When Hope Fails …

This piece was written by my Spiritual Director. I wanted to share it, AND write on this subject, because I have experience with Hope.

When Hope Fails

I was talking with someone who has decided not to hope any more. “Why?” I asked. “Because when the hope is unfulfilled, it hurts too much, so it’s better not to hope.”

There’s something wrong with that. But I understand it.

Proverbs 13:12
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.”

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.
“but when dreams come true, there is life and joy”

I want to talk about hope a bit today. And I want to start in the Psalms.

Psalm 33:13-22
13 The LORD looks down from heaven
and sees the whole human race.
14 From his throne he observes
all who live on the earth.
15 He made their hearts,
so he understands everything they do.
16 The best-equipped army cannot save a king,
nor is great strength enough to save a warrior.
17 Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory– for all its strength, it cannot save you.

God has a wonderful perspective of us and our little things. Nothing is hidden from his eternal, creating eyes.

He is able to see the whole human race, every heart, every mind, every one of our thousand secrets.

He’s able to see your motivations, that indeed you meant well even if it didn’t come out as you had hoped.

He created the hearts of men and women, to beat and beat and beat and give them life and breath. And Hopes and Dreams.

So, it says, “He understands”. Like no one else in creation.

He understands our desires. He understands our wishes. He understands our hopes. He understands our dreams.

He understands, and wants to remind us that sometimes our perspective isn’t great. Sometimes we can only see from here to the other side of the room. He see’s into eternity.

See, we often place our hope in the wrong things.

He reminds us…
A powerful army isn’t strong enough for a king. A good horse won’t give you victory, it can’t save you.

Strength won’t save us, neither will might.

The health system, blessed as we are to have it, won’t save us.
The government can’t save us.

We place our hopes in these powerless things.

We hope in due process. In the legal system.
We hope in our money, to provide a way out.
We hope in others to help us out.
We hope a relationship will work out.
We hope for a great job.
We hope in our children to make the right choices.
We hope for great presents.
We hope in our parents, to be perfect.
We hope that the pastor will have some answers.
We hope to roll up the rim and win!

Yet John 16:33 says “In me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”

Take Heart!

What happens when our strength isn’t enough? When our armies fail and our warhorses are not enough? What happens when hope fails and is deferred?

Lets continue in Psalm 33

18 But the LORD watches over those who fear him,
those who rely on his unfailing love.
19 He rescues them from death
and keeps them alive in times of famine.

Remember the one who’s perspective is from eternity?
The one who see’s everyone, who knows your heart?

He says he will watch over those who respect Him.

Those of you who rely on his unfailing love.
He will rescue you from the anguish of death. He will keep you from eternal death, and provide you with eternal life.

And, he will keep you as you live through seasons of famine. Not just physical hunger, but emotional hunger, spiritual dryness.

He won’t always stop the famine from coming, but he is able to keep you alive through it!!!

He won’t always stop the illness, or the poverty, or the joblessness, or the dryness. But he can keep you alive through it.

He will walk with you through the hopelessness. Through the heartsickness of unanswered hope.

You see, often we place our hopes in the things that can’t save us. In the temporary things that we can’t change. In our power and might.

We may even place our hope in Christ to change the story, the situation, yet that may not be the very best for us.

When our hope is deferred…
When it feels like God has not heard us…

We have 2 choices.

1. Get bitter
-Get angry. At God and humanity. And yourself.
-Never hope again because it always fails you anyway.

Or

2. Trust in God. Refocus your hope.

Remember, the one who loves you, who knows you, who made you.
When hope fails, we need to raise it up a level.

PSALM 33
20 We depend on the LORD alone to save us.
Only he can help us, protecting us like a shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we are trusting in his holy name.
22 Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone.

When our only hope is in man’s strength and ability, and that fails, it means we’ve been aiming to low. We need to lift our focus higher.

Only He can help us. Only He can protect us as life goes on all around us.

Because our hearts rejoice in him. They find life and meaning in knowing Him.

