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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

WE ARE TRULY BLEST!



 LET'S GET SERIOUS!


What a Wonderful World (.www) is Naples FL!  Of course the location, climate, art galleries, museum, concert hall, symphony, Universities, i.e. Ave Maria, the quiet, warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico...all these make a wonderful world.  Add to those attributes a conservative political attitude.  The result is Naples is considered Utopia by several hundred thousand souls who have moved here since I did, 45 years ago.

But I am writing here about the wonderful world of recovery.  Three treatment centers call Naples home now, the latest one a branch of Hazeldon. Four hospitals with detox units, several homeless shelters and more than a half dozen "half-way" houses also are right here.

This morning as I was leaving my regular 7 AM AA meeting, I found myself counting our blessings. There were nearly 100 Peeps at that Big Book-discussion meeting.  The tone was serious. This IS life-and-death stuff, a fatal disease from which we are recovering, folks!  We are old, young, a few well-to-do, many maybe not...with no interruptions of chanting or other kindergarten behaviors.  Almost everyone has a sponsor, and most sponsor others.  All of us, aside from this daily attendance, go to other meetings at noon or night, or just stay on for the morning 8AM and 9:30 AM, etc.  Many of us are speakers away from our home group,  supporting new groups as they form.

And so I notice that AA is well and very alive here in SW Florida.  Along with me, a couple thousand others are fortunate that the few older groups here have spawned many new groups, and so we count now about 290 meetings each week.
We have a strong Intergroup, and very well-attended monthly District meetings.  For some of us who have been sober here a long time, it is heartening to know what we have, and a challenge to keep alive the Traditions, so to keep what we have.  But it IS happening, growth, solidarity, and continuation of the old-fashioned  AA way of life.

The proof of what I have written above comes from the many visitors who find themselves at most meetings here.  Invariably, I hear them saying out loud at meetings, things like, "Oh! I WISH we had AA like this where I live."  Or, "We cannot WAIT to get back here next year--we come to Naples for the sunshine, yes...but mainly for the "brand" of AA you have here."

Please understand, our AA is not Utopian, as we are certainly far from perfect.  Ha!  But we ARE willing, and try to grow along spiritual lines.  In that group of 100 this morning were three with less than one week of sobriety. God willing, they will be back tomorrow!  In this place they  usually do return!

Sober today.
At PEACE today!


Photo from Deviant Art:  AA_by_InsideMe.jpg

Monday, March 29, 2010

PONY-TAILED COP



TALE OF A BLONDE 
PONY TAIL 
WITH A GUN

Tonight, returning home from a 7:30 Speaker meeting, I was in a great mood.  The day for me included two AA meetings, some good quality conversations, some...well, lots of blog reading, commenting, and violin practice.  And then...then I met a young, pony-tailed blonde, who bounced as she walked up to my truck.  Smiling, she asked me, "Sir, why are you sitting here in your truck?"

Let us back up a few minutes.  I had just left the meeting, it was dark (cloudy under the nearly-full moon), I was driving--speeding more than 60 mph in a 45 mph zone. The brightest lights suddenly were flashing right behind me, (what a COLORFUL picture-worthy scene!) blue mingling with the reds and white. I stopped, and with a flashlight, searched for and at last found my registration and driver's license--and I waited.

The cute pony-tailed deputy (Badge #417) bounded up to me, and I smilingly said to her, "Well--tell me, how fast was I moving?"

She smiled and touched my arm, saying "I was stopping the girl in that little car behind you. Sir, you are free to go!"

Of course, me and my big mouth never know when to shut up and move on. I asked, "Will you please at least LOOK at my registration and license, because I spent several minutes digging them out to show you?"  Deputy 417 laughed and I pulled away, before she had time to bring out the handcuffs.

Joys in life can sometimes be the "little" things, like staying sober today. I very well might have been (years ago) right now lying in my own vomit on a cold concrete slab, sleeping off my drunkenness in a jail cell. I could be standing tomorrow morning before a judge, silently thanking God I did not kill anyone.

Can you see that I am grateful?  Does it show?  I vow to drive more slowly, at least tomorrow, and I'll try even the days after.



PEACE!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

"DESK HELP" and PERSISTENCE

 


PERSISTENCE

HEY, and guess what?  Steveroni, (a.k.a. ME) "tech-help-a-roni" fixed his own Internet connection, and then the router went on the blink.  Daughter C had a new router (gift from two years ago!) so I installed that shiny box, configured two computers, and we are ON, baby!!!  I believe PG was happy also...I KNOW it!  I was always the guy who BROKE things, not the one who mended them!

I tell you that life has meaning again.  There IS a Santa Clause, Virginia...

Well, I knew that blogging had become my obsession--for at least a year. I spend so much time at this machine, and rob time from many parts of my life to feed the blog, Face Book, the poems, and daily AA meetings and service commitments.

What a phony, what a fake am I...to write about about my life of freedom, PEACE, serenity, love all and everything blah blah blah!

Even my violin playing has suffered somewhat, because I no longer find the time--even one hour a day--to practice.  Fortunately the experience of many years has saved that part of my work--so far.

It has been two days since I have gotten into "serious comment mode"...and I feel guilty about THAT as well!  Tomorrow is time to make an appointment with my favorite psychiatrist who prepares and serves coffee at Starbucks.  Others call him "Barista".  I call him "Doktor"....as in Doktor, save me from computer addiction, blogging compulsion, my own self-centeredness...and make me a quadruple espresso,no cream, etc.  Forgot to mention my HUGE "caffeine-habit".

It occurs to me, had I not written this blog I'd feel lots better about myself.  I would not have realized that I have all these "problems" all this crap.

But I will not drink alcohol tonight--which segues into another topic:

PERSISTENCE

As a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, I must address my truly favorite subject, if even just a touch:

Someone told us early this morning which was THE most important AA meeting he ever attended.  (And right here I said to myself:  "The FIRST one, Dummy"!)  As it turned out, he said "The second one."

It would have been a simple matter to leave after meeting number one...but he came back the very next day, and did not drink between meetings.

And I recalled, the same was with my experience.  One meeting only got me to think what a fool I was to BE there, what a waste of good "drinking" time.  But something which was said to me, like a challenge (in my twisted mind!).  Someone told me, "Well, Steve--all you have to do is stay sober and come back next week."  

