Week 22 and There is a Solution

On Saturday it occurred to me that most people think I showed up to A.A., quit drinking, worked the 12 Steps and here I am 24 years later. But that’s not how it happened and I was reminded of that when I saw Conrad D. at the Cochrane Roundup this past Saturday. I always love to see Conrad and have the opportunity to catch up with him. Conrad was the greatest influence on me to get into the 12 Steps of recovery.

I had quit drinking January 7th 1993 and haven’t had a drink since. However I never went to a 12 Step meeting for my recovery. Why would I? I had quit drinking hadn’t I? As the days and weeks passed my life started to suck. Months passed and it got worse. My anxiety was through the roof. My temper was out of control. My patience was nil. I was angry at the world, 24/7.I had quit drinking so didn’t the world owe me something? This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.No wonder I was angry.

I would run into Conrad on the streets of downtown Calgary a couple of times a week during this stage of my sobriety. He was in the drilling industry and so was I.I looked up to Conrad. He was genuine, funny, and he was successful and had been sober quite a number of years at this time. I wanted to be a lot more like Conrad. When I ran into him on the streets I would have an opportunity to complain to him about how horrible my life had become since I quit drinking. He would listen to me for a few minutes, sometimes he would mention A.A. and always he would walk away when I still had more to say. I was slowly becoming delusional and paranoid. I was messed up in my head. In September of 1993 I ran into Conrad as usual but as I was approaching him he put his hand up in that halt, or stop sign motion. So I stopped and before I could say anything Conrad said the words that I will never forget. “You may have not had a drink in a few months but you’re a bigger ass_________   than you were when you were drinking”. I was stunned. I was frozen in place and time seemed to have stopped. I think I stood there for about 30 seconds before I shook myself only to see Conrad had already walked ¼ of a block away. I was very hurt by those words.

I was so hurt that I went to an A.A. meeting that night. I called central office and there was a meeting that night at St. Michael’s Church on Bow Trail and 45st.I went to that meeting with the intent to join A.A. and change my life. There had to be more to life than the existence I was living. In my eyes Conrad was living proof that those 12 Steps worked. I showed up to The Bow Trail Group that Wednesday night and for the first time in longer than I can remember I had some Faith. Faith that A.A. worked.When they asked if there were any newcomers I stuck my hand up and when they asked if I wanted a newcomer’s package ,I said yes. I bought a Big Book that night and although the first man I asked to be my sponsor said no, the second one I asked said that he would. Something felt different that night and that feeling was hope. For so long my life had been hopeless but on this Wednesday night I had some hope that maybe I could make a life worth living. That I could find happiness and contentment.

Prior to that meeting I had become what is known as a dry drunk. Unbeknownst to me I had untreated alcoholism. Alcohol was only a symptom of my alcoholism. Alcohol was my solution to life and without it I had to find something different as a solution to my problems. I have since found my solution and it is far more than I had ever dreamed of.In A.A. I didn’t learn how to stop drinking. I learned how to live peacefully.

I have this, thanks to my good friend, Conrad D., who cared for me enough to tell me the truth, at the expense of, and despite my feelings. I have no idea where I would have ended up had I not gone through those doors of St Mike’s that night. It scares me to think about it.

I hope that each and everyone one of you has someone in your life that will help you find your truth when you’re too blinded at the moment, to see it yourself.

 

Was there any doubt that the song this week would be from Gregg Allman? If you know me then you saw this one coming. I was hurt when I got the news Saturday that Gregg Allman had passed on. Some of you might recall that Lori and I flew to Vegas last October to see him. He was on the venue with ZZ Top but he had to withdraw due to illness. Recently I did a search to see where he was going to play in 2017 only to find out he had cancelled all his gigs to build up his strength. He was able to keep me guessing and hoping to the end. He died on May 27 from complications due to liver cancer.I spent my teenage years listening to Southern Rock and The Allman Brothers were the pioneers of the genre. I’ve read today that fans have been asked to line the funeral procession route but the family will have a private ceremony. He’ll be buried next to his brother Duane, who was killed in 1971 in a motorcycle accident. This weeks song seems most fitting for the circumstances.