A few weeks ago I attended the funeral of a friend who had been ill for some time.
1970’s heart attack. Heart disease for years.
Put on a heart transplant list, became too ill for that.

As he was dying, and his human hope was deferred a final time, he was able to rejoice and be glad. Because he knew the one who knew him. He trusted in God and his heart rejoiced.

For his family too. The funeral was a real, true celebration of hope. And Gods faithfulness through life and in death.

This is how it is possible for those who have experienced tremendous brokenness and hopelessness, to actually rejoice and be glad. Because they knew the maker of their hearts.

Where is your true hope? In the things of this earth? Or in the things of Heaven?

Have you had hope deferred, even by God? He who knows and created your human heart understands.

Lift up your eyes, your broken hearts.
Trust the one with the higher perspective. Trust in God.

This is my story about HOPE.

When one is faced with a terrible situation, and the end of the line is your next stop, one really learns about hope. When we are faced with odds that are against us, we learn about hope. When doctors tell you that you are going to die, go home, kiss your ass goodbye, and wait to die …

You learn what hope is. Because before you get there, hopelessness really does set in, because there is no light at the end of the tunnel. And the light you do see, is the train coming at you, at 100 miles per hour.

Before hope sets in, if the odds are really dire, you think to yourself, that “no, I’m not gonna die that way, so I am going to take matters into my own hands, and do what I think is best for me.” ” No, I am gonna kill myself, my own way, so as to defer sickness and pain, in the short term.”

Then, GOD steps out of Heaven, and says … STOP !

Heaven is always respectful of our free will. Heaven never pushes itself on us, but holds its breath, to see which way we will choose ?

I had two choices. I could STOP, or I could go to the bitter end, and blot out the suffering, until Death did come for me, on my twisted terms.

I know God. I’ve met Him. I walked with Him, and I communed with Him.

God had other ideas. Hope was not one of them, because there was no hope. True, I was gonna die, sooner or later. I knew that. But words were spoken, out of love and compassion.

Those words told me that I did have a choice, about how I was going to attack death, and live to tell the story. That was he decision I made.

God was there. I was not alone. All I needed to do was follow directions.

Now, you might ask, how did you find the path to hope ? I didn’t.

I don’t know how you bounce back from being told, “You are going to die, there is no hope, so get on the ride, and ride it.”

Sometimes, when you are marked for death, there is no return. Sadly, the percentages of life after death diagnosis are slim. I’ve seen both sides of this coin in as many years. I know, that sometimes people die. That illness and sickness is capricious.

I can tell you what I did, every day.

Inside the four walls of the bar I worked in, was a safe space. The good thing about psychology is this, “sometimes it works.”

I had much going on in my mind at that time. Worries that were beyond my capacity to grasp them. I had serious issues. Death, was just one of them. My alcoholism was the other. I had to attack BOTH at the same time.

Needless to say, life had become Hopeless.

I was not moaning over the fact that I could not drink any longer. Once I got passed the point of acceptance, drinking became a non issue. I was working in the belly of the beast, in a BAR, for God’s sake.

Really, death was the only dance I had to dance.

I had to start stacking alive days. So we could say, in Jimmy Settle terms, was that July 8th 1994, was my first death day.

Every day forwards would become another “death day.”

I came to work. But the day this all began, it was a challenge. I was loved, and that’s what mattered. I was told that I could follow directions, and if I did, I would live. I was down for that from the get go, no matter how hard I battled against my worse nature, because I kicked and screamed and cried an awful lot, in those first few months.

But I listened to advice, and I did what I was told. And every day that I lived, I trusted in the advice given. Come to work. Leave the baggage of the outside world, OUTSIDE the door. When you cross the threshold, the only thing you need to think about, is the job you are given, on any given night, and ONLY that.

Getting to shut off my brain, for a few hours, on a nightly basis, worked.

I did not have to think about dying, inside. Because I watched it come for everybody else around me, in the patrons who were sick, who patronized the bar I worked in.

They all Died. I survived them all.

