Week 23 & Mental Health

I could hear it in her voice when she said hello. How are you? I was returning my daughters call from 30 minutes earlier. Olivia is an addictions counselor and she moved up north at the beginning of January to do this. One of the young men she has been working with for quite awhile had committed suicide the day before. She was hurt and she was sad. One of the deals about being a parent is that when your kid hurts, you hurt. I never asked his name so I know I’ll sound clinical when I call him “her client”. Her client was a 23-year-old male addict who struggled with his addictions. We talked about him for awhile and the progress he was seemingly making but that progress can disappear quickly with an incident or set back. I have always been proud of Olivia for choosing Social work  and I commend her and all Social Workers for what they do and what they contribute to  our society. I knew when she became a Social Worker that this day would happen and unfortunately it will happen again. I know my daughter well and if we have Social Workers then I am very glad she is one of them. She’s awesome at her job and we need people in this line of work who care about people, society and their belief that they can and will make a change. She’s been doing this since she was in Junior High when she and some friends put on a fundraiser at school to help the victims of the disastrous tsunami of 2004.In a few years, in between grade 11 and 12 her and her friend Emily would spend their summer in Mozambique, working in an orphanage for children who had AIDS or had lost their parents to AIDS. I was hurting for my daughter but at the same time I knew there was no one better suited for this work than she is. I’m flying up to see her this Thursday for the weekend and I know we’ll discuss this more.

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The unfortunate thing is she will see this again. I have spent 25 years in the rooms of recovery and I have seen too many suicides. One is too many. I’ve seen more than that. Most of us, in recovery or not in recovery, have been touched sometime in our life, by suicide. It’s a human condition. I don’t judge anyone who has committed suicide and contrary to some others I don’t believe it’s a selfish act. My pal, Tim M committed suicide on an Easter Sunday at his home. Tim and I came into the rooms together about 1 week apart.  We even had the same sponsor. I had no idea Tim was even close to this. There were no signs, no cry for help, it was his final act. It happened a year and a half after we first met. So often the people left behind ask why and what could I have done? Nothing could be done. The signs are often camouflaged by an outward appearance that is a lie. I feel for these people who do not see an alternative. Imagine the desperation and hopelessness someone feels when suicide, to them, is their best option. I don’t believe it’s a selfish act nor do I believe there is a lot of thought into the ones left behind. It’s an act of insanity and sadly it’s temporary insanity. I have heard the phrase so many times, “a permanent solution to a temporary problem”. I hold hope that the person contemplating suicide will have a moment of clarity and get to an emergency room where a temporary commitment can be enforced and hopefully there can begin something new and different that offers them hope.

 

This video of a famous Ali speech is a must watch and at only 3:21,why not? This is not about boxing or about sports. This is about something far higher than that.It’s so good!

 

The song this week is from Coldplay

 

The quote this week is :

Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.
Rumi

Week 21, Long Weekends and Richard Rohr

The sun was shining every day of this past Victoria Day weekend and I can’t remember the last time that happened. We usually prepare for a spring snowfall on this May long weekend but not so this year. Every day was a beautiful,sunny and warm day. I pressure washed the outside of the house, the deck, the patio, the garage and the parking pad and cleaned off a couple shelves in the garage too.  Lori did a lot of work in the garden and yard. I also went through an old trunk of mine that is full of “stuff”. Mostly it’s all knickknacks’ and pictures from the past. These are things that only have sentimental value, which I want my kids to have, later. You know, when I’m gone. Ha-ha.  There’s crayon coloured placemats and tickets from concerts and sporting events that we attended. It’s just a bunch of “stuff”. I got caught up in it though.

Saturday night we met Samir and Kim at Aladdin’s Casbah .We had a fantastic supper and a visit that matched. Aladdin’s is a must if you’re from Calgary. Its south on MacLeod Trail at Avenida and worth the drive. This is not just the best Lebanese food in town this clearly some of the best food I’ve had in Calgary. If you’re not sure what to have I recommend starting with the tabouli and baba ganoush for appetizers and then order the mixed grill for a main course. If you go on Saturday night the belly dancer starts around 830-9 and you definitely want to be there for that! The food, the staff and the restaurant will have you planning your next visit to Aladdin’s .

