Intentionality

The talk, recently, is about God.

I like to talk about God, because He is an integral part of my existence. God has been the thread that has woven into my life from the very beginning. And I can relate all those stories over and over. Just thinking about all the close passes of God, in my life, only reinforces the fact that, I am intimately connected to God.

For a long time, I was not sure I could live up to that standard, or if that kind of God conscious life, was even tenable. I was not sure, I could safely abide in God, in all things, or if I had to try and make it, out there, in the “real world.”

I am the kind of person, who would rather, cede control to someone or something, other than myself, because I know, deep down, left to my own devices, I really do not do very well, because of my monkey brain.

With Todd:read:God, I was able to turn it all over, all of it, and trust that He had my back, and I did not ever have to second guess him, “outwardly” that is. That took some time, but once I let go, all was well.

For a very long time, I did not trust myself to make right decisions. For a long time, I did not trust my own thoughts, or my own words. I always second guessed myself, when it came to what I know, and how I know it. And I sat on my hands.

Yes, I would talk, but it was always superficial talk.

If I needed to do something, learn something, or make a decision, for years, and years, I would always have a number of people, that I would run my choices by, people I trusted, whom I believed, would direct me to the right choices.

Once piece of advice I got was this:

At one point, I did not know where I was going. early on, after I moved here. One foot below the border and the other above it. I was unsure of my moves, early on.

The advice goes thus: If you don’t know where you are or where you are going, then st down, where you are. Take out your map, study the map, and study your surroundings. Get a lay of the land, and everything in it.

When you have done all that, being fully informed as you are able, make your next choice, roll up your map and start walking.

You can always sit down and consult your map.

The map usually has one point on it, with a red dot, that says: You are Right Here. The map does not extend very far into the future, for it only tells you where you are, and gives you a little headway, but not too much to overwhelm you.

It’s only been in recent months that I’ve begin to trust what I know and how I know it, based on the fact that there aren’t very many people, critiquing what I say in public. The chatter in my head is less than it used to be, but it is still there.

I talk about prayer this way.

If you sit, and you pray, are you moving your hands and arms outwards, away from you, or are you moving your hands and arms, towards you? Are you praying intentionally, or selfishly. Outwards:Intentional, Inwards:Selfishly.

When I talk about prayer, and I move my arms away from myself, I get a flutter in my chest, a feeling of right. That I offer my prayers in an outwards fashion. I don’t usually pray for myself specifically. But I, for the most part, converse with God.

Like I need to tell Him shit … That He already knows about.

But prayer is humility. It is a humbling to say to my God that I don’t know, and I would like to know, as I need to know it. I don’t have all the answers, but I know they will come, in due time.

To talk to God, like I would talk to Todd. I know how to do that.

I much more, trust the process, because I know, that I am in God Grace.

For a long time, I thought, that I would have to live in the world “out there.” And I did not like the world out there. I did not like it at all. As long as I was in Todd’s world I was fine.Inside a very finite circle of love and care. When Todd moved away, and I had to make it in the world “out there” my life became a disaster.

When I moved into the world here, in Montreal, I found another circle of care and love. I found good people, with good intentions, who did for me what I could not do for myself, until I learned how to do for myself.

I live inside that circle today.

I don’t have to go outside my circle for anything. For the last eighteen years, the circle has provided for me, in many ways.

God is in the center of that circle. I know that, intimately.

When we pray, we should always pray “Thy will be done. Or, If it is Thy will.”

What ever I ask for, I speak the words, If It Is They Will, and Not Mine.

Because I know how off my human will is. Left to my own will, my life becomes a disaster.

When I was safely inside God’s will, over the years, life got good. I see the differences in how my life went along, when I was running the show. it was not good at all.

Last night I wrote about the whispers, the two by four, and the brick wall.

God is pretty specific with me. He cuts me no slack, because He knows that if you give me an inch, I will take a mile. If I can get away with selfish, I will take it.

That has been the ongoing lesson lately. Selfishness.

God has been pruning my tree as of late. And He’s been pretty specific about it too. He isn’t joking around. This is big business. Getting rid of selfishness.

