Week 52 ,and I’m Ready For 2017

Christmas 2016 is in the record books and it was another good one. I am always filled with so much gratitude at Christmas. Especially when our kids and their significant others are in the house. The opportunity to see family and have some quality time with them really makes me grateful for what I have been given .The kids were over on Christmas Eve for about 6 hours. Enough time for supper, a visit and a couple of games. They were back over Christmas morning for a couple of hours while we exchanged gifts and then on Boxing Day at my in-laws for an awesome supper served up by Marge. Christmas Day Lori and I went to my sister Debbie’s home. The food was great and so was the company. There were only about 15 of us this year but in my family it’s always quality over quantity and it was a good visit as per usual. Often my family is louder than a football stadium packed with fans so despite the smaller crowd this year there was still a lot of noise. I actually counted a couple of people who were in on more than one conversation, at the same time! That’s us; not too shy. But now it’s time to enjoy the few days off we have until we are back to work on the 3rd of January.

A very good friend of mine has ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. She was diagnosed just a couple of months ago.Yesterday she asked me if I wanted to join her team in Betty’s Run for ALS. Of course I will! I will most likely be asking you to donate to this run. From $1 , $5 to that million you have stashed.From The Player’s Tribune I want to share this article about Steve Gleason , a former safety with the New Orleans Saints of the NFL. In 2011 Gleason revealed he had ALS and for 5 years recorded his challenge of living with the disease which is now captured in a documentary titled Gleason. There’s a movie trailer below.

Here’s the article from The Player’s TribuneSteve Gleason.

 

 

 

It appears that the frontrunner for album of the year will go to Beyonce for her album Lemonade. I would normally shrug this selection of because it would be from Billboard or Rolling Stone.But when I researched I found that this album is on the top of the charts for most music critics and magazines. I’m confident I won’t be buying this album but I will go to YouTube and give it a listen and see what the hype’s about.

I would like to share with you my top 5 albums of 2016. These are my picks and based on my music preferences and many of you music lovers will have many other selections.

                                       Mike’s Top 5 Albums of 2016

Leonard Cohen – You Want it Darker

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Wilco – Schmilco

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Bon Iver – 22, A Million

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Richmond Fontaine – You Can’t Go Back if There’s Nothing To Go Back To

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Drive-By Truckers – American Band

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The song this week is from is the title track from Leonard Cohen’s newest album, You Want It Darker

 

 

 

 

The quote this week is from Brad Paisley.

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”

 

 

 Have a fun but safe New Years and I wish for everyone that 2017 brings happiness and contentment

 

I hope to see you next week…………..

Week 51 . It’s Christmas Time

I love Christmas! It’s my favorite holiday of the year by a long shot. It’s very meaningful and although at times very busy it is also a relaxing time. My company actually closed the office from the 23rd to the 3rd which was a nice surprise and good Christmas bonus in this horrible economic situation Alberta finds itself in.

The kids are all coming over Saturday afternoon for the evening and they will be back Christmas morning for a couple of hours. Christmas Eve morning Lori and I go to a 12 step breakfast with some speakers and great fellowship, at The Deerfoot Inn. There’ll be a few hundred people as usual. On Christmas, after the kids have left to go to their respective dinners, Lori and I will go to my sister Debbie’s place for supper along with so many others. On Boxing Day, we will all head over to Marge and Gabe’s for supper and by about the 27th I will be needing a big nap.

The reason for this holiday is very important to me also, as I am a Christian. But this holiday time is always a special time to celebrate friends and relatives with food and gatherings and for the large part people are softer during this holiday. Sharper, rougher edges are replaced by additional patience and kindness. It’s just a really nice time of the year. It’s also a very emotional time of year and there are some people who really struggle at Christmas, with sadness, because of loved ones who are no longer with us in body. Be gentle with these people. Be kinder than necessary.

We live in Canada with an awesome mixture of Faiths and cultures and not everyone celebrates Christmas as the birth of Christ, but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t celebrate the spirit of the holiday. Be respectful, be kind.

Not everyone has as much as others and the food bank, Mustard Seed, Drop Inn and these places need money to clothe and feed people. Help where you can and if you can’t help financially, then share a smile, a handshake or a hug.

Be patient with the children. They’re excited, happy and playful. Yes, they will make more noise, eat more sugar and run a little harder. This is the joy they add to the holiday. Be kind to the old. They may not have their memory or physical capabilities but they were the ones who raised us. Show patience. Be kinder than necessary.

 

So no matter what your Faith, your beliefs or how you celebrate this holiday, know that I wish you a Merry Christmas, from my home to your home.

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Our Home

The song this week is my favorite Christmas song and I love this version.

 

The quote this week is :

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.
Norman Vincent Peale

 

Have a great Christmas and I hope I’ll see you next week………..

