Goodbye 2014 … Retrospective … Hello 2015

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One of my friends does this yearly retrospective, taking the first sentence of the first post from the twelve months of the past year. It took a little work, but here is mine. A one sentence view of the last year, in brief.

January – 2014 – VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis made an impassioned New Year’s peace address on Wednesday, saying the heart of humanity seemed to have gone astray and too many people were still indifferent to war, violence and injustice.

February – 2014 – It is Superbowl Sunday, We don’t get U.S. commercials here, so there is really no desire to watch football, not that I watch football anyways …

March – 2014 – It is the weekend. Light snow is falling. Although it is a bit milder tonight, but the cold continues for next week.

April – 2014 – Today it was “Warm.” Warmer than it has been in as many days. This week will see single positive digits, and beginning next week, we will hit double positive digit temps.

May – 2014 – It was a Big Day today. Changing Attitudes celebrated its One Year Anniversary this evening. All of the remaining founders were present. It has been a good run. We have new members and we have been able to pay rent and keep the doors open, which is a good thing. They say that when you open a meeting, you can do the groundwork, the rest is up to God. And if a meeting makes it and is meant to exist, God will provide. And He has over the last year.

June – 2014 – Oprah’s Masterclass is on. Earlier was an encore presentation of Maya Angelou, and now Whoopi is sharing. It was important to listen to Maya again to remind me of how I am supposed to live(rightly), to know who I am, (a Child of God) and how to treat others, (when you know right, Do right).

July – 2014 – We salute our Country and who is more Canadian than Sid the Kid !!!

It is Canada Day today. 147 years since Confederation.

It is the final Canada Day Celebration for one of my guys. Kind of bittersweet, but it is what it is. It was another SCORCHER of a day today. We are sitting at a balmy 27c with a humidex of 34c. And not a cloud in the sky for miles.

August – 2014 – The city is humming with people coming and going. The Osheaga Festival opened tonight and runs through the weekend, The Berri Transit station was packed with concert goers this evening.

September – 2014 – I was ready to go early, and as I locked the door and called for the elevator, it arrived and I had forgotten my BIG umbrella, so I had to go back and get it, I missed my elevator.

It was going to be one of those days …

I made stops on the way, and got through the turnstile, and down to the platform, and as I walked onto the train, my belt popped and my pants fell down on the train. One hand was full carrying BIG umbrella, and the other was holding my phone (read: music).

October – 2014 – It has been a quiet week. The weather is holding, and the trees in the neighborhood are bright yellow, red and orange. Not all of the trees have turned so brightly as they have in the past. It seems the trees in the church yard have been bitten by the blight once again, so they won’t turn at all, but fall dead and green just like last year.

November – 2014 – Hey, how are you?

Happy Halloween apparently. I don’t really know what it is because I grew up in Australia. A country on an island in the middle of the ocean, far far away from most. But, i did just watch Blood Diamond. An amazing film that shows how a civil war was fought by soldiers stealing children and retraining them into soldiers by shocking them with ultra violence. At the end of the movie the father character finds his brain washed son, who points a gun at his Dad.

December – 2014 – Sister Cristina Scuccia – suor Cristina is an Italian Ursuline nun who won the 2014 season of The Voice Italy. I happened across Sister Cristina on You Tube. Since we don’t get international television here, one has to resort to online platforms to enjoy something a little different.

Thanks to all of you who come and read. It has been a pleasure writing for you.

I wish you all a very happy, safe, sober and wonderful New Year, where ever you are.

It’s a New Year Almost … Bring it on …

December 9th 2014 … Thirteen

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Courtesy: Billy Pazionis Flickr

I offer you “Thirteen” a retrospective.

In May of 2013, I had been at Tuesday Beginners for eleven years. The New York women came to us and I began to watch them and listen to them. I watched what they did for a while and I longed for that kind of life to come to me.

The end of May came with the West Island Round Up. And I heard Lorna Kelly speak, along with a host of others from New York. And I learned, much to my dismay, that I’d been warming a seat for years, and not really doing anything about it. Comfortable at just being a talking head and showing up and doing service.

