week 4

The doldrums of January have arrived! January always feels like the longest month of the year to me. Okay, with 31 days in the month it actually is one of the longest months. But I mean how it feels. It’s dark when I go to work and dark when I go home and it’s a cold month. And this causes the month to seem like it’s dragging,to me. I usually hammer through it with work because January is the busiest month in my line which is oil and gas well drilling and completions. Unfortunately things are very dire in the oil industry right now which has made this January all that more difficult.

In 1990, Alberta’s then Premier, Don Getty, introduced “family day “as a statutory holiday and is taken on the second Monday of February. So instead of that old long haul from January 1 to Easter, usually late March, we have a long weekend which has been a very welcomed break during our long and cold winters.It helps me get through January knowing a long weekend is coming.

It’s a pretty slow week when I whine about January. Let’s look at the bright side; the Patriots will not be going to the Super Bowl! Haha

Yesterday, January 27th was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the day that Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet army in 1945. Lori and I watched a show that had a woman look back on her time at Auschwitz , when she was a young teenage girl. She took 2 teenage British girls for a tour of the camp and reminisced about her time there. It was quite disturbing to watch and listen to as she talked about all that happened. I said to Lori at the end of the show, “Can you imagine the looks of disbelief on the young Soviet soldier’s faces when they arrived at and liberated Auschwitz?” By 1945 ¾ of all European Jews had been killed. I also read last night that at Auschwitz, among the murdered were 150,000 Poles, 15,000 Soviet POW’s and 400 Jehovah’s Witness. All disturbing and all sad.

Today is the anniversary of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster which happened on January 28, 1986.  I was in college at the time and a few of us were in the cafeteria when we first watched it. It was another one of those “I can’t believe that just happened “moments. We watched it live back then. Not recorded.  73 seconds into flight the Challenger broke apart killing all 7 crew members.

My new favorite business leader, speaker and  author who I discovered about 1 year ago is Simon Sinek. Here’s a great short talk I heard just this week by Simon about training your mind to perform under pressure. Described by TED as “a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?”‘. His first TEDx talk on “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” is the 3rd most viewed video on TedX.com. Here is the talk I heard this week about performing under pressure

 

Lori and I are heading to Seattle to see John Prine on March 5th and I am excited about it. I’ve been listening to Prine since I was about 15 but I have never seen him live. My first LP of his that I owned was “Sweet revenge”. He has so many great songs, albums and performances. Songs like Sam Stone, Illegal Smile, In Spite of Ourselves, Donald and Lydia and too many more to list. Every John Prine song is a great song according to me!

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The song this week is one of my favorite John Prine songs, Donald and Lydia

 

The quote this week is:

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”
Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

That’s it. I hope to see you next week……………..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 3

I could write about another musician who has passed but I won’t. I have come to the obvious conclusion that this is going to become a regular occurrence as we all grow older. Just because these people provided the sound tracks to my life doesn’t make them immune from cancer and other illnesses and eventually death. This is the order of life. This is how it works.

I remember when my father was in his final hours he said “I started dying the day I was born”. I’m no Stephen Hawking but I think what my father said applies to us all. What he said was very simple. I think that’s why I liked it. I believe life to be very simple and humans make it complex. I can piss and moan all day about things so trivial and lose sight of the gratitude I need to have. And I can get that by simply feeling my pulse and be grateful that for today I am above ground. I will expand philosophically on this in some future blog. Or maybe I won’t.

 

I’m tired today and haven’t got much else to say.

 

This motivational video was sent to me this week and it sounds a lot like the Bruce Lee clip I provided last week.

Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life

Motivational clip

 

The song this week is from The Eagles with Glenn Frey leading the band in their first Top 40 hit released in 1972. The song is Take it Easy

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Barry Schultz/Sunshine/REX/Shutterstock (5548490d)  Glenn Frey of The Eagles at home in Los Angeles  Glenn Frey - 1975

 

The quote this week is a longer one. More of a message. I fell in love with this the first time I read it. So follow your dreams. Follow your heart. Try to be happy.