In my words, "stay sober" meant DON'T DRINK--that was how I translated it.  And so, using that same persistence with which I practiced violin nightly in the cold wintry "studio" of the horse barn, I set out to "show them".   What I thought was will power--well, it was persistence.  And I've been persistent ever since that day in March 1974.

Join me in being PERSISTENT today?
(That means SOBER!)
And let's LIVE today!
Peace, Peeps! 





Saturday, March 27, 2010

NOTICE OF

OH HOW I MISS IT..
MY INTERNET 
CONNECTION.

After a few pleasant meditative hours on the telephone, Comcast tells me it is unrepairable over a land line phone. So they will send a technician to our house Sunday morning at 7:30 AM (Maybe).  For the time being, we do NOT have access to Internet...

PLEASE UNDERSTAND, PG AND I ARE NOT LEAVING THIS PLACE!!!  We have been forced to wait until repairs can be concluded...probably be back online Sunday evening.....

But ya know, we've all been "preaching" that we STAY SOBER one day at a time...NMW (No Matter What!)...So I shall DO THAT NOW!

See y'all SOON!

Friday, March 26, 2010

EXPLANATION and UTTER HAPPINESS



TWO TOPICS

1. EXPLANATION

In yesterday's post "He Didn't Even Remember Me" I might have given out a wrong signal.  The lady (K.C.) who spoke was telling of her early years as a member of Alanon (now 35 years), and of AA, sober now 34 years. She lives in Naples mostly, and I simply blogged a segment of her own story--because it is the story of SO many of us.  Our minds can sometimes carry us so far away from reality, and sometimes even all the way to a drink...




As long as we're here I might as well relate this short story--also from the same meeting:

UTTER HAPPINESS

It was "Anniversary/Birthday" night at my group. My step-daughter C was sitting right behiod me, as I turned to her and asked if she would present  me my medallion.  She responded, "As long as I don't have to say anything!" (The fear of a newly sober Peep!)


Minutes later she rose to the microphone, "My name is "C" and I have been sober 5 months. I am here to give to my stepfather his 36-year medallion. I have to say, without him and his counsel, I would not have got sober, and I love him."  (Not direct quote.)


And, stepping down, she hugged me. There were few dry eyes in the room, including my own.  That was the final stone, the keystone, now put in place to seal our reconciliation.  Thank You God, for that, and for other gifts during this very special day.

Let's stay SOBER today!
What else matters????
 I got the picture HERE!

HE DIDN'T EVEN REMEMBER ME!

 
WELL, YOU SAID, "COME BACK NEXT WEEK..."


Wonderful Lady at Cookie (Speaker) Meeting  last night inspired this story of her first day in Alcoholics Anonymous...misunderstood rejection, exaggerated fantasy, complete clue-less-ness.


I walked into the smoky room
One thing on my mind:
Troll for a groom.
In this group of alcoholics
There's got to be at least
ONE "handsome"--who frolics.

At meeting's end, HE came to me.
So stunning...Oh my God!!!
Said, "You are new here?"
"(sigh!) Yesss"
"Welcome...and please 

Come back next week."
 

"Ohhhh (swoon)"

Alone, for the short trip home, I mentally
Chose the venue for our wedding,
The musicians, the photographer
My white dress, even the college
Our daughters would eventually
Attend.

"Next week", I went to where he sat
Believing I was all what he fancied.
 

What happened next
Made me drop my cup
He stared blankly up
At me--standing.
And he thought
Naught


For Today:


SOBER
GRATEFUL
LIVE
HELP
LOVE
BE AT PEACE


GRAPHIC FOUND HERE

Thursday, March 25, 2010

YOU AND ME-ANDERINGS...




Now I am reading that several of the (AA/Alanon) bloggers who so warmly welcomed me here 21 months ago, are considering leaving this end of the blog world. These peeps are not regular visitors to steveroni, but I read  and benefit almost always from their writings. And YOU and I will sorely miss their unselfish contributions to these blogs.

The tone of "our" blog community has changed somewhat, and I fear I have contributed to that change.  But those half-dozen who have, or may be moving on, are ones who have daily held the line for excellence, integrity, humility, truth, faith, hope, and in this way have helped SO many of the rest of us. This is SO true!

God is in charge. GOD is GOoD!

In another topic, I wish to thank ALL/EVERYONE who yesterday commented their prayers, love and support for me and my family, having lost N. to cancer. It was another of those days, seldom experienced by me, which show me that "something" in Alcoholics Anonymous WORKS!  because I did not drink. How about that?

It is a marvelous thing to be so thoughtfully remembered and cared about by so many AA Peeps.  I am sure we can go anywhere in the world and find immediate friends, and friendliness, understanding and love, like nothing I have seen before, or since.

One more thing--personal:  Doctor exam today revealed to me that my cancer is still in remission, and I am otherwise quite healthy for a 76-year-old man.  And Peeps, I feel GoooooD!

Good enough to stay sober today.
Can you do that with me?
And let us live, and be filled with reconciliation and love.
It really IS a .www, or as I have heard it  "What a Wonderful World!"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

HELLO AND GOODBYE




HELLO
36 YEARS AND 5 MONTHS

The speaker "Three Legacies" meeting Monday night was partially populated by a bus load of Peeps from one of Naples' treatment centers. Afterwards I found myself talking with a few of the guys and a girl. Someone had introduced me to this small group as, "This is Steve--he just celebrated 36 years of sobriety!"

Nothing!

Conversation got rolling and we got to discussing their prospects (future) after Treatment. I found a chance to mention that my step-daughter had last summer  gone through the same 28-day program they were now experiencing, that she had 5 months of clean and sober.

Suddenly came the questions, "How did she DO it?" and "Wow that's a LOT of time." "OMG, not one drink?" "Where does she go to meetings?" And so smiling, happily, I answered their questions. Upon leaving, I said to them all, "Welcome to AA.  Hello!  And Welcome Home"...

