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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bad Times and Good Times

It was a bit of a roller-coaster of a day. On the good side, my food drive is extended for another month! I'm excited and grateful for that. On the bad side, someone I love very much is having a hard time and there's nothing I can do about it. I'm finally at a place in my life where I could, but I'm not allowed in. I feel helpless and it's as painful as hell. I don't want to sound selfish, though. The pain is mine, a result of something I did, and I'll own it. She has enough going on, and if I can't be there with her right now, God will be. And I'm thankful for that.

The meditation of the day seems pretty relevant to my life lately...

I believe that all sacrifice and all suffering are of value to me. When I am in pain, I am being tested. Can I trust God, no matter how low I feel? Can I say, "Thy will be done," no matter how much I am defeated? If I can, my faith is real and practical. It works in bad times as well as in good times. The Divine Will is working in a way that is beyond my finite mind to understand, but I can still trust in it.

There's alot more going on out there than just me. Sometimes I forget that.

Just finishing up some laundry, gonna eat some pizza, then wind down. Storage Wars is on all night. What I like about that show is that it's good, mindless fun. Something relaxing to veg out to after a long day.

It'll be another long day tomorrow. But ya know what? Tomorrow isn't here yet.

Goodnight, friends.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tearing Down Walls and Cooking Cajun Style

It was a great first day off. Made a couple of meetings and I made some jambalaya. I've kinda missed cooking. I may even look into getting a small grill to take to the parades with me during Mardi Gras.

Was reading the thought for the day earlier and it was about loneliness...

A drinking life isn't a happy life. Drinking cuts you off from other people and from God. One of the worst things about drinking is the loneliness. And one of the best things about A.A. is the fellowship. Drinking cuts you off from other people, at least from the people who really matter to you, your family, your co-workers, and your real friends. No matter how much you love them, you build up a wall between you and them by your drinking. You're cut off from any real companionship with them. As a result, you're terribly lonely. Have I got rid of my loneliness?

I complain about being lonely sometimes. I'm not totally alone, though. I have God and I have people who love me that I can call at any time of day. I find fellowship in meetings and in church. Those are things that I'd walled out of my life while drinking... and even when I was sober but not recovering. I try not to cry when I imagine all that I missed in that horrible time. It makes me wish I could go back and love like I should have. That's a futile thing to do, however. Can't change the past. We can only learn from it.

Have I gotten rid of my loneliness (as the passage asks). No. Not completely. But the walls are no longer there. That means that I can definitely make the present and the future better for me and my loved ones. I can connect with them and grow with them. It's a beautiful feeling.

This isn't a "woe is me" post, by the way. Just sharing what I got from the thought. I'm in a pretty decent mood and am getting ready to watch some American Pickers and Pawn Stars. My international friends may have to Google those shows... LOL. They're fairly popular here.

Well. I'm going to settle in. I hope you have a great evening and a blessed tomorrow!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

An Automatic Pay Raise

I had a really good day today. It was nice out too. I hope it's the same for the next couple of days. I have those off.

Was just reading the Thought for the Day in the 24 Hours book. I can remember only too well the duress my blowing money in bars and liquor stores put on me and my loved ones. What was it for? A few hours of feeling better about things and hiding from feelings? The selfishness of that is mind-boggling. Hiding was a very expensive habit. And thinking about what that money could have been better spent on makes me cringe.

I not only paid in money, though. I paid for addiction in pain, relationships, fear, anxiety, and failure. So when folks in the program say that you get an automatic pay raise, they mean it in other ways too.

Actually being there for the ones you love, not living in fear of being found out about something, waking in the morning without feeling like you are going to die, ...having a bright future ahead... Those things are priceless.

What a load wasting money puts on your shoulders! They say that members of A.A. have paid the highest initiation fee of any club members in the world, because we've wasted so much money on liquor. We'll never be able to figure out how much it was. We not only wasted our own money, but also the money we should have spent on our families. When you come into A.A., that terrible load of wasted money falls off your shoulders. We alcoholics were getting round-shouldered from carrying all those loads that drinking put on our shoulders. But when we come into A.A., we get a wonderful feeling of release and freedom. Can I throw back my shoulders and look the whole world in the face again?

Goodnight, my friends.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Old Habits Die Hard Pt. 3- Greed and Envy (Cornerstone Sermon 01-22-12)

Just listened to the latest podcast from Cornerstone Church. Part 3 of their series, Old Habits Die Hard, deals with 2 more of the deadly sins: Greed and Envy. Rusty Hutson was back delivering the message and was quite open about some of his dealings with envy as it relates to self-worth.

There are parts of this sermon that I could certainly relate to my own past. Some parts were pretty heavy. Overall, from a spiritual aspect, I thought it was a lovely service and wish I could have been there. I so enjoyed being there with my fam for the first one.

One thing he talked about reminded me of something I shared with some of the old-timers in north Georgia AA (the Helen group). About how one of my problems in addiction, and life in general, was that I had this attitude of, "Wow. I have this and it is good. Wouldn't it be great if I had this, too, to put on top of it?"

The desire to acquire gone haywire. I think that's what Rusty called greed. He mentioned a survey that was done with "regular, normal" people. There was a list of answers of what they would do for 10 million dollars, and I can tell ya it was ghastly.

He then went on to envy. Proverbs 14:30, "A heart in peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." It's a sickness and that's why it's commonly associated with green, according to him. Makes sense.

Anywho... I wont give it all away. Here's the sermon... Old Habits Die Hard Pt. 3- Greed and Envy

These behaviors and emotions certainly aren't curable, but they are manageable in our life choices and everyday living. I'm getting alot out of these podcasts!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Right Thing Concerning Amends

Just had an interesting conversation with my friend Mr. Lewis. He's an old school New Orleanian... If Billy Dee Williams' dad lived here, that would be him. He dropped me off from work and we just chatted about the city on the way.

