DRINKING ALCOHOL TAUGHT ME HOW TO FLY
THEN IT TOOK AWAY THE SKY

Sunday, September 27, 2009

BACK IN ONE WEEK! HMMMMMMM?


HAPPINESS IS THIS:  

I sang in a church choir for the first time ever--Sunday morning--and it was F.U.N.  It was good! 

If you should feel inspired to comment--how about the last time YOU did something for the first time. Please?




The truth:
This is my last blog posting for ONE WEEK, maybe more, maybe less.  Too many chores have fallen too far behind. I am feeling unhealthful stress.  IRS taxes are still waiting for me, also LOADS of yard work, before winter--with it's 55-80 f) (13-26 c) degree temps. And I've got to do some serious violin practice to prepare   for winter gigs.

Another truth:
My addiction to this blog community has taken over my life. I need to regain some of it. You all have taught me that. Thank you Sooooo much!  This is like a vacation, which used to mean VACATE!

As I grow older, I find out--
Not too late I hope,
The following to observe:

Life Is So Very Short.
Break The Rules.
Forgive Quickly.
Kiss Slowly.
Love Truly.
Laugh Uncontrollably,
And Never Regret Anything
That Made You Smile.
Life May Not Be The Party
We Hoped For,
But While We're Here, Let us DANCE...

And let's dance CLEAN AND SOBER!

Peace.
Love.
Steve


If anyone knows the source of "LIFE IS TOO SHORT", 
allow me to link to it please.  Thanks.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

FORUMS: THEN AND NOW


ROMAN FORUM


THE "FIX" IS IN



If I'm having a problem with my computer. there is a place to go. The same with my Suzuki scooter.  OR my violin might need adjusting, some cracks glued (it IS 150 years old). there is a place to go for each of these problems. You all know this as being called the forums, as in "Go to the forums, Dummy!" That's what they told me to do the first time.

In the "forums" there are peeps galore who have had a problem identical to mine, and are ready and willing to share their experience with whoever asks. Sometimes they are not so full of patience. Sometimes they are a bit short in the department of social graces, but the right answer is there. It can be found by all who seek.

 I think also of our blog community as a sort of forum. Sometimes I bring quite a lot of myself into this huge world-wide room. I try to open up my mind, I let stuff out, I let stuff in. What I do with it is my business. Sometimes we hurt one another. Sometimes we repair the damage. I bring problems here which I trust to nobody else (except my sponsor). Often I receive an answer before I have asked the question. God works here in an astonishing manner, with awesome swiftness, with a sureness of loving kindness (usually).

One day recently I blogged a rash statement regarding the fact that I have been going to 3 or 4 meetings every day. Rash, because I had not thought how that sound-bite would play out in my blog. It surprised me that anyone would even notice much less comment on that part of my blog. Although the comments were "right on" as far as they (and the blog) went, I wish to remind myself of a few things.

PRIOR to 18 months ago, I went to only 2  meetings a week. Then I bought the most wonderful motor scooter by Suzuki. Then I discovered those three-in-a-row morning AA meetings at 6,7, and 8 AM. 



I loved "riding" Soooo much that I rode to meetings all over the county (our county is larger than Rhode Island), got to know lots of peeps.
 

That same summer (2008) I ran into a blogger here on-line who spent time to lead me and guide me to you bloggers--a "how-to" teacher. Most of you who greeted me then are still here. How encouraging that is, to witness people who stick to their commitment No Matter What! It is a lesson for all who would falter. 


It is as if they are saying, "Just do what I did, and you'll get what I've got. Peace, happiness, and SOBRIETY!" Well, I have it--for today.

--Again thanks to all of you Bloggers, my here-at-home peeps, and the God of my understanding.

 God bless you all.
 Peace and love to you all.
 And we're all sober today.

MOUNTAIN OF UNDERSTANDING




 First Painting:  EMOTIONS by Kari
SCOFF  SCOFF


I used to scoff whenever I heard at an AA meeting the words "emotions" or "feelings". I can hear even now a whining voice telling us, "I'm just an emotional wreck", or "But...I told him my feelings were hurt, and then he walked out. boo-hoo". I did not like those kinds of words, because they were not definable by me. I HAD no feelings or emotions for a number of years, even in sobriety, in AA.

Sure, I tried to understand what the peeps were talking about. No use--if it ain't happening to me, it just is not happening. I WAS trying, but you see, I suffered from a serious illness on more than a few levels.

In hindsight, I feel certain that psychiatric help would have benefited me. But I wanted NO part of that. Actually, I feared being locked up, and the key being misplaced--know what I'm sayin'?

__________________________________________________________________

I have lately been shown what an important part of your sober life and mine ARE emotions, feelings, thoughts, perceptions (even illusions!).

More important to my sobriety is that when I speak at an AA meeting, people are listening, people who have been where I've been, and done what I've done. And I can see that they understand me as I understand them.

When a member at a meeting now brings up a problem of living, I listen, try to catch the core meaning, and learn more each day--just by paying attention.

I used to say, "If it's not alcohol-related, I don't even want to know about it." Well, I'm an alcoholic, so is everything about me alcohol-related?  It is like saying, "I am a turtle." So name one thing about me which isn't "turtle-related"...Try it!

Sure, fallacious reasoning can be found here and argued, but someone else can do that.

Through the Twelve Steps I have formed, (still forming) a meaningful life, with a growing "selfless, unconditional giving" as my mantra. The giving can be a cup of coffee to a stranger in line behind me at Starbucks--to time and energy spent with a relative, a friend, an alcoholic.

Peace to you Peeps.
Love you Peeps.
Sobriety, Peeps.
Steve



Thursday, September 24, 2009

CHANGE-- AND PEACE


PEACE LOVE HAPPINESS



CHANGE
ONE FINAL WORD

AS STEVE SEES IT


For 70 years I have been playing the violin, in bands, symphony orchestras
 trios, quartets, strolling, inside, outside, here, there, and everywhere. From barrooms to rooms with bars.