I have a spot by some framed jerseys that needed some chairs but they had to be the right chairs to fit in with the sports jerseys. I said to Lori that I thought a couple of leather chairs would be the right fit. She got on Facebook ,checked into Calgary buy and Sell and immediately found two, brown distressed leather chairs that fit perfectly and I won’t say the price because it was such a good deal I almost feel guilty.

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This picture of me and the kids is from 1996. I found this while cleaning the garage on the weekend. Pure gold! It looks like we’re at Elbow Falls

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one of the pictures I found cleaning the garage. Emma,Me,Liam and Olivia

 

I’m presently taking a 9 week course from the Center for Action and Contemplation  . The course is “Breathing Underwater” and it’s to enhance the book by Father Richard Rohr titled Breathing Under Water ; Spirituality and the Twelve Steps. It’s been a great course and it’s given me a considerable amount of spiritual goods to reflect on. This is the second time this year I will have read this book. It’s been well worth my time.

I’m also reading Stephen King’s book , On Writing , Wayne Gretzky’s book Stories of the Game and I’m dabbling in a book of poetry my sister Nancy gave me for my birthday 2 weeks ago. It’s a book of poetry all based on Canada’s game, hockey! It’s called Hero of the Play I’ll get the first three finished by the first week of June and I’ll continue to dabble in the poetry book.

Cheers to the Nashville Predators for getting past Anaheim to be the first team in the Stanley Cup Final this year. This is their first ever appearance in a cup final in the 19 years they have been in the NHL. I’m really happy for the city and their fans and hope they do well. They now await the winner of game 7 between Ottawa and Pittsburgh. I would think if Ottawa ended up in the final it would be a nightmare for the NHL since Nashville and Ottawa are both small market teams and I can’t imagine there would be quite the TV interest that you might see in a NY Rangers versus Los Angeles Kings final. So I’m pulling for Ottawa and maybe we’ll see these two small market teams play for the Stanley Cup. Ottawa has won a Stanley Cup before but their last win was in 1927, long before the modern era.

 

The song this week is from the band Deer Tick and is titled Song About a Man

 

 

The quote this week is something I have had stored away in my file and I have no idea where I got it. But I like it.

If you had $86,400 in your account and someone stole $10 from you, would you be upset and throw the remaining amount $86,390 away at the person who took your $10? Of course not! The same way we have 86,400 seconds each day. Don’t let someone’s negative 10 seconds ruin the remaining 86,390 seconds of your day.

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope to see you next week……………..

 

 

 

Week 16 & A New Pair of Shoes

This week a friend of mine is telling a little of his story . I met Mike R. in 2004 when he came into a meeting in McKenzie Towne. He was new and I liked him from the start. I think of him back then , when he had just moved out of his car, to today where he owns his own place,his own business and is a great father to a beautiful little girl.He’s a solid friend and we have done a lot of things together over the years and we’ve had a lot of laughs. One night Mike took me to see Robin William’s at the Jubilee. Man did we laugh! Mike is an avid fisherman and can be found on the Bow River most days. Mike is also a fishing guide on the Bow River and his website is Bow River Blog and I can assure you he will provide you with a great and fun day or 1/2 day on the river and it’s very affordable and most of all it’s well worth it. The laughter alone , that Mike guarantee’s,is worth it.

 

 

A new pair of shoes

 

Walking the red road into a new way of life.