Had an interesting conversation earlier, too, about amends. That one wasn't so light-hearted. Basically, I'm getting pressure from my sponsor to talk to people who are not ready to hear from me yet. They have stuff going on in their lives, and they certainly haven't gotten to a point where they'd be ok talking to me. They may never be. I hope that isn't the case though.

This is where I have to consider bringing harm to a situation. In my heart and my mind, I feel like this is one of those where I should wait until they are in a better place before contacting them. One should be bold and forthright in their steps and amends, but also humble and responsible.

You can't become complacent. It's not something that should have a time limit, either, though. Still conflicted and still praying about it. I may just have to sit down with the guy and say, "Look. Even if they want nothing to do with me right now (and for good reason), these are people that I love and have promised to protect. If the best thing I can do for them is leave them alone a little longer, let them heal some, and approach them when they are ready, then that is what I'm going to do." We may be able to move on from there into my last steps. I've made amends with just about everyone else. There are still a few I haven't tracked down yet. Or he may resign as my sponsor, in which case, I immediately find another one. He's a great guy, so I hope it doesn't come to that. I'm not going to create a potentially harmful situation, however, if it's just to get to step 10. I'll make my amends with them for the right reason and because I want to. Not as an assignment.

Or I could be completely wrong. If so, please don't hesitate with some input. The best person I could talk to about it is in bed right now, and I don't want to wake her up. She gets too little sleep as it is. Maybe I can talk to her soon.

I'm going to read for a bit then doze off myself.

Goodnight, World....

Old Habits Die Hard Pt. 2- Anger (Cornerstone Sermon Podcast 01-15-12)

I was just going over old podcasts on the Cornerstone Church website and came across parts 2 and 3 of Old Habits Die Hard... The series on the seven deadly sins. As this shouldn't be substituted for therapy, it is very helpful in recognizing and dealing with certain emotions and behaviors. Part 2 was about anger. More specifically, unhealthy anger.

I particularly liked how it was put in its place as a secondary emotion. Used as a tool or defense mechanism to deal with other less comfortable events and feelings. This is another good sermon topic that can be related to addiction. We use anger and alcohol to escape hurt, disappointment, fear, rejection... the list could go on and on. We deal with these things by lashing out. We also lash out at the people we love, and destroy wonderful relationships in the process.

Listen for the 4 ways of expressing anger too. I could see my pre-recovery self in all of them. Don't get me wrong, I still get mad sometimes.

The best of us do, however. The challenging thing is learning to deal with it positively. Click here to listen- Old Habits Die Hard Pt. 2- Anger .

How am I doing today? Still down, unfortunately. Not getting mad about it, blaming others or drinking over it, though.... so I guess in a way I can say that I'm doing well. :)

It'll be a late night at work, but I'll post again for the night owls when I get back.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Blahs and Blogging

Kinda started feeling down again. I don't know if it's the loneliness, feeling a little overwhelmed, or being in a tight money spot right now. Probably all of it. It just means that I need to be plugging away harder and putting my nose closer to the grindstone. And there are people there if I need to talk. I couldn't be more grateful for them. I don't know what condition of sanity I would be in right now without my support system. Teresa and I speak everyday, so I have to give her a gigantic thank you for listening to all my moaning over the past months.

And moaning helps sometimes. As long as you don't cross the line to self-pity and "being a victim". That's a true characterization of many alcoholics. Messing everyone else's lives up and then saying, "Woe is me..."

What is something positive I can do right now to feel better? I'm writing in my blog. That's a big one. I need to clean. That refocuses me into better thinking. I'd call someone or call my sponsor if I felt like I needed a good chat. I may read in bed later too. That one just came to me.

So what do we do when our foot is stuck in the mud? We pull it out or we sink up to our knee. ;)

Goodnight, World!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

False Alarms

I was kind of worried about someone earlier today. Hadn't heard from him in a while. I'm sure I was over-reacting a bit. For someone in recovery, though, if you don't hear back from them fairly quick, your imagination can go pretty wild. Doubly so when that person is your sponsor. All turned out well. I was able to track him down and we chatted for a while. I guess I know, now, to a very small extent what would go through the minds of my loved ones when I went MIA. It's really f***ed up, and I can never be more sorry.

The rest of my day went well. Work was fine. We had a truck, but my friend the truck driver has apparently been reassigned. I haven't heard from him since that night he called. He's a good guy, but in his case, assuming the bad may not be far off the mark. He'd been making alot of progress, but I could tell he wasn't actually getting it. Ya know what I mean? I'll pray for him tonight and give him another call tomorrow.

Well.... It's a very early day coming up and I have lots on my to-do list. I do believe that I am going to kick back in my boxers and watch something on Netflix until time to go to bed.

Goodnight and have a blessed day!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Resilience and Drunk Intellectuals

Alcoholics who are living in a blind alley refuse to be really honest with themselves or with other people. They're running away from life and won't face things as they are. They won't give up their resentments. They're too sensitive and too easily hurt. They refuse to try to be unselfish. They still want everything for themselves. And no matter how many disastrous experiences they have had with drinking, they still do it over and over again. There's only one way to get out of that blind alley way of living and that's to change your thinking. Have I changed my thinking?

I met my new neighbor earlier today and had a lengthy discussion about Einstein's quote, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results." The guy is a true intellect, but unfortunately he is in the same grip of addiction that I once was.

There is some kind of misconception in the world that, in New Orleans, you are either an insatiable party person or a drunk literary type. Yes. We have those people in abundance. The culture is so much richer than that, though. I get the impression, however, that he uses an old stereotype to justify his drinking. It's not for me to judge, seeing as how I was once just like that. Romanticizing a dirty habit to make it more acceptable.

My friend in relapse is doing ok. I called earlier to check in. She's on the waiting list for Grace House. That's a year-long rehab center for women. She"s almost 70 years old and the fact that she is so dedicated to recovery is admirable. I hear so many people lament that they wasted their youth on alcohol, and this lady has the resilience of all of them put together.

