Seasonal Changes

The weather has been stellar over the past few days. Stellar enough to crate the winter gear, and closet the winter coats. I’ve changed up my wardrobe, and ordered some new clothes suitable for warmer weather.

My usual train of thought is this … Everything I buy, clothes wise, needs to be suitable to wear all year round, meaning, I don’t change up many things seeing I have been in sport mode for a couple of years now. So if I buy it, I need to be able to make it work, in four seasons.

I’ve amended that worry, and have invested in clothing that will work in Spring, Summer, and Fall. It’s all good.

With the weather getting warmer, the season of the terrace begins furiously. The sooner a bar or restaurant can roll out its terrace, outside, the better. That means more shift work for wait staff, more business for the location, and options to sit outside and eat and drink.

There is the rub …

Alcoholics are seasonal creatures. And tonight, I spoke the warning to my Tuesday group. Seasonal sober people are legion. Those who come in late in the year, in the Fall or towards the Winter, make it through maybe a couple of seasons.

As Fall turns to Winter, folks will triangulate the time they spend above ground, from Home to any particular meeting, because the colder it gets outside, and the depth of snow on the ground, dictates who will venture out into the cold, and for how long, to reach their desired destination.

In the Winter months, attendance numbers drops drastically. There are two groups. Those who decide to shelter in place, and hibernate for the entire Winter, and those intrepid souls who do come out, in any weather, because their sobrieties depend on making meetings, all year round.

I’ve been sitting in one particular meeting for eighteen years. And have seen a lot of things take place in front of me. And I said so much tonight. Our ladies, think me sexist and making obvious derogatory remarks about women, but the truth is harder than fiction.

I know, for a fact, who made it, and who did not. I know, for a fact who drank again, and who did not. Sit in a room for eighteen years, and you will see what I have seen and can attest to this line of truth for yourself.

As soon as it warms up and the terraces open, on the very first good day to ride ones bike through Montreal, it happens, like clockwork.

Many of my women I speak about fall into the trap, like clock work. They ride their bike, and after a bit, they get thirsty. They roll up to a terrace, park their bikes, take a seat … AND DRINK AGAIN !!!

I said this tonight, and one young lady said out loud that she indeed was a woman, feeling insecure and anxious, about the terraces outside and spoke those words … I want to drink again.

She heard me make the warning. Then she walked out of the meeting before the meeting ended. The rest is up to her higher power.

Seasons …

I am once again, learning the hard lesson that not everybody is meant to be in your life, for the rest of your life, or just for a season. Being a male who is vulnerable, in the rooms, is detrimental to relationships. Because not all people are willing to see themselves, or you for that matter, in all their vulnerability.

I live a sober life, to the best of my ability. But I have my limits of sucking it up and being a trooper and not letting life, as it happens, affect me outwardly. Like I said, I have my limits. I just cannot sit on my emotions and allow them to eat me from the inside out. I might not say too much about that when that happens.

When I am displeased, I try, to say very little. And if I do speak, the message is usually clear. My friends do not like me when I am truthful. People would rather me sit in a room, and go through my life, like SPOK. Be a Vulcan who feels nothing, says nothing, and does nothing, but be a robot who is placid, quiet and in control at all times.

I’m not a robot.

And now I am paying the price for being human. I did not agree with a certain decision, made by someone I loved dearly. I did not say enough to make my point, but kept my counsel to myself. Which has initiated a game of chicken.

Take two sober people. One goes to meetings, works steps, works with others, and does THE WORK. The other, does none of the listed work. I just wrote down. One sober, One a Dry Drunk.

At some point our character defects are going to go head to head. That is where we are right now. Playing chicken with silence.

I hate silence. I think that is the greatest punishment you can heap on another human being. My family did that to me until my father went to his grave in silence. It has taken me more than a year, post death, to finally come around and talk to him, I do that quite often these days.

That is a thing …

The trend of people who walk away, because I have an emotional response to outside stimuli is growing. People cannot cope with their friends being vulnerable. Because for the longest time, the silent understanding in the rooms here is … feel nothing, say nothing, do nothing.

That all changed for me when I hit the hardest emotional bottom in sobriety I had ever hit to date. I had nowhere else to go, but to cope with my emotions, sitting in a meeting, while everybody else just watched me crackle and fall apart. Not one soul said those words to me …

I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL, LET ME TELL YOU HOW I DEAL WITH THAT.