I stacked enough days, that when I got to my literal “death day,” and I was still alive, I went on with life. I don’t think you can call this hope, because, I was still very sick, and death, was still a “Clear and Present Danger.”

When you live with “Clear and Present Danger” one learns how to govern expectations, and life itself.

I have twenty five years of living with Clear and Present Danger.

I take nothing for granted.

I’m no longer hopeless. I don’t suffer from a three fold disease, Mental, Physical and Spiritual disease. Alcoholism is an every day job. Living is a bit higher on that list. As long as I live, and I don’t drink today, I have a fighting chance.

If I take my will back and decide that I am going to go it alone, I am literally FUCKED !!!

I know God. I’ve met Him. If I close my eyes, and sit still and be quiet, I can see Him in my minds eye, and I can even hear His voice.

I’m alive. And if you find hope in this story, then I did my job.

Hope comes, when you stack enough ALIVE DAYS together, and you live, longer than you thought you would, not only does hope come, but more importantly, GRATITUDE comes.

Gratitude does amazing things when you have no hope. Because if you can be grateful for one thing a day, there is hope.

You cannot have hope and NOT be grateful, because a by product of gratitude is hope.

That is my story and I am sticking to it.

Gratitude in Action

Where would we be without the founders? When it seemed all might be lost, and men of good substance and good character found themselves in the throws of alcoholism, the solution came down to one interaction of a man in his own throws of a desire to drink, and the almost miraculous need to work with another alcoholic, started this great ball of sobriety rolling.

That day, standing in the lobby of the Mayflower hotel, Bill Wilson’s business meeting went down the tubes, he stood there contemplating a decision that would change the world. There were just two choices. One, to drink, or Two, to make a phone call.

Old timers I have met in my years, have stood in the lobby of said hotel and told their story of what the room looked like, how many feet stood between Bill, as he stood there, between the lobby bar, and the phone directory on the opposite wall, on the other side of the room.

Many years later, here in Montreal, a man in the throws of alcoholism, in the year 1943, wrote to New York for help. Help arrived for him. In 1944, the fellowship began, here in Canada. Dave B, got sober, in spite of himself.

A year later, into his own sobriety, Bobbie said to him, “It is time for you to carry the message to another alcoholic, we think it is time you helped someone who needs help.”

New York GSO sent Dave, 400 letters, they had received, and so A.A. was born in Quebec. From a humble apartment not far from where I live today, a rag tag bunch of drunks met in a living room, while their wives congregated in the bedroom or the kitchen.

This was before the dawn of the hallowed church basement.

The little living room meeting, grew exponentially. A group of three men, turned into twelve and then twenty five.

In the beginning there were three meetings in Montreal. I’ve been a member at all three of those original meetings.

We take for granted, many of us, that we have a meeting list, that is chock full of meetings, in various languages, in various locations, every day of the week.

Imagine in 1944, there were no meetings, but the one living room.

Gratitude is a word we hear often in the beginning. Oh, you must have gratitude, or, you must cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Many of these suggestions go unheard and untouched by many. Because when many come in, they have no idea why they need to be grateful to sit in a church basement, with these people, they don’t know, AND for the rest of their lives.

How can we have gratitude, when we ourselves, most likely haven’t even admitted to our innermost selves, that we are alcoholics.

Sobriety comes in stages, by fits and starts, by trial and error, but eventually, we find our grooves, and we settle in for the long haul.

Tonight, we attended the 60th anniversary of the first meeting I homed in when I moved to Montreal, Tuesday Beginners. And the read tonight, from the Big Book, was Gratitude in Action. the story of Dave B, and the dawn of the fellowship here in Montreal.

Out of all the people sitting in the room tonight, THREE of us have had interactions with Old OLD timers, who knew Dave B, in the flesh, old OLD timers who went to meetings with Dave B, and had their own stories of him, aside from what view we get from the book.

In years Nine and Ten, I went looking for OLD OLD timers. I spent more than a year, combing the city for them. I lucked out and found a handful of men, who knew Bill and Dr. Bob, and Dave B. Three founders. I also met men who were participants in the very first phase of the fellowship as it had its humble beginnings. I spent all that time collecting their stories, and here, deep within the memory of this blog, are those memories.