It's never too late to make yourself better. ;)

I had a good men's group tonight, but didn't see my sponsor there. He didn't respond to my text earlier either. Hope he's ok. He suffered a loss last week. A friend of his who was only 30 had a massive heart attack on the basketball court. Reminds us of how short a time we have in this universe.

My neighbor's house.
Love it love it love it!

Goodnight, world and God bless!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Friends in Relapse

The first half of my day wasn't very fruitful. I got up a little earlier than usual with a fairly lengthy "To-Do" list. Then the rain came and scratched that. I was able to mark one thing off. Rent.

Hung out here for a while and watched Sherlock on Netflix. I'm a bit of a Doyle purist, but am impressed with Gatiss' and Moffat's take on it. I was always a Mycroft fan and Mark Gatiss pulls it off beautifully. Not sure how I feel yet about Moriarty. Just like The Master in Doctor Who, I've always seen him as the bearded Machiavellian.

The second half of the day involved me sitting with a friend who has relapsed. She sent me a message earlier this afternoon that she needed help. Her sponsor couldn't leave work, so I stayed until she could get there. The lady lost her entire family because of drugs and alcohol. That's how powerful addiction is. I know it was her choice, but it makes me so angry that everyone in her life turned their backs on her. Plus, I know what it feels like to a small extent, and can see how the loneliness and pain can drive someone back to using. It's a seriously misunderstood disease, and she's a good person. One way to guarantee that you stay alone, however, is to go back to your old habits. She's in good hands, now, and I'm back at the apartment trying to figure out where to put a couch and a TV.

That may sound trivial, but to someone overcoming alcoholism, it's one of the coolest things in the world.

I'm going to pray for my friend (and not judge her). I'm very grateful for her, too. Helping other addicts contributes to keeping me from going back. I'll give her sponsor a call in a bit to see how things are going.

Goodnight and be well...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tonight, Tonight

Ya know what? I think this is still my favorite song... Was lying in bed listening to The Smashing Pumpkins and realized how relevant this still is to my life. Goodnight again!

Time is never time at all
You can never ever leave without leaving a piece of youth
And our lives are forever changed
We will never be the same
The more you change the less you feel
Believe, believe in me, believe
That life can change, that you're not stuck in vain
We're not the same, we're different tonight
Tonight, so bright

And you know you're never sure
But you're sure you could be right
If you held yourself up to the light
And the embers never fade in your city by the lake
The place where you were born
Believe, believe in me, believe
In the resolute urgency of now
And if you believe there's not a chance tonight
Tonight, so bright

We'll crucify the insincere tonight
We'll make things right, we'll feel it all tonight
We'll find a way to offer up the night tonight
The indescribable moments of your life tonight
The impossible is possible tonight
Believe in me as I believe in you, tonight

Marvelous and Majestic

I will never forget to say thank you to God, even on the greyest days. My attitude will be one of humility and gratitude. Saying thank you to God is a daily practice that is absolutely necessary. If a day is not one of thankfulness, the practice has to be repeated until it becomes so. Gratitude is a necessity for those who seek to live a better life.

I love that today's meditation deals with gratitude! I hate to name-drop, but I do talk to a pretty important guy everyday. To say that you have the ear of the most powerful force in the universe is somethin' else... Ok. I'll stop being cheesy. It's true though.

I thank God every night (and throughout the day) for everything he's done for me. I am a different, better person, and I couldn't have done it without him. I thank him for the people he has put in my life. People that have made me better. People who really love me. :) I thank him for everyday that I have on this planet (I know that I'm not guaranteed another one...). I thank him for every sober day on this planet too. I thank him for putting me in a position to be of service to other people. And every once in a while, say I'm hiking up a gorgeous mountain pass knee-deep in snow, I whisper my gratitude.

That's Hatcher Pass, BTW. Haven't been there in forever and it's one of my favorite places on earth. My Alaskan peeps know what I'm talkin' about.

True gratitude requires humility, though. I have to say that I am truly humbled by all the marvelous and majestic things God has put in my life! I can't wait to see what else He has in store for me...

Until tomorrow, my friends... Goodnight.

Hatcher Pass. This is me with my bro
before I moved up in 2001. For more info
on the pass click here...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Crowded Days

I will take the most crowded day without fear. I believe that God is with me and controlling all. I will let confidence be the motif running through all the crowded day. I will not get worried, because I know that God is my helper. Underneath are the everlasting arms. I will rest in them, even though the day is full of things crowding in upon me.

That's the daily meditation from 24 Hours. Man I wish I would've read that before my day started. It was pretty hectic. I don't know what was going around town. Mardi Gras doesn't go into full swing until next month.

I have to say, though, that through working the steps I am more confident and decisive in hectic situations. Sure, I had to deal with some chaos at work today, but I kept my serenity. I was significantly less easy to frustrate than I once was. There was a time in my addiction when, if a situation got too difficult, things were just alot easier for me if I shut down completely. Did I get anything accomplished that way? Of course not. And it hurt people too.

Now I prefer to take challenging situations head-on and look at them positively. No matter how bad or complicated or overwhelming they may be. Life becomes so much easier when ya realize that God's got your back!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Post-New Year's Resolutions

I ate Popeye's for lunch and have felt rotten the entire day. That got me thinking about some of the life choices I've been making lately. Eating alot of junk food being only one. Then I thought it might be therapeutic to write a list of... resolutions. For some reason I don't like that word. I'm not scared of it. It just sounds cheesy to me.

Anyhow. Here's some stuff that I've been thinking about working on. These aren't the BIG things. Just some everyday things that can contribute to my well-being.

1) Eating more Subway if I'm looking for fast food. I used to eat it everyday and I liked it. And it's cheap. Healthier too. I got into the habit of snacking again as well. Gotta stop that. Need to drink more water. I drink waaaay too much diet soda.

