hard to recall and review those past events which originally induced these conflicts and which continue to give our emotions violent twists, thus discoloring our personalities and altering our lives for the worse.”

This passage, from tonight’s A.B.S.I. is taken from the Twelve and Twelve, and it speaks towards Step Eight … Making that list you are going to use for Step Nine … The Amends.

The first step to make, in this effort, in my belief, is to forgive ones self. After probable years of self hatred, self abuse, self loathing, and beating ones self up with the drink, or drugs, we have come to the point, if we are IN our steps, that we have decided to get clean and sober.

But with that decision, comes a second decision we must make, in order to get better. And that is to take ourselves to task for what we have done, what others have done to us, and how we feel about those two factors.

I was talking to my friends after the meeting about these decisions. If we take these steps and we are moving towards completing our steps, we must be prepared for whatever emotions come up, whenever they come up and deal with them, (however we are able, at whatever stage of sobriety we are, at that point) This is not the easier softer way for most of us.

Dealing with the wreckage of our pasts, for some, as it was said tonight, creates for many, a state of P.T.S.D. about our addiction as it played out. Now we decided to get sober.

The deal is, that we don’t run back to the bottle or the drugs when things get tough. I want so badly for some of my friends to walk forwards and just DO IT.

That means the rest of us have to step up, get off our asses and DO SOMETHING.

If people, men or women, don’t have proper support, 24 / 7 then what good are we to our fellows? I did what I had to do to get better. And God provided me with opportunities to be present, and I take that responsibility very seriously.

It went as it was going to go. This reading brings up specific feelings about the past and many of us spoke to this issue. I was not the only human being in the room tonight, who has heartache and may not be able to properly complete my (read: our) steps a full 100%.

In the end I spoke my piece, not to seek pity or a love fest, but there are very few topics in my life today that spike me into un-sober behavior. This reading speaks, also, to emotional sobriety, which was also brought up tonight.

There are days and holidays which I work very hard to get through, and not loose my composure and I teeter on the edge of a cliff of un-sober thinking, acting and speaking. Steps Eight and Nine, for me, are sore subjects, because I will never get the resolution I am looking for because I have learned and come to accept that I am powerless over people, places and things.

At the end of the meeting, I was standing outside with friends, and the meeting matriarch came out and stood in front of me and looked me in the eyes as she hugged me, saying that I was a wonderful human being. I was almost driven to tears, because I knew what she was trying to tell me and show me, one human to another.

I love my friends. They make all of this possible. My friends have my back and I have theirs. I’ve said before that where else could one go to be loved so much and someone there for you when ever you need them to be?

We are totally blessed.

I am 47 years old and today the United States made history. Gay marriage is legal across the United States. So many Republicans and Preachers have the sadz …

The evangelic base is stirring like hornets. And the battle lines have been drawn. Obama Care and Gay Marriage are the wedge issues that are going to fire up those hell bent voters who disagree with both decisions, as the White House celebrate their winning streak.

Those wily homosexuals got their win today. And you can take that to the bank.

In the end LOVE WON.

All we want is to be recognized legally. And like a friend said earlier today, now everybody can be as happy or as miserable as the rest of those who have marriage rights. Divorce happens on both sides of the fence. Now the gays can do the same.

But I know, most gay folks put straight folks to shame when it comes to marriage.

We do marriage right, we do planning right, we get the flowers right, and we get the music right. Many old timer couples have been together much longer than their straight counterparts. NOW it is legal for their unions to be recognized by the constitution.

We will see who wins this argument in the coming years.

Heterosexual divorce is up there in numbers. I encourage my gay and lesbian friends to put those straight people to shame. We will show you just how good we do marriage.

Well Done Supreme Court.

It was Great day and a great night.

More to come, stay tuned …

Tuesday … Now, Later, Maybe and Never

friends becomeThe Up/Down temperature swings have leveled off, and today we swung into sunny, hot and moderate humidex readings. Thank God for Air conditioning. I was wise to load it up a few days ago, when they warned us that this trend would come.