One of the men who spoke talked about prayer … I prayed, but not with the intensity or meaning that our man was trying to get across to the people sitting in front of him while he spoke. Three, Seven and Eleven, every day, like you mean it. You have the book, why aren’t you working it?

This is how we do it.

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT !!!

Are you listening??

I faded from my then sponsor and decided to go it alone. It was time. Days, turned into weeks, which turned into months. I changed up my meetings, added the Friday A.B.S.I. meeting, and I was doing the work, praying and being present for my friends.

In the Summer of 2013, I decided to leave Tuesday Beginners, opting for the “other” beginners meeting that was on earlier, because that is where my friends were, or, more to the point, the young men of that I needed in my life and it ended up, this meeting carried me through some tough times. And I gave back to that meeting.

On my 12th anniversary, December 9th 2013, I asked a friend to give me my chip, so it went. Since then, Vendome Beginners moved to the location we are at now, albeit in smaller numbers, we have a committed group of folks who come week in and week out.

There was an old timer there, who had the years, and I was in the market for a new sponsor, in January this year, we went to lunch and he interviewed me for the position. He had a few rules that I must agree to follow. I was supposed to call him every day for a month. I did that. At the end of the month, on the last day, I called him, and he said to me that I did not have to call him anymore. And I was like “What?” But I want to call you every day. That was the answer he was looking for.

It has been close to a year, and I call him every day. He also started me on the journey with the Men’s Intensive Big Book, Steps, Study. We have been working our steps in tandem with each other. My sponsors sponsor, my sponsor, and then myself. I had been doing the work, praying and acting As If.

And God seemed to be pleased because he sent me young men to work with, something my life had lacked for all the years I was sober. They have taught me many things, about themselves, and about myself, and about us.

In May of 2014, he invited me to my first Men’s Intensive Weekend at Mad River Barn, in Vermont. Being the only Queer in the bunch, I told them my stories about getting sober in certain groups. And the fact that people sent me away because I was gay! That changed everything. It was the first weekend where men from other places listened to me and spoke kindness to me. I came home from that weekend with lessons I still use today. I work the same way with my guys, that my sponsor works with me.

The weekend after then Men’s Intensive, it was my hope to share a round up with my guys. It was an ok weekend. The singleness of purpose problem was a barrier for my guys, and they felt left out of the US and segregated to just them and the just us club. But the message was clear from the Atlantic Group.

The Mantra was “THE WORK.”

Since May I have talked about the work, and how that has panned out over the past seven months. In October of 2014, we again returned to Mad River for the Fall Men’s Intensive weekend. Sadly, that would be the last time we visited that Inn. This time around, I was asked to speak. Actually, before I even got home from the Intensive in May, an invitation to speak was waiting for me when I got home. So I had months to prepare. I did not get a notice on what I would be speaking on in any case.

Half our number came for the weekend. People were not pleased with the Inn from the last visit and the price had gone up considerably. Nonetheless, I was the opening presenter for Steps One and Two for the weekend.

I met some of the same men as the first time, but also got to meet several other men who had come for the first time. I had been working my steps, working with my guys, and I talked about that with the guys, a handful of them disagreed with my style and approach, and voiced those opinions.

My Sponsor listened to what I had said and told me to ignore them.What I was doing was working, so don’t get caught up in old men being pissy.

On the way to the Mad River Barn, My sponsor, myself and a friend, took an excursion to East Dorset Vermont to visit Bill’s House, where he was born and was raised. We also visited Bill’s and Lois’s grave with a group of women making an intensive weekend there at the house. It was a life changing event for me, and for all those who were there.

Standing on Bill’s Grave, speaking about recovery, to others present, changed my life. I had the opportunity to visit the man who started it all. Then attend an intensive weekend, and then bring all that home for my guys, my friends, my fellows, the list goes on and on. On the way home from that weekend, we visited the next site of the Men’s Intensive for Spring 2015. A little place called Saint Anne’s Shrine in Vermont. About an hours drive from here.

