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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Have a Happy But Safe New Year's Eve!

Meditation for the Day

As we look back over the year just gone, it has been a good year to the extent that we have put good thoughts, good words, and good deeds into it. None of what we have thought, said, or done need be wasted. Both the good and the bad experiences can be profited by. In a sense, the past is not entirely gone. The result of it, for good or evil, is with us at the present moment. We can only learn by experience and none of our experience is completely wasted. We can humbly thank God for the good things of the year that has gone.

One of the things I am most grateful for from 2011 is that it was the year I found sobriety, recovery, and God. I plan to use this gift for the continuing betterment of myself and for those I love. After all... What good is a true gift if you can't use it to make others happy too?

It was a turbulent year, and there are many things from it that I'm not proud of. There were some very good times as well. My goal is to take what I've learned, and become, into 2012 and make it the best, happiest year possible.

I'll write again tonight, but it will probably be a very late post. As a matter of fact, it'll be the first post of a new year.

For those who drink during the festivities... Have fun, but be responsible. Think not only of your own safety, but that of others.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Symbol of Life

For reasons that I'm not completely sure are appropriate to go into, I have to say that this has been the best day that I've seen in a very long time. I'm very grateful for it.

Work went well too. On the way in, something odd happened though. In all the time I've lived in New Orleans, I've never run across a snake. I know they're around, but I've never walked up on one in town. Outside of town is a different story. I gave the guy a little nudge to get him off the sidewalk. People tend to freak out at snakes and I didn't want it to get hurt. I'm sure there was no cosmic meaning behind the encounter, but it is interesting what Joseph Campbell wrote about their symbolism.

"The snake is the symbol of life throwing off the past and continuing to live."

I can relate to that because, in a way, that's what recovery is about. Shedding the skin of our past selves and behaviors and moving forward into a healthy, productive way of living. I'm not a great interpreter, but that's what I got from it.

Got the day off tomorrow. I'm going to a couple of meetings and I may try to make a New Year's party one of the groups is holding. It's my first Saturday off in a while, so I'm going to try and enjoy it.

Until then, friends, have a happy New Year's Eve Eve.

Sailing the Seas of Truth

About to head out for lunch and then work. Today has been alot better than yesterday by far.

I have to work late, so tonight's will be a pretty late post. Wanted to read today's meditation before leaving. It was very profound and summed up what my life was like for a very long time...

Lying can be like sailing choppy waters. The more we lie, the higher the waves get, and the harder the sailing. When we lie, we feel we've failed ourselves and others. We have to work hard to cover up our lies, and the fear of someone finding out is always with us.

If we ask God for courage to tell the truth, we can be like the sailboat on a clear and calm day. We can enjoy the small waves and the light warm breeze we've given ourselves. Honesty is a good habit, and is easy. With a little faith in our own worth, we can choose the calm waters' honesty and apply our creativity to new, growth-oriented activities instead of covering up old mistakes.

How can I smooth my waters right now?

I plan to smooth my waters today by being the best Jay that I can possibly be. With honesty, courage, and faith there is nothing I can't accomplish... And I consider everyday lived well an accomplishment.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Believe

Bout time for bed. Thought I'd say goodnight again with something positive. I love this song... "Just put your faith in God and one day you'll see..." Here's Believe by Lenny Kravitz. Enjoy!


Loneliness and Prayer

Today has been one of those days where ya run like hell and get absolutely nothing accomplished.

It was a beautiful day too. Felt great outside, sun was shining... it just had a great, positive feel to it. If it hadn't been for me running all over town fruitlessly trying to run errands, I may have enjoyed it more. Eh... Maybe I'm just whining because the day didn't turn out like I expected. Or I feel like I wasted valuable time... Or maybe I'm just lonely. I'm doing very well on my own. Don't get me wrong. But even though I'm working a wonderful recovery, well.... it doesn't mean I'm superhuman. I get lonely.

Not much else to write about. I'm just going to watch some Netflix for a while, then go to bed. I pray for a better day tomorrow. Prayer often requires action, so I will also strive for a better day. Until next time, goodnight and pleasant dreams.

Meditation for the Day

Work and prayer are the two forces, which are gradually making a better world. We must work for the betterment of ourselves and other people. Faith without works is dead. But all work with people should be based on prayer. If we say a little prayer before we speak or try to help, it will make us more effective. Prayer is the force behind the work. Prayer is based on faith that God is working with us and through us. We can believe that nothing is impossible in human relationships, if we depend on the help of God.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Service and Perfectionism

Today had it's ups and downs, but it was a good one overall. It was a very special day that I was not able to take part in, though. But... We take accountability for our actions and we learn from them. And we accept the consequences.

Work was a little more eventful than usual. We had a guy in the dumpster pulling out food. Our boss went out, confronted him and basically ran him off. I was asked to watch him until he was gone. The guy apologized and said he hadn't eaten today. There was a buttload of unopened food in the trash. Not being able to do much for him, and knowing he had to eat, I told him to grab what he could carry. Also if he was going to come back for the rest, he should do it after 6 0r 7 pm. I know it seems gross or humiliating to let someone take that stuff, but he may not have eaten otherwise.

It's sad as hell and says something about our society when a poor person thanks you for turning your head when they go through the garbage.

Then, an elderly lady that I know and like fairly well had some kind of spell out front. We couldn't tell if she was having a stroke, a blood pressure drop, or a diabetic episode. She'd gone cold and clammy, unresponsive but somewhat aware, and her pulse was weak when I checked it. Her pupils didn't dilate, which was good. About as quick as it started, she came back. Pulse was ok again, she was able to communicate... She didn't seem to remember it, so I told her she'd spaced out and wasn't talking to me, which was just rude. She chuckled and at about that time the ambulance pulled up.

I ask God to put me in situations where I can be of some kind of service to others, and today he didn't disappoint.

Got to my meeting waaaayyy early, so I stopped at the park and enjoyed the serenity. When I got to where we meet, I was asked to read the preamble. Thinking I had enough time before the meeting started, I ran down the street to pick up something to fix for dinner. I got back to my seat just in time. Trying to catch my breath, I read. I love reading and giving out chips.

The moderator was a guy I know pretty well. I always enjoy listening to him speak. His topic was perfectionism. One person shared that "great" is the enemy of "good". Eh... I can kinda see that. Another shared that perfectionism is an endless quest because it can never be attained. I liked that more. Most just shared about their close calls with drinking over the holidays. I spoke a bit. Talked about how hard they've been, but thankfully, I haven't had any problems with wanting to go back out.

Anyway... I'm off tomorrow and I have a lot to do. I will, however, sleep in a bit. Looking forward to that.

Goodnight, all.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What Would a Mature Adult Do?

I just got back in from my men's group. It was a birthday speaker meeting. This guy had alot of the same problems that I did finding recovery. He resisted, tried to do it on his own, went to meetings but never got a sponsor, didn't turn it over to God, relapsed... It's not a unique story at all. I've learned that most of the people who found success in the program had a pretty sticky time at first. That doesn't necessarily give one license to run wild with the idea that it's ok to slip and slide before getting a firm grip on sobriety. Other people suffer along the way. Our selfishness told us that we weren't responsible for that pain. I've come to discover that we very much are. Especially when we choose alcohol over the people we love. It may very well be the disease causing that horrible lapse in judgement, but at some point, enough has to be enough.

That makes me wonder how many people question my recovery. It's only natural and very fair that they would. I can tell you that I never planned to be an addict. I didn't wake up one day in grade school and say, "When I grow up, I'm going to lay on the couch drunk everyday and watch The Price is Right." I can also tell you that it would be a pretty grim and somewhat cynical assumption that I would be an active alcoholic for the rest of my life. There's no difference between that and a death sentence. I plan to have a home and a family. It's something that I have always wanted, and now it's more than just possible... It's a certainty as long as I work my program. As long as I am recovering.

The most profound thing I walked away with tonight was something our speaker said his sponsor told him. That when he was faced with a problem or conundrum to ask himself, "What would a mature adult do?" It's such a simple question, but I love it and plan to use it.

The rest of the day was business as usual. Worked most of it. Went to the park before my meeting and saw my ducks... and squirrels...and nutria... The bus driver almost knows me by name now. Really nice guy. We chat and exchange pleasantries almost everyday. He is straight up, old school New Orleanian. I'm almost going to feel guilty when I get my car. I'm sure he'll understand.

Have a wonderful night and God bless!


On my way to the men's group

Monday, December 26, 2011

Very Tired and Very Grateful

I found myself in a better mood today. With all the challenges I've faced in the past couple of days, I stuck through it and came out on top... and I'm exhausted. Proud to say that some of the recent events haven't shaken my recovery. Get used to it people. It's here to stay. ;) I thank God for that little push of strength and courage when I need it. Someone told me that God meets us where we are. He's always there. We just have to open up and let him do his thing.

Now, let's see.... Any news?.... Not really. Waiting on an email to see if our homegroup has a business meeting this week. Hanging with my sponsor Thursday. Gotta furnish this place somewhat, but I think I'll wait to get a couch until I get back from Georgia. I'm not going to put a lot of stuff in here, though. Maybe a plant, and someone is actually lending me a bed. I'll put that in the sunroom. Crazy, huh? Still got a food drive to put together. Good times, but I don't think it's interesting enough to base a movie on.

About to start watching the Saints/ Falcons game. Atlanta just won the coin toss.

There ya go. That's about it for today. Aloha and mahalo....

Goodnight.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Peace, Love, and Jay

Whew. I'm not going to say much about today except that it is almost over. Thank God.

I love Christmas, but this one was the biggest challenge to my recovery yet. I stayed strong and pushed through it, though. I think it was obvious to anyone within 50 yards that I wasn't the happiest elf in the workshop. I owned my feelings, however, and tried to make it as pleasant for everyone around me as possible. Didn't drink. Talked to my sponsor. Called my family... Even my bio-mom. Knowing that a conversation with her wouldn't be very productive, I still wanted to wish her a Merry Christmas. She didn't disappoint. The first thing she tells me regarding her holiday is about the laxative she took this morning.

Funny thing... We had some musical lights playing near where I was working. I thought to myself, "Well. Now is a good time to unplug them since we wont need them tomorrow." I walked over to them, and I couldn't bring myself to turn them off. I suppose there is still a small part of me that hates to see Christmas go.

To be quite honest, all I looked forward to today was finding the quiet serenity of my new apartment. Here's the Thought for the Day from 24 Hours...

Many alcoholics will be saying today: "This is a good Christmas for me." They will be looking back over past Christmases, which were not like this one. They will be thanking God for their sobriety and their newfound life. They will be thinking about how their lives were changed when they came into A.A. They will be thinking that perhaps God let them live through all the hazards of their drinking careers, when they were perhaps often close to death, in order that they might be used by Him in the great work of A.A. Is this a happy Christmas for me?

I'm happy that I've lived another sober day on this earth. I'm happy in my recovery. And I am eternally grateful to God for everything. But, no. This wasn't a happy Christmas. Ya know what, though. Maybe not all of them will be great, and that's ok. :)

On a brighter note... I certainly hope you and your's had a spectacular holiday. I very much look forward to next year's.

I wish everyone Peace, Love, and Joy! Joyeux Noel!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Frah-jee-lay

It's Christmas Eve. Been an interesting day. I've had a few dinner invites for tomorrow, but I have to work. One was from our truck driver. He offered for me to come out and have dinner with his fam and his wife's folks. It was an awesome gesture, but I had to decline. I have become much more at ease socially, however. Would have loved to have met his wife and kids. With work, though, and them being on the north shore, it didn't seem very feasible.

I ate waaaay too much at work today. I don't eat like I used to, but that pasta jambalaya and dressing rocked the casbah. The fried turkey from Popeye's was good too. It was the walnut brownies that did it though. I thought I was going to fall asleep where I was standing.

Well. The rest of my evening will be spent watching A Christmas Story. Here's the preview to my favorite holiday movie... "Frah-jee-lay. That must be Italian."


An excerpt from Today's Gift

All of us have reasons to be grateful. Usually, the word implies we have received something. We often think of gratitude as that warm feeling we get from someone else's generosity. We are particularly grateful when we get unexpected gifts from those who owe us nothing. Within a family, we expect such acts of love because we are close to one another.

But gratitude doesn't always come from being a receiver. Gratitude is warmest when it accompanies the joy of being able to give without expecting anything in return. We find it isn't enough to feel grateful. We have to express our gratitude by showing kindness and service to everyone around us.

Gratitude is the greatest of all heart-openers. When it enters the heart, love pours out. For every kindness we receive, gratitude inspires a hundred acts of giving.

Have a great Christmas Eve!

Friday, December 23, 2011

T-Shirt, Boxers, and Netflix

Just got back from work. Busy night. Now I'm kickin' back in a t-shirt and boxers. I think I'll watch Dylan Dog on Netflix before bed. Looks like a funny movie.

That's about it.

Going to be a little tough the next couple of days, but as long as I'm busy and going to meetings, I'll be alright. Might try to make it to Hoshun if they are open Sunday and have a Christmas Story type of dinner. I doubt I'll be able to get the servers to sing me Christmas songs though.

I really, really liked the Meditation of the Day, so I thought I'd share it.

Shed peace, not discord, wherever you go. Try to be part of the cure of every situation, not part of the problem. Try to ignore evil, rather than to actively combat it. Always try to build up, never to tear down. Show others by your example that happiness comes from living the right way. The power of your example is greater than the power of what you say.

Goodnight, all. ;)

Leaving the Dreamworld Behind

Thought for the Day from the 24 Hours book.

We have definitely left that dream world behind. It was only a sham. It was a world of our making and it was not the real world. We are sorry for the past, yes, but we learned a lot from it. We can put it down to experience, valuable experience, as we see it now, because it has given us the knowledge necessary to face the world as it really is. We had to become alcoholics in order to find the A.A. program. We would not have got it any other way. In a way, it was worth it. Do I look at my past as valuable experience?

This is perfect for where I am in my steps. Alot of people were hurt along the way and alot of mistakes were made. Even the folks with 25 years under their belts will tell you that they slipped and slid before they truly surrendered to God and recovery. It doesn't justify the horrible things we did. We can only hope and pray that the ones who truly love us forgive and stick by us. That, in recovery, they see we aren't really the people of our pasts. That we are capable of so much more.

It's not just about them, though. First and foremost, we must show ourselves what we are capable of. Once we see the awesome things recovery offers, when worked earnestly, the will to go back to the previous life fades away.

I'd like to say "Thank You" to the folks who stick by me. There are some who are less inclined to do so, and I understand. All I can do is ask them for forgiveness and the opportunity to show them what kind of man I really am. And always was, had I not been influenced by addiction.

I work late tonight, but I'm going to post again when I get back.

Have a great day.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Twinkly Stars and Another Amends

Was looking at the sky before my meeting and saw a very bright star over the trees. You can tell a star from a planet because planets don't twinkle. A bit of useless information for ya. Anyway... Since I was a child, I would look up at the night sky and be overwhelmed with a feeling. A feeling that I know today as "awe". I felt that tonight. It made me feel very small imagining the size and distance of it. And how long it took the light from that star to get here. Go sit out on a perfectly clear night with someone you love, or your Higher Power and just gaze. All the crap in your life suddenly seems very small.

Had a good, but short amends earlier. I wont say who it was with, but it was kind of funny. We chatted for a little while, then I said, "Well. The reason I called was to apologize for all the times I took advantage of your hospitality." It wasn't just an obligatory apology. It was from the heart. The person said, "Well thank you." and went on to ask, "Are you dying or something?". I had to laugh. "No. I'm just sorry and it's long overdue." I could tell they were glad to hear it.

It was another busy day. Got up and started working on the new place. Did some laundry. Had an appointment that went really well. Ran errands uptown. Had to go to that village in purgatory, also known as "Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas", to pick up bedding. Ate some General Tso's chicken at Green Tea for dinner. Went to a great homegroup meeting. And back here to wind down. Awesome day.

Hope you had an awesome day, too. Goodnight.

Had to brighten it up a bit.
I love the light in here.



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Aching Back


Had a blast today running from one side of New Orleans to the other. Literally. I traveled from Riverbend to the Marigny and back. But man did it pay off. Found me an awesome place on Napoleon at the last minute. The other places I looked at were... not very appealing.

Goes to show how our Higher Power works in our lives. I am truly grateful.

Wasn't able to make a meeting today because of all the chaos, but I am very much looking forward to my homegroup tomorrow night.

Well. It was a stressful day, but I maintained and kept the faith. Bout to blow up my air mattress and maybe watch The Daily Show on my computer. Oh. I didn't mention the place didn't come furnished? Something I failed to ask beforehand. Quite alright, though. As soon as I saw it, I knew I'd better grab it before someone else did.

Carpe diem, my friends.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Feeling Connected and Today's Meditation

It's been a rough week so far. I'm off the next two days, and even though I have alot to do, I'm hoping it will be easier. May even go see a movie tomorrow night.

The men's group went well. I was out front chatting before the meeting, looked around me, and realized that I was surrounded by generations of sponsors. Mine, my grand-sponsor.... and so on. That Tuesday night meeting is a great brotherhood. And here's another first. At the last second I was asked to lead us out with The Lord's Prayer. Talk about a deer in the headlights. It was an honor though.

Those little things really make ya feel connected.

Thought I'd share the meditation for the day from the 24 Hours book...

Avoid fear as you would a plague. Fear, even the smallest fear, is a hacking at the cords of faith that bind you to God. However small the fraying, in time those cords will wear thin, and then one disappointment or shock will make them snap. But for the little fears, the cords of faith would have held firm. Avoid depression, which is allied to fear. Remember that all fear is disloyalty to God. It is a denial of His care and protection.

My serenity is challenged by fear sometimes. Usually I'll say a quick prayer and focus on other things. Recovery has given me so much, and one of those things is how to deal with life as it throws me curveballs. The old Jay couldn't do that. He'd get frustrated or start blaming things on everyone... or everything around him. His pride and ego hindered his growth for so long. And that of others. Each day is a new day, with new surprises, and new challenges. Times aren't always good, but my life is so much better.

One day at a time.
Goodnight, world.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Saddest Amends

Made amends with my biological mom tonight. This will be the only one that I openly write about.

Someone asked me what amends could I possibly need to make with her. Simply saying, "I'm sorry." or "I was wrong about something." isn't what it's all about, though. There's decades of resentment and hurt in that relationship. I followed my sponsor's advice and told her that I didn't always know where she was coming from or what was going on in her life. I then told her I was sorry that I don't see her very often... Or call very often. And I told her that I know I wasn't always the best son. I think she got uncomfortable and changed the topic.

Amends aren't about us, you see. They are for the other person. Yes, we stand to gain from them, but our benefits are purely spiritual. Someone told me how liberating this step is, but I have to say, this particular amends was sad. I'm not sure she totally understood what I was doing or saying, but I got the message across. The heartbreaking thing is, that due to her lifestyle... and our history, we'll never be close.

In brighter news... I picked my chip up at the 12 and 12. That cheered me up. We had alot of newcomers, so we did a group conscience and decided to start back on the 1st step study for them. It was a great meeting.

Well. I have to be up very early, so I'm going to head back and start winding down.

Have a good night and an awesome tomorrow!

3 Month Chips...
Now in Christmas green!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

New Chips and Downer Days

Got up. Went to work. And here I am. Back at the Rue writing.

Wasn't able to make a meeting because I got off about an hour too late. I'll have to pick my chip up at the 12 and 12 tomorrow night. Really looking forward to that.

It was kind of a downer day for me. We beat MN, so that pepped me up a bit. Recovery is going very well, and I thank God for that. I have a lot to be grateful for. Thing is... I know she has to heal, but it's just hard when the most important person in your life wont even talk to you. It's hard not being a part of that person's life. Even the everyday stuff like going to Target. It's even harder not knowing when... or if that person is coming back. I deal with that everyday. It's not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but she's worth the wait. She is so worth the wait. One of the gifts this program has given me (and maybe even her), is that I can show her the love and care that was so difficult to show when I wasn't recovering.

I don't want to do a whole "Woe is me and my painful heart..." post, but that's honestly where I'm coming from today and writing about it helps.

So what happened today that rocked? Hmm... I seem to be getting over my cough. Again, the Saints won. I was a little standoffish about pro-sports after the lockout, but I've mellowed alot lately, and they are great for the city. May not have gotten my chip today, but today is still a milestone in my recovery.

And I spent another day alive and sober on God's Green Earth. Now that, my friend, truly rocks.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ghosts of Christmas Future

We have a regular who comes into where I work. He's a decent enough guy. Very heavy drinker, though. Scares the hell out of the tourists, but folks on Magazine St. know him and take care of him. He was hanging around outside our doors today and could barely stand up. I guess he'd been at it all night and well into the day. A lady I work with and I helped him down the street to where he stays.

He scares the hell out of me too. I don't judge him at all. It's not my place and I don't know his story. When I look at him, however, I see a future me that could have happened. I see that in every drunk street guy or homeless person living under an overpass. I could say that I'm damned lucky that it never came to that, but "blessed" is more accurate. The future me I prefer is that guy I see standing with his family at church, or putting together a swingset in his back yard, or taking his wife out to dinner for their anniversary...

That's the kind of guy I am and I thank God for it. And my program.

Those are our nieces. Great girls!
God willing, one day this pic will have
our kids in it.
This is not me.
But it's a sobering reminder
of what does happen
to some unfortunate people with the disease.


On a brighter note, I get a new chip tomorrow! And I have begun Step 9! Time to make amends....

Goodnight, all.








Friday, December 16, 2011

Food Drives and More Gratitude

Today..... Well, I worked most of it. Going back at 11 to hang out. They close late for the Christmas shoppers and there wont be a guy there, so I volunteered. We get some shady people in there at night.

"Shady people in New Orleans?!", you may ask. No way...

Meeting with my sponsor early tomorrow, then work, then a meeting. Work again Sunday and I pick up a new chip Sunday night. Busy weekend.

I talked to Second Harvest Food Bank earlier, and the food drive is a "Go". Very excited about that. The lady asked me if I had a theme for it. I was thinking about calling it, "The Other 363 Days". Emphasizing that there are people who go hungry all year. Not just the holidays. It'll be at Walgreens on Magazine St. in the month of January.

Got a lot to be grateful for, because God only knows what I'd be doing right now if I hadn't finally surrendered and started working the hell out of this program. I certainly don't want to know.

Until tomorrow, folks...



I still like British TV.
What I found on this video, after the song, was both beautiful and sad...
So I posted it.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

How Far Are You Willing To Go?

That was the question tonight at my homegroup.... And I was actually able to share without coughing.

For years I didn't go neeeeaaaarly far enough. I shared about my times in treatment when I thought I was recovering, but was really more interested in being a know-it-all amateur counselor or the head of my clique. I think we see a pattern of ego rather than humility there. That has been one of my biggest adversaries in the past years. Lack of humility. My self-will told me I could do it on my own... or that I was doing it on my own. I could certainly talk the talk and convince people that I was doing what I needed to be doing. Ends up that the biggest person I was fooling was myself. As a result, when it came time to visit my old friend Mr. Smirnoff, I barely gave it a second thought. I'd tell myself no. Not being in active recovery, however, it really wasn't up to me. I was in the grip of addiction. Being in recovery, though, was up to me.

So. How far am I going now? Let me tell you what I did today. I got up and walked downtown for the Mustard Seed meeting. Got there early and set up. Then I walked back uptown and wrote in this very blog. Listened to some music and did a little research. Web-surfed for a bit. Picked up some cough drops afterward and went straight to my other meeting. Talked to a girl who is in a nearby treatment facility after group was done about her first Christmas without her dad. Came here to the Rue and contacted my sponsor about hooking up Saturday morning to talk about my 8th and 9th steps. Now I'm writing again.... And I will pray tonight thanking my Higher Power for, among other things, another day sober.

I've been actively and enthusiastically going to meetings since before I came back to New Orleans. As soon as I got back here, I snagged a great sponsor. We started working the steps not long after that. Started this blog not long after getting back too. It helps me immensely and it helps others. I do service work and I volunteer. I got reconnected with God. I've changed how I go about doing things. And there's more... That's how far I gone and come. Never been neeeaaarrrly this far into it before. Yeah, there's still work to do. Life is life, and it will still suck sometimes.

There's nothing I can't deal with, however, if I keep working an honest and earnest recovery.

Goodnight, world.

My Unique Opportunity

Just got back uptown from the Mustard Seed. Had to cut my share short because I'm still coughing a little. The topic was from 24 Hours a Day...

December 15, 2011

Service to others makes the world a good place. Civilization would cease if all of us were always and only for ourselves. We alcoholics have a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the well-being of the world. We have a common problem. We find a common answer. We are uniquely equipped to help others with the same problem. What a wonderful world it would be if everybody took his own greatest problem and found the answer to it and spent the rest of his life helping others with the same problem in his spare time. Soon we would have the right kind of a world. Do I appreciate my unique opportunity to be of service?

I pray about a lot at night. One of the things I pray for is to be put in situations where I can be of service throughout the day. To fellow alcoholics or anyone who's in a rough spot. I'll be the first to admit that sometimes I miss those opportunities. Sometimes I'm preoccupied with my own stuff that's going on at the moment. The other night I was heading back to where I'm staying from work. A lady stopped me on St. Charles Ave. She hadn't yet gotten her first paycheck from her new job and needed money to buy her kids something to eat. It was late and I couldn't think of any resources for her that were open at that hour. I told her about some places that might be able to help, but she'd have to wait til morning. Apologizing and telling her that was about all I could do, I turned and started back down the street. I made it about half a block and stopped. "Was there anything else I could do? I pray about this and the opportunity is here." I then remembered the handful of change in my back pocket. Honestly, I'd forgotten I even had it. I went back to where we were, and she was still standing there. I gave it to her and told her about some of the nearby 24 hour stores. She'd probably only be able to buy ramen noodles, but it would be sustenance until the next day.

Stopped and looked at cars on the way back up. Just to get an idea of what I needed to do to prepare. Sitting at CC's right now drinking ginger peach tea. I'll probably be here til I go to my homegroup tonight. Gonna listen to music and do research. It's nice to be able to sit and chill out.

I'll write more tonight as always. Have an awesome day!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What's Different?

Our moderator at the "After Work" group started us on the topic of steps 4 and 5. I finished these steps not too long ago, so they were still pretty fresh on my mind. 6 and 7 also fall into alignment with these. Finished those very recently so I was eager to share. Unfortunately my cough precluded me from doing much talking at either meeting today. All I could really do effectively was sit there, listen, and chew on cough drops....

The themes from everyone's moral inventories were pretty similar. Learning to lie and manipulate from very early on all the way up to the time we enter an earnest recovery. None of our stories are very unique. Our self-centeredness and ego plague us and our loved ones until we say, "Enough." Until we start working those steps. Until we turn it over to God. Ego quickly turns to humility, much to the amazement of the alcoholic and those around them.

A guy shared, tonight, that one of his relatives asked him what was different this time. Being used to the question he started to answer, but they cut him off. "Something really is different. what is it?" He told them that he was honestly working his steps and doing the program as suggested in the Big Book. Same story for me... People notice a definite difference. And the same as him, I'm actually working the program. Not just going and sitting and waiting for an hour to be up. That never kept me sober... And it sure as hell wasn't recovery.

Other news... Hmm. I pick up another chip Sunday, my sponsor is making gumbo for some of us Monday, will hopefully have a new place by Wed. (Luckily there's no lease involved where I'm looking, a guy at the group has a 3 bedroom house uptown and asked if I wanted to be a roomie. I won't be there long-term, but it's a big step up.), decided to use my income tax this year to look at making a down payment on a car. Some of this is future stuff and subject to change, of course. That's the plan, though.

Sat at Audubon Park before my meeting today. Here's a picture of a turkey duck. Goodnight!


The Realities and Verities of Existence

Our moderator at Mustard Seed read the old Sanskrit proverb by Kalidasa that I love. Sometimes I pull up 24 Hours a Day just to read it. I know I've posted it here before, but I am again since it is relevant to the topic...


Look to this day,
For it is life,
The very life of life.
In its brief course lie all
The realities and verities of existence,
The bliss of growth,
The splendor of action,
The glory of power

For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision,
But today, well lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day.

It's a powerful reminder to live in the present. The past is history and the future is a mystery. We can only learn from our pasts and strive to be better. Preparing and planning for the future is great, but we can only live in the "now". Worrying too much about what might happen down the road robs us of our ability to take care of current matters. Once again.... Today, well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.

The future is going to be spectacular as long as I'm doing what I need to do today to ensure that. :)

I'll write again after my evening meeting. Until then... Peace.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why Am I Here?

That was tonight's topic. Some stories were happy... some were sad. The relapsers who just came back into our ranks admitted that they had gone back out because they didn't have sponsors or weren't working their steps. That was my problem for the longest time. Self-will. Finally getting a real sponsor and working the hell out of those steps have made me a different person. A better person. Still Jay, just minus the personality crippling defects. And that is with some humility and direct help from my Higher Power.

So why am I here? I'm here for me. To save my life. To make myself better for me and the ones I love. To have the tools to deal with life on life's terms. To be in a position to help my fellows in any way I can. To find success and happiness. To have that family and that future with the woman I love so much. To live a sober and fruitful life. Things I couldn't do when I wasn't in recovery. I'm very grateful.

Going to be doing my amends very soon. My sponsor wants to see the list this weekend. We sat for about 2 hours at his apartment after the meeting chatting and reading.... and drinking coffee.

So that was my evening. Hope your's was great. Have a good night and a great tomorrow!


I'm Back!

I know... It wasn't even 24 hours. Just thought I'd post a really quick heads-up. Found a replacement piece that fits my charger so I don't have to go out and buy a new one. Woot!

I'm about to head up to my men's group then meet with my sponsor about my next steps. I'll write about it afterwards.

Off the next two days too. Not a bad day so far.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Really?

My laptop's charger just literally exploded right here in the coffee shop. I'm running on what power I have left now. I have the worst luck with these things.