The quote is from Steve Jobs.

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it, and that is how it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”

Steve Jobs

Week 2

Thank you to everyone who read my post last week. I was overwhelmed by the number of people who read it, liked it and commented on it. The intent of my blog is to just talk about the week and what provoked me or inspired me that week. That post had a big impact. I garnered far more attention to myself last week than I had intended or could have imagined and I am very humbled by the feedback. I am also very grateful for the expressions of our friendship that some people left on Facebook or sent to me privately. I was deeply moved by some of the comments that were made. I probably shouldn’t be but I don’t think I am much different from most of my men friends and I just never regard myself as high as others might. I still sell myself short. But I always need some character defects to work on to keep me growing in my spiritual life. Progress, not perfection.

 

The death of David Bowie this week took most of us by surprise as he had kept his illness with cancer private and secret. The World Wide Web was overflowing on Monday with information and articles about his life and death.

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Bowie was super creative all his life but his closing performance may have been his best. I believe it was. Now you have to think about it all; the end of it all that is. He kept his cancer secret so not of us were prepared for the news. First of all is the picture above of David Bowie. It’s an “official “picture taken to publicize his new album Blackstar released on January 8, 2016. January 8th was also Bowie’s 69th birthday. The official music video for his new album is titled Lazarus and was released on January 7th. This poignant and haunting music video’s opening lyrics are “look up here I’m in heaven, I’ve got scars that can’t be seen”. We should have known what was coming. In all the artistry and genius that was David Bowie, his last performance, his death, may have been his greatest and most demanding. Of course death is demanding! But I mean to plan all of this and to pull it all off like he did . It was brilliant. His artistry around this album in my mind is unprecedented and I am confident that Blackstar will become David Bowie’s bestselling album. He died on January 10th, two days after his album release. His performance completed. He insured his widow Iman and his children would get maximum benefit from this album, his last. He has left this earth with the theatrics in which he lived. Well done Ziggy Stardust. You will be missed.

 

I watched a documentary on Bruce Lee this past weekend and it really impressed me and has stayed with me. There was a lot more to Bruce Lee than I had realized and I think most people would enjoy the documentary. It’s called I Am Bruce Lee .He actually taught some courses in Eastern Philosophy and was a child film star to name just two things I did not know about him prior to watching this documentary. His life was filled with so much purpose. Everything he did, in his mind, had a purpose to better the image of everything he was involved in. I was a mid-teenager when I saw my first Bruce Lee movie, at the drive-in, in Kelowna. It was Enter the Dragon. This is a very interesting man. He’s also a man very revered in the Chinese culture both in the orient and everywhere else. I would like to tell you about the whole story but the documentary, believe it or not, does a better job than I could.

Here is a clip of Bruce Lee on The Pierre Burton Show which aired December 12, 1971.It was recorded in Hong Kong on December 9, 1971. This is Bruce Lee on self-expression and honesty.

If you have 94 minutes and can find the movie,you’ll not regret it.

 

The quote this week is from Bruce Lee

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”
The song this week is a David Bowie song. It was difficult to pick a song as opposed to 20 or 30. I really struggled to pick one but I have always liked this song for many personal reasons.Although time may change me , I can’t trace time. Enjoy the song, Changes.

 

I hope to see you next week………..

 