Recently--again, without thinking, (no change there)!--I blurted out to a church music director, "I'd like to sing bass in the choir." So that's where I find myself, enjoying it SO much. We sing every Sunday 11 AM mass at St Ann Church. Of course, I will have the opportunity to play my violin on occasion.  The best of two world! Thank God and Twelve Steps...I am sober.

What a change!  You have no idea how I am marveling at the inspiration which guided me to this place. And I thank God for arranging it--that's the way it seems to me. Sobriety allows me free choices every minute, and if I feel that spiritual "push" it becomes my choice. Sometimes OK--sometimes NOT.

NEXT:

I want you all to know you do not have an Angel Gabriel or a Saint Stephen writing all these good changes which have occurred.  I DO have yet a couple thorns which with God's help will be yanked out of my soul one day. I'm ready! Are You? God? "Only say the Word, and I shall be healed."

My promise to you peeps is that I shall continue to change, and will let you know, as I recognize it.


And thank God for Step TEN, where I can get rid of most everything which disturbs me daily, sometimes on-the-spot, and with your help, bloggers, and peeps in the AA rooms, I can live the life of a free man.


ONE MORE THING

I've been asked for "my" definition of PEACE.  Peace--to me--is the absence of chaos. It--is not peace between nations, continental powers, political movements.  My control over those is insignificant.

Peace is you and me. It is a loving meeting of my mind and yours. It IS, in fact--love. It is thinking of you first, before me. It is caring, nurturing, supporting another.  Peace and love are "action" words. I have experienced a huge amount of this love at home and away from home the past five weeks. I experienced that "peace which surpasses all understanding" while traveling and meeting people (scootering) through five states.

On my final ride, the last 50 miles home, I was overwhelmed with the feeling, the knowledge, that I had been so loved in so many ways...accepted, tolerated, fed, "coffee'd", housed, and treated as an equal among equals, no matter what.  And they took me to AA meetings.

Again, for me, "peace" and "love" are so closely related as I might think of the genetic togetherness of identical twins.

The following quote sits on the desk of a long-passed friend of mine. It was meant as a definition of "Humility".  As I read, it usually produces a benignancy, replacing immediately any disturbances which found their way into my heart.

"Perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted or vexed, irritable or sore; to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me.

"It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised, it is to have a blessed home in myself where I can go in and shut the door and pray to my Father in secret and be at peace, as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and about is seeming trouble. "
 

Really bloggers, be sober.
Be at peace.
Be loving and lovable.
Steve

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WINDY CHANGES


WIND-TURBINE


MORE CHANGES IN A 
SOBER BREEZE:

CHANGE ONE

Speaker Friday night kept thanking the group for allowing her back into the AA meeting room time after time after time--smelling of alcohol, slurring words, etc.--for eight long  months!  She celebrated her Fourth sober anniversary Friday.

Until a month ago I believed there was one way to get clean and sober--simply, to stop drinking and using.  And one way to STAY sober.  I have come to realize (again) that people "slip" in and out of these programs repeatedly.  With patience, tolerance and humble welcoming again and again by us Peeps, some of them MAKE IT!

MORE

The following may sound like I'm tooting my horn, but no, I play a violin.  My ideas, thoughts, my whole philosophy has been rapidly changing.  It is almost as though I feel I cannot keep up with it.  Like there is not enough time left in life to be again in "amend" mode. I do not mean to tell a million people that I am sorry.  I mean to CHANGE, guys.  It's called entire psychic change in our Big Book, in "The Doctor's Opinion".

I'll try to cut to the chase here.  For a long time I have felt (again) not good enough. Wow!  I bet THAT never happened to anybody before me? --grin!  In and during the course of a six-week period, a scooter trip, visits with congenial peeps and loads of prayer, I have noticed changes happening to me, almost like "on-the-spot".  It is as if I am not in control--well, I'm NOT --grin!

My scooter driving has improved--I  wear a helmet,  have stopped speeding, turn off blinkers, check tires, carry insurance, get regular oil changes and I don't give the one-fingered salute to drivers who cut me off.  All this has happened quite suddenly

I have cut back on meetings.  Isn't that a strange change to boast?  But it did seem like I only felt good at meetings. And so I spent lots of time there.  


And my sponsor told me that someone with many years of AA sobriety did not "need" 3-4 meetings a day (25/week...100/month).  It is not easy for me to "cut back" on an addiction.  Much more simple to cut it out altogether. I will go to one-a-day, like a vitamin. OK? --OK!

Instead of "going with the flow", I learned (while riding alone on the road, and using good counsel) to make quick decisions, right or wrong.  Sure I used the experience of years of observation, but that does not take the place of "doing the deed".  I'm not talking about big decisions, just the little day-to-day ones, which I (being a top-dog Codie!) seldom had the privilege of performing.  It's called "DO-IT", a four-letter word if I ever used one.

These are some of the things I am learning--or re-learning--in my life's Fourth Quarter, in continual sobriety, and I am LOVING it.  New freedoms emerge daily hidden in my goals of personal sobriety, desire to be of service to others, and in trying to merge my will with  God's Will.  What FREEDOM is in that!  God makes the real decisions, I just seek and follow His Will, His example, as best I can.

Sobriety, Patience, Tolerance, Peace, and Quiet Love for all is my prayer for all us Peeps today.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

LET THERE BE PEACE, PEEPS



BUDAPEST PEACE SIGN

CHANGES IN THE WIND

All my life, drunk or sober, I have been a terrible arguer.  When am I terrible?   That is when I argue without any facts, when I argue just for the sake of, and when I do so just to hear me talk loud. Terrible is for me to argue about inconsequential crapola, even fight over tomorrow's weather.  Terrible is  when I make insane statements--in fact, I know THAT is terrible because of the remorse I suffer later.  Remorse, because of the  sometimes trouble I have caused others or myself.