We have celebrated Thanksgiving and we are coming up on Christmas.

Three seems to be the magic number for me. A few weeks ago, I was introduced to a man who came to our Sunday night meeting, and since. I’ve become his sponsor. You loose one, God gives you another one. They say, when you work with others that, you might find folks to work with, and they might decide that drinking is far more fun, and take leave of you. But when one goes, there is always someone waiting in the wings to take their place. And so that has happened.

The Pre-Cake roller coaster did not take off this year.

There were no massive upheavals, no major issues, no major problems. It has been a slow burn. However, this year, I have not only had myself to work with, but my guys and my sponsor. I’ve really had no down time to think of myself. When the phone rings, it rings, I answer.

It is one thing to be present for your own sobriety, it is totally a different fish, when you are accountable to young men with whom you work with. They call every day. We talk every day, except when life takes precedence. I meet my guys once a week to talk, to read the Book, and to do Step Work. One of my guys moved to the states, this past fall for his M.A. so we Skype every week.

Thank God for technology and sponsorship.

They have totally kept me on my toes and busy with something to do and something new to think about on a daily basis. Working with others is the greatest joy you can have in sobriety. Because it isn’t about me, it’s about them. I’ve truly grown this year, in ways I couldn’t have imagined. All because I have done my work.

Now they do their work.

Continuing the story … This post is a two parter. It is Tuesday and mother nature dropped snow on us today. A little worried about people not coming, my sponsor says … “We went to any length to drink, snow or whatever, people will come, don’t fret!”

Our usual group of folks came. We called New Foundland to talk to one of our women who is up there with her new daughter, and I thought that it would be nice for all of us to talk to her, so we did that. Have phone will chat !!!

We covered the second half of Step twelve. There were lots of laughs and giggles, but it was all business.

So what can I say for sobriety, I am in my steps. My sponsees are in their steps. My sponsor is in his steps. We’ve now heard the steps presented three times in the last year. Twice in an intensive weekend, and once at our meeting for twelve weeks.

This journey to where I am today, started some time ago, and only now can I say, I’ve reaped the rewards of really working my sobriety for all its worth. No roller coaster, no drama. Everything is where it should be and all is well in my world.

It was bittersweet because one of my friends, who was sober, when I FIRST got sober, was here tonight. He got stuck in the revolving door for a long time, and now he is back. He’s got six months. And I think about him a lot. Had he stuck and stayed he would be long sober, longer than I am today, had he stayed. But he didn’t.

I did everything I was told to do. I’ve been blessed to be able to maintain the sober schedule I built thirteen years ago. And I did not deviate from that schedule. Ever. I stayed sober. Many of my friends did not.

What did I do right, and what did they do wrong?

We are all suffering alcoholics. Some got better, some didn’t. At least tonight, all in our number are alive, well and sober.

I am very grateful for all that I have.

Thanks for reading. More to come, stay tuned …

Tuesday … Prayer and Meditation

tumblr_lqejw9RhgD1qbrivdo1_500 wrestlingisbestCourtesy: WrestlingisBest

With the weather holding steady, it is cold, but not bitter. We are sitting on the plus side at this hour, but temps will fall into negative numbers overnight. There is a lot of work going on in the neighborhood things that need to be done now, before it starts to snow in earnest. Closer to home, roofers are busy on several buildings. Not sure why they waited this long to get work done, but I guess apartment leaking is rampant all over the place.

Last night I made plans, and you know what they say happens, when you make plans…

God laughs.

With those plans in mind, I was up early. My entire day was planned around a single phone call, I was ready at the appointed hour, squeaky clean and raring to go. And this is when God laughed at me. I had an entire afternoon to fill at this point. I could have gone back to bed for a nap, but that did not happen. I really did not want to watch tv, because we all know what is monopolizing the airwaves as of late.

N.I.M.B.Y.