I’ve only heard these words spoken by one human, Lorna, God rest her soul. Not everybody who heard her tell that specific story at a round up, heard her.

Sometimes I hate sobriety, because I try to navigate pain the best way I know how. I make it most of the time, but at other times, I am just knuckling it badly.

More to come.

17 Sober Holidays

Another successful holiday is in the books. The plans I’d spent weeks and months putting together, came to fruition. The good thing about being sober, so long, is that, we get to chose with whom we celebrate the holidays with and why.

In my experience, And I said this to one of my guys tonight, after dinner, was this … Not in the last few years, have I ever witnessed another sober human being, walk up to me and say those magic words, and they are:

“I Know How You Feel, Let Me Tell You How I Dealt With That.”

Lorna and Bob, two long sober members from New York spoke these words to us, in person, a number of years ago. There are only a few people, guys I work with, who heard these words too, because I have shared them with my guys. It was obvious, when we sat together as a Round Up Group, many folks I know, forgot those words. And I muse that, when I was in a difficult place, nobody had those words, as Lorna says are “Of Ever Lasting Life.”

There are folks, I know today, when I show up to particular meetings, out of my regular schedule, like tonight’s meeting on Christmas Night, at my old home group where I spent the first TWELVE YEARS of my sobriety, say to me, “Why don’t you call me ever?” Most people I socialize with already have my number, because I give it freely.

If I give someone my number, there is a reason I do that. So that THEY would use it, when I ask them to use it. People don’t like being told what to do, even when they tell me they are in difficulty, and they ask my advice and sit and listen to what I say in response. Usually couched in my response, if not spoken directly is this … “If you ask me for advice, and I give it freely, because I make time for all of my friends, is that you reciprocate!”

I walked into a meeting with one of my dinner guests tonight, and half a dozen people noticed what I was or wasn’t wearing. I was out of my usual choice of clothing, because I was entertaining tonight, so I went a little conservative, instead of my sporty spice look. They did not ask me how I was doing, or wish me Merry Christmas, they only wanted to comment on my outfit.

A handful of others, as I made the rounds before the meeting, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas that was sitting in the room, and shaking every hand, said to me …”Why don’t you ever call me?” My standard response came out quite easily. “If you really wanted to speak to me, you, yourself, would pick up that 2000 pound phone and use it for the purpose it was made for … To Be Used.

How much does a cell phone weigh, I ask you ?

Folks know I am reachable, 24 hours a day, and that I always answer my phone. I just don’t go out of my way, with just any alcoholic, to spend time, listening to them piss and moan. Tonight, there were a number of miserable young people sitting in the meeting. Kids, who, last year, celebrated their first sober holiday in living memory, many of them made it to year two. Because I told them, to their faces, that “if they stayed sober over last Christmas, that they indeed would stay sober.” Many of them listened to that advice and were successful. A handful did not make it. And were back for round two tonight. I watch my young people closely. I am present for all of them. I show up, so that THEY show up too.

So many people are miserable in their lives, and those people drink. There are also miserable people in sobriety, and they don’t drink. I talk to my guys often about this paradox. People stop drinking, yet they maintain their misery, like a rock around their necks.

When really … They can jettison that rock at any moment. When I say that to them, they look at me quizzically, as if to say, “Yeah Right.” You make it sound so easy. And things are easier said than done. Because folks make that conscious decision to remain miserable and sad.

We read from the Big Book and A Vision For You tonight. The portion of the passage that says at some point we come to the day that we cannot imagine life WITH alcohol or WITHOUT it. THEN, we will know loneliness unlike anything we ever known. And we reach the jumping off point.

We will want the end.

The reading goes on to speak of the fellowship and what we can do for each other, when we reach the jumping off point. When you come to your Home Group, and you connect, and you STAY, your life will change.

I show up so that others see me show up to tell them that ANYTHING is possible. It CAN be DONE. It takes Work. Consistency. Faith. and Action.

People WITH TIME, look at me strangely. People with little time look at me strangely. They cannot figure out, why I am so serene and happy.

Vulnerability takes Courage.

For a couple of years, I’ve been vulnerable. I speak my mind. I share honestly, and to the point. I am out there, in good times, and in bad times. I tell people when I am feeling sad, or angry, or happy. I no longer edit my words in public. People do not like it when I am deadly honest. People cannot understand why I speak honestly and with soul.

I am an Alcoholic who wants to get well. To live a good life. To know why I tick the way I tick, and to work on my character defects and shortcomings.

We might work steps, some more often than others. Many forget that Steps Six and Seven are the steps we work for the rest of our lives, on a daily basis.

My guys know this. And they struggle the same way I struggle, when they come to me and ask my advice, when sometimes I have no idea what to say to them, as I tell them how I dealt with those very same issues. The only way I know how to help another human is to tell them the truth, even if I don’t have a clue, what I am supposed to say, at least I say something.

Over the weekend I was home alone. And I rang up a friend, I’ve known for more than forty years now. Facebook, that necessary evil, makes it possible to keep in touch with people who matter to me, sober or not.

She asked me about me, and I asked her about her. I told her my story, and she told me one of hers. She said, and I quote … “If you don’t concentrate on your step work when it comes to certain people in my life, actually STEP the exact issue, you are going to become as bitter and angry as they are.”

She goes on … You know steps better than I do, of course I do, she’s not one of us. But she knows enough about me today, that she can offer that kind of advice, because I will listen to her when she talks to me. Because, we often don’t have an opportunity to talk for over an hour, like we did Sunday night. She was right. I shared that at the meeting tonight.

Everybody looked at me strangely. What are you talking about? I knew what I was talking about. Now I know what I can do now. The conundrum of sobriety is this … There aren’t a whole lot of people I want to talk to, to any depth, because only a handful of people I know today, would even offer to invest in me. Even sober …

A long timer said tonight, that he’d been hitting many more meetings than usual because his shift at work has changed. But he notices the disparity of not a whole lot of long sober people. They are either moved away, sick themselves, or dead. He hangs around with NEW BLOOD. He sees how many of us, who were around or, more, still around from the years when we got sober together. Few of us, are still around.

There are too many chair warmers. People want to get sober. Yet, they don’t want to put in the time and the work necessary, to get where some of us are, on the path to happy, joyous and free.

Not long ago, one of my kids, after facing a raft of losses in his life, walked into the meeting, on Thursday, a couple of weeks ago, and said to me and to God, as I stood there “Where are the fucking PROMISES?” God certainly has not dropped them on me,” at his almost ninety days of sobriety.

New comers hear us read those pesky promises day in day out, week in and week out. And they suppose that God is gonna drop Promises on them like Manna from Heaven, as needed, with no toil or tilling the ground so that the garden bears fruit.

A garden is not gonna bear fruit or anything, if you aren’t going to get your hands dirty, and get down and dirty in the mud with the rest of us. So many people want the PAYOUT with no LABOR.

I look at them and a giggle to myself. If you only knew.

Promises don’t drop out of heaven like Manna. They come when you invest in THE WORK. And you put your time in getting sober. You just cannot walk in the door and expect God to just lay it on you because you just walked in the room.

Because that’s exactly what I said when I came in this second time around. I actually gave God a list of “Things I wanted, Expected, because I HAD ARRIVED!”

Long Sober folks laughed at me and said: KEEP COMING BACK !

Talk about lessons in humility.

I worked my ass off for the whole of my sobriety. My best friend said it all when I took my 17th chip a couple of weeks ago … I don’t stop, I am always looking for the next big challenge. I ask people for help, even if they are less sober than I am. Newcomers saved my ass this past year. My lady friends who worked steps with me changed my life in ways I cannot explain.

Some of my kids are lock, stock and barrel, Confident Adult Women.

I’ve watched them grow up around me and in front of my own eyes. And that is what I wanted this round. So I asked for help, and help arrived. Because I was willing to sit, read, and to listen.

Because some of my women have solid, hard core sponsors, who don’t hand out bull shit, but expect hard work and honesty from their women. Some of my friends HAVE IT. Many do not. But they could, if they put in the work to get better, instead of pissing and moaning about how miserable they are in sobriety.

And I am oft to say … You know if what we have does not work for you, we’ll refund you your sobriety, and you can go drink again, and see if that works better.

Common wisdom of people who are long sober, or sober longer than I am, say this … Alcoholism might stalk me in the back of my head, and I hear it speak to me and woo me into the false idea that a drink would be nice.

Long timers, who are sober twenty plus years, know the kinds of drinkers and addicts they were when they got sober. They know how insane their lives were, and none of us are going to give it up for the chance to try some new drug or flavor of alcohol that some of our young kids drank or drugged with.

Our young people have that conscious choice in front of them. They can root and stay, and work and learn, and get better, OR they can warm a chair and bide their time, until the opportune moment they can say FUCK IT and go back out and drink and use some more.

Common wisdom also says that the odds of finding a better buzz, or a better drug, on a relapse will be better, is false. Because eventually you are going to wind up in a worse place the next time they chose to use, a bigger jackpot, even jail, or institution, or God Forbid, DEATH.

I know misery. I’ve been miserable too. And I am one of those men who will admit that in open community. Not many pay attention to anything I say.

But if I wear something irregular, they WILL SAY something to me.

Funny that !

I don’t have time for misery or anger or bitterness. My nuclear family have invested, lock, stock, and barrel on the alcohol, and the misery, anger and bitterness. Because they speak to me in those kinds of words.

I know those words. And from my mouth to God’s ears …

I WILL NEVER BECOME YOU !

I’ve been sober now seventeen Christmases. I’ve been sober longer than all the years I spent drinking and drugging. I’ve spent more holidays sober now, than I have ever, in my life, even as a kid. Because in my family, alcohol was a food group. If you did anything, it was bracketed by an alcoholic beverage of some kind. Beer or Spirits.

I’ve never been so cognizant of how subtle the fine line of sanity and insanity. Because I skate on that line often. And I know how precarious that skate is sometimes. So I stick with the winners. I suit up and I show up for my life, on a daily basis.

I heard a guy talk on Instagram earlier before I started writing this post and he said … IF YOU WANT CHANGE, IT IS EVERY DAY.

EVERY DAY !!!

EVERY DAY !!!

CONSISTENTLY, RELIGIOUSLY, WHEN YOU WANT TO AND WHEN YOU DON’T. WHEN PEOPLE SEE YOU, AND WHEN THEY DON’T.

IF YOU AREN’T IN THE ARENA WITH ME GETTING YOUR ASS KICKED LIKE ME, I DON’T WANT TO HEAR YOUR CRITICISM.

Brene Brown … The Man in the Arena Speech. Teddy Roosevelt.

CHEAP SEATS ARE EASY. GET IN THE ARENA AND FIGHT FOR GOD’S SAKE. BECAUSE IF YOU AREN’T FIGHTING LIKE ME, YOU HAVE NO ROOM TO CRITICIZE ME.

Some sober folks are in the cheap seats, and they want to criticize, and not do any heavy lifting. Sobriety isn’t cheap seats, work. Sobriety is IN THE ARENA FIGHTING FOR ONES LIFE and SANITY.

Merry Christmas !



Monday: Words Matter

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Always be mindful of your words. Which words you use, How you use them, Why you use them, and to Whom you use them with.

It has been said that, “It isn’t important what you say, but how you made them feel.”

I never know, on any given day, if anyone I know, pays attention to anything that I say in any meeting that I attend. A very long time ago, I watched someone have a freak moment, when, after making coffee for a period of time, got resentful, and had an ego attack, because people did not verbally Thank Him, in person.

He, in the end, left that particular meeting, calling people who went to that meeting ungrateful. That was a long time ago. I survived him.

Doing service, is a thankless job. Nobody ever says thank you. Not that I’ve been waiting for someone to sing my praises for my ability to make a mean urn of coffee … Or notice that I am the one who sets up chairs and tables at several meetings, during the week.

Marcus Aurelius talks a lot about praise and living a simple and humble life. Not bringing attention to yourself, but also, being mindful of what you do in the world, to be a “citizen, a participant, and a good human being.” Always thinking of the greater good, when it comes to what we do in public. Praise is unnecessary, because in the end, all those people, you need praise from, will eventually die.

