Friday, 30 December 2011

Why Me?

Most newcomers are really concerned with finding out why they are alcoholics. What we learn is that the 'why' is completely irrelevant to the solution.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Near Beer? - Keep it Far Away!

I've never heard of anyone relapsing after drinking grapefruit juice or milk. But I have heard many stories of relapse after consumption of Near Beer,  De-Alcoholized Wines or Sparkling Grape Juice. If we are looking for some vicarious pleasure from a beer stein or wineglass, we are in a slippery place. Is it worth dying over? Have a coffee or soft drink instead.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Carry On

Simply lay out the kit of spiritual tools for his inspection.  Show him how they worked with you.  Offer him friendship and fellowship.  Tell him that if he wants to get well you will do anything to help.
If he is not interested in your solution, if he expects you to act only as a banker for his financial difficulties or a nurse for his sprees, you may have to drop him until he changes his mind.  This he may do after he gets hurt some more. p. 95 Big Book

Monday, 26 December 2011

The First Dance?

"The only relief we have to suggest is entire abstinence." p. xxx - The Doctor's Opinion, Big Book 

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Santa Wish List

Knowing that both his parents were in AA, and loving it, the little boy sat on Santa's knee and said, "Santa when I grow up, I want to be an alcoholic".

Santa says, "Sorry son, you can't have both".

Friday, 23 December 2011

Mistaken Belief

The Cookie Thief
by Valerie Cox

     A woman was waiting at an airport one night,
     With several long hours before her flight.
     She hunted for a book in the airport shops.
     Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.

     She was engrossed in her book but happened to see,
     That the man sitting beside her, as bold as could be.
     Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag in between,
     Which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.

     So she munched the cookies and watched the clock,
     As the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock.
     She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by,
     Thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I would blacken his eye.”

     With each cookie she took, he took one too,
     When only one was left, she wondered what he would do.
     With a smile on his face, and a nervous laugh,
     He took the last cookie and broke it in half.

     He offered her half, as he ate the other,
     She snatched it from him and thought… oooh, brother.
     This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude,
     Why he didn’t even show any gratitude!

     She had never known when she had been so galled,
     And sighed with relief when her flight was called.
     She gathered her belongings and headed to the gate,
     Refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate.

     She boarded the plane, and sank in her seat,
     Then she sought her book, which was almost complete.
     As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise,
     There was her bag of cookies, in front of her eyes.

     If mine are here, she moaned in despair,
     The others were his, and he tried to share.
     Too late to apologize, she realized with grief,
     That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.

What are your mistaken belief's today?

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Gratitude 101 - 5 Tips

Some people say the A.A. should stand for Attitude Adjustment, and that is exactly what has to happen if a person has any chance at all at staying sober for any length of time. Here are some tips to help you get to an attitude of gratitude.
1. Make a gratitude list. I suggest leaving the keyboard, and writing this out the old-fashioned way with pen and paper. If you are having trouble coming up with things you are grateful for, think about some really big things like breathing, eating, eyesight, friends and so on. Even if you don't really feel grateful, write them down anyway, and in the process, you may find your attitude adjusting.
2Drop blame. Remember, if you are pointing your finger at someone else, you have three fingers pointing back at you. It is difficult to feel grateful if you are a victim. When you are able to own your own part in any life situation, then you have an opportunity to make changes. Accountability and ownership creates gratitude.
3. Gratitude is an action word. If you are feeling grateful, do something about it. If you are grateful for your sobriety, then go to a meeting and help set up chairs. If you aren't really feeling grateful, but you do the action anyway, your attitude will likely shift to gratitude.
4. Shift focus from negative to positive. This is easier said than done if you have a lifetime of seeing only the negative, but it can be done with conscious effort. Here is an example: if the man in front of you buys the last muffin that you wanted at the cafe - shift from disappointment or anger to being grateful that you will not starve to death in Canada, that you are in a warm cafe, that you have money in your pocket for coffee, that there are still oatmeal cookies left. Challenge yourself and your old thinking on the spot - what is good about this?
5Give thanks. Whatever you are grateful about, give thanks. Look for reasons to give thanks. Did someone let you in to traffic, hold open a door, make you dinner, not charge you interest or give you a big hug when you needed it? Tell them 'Thanks'. And throughout the day, recognize where all of the good things in your life are coming from - your higher power. Let Him/Her/It or Them know how you feel. And if your not feeling grateful, let your higher power know that you are grateful for the opportunity to know that you don't feel grateful.
These are 5 little suggestions that will assist in your shift from ungrateful to grateful. Don't underestimate the power this has to help keep you sober!
Don't give up 5 minutes before the miracle happens.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Now That is a Mouthful!