My Elder spiritual adviser tells me that I have been through the furnace. And I have reached the next frontier with God.He wrote the other day:

“I have read every word of what you wrote. And I am proud of you. Proud that you can speak these words to yourself. Proud that you have the courage to speak them to others. Proud that that you are here, proud that you have walked this road and made such astounding progress since the lowest of the low had you in its grasp.

You have arrived at the final frontier, the last great sacrifice that God demands of his sons when they truly seek him. That sacrifice is consecration, a complete turning of body, mind and spirit towards Gods purposes. Consecration, like sobriety, like conversion is not an event, but a process, and you are on the path. Consecration takes the mundane and makes it holy…

You have been where your children are. You have walked their path, you have carried their sorrows. Now you stand a few steps above them, you have matured, you have mastered, you have received a measure of light above them. Now turn, and stretch out the hand that was stretched out to you. Speak the words that your Father spoke to you, and the same words that one day your children will speak to their sons and daughters. 

Adopt them. Love them. Cherish them. Raise them to do good. Teach them that there is a God in heaven who loves them enough to save them. Be patient with their shortcomings. Catch them when they fall. Admonish them when they act against what they know.

Reach down and strengthen them when their knees are shaking and they are learning to walk. Be the father that you needed at their age in the process. One day they will write their stories, and when they write your name, a tear will come to their eyes, and a lump will come to their throats, as they write your name.

Jeremy:read:God.

These are Godly words.

I need not say anything further. Except to say: Grateful.

This I Know is True

There is a God, and I am NOT God.

I am pondering God, this morning, because in a few hours time, I will kneel with a woman and pray the Third Step with her, formally, for her first run.

And as for prayer, and God, I know, that I Know God. Intimately. If you have been following along for a while, you know the story of Todd:read:God. God has been a presence in my life, for all of my life.

Many times, along the continuum I walked with God, intimately.

Then there were times, when I turned my back on God, because of my selfishness and self centered-ness. And paid for those character defects terribly.

Eighteen years on, in a few months, I have renewed my spirit. I’ve been sober all this time, and I have learned a great deal about myself, and those I care about. A handful of honest men, tell me the truth, and I respect them greatly for their honesty.

When Todd walked into my life, as a thunderous God, he turned my life upside down, from the very first moment I set eyes on him. He did not disappoint. When he took me in when I got sick, and asked me to simply trust him, with everything I had, I knew he was true.

Every night, for two years, on my knees we knelt together while I sobbed in his arms, because I was so sick, and was destined to die, miserably, like so many others.

His promise to me was simple, as long as I was on his watch, he would do everything he could to keep me alive. Twenty Five Years Later, I still tell this story because he was true.

Todd is true; God is True;. He saved me from imminent death.

Every night, I turned my will and my life over to the care of Todd:read:God. I was getting sober at that time, but sobriety took a back seat to staying alive, in the middle of the maelstrom of AIDS. I did stay sober, despite the toxic AA community I was associated with, and it did not get better, but worse. In the end, I walked out the door, to almost die in selfish pursuits.

Another God shot saved me. Because one angel knew where I was a got me out of dodge and saved my life.

I know, intimately, what the Third Step is, and what it means.

I am now ready to serve God in any capacity He sees fit to give me.

I’ve turned my entire life over to Him, there is not a single part of me that is not standing in the light right now. I made a commitment to my God, a commitment that took me six months to finally get. Six months of inner battling with my darkest demon, ended.

I made the final commitment of chastity to my God.The final piece of my darkest puzzle is now in the light. there is nothing left to hide, nothing to keep secret.

I turned my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understand Him, fully, without reservation or regret. I know where I am going, and what voice I am listening to, in my innermost heart of hearts.

There is true faith. When you get sober, you learn what kind of spirituality you want, because it is your free choice to make that decision. God, as you understand Him. God can be many things to many people. For as many people there are in our community, there is a belief in something that is aiding in keeping us all sane and sober.

It must be miraculous, because I know a lot of down and outers, who are sane, sober and are good people, both men and women.