We will all die one day and return to The Logos, that which created us …

There are certain young people, I am aligned towards. The ones that I take special interest in, for one reason or another. They know who they are. For the most part, I keep a low profile. I may be the first one in the door, and make any particular room habitable for a meeting, but my service to my friends is something I do for myself. Because I was told that doing service was the best way to remain sober.

A few weeks ago, I told you the story about THE BEER IN THE BOX …

After hearing my young lady friend talk about that beer, that she was hell-bent on drinking, even though she was almost a year sober, I did two things.

Within the meeting, I shared a story I heard told by a WOMAN who was thirty-one years sober, when she, herself, faced a possible slip, and what she did to avoid it.

At the end of that share, I quoted Mother Teresa who said …
“Well Done, You must continue to protect your special gift …”

That gift was the woman’s sobriety.

The second thing I did was to give a simple suggestion.

We all know that sometimes when we talk, nobody listens. Because I know that over my time, I have offered suggestions to my friends, and they smile at me ruefully, as if to say, “Aw, he means well, but I have no intention of following anything he says to me …”

Been there, Done that.

But to my young lady friend, I told her to go home and write out what she was about to do, that would be … TO DRINK AGAIN.

Little did I know, something I suggested, would make all the difference to her, in the end. Because it was that particular exercise she employed, that KEPT HER SOBER.

Tonight she came to the meeting and proudly told me her solution.

She went to the graduation party with her friends. But before the event, she went on to Ebay and purchased a SODA, that was five years old. The age of the beer that was sitting in that box, she had intended to drink, at said party.

I had hoped that her friends, knowing she was sober, would have her best interests in mind when it came to her sobriety.

And I did ask her this question.

At the party, she drank the SODA and NOT the beer. However, her beer was opened, and everyone else, drank from it, so she would be included in the ritual formally.

My young lady friend did take her year chip and is still sober today. She will graduate in a few weeks, and then she is off to Peru, and finally to Seattle for work.

Sadly, she won’t be returning to Montreal.

You never know when something you say to someone will sink in for someone you are talking to, and make a serious difference in their lives.

I do my best for all of my friends.

Sometimes that goodness comes back to me ten fold.

Thursday: Let’s Make a Deal

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Every so often, one is in the right place at the right time, to hear a message that speaks directly to you. A few days ago, I said something in a meeting, about myself. Tonight, I heard those same words, spoken back to me, confirming that observation I had made about myself was, indeed, true.

Those words are: “When I Think I Need!”

Our lady speaker tonight, is the sponsor of one of our members of the Thursday meeting. Our speaker is 74 years old, and has been sober, more than 44 years. She comes from Old World Montreal, and Griffintown.

For the history buff, Griffintown, is located in a very desirable location in the city. It is in the East end, and close to Old Montreal. A very long time ago, the only desire of folks who lived in Griffintown of old, was to GET OUT OF GRIFFINTOWN, and not go back.

It was said tonight, how ironic that many of us could not afford to get into Griffintown today. Because real estate prices are astronomical. Way back when, Griffintown was a terribly POOR section of the city. Many had next to nothing, but family, and whatever two nickles they had to rub together.

Come from nothing, stories of alcoholism, are fraught with pain and serious issues.

We laughed and we were struck, stone cold silent, too.

Two things that stuck out for me tonight. One, she mentioned a story about the old television game shows, like Let’s Make a Deal, and The Price is Right. The venerable Monty Hall and Bob Barker. Two men, the world over, came to know very well, if you grew up, in the era, of these shows among many others.

When I was a boy, my mother’s mother, Memere, spoke very little English. Coming from Quebec, she was entirely French. And in those days, she used to talk to me in French, that I remember. To help her learn English, Learn how to grocery shop in English, and Learn her numbers, so forth and so on, watching TV game shows was what we did daily.

The second thing that struck me was, ” When I Think I need …” I heard her say these words, at the tail end of her share tonight. It came back to me this way, because the other night, we were talking about Step One, because a newbie was in the room.

I have said, in the past, that the first time I was getting sober, the messaging was way off. And because of that, I did not stick and stay. And I surely did not trust a single soul, that they would honestly, have my back, and know better than myself, what was good for me.

At one point, sitting in a late night meeting, my brain went into “I Think I Need” mode. And got stuck there for a very long time. I did not know any better, knowing for sure that I could not or would not trust anyone, with what was going on in my head.

