Friday May 3rd 2019

Times are changing. Our Friday location at St. Viateur Church up on the mount, is going through changes within the parish.

We’ve been in the same room, for more than 60 years. The incarnation of the meeting, has changed over time. And for the last 6 years, we rebuilt a meeting that was falling apart, after the last incarnation, and her people had moved on.

What began as 5 people and a coffee pot, morphed over time to a cohort of over 50 folks. We broadened from the back room and few people to a two room meeting, split up to give everybody time and place to share.

A couple of weeks ago, the church told us, that we had to move out of our room, along with all the other meetings, that used the same space, throughout the week.

They offered us a room, in the church proper, and early this past week, myself and a friend, moved all of our supplies from the basement hall to the church hall room. It is half the size of the full room we had been in. The room does not have a kitchen. We do have one bathroom and sink set up to fill the coffee and tea pots. Since we don’t have a kitchen, we went to styrofoam cups and later paper warm cups, so we don’t have to wash cups in a sink in the bathroom.

The hall will happily seat 50 people. I arrived uber early tonight with a couple of fellows and we set up the room, in the same fashion we used to have in the old room. Save, that the group cannot split up into two, sitting everybody in the same room, for the entire hour.

You cannot throw alcoholics into change, because it throws them off kilter. We welcomed everybody, to the room. Our first meeting in the new space was a success. People seem to like the cozy comforts of the room.

The reason we had to move is this … There is a daycare up in the parish building. That room needs renovation. Before they can move downstairs into the basement hall, that room needs to be retrofitted for safety and regulations, as a child care facility, as per the city and province.

You can’t just toss a daycare, into a room, that is not safely set up for that purpose. We all had to move out so they are now retrofitting the room for the kids. The room upstairs is being renovated. Once all the work is done, the kids will either stay downstairs, or move back up.

We have this new room until October. Between now and then, we are negotiating with the parish rector to remain in our original space, because finding another church, IN this neighborhood, is unlikely. We won’t be able to recreate the old dynamic, in another church anywhere in this locale.

There are a couple of choices still. But some feel that if every meeting in the area, utilizes the same space, 7 nights a week, we loose the distinctive feel of the meeting. Because the one church open for business with a rector who is familiar with our work, will rent his space, for very little money, because he knows what we do. He has three meetings now in that space. We all go to those other meetings in his ballroom in the basement.

The dynamic of that room is far different. it is not the room the Friday meeting wants to inhabit, in any case. So we shall see what comes of the renovations and what will happen next fall.

More to come.

Giving It Away

Lorna Kelly …

On the way to the meeting tonight, I listened again to Lorna speak. I constantly learn new things on every pass. And she says, in the beginning of her shares …

“It would be arrogant of me to think that something I say could possibly help you, when in reality, God thinks I need a lot of help …”

We talked about giving it away. The reading from A.B.S.I was a wonderful read tonight. It brought back many wonderful memories for all of us sitting at the table. Among our group is our local rehab coterie of men and women who come from far away, to get a handle on their stories, and to stop putting gas on an already burning fire that is addiction.

We’ve taken them to our hearts in a way that we have not seen in a long while. They have endeared themselves to us, and we have adopted them into our family. In a little over a week, they will leave Montreal for places far and wide. And hopefully, something they have heard in the past twenty one days will stick.

Talk about memories, always gives rise to much Gratitude.

When this kind of discussion begins, everyone always starts with the day they walked into our specific room, feeling how they felt, when they walked in the door, and how warmly they were met and how they were cared for, in ways they did not imagine could be possible.

Lorna is apt to say, and she does say, that “Every time I speak, I must get my story straight, because every time I tell it, I see it differently, than the time before.” She goes on to say that “Only those folks with long term, LONG TERM sobriety, can really get their stories in a cellular way. We learn how isolated we really were in the bitter end of our disease.”

Working with others came up as well. Nobody has a firm grasp on how that works, because for every man and woman sitting in the room, there are ways of reaching out and working with others.

Some feel that stepping out of their comfort zone and chatting up a newcomer is daunting. And it is.

Over the last little while, I have been testing my chops in asking hard questions and seeking hard answers. Because I question what I know and how I know it, and how to apply what I think I know, against, what I do not.

I step out and ask questions, to which some old timers look at me cross eyed and tell me just to shut up and say nothing, keep my mouth shut and sit here and be shoveled shit night after night like they do.

NOT !!!

It was twelve years before I walked into working with others, because I did not know what I did not know. I did not know I had what it took, nor that I really had a grasp on my own story, to be able to help another human being with their stories.