Instantly, I decided to never again tell newly sober Peeps a single WORD which smells of my length of sober time. The new person cannot wrap his brain around 36 years!  But a new Peep can surely see the possibility of 5 months!  And isn't that amazing?  And isn't that wonderful!  And I had heard that before--just pridefully--for the moment--forgot!
GOODBYE

The mother of my children died this afternoon after a nearly-year battle with all kinds of cancer. She had been living for 5 years with my daughter in another city. She and I had been married for 25 years before our divorce 20 years ago.  I have been so busy this evening, that my thoughts have not yet gathered, but somewhat ambivalent they are at this moment.

My tendency is to revisit and "see" the stage play of many years of wonderful moments, wonderful memories, rather than "observe" any of the scenes of my drunkenness, which are from so long ago, and so hurtful, even after all has been said and done.

I shall go in the "music room" now, and, in darkness, "talk" to the saint which is how I have known her more recently. It is she who put the words of my father into a poetic beat.  Goodbye "N"...it WAS a helluva ride, for many years.

Good night to you, my Peeps.
Sober today,
Pensive tonight,
Serene on the outside.
Tired!

steveroni...

Monday, March 22, 2010

IS IT TRUE WHAT THEY SAY......?



DISTORTION

"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please." Mark Twain (1835-1910


After an AA meeting this morning I found a guy admiring my scooter (Bergman 650).  He asked me, "How many times have the cops stopped you on this thing?" He sounded resentful of something--what? He obviously resented "cops" and maybe even the fact that I owned a nice, large, fast scooter, and he did not?

Anyway, under his questioning, I told him that I had owned the bike for nearly two years, 20,000 miles register on the odometer, and I have a tendency to go slightly over--well, wayyyy over--the speed limit. Also, I have not been stopped one time on my scooter, for any reason/violations, real or trumped up.

His claim was that police officers randomly stop bikers under suspicion they "might be" carrying some of the so-popular contraband--drugs, baby!  I told him I thought it ridiculous that I'd be stopped, just because I'm "riding".  It was no use to remind him of the "number one offender" (resentment) at that moment, especially since he did not ask. But he sounded like the former me...everyone was "out to get me".

But it did get me thinking about this line I read on someone's blog this morning:

"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please." Mark Twain (1835-1910).  So I figured this fellow (a bi-monthly in-and-out alkie) might be now in "distortion mode".  How frequently I distort fact--more frequently I wrongfully notice how others do so--not my business--grin! Fact is fact. Truth IS truth. It is not necessarily "what I believe", nor what you think. How quickly I jump to be the one who "knows" everything....

Does anyone have facts about police anywhere who stop, harass,  and sometimes even arrest peeps because they are riding a motorcycle or scooter, and for no other visible, viable reason?  I have all my life heard of this behavior being practiced, but just have never encountered it.

God, I'm glad I am not a cop.

I have enough problem being ME! UGH!

I'm Still SOBER today!
You, too? GOOD!

DEVIANT ART "Distortion"_by_DeMaulwurfn.png.jpg

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A NEW LIFE




These are the inspired spontaneous writing of N, upon hearing of Pop's death...using actual phrases from his last letter (March 25, 1978) to us. One week later April 1, he died. Remember?  He was deaf-blind, loved nature, and his gardens.  The following was written in his memory, three days later by one he loved, and I shall call her N:
 


"In the spring
    You called him home

Crocus bloom
    Buds are springing

He spaded and planted,
    Daffodils and tulips still growing

In the spring
    You called him home

New birth for us all,
    Wild animals and birds

Pear tree much alive,
    Thanks again

In the spring
    You called him home

Blind and Deaf
    He sees and hears

Crocus Blooming
    Buds are springing

In the spring
   Of the Risen Christ
        You called him home..."

-- by N


PEEPS!
Stay SOBER with me today.
Be GRATEFUL today.
LIVE today.
LOVE today.
Be HAPPY today.

Friday, March 19, 2010

QUACK-QUACK AND PEEP-PEEP






She was telling me, "Look what I've done. Smile for the camera little one!"







Duck on roof we think is Grandpa of the new babies--the Mother's sire. It IS one big family--we know that now. He is "spotting" enemy encroachment...ME!









These little ones on the left are taking their first breaths of oxygen











OK NOW, WHICH CAME FIRST, 
THE DUCK OR THE EGG?


For six or  seven weeks we have been "caretakers" of a group of Muscovi ducks.  The Momma has been sitting in the nest she built RIGHT AT our front door. She has sat through the coldest nights and days I have experienced in Naples in 45 years, incubating her nine eggs, leaving the nest only to find water for herself, once every one or two days.

Sentinelled throughout the neighborhood have been eight drakes DAY AND NIGHT guarding our front door from cats, dogs, moles, possums, and people.  For more than a month we have been the only ones allowed in or out of our house. Very safe! We could hire them out?

Last July and August an identical scenario played out--same (exact) spot, in front of our front door. (Fortunately we have a garage!). The nests they build with sticks held together with fine, fur-like feathery material from Momma's breast. We are fairly certain that from last year's batch of babies came the mother and father of the 2010 hatching.  Forgot to mention the nests (both) were constructed sunken into a six-inch-deep egg-rock covered area. Further, we believe the Mother and Father from last year, were here also, because of their recognizable colorings.

How does this tie in with alcoholism, one might ask?--grin! Or maybe one isn't even vaguely interested--grin!  ANSWER: The little hatchlings broke through their shells on Thursday!  What a nice 36th sober anniversary present! As I left for the meeting Thursday morning I heard a faint "Peep", and immediately knew what was happening. (That "Peep" I heard has absolutely nothing to do with the Peeps I meet and trade posts with here on the blogs, OK? "Just so we're clear about that!")

Friday at noon they were gone....


One more thing...
I might pose the question
--as if even I care
--as if even I dare:

"Which came first,
 alcohol or the alcoholic?"

FLASH FICTION FRIDAY "55"


Let G-MAN know when you write 55 words--no more, no less--of fiction. And get ready to be swamped with 55s and comments galore...

"OOOPS!"

Lights flashed,
Siren sounded,
The shiny white-and-blue
Stayed behind
As I rounded
The corner at sixty-two.

"Why did you stop me?"

"I will show you".