I packed up my bag with assorted books, milk, styrofoam cups, and my tunes, and I set out for the church. Holiday shopping has not swung into “frenzy mode” just yet. This year, Alexis Nihon has gone to greater lengths than in years past to celebrate the holidays. There is a stage on the mezzanine level with an animated reindeer that talks, a stage for performers, and a full schedule of things to come and see over the next few weeks.

There is massive construction going on in NDG … where the church is. There is work going on on all the major roads that connect several neighborhoods to bus lines and Metro stations. Which means, roads are closed and a handful of buses are rerouted around the work, which means, taking a bus to an original stop, that bus goes somewhere else now, which is a real pain in the ass.

A major thruway that connects lower NDG with upper NDG is closed. Which means one has to walk either up the hill or down the hill, if you need to access a location on that street. On the main, this is cut and dry, you walk. If work isn’t finished soon, we will be walking in the snow and the cold.

I made that mistake last week, forgetting that the bus route I needed to take was rerouted, I got on said bus and a few minutes into the ride, when the bus went straight instead of turning left, I was like, to the bus driver … “I want to get off here! and he says, you can’t get off here,” and he kept driving and in the end I had to back track to the church where I originally wanted to go ! F.M.L.

So I walked from the Metro to the church tonight.

All of my peeps came. So it was a good night.

We broke Step 11 into two parts. Tonight was part two.

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

God.

Who is God.

What is God,

What is God’s will ?

And how do I know when it is God’s will ?

Moment of clarity … I know the rule about expectations. I also know the rule about praying for something that is unreasonable or unattainable.

Prayer … raising of the heart and mind to God.

Meditation … waiting/listening for the answer.

When one studies Religion, as I have, one learns about prayer and meditation. Every tradition prays, and also meditates. Some are better at it than others. It is true that when most people pray, they expect an answer, soon, very soon, and sometimes absurdly soon.

Like, right now would be good…

I don’t know about you, but God has never spoken directly to me, even with a degree in Religious Studies. I know how to talk to God. But I don’t know what His voice sounds like.

Which brings this clarity :

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with (Others).

When you think about it, it is more than likely, we may not think about it this way, right off the bat, but, when we pray, if God is going to speak, to any one of us, it is probably going to come from someone else, someone close to us.

Prayer and meditation then becomes an active endeavor. If you don’t listen well, nor take the time to do so, actually make time to listen, amid the business of the day, maybe you should. I’ve learned how to listen. Building prayer and meditation into your life can be learned. And the more you do it, the better it gets.

I have set prayers I say. We have set prayers we say at every meeting. Very often, I see prayer requests come across Facebook, for this intention or that one. In that moment, I bring said person’s image into my mind, and I speak their name to God. And throughout my day, the faces of my friends, or those that I think about in the moment rise and I speak their name to God.

When I have a resentment, it usually goes … “God give them every good thing I want for myself and more.” Then I get to think about that prayer. It becomes a meditation.

Most people cannot sit still for more than five minutes, let alone, allot 5 minutes to meditate. We are usually too busy to stop. But for those who make time to “STOP” the benefits are endless.

If God is going to speak to you, I can confidently say, that the voice will be familiar to you.

God’s will ? Thy will not mine be done.

When you can turn a prayer for a particular end to an open ended prayer, I think that is God’s will. We don’t know what God’s will is, but when we let go and let God, things usually turn out alright.

Bad things happen to good people.

Sometimes, disease and illness are unavoidable.

And for the most part, we are all going to the same place when we die.

When we can turn a selfish prayer into a humble prayer, we find God’s will. It may not be to our liking, but if we can let people and situations go and give them to God to sort out, it turns into “Thy will. not mine be done.”

A friend’s father is very sick with cancer. In the beginning she would pray for God to heal him, there is no healing in the offing. Now she can pray for her father and say, Thy will not mine be done. She has released dad into God’s hands. It is out of our/her hands. There are just things that medicine cannot heal or stop.

Letting Go and Letting God is a huge step in spiritual growth.

If we have the important three things in life, praying for more, is pointless.