When temps rise above 18c and above, things begin to get sticky. Living amid the concrete jungle, here in Western Downtown, cement and concrete buildings, warm during the day, then radiate heat when the sun goes down.

We aren’t insulated for seasonal hot and cold. This building is concrete and most apartments have windows across one entire wall, no matter what direction you face. We face West, which means, we get direct sunlight from 11 a.m. through till sundown.

That gets very warm. We get so much sun, that over the past decade or so, we had hung blinds, we papered or foiled the windows to turn sunlight away, these things did not help very much.

When we renovated the space a few months ago, we splurged on special sun sensitive roll blinds that work really well. They cut the heat quotient in a great way. With the added a.c. unit in the bedroom, we can maintain the apartment at a steady cool and comfy level.

It was so beautiful today, that I walked from the Metro to the church on the way out. (read: there was no bus waiting at the station, so I walked it).

It was our fourth year anniversary for the meeting today.

It’s very funny, our meeting.

They say, that all you need to have, to open a meeting, is a resentment and a coffee pot…

You actually need at minimum $350.00 to do it right.

And that is exactly how Vendome started. ONE pissed off alcoholic and his resentments.

Many years ago, well, four to be exact, Tuesday Beginners was in transition. We dropped from two meetings on a Tuesday Night, to just one. One of our members wanted the key and said he would operate the second meeting himself, in our space, inside our window of occupancy.

That idea was instantly nixed …

So he left, and along with my current sponsor, opened a brand new meeting right up against Tuesday Beginners, but half an hour earlier. Which put it smack dab in the middle of the Five o’clock shadows meeting at 5 and Tuesday Beginners at 7.

All three meetings are close. They are all on bus and Metro lines.

A couple of years later, I decided to leave Tuesday Beginners and followed my friends over to Vendome. By that time, the original member who opened the meeting copped another resentment with the group, and he fled. Which left us with a meeting to run and populate.

We were at Trinity for a little more than a year, then the N.D.G. Food Bank, was tossed on the street by their landlord, so they really needed a place to operate, because the food bank serves the entire N.D.G. and surrounding Burroughs. They came to Trinity.

Our meeting was tossed into the auditorium where the food bank had set up all around us, so we were sharing space with them, and several other meetings that book ended ours.

That did not go very well, and we ended up moving the meeting to where it is now. Up the hill and close to Villa Maria Metro and the 24 bus route. Sadly, most of the folks who used to come to Trinity, did not follow. We could never figure out the why? It was only 2 city blocks away.

We’ve maintained the group, albeit, by the skin of our teeth. We aren’t making seventh, hand over fist, and funds have fallen off because we can’t seem to hold over many people, they just don’t come week after week, however, we do have a small group of committed members.

Along with our anniversary today, one of our old timers celebrated 29 years of sobriety.

There was cake, and other goodies to feast upon.

We are closing in on the end of our Joe and Charlie Big Book tapes.

AH, I can hear the angels sing …

We have reached Steps Eight and Nine.

It is said that alcoholism is a three fold disease. Spiritual, Mental and Physical.

In steps One, Two and Three, we realize our powerlessness, we come to believe in a Power Greater than Ourselves, and we decide to turn it over. For many, this might be their first time around with (a) god. But many know who God is, and they have turned away for one reason or another. That solves our spiritual problem.

In Steps Four, Five, Six and Seven, we set to paper all those things that hold us back. Resentments, Guilts, and Fears. After an exhaustive, moral personal inventory, we clear away the wreckage of our pasts. Then we unload it upon someone we trust. We figure out from that inventory our character defects and our shortcomings.

It is also said that we continue to work Six and Seven for the rest of our lives.

That solves our Mental problem.