Terrible is to argue--or even to say anything--without first thinking. So that's "typical" ME. Now you know.  Not a pretty sight.  In our Big Book on page 84 is written "We have ceased fighting anything or anyone--even alcohol."  Well, I got the "alcohol" part down real good right off.  But I did not see, read, nor could have understood the "anyone or anything" concept.  What an idea, arriving before its time --grin! 

  • So, where is all this leading?  Well, I have "ceased arguing!"  Yep, Peeps, you won't hear me say Fk more than once a day from now on.  
  • It is a huge philosophical change for me to say--and mean it--"You may be right".  Only four words, and they can be used over and over--the "recipient" will not mind one bit.
  • In the past--until four weeks ago--I could never let a disagreement end until I thought I had won.  
  • I'm working now to become a "seeker of peace" not necessarily among nations, but one-on-one.  For that is where I now know peace begins--with me.
  • I have become not only a believer, but  I speak out now for Peeps who do not think, act, nor live like me, and their rights to live equally, peacefully, and as they know to be correct for themselves.  I also expect the same treatment for myself, from others--this may not take place.
  • Prior to a couple months ago, I thought my self-styled "benevolence" was being distributed by an "elevated form of tolerance" for certain groups, races, minorities, genders, and other lifestyles.  During my trip I have found that we peeps are not different from one another--we are different WITH each other.  For me (not trying to tell you how to think, here, peeps!), I have traded the word tolerance for the word LOVE.
Considering that God loves with perfection all which he has made, I should also (but delete the word "perfection" of course --grin!) show love for all and everything.  Sometimes this is not easy...but is a goal which--with a long life-- seems attainable, at least if I water it down a bit.  Watered down version:  fluctuant degrees of love.  Maybe I  can work up from there--it IS a beginning!

Today's message from me is PEACE for all, and to all.  I cannot help but combine that with prayers for a clean and sober day...and LOVE!  Is there much else?

Monday, September 21, 2009

WRONG-WAY MARATHON


THE HOUND OF HEAVEN

I'm considering posting--from time to time, beginning of my blog here, and completing it on The Second Road (TSR).  I recently met the TSR  Peeps in Virginia.  The mission is clearly not one of exclusivity  but of inclusiveness, beckoning ALL who seek recovery from addiction to join, and learn from one another--each other. Although many alcoholics are frequent participants on TSR, there is no pretense that this takes the place of AA meetings, or my AA program. Check it out--or not, we are free to BE.  To enjoy complete access, joining is harmless and easy!

My Marathon


All over the blog world I read about Peeps training for this or that marathon, and then, well....doing it.  Running. Competing. Loving it.

Yesterday I read "Junky's Wife" blog HI GOD, about being reintroduced to God, from Whom she had been running. In the final sentences she wrote a phrase:  "...even though I ran from you for so long." 

This reminded me of the "Hound of Heaven" a 182-line poem by Francis Thompson, something which I slept through in St Xavier High School, but remembered years later.  The opening words are SO me:


Read more at TSR (The Second Road)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

CHANGE IN THE WIND



ANGEL TRUMPETS, a repeat photo.  

A fellow blogger "Glimmer" asked me the other day if this photo was from our back yard.  Naturally I went to one of her several blogs, the one about ANGEL TRUMPETS.  To understand my blog today PLEASE read hers right HERE.



BEGINNING OF EMAIL TO GLIMMER
Dear Glimmer

Yes! Photo is Trumpet Tree in our back yard. 2 years ago I took a shoot off a friend's tree--

Well, the shoot died, and so I paid 50 bucks for a nicely-filled-out 5-foot bush.   After it got "settled in" we were driving home on motor scooters one night.  More than a mile from home we smelled the sweet honey-suckle-like scent all over the neighborhood, which kept getting stronger.  Of course, you know what it was...were we ever surprised, though.

Shamefully,I have neglected to care properly for the Trumpet. I should trim and shape it nicely again, and maybe plant some of the shoots which are coming out from everywhere.

But we LOVE it, "No Matter What" (to use an expression --grin!).  Thanks for your response.

END OF EMAIL.


________________________________________


OK, Peeps.  That set the stage.  In her referenced blog Glimmer explains how she gave her 'pink' Angel Trumpets many chances to come back to life, after they seemed doomed (to an alcoholic death--NO!  Wait a minute here --grin!)...back to reality--they were dying, it seems. She nurtured them, babied them, coddled, prayed over, and cried for them.  Low and behold, after time, they one day showed life, and trumpets began to blare in Glimmer's head.  There WAS a "Glimmer" of hope!


I could not resist seeing my long-expressed thinking, and directing-type behaviors come into play here, and added the following comment on Glimmer's blog:


COMMENT ON  Glimmer's BLOG:

This blog about Angel Trumpets--yours and mine--renewed and validated my recent thinking about certain men I sponsor, and their seeming non-recoveries.  I had long ago decided not to work with "chronic relapses".

The change here is that I've found so MANY who have made it--only by coming back into the rooms time after time after time, and finally--one day:  eureka!  The Mother Lode had been struck.

In other words guys, "Keep coming back."  

My own experience:
 

I shook, sweat, vomited, almost died, when I stopped drinking March 18, 1974.  My first meeting was March 19,1974.  I did not drink after those dates, No Matter What (but did not know those words then).  

So I figured EVERYONE should do it like I did it.  Not so.  Some struggle for years, in-and-out, before it takes hold.  Sadly--others never make it.