If we have a roof over our heads, food in the fridge, and a warm bed to sleep in, we are in a much better state than millions of people on this earth.

Kind of puts it into perspective doesn’t it?

Sunday Sundries … Beginning Again

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Courtesy:EverythingsMagic

Another weekend is in the book. The snow that fell is slowly disappearing due to mist and rain. As is Montreal, the weather is morphing by the hour today. Last night we had ice pellets, and the sidewalks were slushy and wet. Today we had rain, that changed to mist, that changed to fog, that turned into dreariness. We are sitting above freezing at a balmy (6c).

Last night hubby and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary with dinner at Fire Grill on Stanley Street. We walked from home along Ste. Catherine’s Street, past the Ogilvy holiday window. This is a long standing tradition. They dress a window for Christmas, and every year it changes. The costumes on the characters are all hand made, from hand me down fur coats and donations for charity.

We don’t usually eat out at high end restaurants, so last night was a treat. The restaurant is finely decorated with comfortable booths around the main bar, which was not very busy at all. It was around 9 that we had reservations, and there were only a handful of folks sitting at the bar, the entire time we were there.

We dined on French Onion soup, Caesar Salads, New York Strip Steak and Rib Steak. The prices were a little steep, but hubby had budgeted for the dinner. The Steak portions allowed us to share the two entrees between us, and there was steak left over at the end as well. The portions on all servings were large and the steaks were plenty good size. Overall it was a nice place to eat, but not all the time.

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

I departed early and there was fog, as thick as pea soup hanging over the city. I watched it roll in from the west and I could not see past my balcony, it had devoured space and time. I had missed the rain, or the rain missed me.

We cranked out set up in short order due to the fact that several of my fellows came early. I started working with a new guy these past couple of weeks. Well, I offered to work with him and he accepted. He is new and this past week he grabbed himself a Big Book, which he brought with him this evening and for the hour prior to the meeting, we sat and began reading the book from the beginning. That is something I do with my guys here, to read the book together, and we high lite particular sentences, and we discuss the read as we go along.

I have said that I am not one to bang someone over the head with the book at the outset. I would rather you come and find your way and when you are ready, we will read the book. Hindsight is very good when talking about the book. My book had a multitude of colors and notes in the margin, all my books are like that, seeing I have been using the same books for so long. And I just continue to add notes as we read and re-read.

The first read, I think I was trying to wrap my head around what the book said. And having a meeting where all we did was read the book, several times over, these past thirteen years or so, was good. Sunday’s we spent the better part of a year and more reading the book again, and I realized several things on this passage.

When we got to the end of the book, the “Stories” section, I found that each of them had information that was pertinent to everyone, and in certain cases, I now come to believe that certain back stories should be read before you begin the front read.

And that wisdom comes, after reading the book from front to back. We began reading the book from the beginning, for both my guys. And I also suggested to them that it might be interesting for them to read the stories from the back of the book, concurrently as we start our study together, along with their journals and the daily phone calls.

So that is a thing.

There has been a burning question in my head for some time now. A question I have been asking myself for a long time. I can’t really answer it now, because it concerns the past. What happened happened, and life went as it did. But rhetorically, what would have happened, if someone had said the word “STOP” when I was in the thick of my alcoholism when I was in my twenties ???

Every time we read Step One, I get hung up on this one line from the read:

The read tells the story about the first edition of the Big Book being written for the Low Bottoms. It goes on to say …

“It is a tremendous satisfaction to record that in the following years this had changed. Alcoholics who still had their health, their families, their jobs, and even two cars in the garage, began to recognize their alcoholism. (then comes the kicker for me) … As this trend grew, they were joined by young people who were scarcely more than potential alcoholics. They were spared that last ten or fifteen years of literal hell the rest of us had gone through.”

Twelve and Twelve, pg. 23

When I was in my twenties, I was more than potentially an alcoholic, I was ONE. And nobody was none the wiser. Who knew from recovery in the bar business, who knew the word moderation, or better yet, the word STOP !!!