In Steps Eight and Nine, we make our lists of those we need to make amends to, and prepare to do so, as we are able, with this proviso …

An Amends list is not something to take lightly, depending on how much damage you have done to yourself and others. (read: Family, Friends, Employers etc …)

Many come to this point and balk. So Joe and Charlie give us this tool:

  • Make Four lists:
  • Those we can make amends to NOW
  • Those we could make amends to LATER
  • Those whom we could MAYBE make amends to at some point
  • And those we will NEVER be able to make amends to

Reading the text out of the Big Book, Bill covers almost every single situation that might turn up for someone working at this juncture of The Work.

Many an old timer took to the work slowly. But it is what it is. Amends cross many areas.

  • Personal
  • Business
  • Family and
  • Financial

At some point in ones sobriety, we should complete this list, in any way possible, because we drank, for some, in any way possible. And if we had to Beg, Rob or Steal it, alcoholics and addicts have done that. It may take a lifetime, but we only have ONE lifetime.

So we better make it a good life, in the end.

I’ve done these lists. There are people on each of these lists. With the dawn of sobriety the second time, I had to make amends to certain people, which I did early on, because I could.

When I got sober the second time, about a month in, I met those friends I ditched opting for a geographic, instead of honesty and respect. Those amends were made directly, face to face.

Let me tell you, that was not easy. It took everything I had to look my friends in the eyes and ask for forgiveness.

With the dawn of Facebook, I made amends to my friends whom I had not seen in many years. Many of my drinking friends, are sober themselves, so that made it a bit easier, because they were in the program, and the amends were mutual and went both ways.

There is one woman, a good friend of mine, who is still in my life today, who WAS in my life through every stage of my life in recovery the First and Second time.

We had THAT discussion.

She forgave me. But to this day, my heart aches, every time I think about her or see activity on Facebook, because I have unfinished business with her. You see, she was the only friend who was financially involved with helping to take care of me when I was really sick, my family had long since backed out of any responsibility or desire to help me.

And she carried me to my geographical move and then she left and went on to her own geographical cure. I was all the way OUT, she was only PARTIALLY the way out.

Life went on. But I owe her more than asking for forgiveness. One day I hope to make full financial restitution to her in my own way, for everything that she did for me. But I have yet to say these words to her, because they have been a long time coming.

Then on the final list, are those who I will NEVER be able to make amends to. Those are the people who walked out of my life for various reasons, (which are all about them, and not about me, but really, it is all about me no matter how you cut it).

I was an Alcoholic. I was Gay, I was living with AIDS, and I reside in Canada.

All these things are liabilities.

So fuck me for surviving…

We’ve come a long way over the last year or so. Each pass at the steps gives us perspective, insight and then the gift of hindsight. The greater the vision, the greater the effort to sober up.

We grow up when we get sober, and hopefully, we do it right this time.

Maybe NOW, Maybe LATER, MAYBE sometime, and sadly, quite possibly NEVER.

More to come, stay tuned …

Drill it Down … What’s Done is Done … Act as If

tumblr_md2lb5P8Ep1qenwdto1_1280 laurenmarekCourtesy: Lauren Marek

It was a very productive day today. After having a nightmare that ended just as my alarm clock went off, this one, was new. Feeding off the manic experience I had on Sunday.

Sometimes, we should never act on or say words we might regret, even in the heat of the moment, or wanting to be heard. I read something the other night that said:

“We should be ok living alone, because it is a waste of time chasing people who really don’t care about you.”

The other one came from a friend:

“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” – Jack Kornfield.

I got up, and half decided to go do something that I wanted to do, but the urge to hibernate was very strong. I got into the shower and that did the trick. I got dressed and headed out for the mall.

I wanted to get the next two books in the Temperance Brennan series, by Kathy Reichs. The collection at Indigo is getting slim. I’ve about completed buying their entire stock of books. They only had one of the two books I wanted.

I had some lunch and came home. I logged into the Indigo website and ordered two volumes of the collection, which were in stock. Indigo/Chapters takes major credit cards, but they also take Pay Pal, which is as good as cash.

At the moment, I have 4 books running at the same time.