I have set it up so I can post from my phone.

I had a great meeting and was all prepared to share about humility. That was part of our topic.

Now I must go and see if Radio Shack is still open. No biggie. Stuff happens.

Have a great night, all!

Killing Time

Got a couple of hours before my meeting, so I came down to CC's. Bought a coffee and am listening to Cake on Spotify. Tonight is our 12 and 12 book study. 12 steps, 12 traditions. Haven't been to it in a while because of work.

Ah.... Now I'm listening to The Cure's cover of Purple Haze. Got my songs all jumbled up.

I did get to thinking when I was walking by The Rendezvous bar. Saw a sign outside that had drink specials on it. It's just something that I don't want anymore. I have absolutely no desire to go back to that way of life. It's sad and useless. Don't get me wrong, Bars and clubs don't bother me. I can go in and drink diet cokes all night. Whether it's watching a game, seeing a band, or even dancing... That's not true for all alcoholics, not something I'd do without Sarah, and I haven't even done any of that stuff lately anyway.

Jay's problems with alcohol came from Jay. Not his location. My sponsor does advise to always have an out, however. Advice I shall heed to the letter when those occasions arise. It's something to take into account for the future. Right now, though, I'm concentrating on today.

Let's see... Work went well. Still coughing from when I was sick the other day. Nothing else much of interest to write about this second.

I may write more after my meeting.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

You Talkin' To Me?

I was helping some people tonight and one of them made it a point to tell me, "You are a very patient person. You must be in a good mood." I looked around. No one was standing behind me. A little dazed I replied, "Well thank you. Thank you very much." Some say that others usually notice differences in you before you do. It's been a long time since I've heard something like that.

Another thing that occurred to me today was that, until recently, I've never gone to church alone. Not once in 38 years. That's certainly not a bad thing. Just different. It's nice seeing all the families there, though. Gives me something to aim for. ;)

Not much else to write about really. Have to be up very early for work. Got a couple of job interviews this week. Oh.... and the Saints beat the Titans today. WHO DAT?!

Have a good night and a great tomorrow!

On to Step 8

Can't write much... The coffee shops are packed and my laptop is running out of juice. I wanted to share about the first part of my day, though.

I decided to do Step 7 during the confessional prayer at church today. It was an awesome, cleansing experience. I turned all my defects of character over to God. It was an earnest and heartfelt prayer. Doesn't mean that they are all automatically erased. Faith takes action. I meet with my sponsor this week to start the next steps in my recovery... 8 and 9.

Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

and

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

I already have a list from step 4, I just need to add some names to it. This is going to be interesting to say the least. Some folks will be glad to hear from me, some may tell me to go to hell. Either way, I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to make right the wrongs I've committed over the years. Not only for me, but for those I've hurt. It may give some of them peace too.

Enjoyed the service immensely. We had a guest rabbi deliver the sermon. It's an episcopal church, but it partners with a synagogue down the street. He was a spectacular speaker and I hope to hear more from him.

Wont be able to make a meeting tonight... Gotta work til 10:30. About to have to go in actually. Going to grab a sandwich first.

Sorry if the post is a bit scattered. I'll write more later tonight when I can sit down and tie some coherent thoughts together, LOL.

Have a great day and Go Saints!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Truck Driver Love

Our truck driver came today. We talked for a bit after all was done. He seems to be doing really well. We spoke a bit about what was going on with him and his wife. That's what's bothering him most I think, and I can completely relate.

*Sidenote... I'm sitting by the window at the Rue drinking coffee. It's awesome. Kids keep stopping and looking at the old Spider-Man stickers on my laptop.*

Back to the driver. Again, I told him that he was damn lucky that she is still by his side. Things are going to work out for them if he continues to do what he needs to do. He then told me about a friend of his who had finally straightened himself out, was doing very well, but it was still too late to salvage his marriage. I had to reassure him, again, that his wife must really love him, because she hasn't gone anywhere. I'm going to be completely honest. I envy the hell out of that. Not a healthy emotion, but at least I recognize it... LOL.

I reminded him, as I often do, that each time he screws up, it's going to get harder and harder to mend his relationship. I know this only too well, and I can assure anyone who takes their loved ones for granted, being apart from them.... being in limbo... is the worst feeling in the world. Believe me. That's no exaggeration. It's hell.

I try not to preach. I'm in no position to do that. But if this gets through to just one suffering person out there, the world will be a little bit of a better place.

To brighten things up a bit, here's today's thought from The Language of Letting Go...

Empowerment

You can think. You can make good decisions. You can make choices that are right for you.

Yes, we all make mistakes from time to time. But we are not mistakes.

We can make a new decision that takes new information into account.

We can change our mind from time to time. That's our right too.

We don't have to be intellectuals to make good choices. In recovery, we have a gift and a goal available to each of us. The gift is called wisdom.

Other people can think too. And that means we no longer have to feel responsible for other people's decisions.

That also means we are responsible for our choices.

We can reach out to others for feedback. We can ask for information. We can take opinions into account. But it is our task to make our own decisions. It is our pleasure and right to have our own opinions.

We are each free to embrace and enjoy the treasure of our own mind, intellect, and wisdom.

Today, I will treasure the gift of my mind. I will do my own thinking, make my own choices, and value my opinions. I will be open to what others think, but I will take responsibility for myself. I will ask for and trust that the Divine Wisdom is guiding me.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Approachability and Folks I Don't Know

Not an eventful night at work. Not much to write about.

I can say that there is a notable difference in how I interact with people. I've been seeing it more and more lately. I don't know if this stems from the fact that Jay is alot happier with Jay or maybe that I've knocked down alot of walls... or both. People seem to find me more approachable now, and I like that. Just tonight, I found myself having conversations and even connecting with folks I don't even know. Except the Hitler fan. He came in tonight and I had to hide in the back. If anyone ever asks you if you are interested in WWII, my advice is to say "No".

Dropped a couple of things in the "Toys for Tots" box. I don't say that to be boastful... I say it because it was money that was MUCH more well spent than on a bottle of vodka.

Here's something I saw a little earlier. Liked it so I'm posting it. Goodnight, world!

Faith is the seamstress
who mends our torn belief
who sews the hem of childhood trust
and clips the threads of grief.
—Joan Walsh Anglund


Kleenex and Amends

Last night's meeting was sad. Our moderator started the topic of making amends. She then went on to share that she was glad she had done so with her father when she did. Not too long afterward, she was called out of state to see him as he was on his deathbed. She said that if those amends hadn't been made, she wouldn't have gone and he would have passed alone.

I think that turned the topic more toward making amends with your loved ones, because you never know how long you have with them. My service work for the meeting became "kleenex runner".

There was regret for the people who didn't get the chance to make things right with their family or friends who are no longer with us. They had to do what we call "Graveside Amends". There were people who were relieved that they got to reconnect with those they pushed away before they were gone.

I felt the need to share about my biological mom. She's still with us. I don't talk to her often. When I do, it's just to make sure she's ok. I told the group that at one time I would've said, "What do I need to make amends with her for?!" Or "She should be making amends with me." That's not what the step, or life, is about though. I thought maybe I could apologize for resenting her all these years. Or maybe the small stuff, like running her phone bill sky high one time. That's a tough one and it's going to take alot of thought. Steps 8 and 9 are just around the corner....

Well. I have to be at work soon, but I'll post again afterward. Take care, all!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Little Lightheartedness Goes a Long Way Pt. 2

Kinda feelin' the tone of the blog getting a bit heavy, which is by no means a bad thing... If I'm working my program right, it's gonna get heavy sometimes.