In the Big Book, we are called "examples of self-will run riot", as our sweet dog demonstrates here.
Sometimes we only give lip-service to Step 3, agreeing to follow God's will, only if we get to keep what we want. Eventually though, this riot of pseudo-surrender will be cause to re-examination the notion of 'letting go". What is your mouth full of?

Let Go, and Let God

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Don't Be Slip Sliding Away

From the Big Book - and yes, it does actually say "Rule". Wow.
So our rule is not to avoid a place where there is drinking, if we have a legitimate reason for being there. That includes bars, nightclubs, dances, receptions, weddings, even plain ordinary whoopee parties [I'm not sure if I ever went to a whoopee party?]. To a person who has had experience with an alcoholic, this may seem like tempting Providence, but it isn't.
You will note that we made an important qualification.  Therefore, ask yourself on each occasion, "Have I any good social, business, or personal reason for going to this place?  Or am I expecting to steal a little vicarious pleasure from the atmosphere of such places?" If you answer these questions satisfactorily, you need no apprehension.  Go or stay away, whichever seems best.  But be sure you are on solid spiritual ground before you start and that your motive in going is thoroughly good.  Do not think of what you will get out of the occasion.  Think of what you can bring to it.  But if you are shaky, you had better work with another alcoholic instead. 
Oh and there is a little bit more, read it for yourself on page 100-102.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Rev. Sam Shoemaker, Early Friend of AA

Standing At The Door:

Sam Shoemaker's Classic 12 Step Poem
about carrying the message of hope.
Sam Shoemaker (1893-1963), was an Episcopal priest instrumental in the Oxford Group and in the founding principles of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Bill Wilson,  in AA Comes of Age, (p.39) refers to  Sam Shoemaker as a co-founder of AA:
                                    It was from Sam Shoemaker, that we absorbed most of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics  Anonymous, steps that express the heart of AA’s way of life. Dr. Silkworth gave us the needed  knowledge of our illness, but Sam Shoemaker had given us the concrete knowledge of what we could do about it, he passed on the spiritual keys by which we were liberated. The early AA got its ideas of self-examination, acknowledgment of character defects, restitution for harm done, and working with  others straight from the Oxford Group and directly from Sam Shoemaker, their former leader in America, and from nowhere else.
Rev. Shoemaker wrote over thirty books, at least half of which were circulating before A.A.’s 12 Steps were first published in the Big Book in 1939. Shoemaker’s books were circulated in New York, Akron, and the Oxford Group.

I found this poem in the back of a little volume  borrowed from a church basement library.  I was completely taken with this poem, and can barely get through  it without tearing up.  I feel like we are also standing at the door.

I Stand at The Door
by R. Sam Shoemaker
I stand by the door.
I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out,
The door is the most important door in the world-
It is the door through which people walk when they find God.
There’s no use my going way inside, and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where a door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind people,
With outstretched, groping hands.
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it …
So I stand by the door.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Just One Question

Addiction is a chronic, progressive, family disease, and everyone in the family system is affected.
Adult children of alcoholics (ACOA) and other forms of codependency are just as significant and impactful as addiction to alcohol, other drugs, or behaviors such as gambling. The alcoholic / addict goes off to rehab and comes home a new person: freed of destructive patterns of thinking and behaving, relieved of shame, guilt and remorse, and with new life skills for living life on life’s terms, one day at a time.
But what about you? Perhaps you have grown up with an alcoholic parent. Or you have been in relationship, or marriage, with a suffering alcoholic or addict. You worry about others, try to make things right, give of yourself endlessly, feel upset, disrespected, or taken for granted by the way others treat you, attempt to control people, places or things, feel empty, despair, lesser-than, shame, or anger. You feel alone in a sea of people you care for. No one understands.
We do. We get it. You need and deserve help too! You too should have a healing, nurturing place where you can go to heal. Have a break. Take time for you. Restore and renew.
Find out who You really are. Focus on you for a change! Process and let go of past hurts, stop worrying about the future, and learn skills for living life, YOUR life, in this moment, to your fullest. And have FUN!
The mad cycle of addiction within the entire family can finally be broken. It’s time to be free!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Chocolate Lab Delight, A Big Hearted Handsome Dog, Cocoa Derry