Every minute of sobriety, even the most mundane moments, had their precise usefulness. I talked with one of my oldest friends in the room today, at the meeting earlier tonight. He was there when I came in, during a time, that Tuesday Beginners was a very unique meeting. It was unique for its people who were there when I came in. Mostly women. It was unique for the fellowship that existed then, and the specific men and women who populated that meeting.

I commented to him that, we’ve never seen another iteration of that kind of community, anywhere in the city. And it is true, that a generation of people have long since moved on to other places, or have grown old and don’t make it out, and several have died of old age.

It is good to be reminded of gratitude every so often. Because you really don’t know how grateful I am for the people, the meetings, and the immense amounts of time people spent with me, to help me stay sober.

Before the dawn of cell phones, we had what was called LAND LINES.

You know, that phone attached to the kitchen wall ???

We did not sit at home waiting for that 2000 pound phone to ring, we went to break bread before and after, we hung out together for hours before and after a meeting. You don’t know a good thing, till it’s gone.

A sober friend might be the most important person in your life right now. And the more sober friends you have, will make the journey so much sweeter. I had all that and a whole lot more.

I met the right people, or the right people, were in the right place, at the right time, for the right reason. I’ve said this before, in an earlier post, I listen to a lot of people on a weekly basis. And over time, I’ve watched many of my friends grow up. I know everything that they did in sobriety.

Because what do we do in meetings? We listen to others, figure out their own lives, in front of us, in real time. We hear them talk themselves through situations that used to baffle them. We listen to them justify just about everything under the sun.

We know all the good and all the bad. We know who succeeded and who did not. We know everybody who chose to drink again, and we even watched friends loose their battle with the bottle and die …

The solution exists, for those who need it. All you need is to ask, and it will be given you. You cannot imagine the immense wealth of education you find sitting in a church basement, several times a week.

If it were not for the multitude of WOMEN and MEN who took time to show up and talk, I would not be who I am today. Because, who I am is an amalgamation of every single woman and man I know to this very day.

All of them participated in creating the life I have, because I listened to them talk, and create their own lives of success and sobriety.

There is no better formation ground for personal growth, than inside a church basement. What the greater world out there does not know, and has no idea of, unless of course they are powerless over the drink, never know what they are missing.

People in the real world, OUT THERE, follow the distinct pattern of life, education, work, marriage, children, cars, houses, and money. I tried that life and failed miserably, because I was powerless over my addictions.

I thought I had to walk that walk, like my father before me. He had the life, the wealth and the material success, amid the functioning alcoholism that pervaded his life. I walked that same road for a while, until it stopped working for me.

Had Todd NOT SAID STOP, when he did, I would surely have died many years ago. He started this road to my success. If it were not for his love and devotion to saving my life, I would not be here today to constantly repeat this portion of my story, over and over again.

God exists. I know that deep within my soul.

Remember all those good people who played a role in your own success, and when you do, you grasp the notion of Gratitude In Action.



Weddings …

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A funny thing happened in 2018 … We were invited to not one, not two, but THREE weddings this Summer.

Our niece Melissa and her hubby Stephan were married in May, down in Ontario. It was the first time we have ever traveled like that. The first time on a Via Rail Train. It was a hellish weekend for sure, as I wrote on that particular weekend (here on the blog)

Today, was wedding number TWO.

My friend Juan married his sweet heart, in a small and intimate wedding at St. Patrick’s Lady Chapel, at the Basilica.

I Instagrammed the entire day for you. Go —> over there and check it out.

You never know what kind of impact you are going to have on someone who needs The Solution, Finds that solution, and Listens to advice, when necessary. You never know the entire impact you will have on One Human being, let alone that human beings family.

I’ve said before, Sometimes I talk, and Juan listens. Sometimes Juan talks, and rages, and screams, and gets angry, and I listen. Then other times we are together and words are not necessary.

I was absolutely GOBSMACKED today.