So I listen to my heart, and I speak to God in whispers. And I wait for what He is going to show me or ask me to do, and I will do whatever He commands of me, whenever need be.

As a teen ager, I made a commitment, to Jesus, to follow Him, and be a soldier for God. That was untenable. The climate was too toxic for a teen ager to carry through with that commitment. Now more than 37 years later, I follow through with that commitment, because I was reminded of a time when I was young, clean, happy, and really, a different human being. Music is salvation.

Lying in my bed, my inner music player, started playing an old tune I remembered. So I came to my I tunes and downloaded two records, which are on my phone now, that I listen to constantly. Reminders of Christianity as a young person, and I was reminded of my promise to Jesus, God, to serve them.

I made that promise to God a few weeks earlier, when I made my final chastity covenant with God. And He followed through with Grace.

Now I am clean. Totally, without reservation. I have no regrets.

There is a choice to be made when we approach the Third Step:

God either IS or He Isn’t. God is Everything or He is Nothing !

What was our choice to be ? It comes right out of the book. It actually speaks these words to us at the end of We Agnostics.

I know God is true. God IS and He is Everything.

I walk in the light as I had as a young man. Faith is my salvation. God is my redeemer. And the maker of my life, and has for my whole life, but most importantly these past twenty five years, when I know God was on my side, because I live, and can tell the story about how I survived imminent death, when everybody else that was around me is long dead.

Only two of us survived that maelstrom. Mark, my friend who lives in Florida, who worked with me, in Todd’s bar, all those years ago, and myself.

He had his path to salvation and I had mine. I had the ace up my sleeve, Todd:read:God.

Had there been no Todd, there would not have been any God. And I would be long dead now. Thankfully, God became incarnate and walked with me, spoke to me, and gave me a life I surely did not imagine even possible, because if you told me then, how good my life would be today, I would have laughed you off the planet.

God Is Good, God is True.

This I know is True.

Blow Up … There IS a Solution

I Lost My Cookies Tonight, It Was Not Pretty At All … Rigorous Honesty Post

Almost eighteen years ago, I came in for the second time, SO, I’ve had my slip experience. The first time I got sober, nobody spoke of steps, and I did not have a sponsor, I had Todd, who was teaching me how to survive AIDS. The meeting hall I was attending was very toxic and made getting sober, harder than anything I have ever seen since.

You don’t bet on newcomers to see when they will drink again, you just do not do that.

When I came into Montreal, in month 4, when I moved here, I walked into the room that I homed in for over twelve years. I was going to MANY meetings at that time, as I had no other activity going on before I got my Canadian Papers.

In those eighteen years, the way I got and stayed sober, was by watching what everyone else was doing, what they were saying, what decisions they were making. Along with working my own program, with men who really helped me seal my sobriety. I took the good, and I left the bad. Whatever worked for you, I thought that it would work for me, but obviously, if you drank again, I did NOT … And that’s the way I stayed sober.

It has not been all a cake walk. And I have had my share of trouble in sobriety, BUT, I did not drink, at any point during the hard times. I returned to that original Home Group many months ago.

And like I’ve said, Sobriety in 2019, is not the same as Sobriety in 2002. It just isn’t. For many reasons. In the rooms, over the years, I have stuck with winners. With people, Old and Young, who are enthusiastic about the Book and the Steps. I work my steps every year. I hit several meeting a week, all of them different. I have a solid sponsor, and solid friends in the program.

Recently, I sit in beginners meetings, and all I hear from our kids is sorrow, and pain, and for the life of me, I try to help those who will listen to anything I have to tell them about staying sober, and NOT drinking again.

It has become obvious that many of those folks, did not/and do not, listen to anything I have said to them, and tonight I heard them say, in the open, that they are hurt that I would be so rigorously honest, IN a meeting.

How dare I speak as if I am better than they are.
I am not better than anyone. And those people who know me intimately know this.

But I listen. And I watch. Over the last few months, many folks sit in meetings, they don’t take anything home with them, they don’t call anyone, they don’t do anything to stave off that next drink AND: THEY DRINK AGAIN. And More Than Once.