A Deadly Bucket List

Codependency, just like any other addiction does kill. The person suffering from obsessive care-taking may not have the dramatic death or lock up of an active alcoholic or addict, but they will surely die a spiritual, emotional and mental death. The family members and loved ones of addicts need recovery too. They are suffering from the disease of addiction. First and foremost we recommend Al-Anon Family Groups, but many co-dependents need a residential treatment to learn the tools of recovery.
Here’s a story I heard from a speaker at the Banff Springs Round Up years ago. I call it:
Crabs in a Bucket
One day a little girl was down at a seaside dock with her parents. She skipped down the pier and came across an old man doing some crabbing. The little girl was fascinated! The old man pulled the crab trap out of the water and put several squirming, pinching crabs into a steel bucket that already contained some live crabs. He then turned away to re-lower his trap.
“Hey Mister!” the little girl was concerned, she spoke, “your crabs are trying to get out of the bucket! Don’t you want to put a lid on them, so they don’t get out?”
The old man turned to the little girl, and to the crabs, who were scrambling to pull themselves out of the bucket, he said, ” Girl, them crabs is just like people. When one crab gets a hold of the top of the bucket, and tries to pull his self up and out, dem other crabs reaches out and pulls him back down”.

Pay attention to who is in your bucket. Do they really want you to succeed and leave them behind? 
I think this little story is almost like a Zen Koan!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Number One Priority

Don't try to fit your recovery into your life, fit your life into your recovery. If anything, anything! comes between you and your sobriety, whether that is spouse, children, parents, friends, work, ANYTHING, you will end up with nothing anyway. First Things First. Always.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?

I love stories. If you are familiar with any of my blogs or work at all, you know by now, I love stories. Most people don't appreciate the "naked truth", but when it is wrapped up in a beautiful story, most people will welcome it in, sometimes without even knowing it is the truth. Stories can continue to reveal the truth slowly over time, meeting you where you are, showing back up in your psyche with the message you need - even if you don't want to see the truth.
So, here's a new favourite. It kind of reminds me of the saying (I love sayings too), When you are pointing a finger at someone, you have three fingers pointing back at you. Let me know if you like this story too, and what it means for you. Does an experience or belief come to mind?
Can You Hear Me Now?
The old man was sure that his wife was losing her hearing. He was frustrated that she refused to get her hearing checked, and scoffed at the idea of a hearing aid. The old man was getting quite worked up over it, and remembering and playing over all kinds of times when his wife would not listen to him - he felt he was usually right about most things. 
Wanting to prove his rightness around his wife's hearing loss, he decided to test her. One evening after supper, his wife was at her usual place by the fire with her Chai tea,  reading on her iPad. Her husband stood way back out of sight from the adjoining room, and called out, "Honey, can you hear me?" His wife did not look up, and did not answer.
He moved a little closer, "Honey, can you hear me now?" Again, there was no response from his wife. He moved right to the door and called again, "Honey, can you hear me now?" No response. He was feeling quite vindicated, he would be able to prove to her that she was going deaf! He quietly snuck up right behind her, and whispered to the back of her head, "Honey, can you hear me now?"
His wife whirled around impatiently, and said "Yes! For the fourth time, yes!" 
I think that the story stands for itself, so I won't clutter it up with rhetoric.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Think That is Funny?

You can make plans, but don't plan the results. That is unless you want a pre-meditated resentment.


Sunday, 11 December 2011

Who's On First?

Contemplating recovery for the first time is incredibly daunting. What a relief to find out that we don't have to be concerned about future scenarios that may or may not include drinking. All we need to concern ourselves with is this 24 hours in front of us. We may drink tomorrow, or next week, or year, but if we make sure that we don't drink today, all those future days will take care of themselves.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Cross Exchange

These two little stories contain some spiritual truths that can help the addict or alcoholic look at the way they are living their lives. If you think that your troubles are worse than anyone else's you will remain in self-pity.
Tip: "Poor me. Poor me. Pour me a drink." Self-pity, which is always combined with resentments of some kind, kills. In order to stay sober you really need to look at this.
Having a "cross to bear" may be a term that has lost significance in contemporary North America as we aren't a primarily predominant Christian indoctrinated people anymore. But like a Zen Koan, or a First Nation story passed down through generations, there are rich truths to be mined from all spiritual tradition scriptures. 