When I met Bob, and he turned me on to Intentional Prayer, the Three, Seven, Eleven shuffle, he told me that at some point, those words would work themselves into my heart, and out to the universe. And he said to me that if I did this prayer ritual, my life WOULD change.

And it did…

The first time my phone rang in the middle of a meeting, was a surprise. I did not know the boy on the other end, of the line, and I did not know how he got my number, but at that point, he was hysterical, and he called me, of all people.

I finished the meeting and went to him, which began a two year odyssey of sobriety. It was a hard slog, and we learned a lot about each other. But in retrospect, I think an entire group of people had an idealistic vision of me as a placid, non feeling, eunuch, that felt nothing and could do no wrong. And that was sustainable until it wasn’t.

One fateful business meeting was all it took, to shatter the placid calm, layer of myself, when in a moment of stress I raised my voice, and all of my guys went running for the hills, never to speak to me ever again.

That was not a very good outcome of working with others.

Business meetings will do that to you, eventually.

At least I have my guys today, that I have been working with for multiple years, and out of that work, came two best friends who care about each other, their significant others, fiancees, and wives.

Along the way, I have a friend, outside the rooms. A young man who we have cared for, for many years, who stood up for me at my wedding as my best man. Two days ago, his wife gave birth to their fist son, Benjamin.

His first wards to me were these …”Oh My God, his feet are so small!” And I replied, “Yes, you have a little person to care for now, do your best.”

I’ve seen marriages, proposals, and now children come for my friends. My best friend Juan and his wife were married last July and my best friend will be married in 2020. And my buddy in the states is a new father.

We could not be happier for all of them.

Lorna goes on to say that “She does not know if she even ‘has it’ until she has given it away.”

Working with others begins with a conversation. A common idea, a common feeling, a common story element, that brings two people together to talk about that commonality. What happens next is all up to our Higher Powers.

I have a friend, I’ve been working with for a little while. He is newly sober, and came to a meeting one night and begged God the Promises. And I told him to hurry up and wait !

That begging began a discussion, that is still on going.

You never know, one of my best friends said tonight, that something you might say, the littlest of compassion, or the kindest of words, can change the trajectory of someones life in a way we might never have seen, had we not stepped up and shared a little bit of ourselves with someone in difficulty.

It happens … Not very often, so when it does, people pay attention to little things.

Kindness and warmness of heart is key. We never know when someone walks into our space where they are, in their lives, so we talk, honestly and truly. The Friday meeting is a special meeting, because it is the only one of its kind, in “living room” appeal.

Tonight, we tripled our attendance. The weather is growing warmer by the day, and so people are coming out of hibernation, and returning to the old haunt once again, and we could not have been more grateful tonight.

You don’t know what you don’t know. And you don’t know that you have it, until you give it away. And if you don’t try, you remain ignorant of your own abilities. So we encourage our men and women to step boldly into their sobriety and step up and be counted.

You never know if something you have can change a life for the better.

If not Now, When ? If not Me, then Who?

Every day we have a chance to be kind. It is far too easy to be kind, than to be unkind. It takes more energy to be unkind and uncharitable.

Spend your energy wisely.

It will do you and the one you help more good than you ever imagined.

One Day at a Time.

Gratitude Overflowing …

Thank God It’s Friday

Yes, it is Friday. A good week was had by all. The weather is warming up, ever so slowly. It is much warmer today, than it as been in a while. We might get a dusting of snow over the weekend. We’ll see.

last evening, I had dinner with a friend. We have a new A&W Burger joing just up the block so we usually go for food there before the meeting on Thursday.

This morning, I wasn’t sure I wanted to get out of bed, so I slept until 11 then got up because I had things to do. Coffee went on sale and we needed a few cans for Thursday. Coffee is one of those cyclical items that go on sale at least once a month. At $7.00 a can, you can’t go wrong.

Laundry is washing at this moment. This weekend we have to box up the apartment, and get sorted, because they are putting in hard wood floors on the 5th. We have to move all the small stuff, books, book cases, and smalle furniture, the guys who will be laying the floors will move all the big stuff as they lay the floors in pieces. We were told that it would only take a day to get them all in, because we only have two rooms.

More to come.

Holy Snow Storm Batman!!

This is Ste. Catherine’s Street, just outside the Forum, where I was at the gym this morning.

BUT FIRST !!

They warned us that the weather was going to go bad as Saturday night progressed. AND IT DID.

I went to bed early last night, because I had to be up for 8 a.m. this morning to chair the Old Brewery Mission meeting. I was up and ready to go and headed out. I was layered well, and had winter boots on.