2) I need to get back into reading again. There was a time when I read one book after another. Teresa gave me a really good one for Christmas called God, If You're Not Up There, I'm F*cked. By Darrell Hammond. It's about his history of abuse and addiction. I'll start that on my off days next week.

3) Stopping smoking! I've cut down, but need to quit altogether. I tried a while back, but it was just way too much of an emotional time. Things have settled a bit and I have my health and a future family to think about.

4) Seeing my family more. I want to get to a point where we can make a few weekend visits on top of our two week-long visits every year.

5) I want to get back into sketching again. I was really good at one time. It's a talent that is going to waste.

There. That's 5. I'll be working on some more and keep ya updated. If anyone has any suggestions, by all means let me know! :)

Have a great night...

Thought for the Day 1-20-12

Closing again tonight, so it will be another very late evening post. I'm actually about to head out early and grab some lunch.

I really liked the Thought for the Day in the 24 Hours book... Wanted to share before I take off.

In A.A. we're all through with lying, hangovers, remorse, and wasting money. When we were drinking, we were only half alive. Now that we're trying to live decent, honest, unselfish lives, we're really alive. Life has a new meaning for us, so that we can really enjoy it. We feel that we're some use in the world. We're on the right side of the fence, instead of on the wrong side. We can look the world in the face instead of hiding in alleys. We come into A.A. to get sober and if we stay long enough, we learn a new way of living. Am I convinced that no matter how much fun I got out of drinking, that life never was as good as the life I can build in A.A.?

I remember only too well what it was like to hide. I thank God that I'm able to walk down the street now and look people in the eye.

Have a great rest of your day!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

4 Month Chips and Calls from the Truck Driver

I was so stoked about picking up my 4 month chip at the homegroup tonight! When she got to "3" I was about to jump up, but she then went on to "6".... We don't have a 4 month chip. No biggie, though. I'll just grab one at my next meeting. As I said in my share, it's the actual time that matters.

Not alot to write about from the rest of the day. I will say that it feels good when you check the last thing off your daily errand list. Now I gotta write one for tomorrow.

I got a call from our truck driver while I was at my group. In the voicemail, he said that they had switched routes on him. It's something they do from time to time. Hadn't seen him since Christmas, so I was starting to worry. When I tried calling back, I didn't get an answer. I'll have to try again in the morning... or if something is up hopefully he'll try again.

Well. Before I start winding down (I got up very early today), I thought I'd share the meditation from 24 Hours...

I believe that God had already seen my heart's needs before I cried to Him, before I was conscious of those needs myself. I believe that God was already preparing the answer. God does not have to be petitioned with sighs and tears and much speaking before He reluctantly loses the desired help. He has already anticipated my every want and need. I will try to see this as His plans unfold in my life.

Remember when I said that someone very important to me shared that "God meets us where we are."? It's true. I can tell you that God was reaching out to me way before I finally reached out to him.

Goodnight, world. :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Anchored in the Stagnant Waters of Bygones

Today marks my 4th month in recovery. Real recovery. Not just sobriety, but also confronting and letting go of my past. Learning to deal with life on life's terms. Now that's an interesting little saying, and I've never bothered to get down to its actual meaning before. Basically... I don't make the rules in a situation I have no control over. That situation being "life". And life can be a bitch. Reminds me of the Serenity Prayer...

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

I'm enthusiastic about the progress that I've made, but I also find myself pausing in solemn reflection. There are some parts of the past months that have been absolute hell. Days... even weeks at a time where my soul hurt so badly that I could feel it physically. Didn't drink over it, though. I stayed plugged into the program instead of withdrawing to the creature comforts of trivial things. Is that pain some kind of penance for all the shitty things I've done in the past? I don't know. Perhaps. If it is, then I've happily paid it... and will probably continue to pay it for a very long time. I can no longer allow it to incapacitate me, however. I feel like I've accomplished alot towards recovery, a foundation for a family, rebuilding relationships with those who are open to it... There's still more to do, though.

I have no illusions of grandeur. I'm no George Bush, flying onto a Naval carrier in a jet and standing under a banner that reads, "Mission Accomplished!" If I truly want to maintain what I've built so far, and build still more upon it, I have to let go of things that have already happened. That's pretty much where steps 4 through 9 come in... and I'm almost done with 9. Still more amends to make, of course. And then there are some that are from years ago that I can't make without hurting others.

I dunno. This is a very tricky subject. I'll need to pray more about it...

In a nutshell, I'm stoked that I've reached another milestone! And I realize that I'm by no means done. Some people ask me how long you have to stay in AA....

Uhhhh. Forever.

That used to scare the crap out of me, but once you open yourself to God and recovery, the rewards are endless.

Anchors aweigh!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Little Lightheartedness Goes a Long Way Pt. 3

Just got back! It's nice to see a little thunderstorm come through. Maybe it'll still be raining when I go to bed. I'm literally surrounded by windows, and I think it would be very relaxing.

Well... As I said earlier, it may be cool to do another "Lightheartedness" post. It's something I do occasionally. Just videos, quotes, and stuff. The first entry is one of my favorite songs and favorite music videos. The Smashing Pumpkins' Tonight Tonight.....

A friend of mine in Georgia lent me a DVD while I was visiting family. It's called How Great is Our God. The message is delivered by Louis Giglio, a pastor from Atlanta. I'm still a bit of a science nut and I enjoyed how he bridged some of the gap between that and Faith. Posted here is the vid in its entirety.

I had NO idea that Albert Einstein is credited with one of the most common quotes you'll hear in AA... "Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." How cool is that?

Adele covers my favorite band. And it rocks! The Cure's Lovesong....

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it." -Yogi Berra

And finally, I'll say goodnight with some Beatles. I seem to be on a Fab Four kick lately... It's not a rare video, but it was nicely done.

Until tomorrow... Aloha and mahalo!

Meetings and the Osmosis Effect

I have to close at work tonight, so I'll be doing my evening writing very late.