At the retreat I picked up another biography of Pope Francis. This one is a lot more complete as I am reading it presently. I am still reading Tim Winton, I am wrapped up in Tempe, so I started another book last night, and I bought one today, and two are coming in the mail. Which brings me up to two final volumes in the series that I will buy or order in the coming weeks.

Last week I got my health card renewal slip in the mail, which means a trip to get photos taken, then bring them to the CLSC (read: public health clinic) to get signed and validated with the form that came in the mail.

I’ve done several circuits of the neighborhood today. (read:walking in circles)

I killed a couple of hours before I had my Step appointment at 5:30.

I printed out my post from Sunday evening and brought it with me. I sat with my sponsor and read it to him. He took six pages of text and whittled that down to a sentence of ten words.

It comes down to simple things, first, we are powerless over people, places and things.

The past is the past. What’s done is done. If I want to move forwards, why am I living in the past, (read:revenge,words,feelings,emotions)

I am better off walking away from what is haunting me. What happened happened. But really, for all intents and purposes, just how much power am I giving the past to affect my present? It seems to him, that I’ve given it too much power.

I don’t need to keep bringing certain stories up in community, that certain stories should only come to mind when there is a situation or other human being who is in the same boat, then share the story. I can put certain stories to bed, unless they are necessary.

He mentioned the weekend. And made comment to some things I missed in social cues, and reminded me how hospitality works in sober circles. He also said to me, after reading my sheets, was that I spent way too much time worrying about what people think about me.

But that did not change the fact that I had “this” particular experience.

Human beings are in many ways the same. We want to be loved. We want to be appreciated, We want to be accepted, and We want to hear that spoken. In many cases, that is the norm. When it comes to assholes and attitudes and Egos, these can be difficult.

I tell the lesson about “approval.”

Do what you do well, and master that. You don’t need my approval any more. But one day you might find yourself working for someone who may not appreciate you or the job you do, so you need to be certain of what you do, how you do it, and then do it well.

I am told, that beyond my skewed perception, that people on the weekend had no problems with me and that from what he heard, what I thought was really not the case.

Some people are just not good at some skills of communication. Especially alcoholics.

We are all crazy, we are psychotic, we have personal expectations, sometimes that are unrealistic. Which begs “we should just be gentle with ourselves” and realize that we are not the center of the universe. And that just being … should do us just fine.

I also tell the lesson about “What people think of me is none of my business.”

When it comes to certain people, I had mentioned in my writing, I am reminded that sometimes we have to step up our game of tolerance and acceptance.

I know what my limits are with certain people. And the less I see of them the better.

What do I want removed ?

  • I need to distance myself from the past.
  • I need to accept who I am in the moment, in any moment.
  • I need to not worry so much about what people think of me.
  • I need to get on with the present and stop my addiction to the past.
  • In the end, do I really care about them, or do I just want to get even?
  • The sick side of my brain says, Exactly !
  • The sober side of my brain says, maybe I just need to keep my thoughts clean and my mouth shut.

I guess I am ok with the discussion.

My sponsor agrees that I have grown up a bit more, and that clarity did happen, and that everything is alright. I am progressing forwards.

I think that’s it for the moment.

Mischief Managed …

Sunday Sundries … The Flu Edition

tumblr_libzh0GjqF1qeohomo1_500If a photo can speak a thousand words … Then this one needs no explanation…

Exactly how I feel right about now.

I have managed to keep myself above water, with regards to my daily/nightly schedule these past few days, while fighting a bad case of the flu. Early last week, I could actually feel it coming on, as a frontal assault on my system. It took a couple of days, but by Friday night I was down for the count.

The Friday meeting was a success. When I got home and retired, I was finished for the week. Saturday was a total write off. Besides having to eat, which we did, I slept that balance of Saturday right up until I had to get ready to go this evening.

The Mall is going through another transformation. The other day, I noticed that the vacant space on the ground floor, which has yet to be rented, is slated for an Omer de Seres art store, opening in July. They once had a store right up the block from home for a long time. That vacated building has been torn down recently, and a condo tower is going up in its place.

We had wondered if they would move back into the neighborhood, we can say yes to that question now.