Now I understand this.  And my whole thinking has changed.  I (suddenly, really!) have more compassion for those who find it SO difficult to stay sober.  We ALL have problems with which we deal...constantly!  

And I now (again) realize the guy who is still drinking could have been ME, if you all had not shown ME tender, patient care, and had not loved me back to health.  For I was deathly sick in body, mind, and spirit (soul).


Thanks to God, for bringing me here to your blog, which I would probably not have read, had you not commented on mine.  Thank you for letting God use BOTH of us!

Sorry about the length of this comment.

Peace!

END OF COMMENT



So, Peeps, do you see what I see here.  This is CHANGE in me on several levels, one of several major psychic changes which happened over and during my scooter ride to Virginia.  These past three weeks have been life-changing for me in ways that only I know, but a few of which I'll share with you during this week.


I sure wish you Peace, Peeps.
I sure LOVE you, Peeps.
I sure NEED you, Peeps.
Steve

Saturday, September 19, 2009

"SCREW YOU"....AND...."THANK YOU"




Pissed Off!

Recently I had the honor of telling a 54-year-old man that when he needs or wants money--go to the bank.  That's where they keep the money.  He got all huffy about this.  In fact, he hung up on me.  I sponsor this guy.

Money seems to be a big thing in his life.  His father seems to be where he thinks the money IS.  He is the beneficiary of an insurance policy on his father's life.  His father "signed" it over to him.  He cashed it in for the "cash value".  His father, meantime changed his mind (asshole father, really!) and canceled the disbursement of funds .  Got the picture?

Well, during the next conversation, I'm hearing that this same man (age 54) told his father that he "owed" him a new truck, because the father had promised it to him thirty-six (36) years ago!  Can you see me shaking my head?  I'm wondering, "What manner of man IS this?  He is unmarried, no children, good job in Chicago (self-employed home remodeling) and I am his sponsor the half-year he spends in Naples.  Got the picture?

So more than once, I said to him--"Sir, when we need money, or want money, or a new truck, we go to the BANK.  Because that is where the money is kept. OK?"  He balked greatly at this comment, which I kept repeating--he's the kind of guy who talks right while I am talking, which Fks up a phone conversation for me.


Thank You!

So today he called and kept on expressing his gratitude, his thanks to me, to God, to his other sponsor, to his seven sisters, etc.  He thanked ME for releasing him from the obsession of thinking that his father "owed" him ANYTHING.  He thanked me for suggesting that at age 54 he might consider "making it on his own".  I had told him it was grow-up time. He might even consider becoming a responsible 7-year sober ADULT.

He will be here Thanksgiving through April, and we will go to many meetings together.  And we have both changed this past half year, as I will be blogging over the next few days (only about MY changes...not HIS  --grin!)

I ask you, "How does this program work?"  I know, IT WORKS REALLY FINE!

Blessings, Peace, and sober Love, Peeps!
Steve

Friday, September 18, 2009

CLEAN AND CRAZY AND SOBER








This blog is written as the result of a request (to us men...) on Clean and Crazy('s) blog about "Prostate Cancer Awareness" Month...September.

Nearly three years ago, I asked my primary care physician, "How come I have not had a PSA test for several years?  Are they out of vogue?"  I knew that Medicare paid the full price of about $20...so when he looked it up and told me it was an oversight, we took the sample right then.

Well, yep the reading was "up there" and so it was off to the Urologist for me.  After numerous testings--some, quite invasive--one of which involved the snipping of biopsy material from 12 areas of the prostate (ahem!), I was told that every single area showed cancer, and "the horses had gotten out of the barn". And it was close, but not yet into a lymph node.

So began a long but painless road to recovery, radiation treatment every day for five weeks.  After a respite, several more days under the watchful eye of a robot-like figure called CYBERKNIFE.  Cyberknife had a dedicated room, this was the "big time", you could sense it.  Anytime I've got an $8-million machine looking me in the eye and winking, it figures that "I have arrived." A few days of that (it literally pinpoints the cancer, and zaps in just the correct spots) and I was free to go--I thought.

Well, it is now several years after. Every 84 days I trek to the office of the Urologist, where I'm tested, supported and given guidance.  Also, I'm given a nice shot in the ass!  A very expensive time-released Hormone shot, the potency of which lasts 3 months (according to the government) is given me, one doctor said, "to keep me alive".  The rest of my life will be dependent on these quarterly visits and shots.

Warning!  Here I go again:  The analogies on this blog are that my cancer diagnosis I identify with Step One. Steps Two and Three is when I said to myself, "Relax, Steve.  Trust that God is directing your doctors. Let them do the work for now. All you gotta do is suit up and show up. Trust your doctor, their teachers, and all the very experienced staff at the Cancer Center.  Pray for you doctors.  Let it happen!

The "treatments I line up with those "work" Steps, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.  Step 11 analogy is when I meditated (I did frequently!) and prayed (for God's Will, no more, no less!) and for Power to get me through whatever would unfurl itself to me--His Will.

Step Twelve, Spiritual Awakening--happened to me when the doctor so soothingly, almost nonchalantly said, "...the horses (cancers) are out of the barn!"  And so, this blog is part of the message of hope I am carrying to those who may still suffer from the announcement that they have Prostate Cancer.  You are not alone.  Many have gone before, and are well into recovery.  Have faith, pray, and keep coming back.

IF I wish to live sober, happy, and free, I have to keep my hand in Alcoholics Anonymous till I die.  I must continue helping others, speaking at meetings, attending functions, living the program.  So long as these things take place, I live. 

The same is true with any disease, "follow the doctor's instructions".  of which the basic "instructions" (for living without alcohol) are AA's Twelve Steps.
Did I mention, AA IS FREE...

By the way, the real miracle in all this cancer business for me was/is that never once was I stressed, never once gave up, lost hope, never once became angry about it.  All the happenings were just another place to go, another task to be done, and some cherished "quiet time" on the radiation tables, where meditation was just a GIVEN!

Thanks to God and AA!

Peace.
Love.
prostaroni
 

FRIDAY FLASH 55




Don't know how to word this:  If you write a story using exactly 55 words, then let this guy know about it. He is the G-MAN aka Mr Know-It-All (don't we all? --grin!). He is in charge of this show!  Then go visit the others who posted 55's...it's FUN......

Here is mine:


Sister and Sister spoke tonight. Nuns in Alcoholics Anonymous and Alanon.  Each gave a glimpse of Who is God.  He is:  Who so awesomely gave two hundred fifty of us a program by which to live sober...we, in one big room, listening to Rose and Maurice, let His spirit shine from within to without.

_____________________________________

The two traveling nuns were excellent speakers at our "cookie" meeting last night.  They impressed on us once more what really wonderful miracles we ARE,  having been rescued from hell...What a Wonderful World!

Peace, my Peeps.
and Sober Love.
Steve

Thursday, September 17, 2009

PRACTICE

Yesterday I introduced my new "Profile Photo" because it seemed appropriate and time for a change.  It is a photo of my own violin, made in Paris, France in 1856 by Georges Chanot.  I paid about $1,000 when I bought it in 1954, and it would cost about $50,000 today.  That is average value for a decent violin.  I play it every day--except when on scooter trips--and play in public regularly.





PRACTICE YOUR VIOLIN, STEVE

Oh, the suffering I endured as a child, age between 6-9 as I was told that I must practice my violin first before enjoying the fruits of childhood.  Playing outside, making friends, networking, fighting, hurting, being hurt, making up. friends forever--those were the things I gave up.  By the time I got outside, the games were over, most had gone home, and I was left to go shovel a lot of stuff in the barn.  Yeah, that kind of stuff, guys.  


But I did not mind the work, it was the practice, practice, practice.  For WHAT?  

Now I know for what.  It was that I learn as much about playing the violin, so I could play it for myself, for others, for God.  And I could even teach others how to play.  Well, that's not entirely true:  I could teach others how to practice!  That way, they might learn to play.

NOTE:  Always I have heard sports figures on their jobs being described as players.  The same with musicians, "I'm 'playing' tonight"...or "Are you 'playing' anywhere?"  It is "work", folks...work.  Football or music, it is work, a job.  True, it is satisfying.  But not always fun.


PRACTICE THE PRINCIPLES (STEPS)

I'm sure you can see where this is going.  Alcoholics Anonymous "Step 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."  Ah, yes!  "Practice!"  There is that word again.  Practice.  Do I have to?  Must I?  If I want to stay sober, yes.  I do certain things.  I practice.

If I wish to love others and be loved by others, I must practice these Principles.  If I desire to possess some semblance of serenity, happiness, and peace, I will practice in all my doings--these twelve steps.  I guess the key word IS "practice".  


I do not have to ever perform solo on the concert stage of Alcoholics Anonymous.  I just have to practice daily, everywhere and all the time, these things which I have learned--from  someone else who practiced them before me.  And if I want to live--I mean really LIVE...the simple recipe is to continue to practice.

Football players do it. Baseball players do it. Hockey players do it.  Marathoners do it.  Soccer players do it.  Violin players do it--all their lives. And millions of recovering alcoholics do it--all their lives!  It's called "Practice".

Let's DO IT!
Peace.
Love.
Steve

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

HUSH NOW. GOD IS HERE

MY NEW PROFILE PHOTO


Warning, a discussion follows on prayer, meditation, 
and God, of course--as each of us understand Him is implied.


SILENCE!

I recall in the first grade, Sister Rose Gertrude--when all else would fail--yelled out (her whole four feet of body shaking) "SILENCE!"  And boy, would we get quiet.  A pin dropping sounded like a baseball bouncing on the floor.

 
SHHHHHH!

In the small country church, at certain times during the service, it was so quiet that it was LOUD.  But quiet lent itself to a feeling of peace, of serene power.  I remember counting my heartbeats, because I could hear them, in the silence.

One of our early sober men said when I "talk" to God, for me to be quiet, and know that He is God, not I.   This was my first inkling into how to "implement" meditation and prayer, how to start.  I realized that quietness had to be a part of it.

I have seen people agitate, grip their hands together, and with furrowed, sweaty brow, beg the Lord's mercy, and that may be good for some. My praying has evolved now into a meditative mode.  I sometimes simply desire to BE with God, just be there, and enjoy the moments.

Meditation is union with God.  If I am upset, making plans, counting minutes or rosary beads, wishing to be somewhere else--now--it is very difficult to form that union, that desired Oneness.  

Leading me to meditation can be told in one word--Silence. Being quiet is the beginning of meditation.  It can be the beginning of a new life.  I told you last week that my 3,000-mile 17-day scooter ride to Virginia, was for me a life-changing event, an experience that allows me now to look at the universe in a totally new way (for me).

Naturally, I cannot predict the longevity of my present thinking, but I'll tell you this, that my WHOLE SELF feels different.  There is a different person in this body.  The few people who might be affected by my behaviors may scoff, but I know what I know.

My gratitude to God right now stems from the people God arranged for me  to meet during my ride.  Several taught me valuable lessons, by baring their souls to me, a stranger.  Others, caring and sharing, were at church celebrations, AA meetings. Still others were those random meetings of "strangers in the night..." And how wonderful are those chance encounters, as the spiritual moments happen with openness.

Recently I  found myself at a Taize service, during which many successive moments were spent in silence.  I could feel the common heartbeats of 45 people slowing to a murmur, and I could "feel a presence" of something other than us peeps.  Others felt this also.  It was like a change-of-heart happening, a change of many hearts simultaneously moving toward a source of power.  There was a Spirit guiding in that church-room and it was not us.