I imagine in my minds eye, the life I would have had, had I gotten sober in my twenties. Where I was living, what I was doing, who I was associating with. But that was not to be. It is written, in the book, that “Nothing, Absolutely Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.” Then that means, the journey I had, happened, and not by mistake, and by Divine Direction.

If that is so, then God had one fucked up idea with the journey He took me on.

I did have free will, at any time on the journey. I could have stopped the ride and gotten off at any point, it was my choice to ride the ride, in any case. You could say, my first go at sobriety, was getting off the ride, and finding God’s Grace. Sadly, I failed in that attempt.

I talked tonight about Powerlessness. And about example.

Had someone showed me the book, early in my life, I would have realized that I was living, the “Big Book Live,” for the whole of my life. I knew early on what alcoholism was. I say my grandfather’s were type one’s, my father was a type two, and I came along and perfected alcoholism into type three.

Living with active alcoholics, types one and two, was a Master Class in just what alcohol does to a human being. And what that addiction does to the immediate family. However, in our cases, nobody ever made a scene, or spoke out, or said “Why don’t you stop drinking!” ever…

I learned what all those words meant as a young person. However I did not know it at the time. I was powerless over my father, and my mother. Children are powerless over their parents. They used to say that as long as we lived under their roof, it was by their grace and by their rules.

When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was really bad.

I learned a great deal by listening. That I did very well. By listening, I planned my exit from home. I knew where I wanted to go, and why.

But where ever you go, there you are. I took me with me.

But my alcoholism followed. I was completely powerless over it. From the word GO !

And it took me until I hit the age of thirty four to finally understand what that meant. There are two parts to that step … One – that I am powerless over alcohol, and Two – that my life had become unmanageable. In my life I went from an unmanageable state, to a functional state.

The really terrible things that usually happen at the end of ones drinking career, happened in the first decade of my drinking, and I survived them, miraculously. After that I began to perfect my drinking, trying different methods, different locations, different people. At one point I added drugs to my history, that was a complete failure of rationality. That last year, I could not handle drinking every day, so I turned to binge drinking. Until failure was the only option.

And I knew the end was coming. I asked God for help.

The rest is history.

All I wanted when I moved here was to never drink again. 16 days and counting …

It was a good night. I worked with my guys. I spent an hour with my friends. Nobody drank since last Sunday. And everybody is still sober, thanks be to God.

“I get everything I need in A.A. – and everything I need I get. And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.” Pg. 552

Friday … First Thought Wrong !!!

indian thoughtSo it is a little colder tonight. ( -8c w.c. -14c) It was not so bad, without wind in your face. However I chose to layer a little better tonight, than last night. I have a particular polar sweater, which I never wear, because it is cumbersome and warm. Add that to a Henley, and it was downright toasty!

Friday’s are productive and when all my work was done for the day, I got my power nap in before having to get ready to go.

And damned if I had one of my regular dreams, this one repeats itself in varying ways, its the same people, the same situation, but the way I work out that situation is different every time the dream comes to me. And it usually ends, without resolution. (read: my alarm clock always gets the last word, and the dream is incomplete, EVERY time).

I knew I was in this dream, and I was hell bent on seeing it through to resolution. The dream involves me having to get myself away from someone (who shall remain nameless) it doesn’t really matter. But I was involved with her a long time ago.

Getting away … It isn’t as cut and dry as it seems, the getting away is always complicated, each dream presents a new problem/route, that I never get to the end of, so I guess the dream repeats itself every so often, to see if I get to the end or not.

In which case, today, I finally got to the end…

How do you get away from someone who makes it totally difficult to just walk away, of ones free will?

This time, it was getting past a security system. And people who work in the security office, who do their damnedest, to make sure you can’t get away. And once you got past security, you had to secure a ticket for a bus, that comes on a schedule, (that took several attempts in the dream) I got stuck several times in the office, which is at the entrance to the property which I am trying to get off of.