It is T-Minus 5 days and counting for the Target final closing sale. I’m sure what ever is left on store shelves is going for rock bottom pricing. The store was empty the last time I was in there so I am not sure just what they are selling off now?

We don’t know yet, if anyone, will be taking over that lease space. There are rumors coming from several sources that tell us that certain sellers are lining up to buy the Target leases when they finally depart their spaces. I am sure that it will take a few months to tear down, restyle and reopen a new space.

I would not be surprised if I tell you that Target Red might become Walmart Blue in the coming months. But that would be an educated guess based on rumors to their purchase ability in Montreal.

We could use another Walmart on this end of the city. We could use any of the Big Box stores in the downtown core. With the building of several condos ongoing right now, this end of downtown is prime real estate for good anchor stores.

We could speculate for a long time, as to who is up next …

Over the last three days, temps fell more than twenty degrees from where they were to where they are tonight. It was a cold and windy day for the parade this morning. We are sitting at (-10c/-18c w.c.) at this hour.

There were two competing events this morning. One that was sanctioned by the city, the Patty’s Day Parade. The other was an Anti-Police brutality demonstration, that, in the recent past, devolved into violence and arrests. With that threat looming over the parade, several schools pulled their marchers, bands, and so did the Boys Scouts. Better to be safe than sorry was the thought.

The police did their job. The parade was a success. And there was no violence. So far as my research proved tonight. It might have been the cold, but by the time I departed for the meeting, the streets were clean. No garbage anywhere, and no vomit on the sidewalks.

We sat a good group. Our chair did not show. So I was voted in again. Our return rate of young people coming back in, rose again tonight. Over all the losses we suffered through the winter has been proving itself resilient. We spoke about the relapse rate the other night, as being high, but the return rate is high as well.

The Step Twelve read is over twenty pages long. And I did not account for that this evening. We read all the way around and then some, and almost made it around for shares. The read tells us about all those things that will come, if we practice these principles in all of our affairs …

The list is exhaustive and goes over many details that can come, if we stick to the steps and we work them diligently. The theme in the second portion of the read is “relationships.”

A long long time ago, I watched my best friend meet, connect and stay with the man he is still with today. That was over twenty years ago. I wanted that for myself. But I wasn’t really prepared for it, nor did that come to pass for me either.

God needed to strip the tree bare.

I decided that I wanted to grow up, and I did that slowly.

Eleven months in, the miracle happened. It was a do or die situation. I acted.

The rest they say, is history.

There are several scenarios for sober people. They get together, and they (1) grow together and thrive or (2) they get together and grow apart and crumble. It takes a special breed of sober people to make it work and for them to thrive. Individual programs are important. We can’t get sober, or maintain someone else’s sobriety. It just does not work that way.

One either finds the tremulous balance or they don’t.

My marriage is a direct product of more than a decade of sobriety and work.

There is a difference between people who are in it to win it, and those who are not.

Everybody is sober tonight. There is HOPE in the air.

And Hope is what is going to keep them in the nest we hope.

More to come, stay tuned …

Tuesday … Rambling About Many Things … Insight About Others

tumblr_lbphrtqohD1qbs0f7o1_500 noneedtoaskmynameCourtesy: The Gargoyle – Nothing like a little vertigo !!!

We thought that the weather was going to get better, tonight, it snowed. It was cloudy when we started the meeting, and there was inches of snow on the ground when we left. Tomorrow’s hopeful positive digit temp, has been brought down to a solid zero (0c) tonight.

As of late, children have been in the news, and not for good reasons.

In What the Fuck News …

The first case, a mother was convicted because she poisoned her son with salt, that eventually killed him, all the while she was blogging about his illness, prior to his death …

A second case involves a Muslim mother, (we know this because proceedings are having to be translated into Arabic) she beat and starved her two twin daughters to death. A gruesome story, and the other day the judge stopped proceedings to ask the mother Why did you do that ???

I mean, WHAT THE FUCK OF IT ALL ???