Got up and read the Thought for the Day from the 24 Hours book...

It doesn't do much good to come to meetings only once in a while and sit around, hoping to get something out of the program. That's all right at first, but it won't help us very long. Sooner or later we have to get into action by coming to meetings regularly, by giving a personal witness of our experience with alcohol, and by trying to help other alcoholics. Building a new life takes all the energy that we used to spend on drinking. Am I spending at least as much time and effort on the new life that I'm trying to build in A.A.?

I'm happy to be able to say that, this time, I hit the AA trail running. In years passed, I was always the guy sitting in the back looking at the clock. Thinking that my simple presence would spark some kind of osmosis-like effect... And that was even if I cared at all about recovering. Sometimes I just went to say that I'd been there.

Now I get a sense of joy and fellowship from going to meetings. I share often. I've worked hard with my sponsor on my steps. I do any kind of service work that is within my ability. And I pray... sticking close to my Higher Power. This earnest work that I've put into recovery has earned me another chip (an honest chip) tomorrow. Well. I have to wait til my homegroup Thursday to pick it up. Gotta work all day.

So I am grateful for today's thought. We often hear the same things over again, but sometimes in different words. That's great, though. I consider it renewing instead of repetitive.... keeping us on our toes and out of the monstrous jaws of complacency.

To all the night owls, I'll post again when I get back... Maybe something fun. It's been a while since I did a "Lightheartedness" post.

Monday, January 16, 2012

You Can't Hoe a Straight Line Looking Backward

Had to scoot from work to my 12 & 12 study. I was only about 10 minutes late. As some say, "You can get here late, but don't leave early." I used to arrive late and leave early.

We talked about the 9th step tonight. Absolutely perfect, considering I still have some amends left. I shared about the ones I've made so far, the ones I have yet to make, and the couple that I can't make in order to avoid hurting other people. I also talked about the selfishness of procrastination. The discussion was a really good re-enforcement.

Work went well. And quick. Which is a plus. I'll continue to look online tonight for more career-oriented opportunities though. I'd talked to my manager a while back about developing me, but he seems to like me where I am,. I do have to admit, however, that before everything had blown up in September, I did manage to climb one rung up the ladder. I think we all know how I sabotaged that.

The future is in front of me, and lamenting the past gets one nowhere. We can only learn from it and carry that knowledge forward. Someone told me, "You can't hoe a straight line looking backward."

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I thought I'd post his I Have a Dream speech. Still very relevant. I have to wonder what he'd say about the current state of the world and the progress we've made since August 28th, 1963.

Goodnight and have a blessed day tomorrow!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Survival of the Self-Centered

One of the largest character defects... and perhaps most common in alcoholics... that I've had to work to overcome has been self-centeredness.

The recurring theme in my moral inventory was a life-long streak of self serving behavior. It dates all the way back to when I was the only child of the youngest child. "The poor kid whose no-good mom left him and his dad high and dry." Well. My mom and I are alot alike in some ways, but I finally chose to be better than what my history taught me.

When I say "what my history taught me", I mean the learned behaviors that I picked up over decades as a defense mechanism. I learned to be a survivor at a very young age. I was pretty spoiled in my early developmental years. Then I was put in a situation where I had to share, which bred great resentment and caused many problems on my part. That sharing environment quickly turned to dysfunction and a state of "every man for himself". It became a household of anger and resentment towards each other. Some of the behaviors that this spawned among us could be considered down-right dangerous.

To escape this, we found our own little worlds to live in. When these worlds clashed, things could get ugly pretty quick. A few of us, not all, began to look out only for ourselves and how we could survive the situation we found ourselves in. One... well... maybe two of the household went absolutely buck-wild, coming and going as they pleased. Me. I escaped into music, Doctor Who, drawing, trips to Auburn... creative stuff and things I found adventurous. Things that, in my low self-esteem, I thought set me apart. And if friends wanted to come along for the ride... well... I hoped they liked The Cure, because that's what we were listening to.

Another behavior that this survival instinct provided me was compulsive consumption. When someone is in survival mode, true survival mode, they will eat, drink, hoard, and consume as much as they can of anything they feel they need. My case was a bit different. If I liked something, I consumed as much of it as possible. Because it was mine. And if it wasn't technically mine, then it sure as hell should be. Get your own. And then I'll have that too.

If anyone wonders how I got hooked on booze.... well there ya go.

When I'd dug a big enough hole for myself, and someone would try to help, I'd take full advantage of the situation until I was no longer welcome. Then I'd move on to the next opportunity. It was a life of just getting by enough to fulfill my baser desires at other people's expense. Surviving and self-serving. Behavior that should never have existed in the first place, and certainly shouldn't have followed me into adulthood.

Now. If it makes me sound like less of an asshole, you could say that I was a bit of a freeloader who drank too much.

For those who really know me, you know that I'm not a bad person. I could actually be quite giving and considerate. For the most part, though, I always looked out for me. Because in my mind, I was the only person looking out for me. Even when that wasn't the case. That's more of a trust issue, though. I'll save that subject for a future post.

I'm happy to say that, today, that character defect is at the bottom of God's garbage can. I turned it over to him to do with as he sees fit. Does it try to pop back up from time to time. Of course. Any sane person would know that I was lying if I said it didn't. Do I have the tools, now, to keep it in it's place. Yes. I do. And as long as I'm doing what I need to do in recovery, the selfishness, manipulation, and lying will never be necessary. Not that they ever were to begin with.

Until next time, Namaste!

Mine.... Mine...... Mine.... Mine...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Naps and Amends

Did some work around the place, then took a long nap. I was pretty tired after that trip last night. I feel alot better now. Slept through most of the Saints/ 49ers game though! Man, this is a tight one. They're a strong second-half team, so I have faith. WhoDat!?

It was a gorgeous day here in New Orleans. One that I took full advantage of by walking down to Popeye's for some chicken strips. Normally I'd be all over town in weather like that, but I just didn't have it in me today....