Moving from the main house, where one is stuck, getting all your electronic devices which have been tampered with, intentionally, (read: my phone) which was hacked and killed… I had to get across a plot of land to the exit security office. Then get past the watchers. Get myself to the station, just down the road, get a ticket, and finally be able to get on that bus, which took me away …

I needed my phone, and I had to get it away from the person who had it, (that took several attempts in the dream). Finally I secured my phone, but in the end it was useless to me. All the while, as I am trying to move through these steps, there is always someone trying to drag me back to the property against my will. I would get past the office and to the station, only to be thwarted repeatedly.

It just kept cycling over and over, and each cycle I got closer to the bus.

I could feel I was coming to the end of my nap cycle. The alarm clock was getting very close. I was cradling one of hubby’s pillows sleeping, and he came in and pulled it away, and I was just at the brink of success, and I wanted it to end, finally, so I held on to the bitter end.

Then the alarm clock rang …

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

I had a half hour to get ready to go, made a couple of phone calls, and headed out. In some areas, there is black ice crusted on the sidewalks, it was a very gingerly transit. When I got to the church, there was a blanket of snow in the yard. The yard is big enough that when it really snows, you have to use the sidewalk, and not walk through the snow across the yard.

We sat a full house. As usual.

“Following a gossip binge, we can well ask ourselves these questions: “Why did we say what we did? were we only trying to be helpful and informative? Or were we not trying to feel superior by confessing the other fellow’s sins? Or, because of fear and dislike, were we really aiming to damage him?”

This would be an honest attempt to re-examine ourselves, rather than the other fellow.

Grapevine, August 1961.

The rest of the reading speaks about inventory, credits and debits. And ends with, even when we have tried hard and failed, we may chalk that up as one of the greatest credits of all.

So, Gossip, Inventory, Words …

In the book it talks about resentment, selfishness, self centeredness, dishonesty and fear …

There were several threads …

Personal situations, work situations, life lessons, Inventories and gossip.

At some point after we get sober and begin our steps, we get to step four, in our own time and at our own pace. This step is always a work in progress, because it never comes out perfectly, and we get to repeat our steps continually, as we stay sober, long term.

We all have situations that arise daily. And we either do (A) get riled up, come out firing with guns blazing, shoot our mouths off, and intentionally hurt someone else, or (B) before we open our mouths, we engage our brains, and think the thought through carefully.

In May, I attended my first Men’s Intensive weekend. And in my notes, I have written, “First Thought Wrong.” Meaning, the young man who said this, said that usually when he has a thought about a certain situation, that his first thought is wrong. Which brings a modicum of process when finally he decides to speak.

Words are powerful.

Used correctly, they can change, uplift and encourage.

Used incorrectly, and those words can destroy, tear down and discourage.

I’ve learned from my past that I listened to my father tear me apart, in many ways. I swore I would never become him. But coming into my own, as a gay man, I learned how to be catty and bitchy from the best drag queens on earth. It was ones pedigree, to be able to cut someone to pieces in short order. (read: taking someones inventory, either in front of them or behind their backs).

I have that ability. And sometimes, in the past, I have used it liberally, without thinking through the consequences.

I have grown up …

I have said that sometimes, I talk with my friends, and sometimes we don’t usually pay attention to words. But for the most part, when needed, words come, and they usually are from someone other than myself. Sometimes I sit here and write words that come from another part of me, I get wisdom from a source other than myself.

When I work with people, on a sober or pastoral level, words have power, and if I misuse my words, I take liberty with someone else’s life. It so happened that I was asked for advice, and knowing the human being I was talking to, before I answered him, I picked my words gently, and carefully.

Sometimes I don’t do so well.

And other times I do do well.

It all depends on thought.

Am I using words to build up someone and encourage them and to enlighten them? Or am I just spouting words, without thought, never considering the consequences of those words?

When we make an inventory, we are taking stock of goods, thoughts, problems, Issues, resentments, etc … An inventory, is an excellent tool for use, post inventory. Some people burn their inventories when they finish, I did that several times. This past round, it is in a nice little notebook, I keep on my desk. From that inventory, I work six through eight.