Silence--true meditation--goes beyond words and thoughts, themselves so limited.  I have been taught through years of early schooling what, Who God is. I have been given my "picture" of God.  But nothing of God is as I have learned to imagine.  There are NO words or thoughts which might describe God.

Hundreds of years ago a great mystic wrote in "The Cloud of Unknowing",  "You want to know God? There is only one way of knowing Him:  By unknowing."  I must get beyond my mind and my thought. Then only will I be able to perceive Him with my heart.

And in the noiseless moments, the stillness, the quiet, the silence, I can "know God", briefly at first, then more and more as time endures, I can live with Him and He with me.

Peeps--oh, THERE you are!
Peace.
Love.
Steve

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

OWNER'S MANUAL

ANGEL'S TRUMPETS...THEIR SCENT
PERMEATES THE NEIGHBORHOOD


GPS

A few days before I left on my solo scooter ride from Naples Florida up the east coast to Virginia, I bought a GPS. A Garvin nuvi 260W, at Costco...probably a closeout model.

The first time I used it I was disappointed, frustrated. It did not perform how I wished. It kept leading me to wrong street names, wrong turns, wrong house numbers. There was a problem with its distinguishing between E and W and SW directions. In other words, it worked somewhat--but as I rode my scooter through many miles of busy streets of Orlando, Florida, holding a GPS, trying to read it and listen to the "voice", somewhat was just not good enough.


A few days later, I had called my host in Richmond and whined, "I cannot get there from here." She said, "Use your new GPS, Dummy". (I don't know if she really said "Dummy".) I told her, well it is quite useless, and when she asked why, I had to admit I had left the User's Manual back at home in Naples. A lot of good help that provided for me in Virginia!
_______________________________________________________________________


SOBRIETY

Well, not for everyone, but certainly for me, my recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous would be utterly useless without directions. As I walked through that door for the first time, I had not had a drink since the night before at midnight. I was in a hazy daze, which would continue for a number of years. In this state of ill health, broken body, broken spirit and broken brain, I needed to be told immediately after the meeting, what I would do.

I must have explicit, detailed instructions on what to do, and how to do it. Otherwise I'd have done it my way--the easier, softer way. Otherwise, I would have failed. I'd have died drunk many years ago. That is fact.

My Owner's Manual--or user's manual--for AA is our Big Book. Everything I need to know (this is ME I'm discussing here!) is in the first 164 page of that book...including the "Doctor's Opinion." This is my textbook, my never-changing day-to-day volume.

The AA "User's Manual" teaches me how to behave in almost every imaginable situation, what to say, and when to say it. It teaches me how to live life on life's terms. And it shows me how to pray and meditate. It even practically orders me to laugh. It gives me a list of things to write about. The Big Book shows me how to be rid of fear, guilt, remorse, anguish, and heart-pain. And so I learned in the Big book, how to be Happy and at peace.

I learned--am still learning--how to live again. I gratefully praise God, from Whom came my gift of sobriety. It arrived to me through AA members, and continues to be dished out to me by you Blogger Peeps.

I pray for you all to enjoy some peace in your lives!
Love.
Steve

Monday, September 14, 2009

OH PROMISE ME........



Hi, Peeps!

Just a change of pace here. If I do not continue to work the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, these are some promises I might realize:

If I do not continue working these Steps, I will be amazed at how quickly the following will occur:

I will not be free, nor happy.

I will regret the past, and wish to shut the door on it.

I will know neither serenity nor peace.

I will never understand how I could ever help others.

Full of self-pity, I will feel useless.

I will be interested only in myself, not in anyone else.

I will seek only my own desires and satisfactions.

My whole attitude and outlook upon life will suck.

I will fear people...and economic insecurity.

Situations I used to handle will now baffle me.

I will suddenly believe that God has left me out in the cold.

None of these remarks are extravagant.

They happen constantly to millions of us.

They will ALWAYS happen to ME, if I stop working the Steps.

Please understand, none of these bad things have happened to me yet. This turning point I have reached tonight has allowed me to observe our promises in a new light.

The "Promises" are really an expression of my Spiritual Life. They are a WAY OF LIFE for me. IF I have worked the Steps diligently, fearlessly, entirely, directly, promptly, and willingly--then this is the point during which the first powders of that "sober dust" will be sprinkled around--that is the way I like to view it. It is just "my thing", OK?

Following are the real promises quoted from our Big Book.
___________________________________________________________


Now read on for the truth of the matter, the "real thing"......

From our book Alcoholics Anonymous, pages 83-84 are a list of what we lovingly refer to as.......

The AA Promises

"If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.

We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.

We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.

We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.

No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.

We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.

Self-seeking will slip away.

Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.

Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.

We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.

We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not.

They are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

They will always materialize if we work for them."
--Pages 83-4 Big Book

Peace to you all, with love.
Steve




Sunday, September 13, 2009

WAKE UP TO LOVE



This Sunday I could not resist sending the following chapter from the book AWARENESS by Anthony De Mello (PAGE 9) for any who are interested in a brief dissertation on LOVE:

ON THE PROPER KIND OF SELFISHNESS

The first thing I want you to understand, if you really want to wake up, is that you don't want to wake up. The first step to waking up is to be honest enough to admit to yourself that you don't like it. You don't want to be happy. Want a little test? Let's try it. It will take you exactly one minute. You could close your eyes while you're doing it or you could keep them open. It doesn't really matter. Think of someone you love very much, someone you're close to, someone who is precious to you, and say to that person in your mind, "I'd rather have happiness than have you." See what happens. "I'd rather be happy than have you. If I had a choice, no question about it, I'd choose happiness." How many of you felt selfish when you said this? Many, it seems.