From the wedding chapel, we walked to Old Montreal, which was not very far. We arrived at the hotel where the reception was being held, early, so we waited.

At 5 pm the terrace on the 4th floor opened. It was open bar, had an open Oyster Bar, and lots of nibble food. We were sitting off to the side, because I did not know anyone there, besides the bride and groom. We tried to blend into the furniture.

After a little while, Juan’s sister, who played the guitar and sang “Here Comes the Sun,” at the wedding, walked up to us and sat down with us, and began to talk. She wanted me to know how grateful she was and that her entire family was, for the work that I do with her brother.

She said that he speaks very highly of me and that everybody knows who I am because Juan talks about me incessantly. She wanted to tell me that she was grateful that she got her brother back, from a hopeless state of being, into the man he is today.

I did not know what to say after that.

It’s an anonymous program right.

Nobody mentioned it, but it was plainly visible on her face.

As the reception in the hall was starting up, we took our seats. We were on the entrance side of the hall, Juan and the family were sitting on the far side of the room, near the dance floor.

A little while later, the bridal party arrived, and were introduced. We all got up from our chairs, and proceeded to the dance floor, to see Juan and Nadia dance their first dance as husband and wife.

They said a few words of thanks.

Juan’s father, took out a script from his jacket pocket and grabbed the mic. Amid thanks to the guests for coming, he singled me out, in a room full of people, I did not know, and whom did not know who I was, And addressing me personally, in front of everyone, thanked me for giving their family back their son. That the man Juan is today, is a direct reflection of what I particularly do for Juan, on any given day. He said, so gratefully, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Juan’s family has seen its share of alcohol.

As Juan’s father finished his speech (IN SPANISH), his brother Rodrigo, took the very same script and read it in English. Once again, singling me out in English as well.

Needless to say I was GOBSMACKED !!!

That has never happened to me in public before. Having a family, get up, in front of their family and friends who traveled from far and wide, to be there, thank a complete stranger. Because at that point, only Juan’s sister had recognized me earlier in the evening. I had not met any of the other family, YET !

Towards the end of the dinner service, I asked Juan to send his father over to my table so I could introduce myself to him formally. Because up to that point, we’d never met.

Juan’s father Rodrigo senior came to our table and took my hand in his and in broken English proceeded to thank me again, profusely, saying that his family is so grateful for what I have done for their son. He was besides himself.

I don’t know about you, but it really isn’t about me.

It’s about helping others, to the best of our ability. Because you never know what kind of impact you will have on a single human being, let alone his entire family.

I’m totally grateful, gobsmacked, and humble.

Kinda chokes me up as I write this down.

June 10th 1935 … The First Day

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Pioneers of A.A.

Dr. Bob and the nine men and women who here tell their stories were among the early members of A.A.’s first groups. All ten have now passed away of natural causes, having maintained complete sobriety. Today, hundreds of additional A.A. members can be found who have had no relapse for more than fifty years. All of these, then, are the pioneers of A.A. They bear witness that release from alcoholism can really be permanent.

Dr. Bob’s Nightmare

A Co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. The birth of our society dates from his first day of permanent sobriety, June 10th 1935.

To 1950, the year of his death, he carried the A.A. message to more than 5,000 alcoholic men and women, and to all these he gave his medical services without thought of charge.

In this prodigy of service, he was well assisted by Sister Ignatia at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio, one of the greatest friends or fellowship will ever know.

83 years ago today, the fellowship marks its beginning. The first day of Dr. Bob Smith’s permanent sobriety date. This also marks what we now call Founder’s Day and Gratitude week, all over the world.

On that fateful day, as Bill’s business went South, and he stood in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel in Akron, heaven held its breath, waiting to see what choice Bill would make next. There he stood in that lobby, the bar to one side and the phone and church directory to the other.

It only took mere seconds, the choice Bill eventually made. And in that choice the fellowship of A.A. was on its way to being born. After several failed calls, Bill reached, one Henrietta Sieberling who put him in contact with Ann, Dr. Bob’s wife.