Not much else to write about. Still considering hitting The Columns tonight if anything is going on. Need to call my sponsor in a minute. I made some very important amends over the week. I came to a solid realization that my hesitation or nervousness about doing that is a pretty selfish behavior. I'd been procrastinating because I felt awkward. The folks I'm making amends to are only too happy forgive and put things behind us. Well... so far. I still have a few folks left. Plus, the amends aren't for me. I suppose they kind of are because the spiritual benefits and the relationships they help heal are priceless. I've been taught, however, that amends are for the other person. And I can see why. We alcoholics have a talent for putting those closest to us... I dare say the ones we love most and that love us... through hell.

Well. I'm going to check out the rest of this game. Once again I'd like to tell all my family back home how much I love them and appreciate their having me out! It was such a wonderful week.

Until next I post... Goodnight!

This, Too, Shall Pass

I was so looking forward to getting home after a long bus trip. Even when we arrived at the terminal, I was excited to catch a cab, get back to the apartment, and see what today brings. I was excited to be near Sarah again.

Then I got back to the apartment and wished I was back on that bus... Nothing was touched. It was like I'd never left. Like the past week had been a dream. I was alone again. I sat down and cried.

Recovery has taught me to do well on my own. But everyone gets lonely. I just thought it would take longer for that melancholy to find me. You can't hide from something that is in your heart.

So what do I do now? I guess I'll go out... see what's happening around town today. Grab some lunch. Catch a meeting. See if there's live jazz at The Columns tonight. I really don't know.

I don't regret coming home. Don't get me wrong. There are goals and priorities I have set. A future to continue to build. I'm very enthusiastic about that.

I have to remember that "This, too, shall pass." Maybe I'll have something more upbeat to post about tonight.

Friday, January 13, 2012

On the Road Again....

Just brewed my last pot of coffee... Said goodbye to baby William.... Sawed off that pesky tree branch that was sticking out over the road.... Packed up.... Talked to my bro about coming out for Mardi Gras.... Still gotta say farewell to JW and Nancy....

I have an all-night trip back to New Orleans starting at 8:25. Wont get back til about 8am tomorrow morning. Seeing as how I wont be able to write tonight, I thought I'd go ahead and post now.

Teresa picked up some stuff to make our own pizza, so we'll be doing that in a bit. Dad will be back from work soon. I'm going to try and clean up some. Still a few things to do before taking off... Gonna miss my folks alot. Hopefully I'll see them before the reunion in June. Might try and make it out to Auburn for a weekend.

So. Goodbye, mountains. Goodbye, country meetings. Goodbye, stillness of night. Goodbye, BBQ eatings!

"A happy family is but an earlier heaven."
-George Bernard Shaw

And, yes. I'll miss you too, Smokey.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What A Great Week!

Wow! This week has flown right by! I still have tomorrow, though. Then I head out tomorrow night. Get back to New Orleans Saturday morning. I'd really like to thank Jeremy, Lacie, Avery, Ella, Dad and Teresa for their hospitality. I was truly blessed to have had such an awesome time with you guys! I consider this a valuable opportunity to heal some relationships and a time of spiritual enrichment. Not to mention it was just fun!

I got to connect with some people in a way that, perhaps, would have been a bit more difficult for me before. Got to see some folks I haven't seen in a while too. And it was a nice, quiet retreat from all the noise and craziness of New Orleans.

I don't mind noise and craziness so much, but it is good to get away from it sometimes...

I take back with me a greater sense of peace and an even more invigorated determination to build and succeed. There's so much I can do with this one life I've been given. And so much I can share.

To my family... I love you guys and thanks again! I'm sad to leave, but excited to get home and see what the future holds!

I'll post tomorrow before I leave. Until then, have a great night.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

An Evening With the Old-Timers

I have been looking forward to this meeting for months! I absolutely love the Helen, Ga. old-timers group. I wish I could find one like it around New Orleans... not that there aren't great groups there. NOLA has an amazing AA support system.

The folks here, though, are just some of the kindest country people you could hope to meet. I told them in my share that I wished I could load them all up on a bus and take them back home with me. One lady said she'd go if she could meet Drew Brees.

There were some familiar faces from September that I was glad to see. We had a good topic too. The 10th step, anger, and how we deal with it. We all still deal with anger and resentment sometimes. The difference is that, now, I can identify my frustrations and consciously deal with them in a healthier way. And I don't get frustrated nearly as easily as I once did. That's a character defect I turned over to God.

Got to go gem mining with my dad today. It was actually his suggestion. He's been on the lookout for rubies that he can put in his rock polisher. We found him a couple. Found some other really cool gems too.

Cooked an awesome crawfish pasta casserole for dinner. Gonna try and remember how I made it so I can do it back home too.

It was a really cool day that I got to spend with my folks... And I can't wait to see my old-timers again in June!

Goodnight, all.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Day of Reunions

Awesome day. I went to visit my good friend JW. I met him back in September when I first got up here. He and his wife are two of the greatest people in the world. He's closely involved with a lot of the recovery programs in north Georgia. Teresa introduced me to him when we were looking at different program options.

The man was instrumental in getting me started on the road to recovery. He told me that he's been praying for me since I last saw him. He also said that he could see that God had plans for me in helping others. It really means alot to hear that, and I'm very grateful to have him in my life. Hopefully I'll see them again before I leave Friday.

After the visit we went to an NA meeting that I've been to a couple of times. Some AA's aren't super-crazy about NA meetings, but I enjoy them. Got to see some folks I haven't seen in a while and met a few new ones. The topic was good. Fellowship. One person shared that by not using, they were able to be part of the fellowship of recovery. I think of it more like being part of that fellowship helps keep me from drinking. We all went out for Chinese food afterward. Had to leave dinner a bit early, though, so we could catch Dad while he was still up.

He and Teresa are winding down on the couch now, and I'm about to eat some General Tso's chicken.

