Last Friday Night in 2017

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It is very important that we have someplace to be, work to do, and people to serve.

We have been repeating this message in every meeting for the last few weeks. Hoping that the message sticks, and that our young people “get it.”

I walked the tunnel tonight, because it is a straight shot down to the Orange Line, instead of walking across the neighborhood to a connection Green Line train. i arrived at the church along with a friend of mine, and together we cranked it out.

While we were waiting for folks to show up, a “couple” walked in the door. I did not recognize them, so I greeted them the same. And I asked the man, if I knew him, and he looked me dead in the eye and said … “YEAH, I WAS YOUR FIRST SPONSOR!”

Holy Shit Bat Man.

I haven’t seen my elder friend in more than fifteen years, since he had moved out of the city, got married to a sober woman, AND they had two kids along the way.

You never know who is going to walk in that door on any given night.

They now live Off Island out in Laval.

It seemed that he had a message to deliver to the GSR of our group, which happens to be me. Since I don’t have a car, and it is a hassle to get off island without one, I skip the monthly GSR meetings for the Northern Area.

He wants to hook me up.

We sat a full house. The flu is going around but through sniffles and sneezes and snarfles and quaffles, our young people all showed up, with stories about how they survived their first Christmases sober.

And once again, I repeated my advice, as I did the other night.

Our folks are set up for New years Eve. Tickets were sold to the Young People’s Conference party Sunday night. People all know where they can go.

A good news item was this … Our young people who did not have family in town, or they did not travel back to see them, all found themselves at members houses for Holiday Dinners. The community stepped up and made sure our kids were not alone.

That pleases me very much.

It’s a good sign, that our young people know what to do, and where to go. They have been steadfast in showing up to every meeting. And the rest of us are on top of them.

Tonight we read about self-pity. Which evolved into beating ourselves up, which then led to talk about our elder SINKING situation.

Before the meeting I was talking to a friend after we set up about last night’s speaker, and we chatted about the elders who go into self-pity mode, then they begin the crank over One, Not feeling good about themselves, Two, Feeling useless, and Three, thinking that disappearing from the rooms is better than engaging people, that THEY think, think little about them.

This is dangerous territory.Which usually leads back to a DRINK.

We spoke about old friends now long gone. When my old sponsor and I were chatting, we figured out that many of those old timers who were around when I first got sober, and that man became my first sponsor, many of them are long dead. There aren’t many old timers from that period of our lives still around.

It so happened, during that first five-year period of my sobriety, we had several HIGH population meetings. We’re talking meetings that would bring in over a hundred people for a regular meeting. There were several meetings like that.

Back in the day, here in Montreal, a good number of founder meetings, brought in hundreds of people. HUNDREDS.

A good six years into my sobriety, you’d be lucky to bring in 40 or 50 members at any given meeting. 60 if you were lucky.

At the five-year mark, all those high population meetings closed, for one reason or another. And almost overnight, every single person who used to go to those meetings, disappeared. It was like a bad magic trick.

People either died, moved off island, or just stopped going to meetings.

The island of Montreal is a big place, and there are nineteen boroughs on the island. Neighborhoods, put simply.

If you drew an invisible line around each neighborhood, you’d have a solid border all the way around. Now, depending in which neighborhood you lived in, dictated which meetings you went to on any given night.

There are over 500 meeting in Montreal in any given week.

So, you live in a particular neighborhood, and you attend particular meetings, in the designated neighborhood you reside in. Most people will not cross that invisible demarcation like drawn around any particular neighborhood.

That little rule of thumb still applies.

Whether you live North or South, East or West. Downtown or Uptown, people will not usually travel outside their comfort zone, except if a friend of your is taking a cake somewhere specific. Then people cross the invisible lines.

This piece of information is something I’ve studied for the whole of my sobriety, in trying to figure out where all those people went, when high population meetings folded.

The age of high population meetings are long gone.

But you know, if you go to meetings in New York City, THEY have meeting attendance in the HIGH hundreds. Like multiple hundreds. Numbers only we can imagine in our minds eyes.

They pack them in, because you can usually find a meeting on any given corner, connected to one of the myriad of churches in New York City. And there are MANY.

We are happy with our current numbers. They are constant. And Strong. And people show up, in the heat AND the cold.

I think they know that we have their backs, that as long as we are there, putting the meetings together, giving them simple jobs to do, they will continue to show up.

The Twenty minutes before and the Twenty minutes after rule still applies.

Coffee, conversation, fellowship after the meeting are also regular occurrences.

Sobriety is Never boring. If you aren’t connected, then WHY NOT ?

If you connect and invest in others, you will not spend so much time in your head, being maudlin, and miserable, beating yourself up, and thinking less of yourself. Because if we are constantly connected to others, in our daily lives, we aren’t so bothered by what’s between our ears.

And not being so bothered with what going on between our ears is better than listening to the hamster crank that wheel at 60 mph.