Behind my car,
Sticking out the trunk
Dangled the bloody and mangled
Arm of a man named Syd.
Why did I not remember to
Close the trunk lid?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

THIRTY-SIX YEARS AGO MARCH 18 (1974)



MY THIRD STEP PRAYER Dear Lord, My God, I am so grateful for this gift from You of sobriety; this gift which has allowed me to be another of those who can proclaim to any who would listen, Your LOVE, Your KINDNESS, Your PATIENCE, Your FATHERHOOD, Your OMNIPOTENCE!
 

Following are some thoughts on my first 24 hours of sobriety. For nearly twenty-five years I had sunk progressively into the alcoholic abyss of total self-centeredness, fear, EXTREME paranoia, and alcoholic insanity.

This is a slightly edited reprint of my March 18, 2009 blog post--after all it IS my Anniversary.  You will not read more about this after this day.

Five minutes before midnight on Monday March 18, 1974, I had my last and final drink of alcohol. At that moment I was infused with an opportunity available to many, but which comparatively few have accepted. It was an opportunity to begin a second life, to be one with YOU--that unique minority of humans who are fortunate enough to be given another chance. I was allowed to live two complete and distinct lives in one lifetime.

NOTE: I celebrate my anniversary based on the day of my "last drink"...I see no reason I must change. Co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous Dr Bob had two beers the morning of June 10, 1935, and by night the same day he had completed Step Nine--even before there was a "Step nine". And AA continues to celebrate it's anniversary on June 10 each year, the date of Dr Bob's last drink!



Tuesday March 19, 1974 8:30 PM:

It was very dark that night (or so it seemed to me!) when I walked for the first time into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at Trinity-By-The-Cove Church, in Port Royal, into what was called then (and still is) "The Naples Group". Being "fashionably" five minutes late, I was thinking, "DUMB, Steve--look what you've done now. This is the stupidest move you have EVER made...you must really be sick!   I had expected to sneak quietly into the room, sit, shake, and sweat (the three s's?) in the back, and figure out "How am I going to get out of this predicament?"

All I needed was a few drinks to get me back to normal. Remember...I had my last drink just 21 hours before. (Yes, I had a desire to stop drinking--maybe until 9PM?) Yes, I certainly was willing to do ANYTHING to have a better life--anything......except stop drinking!


But do you know, at the same time, I had decided that I would never drink again.  I did not know how, because nothing before had worked for me. I did not know that I COULD "not drink" one day at a time!

Well, a fellow came walking fast, out into the parking lot, out from that meeting, almost falling down the few steps, to greet me, saying, "I'm Jim F...welcome." Then, no questions asked, he proceeded to guide me first into the meeting room, right past everyone. I "unobtrusively" bumped into a couple fellows, spilled someone's coffee, fell across a couple chairs on the way to--guess where?--the door at the other end of the room! So, already, I was ushered "in and out" of AA in 30 seconds.

Outside, he herded me across a small courtyard into a smaller, very smoky, very crowded room, called the "Beginner's Room". How did they know? The topic of this meeting was Steps One, Two, and Three.
Thank God, when I arrived, they were already on Step TWO! I thought, one-third of the meeting must be over! Because all I wanted to do was get out of there. Not one memorable (to me) word was said during that meeting, except what they all sort of shouted at one another before leaving--not to me, of course! "Don't drink" and "Come back next week." But do you know what? That's what I heard them say. That's exactly what I did!


THURSDAY MARCH 18, 2010

I have learned that God makes use of other people in order to work with us--and talk with us--and that's how God was working in my life, then...and now, allowing me to write to you and bear witness that a completely helpless, hopeless, powerless, very sick piece of human flesh, enslaved to the drug alcohol (and a few well-known pharmaceutical products) was picked up and delivered from alcoholic bondage, and made well again.

And I am granted a daily reprieve, contingent on my spiritual condition--no, wait--contingent on the MAINTENANCE of my spiritual condition. (Being completely human, my spiritual "condition" can vary greatly from moment to moment on any given day.)


Finally, I wish to say I am so grateful to my Higher Power, for bringing me to Alcoholics Anonymous. I'm grateful to Alcoholics Anonymous for giving me back my God, for giving me back my life. Thank God for giving me you, and thank YOU for giving me God!

And CERTAINLY not the least, all my blogger friends--my wonderful 'peeps'--have shown me SO MUCH about how to live, how to love (I'm still learning "how") and how to help others in many ways.
Within me is a fast-beating heart which burns with the fire of love for God, and all He has created, and you, my Peeps. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

In  Attitude Change, in Gratitude, and in LOVE!
Sincerely,
Steve E.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

YEAR OF SEVERE FEAR




FEAR


NOTE: The year 1974 was my first year 
sober after 25 years of heavy drinking.

It is the month I remember and identify as "near my year of severe fear"...it is impossible for someone (non-alcoholic) to understand the combination of physical compulsion and mental obsession and moral degradation which encompasses the life of a practicing alcoholic, read: drunken sot.  Our Big Book calls it "Pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization".

The fear then, the loss of all hope, the barren wasteland of soul which I experienced during early March of 1974--the utter abandonment of family, friends, co-workers, and yes even God, was without any expectation that life might one day look a little better than hell itself.

But my greater fear was "How will I live?", now that I had decided never to drink another drop of alcohol...ever, forever, one day at a time.

Fear knocked on the door, faith answered and there was no one there!

Just as darkness is not something, neither is fear. Darkness is only the lack of light. You can not put darkness into a lighted area and make the light go away because darkness does not exist. Light, however, can be put in a dark area and the darkness goes away because the light does exist


One is a thing and the other is a no thing. One cannot put fear in a place of faith and make faith go away. One CAN put faith in a place of fear and make fear go away.

Fear was ME!  Faith (and Hope) was ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS!

All week please celebrate with me in Gratitude my sobriety date 
Thursday, when I had my last drink of alcohol, a long time ago.

And we and I stay SOBER--today.
And we and I live in PEACE--today.
And we and I LOVE someone today.


Photo at DeviantArt, click HERE

Monday, March 15, 2010

THINK--THEN ACT!


AS A MAN THINKETH


Tonight (ahem) I will be a speaker at the "Three legacies Group" of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Two recent-discovered friends honored me by asking me to do this I am serious about the "honored" part.  It so happens, this is the week of my Sober Anniversary.  Every year for the past four or five, during this week I have been given the privilege to speak...it just "happens" that way.  Usually those who ask me to participate do not realize this is my special week.