Suffering from “I THINK I NEED, and, The HOLE IN MY SOUL” I was going to end up in really big trouble. At the time, I put my plan into action, I had no idea, what I was going to end up doing and sacrificing, to fill that HOLE.

I know today … that if I even Think that I need something … it is probably true that I really don’t need anything, but MORE A.A.

The second time when Todd (read: God) stepped into my life, turning my will and my life over to Todd (read:God) on a daily basis, taught me, what it was I really needed.

AND THAT WAS TO STAY OUT OF MY HEAD AND TRUST GOD FOR EVERYTHING.

Even today, I sometimes find myself lacking in this department. But I am more mindful of my thoughts, and my decision-making skills. Lately, my memory has been off. And I find that disturbing. When I need a pick me up, I know that all I have to do is close my eyes, and picture Todd (read:God) in my mind’s eye.

I know today, that I need very little.

I know who to turn to and who to trust. I know who has my back and who it is that will tell me surely, quite honestly, “Maybe you just need to sit and stay a bit harder!”

The words are here, in the program. The people are here, in the program. The answers are here, in the program. 44 years of sobriety, coming from the world of having not very much, and ending up in serious trouble, over and over again, miracles do happen.

At one point, our lady friend tonight, was summoned to her medical office at work, and the doctor had asked her to look at herself in a long mirror. By that time, she was young and pretty. On the flip side, she had not bathed in weeks, deciding to wear the same old clothes, and just adding a compliment of makeup and baby powder to her wardrobe.

The doctor looked at her and said … “Look at what you have become!” He took out his trusty little pad, and began to write. On that slip of paper, he jotted down a number for A.A. and told her that WE had the answers she needed.

WE, as THEM, Back in the Days, when I was just a child …

Thank God for people who work the phone lines. You don’t hear it very often, people actually admitting that it WAS the phone line that got them in the door, but way back when, before the dawn of a cell phone, or the internet, for God’s sake, there was the phone, that brick that usually was stuck to your kitchen wall, or on your bedside table.

As a kid, I had both. A phone in the kitchen, and later on as a teenager, I had a phone in my bedroom, hard-wired into the wall. With a ten foot cord …

She took that number and thought to herself, maybe I should make that call.

It was a good thing she did.

It took a while, but at one point, members brought a meeting to her home. And very gently, after astute observations of her in the meetings, that “She might feel better if she washed herself.” Because, in early sobriety, she could not bathe herself, opting for the more makeup and baby powder route.

We hug in A.A. A LOT.

People would hug her and come away with a layer of baby powder on their clothes, wondering just what she had inside of her clothing.

She bathed for the first time in a very long time.

That was the first miracle for her.

44 years later, many more miracles followed.

We all know what they are tonight. I laughed with her and I was struck silent by much of her story. And several times, while she spoke, I kept asking myself …

For God’s sake … When is the miracle going to happen for her ?

The story was long and arduous. Many people, who come from the world of “not much to very little” have stories unlike the rest of us. And it is well and good that we hear these stories, because it keeps the rest of us humble and grateful for small mercies.

Alcohol is capricious and very capable of removing every good thing in our life.

The good thing is, Once we come in, time and time again, miracles happen, and very often, we get to hear the good stuff, when people get things back in sobriety.

I am grateful for sobriety today.

The Most Grown Up thing She’s ever done

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Tonight, St. Matthias Celebrated 70 years. That’s 70 years of meetings in the same location, beginning in 1947. Montreal Sobriety began back in 1945, with Dave B.

He was a sole alcoholic back in the day. And from one member we moved to a small group that ballooned to twenty members here in Montreal. There were, at that time, only three meetings on the English side.

St. Matthias was born from those three meetings. If you extrapolate over the decades, at a head count of thirty souls sitting in a room, we’ve held over 4,000 meetings, and helped countless men and women over the years. Thousands of people.

At the end of the meeting we held a Sobriety Countdown. All totaled together, we had over 3,145 years of sobriety, and 14 days. With one young man, counting his first day sober.

I know many of our young people. I’ve seen them come in, and not be sure that they are really alcoholic. Because how many young people come in and stay on the first pass ?

Not many.