Quoting Dr. Bob …

“Of far more importance was the fact that Bill was the first living human with whom I had ever talked, who knew what he was talking about in regards to alcoholism from actual experience, in other words, he talked my language.”

Heaven Held Its Breath

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Lorna Kelly, reverently speaks about Bill W. when she tells the story of the time, she herself, visited the Mayflower Hotel in Akron, Ohio. This is the actual phone, still located in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel, that Bill used on the day that changed the world.

Bill had traveled to Akron for business. That day, Bill had met with other business men, hoping to score a deal and make some money. Sadly, the business went South, and Bill walked away from that meeting, dejected and depressed.

He stood in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel that day. Bill was sober. But was standing at the crossroads of his sobriety. His day was shot, and he had but one choice to make, between two extremes.

On one side of the lobby was the bar. The Easy Choice. The most logical, for most men.

Nikos Kazantzakis once said that “Always choosing the sure path is treason for the soul.”

On the other side of the bar, was the phone, and the church directory.

In that moment, the angels in heaven, must have been holding their breaths, wondering, “which way will he go?” “What is Bill going to do?”

The world did not know this innocuous situation would be as critical as it became.

Bill could have chosen the sure thing … The bar and a drink.

But Bill was sober. And he thought to himself, in that moment of desperation, that he needed another alcoholic. And in a moment, he turned, away from the bar, towards the phone.

Bill made several calls, none of which produced his desired intention. The last number he called was to Henrietta Sieberling. And it was Henrietta who sent him to the home of one Dr. Bob and Ann Smith.

Ann knew her husband had a problem with alcohol. And she tried in vain to try to get Bob sober, one way or another. In the end, it was a single conversation that ignited the spark that became the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Bill had once said that, “He needed Bob as bad as Bob needed him.” from ABSI, from tonight’s reading.

Bill arrived at the home of Bob and Ann. Bob, none to sure of what to expect, deigned Bill fifteen minutes and not a minute more. Bill walked in, with everything that he had. His story. His experience. And his own story of alcoholism.

It is in the telling of ones story, not dogma, not preaching, nor from ones ego, that we can reach another alcoholic.

Bill sat with Bob for more than six hours, that first night. In the end, Bill spent two weeks in the home of Bob and Ann, helping Dr. Bob get sober.

It was an easy sell, the basic premise of getting sober. The identification was there from the very beginning. But Dr. Bob was a little slow on the uptake, and sputtered and ground himself into the ground on a few occasions with bouts of drinking ending up on an errant sofa in the end.

That day, as Bill spoke with Dr. Bob about his own Experience, Strength and Hope, the fellowship began.

The Book reads: Dr. Bob’s Nightmare … Pg 171, the first story in the Book.

A co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. The birth of our society dates from his first day of permanent sobriety, June 10th, 1935.

To 1950, the year of his death, he carried the A.A. message to more than 5,000 alcoholic men and women, and to all these he gave his medical services without the thought of charge.

In this prodigy of service, he was well assisted by Sister Ignatia at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio, one of the greatest friends our fellowship will ever know.

Alcohol and drugs are the great equalizers. They do not discriminate.

Once one walks over the threshold of any meeting, we are all equal. And the cure for what ails us, is the experience, strength and hope of one another. The allergy of the body and the obsession of the mind, is solved, in spiritual principles.

Because at some point, somewhere, in that moment of indecision, the only thing that will stand between you and a drink, will be your Higher Power.

Gratitude week is always celebrated around the anniversary of Dr. Bob’s date of sobriety.

June 10th, 1935.

You Wanna Argue with Happy ??

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Hindsight, they say is 20 /20 …

Seeing what is going on right now, won’t be the same as seeing it further down the road.

Some people did not get that memo when they came in.

Marcus Aurelius says that life is a river. It is always moving. What is in front of us in the moment, won’t be in front of us for very long. Because, very soon, what we are seeing, will become “what we have already seen.”