But I know it.  I shall never forget it.  Another blogger's post a couple days ago brought me the memory of WHY (bad word) I have not drank for all these years. I had been told to curtail my drinking to one pint of vodka daily. After a number of days, I was told to attend my first meeting of AA.  Since I could not go there reeking of vodka (yep, it "smells"!), I had my last drink at midnight, the day before.  And I knew, as I was pouring down those last few ounces, I knew that I would never, could never drink again.  So that was that! My German grandmother would have said, "Das var dass"

I now know that if I THINK I will never drink again...I will NOT! (If I DO the Steps suggested, I will get better.)

If I think, "Well, I might drink again...only an arm's length, etc.",  that leaves me with an out--for the next time life does not deal with me on my terms--grin!.
BOOK

"As A Man Thinketh" by James Allen--yes, I read a book once--grin!--suggests to me that my thoughts can guide, motivate, control, and change me.  And I just downloaded his book in .pdf format.  I shall ask Flex to help me understand a couple things, and help direct my thinking this moment and the rest of today. Being me, I have to let God in on the act--for I believe that God speaks through all of us, James Allen included.

My "story" tonight will be different from my other speaking occasions, because my life is different, has changed.  Growth "happens" now, whether I wish it or not.  Perfect?  Hell no!  But whatever the score for today, it will end sober...for me, and I hope for many of you, my Peeps.

God bless us, everyone!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

UNDERSTANDING??? WHY?




THE PREMISE:

 

Following is from our Big Book p 60

a.....b..... "c.  God could and would if He were sought." In my book someone suggested I write in the margin, "NOT CAUGHT!" And I did.


LOOSELY RELATED MATERIAL:

The next two paragraphs are from The Cloud of Unknowing, by an Anonymous Monk.  I had to read them slowly and with care.  My nearly impenetrable thick head does not absorb readily, without some squashing.  It really IS me, wanting to know  the unknown, and believing that sometimes I have been favored to know,  that special level of thought--"above" the average peep...OH! What BS I can dish out to myself...and you!!!!

"Our intense need to 'understand' will always be a powerful stumbling block to our attempts to reach God in simple love, and must always be overcome. For if you do not overcome this need to understand, it will undermine your quest. It will replace the darkness which you have pierced to reach God with clear images of something which, however good, however beautiful, however Godlike, is not God."

"And so I urge you, go after experience rather than knowledge. On account of pride, knowledge may often deceive you, but this gentle, loving affection will not deceive you. Knowledge tends to breed conceit, but love builds. Knowledge is full of labor, but love, full of rest."

SYD WRITES:

Syd wrote Thursday March 11 in "Outcasts" that:  "I don't need to know "why"?  I only know that I will pick up that abandoned outcast part of me, dust it off, give it a good hug, and treat it as gently as I possibly can."

(Note:  I had already prepared this post, so Syd's remarks are presented here as addenda.)

MY PROBLEM:

Ya know, a long time ago--age 2 to age 52--I got so tired of people asking me "Why?"  Why this? Why that? Why do you? Why did you? Why did you NOT?  TIRED!   I mean I became READY-TO-BLOW-UP-tired of the word "WHY?" when directed at me.

And so I made myself a "life-rule".  Of course, being alcoholic, the rule did not apply to ME!  Every friend, every girlfriend, every wife, every fellow worker, even my children (Oh God...my poor children) knew to not ask me the dreaded question...why?  Don't ask me WHY?  NMW! (No Matter What!)

And ya know what?  People seemed to respect that--maybe they were afraid?  Fear pre-sober, "violent" Steve? -grin!  (Maybe they just didn't want to have ANYTHING to do with me--now THAT I can believe...--grin!)

I myself never stopped asking "Why?" If I ask you, it is OK.  When you ask me, it is not!

Got to still work on that.  Asking "WHY" stunts my growth (I'm 75, not nearly finished growing FGS!).  WHY slowly builds a wall of distrust between me and YOU.  WHY constructs a wall between me and God.  "WHY" still drives me NUTS!  Why, Why, Why???

Why am I writing this?  Because just MAYBE it will help someone else who has the same F'ing problem--and like me, will stop and look at their own stupid, single, three-letter word...W.H.Y???


Join me if you wish:
Sober, Happy, At Peace...today
And love someone...today!

Friday, March 12, 2010

ARTISTS AND ANGELIC BREEZES




This poem is dedicated to the many artists, painters, poets, writers of prose, recovering addicts/alcoholics and story-tellers who day after day inspire me to try...try to become a better person. 

From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

IN THE WIND IS ANGELS' SONG

The blowing breeze
Carries messages of love
Around the world
By creatures angelic
While I simply be.

And I observe
Churning waters of the sea,
Winded...and seeming
Directionless.
Also part of Thee?

I look at nature, painting Herself above
And below, quite colorfully
Beautifully, Vibrantly
I am part of it all--
"One plus one are always three".

I see many have been sent;
God's Creation of love continues.
God's gifts--so freely lent.
Artisans and artists, poets and Peeps
And on these blogs, they write to meeee?

Yesssssss!!!--grin!

Countless angels are singing
During wind's caressing of those
Sweet chimes of mine, to ring
As music. I HEAR!
And Oh! Now I SEE!

So blow wind, go wind, slow wind,
Push your own way this and that.
Since I have surely sinned
And since I have paid the fee
Come you angels!  Sing me FREE!

--Steve E. 3/14/2010

LOVE today!
PEACE today!
SOBRIETY today!
Willingness to CHANGE...today.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

MY LIST




Now and then, I get a bit mushy and reflect on the wonderful gifts which God has given to me.  I am grateful for many things--among them:

Music, which lifts me from this worldly world



Singing in the Choir at St Ann Church

Art--all genre, all form, all color

I will get to "ride" to my meeting tonight

It is my "home group" meeting (Thursday)

I am librarian for this group

Never figured I'd be proud to be a librarian

I will tell my weekly joke tonight to about 200 people

They will laugh

Laughter is good

I use my computer for God's sake!