I thought tonight I would put up some fun, positive stuff. I've done it here once before... a good while back. Before that, though, I'd like to talk briefly about my homegroup meeting. Tonight's was heavy. It was, without doubt, the saddest meeting I've been to. Given the nature of it, I've chosen to post about it next time instead of now. I'll say this, however. Don't ever waste a moment God has given you to show the special people in your life how much you love them.

Ok... Here goes. Just a few videos and stuff.

Louis Armstrong... The Great Satchmo...
Here he is live singing one my favorite songs.

Clint Black sings Monty Python's "Galaxy Song".
Reminds me of just how small we are in this universe.

"Prayer is not an old woman's idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action."
-Mahatma Ghandi

Talk about a musical dream team...
and right here in our Superdome in 2006!
U2 and Green Day

Sanskrit Proverb by Kalidasa

Look to this day,
For it is life,
The very life of life.
In its brief course lie all
The realities and verities of existence,
The bliss of growth,
The splendor of action,
The glory of power.

For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision,
But today, well lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope

Look well, therefore, to this day.

This last one is for someone special. When life is getting a bit heavy,
watch this... May even cheer ya up a bit. ;)

Goodnight all!

Small Groups

Feeling much better today. I slept like a rock last night. It was a very eventful day and I was getting the crud, so I suppose I needed to be unconscious for about 9 hours. Still coughing a little, but I'm relieved I didn't wake up with the flu or something....

Had a good meeting at Mustard Seed today. There were only five of us guys, but I enjoy the really small groups. The topic was change. More specifically, leaving our addiction and old behavior behind us and becoming the people we were meant to be. I shared that it was funny how these topics come up and seem to coincide with what is happening in our lives. I told the guys about my fifth step from yesterday, and about how I'm working on 6 and 7 right now (see previous post). Very exciting stuff.

Well. I have to be somewhere by 4, so I'd better run. I have my homegroup later too. I decided that for tonight I would post something fun. Maybe a video or two. Haven't decided yet.

Til then, I hope you have a great rest of your day.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Steps 6 & 7

I am getting sick. My throat has felt like someone stuck a cheese-grater down it all day, and now I'm achy and feeling blah..... Wish I had some of that awesome soup from Jung's. Ya know... I almost went in there today.

Enough about my woes, though. Today was a very significant day in my recovery. I finished step 5....

Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

We ordered a spinach feta pizza to my sponsor's apartment, made some coffee, and got settled in. I wont go into everything I shared. You can actually find most of my history right here in these pages. After 2 hours of me spilling my guts about my actions over the past 30 something years, we came to the conclusion that my main character default was my selfish, self-serving behavior. It was almost like a theme in my moral inventory. There were others, though. Trust me.

I've had so many people who cared about me over the years, tried to help, and all I could think about was what I could do that would benefit myself. I wasn't the best partner... son... friend.... or brother that I could be. I let alot of people down. I hurt alot of people...

Understanding my faults and wrongdoing.... identifying them... is one of the goals of this step. Telling another person about each and every one helps cleanse my soul of them. They are behind me, but not forgotten. This step leads right into steps 6 and 7...

Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
and
Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

These steps are strictly between me and my Higher Power. My sponsor can answer any questions I may have, but that's about it.

I later went to Riverview Park and sat for quite some time. After some hard and honest thought, I had one of those moments of clarity. I saw myself for what I really was all of those years. The lying, the manipulation, the sneaking... I could see all the kindness I was shown and how I took advantage of it. I thought I was going to be sick. I called my sponsor and told him that if God wants all that, he can have it. I certainly don't want it. When I made that decision... truly, honestly made that decision... a sense of calm came over me. Release. I never have to be that person again.

Don't get me wrong. I've done some really good things in my life. I certainly don't think I was a bad person. Just did some really bad things. Made alot of mistakes. Allowed myself to be ruled by addiction. That part of me, thankfully, sank to the bottom of the Mississippi today.

There's more work to do. Still more steps. Today, though, was a milestone in my program. I read something today that I liked.

Action is Born of Belief, Faith Without Works is Dead.

Here's the 7th Step prayer... Goodnight.


I am now willing that you should have all of me,
good and bad.
I pray that you now remove from me
every single defect of character which stands in the way
of my usefulness to you and my fellows.
Grant me strength, as I go out from here,
to do your bidding.
Amen

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Old-Timers and Gumbo

I got to the men's group way early tonight. I figured I'd help set up chairs before the meeting. I actually ended up freezing my butt off for about 40 minutes. No worries, though. I was still where I needed to be.

Eventually someone in the church opened the door for me. I went in, turned on all the lights, put out the chairs, and turned up the heat. A couple of old-timers came in not long after that, and we stood around and chatted. Not about anything in particular. They told some risque jokes, we talked about a painting of Jesus that we see every week but have never taken a good look at, and discussed some recent news story. An old-timer, by the way, is someone with alot of years under their belt.

When the meeting started, we all sat down with our coffee and listened to our moderator. He shared about his beginnings in the program. I came forward afterward and talked about the guy who just approached me about getting sober. Figured it was relevant to the discussion as, hopefully, he'll be working some kind of recovery soon. That's up to him, of course. There are plenty of great sponsors there.

At the end, the guy who picked up his 29 year chip spoke. I thoroughly enjoyed how he described the fellowship. There are people in my meetings from all walks of life. Businessmen, cabdrivers, politicians, plumbers, celebrities and school teachers. It's a room full of people that you would never otherwise see together. Shaking hands and hugging. He said that it was all of us... in that room... that kept him sober. He compared us to a gumbo. The individual ingredients alone don't taste that great, but when you cook it all together, it's delicious. Didn't quite know how to take that, but I clapped for him anyway.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Thank You

It's a late night and I have to be up very early. Just wanted to write a quick post thanking each and every one of you who have read these pages. There's still alot more to come, trust me. I learn something new everyday!

It's a blessing to have such a wonderful support system. Your prayers and encouragement are part of what keeps me sober and recovering. Even the ones I don't even know who read this regularly... and there are alot... you may not know it, but you are part of my recovery too. :) And the ones who are suffering who get some kind of inspiration from these words, that in itself makes my opening up to the world worth it.

This blog also serves as my journal. I go back often and read what I've written. Sometimes I say to myself, "Wow. You've come a long way since that night!" Sometimes it reminds me that there is still more work to do. Sometimes I'm proud of how far I've come, and sometimes I'm humbled.

Thank you again for being here for my recovery! Thank you to the love of my life who I know is out there somewhere rooting for me. When you are ready, you aren't going to be disappointed, I swear. Last, and most definitely not least, I thank God for this wonderful gift he's bestowed upon me.

Have a great night and peace be with you.

One Day at a Time

Busy busy busy today. Just took a time out for lunch. Been making my way around doing some job hunting before work. Would like a better full-time job, but will also take a second part-time gig to supplement my current income (for now). It's not as hard as it sounds. I'm confident that if I keep my nose to the grindstone, I'll be in a very good spot soon.

I have Wed. and Thurs. off this week, so I'm already working on a list of goals. I'll make a couple of meetings on each of those days... oh.... and I finish my 5th step Wed. night.... Gotta call Second Harvest. After the first of the year I'm doing a food drive for them where I work. Just have to round up some banners and containers.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though. One day at a time.

Well, there ya go. Just a quick post. Nothing mind-blowing so far today. Except that I'm alive and sober. That's a gift right there, and I am eternally grateful for it.

I get off late, but I'll write more tonight.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Surrender

I was talking to a guy last night who knows that I'm in recovery. Now I don't run up and down Magazine St. yelling "I'M IN AA!!!!", but I don't hide it. Quite proud of it actually. It means that I've taken control of my life and am working every single day to make myself a better person.