I heard a story tonight, that I had not heard from my friend, the last time I heard his speak. He is right, when he opened with …

I’m sitting up here. And for the most part, I know almost everyone sitting in this room. Some from the day I showed up, until tonight. Many of us, in that room, are kind and generous of heart and spirit. We’ve all had a “change of values,” now we have some time under our belts.

Keeping it real, simple, and humble is the key to happiness.

Each of us, know what we know, because of the people we know, the friends we have, and the company we keep. We know, that if we ask, it will be given, in the order of need. There isn’t anything one of us won’t do for someone in need. Even if they be US.

Last weekend I went to Ottawa to see my best friend. I Instagrammed the entire weekend. One of my long time friends, follows me. And tonight she said to me that “I look happy.” It’s a refrain she has used with me before. I went through a change in life, prior to my fiftieth birthday. A change she and everybody else noticed.

All of my friends, love me, each in their own ways. Each of them keep me humble. Sadly, some people missed that lesson, when it was taught.

We see it often. People with a little time, but mostly, with people with serious time, outgrow their pants, they cop resentments, and their ego’s grow beyond acceptable measures. They might not go back out and DRINK, but they are sure as shit DRY DRUNK.

Thank God I have good friends, who keep me in the stream.

I do very simple things. They are not very difficult. Like many of my friends, we all know what works. It’s very simple, the “plan for living.” Outlined in the book, we know where it is located, and we can turn to that plan in any given moment.

Sadly, there are those who have forgotten, the Simple Plan.

I know, the simple plan works. If I need to go fishing … I fish in the rooms. I don’t fish in the greater stream, they call, the outside world. I repeated this lesson to a friend tonight, who needs to go fishing. I told him to “fish in the rooms.”

Because the rooms are a Big Ocean. Filled with gifts, you might not be able to hook, in the real world, because of who we know, and that ripple of “who we know” grows exponentially, on any given night.

Our matriarch took Twenty Five Years tonight. She is a woman of grace and serenity. All the women I know, in the rooms, as far up the road, she is at, are all graceful and serene.

All I want, out of this life is grace and serenity. I don’t care what I have to do to find it, as long as I am in their company. Because if I keep doing simple things on a regular basis, and I keep showing up and be counted … I will be graceful and serene.

You can’t argue with Happy, can you ?

We know what it means to be happy, and how to get there.

My friends are happy, joyous and free. I want to be like many of my friends. Each of my friends, have pieces of the puzzle of life, I want. And the best way to attain those puzzle pieces is to spend time with each of my friends, doing simple things, like showing up, being present, and telling the truth.

We are grateful people.

I think that is the greatest gift.

GRATITUDE …

Thursday: Life is Good

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It has been a few days since my last update. It has been a busy time for everybody all around. We have a family wedding in May, it will be the first time, in many years that the entire family will be in the same location at the same time, to celebrate my niece Melissa and her husband to be, Stephan’s wedding.

We have watched our nieces and nephews grow up into fine young adults. And we spoil them whenever we get the chance. Holidays are always a big deal for our family. We will be traveling to Southern Ontario (on the train) a first for us.

In July, one of my guys, Juan is going to marry his fiancée Nadia, in a very intimate setting here in Montreal. We’ve been working very hard at keeping them “on the beam” so to speak. Juggling school, work, wedding preparations and life, is a tall order. But, like they say, “we have a program for that!”

The weather has been UNUSUALLY warm, as of late. We’ve had a long stretch of temps ranging from the lower plus side to the high negative side. Much of the snow that had fallen over the season is melting nicely, and thankfully, the sidewalks are clean of snow and ice. Which is very good news to the city population, because many older folks have suffered greatly, falling and breaking bones this season, because of the foul weather. Many of them have sued the city for damages, that is not a good thing. But necessary.

The great weatherman in the sky tells us, not to count our chickens just yet, and we are told that Winter will continue until Summer. With a clear SKIP of Spring. We are told that more drastic snow will fall, between now and May 1st.

God help us if the weather goes really South …

We will gladly take the weather we have had for the past week over more winter, and if it stays this good for the duration, all the better.