It is good that I have someone to talk to every day, (read: my sponsor and a choice couple of others)

It is good to get a really SOBER take on life, from some one much longer sober than myself. But my sponsor is a little crazy at times, and has a sense of humor, but he always comes back to brass tacks: In the end, if I did not drink to day, it was a good day. And that simple thought, keeps it simple.

Every day we use words. How are you using yours?

Think about it.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … Empty Seats

tumblr_n5wtzkmAyw1sh33qco1_500 blamboyzCourtesy: Blamboyz

Well, it is a common occurrence that the weather forecast changes by the hour here, and the snow that appeared the other day, is gone now. It will be too warm for snow, so it’s going to rain instead ! BOOOO ….

Another week begins and on Tuesday Canada will stop to remember. It will be a very bittersweet Remembrance Day this year, because of the recent events that two Canadian soldiers lost their lives because of terrorist activity here in Canada. Our men and women are proud to serve their country and to also wear their uniforms. As one soldier said the other night, “We Will NOT Be Intimidated !!!”

Security will be stepped up at all gathering locations.

Hopefully, nobody will do anything stupid on Remembrance Day.

It was an uneventful weekend. I have spent a good chunk of hours before bed reading “Price Lestat.” I am impressed with the way the story is unfolding so far.

I departed early. The weather is chilly, and the trees are quickly dropping leaves all over the place. The church had raked ten bags full of leaves that got picked up last week, now they have to re-rake the yard because the entire lawn is covered again. Best to get them up before the first snow fall.

We had a gaggle of women for set up. Not that there is really, a lot to do, once the coffee is on, setting up chairs with more than three people takes little time. I have a newbie that came with a friend, and he joined the group and we exchanged numbers so we will see where that goes. He’s on the call every day program. Hopefully he will take.

We set out all of our chairs as usual, but in the end, many of them were empty. We sat just the right number of folks because we read all the way around and them shared all the way around just under the wire.

We are one story closer to the end of the book. “Freedom from Bondage…”

We heard several key words from this read … Power, Control, Ego, Self Centeredness, Obsession …

Step Three Prayer says .. “Relieve me from the bondage of self that I may better do thy will…”

In the beginning our writer was of the mind that she could never trust another human being, and that what ever it was she wanted, she was supposed to go out and get it. Kind of like, King and Master of ones life. Through trial and error, well, mostly errors, it took her a long time to figure out that, the attainment of “things” or “people” or “situations” was not really what mattered.

Drinking to escape ones self and constantly trying to find ones self in the act of marriage, whether that marriage was for money, or children, trying to fix ones self, by adding people or things to the mix was not the solution.

We also heard about emotional maturity. Something I can identify with.

They say that when we begin drinking, whenever that is, we stunt our growth, emotionally.

When I started drinking, I was woefully prepared for the big wide world, and totally immature to handle adult situations.

When I got sober the first time I was forced to grow up, as I was able, to deal with life threatening illness.

I conquered that situation because I was sober and had a guide.

Then I lapsed, and gave back the gift. And turned my back on it.

When I got sober the second time, I was at that crucial jumping off point.

I was too old to keep drinking the way I was drinking. The alcohol was not going to add years to my life. And sure as shit, it wasn’t going to turn me into a buff beach boy that I wanted to become or regress into.

Fear was ruling my life, because I was really not ready to grow up, but there was no other way to go.

God had a plan, and when I finally surrendered, I trusted in where ever He was going to take me.

I did grow up, into the man I am today, and if not for the rooms, I don’t know where I would have ended up.

Our writer says in her story that “I get everything I need in A.A. And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.”

If you are in, I encourage you to stick and stay. Because in time you will learn the same truth. Everything we need will come from the rooms and the people in them. I guarantee that to you.

You always get what you need when you step in a room.

We welcomed newcomers. We helped a woman trying to get help for her partner. We got another member. We had visitors from out of town. And it seemed that everybody got fed along the way.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …