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.

Friday: Prisons

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There are those who suffer within prisons of their own making. In some cases, society has also built a wall around you.

“Therefore, when you members come into the world of A.A. on the outside, you can be sure that no one will care a fig that you have done time. What you are trying to BE – not what you WERE – is all that counts with us.”

Very few people, in today’s rooms, have experience with bringing a meeting Inside the walls of a prison. In the first years of sobriety for me, I participated in bringing meetings inside the prisons here in Montreal. If you have never reached beyond your comfort zone of safe and sober rooms, you are missing out on an experience that will change your life.

The topics of Prison, Suffering, Adversity, Sobriety, were on many minds tonight.

We all have our stories. And every story is important. Our stories, in the rooms are still being written.

A good friend of mine says that, once we relent, and say, We’ve had enough of existing in the prisons of our own making, and we accept the promise of what the book offers, a Spiritual Solution, that WILL change our lives, if we only allow the process to do its work.

Not many people want what we have to offer them. Many still battle within their own heads. Believing that they are good, that everything is just fine, as long as they “cut down” the drink or the drugs.

The holidays are upon us. The time of greatest misery for many in the rooms. Because we can’t just have ONE and be DONE. And hour upon hour the television shows us just what good a time the world is having around us, drinking and celebrating the season of goodness and gift giving.

This is the hardest time to get sober. I got sober in the month of December. it was not a cake walk by any stretch of the imagination. But I persisted. And I won this round.

And in not so long, I will celebrate 16 years sober.

We’ve all experienced the furnace of life lessons. Even in sobriety.

Life is a furnace that continually tests us to make sure we earn our metal.

It gets better.

Yesterday my best friend went to work, having experienced a few days of down in the dumps drama and stress, got on his knees in the office and prayed.

Within an hour of those prayers being said to the Power Greater than Himself, his phone rang, and on the other end was the help he so needed and prayed for.

I told him, He had the number, he used it and called, and help arrived.

Just in time. As needed.

Help will always come when it is asked for.

 

Saturday: Elder Speak …

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Elder Christensen, Right of frame.

Once again it looks like you are passing through rough water. I find it helpful sometimes when things like this happen to consider the destination. If the place I am going outweighs the pain, setbacks, and annoyances of the journey, then the trip is worth it.

I suppose what I am saying is take a moment perhaps to consider your goals. You recently hit a huge milestone in sobriety and in life, and now looking forward it might be a good idea to think about the big picture of who you want to be and what you want to accomplish.

When you have a vision for yourself, annoying and offensive people and situations cease to be worth your mental energy worrying about. Understand also that your experience will always set you apart from people who don’t get it yet. Sometimes a teachers greatest asset is being patient with stupidity.

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If life gets too hard to stand, Kneel.

I talk to God, an awful lot. And I know this about God, that if I pray, and wisdom does not come to me personally, then I need to go out and listen to my friends talk.

Wisdom direct, is a vertical process, top – down.
Wisdom indirect, is a horizontal process – person to person.

They say, that our minds are not some place we should go often, or ALONE.

I sought spiritual advice last night at the meeting, from a man I trust with my troubles. Before I went to bed, I sought advice from one of my spiritual directors, who use to live here, but now is back in Provo, Utah, and Brigham Young University.

Thankfully we have a Google Hang Out tonight. And it’s General Conference Weekend in Salt Lake City, at the Temple. One of my favorite Speakers, Elder Robert D. Hales, has been admitted to hospital, at 85, he is not doing so well.

Last General Conference he gave a talk on Becoming a Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I wept listening to his talk. He is involved with The First Quorum of the Seventy.

Last night, I scheduled off from my service commitment for next week, opting to see if I could get a reservation at my bed and Breakfast in Ottawa for Thanksgiving weekend next weekend.

Yes, Thanksgiving comes early in Canada. The second Sunday in October.

Then we hold our breaths because the Halloween shops opened over a month ago, to get a jump on business. And after Thanksgiving, it is a game to wait and see WHO puts up Christmas Decorations first, in the city malls and stores.

That usually does not take long at all.

Last year, the Pharmaprix we use regularly, started playing Christmas music in November, and people freaked out and went crazy.

It was obvious that they had to turn it off because of the backlash from customers.

I’ve decided to back off the meeting that is causing me strife. I don’t need the headache, and its not like I need to hit a meeting every night of the week. I’m far enough from the drink, but I know, that I am never far from a drink.

The length of my arm, so to speak.

Monday and Friday serve their purpose well. And I don’t have to sit in a room with people who are Spiritual Sand Paper.

You know what that feels like, “Sand paper on a baby’s ass ???”

God is listening. And I hear Him quite clearly.

The Spiritual Connection and the Spiritual Principles are there for a reason.

I know how to use them …

 

 

Friday: After the Honeymoon Ends …

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The fact of life, when you are sober is, Life Does Not Stop, It Keeps On Going.

I know that feelings pass, as the days go by. The less we hold on to impermanent things, the better off we are. I’m sad about the death of a man who was uber talented. But that was yesterday. Being so many degrees separated from the epicenter of tragedy, tells me that I can mourn and move on.

So we move on.

I left really early, so I could commune with the dead via music. I arrived at the church with PLENTY of time to do my thing, ALONE. About ten minutes to seven, I was finished setting up and I went to sit outside.

Squirrels were bouncing through the tree canopy. And something very spiritual happened. Something I know to be true to me, that hasn’t happened in a very long time.

Birds are a very significant signs in my life. As I was sitting outside on the steps, I looked in a tree nearby, and there was a Red Breasted Robin sitting in the branches.

She came out of the tree, and landed about six feet from where I was sitting. And she came close and ran around the ground around where I was sitting.

The red breasted robin is significant, because the robin is a spiritual manifestation of my grammy. When ever she comes to visit, it is the robin who shows up.

All my dead relatives came back as birds. My grammy, my grampy and Memere.

That was spiritually significant. I had not been visited like that in a very long time.

We sat a full house, and then some. Lots of visitors from out of town. We are amid the summer visitor rush. The Friday night meeting is unique in many ways. There is not another meeting like ours, in all the city, on the English side.

Tonight’s read spoke about: The Honeymoon. Or as some may call it, the Pink Cloud period that sometimes takes place, in the weeks and months following our entry into the rooms.

Once you sink into your chair and you find your voice, one begins to participate in greater abilities. It seems, for some, that the realities of life, have been suspended.

We spend a little time with our fellows, and some of those fellows become friends as we find our ways. That is a good thing. We may need a little respite from the insanity we have come to learn how to let go of.

My warning to newbies is always the same …

You might be sitting on your pink cloud and everything seems in order as the insanity you walked away from is abated for a while. But like all things natural, life does go on around us. It just does not take a vacation.

It is just waiting for us. And hoping that we’ve learned something minimal by now is the key, so that when the cloud edge comes, you don’t fall off of it, and hit the ground with a THUD. Some go back out, and drink and use again, shit happens.

I’ve seen this happen. So I encourage our men and women to stick close to others in the rooms. Find commonalities. Use the rooms as they present themselves to you.

You CAN, figuratively, GET anything you need from the rooms. That worked for me famously. But times have changed. The rooms fifteen years ago, are not the rooms of 2017.

For me, the first eleven months were really great. I was connected. I had a sponsor that i was connected to with an umbilical cord through my first anniversary.

Sobriety, like life, happens, and sometimes sober people do really Un-Sober things.

At the eleventh month mark, I met my then boyfriend, and the race took off.

That Christmas of 2002, hubby went home to Ottawa and he gave me keys to the apartment we live in today, and said I could stay here, while he was gone.

I never left … tee hee

That was the beginning. Once that train left the station, it never stopped.

The honeymoon was definitely OVER.

Learning how to have a sober relationship took A LOT of work. Learning how to be responsible for another human being, was the beginning of my reaching the point I had been looking for for the whole of my life.

When does a boy become a man ??? Gay or Straight, the answer is the SAME.

Boys become MEN when we learn to put the needs of our significant others before our own.

Putting a home together took YEARS.

This apartment was sterile, dirty white. Take out containers were all over the place. The tv was black and white and had rabbit ears. We did not have a computer. We did not have food in the fridge. We did not have two nickles to rub together.

There were 300 empty beer bottles on the balcony, that took months and months to return, so we could buy groceries. Hubby was a pot head, so we had to cleanse the apartment of weed, rolling machines and papers … UGH !!!

Yesterday I was reorganizing the closet and I found another rolling machine, and a package of papers … Does this ever end ???

Needless to say, it was one thing after another. Mental illness happened. I learned how to care for my boyfriend who was sick for almost a year. That was a huge challenge.

Then he woke up, and we got married …In November 2004.

The Honeymoon was deferred until December that year. Things were honeymoonish for a few weeks.

That did not last for long.

Thirteen years would pass, until that final PROMISE came to pass …

Fear of People and of Economic Insecurities will leave us …

The grind of life took us on a life changing journey together. And we survived it.

In year thirteen and beyond life got exponentially better.

It was clearly NOT a cakewalk by any stretch of the imagination.

We both worked our asses off. Went back to school, we amassed 5 University degrees between us.

Sobriety grew on us and not without its challenges.

Life is SO much better today than it was a little more than fifteen years ago.

I had 11 months of non stop meetings. I had 11 months of a sponsor who was part of my life on a daily basis. I had aftercare rehab counseling for two years when I got sober this time. I had everything I needed and NOT a single thing more.

I worked my ass off, for twelve years in sobriety, before BOB came into my life and turned my sober life upside down. I thought I was doing everything right, WRONG …

Bob introduced me to Intense Prayer and Meditation, like I had never heard before.

Three – Seven – Eleven …

My sobriety was definitely enhanced.

Twelve through fifteen was all about learning MORE about the book.

Year Fifteen has been one Hellacious, Terrible, Emotional, Nightmare.

I never want to go through this kind of pain ever again in my life.

In ten days, I will be Fifty years old.

Hallelujah !

It works if you work it.

Friday: The Quality of Surrender

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It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The first really BIG weekend in Montreal has begun. The F1 Grand Prix, is the penultimate event of the season for the city and the millions of people who come from far and wide to participate.

It only gets better from here, with the Festival Season that opens over the next month.

I did nothing all day. I did my shop early and came home and crawled back into bed. I’m not opening any longer, which frees me to head out a little later than usual. I got ready to go and took my time in getting to the church. The transfer out was quick, and I arrived at the church to find a friend sitting on the church steps, enjoying the sun, so I sat with him for a bit and chatted.

A new group of young men are on the stage to open and set up. We, (read: the group conscience) spoke and we handed the keys and responsibilities to them, so that they would be responsible and show up and become service hounds in the process.

Experience over the years has taught us one true thing …

Service will keep you sober.

The reading WAS Step Three …Actually … The Step Three Prayer.

I heard many things spoken. But one young man said something that I actually wrote down. Step Three is an important step. It is the first step where a prayer is asked of us.

It asks of us to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him.

Step Three reads: Made a decision, to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

This appears on Page 63 of the Big Book.

The three most important words in the Big Book, appear on page 112.

Read This Book …

This young man said: Surrender has to come first, before we utter this prayer out loud. Our surrender affects everything else that comes afterwards.

The Quality of my surrender dictates how everything will turn out.

How much do we surrender when we pray ? 10%, 50%, 100%

I can concede that I need to “Turn it over,” But in my case, my surrender usually has conditions, or the usual, “Yeah BUT.” My sponsor said to me, not long ago, that I needed to open my fist and turn my hand towards God and Let Go Absolutely.

With No Conditions, or Explanations or Expectations.

Surrender is the whole point of getting sober.

I can’t – He Can – So I will let Him.

We cannot do this thing alone, which is why we need to go to meetings, and we also need others. I know, for me, that when I pray to God, I am either going to get an Up/Down response, or if the Up/Down does not come, I need to go to a meeting and listen to my friends and get a vertical person to person response.

If God does not talk to me directly, I usually find that He speaks through other people in any meeting I go to. It usually works that way for me.

Lately, God needs my attention. And I either accept that or I do not. I know that when God needs my attention, he removes something from me, in order that I have more of me to pay attention to Him.

That is either the removal of people, places, things or activities.

We believe that we always need to be engaged. Always doing something, helping everyone else, trying to wrest control over a situation that might be OUT of control.

I’ve been spread too thin for too long. People have taken advantage of my good will. And eventually, I get pushed over my personal limit of Fuck It …

So I sat in front of the church this evening, with nothing to do, talking to a friend.

That was a particularly good God Moment.

When I got sober the second time, I was ready to surrender. And in the moment when I got on my knees and prayed to God, I surrendered.

The rest you can say is history.

Because I am right here, right now.

And We did not drink today.

And together, the entire room, spoke with one voice, The Third Step Prayer.

It was a good thing …

Thursday: Good for another Year !

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Today, I paid my yearly domain fees. And we embark on another year of writing. The first post on this blog was posted on November 30th 2006. That is 11 years worth of writing. And today begins year number 12.

Earlier today, Face Book reminded me of things I have written in the past, that back then, were cross posting across all my social media. Today, it does not, except Twitter. On April 20th 2009, I wrote an extensive post on the Gospel of John. And as I re-read that passage today, I was amazed at how academically oriented I was, because I was still in University at that time. And I thought to myself …

I can’t believe I wrote that post.

It was amazing to me today, to see what and how I was writing throughout my university career. I mean, I don’t write like that today, except once in a blue moon when I really write something that is useful and pertinent.

I only kept a few of my course folders from university when I was studying Scripture and the Gospels and my Gnostic class notes.

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

Last weekend, I spent 5 days with Mama and Lu. Part of that time was spent crafting with Lu. Play Doh, Coloring, Puzzles, Markers, Stickers, so forth and so on. I had not touched a coloring book, oh, in ages, I guess. Mama told me that she found coloring with Lu to be really therapeutic and calming. So one night we sat and colored together and I left my pages tacked to the refrigerator there at home for them to look at.

Today, while out shopping, I went into our local Art Shop, which is on the ground floor of the mall, and they had a HUGE selection of Adult Art Therapy coloring books. I looked through all of them until I found one that appealed to me. In the end, I came away with 100 Mandalas.

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What is a Mandala ?

Oriental Art. a schematized representation of the cosmos, chiefly characterized by a concentric configuration of geometric shapes, each of which contains an image of a deity or an attribute of a deity.

With that book, I selected a deluxe set of colored pencils, instead of markers, because some of the art is very intricate and requires a fine hand with color.

If you haven’t colored since you were a kid, I highly recommend it. Turn off the computer and the tv, turn off your phone, and spend an hour coloring. You will feel so invigorated, it may change the way you spend your days.

So that is a thing …

This evening we sat a small group of folks. Passover and Easter have come to an end, and we were missing a good number of regulars. And tonight we heard a young lady speak. We are taught that we never say NO, unless we just can’t get up there and talk.

I’ve spoken before about the trials and tribulations of our young men and women. Young people in their twenties, going into their thirties, have difficulty finding their ways into sobriety and life, when they are so young. Unlike a good number of men and women who are much older than they are.

A young person, coming in on their first pass, into a room full of old people IS daunting.

Because they don’t see anyone like themselves. And in the suburbs and locations Off Island, many of those far off communities are filled with older folks who have moved off island to either retire or raise their kids away from the city. Our young lady grew up off island, in the burbs, to parents who were in the program while she grew up.

Kids being kids, we cannot, as members, get in the way of their spiritual journeys, I’ve heard it said by parents, in the program, while raising kids, that yes, they brought their kids to meetings early on, and yes, those parents can be positive role models for their kids to … Not to Do What We Did…

In the end though, they had to allow their young people to do what they needed to do, as in grow up and move away, go to school. They, as parents, could only do so much, without blatantly saying … Anything.

One night our young lady heard her mother tell her that:

Well, you know, You have the ISMS …

Having family in the program while we are drinking, can be both a blessing and a curse. But the one thing that stuck with her early on is this …

She could not enjoy her drinking while she tried to control it, And she could not control her drinking while she was enjoying it …

A conundrum for sure …

In the end, at twenty seven, she made it in. And in a couple of months will celebrate three years. Having to get up and tell people what it was like, what happened and what it is like now, she told us all the things she is NOT doing concerning her sobriety. Which spoke to her, telling her that she really had nothing to say, because she was resting on her laurels and really is not engaged as she should be, and she knew that going into tonight.

They tell us and the book says: If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it then you are ready to take certain steps…

I know for me, in years One through Twelve, I was going to meetings, working my steps, and going through the motions. In year twelve is when Bob from NYC sparked a fire under my ass and told me what I needed to do.

The Three, Seven and Eleven Shuffle …

Go to your Big Book … Copy out the Three, Seven and Eleven Prayers, right from the book, and post them where you will see them every day.

Some days, prayer is hard in coming. Some days I cannot be bothered. And some days, I cannot pray at all. But I see those words daily. They are on my computer … Where I put them almost four years ago.

Sometimes I just read the words. Sometimes I pray the words. Either way, I am taking the forward action of acknowledging the word printed in front of me.

I was told that if I did that, that my life would change. And in a matter of months, God shifted the cosmos for me and indeed, my life did change.

And that life is still in motion.

That was the advice I gave the crowd tonight as I gave away the Desire Chip ….

If you do this, and you pray, and then return to page 164 and read and re-read A Vision for You, you will know what you need to move forwards, and with that knowledge of what you really have to offer another human being, when your bank is full, then God will bring people to you..

In His Time and in His Wisdom…

It never fails …