One of our kids said she took twenty five beginners chips. She’s been stuck in that revolving door for YEARS. I watched her. She never listened to anything I said, in both fellowships we both attend, that I don’t any more.

But I said and I quote:

I am tired of going of beginners meetings. it is painful to watch people come in, be miserable, and know there is a solution, but because I am who I am, nothing I have is very attractive to ANYONE. So Fuck me for trying. I’ve been sitting in this hall for the whole of my sobriety, and I can tell you, by name, how many people drank again, and again, and again. I know everyone who did. Because if I saw you go out, I knew that something that you were doing, was not working for you, so I knew not to make that mistake myself.

I stayed sober, while many people did not.

There are only three men, sitting in this room right now, who were here when I came in, and all three of us are still sober. Obviously, we did something right. Obviously, we found the solution NOT to drink again, and that entails WORK.

When people ask me for help and I tell them what I did that worked, that work entails WORK, not just sitting in a chair, and reading the book, now and then. You actually have to work to stay sober, you just don’t get sober by OSMOSIS.

I know how many of you are suffering and I know the women are no doing well by the rate of how many of you have drank, several times over the last month, but because we are men, you won’t ask for help, when the women aren’t helping you stay sober, it is obvious those women are doing something wrong if what they are telling you, does not work AND you drank again.

I pound the God Damned pavement. I seek answers, I work the Book, BY the Book. I seek information in the most enthusiastic in the rooms. And I know what they know, so whatever I have to give, comes directly from someone, who gave that knowledge to me.

By the time I had finished, my friends were sitting a bit higher in their chairs, and All I heard after I shared was indignation by everyone else who shared after me.

All because I said something Rigorously Honest.

We read How It Works tonight. And we all know what that reading says:

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it – then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

Remember that we deal with alcohol – cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power – that One is God. May you find Him now!

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

Many of us exclaimed “What an order! I can’t go through with it.” Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholics and could not manage our own lives;

(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism;

(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

This is IN the Book, we hear it at every meeting. And really, many people do not pay attention to the words. And I know from reading “Our Great Responsibility,” that Bill took great care with crafting the Steps based on the Oxford Group Six steps. He augmented the steps to make sure there was no wiggle room. Hence Twelve Steps.

Many early alcoholics who saw the first few chapters of the book, as it had been written in the 1930’s, were angry that Bill included so much God and so much Honesty.

I was rigorously honest tonight, and I am sure I made many enemies tonight, because I called out half measures, as the reading also speaks about. And I told the truth. I spoke about THE Solution. And that there is one.

And I closed with, we come here to learn how to STOP. How many people have I watched over the past few years, read the Big Book, cover to cover, and get to the LAST Chapter, and it tells us how to STAY STOPPED and that we NEVER have to drink again …

And I watched a number of those men and women DRINK AGAIN…

That just BLOWS my Fucking mind.

I mean really, people are afraid of honesty better yet, Rigorous Honesty. I say I can help you, but that will take some work on your part, and what does everybody say to that:

OH I DON”T WORK, I DON’T PRAY, AND I DON’T DO GOD !!!

Ok, then how the fuck are you going to stay sober when you’ve negated everything you must do, there are TWO MUSTS in the book, things we must do to stay sober, what are you going to do when the drink is in your hand and you chose to drink it rather that put that drink down and call someone who can help you?

We need to drop the walls between men and women, gay and straight, Non-Binary and Trans. We need to be able to ask ANYONE who has something to offer, has something like part of or all of the solution, ready for anyone who will listen, help you NOT take that next drink !

God give me strength …

I’m so tired of going to meeting where all people want to do is piss and moan about how miserable they are, knowing some of us sitting in that same room, are sober multiple years, decades even, who know what to do, but you won’t come up and ask, because we might ask you to do something, like Work, or Pray, or Step Work, and we know you won’t ask, because you don’t do WORK.

FUCK ME !!!

What Will The Newcomer Think?

Today I was wearing a variant of this outfit, in Blue, rather than Black, but Under Armour in any case. I saw this photo in one of my streams and decided on replicating it in my wardrobe. I have several different iterations of said color scheme. Any color goes with white 3/4 tights, as long as your sock and shirt colors match.

I devote myself to breaking the mold of just what a 50+ year old man can wear in public. And the men who know me all have smart ass remarks about my looks. I really do not care what people have to say about my looks or my methods.

I’ve learned not to care what others think about me. I have more people who support me, rather than deride me openly.

Today in particular, my old sponsor who is up in the twenty six year range was sitting outside the church with another elder friend at thirty years sobriety. My old sponsor looked at me and said:

“You know you should really stop wearing your underwear out in public, I mean really, what will the newcomer think if they see you dressed that way?”

I should have pulled down my pants and showed him my brightly colored patterned underwear that I WAS wearing underneath my white tights.

But I digress …

I had posed a question to my elder friend sitting next to him, and he turned his face away from me, and answered my question by posing the answer to another man standing ten feet away, as if to say, he acquiesced to my old sponsors admonition about my wardrobe choice tonight.

I noticed …

Newcomer won’t come near me because they all think me a little strange, but I do have my friends in the younger bracket. I mean, I will socialize and I do, and I share when necessary, but overall, I am interested in their progress and mainly keep tabs on my kids where ever I go, on any particular night.

I told the story about the boy I cornered with the three, seven, eleven shuffle last week. He’s been MIA for days and skipped all the meetings we used to share in common. I hope I did not scare him away because I asked him to pray, as the Book Says … and that He does not DO GOD.

Oh well, you win some and you loose some, I guess.

We spoke about Step Seven tonight:
Humbly Asked Him to Remove our Shortcomings.

I always tell the same story when talking about Step Seven.

Many years ago, just after I was diagnosed, and getting sober at the same time, I have said before that Todd knew more about sobriety than any man I knew or have known since.

He was in essence: God. As I understood Him.

One night, on a busy weekend, I was on duty and the main bathroom was packed and someone put a RED CUP in a toilet backwards. The toilet was overflowing with shit and piss and other sundry fluids.

Todd called me over and said to “Clean the bathroom.” My response was “I don’t do toilets!” He said a second time “Clean the bathroom” Which my response did not change. He went into the kitchen and brought out a pair of rubber gloves and demanded quite forcefully, that I should reconsider and go and Clean the Bathroom.

I had nowhere to go but to follow orders.

I did indeed don the gloves and attacked the bathroom and the backed up toilet. At the end of shift, Todd spoke to me saying this:

Do you know why I had you clean that messy toilet? Everything he told me to do was connected to some lesson about the present and maybe the future. I said No…

His answer was loving and kind. He said that if I could clean a shitty toilet, that if I got really sick and ended up in a shitty diaper one day, that I would then know what to do for myself.

Lesson learned. Humble Pie it was …

Many men I knew who were vibrant and alive, ended up sick, demented, and lying in their own shit. I had a friend for a while who was damned to diaper living and it was demeaning. It was terrible for him. And I swore then and there, I would rather die than to end up sick, demented, and lying in a shitty diaper.

Thank God I never saw that kind of sickness in my own life. And for that I am forever grateful for small mercies.

Humility … for me, is knowing my place in the world. I am not better than anyone else, I know what I know, because I’ve studied life for the whole of my life and I’ve been sober quite a long time now. You cannot take that away from me. My life experience nor my sober knowledge.

I am not the center of the universe and my belly button is not the center either, and finally:

There is a GOD, but I am NOT GOD.

I know what enough means, and I am ok with having enough. Because for many years in early sobriety, we had very little, and for a long time, we did not have Enough. And we had to make it work.

Enough is not lost on me.

Keep it simple, Help someone else, because you can, and not because you expect something in return.

Last week, I went to intergroup to buy a chip for one of our men at the men’s meeting on Wednesday night. I did not say anything about it, but I got his cake, card, and candles.

We gave him the whole ritual of cake and chip.

On Saturday morning, my sponsor called from Vermont. I missed his call because it was early and I was still sleeping. He called to tell me that he had heard about the anniversary celebration, and he said: “Well Done.”

I had not told him about what I was doing, because he’s out of country right now, but several of the men in the group called him to tell him what I had done, a good thing for someone else.

I did not expect praise nor did I do it for the praise, it was the right thing to do for someone. Kindness goes a long way in making friendships work.

But it was nice to hear the words … Well Done.

Something Todd would have said to me.

It made me smile inside.

Sobriety Challenge

Procrastination is “Sloth” in five syllables.

We’ve heard over the last little while, what one needs to do to get sober, and then stay sober. One of my friends tonight said that when he came in, a few years before me, that at that time, he was so tired and burned, and mentally empty, that he had to just chill out for a while, and allow the message to seep into his addled brain.

After a little while, and going to meetings, he began to get involved a little deeper. At a particular business meeting, he was not sure about taking a service position, and an old timer looked at him and asked, “Why did you not take a position?” He did not have an answer. She then said to him:

WELL YOU ARE JUST A TAKER.

That really riled him up to the point where, Fuck You could be heard within his head. For a while he ruminated over that judgment. But not long after he decided he should bite the bullet and get active.

When I came in in 2001, I was just as tired and my brain was mush. Thank God I could go to the same meeting, seven nights a week, in the same location, at the same time, a 10 pm meeting, not far from home. A walkable distance.

For months, I sat in those meetings, and listened to people read me the books, because each night was a different presentation. So at least I was sober, albeit, a little bit, and I was hearing the Big Book being read to me.

When I moved to Montreal and got situated at Tuesday Beginners, I’d been going to meetings all over the island, and met my next sponsor. At eleven months I was ready to engage, and I asked about step work of him, and his response was “well I don’t do step work.” Much to my surprise.

He did not remain my sponsor very long afterwards. And that man eventually drank again.

My next sponsor bought me a fourth edition Big Book, and got me involved in my first seventeen week Big Book Study. One of many to follow.

Over the years, I’ve read the entire book, cover to cover, five times in as many years. A full read cover to cover, in a meeting setting, takes about fourteen months in total.

I did my last round last summer into the fall. And I hit Big Book meetings, and a Step/Traditions meeting as well. So I am reading both texts during the week, and dong step work in the Twelve and Twelve meeting on Wednesday nights. I’ve got anew sponsor now, and that is working for me.

Thursday night, we heard an old timer speak truth. He said that if you come in and you don’t stay, then you just Keep Coming Back, until it sticks. He also said that at some point warming a chair becomes useless, at some point you are going to have to start reading the Book, and doing the work.

Because once we stop drinking, the reason why we drank was a lack of power. And in sobriety, lack of power can be our downfall, unless we do the work necessary to change that trend to find a Power Greater than Ourselves to help us make sense of sobriety.

He also said, to those of us with some time and experience, that if we are further up the pike than others, and we have something that works, a method, a path, a way to really step up your game, then it falls to us to share that with somebody else, and not put our lamps under a bushel basket, to use a biblical analogy.

I’ve been talking to a new young person as of late, because we hit the same meetings, and he has a little light, and is receptive about The Work and The Book. So we’ve been talking over coffee and before meetings as of last week.

A few nights ago, I presented him with a sobriety challenge, since he was so keen to share about the book and how important to the book and work was to him.

After following Bob’s Three, Seven, Eleven shuffle … The prayers right out of the book, in steps three, seven and eleven, that changed my life in spades a few years ago, the very same shuffle I still do to this day, I gave him this very same plan. Bought him a journal for his tenth step inventory, and directed him to a You Tube Video of Lorna talking about Nikos Kazanzatkis when he says that:

TO ALWAYS CHOOSE THE SURE THING IS TREASON FOR THE SOUL.

Bob says that if you don’t pray, then why not, because every time you pray, you ratchet up your spiritual life and your sobriety. He said that if I prayed my life would change, and I believed him and I did what he told me to do, without fail or complaint.

MY LIFE DID CHANGE IN SPADES.

If you are always going to the easy path, and not stepping out of your comfort zone and reaching for the Brass Ring, then why bother, you are not going to learn anything new or see something new in sobriety.