My shoes took me into deep dark places before I found A.A and recovery. Places where normal people are scared to enter. From crack houses to the local bar, the end was close for me on many occasions. My shoes were worn out and tired, deflated and ready to retire. They had stories to tell, mostly of where not to walk in life’s journey. They were cracked and torn, laces broken, very parallel to my life lived deep in the throes of full blown addiction. I would show up on old friends door steps, only for the door to slam closed in my face and the words uttered sternly “don’t come around here no more, you are NOT welcome”. Shame and humiliation kept me away mostly, but sometimes my shoes would take me back to borrow money to fuel the addiction that burned deep within, only to be rejected again and again! It was lonely in those shoes and I was tired of the places they took me, but for some reason I would always end up in the same situations, baffled as to why I was back at the start once again? An old song comes to mind when I think of those days, “these boots are made for walking… and that’s just what they’ll do, cause one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you”.

Addiction walked all over me, and everything I once loved or held dear to my heart. It crushed all my hopes and all my dreams into a million pieces. When I was young I had aspirations of becoming a hockey player, as well as a professional golf pro. I was good at sports, but really good at these two particularly.  I remember many hockey dads telling my mother, he is a star and he will make the NHL if he keeps playing. My mother could not keep up with the cost of hockey, being a single mother of two, and I hung up the skates around the age of twelve and the golf clubs went to the pawn shop around the age of eighteen. At the ripe old age of nineteen I was a full on pot head, using drugs on a daily basis, and by twenty one I discovered the wonderful drug Cocaine. By the time I was twenty three I had discovered the powerful and highly addictive drug, crack cocaine. Addiction never ran in my family, it galloped.

I can recount at least eight different incidents where I should have died from drug or alcohol related incidents, but for some reason the good Lord never wanted me to go early. One day while at work, I got a call from a friend who wanted me to come over and have lunch and “smoke a joint” before going back to work. My shoes were on and I went running. I ran across the street in front of my work and got ploughed down by a car doing 60 kilometers an hour. My head bounced off his roof and my shoulder went through the front windshield, I still have the scars to prove it! I spent a week in the local hospital but was lucky I had no broken bones and came out with a huge lump on my head, some stitches to my neck and a very badly bruised leg. You think that would have been the “turning point” they say we stood at, but unfortunately it was not.

I carried on for many years later and finally coming to that ultimate place of defeat. I woke up one morning, after parking on crown land near a golf course in the back seat of an old 50.00 beater I bought from a guy at work just before I lost another job. That was where I lived for a month before finally admitting defeat and driving to the local detox center for help. I was coming down off a five day binge and kept driving around the block where the detox center was located. I circled the block at least six times. I had the windows of the car rolled up tight and as I rounded the block one more time, debating to go into the detox center or leave and never go back, I saw a lady and her young son doing some yard work. I made eye contact with the young boy, who was about five years old. As soon as our eyes met I could hear him say, with the windows rolled up tightly, “mommy, mommy that man is in trouble”. I could hear his voice as if he were standing right next to me. I proceeded to park in the detox parking lot and go inside, never to drink or drug another day again. I spent three months in a long term treatment center and never looked back, never putting on the old shoes again. I walked out of that treatment center a changed man and then went straight into Alcoholics Anonymous. It took me approximately three months of hard work with a sponsor, to acquire a new pair of shoes. After landing my first job in many months, I went out and got myself a new pair of Nike’s and a new way of living that works, if you work it.

We still joke around about my first new pair of shoes to this day. That was the first sign I was going to “make it”. I have had many blessings in my life, both the people, as well as the material gifts I have been freely given as a result of those new shoes I slipped on back in 2004. There is hope for guys like me, who went all the way to the bottom, and decided to climb out with the hand of A.A to pull me up. There is a light at the end of that dark tunnel. If you want proof of that, step into the rooms of A.A and take a look around. There you will find many bright lights burning, and you will probably see a few with a new pair of shoes just like mine.

Sincerely,

A grateful member of Alcoholics Anonymous,

Mike Robertson.

 

The song this week is from Glen Campbell. Campbell is presently in a long term care facility in Nashville and in the final throes of Alzheimer disease . He played his last show in November 2012 and his daughter was in the band and by his side every show of his last tour, to care for her father who carried out the tour while early alzheimers was taking hold.