There was snow all over the place. Snow had piled up so high that the outer door to the building was barricaded by a snow drift that was four feet high and about three feet deep. In front of the door, on the outside.

I pushed my way out the door, as piles of snow fell on the floor inside, when the door closed behind me. There was almost a foot of snow on the ground as I made my way to the tunnel and down to Georges Vanier Station on the Orange line.

The wind was blowing so hard and snow was piled up so deep, that it took me almost fifteen minutes to walk 1000 yards downhill. There was so much snow that the wind had blown snow all the way down into the tunnel on both the car side and on the pedestrian walkway.

I made it to the train and Juan was already on it, when we arrived at Place D’Armes. We trudged through feet of snow to the Mission. It was well attended. People braved the first major snow storm of the season to make a meeting. Juan spoke, and we gave out a two year chip.

After the meeting we trudged back to the Metro Station and got back on the train coming this way. We were both headed to our respective gyms to train for a bit.

I thought that the gym would be empty because of the storm. There were a handful of people. I got my lifting in and a couple of miles run on the tread mill. I was trying to keep up with one guy to my right and another woman to my left. we were all running “run” programs, but they were running a bit faster than I had been.

On the way home, I took a photo (above) of what it looks like outside at this hour. They have not plowed any of the sidewalks, and barely the roads either, because snow is still coming down.

I thought to walk home would be painless … I WAS WRONG!

Just four blocks through snow drifts more than a foot deep all the way home. I had to stop several times to get my footing because the wind was pelting me with snow, and my glasses were frozen on my face. They warned us of possible frostbite.

They say this will be the coldest storm in Montreal’s history.

All the Homeless Shelters are working over time to make sure nobody is left outside. They opened a new shelter in the old Royal Victoria Hospital, not far from here. They have 100 beds open. Which makes a small dent in shelter traffic. But no shelter is turning anyone away. Human nor animal.

People with pets are an issue here, and now shelters are taking the homeless with their pets, where before, you could not bring a dog into a shelter. Which is why many people stay on the street.

Holy Snow Storm Batman !!

Thursday – The Show Must Go On

The warnings of our first major snow storm went up this morning. Weather casters in Montreal, have been hit or miss, when it comes to prognostications about SNOW. Forecasting snow, is a fine art, and comes down to hour by hour monitoring of the snow pack as it moves into Southern Quebec. Montreal sits in a geographic location, on a major river, the St. Lawrence Seaway. Whether you sit to the south, or to the North of said river, will dictate just how much snow will fall on top of you.

So they are warning us of upwards of 30+ cm of snow, with winds gusting which will only stir up snow as it falls to the ground. Snow is supposed to begin falling Saturday night, and fall all day Sunday into late Sunday night, at this point.

I spoke at the Old Brewery Mission last Sunday morning. Which then, makes me responsible for finding a speaker for this coming Sunday.

Now, a major snow storm is on its way. And like any smart human being, one does not want to have to trek through a major snow storm to get to a meeting. Alas, I was reminded by a friend, what I would do in a snow storm when I was drinking …

Sadly, I’ve never drank in Montreal, and never had to navigate my way to a bar or a liquor store to drink. Amid a snow storm. That is my out …

My friends tonight, as I polled them for what I should do was this: The Show Must Go On… So my choices of speaker got thin, because I did not want to have to ask someone who drives a car, for safety reasons. Because driving in a snow storm is inherently dangerous on its own.

I figured out, with help, from one of my friends, who to ask. And I did that. So in the end, we will brave a snow storm to bring a meeting to the Old Brewery Mission on Sunday morning.

Mischief Managed…

I’ve been to the gym several times this week. And since life rotates on Instagram, I upload a photo, IN the gym, when I go. Yesterday I went to the gym at an odd time. Never go to the gym in the 5 o’clock hour. The gym was crawling with people. Every machine, bike, treadmill was occupied. And the lift room was packed with people.

I, at least, got some treadmill time in. And I came home. Defeated.

Today, I amended that plan, and hit the gym in the 11 o’clock hour. I had a treadmill and a work out mat to do my floor exercises, and space to lift, because traffic was blessedly light during the day. I spent about an hour in the gym. Our treadmills have programs on them, so today I ran an intermediate run program, that as the program runs, the incline on the tread rises, your speed rises and there are down drafts as well. I ran for about an hour. Got my lifting in. And some floor time as well.

What is good, is that I follow a number of guys on Instagram who do the gym as well, and they upload their workout routines so we can see them and duplicate them ourselves. Which is good. I get to practice my form and process, and build a routine that will be profitable in the end.

Snow is coming, it might get brutal.

The Show Must Go On !!!