Week 1

January 7, 1993 to January 7, 2016

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I have been sober, as of today, for 23 years ,1,196 weeks or 8,400 days one day at a time! But who’s counting. There was a time in my life that I thought that I would never be able to get sober. The last two years I drank I drank daily and all day and I was hopeless. Every morning I would wake up and I would say “please God don’t let me drink today” and every day I would fail long before lunch. Usually at the first hint of life taking place. I drank because of everything. I drank because I was happy. I drank because I was sad. I drank because I had no way of coping with life. I drank because I lived a life filled with fear and I had no self-esteem. I felt worthless. Drinking was not my problem. Drinking was my solution. Gradually alcohol became an addiction and I could not stop. It seemed like one day I was a hard partier and the next day I was an alcoholic. Looking back I know now that this shift took place over the course of a few years. Heck, alcoholism went back to when I was 11 and I used just to get through a day of school; mostly drugs.  I had used alcohol before but at age 13 I really discovered what it could do for me and from then on it was an essential element of my diet. It remained essential to me and for a while, the last 2 years for sure, even compulsory. Age 11 to age 32 is a long time to be so confused, so lost and so distraught. Not knowing where to turn for help. Feeling like junk day in and day out. For some it can be so exhausting they end it drastically. On January 7, 1993 I woke up and I again asked God to help me not drink today. And through some heavy anxiety, panic and physical pain I went to bed that night without having taken a drink. I won’t go into details but there was a painful but necessary period of detoxification. This was carried out under the care of others. I would later join a 12 Step program and immerse myself in the steps to change my thinking, my living, and my actions. None of these 12 steps were easy but they were all necessary for a recovery from a hopeless state of mind and body. The steps took Mike V 1.0 and created Mike V 2.0.

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Some of you understand me completely. Some of you will try to understand. And some will think I was weak and should just have stopped doing what was killing me. One of the great things to happen to me in recovery is I don’t concern myself with what others think of me. Oh trust me I want to be liked. I like having friends and I have some great friends today both in and out of the 12 step rooms. The difference though is I don’t go out of my way or present falsehoods to earn anyone’s friendship. We give out coins for periods of sobriety and on those coins it says “To Thine Ownself Be True”. I shoot for that now. If you don’t understand me that’s ok. For most people alcohol is something to be enjoyed and to have fun with. Not for me and for millions of others. I can be around it and it doesn’t bother me. It holds no power over me today. I never contemplate having a drink. If things are really bad I don’t ever think about having a drink and if things are really good I don’t think about having a drink. I never want to be on that road again. The obsession of the mind and the compulsion to drink has left me. I owe all of this to God and a 12 step program. Yes God. I have a Higher Power in my life today and I choose to call that power God or the Creator. I’m not religious and I can’t remember the last time I went to Church but I assure you that I am a believer.

There are many people to thank and far too many to do it individually and without them I could not have done this thing. The most obvious person though is Morley Moger who was my sponsor for the first 21 years. Morley has since passed on but I’ll never forget him and all that he taught me. He shared his story with me and he shared it from his heart. He taught me how to be grateful. The other is Mel Palm who has since passed on also and without him I am not sure how those first 60 days would have looked. Because of Mel I was never alone for those first 60 days and was encouraged every step of my way.

There are times when I am asked to speak to groups about my alcoholism and for 60 minutes I can share so much about what it was like, what happened and what it is like now. More than I could ever share here, with you, in a blog post. In our literature it says “no matter how far down the scale we have gone we will see how our experience can benefit others”. This process of one person helping another person has worked for decades and has been very successful. It’s an amazing process and I am very happy to be involved in it. We don’t have hospitals belonging to my fellowship but we have 12 steps. These steps when worked completely and in order and honestly will bring about a psychic change and will provide freedom from the bondage of self.

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My life is great today and I am very contented with what I have.I rarely think of the worst of the past and certainly don’t dwell on it.I have an unbelievable life today that I owe to God and the 12 steps.

When I was 4 months sober I was at a meeting where a guy who was sober 25 years was presenting a coin or chip as you may call them to a man who was sober 22 years. Beside me sat Ron B. who was also at 4 months. I leaned over and whispered in his ear “bullshit, these guys gotta be lying”.

Well here I am at 23 years or 8,400 consecutive days (including weekends) to tell you it isn’t bullshit. It really works.

 

The songs this week is from Joe Walsh, himself in recovery for alcoholism. The song is titled One Day at a Time   and one from Billy Joel titled Captain Jack

 

The quote this week is for anyone who doubts the success of 12 step recovery or doubts other institutions , ideas or thought.

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

William Paley

I hope to see you next week………….