It is good that we have good plans on the horizon. This will be a first, seeing a good friend and his soon to be bride getting married. The whole focus on getting and staying sober, is to finally reap the rewards of hard work, done well.

Our young people are all doing well. Everybody is still sober, from our holiday extravaganza weekends. It is a hard slog for some, but they keep showing up, and they are talking. Which is a good sign. Many of us, have committed to being present, as often as we are able.

I am soon to start a new pass through the Big Book, with a young lady friend of my acquaintance, from the Monday meeting. I listen very carefully to what our young people say in meetings. And over the past year, have been blessed to witness one of our young woman, stand up and be counted among us.

Our Monday meeting has been talking hard topics and the discussion has been very fruitful to the extent that I am learning a great deal about sobriety, that I had never heard before, coming from the mouths of babes. Monday night, I asked my friend if she would be able to share her teaching of The Book with me. From what I am hearing from many of my friends and fellows, men and women, I’ve found that i still have a lot to learn. It may be unconventional, but any chance to walk through the book with new, fresh and younger eyes, is useful.

I’ve stuck close to my core meetings, Monday, Thursday and Friday. And I’ve placed my trust in all of my best of friends. One f them reached his Year Mark a couple of weeks ago, after a tragic crash and burn. Drugs and Alcohol will do that to you. With family, friends, and fellows present, we shared in a very special Year Celebration.

I have kept the same routine going for a long time. That being service. I heard a young man say tonight, that the first thing that he felt good about, when he got sober, and finally got connected, was doing service.

When folks in a meeting,ask you to Come Back, and to Stick and Stay, and put trust in you to do a job for any particular meeting, that is pretty special, but lost on many. But our young man tonight said that he took particular joy in knowing that people were drinking HIS COFFEE, and sitting in HIS CHAIRS.

It begins very simply.

YOU KNOW YOU HAVE ARRIVED, WHEN A CERTAIN MEMBER WALKS IN THE DOOR AND COMMENTS ON EITHER THE GOODNESS OR BADNESS OF ONES URN OF COFFEE …

It is high praise when someone says, “Hey, you make a mean pot of coffee!”

I know, the first job I ever had when I came in was setting up chairs and tables, for months and months, until the good ladies of my initial home group, trusted me enough to make my first urn of coffee.

Sixteen years later, I can make a mean Urn of Coffee with my eyes closed.

The next spiritual experience he spoke about was the first time someone asked him to share at a meeting. Someone, in asking him that, had wisdom that HE actually had something good to share, with a room full of drunks and addicts.

We all sit in rooms together, with assorted days, weeks, months, and years of sobriety. But is oddly the case, not too many people will ask for help, until they are down and out suffering. Even then, it is like pulling teeth, to get people to want to work with us.

It is hard work, going to meetings, and learning how to stay sober, because someone stepped up and took us on, when we came in and trusted us, with what they had to teach us about The Book and Sobriety. And the greatest gift we can offer, is our time, talent and treasure, when it comes to sobriety.

One of our men spoke a couple of weeks ago and told me that I should ask for numbers of new folks coming in, INSTEAD of giving them My number first. Flip the equation, he told me. Go out and get numbers.

Caveat here … We actually have to commit to calling those numbers if they come to us.

I guess I am in a place where, I am seeking something new to learn. And in hanging around with young people in sobriety, I am finding that I can still learn something new, that I am not the center of the universe, not that I think that …

The holidays were a great reckoning for many. Through hard work and perseverance we all came through the other end, mostly unscathed. And far better for the challenge the holidays presented many.

Sit in a room for a few seasons. And commit to being present for the long haul. Read: Commit to a room for a Long Period of Time, and you too will see how your friends a fellows grow up and get and stay sober.

I’ve been at this a long time, and teach-ability is not lost on me.

Everybody is well. It is March. The snow is melting.

It might not be Spring yet, but it sure feels like it.

Save for the first appearance of our Red Breasted Robin at the Friday Meeting church yard. I always see her. She has not appeared just yet, because there is still snow on the ground and in the trees at St. Viateur Church.

Stay tuned …