I have several 'families'

Prayer Girl and our children is one dear family

My early 7 AM meeting is my other dear 'family'




Other AA meetings I love

You bloggers--Yessss!--are also my 'dear' family.

I love all my families

My families love ME!

I wear a beautiful solid gold cross

Daily Reflections (A.A. Readings)

Anthony De Mello (Author)

The Cloud of Unknowing (Book)

Water aplenty

A roof that does not leak

A toilet that does

A wide TV screen

That I don't watch TV

Knowing how to pray

Learning how to meditate

My contact with God as a Friend

Do not ANYONE who reads this think that I am not grateful--in the extreme!

That's about enough for now--more to come...tomorrow?  Before signing off for this Thursday night, I've GOT to tell you all:

I am most peaceful, most serene, most happy, most thankful, and I know that God is close to me--at these moments in front of my computer.  This is whether I'm reading you, blogging, commenting, Emailing--and/or praying with you.  I love you.

MUCH Gratitude.
Steve 




Tuesday, March 9, 2010

CUT BACK AND CUT OUT!



POEM???


Take away my shoes
Take away my socks
Take all of my toys
Even my building blocks

I'll keep my Hershey bars.
Drive away my two cars
Take away my favorite bike
Help yourself to what you like

Carry off my so precious fiddle
On the hill play "Hey Diddle Diddle"
If you dare touch my Hershey Bars
You'll be the first on Planet Mars....

S'pose you know by now
That I've gotten fat--even how.
(By eating lots of cacao bean
Hiding it, so's not be seen)

So never ever even think
Offering me spicy food or drink
Will wrap me up and tie me in a knot
To loosen the hold on my chocolate.


DIETING:  DYING OR LIVING


For a week now I have been trying to "watch what I eat" read: not eat.  Just want to lose a few pounds, say 20-30 or so.  Anyway, I am only FOUR fewer than when I started,  according to some.  But I see it as a total loss of EIGHT pounds, because had I continued on my  ch-ch-ch-chocolate-and-cheese diet I would have gained four pounds. Is 4+4 not 8?

If anyone has bothered to read that paragraph...does it make sense?  I mean, my arithmetic!

After years of becoming and achieving the status of a stark-raving-raging-mad  chaos-driven (and fat!) alcoholic, the arithmetic I learned was 0 drink + 1 drink = Total drunken wreckage!  Because one drink ALWAYS (I NEVER had "just one") led to another and another, until...sweet oblivion. Understand that for YEARS it was not like that...but, little-by-little my body adjusted to the drug amounts, and I had to keep having more and more...just in order to get the "effect", to "again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once from taking a few drinks...".

If I went to a party, I ALWAYS brought my own bottle, so I would not be embarrassed to drink whatever I (by then) needed, to be really and truly what I determined as social.

AND...I was forever the great pretender, pretending that I was shober-ash-a-shJudgeh in any situation. I prided myself on my capability--capacity--to drink more than anyone, and be able to "hold my liquor". What a farce! The few Peeps who cared at all wondered, "How long before he dies?" (I was age 38-40 then.) And I guess I was really trying to kill myself with alcohol.

Well, in AA I found out that I had ZERO tolerance for alcohol.  The only way I could live was to NOT take the "first drink". Finally that made sense to me.  Simple, yes.  Easy? No!  But anyone will have to admit this works...if I don't take that first drink I will never get drunk.  For me it is the only thing which works.

Soooo, back to my diet.  If I stop eating, I'll never get fat and I'll die!  On the other hand, when I stopped drinking, I THOUGHT I was dying...and soon began to live, and later to really live, and now--sometimes--to be blest with a peacefulness beyond understanding.

Go figure!

Meanwhile, will you try please, to:
Stay sober with me today?
Smile today, with me?
Harbor no ill will or resentments today?
Be at PEACE today?
Be full of LOVE today?

TAKE CARE!

Monday, March 8, 2010

I'LL BE THERE--ANONYMOUSLY!


















THE POEM


OH!  The wind in my face
Wet, dry, warm, cold
Big trucks want to race
I tell them, "I'm too old!"


So, off and riding I go
Eye on odometer
Speeding at a hundred or so
Racing to my sepulcher.


This Bergman, so nifty
Rides up a steep mountain grade
Passing trucks doing fifty
And I watch their images fade.

Passing, I focus on the rear vision glasses.
I'm seeing behind.
Suddenly, unexpected, a thought passes.
I'm being...blind.

Racing, facing, bracing
for the great inevitable shock
Dreading, praying, praying
Even the mountain is about to rock

Cannot see in front or around
I did not, do not feel a thing
What is that light...and sound?
It is my God--and His angels sing!

"We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness"
One of the "promises" in our "Big Book" Alcoholics Anonymous. P 83

THE STORY

As a child on the farm, I remember owning a dog "Lassie"--yes, named after the Roddy McDowall-Elizabeth Taylor (sigh!) movie "Lassie Come Home".  And I WAS Roddy McDowall, and my Collie--Lassie--and I celebrated many moonlit late evenings behind the horse barn plotting our escape from home, family, friends, school and mates. Of course, Liz Taylor figured prominently in our plans.


We looked at all the angles--I shared all this with Lassie. All would have been OK, except for one real real problem, money.  The salary of a fellow age 10 in 1943 living on a dairy farm was wayyy below poverty level.  A whole week's salary for after-school work netted me enough for 2 candy bars and 2 dog biscuits.  We were in trouble.  I do not know what became of our Lassie.


But.....Dear soul!  I believe she was trained to find half-full bottles of Muscatel hidden around by the hired hands.  She brought them to me, or me to them.  I can still taste the Muscatel of those years, especially its pungently-flavored uniqueness as it came back up and spouted out from my ten-year-old stomach--grin!


The wanderlust which I shared with Lassie never left.  It has become a character defect--not an obsession, but a need, a necessity, to GO somewhere, to be a gone guy.  "Where'd he go?  I dunno"...and I have found that very few give much thought as to where someone disappeared, and those few forget in a matter of days or weeks.


Outside of Alcoholics Anonymous there is no happier activity I could entertain than carrying my bag on a bus, Suzuki Bergman, train or plane, and up, up, and awayyyy!   It is more a "coming to" somewhere than a "getting away" from something.  There is nothing I do not LIKE (love!) where I live, there is just so much to discover where I've not BEEN.  I would have a sort of goal, but not a map of how to get there.