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1967

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2012

 

 

The quote this week is also from Glen Campbell.

“You’ve got to try a little kindness, yes show a little kindness Just shine your light for everyone to see. And if you try a little kindness, Then you’ll overlook the blindness Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets.”

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you’ll check it out again next week……

Week 15 & Small Victories

 

Last night at a 12 step meeting I mentioned I had a coffee with a young man who was very pleased with some small progress he had made. He was really new to recovery and still in his first 30 days. What was he pleased about? He told me he had gone 1 ½ days without telling one lie. I understand that if you’re reading this and you aren’t an alcoholic or an addict that you might think this an unusual thing to celebrate.  I know that many of you reading this have gone days or weeks or longer without telling a lie. Not so for the alcoholic. You know how to tell when a using alcoholic is lying? Their lips are moving! Back to my new friend and our conversation. I was happy to hear him say that he had managed to do this and I encouraged him, challenged him, to go longer. But what I was happiest about was he was recognizing some change in his actions so soon in his life in recovery. When we are striving for change,we need to take time and look at that change in our lives when it happens. Almost everyone I know strives to have some sort of change in their life. It might be weight loss, saving money or recovery from alcoholism. Recognizing the small victories when they happen, as they happen , is paramount to continued success. For a newly recovering alcoholic to go 1 ½ days without lying is a big accomplishment. My young friend realized this. He wants more of this. He wants to change. He assured me he would quit waiting for the “burning bush” experience and continue to celebrate the small victories. As people in recovery we need to realize that the transformations we obtain are going to come slowly and surely if we continue to work for them.

“They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them”

This is the line that follows the Step 9 Promises on page 83/84 of the book, Alcoholics Anonymous.

And what about my friend? He’s going to keep coming to meetings, reading the Big Book, working with his sponsor, working the steps and changing his life. Recognizing your change and celebrating it are what keeps us on the path of doing more of what it was that got us to this point. Take time to get acquainted with your new behaviours and appreciate the change as you replace the old behaviours.

 

The roundup last Saturday in DeWinton was very good and the DeWinton AA Group did a great job of hosting so many in their small community. We had some great fellowship with new and old friends and a terrific roast beef dinner. The speakers were very good and my Sponsor, Andy C ,knocked it over the fence. I’ve known Andy for 2 years and he’s been my sponsor only a short while now and it was good for me to hear “his story”.

 

Tonight the second season of the NHL begins and as my friend Kelly says “It’s just like Christmas time”. The second season I refer to is the NHL Playoffs.

Tonight there are 5 games on tap and 3 games tomorrow. The Calgary Flames play tomorrow and face the Anaheim Ducks at the Duck’s barn. I have included the bracket below.

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I love to make predictions so here goes:

Chicago over Nashville
St. Louis over Minnesota
Calgary over Anaheim
Edmonton over San Jose
Montreal over NYC
Boston over Ottawa
Pittsburgh over Columbus
Washington over Toronto

I am excited to be watching some great hockey as the playoffs brings out the best,the toughest and sometimes the nastiest but it’s always entertaining.As for my predictions…..you know what people say about opinions….. enjoy the second season!

Happy Easter to all my friends. Whether you celebrate it or not I do, and I wish you all the best for Easter

I have to give the song of the week to the J. Geils Band out of respect for the death yesterday of John Geils at age 71.

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J. Geils Band ( early 70’s)

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John Geils (2011)

 

 

[He met band mates Danny Klein and “Magic Dick” Salwitz at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he was studying mechanical engineering. They formed the J. Geils Band in 1967 with lead singer Peter Wolf and drummer Stephen Jo Bladd.
The group released a string of albums in the 1970s but would not achieve commercial success until the 1980s, starting with the release of “Love Stinks,” its first platinum-selling record, according to Rolling Stone. Their 12th album, “Freeze-Frame,” featured its popular title track as well as chart-topper “Centerfold,” which spent six weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982.] – CNN, April 12 , 2017
The quote this week :
“Hockey captures the essence of Canadian experience in the New World. In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter we are alive.”
Thanks for reading. I hope youèll drop by next week………..