See how we've been brainwashed? See how we've been brainwashed into thinking, "How could I be so selfish?" But look at who's being selfish. Imagine somebody saying to
you, "How could you be so selfish that you'd choose happiness over me?" Would you not feel like responding, "Pardon me, but how could you be so selfish that you would demand I choose you above my own happiness?!"

A woman once told me that when she was a child her Jesuit cousin gave a retreat in the Jesuit church in Milwaukee. He opened each conference with the words: "The test of love is sacrifice, and the gauge of love is unselfishness." That's marvelous! I asked her, "Would you want me to love you at the cost of my happiness?" "Yes," she answered. Isn't that delightful? Wouldn't that be wonderful? She would love me at the cost of her happiness and I would love her at the cost of my happiness, and so you've got two unhappy people, but long live love!


PEACE to you all, peeps
!
STEVE

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Support Requested

Please, Peeps, check out ANAYA, (and her new blog) sober a couple days now. She could really use support from some of us, and seems open to suggestions.

Her blog--and a meeting--got me "out of myself" this morning.

Peace!

Friday, September 11, 2009

(Early BlogI today) IT WORKS!

YOU ARE GOD--NOT ME




Couple years ago I had the pleasure of working with (playing masses) a church music director, Jamie. She is now Music Director at another church in Naples. We did have a wonderful collaboration, musically and personally for nine months.

During one weekend, I was invited to a special retreat for "music people". One of the most wonderful moments for me was a service called "Taize"--I still do not know the full implications of Taize, except that I was touched then and forevermore, just by participating.

I just called Jamie, who promptly invited me to a repeat retreat, right now, get ready, GO! And that is why this Saturday blog is early. I marvel again at God's Gifts to me, at His allowing me to again experience His Softness, His soothing Graces, His Forgiveness, His LOVE, in the Taize format...or ANY format!

I realize this is not to do with recovery in general--but it is to do with my recovery. So please allow me this variance from my usual ranting about staying sober, being happy, peace, love, etc. This IS my recovery, Peeps!

Without having been given this beautiful program of Alcoholics Anonymous, I would NEVER have acquired the habit of kneeling every morning, and praying. Praying not for what I want, but for what God wants. And there are two words to which I cannot lend enough stress: "IT WORKS!"

Let's stay sober today, and pass it on to another. We are saving lives here. If a couple souls get wrung out in the bargain, I see no reason to complain.

I love my Peeps!
Steve E

RECLUSE NO MORE

ME--MR SHY GUY


NOTE: This repost is slightly edited.

A blogger wrote me concerning a problem she was experiencing, and it was so in tune with some of my own life's trials. In remembering my own willingness to humbly ask God to help me in this regard, and to pass along this information (Third Step Prayer) I answered the letter as follows...

TO: Name Deleted

Glad to have a chance to chat with you here, in reference to your comment on my blog this morning, and how you see me as "easily meeting and talking with people". It was not always like that. In fact, AFTER fifteen years sober in Alcoholics Anonymous, I was as yet quite shy, although beginning to mask it with emotional outbursts of anger, joy, sadness, and the like--I mean real outbursts!

Wow, this could turn into a Blong (a long blog --grin!). I was very shy as a child. Alcohol, of course alleviated that to some extent. But, as they say, my problems really only began when I stopped drinking. Before that, drinking SOLVED all my problems. I became reclusive, and isolated like you-know-what--a skeleton in a closet.

"And then one day", as the story goes, I guess (don't know) I got tired of seeing all these people--some of them with only one year sobriety--enjoying life, enjoying themselves and each other, while I, with fifteen years dry in AA, embarrassingly sat somewhere alone. I even wrote a poem "I was alone and lonely. Also I spoke to no one, and the world seemed a strange place....etc." What is that about, in our wonderful Big Book "...Grave emotional and mental disorders."???

So I 'forced' myself to talk to strangers, they seemed to be the easiest, because people who didn't know me had no prejudgment. Little by little, I just started smiling, acting happy, talking to everyone, saying exactly what I think. NOTE: I have recently found this (what I think, that is) to be sometimes NOT too good an idea! Some thoughts are best left between God and me.

I do not hide any more behind words. And now I AM happy! I walk across the street any time we have new neighbors, to meet and greet them. Most are foreigners, Latin, and I can 'feel' their love after a time. I have some stories about that also. Here is one:

An early morning knock at our front door brought me face-to-face with new the owner of the house next door. He is Haitian, could not even speak English. But his sounds and gesturing let me know, that the water company was shutting off the water supply to our house. I got outside in a hurry. As it turned out, the water company staff had 'fingered' the wrong house, even the wrong street.

This all happened because I went over in December as they were moving in, and offered to help by watching them work -grin! In times not long back, I'd have never even glanced at the new neighbors, not known where they were from, what work they do, how many children. I was even then learning to get away from 'me' and into 'others'. How much more beautiful does this make life? I cannot tell you. Each of us must find our own path in these matters. For me, it makes my life indescribably better, more fulfilled, more happy!

Everywhere--yes everywhere--I go on my scooter, I wave to people and smile (big). It amazes, it awes me, how many people now wave back and smile with me. They 'know' me now. I always talk with people at meetings who I do not know--I've become real good at that "first responder" type of encouraging, enthusiastic, meeting with a new person.

And now it has become EASY!!!! And I forget how it used to be (even in sobriety--for years) until you or someone reminds me. So I thank you more than you know--for letting me see what God has done in my life, what I could not do for myself. And NONE of this is my pride, what I'm writing you...just the way it is. I believe that is why God keeps us blogging--to share with one another what marvelous changes He has brought about in our separate lives.

I make mistakes, talk out of turn, say too much, embellish a bit, etc. I get by with stuff because of age, and 'time' sober, and by "grinning". God smiles at me, and I cooperate--daily--which gets me through almost each and every day in a safe, happy way. By the way, nothing could make me happier at this moment, than if something I wrote here is of help to you.