I feel really blessed to have such a wonderful support system and so many friends who are there for my recovery. New and old.

Until tomorrow... Goodnight, world.

Old Habits Die Hard (Podcast of sermon from Cornerstone Church)

The reason I was so excited about this sermon is how relevant I thought it was to the subject of addiction. I was also very interested to hear about how Thomas Aquinas broke gluttony down into 6 categories. That made the subject even clearer. You may be a bit surprised, as well, at how many calories we consume in a day as compared to other areas of the world.

This sermon was delivered by Rusty Hutson at Cornerstone Church. They're doing great things over there, and if you are in the Auburn area, I highly recommend it.... So here it is. The link to the podcast of the Jan. 8th sermon.

Old Habits Die Hard Pt. 1- Gluttony

I'll be writing a regular post later tonight...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Candlelight Meetings and Championship Games

Just got back from our meeting at halftime. Bama is winning 9-0 against LSU. Sorry Bammers. My loyalty lies with the Tigers. Even if they aren't orange and blue....

The meeting was ok. It was one I've never been to. Not many of the members seemed very serious about recovery. When here, I prefer the old-fashioned country groups with all the old-timers. What did make this one stand out was that it was a candlelight meeting. Never been to one of those. I really liked that.

The topic was a very important one. Having a sponsor. I shared about the difference it's made in my life and how vital it is toward working your steps. To work an effective recovery, it's best to have an experienced person to guide you through it.

The rest of the day was great. Spent half of it with Teresa and the baby she nannies. Hung out with my dad in his shop. Watched some American Pickers. And now I'm seeing what happens with this championship game. Gonna eat some ravioli too. Geaux Tigers!

Goodnight and have a blessed day tomorrow...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Gluttony and Mushroom Recipes

Got up this morning just before Dad and Teresa got to Jeremy and Lacie's. We all went to church together. It's a new fellowship they found called Cornerstone. I really enjoyed the service. Even went to the website to find the transcript of the sermon, but it isn't posted yet.

The sermon was the first in a series called Old Habits Die Hard- The Seven Deadly Sins. The sin du jour was gluttony. Very relevant to my recovery. In many ways gluttony and addiction go hand in hand. Over-indulgence to the point where you are no longer in control of what you are consuming. I sat glued the entire time to what was being said. As soon as the sermon is posted, I'll share it. We all thought it was funny that, at the end, the first thing everyone started talking about was what restaurant they were going to... including us.

Ended up grabbing some stuff for lunch at Kroger. Pizza, salad, mushrooms... I bought some baby portabella mushroom caps and sauteed them in a half inch of olive oil, minced garlic, pepper, Tony Chachere's seasoning, then topped them with grated parmesan. People seemed to really like it, so I thought I'd share. ;)

We all said our goodbyes, and off I went to Georgia with Dad and Teresa. Slept most of the way. Now everyone's settled in for the night... Looking forward to tomorrow and helping out around the house.

Until then, goodnight and God bless!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Little Quality Time

Jeremy told me this morning that it took about 10 minutes to wake me up last night. I had fallen asleep while writing. Apparently, when I finally woke up, I thought I was still in New Orleans. I asked him what was going on and what he was doing there... I literally fought sleep all day yesterday.

Had a great home-cooked omelette for breakfast, took a walk around the neighborhood with Jeremy and the girls, had a BBQ sandwich at Cracker Barrel with Lacie's family, came back and watched the girls open presents, went to Target, and now watching the Saints game with my bro!

I'm so grateful to have this time with my folks! Simple, quality time. It doesn't have to be spent at an amusement park, or waterskiing, or skydiving. Some of the best times I've ever had have been spent in a living room watching a DVD or playing a game with people I love. ;) Apples to Apples rocks.

Simply put, love your loved ones like there's no tomorrow! Enjoy any time God gives you to spend with them.

Goodnight, all!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Horseback Riding and Butt Jokes

Well that was an arduous journey, but well worth it! Had a wonderful time with Jeremy, Lacie, and the girls! We went and did some of their jobs through the day, had lunch at CiCi's pizza, went with Avery to her first horseback riding lesson (she's a natural), and then had dinner at Hardee's. Yeah. It was a menu of junk food all day long, but it was good and the company was great!

I'm having an awesome time connecting with my family so far.... and today was only the first day. We're watching A Christmas Carol right now, and the girls are already passed out. I discovered that my niece, Ella, is quite the extrovert and has an affinity for butt jokes too.

We'll have most of the day tomorrow and Sunday. Dad and Teresa come out Sunday morning, and church is on the agenda as well. Then on Sunday evening we head to north Georgia for the week!

Well. I've been literally falling asleep where I sit all day. It's about to happen now. Here's the meditation from 24 Hours...

I will discipline myself. I will do this disciplining now. I will turn out all useless thoughts. I know that the goodness of my life is a necessary foundation for its usefulness. I will welcome this training, for without it, God cannot give me His power. I believe that this power is a mighty power when it is used in the right way.

Interesting note- I did fall asleep while writing this. Bout to head to bed now. Good night!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Run Run Run

I ended up deciding to come back to the apartment to get my luggage instead of leaving straight from work. It's a bit more expensive to take a cab, but worth the convenience.

Anyway... I was bound and determined to write something before I left. I make it a point to post at least once a day. And it's been a very good day so far. Very busy, but very good. I think I have everything ready to go.

Here's the Meditation for the Day from the 24 Hours book-

I believe that God's presence brings peace and that peace, like a quiet-flowing river, will cleanse all irritants away. In these quiet times, God will teach me how to rest my nerves. I will not be afraid. I will learn how to relax. When I am relaxed, God's strength will flow into me. I will be at peace.

I believe that is an incredibly valuable thing to remember when life gets a bit overwhelming. Take a deep breath, quieten your soul, and turn it over to him. I plan to use this time with my family, and the time in the quiet country to enrich myself spiritually and mentally. It'll be fun and it will be a great opportunity to grow.