Week 8 & Expectations of Self

 

Expectations of myself . I need them. Reasonable and achievable expectations of myself sets a tone for personal growth and improvement.

I deem these expectations of self to be necessary for my physical , emotional and spiritual growth. They’re all essential if I am to grow,as a person. Most of us strive to be better. Most of us want to be better. It could be at work. It could be as a leader , a follower , a husband or wife, a son, a daughter , a friend.

Imagine going to work and saying to yourself “yesterday was a very mediocre day . I think I will shoot for another mediocre day”. To me it’s as ridiculous as it sounds.But imagine you come into work and say ” I had a good day yesterday but I know I can do better”. What a simple concept. I can be better today than I was yesterday. Simple.

I use work as an example because that’s the place where so many of us derive much of our self worth and unfortunately,  self indulgent negative thought .So to counter this I want to give myself opportunity to do well;to do good and be better.I can apply this to any job , any situation , any relationship and anything in my life I want to be better at.
My expectations of myself must be realistic if I am going to incorporate this practise in to my life. If they aren’t realistic expectations then I only set myself up for failure which is a feeling I don’t need to create for myself. I want to improve , so I’ll feel good about myself,not bad.There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having some expectations of myself and to work towards achieving them.

I’m going to share one of my favorite stories on this topic and to get to the point quicker, I will paraphrase.

This exchange took place between the famous Trappist Monk , Thomas Merton and his old friend and renowned poet Robert Lax. They were walking down the streets in Lexington Kentucky one day when this exchange took place. They had just finished a small argument as great friends often do.

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The above pictures are both of the beloved Thomas Merton

“What do you want to be anyway? ” said Lax to his friend. “I don’t know; I guess what I want to be is a good Catholic” replied Merton. “what do you mean you want to be a good Catholic?” said Lax  Lax was not impressed with the lame answer given him by his old friend Thomas.
Lax responded ” Why don’t you aspire to be a saint , Thomas?” Merton responded with a laugh and replied “I can never be a saint !”,  to which Lax replied” I didn’t say you would be a saint ,Thomas. I only said aspire to be one”

Taken from Thomas Merton’s autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain , page 260

 

 

The song this week is from Old 97’s , an alt-country band from Dallas who’ve been around since 1993. They never disappoint me. This song is titled Good With God.

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Old 97’s

 

The quote this week is from Bruce Lee.

I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you’ll check it out again next week……………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 7 & Change

We cannot change the past. We can try as hard as we want (think), but we will not change the past. That was the gist of a discussion I had with a friend today while we grabbed a quick coffee at Starbucks. We cannot change the past. So stop dwelling on it. Stop beating yourself up over the things you did that today,you can’t change. If you had character flaws, as I did and I do, as we all do, then you have done some things that you wished you hadn’t. These things are done,behind us and can’t be undone. You can make an amends for them ,you can seek forgiveness but you can not undo the action.Here’s what I know we can do.We can change our future ; we can change our attitudes, our perceptions and our actions. So don’t torture yourself over the things that you have done in the past that you find to be objectionable to you today but instead use those things, those wrongdoings ,as your guide to what you DON’T want to be or do, going forward. Every one of us can change if we want to change. I don’t know what it is about you that you would like to change but I do know what it is about me that I would like to change and I work on those things. I’ve done many things in the past that I find very displeasing to me today. Some of them embarrass me and some of them still hurt. So I don’t anchor myself there. My past does not and will not define me; unless I allow it. So I told my friend, at coffee, why dwell on these things in the past that you have done that you cannot change? Why not use this energy in a positive fashion and dwell on the thing(s) you want to change as you grow forward? So take a moment, look at your past and say goodbye to those character flaws and start being the change you want to grow into.