Friday, 9 December 2011

Family Tree

We can't get and stay sober on a Sunday School version of God. We can't get and stay sober on a 'second hand' version of someone else's Higher Power. We need to have our very own first hand, direct relationship with the God of our own understanding.  God has no grandchildren!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Divine Paradox of AA

Like a gaunt prospector, belt drawn in over the last ounce of food, our pick struck gold.  Joy in our release from a lifetime of frustration knew no bounds. We feels we have struck something better than gold.  For a time we may try to hug the new treasure to ourselves. We may not see at once that we have barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if we mine it for the rest of our lives and insist on giving away the entire product. p. 128-129 B.B.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

If He Were Sought

Often a stumbling block for newcomers to recovery is this Higher Power that could and would if He were sought.  Here is some great news: if you are seeking God, you have already found Him/Her/It/Them.  

Congratulations Seeker.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Believe it!

Downstairs, in the meeting room of the Kamloops Alano Club is where this little slogan was taken from.  Years ago, you could just barely see it through the smoke. 

Monday, 5 December 2011

5 Holiday Sobriety Tips

5 Recovery  Tips For  the Holidays 

Here are 5 tips to help you maintain your sobriety as the holidays approach. If you are an alcoholic, getting sober is one of the hardest things you may ever do, staying sober will be the hardest, and you need all the help you can get. Read these tips, one of them may just save your life.
1. Stay out of slippery places. Only attend a function with alcohol being served if you have a legitimate reason to be there.
2. Don't depend on someone else to get you home from the occasion. Drive your own car, and make sure you park in a way that you won`t be blocked in. If you don't have a car, make sure you have cab fare and a cell phone. You should also have your sponsor's phone number.
3. Know what you are going to drink before you get there, and order something that comes in a can or bottle that you can open yourself. Stay away from 'mocktails' or 'near beer'!
4. If you have to set your drink down to use the washroom, or other reason, get a new one. Don't pick up your old drink, it may have been tampered with, and you also run the risk of picking up the wrong drink.
5. Be very aware of everything going in your mouth. Many holiday treats are laced with alcohol. Liquor filled chocolates, rum balls, tiramisu are relapses waiting to happen. Remember you have an allergy to alcohol, and even a tiny bit can set off your physical craving. You may not even know why, if you were careless about what you ate.
Be good to yourself. You deserve to be happy, joyous and free, and live to see another season, and the best gift you can give your loved ones is a healthy you.

Don't give up 5 minutes before the miracle happens.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Bait and Switch...

"Alcohol gave me wings to fly.
 Then it took away the sky."

Addiction is a dark and stormy business. In the beginning full of promises, in the end full of despair.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Poison Arrow or First Things First

Down in the Amazon Rainforest, when the people of the jungle stilled lived in the jungle, there was a small group of men, sitting in a circle around the fire. They were laughing and having a good time bragging about their hunting and stealth skills. They were painted up a bit, wearing their skin loin cloths, and their teeth were stained. They were all really good friends and family members of the same clan.
 One of the men stood up from the fire, and suddenly from out of the jungle a feathered blow dart came streaming in and plucked itself right into the man's backside! The man jumped high and let out a scream. All the other men jumped up too - they were very concerned and knew they must get the dart out right away before all the poison entered their friend.
The stricken man, however, was very angry and he was yelling, he said (in their own language of course), "What colour are the feathers in that dart? Who was the man that blew it into me? Did anyone see him? How long was the blow stick he used? What face painting did he have on? Was he very tall? What was his name?" and so on, he jumped around yelling. He was peering into the jungle, evading his friends who were trying to pull out the dart before it was too late.
 With a whole series of questions still on his lips, the man gave one last shiver, scowled, fell down and died.

Many people who come to face their addictions are like the dead man in this story. They feel angry too, and want to know how they came to have the disease. Who gave it to them? When? Who did what wrong and who is to blame? Nature? Nurture? They ask, ask, ask, jumping around and yelling while those that can help are unable to.
If the man in the story had listened to his friends, and let them help remove the dart, his chances of survival would have been greatly improved. What about answers to his questions? They may have some sort of interesting story to tell, what bird the feathers came from, how the feathers were obtained, who carved the blow gun, and who made the knife. What about the frog where the poison came from? What about the chemical formula of the poison? Lots of great stories here in a never ending array of possibilities.
None of it matters if you are dead. In treatment we encourage people to save their burning questions about the cause or causes of their addiction, for later, way later. First Things First - a basic AA slogan to pull out the poison dart before anything else.