When I traveled with an orchestra, the guys would complain when we were four weeks out, saying they wanted to be home.  I complained because there were only two weeks remaining out on the road.


Whether in India or Indiana, Paris, Kentucky or Paris France, Dublin, Ohio or Dublin Ireland there is ALWAYS nearby an AA meeting, a "home", Peeps who know me, Peeps who are kind, considerate, giving, and loving. I am still learning how to respond to that love, and life is simply fabulous!


Let's be kind, considerate, giving, and loving today...and sober!





Sunday, March 7, 2010

WHERE THERE IS SMOKE...THERE IS NOT ALWAYS FIRE



As with others, my poetry is just that-my poetry, whether worthy or not.  However, the blog post is an actual account of several mornings ago


Smoke sent animals scurrying
But I decided to stay
Someone would need help
Before the end of this day.

When I tripped and fell,
On my back I lay
I heard a crackling sound
Then saw it tumbling my way

A huge burnt-out Redwood came
Crashing like out of hell!
Somehow I rolled out of its path,
But from then, all was pell-mell.

I got up, ran, fell again.
If only some water, maybe a well?
Linger--read a little longer
Of the story I have to tell.....

WHERE THERE IS SMOKE, 
THERE IS....

 "We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us."
--One of the "Promises" listed in our Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, p 84

This past Wednesday I woke up to the usual pre-dawn darkness of 5 AM to read some of the Peeps, comment a little, go to 7 AM meeting, etc.   I sat down at my "desk-computer" B.C. (before coffee!) and something seemed different.  

It was a sweet and smoky smell, like a Redwood-Charcoal fire.  Outside I smelled nothing--the natives were neither drunk nor restless, nor burning down their houses. 

OMG!  It was in my own house, this smell--which suddenly had changed from pleasant to unpleasant.  I stopped to ask God, "What next?" Don't know if He answered or not, but I decided to first locate the source, next, call the Fire Department (Caps on purpose), and awaken PG and her daughter.  


I knew there might be little time, so during these side-by-side moments, I was making a mental list of what to grab on the way out, on our hurried way to safety.

Each would make their own decision here, for me it was "computer, medicine,violin, and a pair of shoes".  As I discovered no fire in the house, I hurriedly erected a ladder to check out the attic. All this took less thank a minute of time. Attic provided no evidence.  Nothing!

At once a senior moment happened--I decided to "step back" and have a cup of coffee.  What?  What now?  


Only a few days before, we had bought this exotic coffee (not espresso--grin!), really sweet in flavor, and, well, special.  It was SO special it smelled like a house afire to me!!!  (A tiny bit had spilled onto the hot plate.)

So my false-alarm "fire" was the product of a crushed and cooked bean from South America!   Thank God. 

The "magic" of this episodic quarter-hour, the miracle here, was that I did not panic, nor even stressed, nor rushed.  I  just took one step at a time, to "get it right" the first time, or there would BE no time. 

Being without panic, in a do-or-die situation is not my "normal" but merely what I work to achieve, and it seems to BE working.

And so, I'll stay sober today again.
I'll be at peace today--again.
I'll harbor NO resentments--again today.
And I will show someone LOVE today--again!


Picture:  DEVIANT ART: House_Fire_by_alyssahsadie.jpg

IT'S COFFEE TIME with BILL and BOB


"I'LL HAVE A LARGE COFFEE, PLEASE." 


"We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness."
--One of the "Promises" listed in our Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, p 8

Four days ago, a man sat across the room from me at an early-morning AA meeting.  I kept looking at him, trying to place where we had met.  He introduced himself as "Gary K, an alcoholic", a visitor from New York.

Prayer Girl and I went tonight to see a stage play, "Bill W and Dr Bob" which has been making the rounds in South Florida.  It is a re-enactment of how our fellowship began; the thousands of magical happenings (some call them miracles) which conspired to become a haven for the most desperate of ill Peeps, alcoholics.

The play was FABULOUS!  We knew Peeps throughout the theater, and they knew us. We were as one large family, witnessing our own history-in-the-making.  EVERYONE left the place smiling, because of the common problems and suffering we have all shared, and the recoveries we continue to experience and share.

This troupe has been together since summer 2009, and the show has been invited to play at the AA International Convention's 75th Anniversary in San Antonio, Texas July 1-4, 2010. Whoever might have an opportunity to see the show at that time, do not miss it.  They are GooooD!

Punch line:  The man who played Bill Wilson is named Gary K., a recovering alkie...the same man I spotted at our meeting.  And why he looked familiar to me is of course, his resemblance--hair cut, jaw line, body build, speech--to the real Bill Wilson, the cofounder of AA.

During a well-attended Post-Show Q and A session, I asked...and learned that six of the cast of 8 plus the Author are recovering Alcoholics!

This was a HUGE night of enjoyment for me, greeting so many Peeps who I know but do not see on a regular basis, since we all go to "separate meetings together"...--grin!

Sober again today.
At Peace again today.


The Coffee Pot and Cup
Davidson, Saskatchewan

Credit: David Yanko of Virtual Saskatchewan

Friday, March 5, 2010

BLIND LEADING THE BLIND




BE AWARE OF OTHERS' PROBLEMS

The following is not true:  I am in the hospital one leg chained up to the ceiling, both arms in slings, wrists broken, neck strapped for immovability, and in piss-poor condition overall.  I had stepped backwards, and this BIG dog "Lucky" had been laying right behind me. That was a dream.

OK, we do have a loving creature "Lucky", who is always, ALWAYS lurking right under or behind me.  It reminds me somewhat of life on the farm.


BACK TO 1935-1950

Animals--and we enjoyed the company of LOTS of them-- followed my father as if they were attached.  Wherever he walked went his entourage; dogs, cats, chickens, sometime one of the horses, and often in the mix was a favorite Guernsey heifer.  And he was never knocked down by any of those, He never tripped nor WAS tripped in that scenario.  

When my father fell down or was injured, it was usually a human mistake which preceded.  A door had been left ajar, a chair had been moved, a bucket (full of milk?) sat in the middle of an aisle in the barn, a wheelbarrel left sitting in an open doorway, a ladder had been moved or removed, a pitchfork had been left on the floor, prongs-up. You DO understand, right?  