Pink Clouds,Hope and Week 49

I was talking with a friend in recovery today and we got onto the subject of pink clouds. My friend is coming back to recovery. Coming back means he was in recovery but drank/used again. For those folks not in recovery the pink cloud is a term used for someone in early recovery who is euphoric and has lost touch with reality. But in recovery we use this term far too often and too carelessly. It pretty much gets thrown around at any newcomer experiencing joy. Often when someone with time encounters a newcomer who is extremely happy with his/her new sobriety, free from the bondage of addiction, will insensitively say “Oh, you’re just on a pink cloud”. So we have convinced a newcomer to come to meetings, get a sponsor and work the steps and tell them there is a hope for a better life and a more meaningful life. But when they experience some happiness and share that feeling with others some Grinch of a member says “oh, you’re just on a pink cloud”. The newcomer is usually very insecure and unsure of this new life unfolding in front of them and they are shaky. So now you’ve got them thinking that maybe these feelings of happiness are wrong and within short order they are walking around glumly, again, because this is what they understand. “Oh, you’re just on a pink cloud.” How demeaning is that? How much in opposition is this to the message of hope we give the newcomer? Or we should be giving the newcomer. If you know me, you will not be able to recall a time I have used the term pink cloud except in this context. We who have been in recovery for awhile have a significant responsibility to not only carry the message of 12 step recovery but to carry a message of hope! I stated to my friend today that we need to replace despair with hope. We need to make this exchange in our vocabulary and in our hearts. The next time you hear a newcomer talk about how great he/she is feeling with their newfound sobriety take the time to listen and to encourage them to continue to take responsibility for their own happiness. We know and they know life isn’t perfect and there will be more challenges but for a moment, let’s start to build these people back up.

If you are reading this but you aren’t in recovery it doesn’t matter. Much of this applies to all of us. We all know someone who has low self esteem or has had a circumstance in their life that crushed their spirit and they are now trying to regain some normalcy. Who knows why or what as we all experience life differently and we all have assorted levels of tolerance. Every one of us will be given the opportunity to encourage others to be happy and to seek happiness. Don’t let this opportunity slip away from you because this person is likely a close family member. Replace despair with hope.

I want to share one of my favourite prayers that reflects some of what I have written about.

 

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life”

Saint Francis of Assisi


 

I had coffee with a good friend on Tuesday who shared with me that this day was the second anniversary of the death of his best friend. He had read my blog last week in which I talked about my brother’s death and the decade that’s passed between then and now. I was honoured to be chosen by my friend to discuss his best friend’s death and his concern that as his life continues, fewer and fewer people in his world know about his best friend. There’s nothing to be gained by feeling any guilt for living life to the fullest and the best way I can honour my brother and my friend to honour his friend is to share our experiences with others who might be going through something similar.Our experiences will certainly help another person if we are mindful. And it’s meaningful to keep their memories alive by talking about them with their family and with our new friends. I also have the Crucifix from my brother’s’ casket over top of our front door so all that enter my home pass under it. To me this is honouring my brother. They are Gone but never forgotten.

 

The song this week is from a band that is new to me  but they aren’t new.They are called The Head and the Heart and although transplanted ,they formed in 2009 in Seattle. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have been doing so.

 

 

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The Head and the Heart

The quote this week is from Catherine Pulsifer.

“Never give up.Have hope. Expect only the best from life and take action to get it.”

Thanks for dropping by and reading this and lease know I appreciate it…..I hope to see you next week.

 

A Decade Since He’s Gone and Week 48

Thanks for dropping by. I appreciate it .Winter has hit us full on this week with daytime temps around minus 26-28 with the wind chill and minus 18-20 without. It was minus 31 when I drove to work early morning on Tuesday and I could feel every degree of it. Gotta be hearty to be a Canuck!

 

I’ve been thinking about my big brother a lot these past 3 weeks. In a couple of days it will be 10 years since Burke passed on. He was only 60 but cancer is tough to beat although he put up a good fight. A decade in the snap of two fingers, is gone. I’ve said before, about my brother, that sometimes it seems like he’s been gone just a short while and other times it feels way too long. My brother was my hero when I was growing up. I couldn’t get enough of his time; no matter how much time he gave me it was never too much. I remember on some occasions I would meet him downtown when he got home from his 2 week hitch on the rigs. This would be mid 1960’s in the small town of Fort Saint John, in northern BC. It would only be a 5 or 6 block walk and it was always over too soon. I would delight in the stories he would tell me of all that went on while he was at the rig or in camp. I know now that these were tall tales for the most part but I was enthralled by my big brothers adventures at that time. When I was 7 or 8 years old I had no idea that they were tales and I laugh now at some of the things I believed. I delivered newspapers as a kid and some days, during the winter he would see me and he would bring his car around. It might be 30 or 40 below and I would tow my papers around on a toboggan. Burke would stop though and throw my papers and my toboggan into the back of his car and drive me around to finish my route. It went a little faster and I could always jump back into a warm car and I got to be with my big brother. In my eyes he was a giant. He was 14 years older and larger than life, to me. He was one of those guys who used generous amounts of brylcreem in his hair and wore a pressed white shirt and thin black tie on a Friday night. You know the guy, right? As I grew older I appreciated my brother even more. He was the man I tried to emulate. Yup, as I got older I appreciated him so much.As I had my family  I didn’t get to see him as often but we talked on the phone, we were always in touch. We were both in 12 step recovery. My brother had found the rooms in 1972 and I came in 21 years later in 1993. He also worked in the oil patch like I do. We both started on the bottom rung, roughnecking on the rigs. My brother really understood me. He understood what it was like to be raised in my home, what it was like in the patch and what it was like to show up at the last place either of us ever wanted, the rooms of recovery. He knew me and I knew him. I can’t give you the thorough story of my brother in a blog post. I would need a couple of chapters in a book and heck if I told every story I knew and borrowed a couple of others I could write stories forever about this man that would have you crying and laughing at the same time. He was one of the funniest men I have ever known. Burke was a character. But it’s now coming up a decade and it’s quite sad to think about him. The day we buried my brother broke my heart. I know I’m not the only one. This is one of my favorite photos of my brother. He also delivered newspapers and that’s me in his carriers’ bag. That has to be spring or summer of 1960.He is dearly missed by many.