I had it all written out on index cards. With the journal, and the step work.

When I asked him about his prayer life, he said he had one, but it was the easy out. He did not prescribe to the book. So I asked him for thirty days to do the Shuffle with me.

He balked.

Oh, I don’t pray. I don’t do God. And I don’t do what the Big Book says, even though we talked over the last month about:

PEOPLE WHO GO TO BIG BOOK MEETINGS AND READ THE BIG BOOK, USUALLY DO WHAT THE BIG BOOK SAYS…

It was obvious my sober young man, is not one of those people.

On Thursday he came to the meeting and avoided me he did not say one word to me or come over to greet me either. Tonight, he skipped the meeting all together.

It was obvious to me that I was barking up the wrong tree, and that I was wasting my time. And I should just let this lie for now.

So you see … If you cannot step out of your comfort zone and push your program forward and you rest on the time you have and you don’t expand your horizons in sobriety, then you are JUST WARMING A CHAIR.

Going to meetings can carry you only so far. At some point, you will have to get off your ass and do something concrete, or you will turn and isolate, stop going to meetings, rest on your laurels:

AND DRINK AGAIN.

I know a certain path that works for me, that guarantees me not to drink on a daily basis. I know it works, because I am working on eighteen years this year, and I haven’t had a drink in all that time.

And when I challenge people with something new that I think can help someone get farther up that road …

THEY LOOK AT ME LIKE I AM FROM MARS …

Fuck me for trying.

Working with Others

I listen to a very small number of sober folks today. I hear a lot of talking, but most of it goes in one ear and out the other, because why waste mental space on people who don’t have anything I want, RIGHT?

For a very long time, I was not sure I had anything to offer the public, in the way of working with others. I stuck close to service. I made a lot of coffee, and have at least two church keys on my key ring today. I am an opener of meetings, a setter upper, a greeter and an all around welcome wagon to several meetings across town today.

Twelve years would pass, before I hit the presentation of THE WORK. Twelve years of running by the book in service, presence, and sharing when appropriate. Still, I was not sure, that I had anything to give away, which helped me, in retrospect, hone my skills at listening attentively, feeling compassion, empathy, and gratitude.

Until the time came when I heard the message I needed to hear, from the right person to change my life and my sobriety.

Lorna warns us of the fragility of people with “Time” in the rooms, not necessarily the newcomer, per se. She says that “Those are the people we should pay close attention to.” For certain reasons, I don’t need to elaborate right now.

Bob, another member who came here in 2012, to the West Island Round Up, the same event Lorna attended too. It was Bob who turned me on to THE WORK, (i.e. the Big Book), and Prayer, (i.e. the 3, 7, 11 shuffle). He told the crowd of people gathered there all this same information. Nobody listened to him.

I, on the other hand, went to him, after his talk and inquired about how to make all this work. He told me what to do. I went home, and did exactly as he said to do. I wrote down the 3rd, 7th, and 11th step prayers, and laminated them and put them on my computer.

And I prayed every day, several times a day, for as long as it took to change my life. Because he told us that if we did pray, and in time, we would become spiritually fit and then the universe (read: God) would order things as He saw fit.

That took about seven months of fervent prayer, not always perfect, but I did my best to pray, honestly and humbly.

One Tuesday night I was sitting in a meeting, and about halfway through my phone rang … very out of the ordinary. Who would be calling me, I had no idea. Nonetheless, I stepped outside and answered the call.

A good thing too.

On the other end was a hysterical young person, who got my number from who, I don’t know, but he called me. That was the day I had something to offer another human being in the program.

That sparked a series of life events that changed the course of my sobriety.

Today I sponsor a few men and women. I have worked my steps. Several times. I’ve read the Big Book through from cover to cover, four times in six years. I finished my last round of steps last fall, with a young person I really wanted what they had. That was a good thing.

A Vision for You says … “Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got …” It took me a long time to trust that I had something to give away, and we don’t know that we’ve even got it ourselves, Lorna is apt to say, “Until we give it away.”

That’s my story and I am sticking to it…

Help Will Always Come

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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 …

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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.