Suit up and Show up.

It will save your life.

Thursday: Presence

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It is BRUTALLY COLD outside. ( -23c / -32 w.c. ) At this hour. It is so cold that skin that is open to the cold will freeze in moments, if you aren’t protected. The weather people have been warning us for days about this cold snap that will last at least for another week at best.

The City has opened the Metro Stations as warming centers for the homeless. Shelters are stacking more beds, and the city shelter bus transport system is working over time to make sure that people are not sleeping on the streets and in the parks.

But, let’s be honest too. There are those who will NOT accept shelter assistance. Even if it is minus 30 outside. There are those who prefer to sleep on the streets. And again, this year, people will die from cold and exposure. The story is the same across Canada, in many cities, especially in the Prairie Provinces.

A question that was posed to me a very long time ago was this … Not that I came from a four season city, but I live in one now. If you went out to score drugs or alcohol in the middle of a blizzard, or go out in the COLD to SCORE, then you are able to hit a meeting, no matter how cold it is.

I learned when I moved here, what it was going to take to make it out when it is brutally cold outside. Every year I polish my cold weather gear. Since I changed up my wardrobe months ago, My sporty training gear that I do wear, has to be warm.

I spent a pretty penny purchasing Professional Hockey Thermal Gear this year. I went to a local hockey outfitter and I bought the exact same warming system that professional hockey players wear on the ice. Tonight a friend of mine asked me if I was cold, and I told her no, I am pretty well insulated.

I saw an old, lady friend from the Tuesday meeting. She had not seen me in many months, and she was floored when she learned how hard I had been training these past few months, and the way the KETO diet works, and how much weight I have dropped in the last calendar year.

I notice, on a nightly basis, those young people who are suiting up and showing up. They all have been schooled in where to sit ( UP FRONT) and not in the back. They sit AT the table at the other meetings, we call that (Front Row Sobriety). Our young people struggling through their first sober holiday season, have been present.

And WE are present for THEM.

I spoke to a friend tonight about paying it forward. He agreed. If we can circulate young people into service positions now, and hope they maintain a connection to others, in that service, they will stay sober in the long run.

One of our elder men spoke tonight. There are a handful of old sober men, (read: 30 Plus years sober) who suit up and show up and are engaged. A common complaint within our elder men and women community, is that at some point, old timers or elders, think that they have had enough, that they have served enough, and they back off. Some show up, others DON’T. And a handful of them DRINK AGAIN.

Darkness and Cold are harbingers of bad news. If you don’t suit up and show up and remain connected and PRESENT, for yourself as well as for others, You Are SUNK.

I’m happy to report that our young people are actively involved in meeting fellowship and service. We have worked hard to get them to stay and connect, from the very first, NOW, and not wait until they have a bit more time under their belts.

The sooner we get them connected and serving their fellows, the better off they will be for the future. Our Monday crowd is on the beam, so to speak. They are showing up, even when it is brutally cold outside.

New Years is coming up, here in Montreal. And the biggest bash of the city, the FINAL 375th Anniversary Montreal Celebration, takes place on New Years Eve, in the Old Port. OUTSIDE !!!

I was secretary tonight and in  my announcements, I told the crowd that if they wanted to brave the cold like a good alcoholic to ring in the New Year, that was a choice they could make.

But I also gave the crowd a couple of other choices too. The Montreal Young Peoples conference is hosting a New Years Dance and Party, like they do every year. And they bring them in too. Everybody shows up for this yearly event, which is INSIDE.

The third choice is out on the South Shore, that’s a drive from here, across highways that are all torn up and useless due to construction and demolition. But the South Shore groups are hosting a New Years Dance, with food, fun and a live band.

People have choices. I am sure that in every city where people are sober, You Too can find someplace Sober to be for the New Year.

I spoke to a friend the other day about New York City and the Ball Drop. Some people get to Time Square in the afternoon, and they get PENNED IN, for HOURS. In the BRUTAL COLD, with no bathrooms, no drinks, no food. NADA. Just to see that damned ball drop in Time Square.

I watch that ball drop from the comfort of my warm and toasty living room.

Can you imagine that hell on earth, all to say that you at least experienced New York on New Years Eve, I’d rather eat dirt …

Remember that PRESENCE is the greatest gift you can give your family and friends this holiday season, just by suiting up and showing up, You Too can change a life for the better. Because you are there for them, like we were there for you, when you came in.

Now we teach that if this is your first sober holiday, that let this year be a template for you for years to come, when next Christmas you will know what to do and where to do it, so that you keep a room open for those kids who might need it, because this year, you needed it and we were there for you.

Paying it Forward.

If you practice the sober plan of living and you build it into your life, you will always have someplace to BE, something to DO and people to give TO. Year after Year, for the rest of your life.

Sobriety is NEVER boring.

I hope for all of you this New Year.