AA is a program of attraction, not promotion. I feel if I've attracted just one other suffering person into it, I've not only helped them in some way, but I've done one more thing to ensure my sobriety. I wont be ready to sponsor or do H & I for a while as there are certain requirements, but we are all encouraged to help others in any way we responsibly can.

My biological mom asked me to be her sponsor last time I talked to her. That's why I don't call her much anymore. Right now she isn't good for my recovery. I still like to make sure she's ok, but that's about the extent of it.

Anyway. Back to the guy. He's a really good person, but he feels he has a drinking problem. He came to me and asked what I know about medical detox. I told him that they would sober him up, get him past his withdrawal stage, and probably turn him loose to drink again. I've never been in a medical detox unit, but I know plenty who have. Don't get me wrong, I've done rehab and pre-rehab, spent a weekend in an emergency room one time, but never been admitted to a hospital for the express purpose of getting me through DTs safely.... I'm rambling again.

I invited him to come to a meeting with me and he recoiled. Alot of folks have the misconception that AA is a religious organization, some kind of cult, or that they'll lose themselves somehow. I had those misconceptions at varying times of my disease. His big problem is surrender. I told him that was a key part of the program. You have to surrender your will to your Higher Power or the program simply isn't effective. My Higher Power is God. I told him that, at one time, I had the exact frame of mind he does... and I kept going back to drinking. I couldn't recover. I had to put my pride and ego aside, open up to God, and allow him to take the bad stuff away. It's an entire step in AA. Step 3.

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we
understood Him.

We have plenty of athiests in the program who find some kind of Higher Power. Even if it's the program itself. It works for them.

He promised that he would come with me to one meeting. I told him not to promise me, but promise himself. It's all up to him. I can only tell him what I know about it and give encouragement. Hope he comes, though. I invited him to my homegroup on Thursday. If it looks like something he's interested in, I'll introduce him to my sponsor. He can do a much better job of this than I can right now. Plus I have to stay focused on my recovery.

That was a long one and I hope I wasn't too all over the place with it. Learned alot from just writing it, though. I know I'm on my 5th step, but I thought I'd put up the 3rd Step prayer... Goodnight.

God, I offer myself to Thee — to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

10 Things I've Gained In Recovery

Been meaning to write about something lately but I keep getting on other subjects....

Well I'm going to write about it tonight. What have I gained so far from my recovery? In true list style that someone would be very proud of, I'm going to lay some of it out. Here goes...

1- I connect better with people. Putting selfishness and ego away, I can now open up and show genuine interest and concern about them. I can feel and show emotion and empathize.

2- I connect with God. Before recovery, pride and fear kept me away from my Higher Power and spiritual growth. Also from how I was brought up.

3- No more waking up frantic, shaky, clammy, shameful, nauseous, or wanting another drink. No more calling in to work over that or going in thinking I'm about to pass out or being paranoid that someone may smell alcohol on me. No more picking up all the pieces when the walls come down.

4- Automatic pay raise. No more blowing money on something that was killing me and my relationships.

5- I don't have to lie anymore. I heard a guy share at a meeting the other night that he could tell the truth now without hurting people.

6- I can be the man I'm supposed to be for those I love. I'm no longer bound by an addiction that kept me a million miles away from effectively being the person they need. She needs. I can have a family and be the provider they'll depend on.

7- I can think clearly and make sound decisions again. Impulse and indecision don't slow me down like they once did.

8- I actually have motivation and drive. Consistency too. The ability to follow through on what I say.

9- I feel so much better about myself. Call it self-worth or self-esteem... Whatever it is, I'm more confident and have faith that I can do whatever I put my mind to.

10- I can go outside! When on a binge, I would stare out the blinds thinking of everything that I was missing in the world. Now if I want to go to the park... I go to the park.

That's just 10. Doesn't make me a Superman. Most people have all of that naturally. Some of us have to work on it. Some of those things people take for granted. I'll think of alot more. May even have to do a part 2 here.

And to the active addict who is suffering out there... Life can be so much better if you let go and ask for help. I did. Break those chains and see it for yourself. ;)

G'night.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The 10 Minute Chip

Something else I got from my meeting today was a "Chew On It" chip. Didn't know those existed. They also call it a "10 Minute Chip". It has the serenity prayer etched on it. I picked one up during my share. I figured I needed it to remind me to live in the now. To chew on it (not literally... no telling how many people have touched it... Ha) when things start getting a bit heavy to carry.

Tonight I pulled it out and prayed. It actually helped.

Work went well. Talked to my sponsor on my dinner break. We decided that we would go over the rest of my written work and do my 5th step Wed. Very much looking forward to that. The other night when I told him I've been practicing mini-4th Steps, he told me I was 10th Stepping. I looked at him oddly, but he assured me it was a good thing.

Here's the day's thought from the book Today's Gift. I really enjoyed this passage.

"There's a person inside each of us just itching to be known and loved. But if we don't get to know and love that person, how can we expect anyone else to know us?

That's why it's so important to spend time alone getting acquainted with ourselves. And how do we do that? We can sit quietly with ourselves, thinking and listening. Then we can write our thoughts in a journal, or we can draw or paint them. If we play a musical instrument, we can put our thoughts and feelings into music.

When we make the time and effort to know ourselves, it encourages others to want to know us, too. Since everything we do and feel begins inside us, we must feel good about ourselves in order to feel good about anything else. What wonders we are, that we have all the power we need to make our world a happy one!

How do I feel about myself today?"

I feel good. ;)

Goodnight, world.


Stinkin' Thinkin'

Just left the Mustard Seed and have to be at work at 2.... So I don't have time to write much. The topic centered around the importance of not slacking off from meetings and the kind of thinking that comes before a relapse. Today was my kind of meeting. I remember only too well that kind of thinking. I don't spend too much time on those thoughts anymore, but when I used to get them, there would be two reasons for me not asking for help. One was that I didn't like being told no. The other was that I was scared to death that if anyone knew I had those thoughts, they'd leave me. Or at least hit the roof.

Well. We see how sick that kind of thinking was, because we can see where it got me. I thank my Higher Power for taking that stinkin' thinkin' away. I'm still not perfect. No one is. But I'm stronger and more self-aware than I have ever been. Again, the program works if ya work it. It really does.

As for the making meetings portion of the topic, I can definitely feel it when I miss one.

Uh oh. Laptop is running out of power. I'll write more tonight.

Peace

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Letting People Be There for Us

From The Language of Letting Go. I REALLY liked this and wanted to share it. I'm going to post a Hazelden link at the side of the page. I love their site and what they do.

"Sometimes, we need nurturing. Sometimes, we need people to support us.

Many of us have been deprived of support and nurturing for so long we may not realize it's something we want and need. Many of us have learned to block our stop ourselves from getting what we want and need.

We may not reach out to have our needs met. We may be in relationships with people who cannot or will not be available to meet our needs. Or we may be in relationships with people who would be happy to respond to a direct request from us.

We may have to give up something to do this. We may have to let go of our martyr or victim role. If we ask for what we want and need, and get those needs met, we will not be able to punish people, or push them away later on, for disappointing us.

We may have to let go of our fears enough to experience the intimacy that will occur when we allow someone to love and support us. We may even have to learn, one day at a time, how to be happy and content.

Learn to let others be there for us.

Today, I will be open to identifying what I need from people, and I will ask for what I want directly. I will let others be there for me."

Goodnight, all!


Church, Meetings, and Fellowship

Homegroup tonight! Woot! Business meeting before. That'll be an hour of people talking over one another, but I love it. I'd never treated AA as a real fellowship back when I wasn't working a real, proper recovery. Now I have folks who actually seek me out to say "Hello". It's a good feeling to be an active member of that community. They really are some of the best people in the world.