A third story involves “Free Range” parenting … Two small children, were allowed to walk to the neighborhood park by themselves. Because the parents practice “free range parenting.”

The police were called and the children returned home and six police cars followed, with C.P.S service workers to indict the parents for child neglect… Meanwhile, the kids are playing outside in the yard, unsupervised, and the neighbors are going MADDDDDDD ….

I’ll tell you a secret story about children …

When I was in grade school, we used to be bused to daycare after school, my brother and I. We did that for a long time, but at one point, I was like, NO MORE DAYCARE … In those days we had private bus service with door to door transport for our neighborhood.

I forced the driver, to take us home, instead of day care. I was probably not more than ten. This was in the 1970’s in Miami. After that day, my parents gave me a copy of the house key, and from that point on, both my brother and myself went home after school, forever more. Nobody noticed. Well, the spinster lesbian couple across the street knew we were there alone, and minded us if need be.

Nobody blinked an eye, there was no C.P.S issues. Who would you call (back then) to report two small kinds home alone for a few hours, until their parents got home from work? I learned responsibility, I took care of the house, I cleaned, I cooked, (we got our first microwave oven) that was a bit of excitement.

I understand the safety issues of allowing children to navigate neighborhood streets alone, in today’s day and age. There are too many perverts, and sickos on the street and you never know who is going to harass, or kidnap and kill your children if you don’t have eyes/hands on them 24 – 7 …

Let’s just leash them and let them wander around the yard aimlessly, or keep them locked in the house or at some day care center where someone can watch them while the parents can’t !

It is not the same world I grew up in … sadly !!!

I just had to get that off my chest …

I’m better now

So it snowed. We sat a good group. We finished Bill’s Story, via Joe and Charlie.

This is important, why?

I’ve spent thirteen years reading the Big Book, over and over and over. I worked my steps several times and I am in them right now. Last year, our Sunday night group, finished a cover to cover read through the book as well. That took more than a year of Sundays.

There are meetings all over the world, and I know that many meetings use the book as source.

You could go from reading the book, to reading a chapter, to reading a page, reading a paragraph, and finally, reading a sentence. Each chapter/paragraph/word leads into the next in a specific way. Each chapter has its job, to tell you something certain, factual. Which leads into the next chapter, which tells you something certain and factual, so forth and so on.

You could parse down to sentences and words.

For the last year, I have had the honor of working with sponsees. Each of them see me weekly, for a chat/read/discussion. Over the past year, I’m reading the book four times, at the same time, with four guys. Separately.

Like I said I’ve read the book. But it wasn’t until I read it with a sponsee, that words began to jump off the page at me as we read together. I saw things, and realized things, that I had not, in the past. I’m fairly certain, that after spending years reading the book myself, with others (in a group setting), I learned something. So that wisdom was in my brain,

The first section of the book hasn’t changed in over seventy five years, so after so many years, we should have been able to memorize the front of the book. I do know certain sections by rote. And I know the rest of the read, because I’ve read it so many times now.

Nothing will guarantee us sobriety, like working with another alcoholic.

I mean, that’s how it works, doesn’t it?

I am working with a new guy and he is concerned that I should be getting paid for what I am doing in the meeting, and in working with him. I don’t think I explained how that works very well. Someone has to get paid for working with others, he asked ? I gave him his Big Book, and stuff to read, on the side, (we give books to newbies) better they go home with someone, rather than sit in the box collecting dust.

Tonight we heard Joe and Charlie talk about these insights from the book, in the chapter called, “Bill’s Story.” The steps hadn’t been written yet, as the book had not been thought of when Bill got sober in the beginning. But in writing Bill’s Story, the steps are written out. He tells us the steps he took to get sober. Those steps originated in Ebbie’s witness of the Oxford Group, Ebbie told Bill about getting sober himself, and they worked through the One, Two, Three Shuffle.

Bill wasn’t having any of that Religion Shit.