Christmas Eve 2018

The week, last week ended with a final push to get all the Christmas shopping done. “Mission Accomplished!” Hubby has been in Ottawa visiting his parents for Christmas and they did Christmas Sunday evening with the extended family.

I was “HOME ALONE !!!”

Nope, not stuck in Chicago

Nope, not lost in New York

But, Home Alone in Montreal

But those movies were on the W Network last night. Sadly we don’t have that channel on our list of Cable Channels.

I’ve cleaned all the things that needed to be cleaned. I vacuumed last night at about 2 a.m. because I was wide awake. I scrubbed the microwave, which was badly needed, after looking inside the box. I just usually throw whatever I am heating up, in, and pay no attention the the box itself.

I defrosted/de-iced/gutted my turkey for tomorrows dinner.

I haven’t been to bed yet today.

All of our kids are where they need to be. Everybody is hooked up for friends who went home, in their same cities, so they are buddying up for meetings and fellowship over the holidays. Those kids who are still here will gather tonight for Christmas Eve Meetings, and fellowship.

We’ve all been working overtime with the newbies to make sure they make it through their first Christmases sober, and alive. All is well, through last night.

Hubby returns this afternoon with the loot that came from the extended family and my in laws. When he goes away and I have to think about what I need to cook for dinner, is a hassle. Because usually I don’t have to think about cooking dinner, because he does the cooking, and serves up meals night after night. So I had to shop and cook for myself, which is a strange thing, when he goes away …

Tomorrow I am hosting a Gala Christmas Dinner for my friend Juan, his wife Nadia and her mom, who is now living in Canada, this is her first holiday, in Canada, with SNOW and COLD, with Nadia and Juan. They moved into a larger apartment a few months ago, for more space. We will sit five tomorrow.

This morning I shopped a few items I thought I needed and got supplies for the meeting tonight, and some Chocolate Milk. I’ve been craving grill cheese so I bought some cheese and made a sandwich.

Now I have to drop labs next week, and the last time I ate bread, my triglycerides went up so far, it stunned my doctors, who both called to see what I had done to myself.

I told them I ATE BREAD for God’s sake …

Then they both told me emphatically … NO MORE BREAD EVER !!!

I ate bread this morning. And will eat bread with Hot Turkey Sandwiches later tomorrow night.

The gifts are all wrapped, and under the tree. I bought a few things for hubby that he did not ask for, because as long as we’ve been together, he will never ask for something particular for himself. Not once, ever. So I have to guess what he needs and then shop.

I had ordered a gift from a company called SIRENO, for a keepsake, special pressed key chain, that you can have punched with particular dates. I paid over $50.00 for it, BACK in September… I got a shit package in the mail the other day from China, 3 months later, from a counterfeit group. I lost fifty bucks and the bank won’t refund the money till I get a return response from the counterfeiter themselves.

FUCKING CHINESE GANGSTERS !!!

I’m so pissed I got ripped off on a present that would have been over the top for hubby …

More to come, as Christmas is tomorrow …

Help Will Always Come

Hogwarts-castle-harry-potter-166431

Staying the course, and always doing the next right thing, is good sound advice.

When the chatter in my head is running at fever pitch, and my emotions seem to rule every decision or thought at times, I know that I need to stop and take a break.

Read: I need to STOP and Pray !!!

Funny how things fall into my lap, when I most need them. Or, little signs from somewhere outside of myself, seem to appear, in front of me, at the oddest moments.

I have told the story about my I-Phones tendency to shuffle me a speaker, one speaker in particular, when I really need a talking to. It seems to know me better than I know myself at times, which begs the question … Are Our I-Phones sentient ???

Thursday night, after the meeting I was really emotional and I realized that I was not done mourning the passing of my father. Because of a comment made about him, amid a conversation with a friend, at the earlier meeting.

We were talking about care giving and being a care giver for family and significant others and how tasking that is on everyone involved. A few days prior to this chat, the National News carried a story about just this topic, and how the province of Quebec is going to step up and help care givers of patients and family in assisted living facilities.

I told him the story about my father, when I was in eighth grade, how, when his mother had a very serious stroke, and in a VERY LUCID moment, outside of his alcoholism, he thought that IF he took ME to Connecticut to see her, he believed, from somewhere deep within him, that if she looked at me and recognized me, that she would in essence,
WAKE UP!

What we did not know about serious stroke paralysis was apparent.

Who knew from the now famous “Stroke Treatment” delivered within a very short time from falling into stroke, can avert serious paralysis. That drug did not exist in the early 80’s.