Back in the day, when I was ruled by self-will and arrogance, I'd get to a meeting a few minutes late, watch the clock, maybe share some BS story, and leave a few minutes early. Now I like to get there early and help set up. I enjoy listening to what is said, sharing something meaningful, and staying and chatting a few minutes afterward. It's such an integral part of my recovery. I can be totally down in the dumps on the way to a group, then leave feeling so much better. I thank God for that.

Church is great too. Most of the churches I've been to have had such a positive energy. Church of the Nations, my parents church, my brother's, or Trinity Episcopal. These days I get an automatic sense of serenity before I'm even within 20 feet of the door. That's my Higher Power at work as well. Since I, and I'm quoting here, "Let go and let God", spirituality and church have taken on an all new meaning.

When I was shackled by the disease of alcoholism... or when I was sober but not recovering... pride, arrogance, self-will, egotism, hell even fear kept me from opening up to God, the program, and, certainly not least, growing and connecting with the ones I love. Now I can do those things and the world is a brighter place for it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Get Busy, Get Building

It was one of those meetings where ya learn a little about yourself. First of all, though, I would like to say how blessed I was to be there to see someone pick up a 30 year chip and a young lady returned to the group and got a 24 hour chip. Both are equally important, and I was inspired by the courage it took her to come back and get it. There are those who are too ashamed, even me at one time, to do that. Sadly, most of them stay in that same vicious cycle. Shame and embarrassment can be deadly opponents.

The guy who has 30 years shared at the very end. What he said struck a chord with me. It made me realize that, even though at one time my behavior was crazy, we are not crazy people. I'm a good guy who is capable of marvelous things... as long as I don't drink. When that happens I'm just marvelously good at hurting people. Including myself. I'm finally in a position, after struggling with alcoholism for quite a few years, to build the future and the family that I've always wanted to have. That I reached for drunkenly through the steel bars that I put up. It starts now. It started the moment I put down my last drink and said, "Enough."

Life is good and it's about to get amazing.

Where the Wind Will Take Me


The past few months have been a whirlwind of serenity, enthusiasm, gratitude, sadness, and sometimes despair. So. Today I decided to stop the train and get off for a few minutes.

It's been really nice not having anywhere I have to be. I'll still go to a meeting tonight, but other than that... anything goes.

First I got up, got ready, and went to Subway. Then I hopped the streetcar down to Audubon Park. It was bittersweet without Sarah there, but faith tells me that we will be back feeding the ducks again sometime soon. I haven't been to the park since well before all of this tragedy I caused took place. It was pleasant and quiet though.

After that I trekked over to The Fly. It's the Riverview area behind the zoo. Meditated, read a little Big Book, and helped a wounded lizard find cover. I like that the boy scout in me is coming back.

Now I am at my old haunt on Magazine and Jefferson. It's a PJ's coffeehouse. After this I don't know, and I am comfortable with that. I'll write more after the meeting...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On to Step 5

Our men's group speaker was sensational tonight. I've seen the guy around the group several times, but didn't know he had that story in him. I don't like to give much away about our members. I can tell you that his misadventures were like something straight out of a movie. And the way he got into the program was very touching. He was also the spitting image of my Grandpa Melton.

Afterward my sponsor and I went back to his apartment to go over my 4th Step work. We found a pattern of selfishness and ego there. That's for sure. I'm thankful that, with the help of the program and God, I'm coming out of that shell. We'll be meeting again Saturday before work and then again next week to do my 5th Step.

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature
of our wrongs.

That's when we sit down in private and I basically tell him my life story. My dad said that may take a while... LOL.

Got a good sponsor, good sobriety, a good support system, and an awesome Higher Power. As long as I stay true to all of that, there's no limit to the awesome things that will be coming my way. :)

Goodnight!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bedtime and Serenity

Have to go to bed soon so, once again, this wont be a long post.

Had a pretty gloomy day today. Prayed alot through teary eyes. I got through it, though, and tomorrow is another day.

Meeting with my sponsor tomorrow night after the men's group. We're going to go over my 4th step work. It was tough, but I learned alot about myself. This program, when worked correctly, is a true miracle.

Well. I really have to get some sleep tonight. I'm mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. Got to be up very early too.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Have a blessed night, all.

Male Jay and Today's Meditation

Have to go in to work earlier than usual for a closing shift so I can't write much. I'll be able to write more tonight when I get off. Just wanted to share the Meditation for the Day. We went over it earlier at the Mustard Seed. Had a larger crowd than normal. It was a good meeting though. Lately I've found something kinda funny about the group. There are two Jays there. A lady and myself, so now I am known as "Male Jay". Maybe I should go back to being called "Jimmy".... Just kidding.

Here's today's meditation.

Gratitude to God is the theme of Thanksgiving Day. The pilgrims gathered to give thanks to God for their harvest, which was pitifully small. When we look around at all the things we have today, how can we help being grateful to God? Our families, our homes, our friends, our A.A. fellowship: all these things are free gifts of God to us. "But for the grace of God," we would not have them.

It's a little late for Thanksgiving Day. I know I've said it recently, but if we are truly grateful for what we have, everyday is a thanksgiving. ;)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Recovery, My Responsibility

I got to thinking today, as I often do out walking around. That's where alot of what I write comes from. Well, today it came to me that my recovery has become so much more than just something that I need to be doing. I thought, "It's kinda become my job." That word has a bit of an arduous ring to it, so I thought about it some more. Responsibility sounded much better. A responsibility that I take with great pleasure. A way of life. I have a responsibility to myself, to those I love, and to my Higher Power to make myself the best person I can possibly be. I have a responsibility to share what I learn with people who want the same way of life. And I have a responsibility to help any person who is less fortunate in any way I can. There you must find a balance. Recovery... Because without it I am no good to anyone. Family... Caring for and protecting the people who mean something in my life. Service... Comes from the heart and the fact that people have been of service to me. These are things that I take very seriously and get great joy from. I really am blessed.

The speaker at our group tonight was great. First of all, it was just really nice hearing a female perspective. I'd say we get guys about three quarters of the time. That's by no means a bad thing, it was just refreshing.

She was an older lady who took us around the world with her story. Some of it was happy and some was heart-wrenching. She had a glow about her, though, that told you she was happy and thankful for each of her 23 years sober. When I shared, I thanked her for such a wonderful account. I told her that her youthful enthusiasm was an enormous re-enforcement of just how well the program works. It almost reminded me of a child telling you about their favorite thing. (Didn't share that part...) I walked away with quite a bit.

The night's winding down, I'm here at the Rue with my coffee, and I think I'm about to go over to Netflix and watch an ep of The Walking Dead. Good show.

Goodnight, all.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our Favorite Driver and Growin' Up

Another day at work that went by very quickly. We had a truck day today, so I was able to talk with our favorite driver. He is doing very well. He seems much more centered and calm, home life is good, and he is staying spiritually active. He even tried converting me to Catholicism... Really proud of the guy.

As for me, it was a good day. I've been practicing mini-4th Steps. Whenever I come into a "situation", I try to remember to step back, truly evaluate what is going on, and focus on what I might be doing wrong. It's easier than it sounds and is very effective.

I like to think I've grown up alot in the past months. Well. I have grown. Trivial little things that I used as an escape before simply don't interest me anymore. What does interest me is my recovery, building a family and future with the gal I love most, being there for my family and friends, and making some kind of difference in this world. I thank God that I have the tools to do those things now.

Well.... I have a friend who is meeting me here for coffee. Better run.