 

The song this week is from a US indie-folk singer whose star is rising swiftly. Her name is Angel Olsen and if you’re in the Seattle area you can catch her performance at the Neptune this Saturday the 18th.

angelolsen_bysabrinarush

 

The quote this week is from the GOAT Muhammad Ali

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you’ll do the same next week…….

Week 6 & Conscious Contact

Last weekend I was on silent retreat  ,west of Caroline Alberta, at Sanctum Retreat Center.

There were 29 men who attended and the retreat was a 12 step retreat although Sanctum itself holds many retreats for many groups or organizations. It’s a beautiful center with great facilities and rooms and the food itself is definitely a spiritual experience. Check them out.

I love the silent retreat. I might pick it up to a 2 a year pace this year and get in a summer retreat also. It is an excellent opportunity to de-stress, rest, reflect and think ,or a number of other things you might want to do with the time. This year I enjoyed the silence, read a book I have wanted to read and got a good start on another book. With 29 men the silence is huge and it’s far more noticeable with that many men around than if there were just a handful. Saturday night I went into the dining hall to have a cup of tea and read my book. After about 15 minutes I realized the room was quite busy so I looked up, and counted 13 men in the room. Some men were snacking on an orange or an apple, some men were having a coffee or tea and some were just sitting. One table had 3 men sitting together, but not a word was spoken. That was a very cool moment. Everyone has their own private room at the retreat ,which was small, but very comfortable with a small table to write on if you wished to. The silence is in effect from dinner on Friday to lunch on Sunday. There was guided meditations on Friday night, Saturday morning and Saturday night and Sunday morning. Nothing is mandatory and all of it is up to the individual. I highly recommend taking it all in though if you ever choose to go on retreat. It was like getting my battery pack recharged! There are many types of retreats and retreats centers everywhere and I suggest it to anyone to take an opportunity and retreat; even if you only do it once.

The following is from Andrew Holecek who completed a 3 year Zen retreat and is the author of Dream Yoga.

 

Retreat is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage to stop and face one’s mind so directly. But if you want to be unconditionally happy, which is one way to talk about enlightenment, there is no other way. Sooner or later you have to relate to your mind instead of from it. Otherwise you will forever be held captive by the contents of your mind, shackling yourself to every shiny thought that pops up,a prisoner of your own making.

To be truly free, to cut the shackles, you have to block all the conventional exits and be with yourself, retreat into yourself. Once the initial hurdles are crossed and the mind begins to settle in retreat, the benefits unfold. The mind sharpens and the heart opens. Stability and equanimity develop. Kindness and compassion blossom. The world softens because you soften. Discipline, patience and accommodation mature.”

 

I had a nice chat today with my good friend Dan who lives in Kelowna. He sent me, via Facebook, the funeral card from our old friend Ivor Lundin who was killed in an industrial accident on Okanagan Lake on Monday the 30th. Ivor ran a boom boat on the lake pushing logs into the mill. He went down with his boat that night. Rest In Peace Ivor.

 

What a wild Super Bowl game! Congrats to Tom Brady who, like him or not , has to be the best QB ever. He deserves all the records he set. It pains me to say it but he is great! Looks like hockey and the NHL are now front and center for me until baseball season begins.

 

The song this week is from one of my favourites, The Felice Brothers. Their journey began in the NYC subway system where they played for change and now they tour the country. Painting pictures for my mind with their lyrics. I would love to see these guys live and I will, first chance I get. This is the title song from their latest album, Life In The Dark

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The quote this week is from Richard Rohr

“You have to find some way to not become a cynical or negative person, a person who keeps walking around and opening your eyes in the outside world but inside you close down, a person who stops expecting tomorrow to be better than today. “

 

 

Thanks for stopping by 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.

 

 

the-head-heart

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.

burken-me

Burke and Me in Spring of 1960

 

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

 closertothebone-kk

 

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….