My life is much fuller and richer because of Burke.If my heart was broken when he died it just shows how fortunate I was to have had this relationship with my brother. I hope that everyone can have something similar in their lives.

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Burke and Me in Spring of 1960

 

The song this week is from Kris Kristofferson and it’s titled Closer to the Bone.

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The quote this week :

“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns from reading.The few that learn by observation.The rest of them have to pee on the the electric fence for themselves.”

Will Rogers

 

Well once again thanks for dropping by and I hope you’ll be back next week….

 

 

Honesty,Authenticity and Week 47

Last week was the first week outside of vacation time that I didn’t post my blog since I have started writing it. I didn’t post on purpose. I took the week off from posting. I was busy with work, had a friends funeral Thursday and my aunt’s funeral Friday and I was just too wore out to come to the keyboard and write. When I write I need to commit to being honest and sincere when I post something and last week I had zero desire to talk about funerals. I didn’t feel like opening up at the time. Prior to arriving at the door of 12 Step recovery my life was lived dishonestly and I was never sincere. I was afraid you might not like me if you saw me for what I was. Or worse, for what I thought I was. There never was a time that I was totally comfortable with who I was. I was never really too comfortable in my own skin. It wasn’t always like that. I was always self conscious but I got by okay, had good friends and had a lot of fun. My times in Kelowna were pretty great although a bit reckless and far too carefree for my parents. I didn’t hurt anyone on purpose but I really didn’t care about anyone but myself and a small group of guys I hung out with. But much later, in my final 3 years of drinking I was never honest about anything or with anyone and never with myself.  I would lie for no reason at all except that telling the truth seemed so foreign to me. The lying to myself and the hiding, the hiding of my true self from everyone, was what the alcohol allowed me to pull off. In those final 3 years of drinking I was dishonest with everyone I met. Sometimes the dishonesty was about big things but most often it was minor. “Will you be there at 7?” Yes would be my answer but no would be my action. “Can you take care of _____?” Yes would be my answer but no would be my action. “How’re you doing?” Fine would be my answer, even though I was slowly dying. If I ever would have told someone what was going on maybe someone could have helped me sooner. But I couldn’t get honest. I couldn’t tell anyone how it was for me because I had a real fear that without alcohol I wouldn’t make it through a day. That my whole world would crash and burn and I would melt away. Little did I know at that time that it was already burning and I was the only one who didn’t see it.

So I didn’t post last week because I demand of myself to be honest, sincere and authentic and for the first time since starting this blog I didn’t want to be that guy, for everyone to read, to see. I didn’t want to discuss what was going on and to not discuss it, to write a blog post without mentioning it, to me wouldn’t have sat right. I have been quite open about my life, thoughts and feelings when writing this blog. I’ve had a couple of friends ask me if I am ever scared to be open or to let people see so much and my answer is conclusive; no I am not. You either like me or you don’t like me and today I am very comfortable with either of your choices. A few people who I am close with have heard me say this:

I become invulnerable when I become totally vulnerable

Last week I was just emotionally spent! Had nothing left in the tank for anyone else.I just tried to keep my own head above water and that was taking all the energy I had. And I think I succeeded.

The funerals were for my friend Terry who I wrote about on October 13 in my Week 41 post and the other was for my Aunt Louise, my father’s sister, who passed on at 89 years of age.

I will continue to be as honest, sincere and authentic as I possibly can and always strive to be better at doing this all the time. I also like to surround myself with people that can be authentic and vulnerable. I have quite a few friends inside and outside the 12 Step communities that exhibit these traits and they are remarkable people to be around. I believe remarkable is a good thing for a person to strive to become.

The song this week is from the band Divine Fits and it’s a Bruce Springsteen song titled, Hungry Heart

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Album Cover

 

The quote this week is from a thought leader who I like to watch and read the past couple of years. Simon Sinek can be found largely on YouTube and LinkedIn and has written many books and has been featured on Ted.com.

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. …”

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you’ll check in next week……….

K E Garland

Inspirational kwotes, stories and images

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