And with that, I've got to get to a 6 AM meeting--it's 5:10 AM here. (I may use this as my blog tonight, but of course, I would delete your name from it.)

I truly LOVE your work, your words, your pictures--as do so many of us. Thank you for all that!

Sincerely, with love for AA and God,
Steve E

And, sober today is what we'll be--right? RIGHT
!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

THE RIDE HOME


A Picasso Masterpiece,
by Kristin


ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE


Did ya ever get tired of being happy? I do not mean to say I wish I were unhappy. Certainly I will not "pray to be" sad, depressed, unhappy. But toward the ending of this 3,000-mile scooter ride, I will need a rest. I intend to go to meetings and not talk. (Ha! I'll let you know how THAT turns out!) Whatever the outcome, I CAN picture the Great Reality, the God-Spirit--"resting on the seventh day".

About 30 years ago--sober, and in AA--I decided to ask God for "adversity" in my life. I had read that true saints prayed for bad things to happen to them, so they could observe God overcome their difficulties. See how SICK I really was (am?), peeps? Well, I'm here to tell you, that WAS the worst year of my life. All hell, all chaos, mayhem, illness (as yet undiagnosed, 33 years after!!), split family, penniless, it was a BAD year--it SUCKED!

That year 1976 is as memorable to me now, as THIS year and this "ride" will be twenty years hence. Except that replays of 2009 and my scooter ride--especially of the people I've met, lived with, worshiped with, scooter-toured with and enjoyed good times with--will live beyond this life. It just will be that way. Somehow, I know this.

WEDNESDAY:

It is nearly 350 miles from St Augustine to my home in Naples FL. I enjoyed the ride immensely. Something about the freedom of two-wheeled highway action which is SO appealing to me. The camaraderie of riders everywhere seems even stronger and more real--honest--than alcoholics, sharing their stories and their lives. This was my first exposure to that beautiful, immediate oneness--that willingness to be helpful--which is felt by most every rider out there. No matter how far one is from home. In fact, the farther ya travel, the more they seem willing to assist in nearly anything and everything.

Lots of McDonald's "triple-espresso" stops kept me awake--and alert. One store they overcharged me $2 for the three shots of caffeine...it's usually a buck a shot. The manager simply stated that, even though the sign had the "old" price, their computers were set with the right price...3 shots, $5.

Understand that--for me--this was NO BIG DEAL: no excitement, no resentments, etc. However, the girl who made the drink later whispered to me, "I put in two extra shots of espresso." And she smiled so nicely...I told her (Lisanne) that I would blog her tonight.

And I briefly told her about my trip, and that she might possibly be the final act of kindness at the end of my 17-day ride. Another sweet smile. All this melodrama (--grin!) in a McDonald's store near Disney parks south of Orlando.

On nearing home, I began to wonder...what had I expected from this trip as I began 17 days ago? And was that what happened? How was it different?

Rather than write a book here, I'll just assure ALL you peeps, that God is never outdone by my imagination. The whirlwind experiences of the past two weeks-plus will take me a few days to sort. But I know already, they FAR EXCEEDED any dreamy reasoning I might have started with. As you know, I truly believe God was out there with me and friends (in-and-out-of-recovery) in a special way. Thank You, God!

AFTER THOUGHTS

I used to wonder how it felt for a military guy to come home after three years away. All those memories--how he felt as he had gone away 3 yrs before. Now, walking up to door saying, "Hi Mom...I'm home!"

Now I have an inkling of how it might be...away only 17 days and nights, thoughts about what I had earlier planned--what happened to all those plans--I walk up to the door, and say, "Hi Prayer Girl. I'm home!"

Right back into reality! (But it was NOT a dream, after all! It WAS reality!)

Let's be clean, sober...maybe even happy(?) today--all together!
Peace to you, Peeps.
Steve

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

OH! THAT SPIRITUAL "TOUCH"


REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE!


During the past 17 days I have endeavored to reach out and "touch" as many peeps as were possible. My touch was not me, nor mine. It was a spiritual "touch", in which I participated as a receiver, as well as a giver. It was/IS a touch of enthusiasm for recovery and for God's healing power.

In like fashion, each person I met received--and gave stuff--to me, to others, and to themselves. I strongly believe these actions of receiving , giving, and therefore loving...were and are of the spirit world. Others, and myself, felt that God was present and smiling His approval in a real sense.


I do not wish to put words in others' mouths, but I'm going to take that risk and say that WE ALL felt that God was heavily involved in the workings, the happenings, relating to and resulting from my "fantastic" scooter ride.


For some of us it was like the occasional uplifting of the hearts and minds to God, such as might happen (in a much more direct, thorough and consistent manner) at a retreat.


Others "seemed to find" a certain good feeling just "becoming", simply "being" a part of the great WE, who make up the humanity of our fellowships, which were somehow built around our programs.


I happened to notice Monday's "Quote-For-The-Day" on refdesk:


"Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose.

From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others...for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy.


Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received."
- Albert Einstein


Peeps, I am really tired, just wore out, frazzled. I'm in St Augustine, FL tonight, will get to a 7 AM AA meeting tomorrow. Then I shall make a stop in Orlando. Hopefully that is shaping up to become a Twelfth-Step stop!

(Say that fast, 20 times: "Twelve-Step-stop"!)
If anything of what I've written above sounds "not-so-humble"...put me in front of a firing squad tomorrow morning AFTER the meeting. Believe me, I know (especially now) ALL power comes from God. Not 99%...but 100%. Okay?

So can we all just be still for a moment, and know that He is God? And let us find him now! And let us stay clean and sober today.
Peace, Peeps.
Love.
Steve