 

 

Pain is the Touchstone and Week 45

Last weekend started with Remembrance Day, a holiday here in Alberta and it was a quiet weekend for us. We stayed in the neighborhood for the most part but did venture out Saturday for a movie and later a burger. It was nice to have a long weekend, without plans and not too busy to be able to enjoy some down time and get a few small things done. We’re going out this Friday for dinner, with another couple we know very well. We’ve decided to go to Bonterra Trattoria which I have been anxious to try since it received Avenue Magazine’s third place recognition for Calgary’s Best Restaurants and first place for Best Italian Food. I’ll let you know next week how it was but if I forget don’t be afraid to ask.

Moving along…..

I have a belief that everything we receive from our Higher Power, God or the Universe, is a gift or a lesson. Life is full of gifts and lessons. Most often our lessons come in packages we don’t want. And if we learn the lesson then we have been given a gift. Why do these gifts and lessons come in packages we usually don’t want? I suppose it’s because most of us are quite content when life is going smoothly and we do not make any attempt to change or grow when things are good. But when faced with physical and more so,emotional pain, we make the necessary changes or adaptations to cope with this pain. Or more importantly, to grow out of this pain. It is through and because of emotional pain that most of us will search for help or seek a way out. This is why I sought out 12 step recovery. It was recover or die. Those were my two choices. Believe it or not I actually had to think about what choice to make. My lessons brought me to recovery and my recovery has been a gift.

In AA’s book, Twelves Steps and Twelve Traditions, on page 93 it says:

“pain was the touchstone of all spiritual progress”

 I am certain that everyone reading this can identify with that statement. We have all had some “pain” in our life , for many it began far too young.I have been given many gifts and lessons in my life and I hope I am around for many more and continue to use them as a stepping stone to growth.I am not positive and I can’t unequivocally attribute the above quote to anyone. Bill Wilson, the co-founder of AA wrote it in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions and he was talking about someone other than himself, I think. I believe that someone else to be his sponsor, Father Ed Dowling but I can’t be sure. Regardless the point is well made and proven many times over. Until the pain of where we are is greater than the pain of change, all will remain the same. So as much as we have a disdain for pain, emotional pain, it still remains one of the greatest motivators for growth and more specifically spiritual growth. I hate emotional pain or turmoil but I have been around long enough to know that I will come out the other side a better person.I am responsible for my own growth. I must use the lesson and turn it into a gift.

 

 “The next time you are face with something unexpected, unwanted and uncertain, consider that it just may be a gift”—-Stacey Kramer from the following video.

 

 

 

My daughter Emma has been telling me about a great movie coming out to theaters soon and she sent me this link from the trailer for the movie. It’s a true story and the movie is called “Loving”

 

The quote this week is :

“But pain’s like water. It finds a way to push through any seal. There’s no way to stop it. Sometimes you have to let yourself sink inside of it before you can learn how to swim to the surface.”
 Katie Ray Kacvinsky, author

 

Leonard Cohen ( 1934-2016)

leonard-cohen-gi

This past week we lost a great singer, songwriter, poet and person. Leonard Cohen was a great Canadian know around the world. I think everyone knows who Leonard Cohen is and just about everyone has heard a Leonard Cohen song. My friends know that I have a love if not a passion for music and the last time I felt so affected by the death of a musician it was John Lennon’s death. Now that I have had so much more living and have a much greater appreciation for life, than I did in 1980 when Lennon died, Cohen’s death has been a little more distressing to me. I was very fortunate to see Leonard Cohen in November 2012, here in Calgary at the Saddledome. I sat and listened and enjoyed and it was over far too soon. He said he would be back. It was fabulous night. It’s very sad to think I wont see him play live again. I recommend his books Stranger Music 1993 or Book of Longing 2006. He also released a new album this year . I will miss him very much as I know many of you will be. George Harrison sang “All Things Must Pass” and so they shall. The video below is one of my favorite Cohen songs; enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

Well thanks for drooping by as I appreciate you take the time to read this……have a great week and I hope I’ll see you next week..

 

 

 

K E Garland

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