Everything was measured in his brain, distances (how many steps) between the half-dozen barns, from one room to another, or to the door from a couch.  So if measurements were changed suddenly, chaos reigned in my father's life...like when the snows drifted.  He was utterly lost in a snowstorm.  Had not a clue which direction to go.  

He was, of course, blind. Blind meant "Blind" then.  (Years later the politically accepted word was "sightless", which included also those who could see, but not well.)

In his blindness he "saw" more then most of us.  But in his later deafness, he "heard" nothing except the incessant "cricket-like" sounds which affect the afflicted.  He accepted blindness, but deafness cut him off completely from society.  
 

We children learned early to be aware of others' problems, and have a healthy empathy for handicapped (challenged?) people.  I recall when some unthinking friends would take him by the arm and head for a door, where the Friend-Peep would walk through the door, letting blind Pop walk smack into a brick wall.

If you read this far, thank you for letting me share a glimpse of the early life of a drunk who finally left home at age 17 with a blurry vision of a perfect life with Early Times, Smirnoff, uppers and downers.  A drunk who walked with the swagger of an attitude of hatefulness, deathly fear, and whose only words were lies.

PEACE, today.
SOBER, today.

 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

HEART OF ONENESS



 CHANGE OUR HEARTS

Oh, if I could only be more patient, tolerant, and kind with others.  If I could end my grudge, and not judge as I trudge.  If I could replace my hate, my fear, with love, with understanding tenderness.

When anyone, anywhere reaches out asking for help, my program teaches me to be there, to offer what experience, hope, and maybe strength I may conjure.  Surely God sends grace to aid in this endeavor.

As an alcoholic, I can be changed through working the Twelve Steps.  Drinking does not define me as once it did.  Learning about Right Living is now my definition, and I try to adjust  to a sane and sober way of life, a life which hurts nobody any more, evermore...not even me.

I would SO much wish to let Peeps know what and how God did for me what I could not do for myself. Yep, I have to work with God...daily, or He will let me drift about until I am more ready.  I am more ready now.

Lord, this time...change our hearts!

Sober today.
Ready today.
Live today.
Love today.
Joy today!
Glad for today!










       

       

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

OH NO! NOT "CHANGE" AGAIN...

 
ANOTHER (sigh) STORY


Long time ago, as a member of an orchestra, I got to travel for six weeks at a time.  My memory of those days is that wherever we went, people did not like me.  Any time my eyes settled on another's face, I stared into a scowl. Always. I knew then I was alone and lonely in this world, and so I just played my violin, worked the job, and spoke only when necessary.

I became like a hermit surrounded by people--who incidentally hated me.  What a way to live.  What a horrible existence. And do you know what?  It was ALL in my own head.  I did not realize that until much later, like an hour ago?

Now, wherever I go, the 7-11, the Ritz-Carleton, an auto repair place, market, bank, Disney World, an airport, and AA meeting...Peeps TALK to me. They smile with me, acknowledge my humor, and display a genuine liking, a caring for me--and I for them.  What happened?

Whatever happened was a change, which did NOT take place overnight.  The beginning of my change was I drank myself into a pit of pity, a lair of despair, a world of empty mindlessness.  From there, I could climb only upward, for there was nowhere further to go...down.

I was rescued by a complex series of events, happenings which could only have been orchestrated by an outside force, or power.  I translated this into a God of my understanding.  This Power brought me to a point of surrender to a group of Peeps known as--what else?--alcoholics.  Alcoholics Anonymous.

I now know that as people began being nice to me, it was not "THEY" who changed.  It was, yep...ME!  Sure, I slip now and then in this regard.  And I try my best to make amend.  But when simply rejected, I move on, but not completely.  Being far from perfect, I hurt as well as anyone.  But having once nearly  destroyed myself BY myself, I vow not to let that happen again, by me or another.

So my world, inside me and outside, is a far better place than before.  And sobriety has given me life again, and freedom to be me, and a functioning mind (again) to know who "me" is.  And I am so grateful for all these gifts.

One who has been a friend of mine for more than a year, has written an "OTHER-than-average" piece on her blog yesterday.  It is long, but quite interesting and spiritual.  If you have a few moments, please go visit the blog of MILE 191.  Her blog title is "Come Into My Closet".  Thank you to whoever visits there and leaves a comment.  

PEACE, Peeps!  
No resentments...it is 
"against the law!"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

YOUNG AT HEART






TIME TAKES TIME

I drive an old truck--1999 Mazda.  It runs perfectly with a low mileage due to the fact that I LOVE riding my bike.

Last week, after 60,000 miles on original dry-rotted tires, slightly sluggish braking, and a "whirring" alternator...I took my truck to the emergency room.   $1,200 later, my truck is young again, and dependable as well.

I live in an old body--1933 male.  The body purrs along quite well, considering very high mileage due to 25-year heavy alcohol and drug misuse--abuse, really.  Also, I consider now-in-remission prostate cancer of 4 years ago, frivolous life-style of many of my 76 years, two heart attacks before age 35 (none since), various other physical problems along the way, factors which should have made me dead long ago--I almost was.

After 76,000 miles on original feet, sluggish braking system, and that "whirring" alternator, I am taking stock of what has happened to fix the problems.  Of course some doctoring, tests galore, surgeries, medication, meditation and radiation, helped to keep this engine running.  But to get it purring took an outside force, powerful help from the Spiritually Highest Power transmitted through Peeps called "we" in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Outside of a frequent daily nap, I feel younger, more alive, and happier than at any time in my entire life.

Each year during the month of March I reflect on the place where my life used to be, where it is today,  the successes and the failings.  Also what happened, and how.  (I know "why"--grin!) This month I will celebrate my 36th anniversary of being sober.  March 18th, 1974, a few minutes before midnight I had my last drink of alcohol.  The next evening I was driven to my first AA meeting.  About two weeks from now, after ruminating what to reveal and what to withhold, I shall write some more.

For now, I want to explain how I got to be age 76 and sober for 36 years.  It's  simple.  I did not drink...and I did not die.

Love and Peace to you all, Peeps!