Tomorrow I post from Auburn, Alabama! Have a good night, world.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Enter the Cyclone

Just got off work. At approximately 8 pm central time my life became a whirlwind.... and it will be one until Friday morning. Not to worry, though. It's a good whirlwind. I still have a lot to do tonight before my trip. I doubt I'm going to get much sleep.

So I'm spending time with my bro and his fam this weekend. Hopefully seeing some of my Alexander City peeps while there. Then I'm off to north Georgia to hang with my folks. It'll be a nice laid back week in the country. Like I said in a previous post... I can't wait to hit some of those mountain meetings too. The people are great and really enjoy their recovery.

I'll have a few new friends from last time to visit as well. Total strangers who took such an interest in my beating this disease. It's absolutely amazing what impact someone you don't even know can have on your life. I do believe that one person, in particular, is going to be shocked at my willingness to sit down and pray with him. I was such the intellectual asshole before. Even then.

I'll still post everyday. Maybe even twice on some days. I'll be grillin', helping around the house, playing with kitties, holding a baby, sitting on the porch chatting, visiting some of the neighboring towns, and more. The usual stuff, but a different Jay.

Well. I'd better get cracking. Lot's to do. Have a great night and a blessed day tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Road Paved of Good Intentions

I love going to the men's group. I told someone earlier that it was a lot of laughing and cursing. It's a great fellowship of guys who like to cut up a little and talk about their recovery. I met my sponsor there too.

Our topic tonight was about service work. Someone shared something that stuck with me... "Intention doesn't get results, action does." Another guy quoted Yoda with one of my favorite pearls of wisdom, "Do... or do not. There is no 'try'." Basically... Service requires action.

Or does it?

The discussion reminded me of last night's step study. I thought of my initial reaction to hearing what the newcomer was saying. I shared about it tonight. That what I would have done previously was run right to him after the meeting and say, "Ok! This is what you need to do!" This particular situation, however, required more humility from me than it did knowledge. I'm in absolutely no position right now to give this guy advice. Maybe a little ways down the road, but not now.

I wished him the best, kept my mouth shut after that, and let God and someone with alot more experience handle it. In a nutshell, I guess what I'm saying is that sometimes you have to realize that your best intentions can do more harm than good. There was once a time for me, as well, that those intentions were bred more from ego than from a genuine willingness to help.

The rest of the day was good too. Started the food drive benefiting Second Harvest of New Orleans. If you live in the area, the food drop is in the Walgreen's at 3227 Magazine St. My theme is "The Other 363- Hunger Still Happens After The Holidays". They recommend that you have a theme. :)

Gotta lot of work to do tonight, so I'm going to get to it. Goodnight, all and have a great tomorrow!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Most Important Person in the Room

We had a very important person at our step study tonight. In fact, he's the most important person in the whole organization. He's a newcomer. A person who is there looking for help. The poor guy has been detoxing without medical assistance for 3 days... Which is incredibly dangerous. This article on talks about it. Click here to view.

He basically lost everything in the course of 2 weeks. Looking at him, I saw a shadow of a man. Slumped over, beaten, sobbing. Not only are we all there to help him, but he also helps us. We see from the outside what we were like at our first meeting. Or our second or third "first" meeting. And that alone is more than enough to remind us of why we quit drinking and started recovery.

We passed a meeting schedule to him with our phone numbers on it, and one of the old-timers talked to him afterward. I hope nothing but the best for the guy.

On a bit of a lighter note, I need to start remembering that it's no longer 2011. I'm accustomed to ending with "this year" when giving my full sobriety date. We do that at the beginning of some meetings. I think the only thing anybody heard was "this year". I couldn't figure out why everyone's jaws dropped when I gave mine. One lady I haven't met before said, "Keep coming back." I just smiled like an idiot, without realizing what I'd just said, and told her, "Thank you." Thought it was kinda funny. Had to quickly correct myself when I realized my error.

Goodnight and peace be with you.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mountain Meetings and the Play-Offs

Had a great day at work. Got to catch bits and pieces of the Saints game. That's 8 in a row and it's play-off time. Woot!

Now I'm hanging back at my place. I have some research to do on the net, other than that, I'm going to relax. I have to work everyday until my vacation. Going to GA and AL Friday to visit my fam. It'll be a bittersweet trip because an important part of it will be missing this time around. But it's ok. I understand why. I can't wait to see my folks, though, and spend time with them. I plan on making every moment count! I'm also looking forward to those north Georgia mountain AA meetings. They are some of the best groups I've ever sat with. Hope they remember me... I have a LOT to share. I'll post about them while I'm up there. ;)

There's really not much more that I can write about the day except that it was awesome. Just absolutely awesome.

Well... Have a wonderful night. I hope the first day of your new year was blessed. Mine was.

Welcome 2012!

I just got back from seeing a live jazz trio at The Columns Hotel on St. Charles. I know it's nobody's fault but my own, but I got kind of weary of spending holidays alone so I went out and did something to celebrate. I must tell you up front that I celebrated with nothing more than cranberry and soda.... with a twist of lime.

Here are a few pics that I took with my phone. The camera on that thing is terrible. You'd expect more from a Blackberry. Especially a newer model.

I can assure you that I'm not normally that blurry. Geez. It looks like a circa 1970's picture of Bigfoot. Had a good time, though, and I made some new friends. Friends I'll probably never see again, but it was nice to have some interaction. One of the little things that recovery has given me is that I'm more social.

Anyway... I hope that you all have a blessed 2012. May the new year bring us love, prosperity, and happiness. I have big plans for my first full year of sobriety. The sky's the limit. I can now realistically concentrate on starting a family. An actual career. A home. Having a real life, being the man, and the provider I should have been years ago. I owe all that to God.

Once again. Best wishes. I hope we see a better world in the new year.... and not a Mayan apocalypse.