But he came around when ( in squiggly writing ) the book says, “Well why don’t you find a concept of your own ?” With that statement, Bill got on board. He then tells us how he saw, and understood the rest of Oxford’s Steps and how he turned their short list of proposals, into the twelve steps as we have them today.

Funny how Bill negated all that religious shit, when he got sober, but as he sat writing the book, he had religious men, who were advising him on spiritual matters.

And that’s the God’s Honest Truth.

There are those issues that split many people along fracture lines.

  • Religion
  • God
  • Spirituality
  • Faith
  • Practice

The concept of God is problematic. God is problematic. So find your own, but there lies the contradiction between the Big Book, and As Bill Sees It.

It reads: “You can find a concept of your own, whatever works for you is good, then the reading goes on to say, all that is well and good, but in the end it always comes back around to God.”

Well, fuck me sideways on Tuesday !!!

When we get sober, we get new hearts, new eyes, new livers, and new lives. The longer you stick around you get to polish the temple of God we inhabit and so on. The longer you stick around, the more we learn, and that knowledge comes to bear when we sit down with another alcoholic, and do The Work together.

It can be that good !!!

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … It Can Be That Good

tumblr_lw1xczBKEE1qfbc2to1_500 weheartitCourtesy: We Heart It – Four is the magic number !!!

February is behind us, Thank God and hallelujah !!!

It is not so bad tonight, (-6c/-9c w.c.) with light snow falling. Wednesday is still pegged to be the best day of the week coming. A positive temp, in the middle of negatives. That is a start.

This week, is sitting in the minuses, but next week, we will flirt with just above and just below zero. This comes from the weather channel 14 day outlook. Hopefully March will be the transitional month there is snow on the map, into March, so we will see how that plays out.

It has been a fabulous weekend. And this week will see all my guys reunited here in Montreal.

Last night there was lots of cake, cards, and candles, and medallions.

Nothing can compare with seeing your folks achieve milestones.

The First Year is the hardest. But he came, he saw, and he conquered. It doesn’t get any easier from this point but Two Years is the Silver Oval Chip, that once you get it, you keep it, and hopefully, when you reach ten years, that chip gets engraved and dipped in Gold for Ten Years. That’s a tradition here in the city, if you know who to go to to get that done.

Today I left early because I had to meet with one of my guys and set up for the meeting. We had our meeting before the meeting, and new folks in new jobs, and we sat a good group. In keeping with the series, we read Step Ten …

“Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.”

Once again, a few of us, when all was said and done tonight, scratched our heads, over things that were spoken. No two people work the program the same way. So you have to give them that.

When I realized that I wanted MORE, I had to find a sponsor that was MORE.

I had things I needed and he had some requirements for me as well.

  • Sponsees call every day
  • We meet once a week to chat
  • We read the book together weekly
  • We make one meeting a week together
  • And they do daily inventories from the beginning

I can’t ask another human to do something that I am not doing myself. If I am going to talk the talk, I better walk the walk. I do that.

There are several types of 10 step inventories. From the small, to the exhaustive. From up to the minute, to the seasonal house cleaning. A daily inventory, only if brief and simple, in the beginning, is useful for everyone. It gives one a chance to look at ones day, in simple terms, and gives us something to talk about daily. So by the time we hit step ten, eventually, in the series, they are used to writing, and have it down as rote.

It has been proven that this model of recovery works, at least for my guys it does.

I learned this from women I respect and love, and if they can do it, I can do it too. It was just that, not many men, that I know, are committed to recovery as hard as I am or as the women are. It’s a stepped up game that is proactive, engaging, and workable.

Each of my guys are unique. Each has their own needs, so I have to work with each of them and set them up for their strengths, and to help their weaknesses into strengths. In turn, I can tell you that they push me to be a better man every day. They challenge me to grow.

Working with others, is the best job you can do in your sobriety.

Sobriety is a full time job, and working with others, just makes that job much better.

It is Transformational. It will change your life in ways, you could not even imagine.

It is going to be an exciting week ahead. And I am SOOOO ready for it.

More to come, stay tuned …