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This is Soulshine , released in 1994.

 

 

The quote this week is from the same man, Gregg Allman

 

I would like to be remembered as a – somebody who could rock your soul or make you cry with a song. And somebody who’s kind, who loved to laugh, and loved his God.

RIP

 

Thanks for checking out the blog and I hope you’ll drop by again next week………………….

Week 10 & God

 

If you forget everything but God you have remembered everything that matters

 

from Mitch Teemley

 

My daughter Olivia has been accepted into the Ph.D. program in the Faculty of Social Work for September 2017 at University of Calgary and I am very proud of her and happy for her!

Lori and I were at the Jubilee Auditorium last Thursday to take in Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt, for not just an evening of great music but one that included a great deal of banter between the two which was often very funny,but always entertaining. They have turned their travelling music show into theater

The song this week is White Boy Lost in the Blues , by Lovett and Hiatt.

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Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt

The quote this week is the following from Mother Teresa.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.” 

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you’ll check it out again next week! Have a great day and week ahead……….

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.

 

Week 6

It was birthday night a couple of weeks ago. Not my birthday but birthday night at my home group. The 12 Step fellowship I belong to recognizes and celebrates periods of sobriety called birthdays. Once a month we use a meeting to recognize longer periods of sobriety from 1 year and up. If you got sober in January you celebrate in January. If you got sober in February you celebrate in February, and so on. Oh and there is birthday cake. So if you choose to drop into one of these open meetings we will have cake and coffee for you.

Our last birthday meeting was at the end of January. One of the people receiving a birthday card was a man who has been sober since January 2009. The man introducing him and giving him his birthday card has been sober since May 2010.

This was a very cool moment for me because I have sponsored both these men. They both knew each other prior to getting sober and they are good friends today. I’ve watched them grow spiritually and emotionally from the very first day they made a commitment to get sober to today, the now. I have watched them change their lives. I’ve watched them right the wrongs. I’ve watched them get married, have babies, raise kids and change their lives for the better. I have watched them help others to change their lives. I was very humbled this night to watch these men ,who I would call great friends of mine ,interact and it gave me the time to reflect on what we have gone through, together. Then I looked around the room and counted everyone who has been in my garage to talk recovery, to share their lives with me. There were so many. Many I have been privileged to help and so many who have helped me. The 12 Step recovery process is one person helping another person. We give freely what has freely been given to us. It is the greatest fellowship or organization I have ever been a part of. I have a very abundant life when it comes to relationships. These friends and I have these honest and candid talks, discussions and confessions with one another. There is a saying that goes like this: “I’m only as sick as my secrets”. So we will sit in the garage and drink coffee and share our biggest fears, our deepest regrets, our insecurities and we will respect each other’s confidence and anonymity. We will share with each other these “secrets”. In Proverbs, 27:17 it is stated “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” I don’t usually quote the bible but I know this piece well. I’m not religious at all but I do consider myself to be on a solid spiritual path even if I do stray far more often than I wish. So that’s how it is. We do what it takes to help one another become better men and better people.  Yes I looked around the room that night and looked at all the men who I have shared my secrets with and they have shared theirs with me and realized just how blessed I have been and how blessed I am. I have a real sense of belonging to these people.

garage

I want to share something else with you. It’s a short blog post by Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) to Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos). It again proves to me how strong we need to carry ourselves because we never know the affect we may have on others.

Players Tribune

The song this week is from Leon Bridges. I love this guy. He is very traditional soul music. This is a must buy album (imo)

I’m going to provide two recordings. One is live and one is studio. The live version isn’t as clear and crisp but you get to see Leon being cool which I don’t think he has to work at.

Brown Skin Girl   live version

Brown Skin Girl studio version

 

The quote this week is the co-founder of AA, Bill Wilson

“The willingness to grow is the essence of all spiritual development.”

 

I hope you’ll drop by next week………………