We took a night flight out and arrived late that evening in Connecticut. My uncle picked us up and took us to his house. The next morning we ate breakfast and they drove me to The New Britain General Hospital.

I was not prepared at all for what was coming.

We got to Grammy’s room, and she was laid out, drooling spittle, half her face was in her lap, and the entire right side of her body was paralyzed. I took one look at her, and I fainted. My head hit the tile floor and I ended up in the emergency room that morning.

She indeed, did NOT wake up. However, she knew who I was. I could not rouse her from her lethargy. I sat on her bed for a few weeks time, to no avail.

In the end, a few weeks later, I returned home defeated. My father was crushed.

It is my belief that he held that little trip against me and never forgave me for not being able to do the job, HE BELIEVED, I needed to do for him. His alcoholism cranked up to 200%. And the abuse ratcheted up 200% as well. Whenever he drank, it was me he came after.

Which is why, as time went on, I found other houses to stay in, so I did not have to be at home. I spent an inordinate amount of time sleeping at successive friends houses over the ensuing years, just to get away from my father.

A functional abusive alcoholic can have lucid moments of brilliance and compassion and thought. Interspersed with the drinking came incredible kindnesses. My father paid dearly, in “Things” to assuage my pain that he himself caused me.

When my friend mentioned to me the other night that “My father KNEW that  my grandmother loved me more than any other, i.e. my brother, it was me he took on this trip because “we” (my grandmother and I are spiritually connected).

When I got very sick, it was Grammy who visited me and stayed with me, when everyone else fled the scene. It took a psychic to tell me this, because she would come into my apartment and my bedroom door was always closed, (at that point) at which time she would move pictures on the walls, and scatter magazines all over the floor, until I invited my friend to come over and tell me what was going on …

In his words to my ears: He told me Grammy was standing in my living room, and had been there for a long time, looking after me, and she could not quite figure out how to get through the door, (after which time, I never slept with another bed room door closed, to this very day). She still visits me on occasion here !!!

That comment unnerved me to the degree that I came home an emotional mess and when I got home, I sat down and wrote it all out and did my Step 4 at the same time.

I went to bed Thursday night, not so myself.

Friday, I left for the meeting as usual. I got to the church, and unlocked, and began my set up routine. I was still, not in the right frame of mind. I grabbed the coffee pot, from the cabinet and lo and behold, a single sheet of paper fell to the floor at my feet, from the stack of papers we have to one side of the cabinet.

I picked it up, as it fell face down, on the floor, and took a look at the newspaper clipping. It was a newspaper clipping telling the story of the house where Bill W. was born, in East Dorset, Vermont.

The house is NOT on any map. You would have to know, before hand, where you were going in order to get there, because there aren’t any signs along the way saying …

DSCF3270 (2)

THIS WAY TO BILL’S HOUSE !!! This is the actual house as it is.

Anyways, I read the article and thought to myself, wow, I had never seen this article in the cabinet before, so there has to be a reason it fell out, onto the floor, at just the most opportune moment.

Which hearkened me back three years to the weekend that my then sponsor, my best friend Joe, and I, were on our way to a men’s intensive at Mad River Barn, not far from East Dorset that very weekend.

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And ON THE WAY … We visited Bill’s house where he was born. We also visited Bill and Lois’ grave, just up the road in a very small and non-nondescript cemetery. If you did not know the cemetery was there, you’d not know to go there and pay your respects to the Founder and his wife.

Coming back to the present moment, I was in my head, clearly not myself, standing there alone in a church basement, with this piece of paper in my hand, and the very clear and resonant memory in the front of my brain.

Another of life’s synchronicity.

These little spiritually ignited occurrences happen often to me. And when I most need them, HP does the trick and sends me a sign from above, to remind me, that I am well cared for, and there is always someone up there, looking out for me.

The weekend was a success. It has been Hotter than Hell in Montreal since last Friday, and the heat wave will continue through Thursday night, later this week.

It has been UNBEARABLE !!!

I am chairing this month at the Monday meeting, and we read from the Big Book. Before the meeting I was sitting outside the hall, thumbing through my Big Book, looking for a suitable passage to share with the group. And I happened upon the story:

Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three … Pioneer of Akron’s Group No. 1 The first A.A. group in the world …

And I came to the end of the story where he is having breakfast with Bill and his wife Henrietta, and Bill says to her:

“Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.”

This one sentence is A.A. Gold…

The reading, in the end, speaks about an Absolute State of Grace and Gratitude.

Which brings me this realization as I am sitting here typing these words that:

If you don’t have a topic for a meeting, the default is ALWAYS

GRATITUDE !!!

We’ve come full circle now.