But those who do make it past their first meeting and stay, the odds are very good that they will stay. It also helps, if, in tonight’s speaker, you have women who stand up and welcome you, and sit with you, and align themselves with you, as our speaker had tonight.

I know this young woman, albeit, from afar. I’ve seen her work. I’ve seen her in service, and I see her in meetings. And every time she speaks, where ever that is, I listen, very intently.

Tonight, my young lady friend became a woman.

Tonight, in listening to her speak, I told her that tonight, was the most grown up thing she has ever done in her life.

The young woman she was when she came in, has been in flux for a while now. I noticed she was in flux, I watched the transformation happen. But I did not know the finer points of the why ? Tonight, I know the why.

I’ve never heard a young woman get up and share the pain I heard tonight. I’ve never heard someone get up and own all of her story like that.

Because when she came in, she hated herself and all she wanted was to die.

It was that still, small, disconnected voice, the day she began this journey that said to her, “You know, you really don’t want to die …!”

She heard the voice, and she took action.

It was the best choice she ever made, because it brought her to tonight.

The best part of her share … “I am so grateful that today, I love myself.”

People talk about loving themselves in a disconnected way. We hear about learning to love ourselves. I believe that only through the furnace of pain and transformation, can we even begin to know what loving ourselves feels like from deep within.

I told her that what I heard from her tonight, was the most grown up thing that she has ever done in her life. That if ONE woman heard the words that were spoken, and if ONE woman walked out of tonight’s meeting and does something for herself, and if ONE woman was touched by what she heard tonight, then our speakers job was complete.

I could not have been any prouder of my young lady friend tonight.

And I told her so.

That might have changed her life. You never know.

People might not want to hear anything I have to say in general, but I am a good judge of character, and I’ve got some time, so take it for what it is.

All it takes is one sentence.

And I choose my sentences wisely, when they matter.

Thursday: By Their Fruits You Will Know Them

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With 500 meetings to choose from in any given week, I’ve chosen to travel into my old neighborhood of Verdun. A very “Salt of the Earth” area of town. People live simple lives of charity and neighborliness.

It is an easy jaunt from downtown to Verdun via Metro. I find getting to a meeting there, is easy. One Metro, a 5 block walk from the station, and you’re there.

There is OLD sobriety in this room. It’s one of the major reasons I moved my Thursday meeting from Old Westmount to Verdun. I am learning what sobriety is supposed to look like after fifty.

I may not like what I am seeing. But, I go there nonetheless.

Long sober people have their ideas about me, and that is fine. I’ve burned a few bridges over the years with people and places. My sober observations still matter to me, because I know many of the old sober folks, from all around town.

They may not like me, and tonight a good number of old hens, who I have history with, came to hear the speaker tonight, and only the speaker herself acknowledged me before the meeting, where everyone else walked by like I was not sitting out front with everybody else. And those old hens ignored me all night long.

No love lost there.

The last time I ran into them was at a friend’s mum’s funeral service, that I went out of my way to attend, because some of my long sober gay friends, require presence. And I am always present for my friends, in good times or bad. Because that’s what we do for each other. We stand up for one another when times get tough.

Over the years, I’ve seen a lot in sobriety. And I have shared about it. And people do not like when I “over share,” because I see it as warning my readers of my observations about people, places and things.

I mean really, how does one learn if you don’t write it down for posterity so you can look back at it, and see the lesson from any given meeting.

I find it interesting how some of the old gay men, whom I am acquainted with, look me up and down with disdain. God, I will never be as stuffy and arrogant as some of them.

A meeting is a meeting. And tonight, our lady who spoke was 44 years sober …

44 years … There is some serious sobriety.

What do I know about sobriety at 44 years ?

Sobriety is directly related to the effort and time you put into it.

  • Good sobriety, is an effort.
  • Traveling to meetings is an effort.
  • Joining a group is an effort.
  • Becoming part of is an effort.

We heard all the suggestions we all hear when we first come in.

If you want good sobriety, then you better put into it, what you want out of it.

I am doing what is necessary. I am making an effort to see new people, and hear new stories, from people, who don’t travel into town for meetings.

You may not like me for one reason or another, and that’s fine.

Not every alcoholic likes you. And won’t give you the time of day. And that’s fine.

Treat others, as you would have others treat you in return.

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.

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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 …