daily reflection: having fun yet?

. . . we aren’t a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it. We absolutely insist on enjoying life. We try not to indulge in cynicism over the state of the nations, nor do we carry the world’s troubles on our shoulders.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 132

When my own house is in order, I find the different parts of my life are more manageable. Stripped from the guilt and remorse that cloaked my drinking years, I am free to assume my proper role in the universe, but this condition requires maintenance. I should stop and ask myself, Am I having fun yet? If I find answering that question difficult or painful, perhaps I’m taking myself too seriously—and finding it difficult to admit that I’ve strayed from my practice of working the program to keep my house in order. I think the pain I experience is one way my Higher Power has to get my attention, coaxing me to take stock of my performance. The slight time and effort it takes to work the program—a spot-check inventory, for example, or the making of amends, whatever is appropriate — are well worth the effort.

daily reflection: we pause . . . and ask

A few hours later I took my leave of Dr. Bob. . . . The wonderful, old, broad smile was on his face as he said almost jokingly, “Remember, Bill, let’s not louse this thing up. Let’s keep it simple!” I turned away, unable to say a word. That was the last time I ever saw him.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS COMES OF AGE, p. 214

After years of sobriety, I occasionally ask myself: “Can it be this simple?” Then, at meetings, I see former cynics and skeptics who have walked the A.A. path out of hell by packaging their lives, without alcohol, into twenty-four hour segments, during which they practice a few principles to the best of their individual abilities. And then I know again that, while it isn’t always easy, if I keep it simple, it works.

in case you didn’t know, being sober is the easy part

Actually, yes. At least, this has been my experience on numerous occasions throughout my life. It was a genuine encouragement to come across someone who actually agrees with me on this point, though limetwiste at Moderately Sober had no way of knowing this when she wrote spake as much a whopping 51 days into her journey.

I’m very encouraged by this New Zealand soul, who is wonderfully honest at a time when many others simply value the image of recovery over recovery itself. Check this:

Being sober is the easy part. The decision to become sober was difficult. Finding what to do next and how to do it is the struggle. More the “how” really.

. . .

. . . I am finding more peace with dropping perfection, guilt, paranoia, and regret. These things I dropped before becoming sober. Anxiety is still with me but in a much weaker form. Depression is with me too but I recognise it, accept it and have learnt to live with it better. Fear is still with me. Fear is holding me back. I know this. I recognise this. I aim to challenge myself and make the fear smaller or contained. First though comes care. I need better care before I can face fear.

So… she offered that up at 51 days sober. Go read the rest. Lots of good stuff there.

daily reflection: serving my brother

The member talks to the newcomer not in a spirit of power but in a spirit of humility and weakness.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS COMES OF AGE, p. 279

As the days pass in A.A., I ask God to guide my thoughts and the words that I speak. In this labor of continuous participation in the Fellowship, I have numerous opportunities to speak. So I frequently ask God to help me watch over my thoughts and my words, that they may be the true and proper reflections of our program; to focus my aspirations once again to seek His guidance; to help me be truly kind and loving, helpful and healing, yet always filled with humility, and free from any trace of arrogance.Today I may very well have to deal with disagreeable attitudes or utterances-the typical stock-in-trade attitude of the still-suffering alcoholic. If this should happen, I will take a moment to center myself in God, so that I will be able to respond from a perspective of composure, strength, and sensibility.

repost from new hope for dry bones: a few words about 5%

Mike Ridenour at New Hope for Dry Bones posts a delightful, intentional, heartfelt perspective on not getting overwhelmed. This is just plain good stuff, which is why I’m why I’m posting the whole thing with a read more tag, which is sorta like turning the page if you were reading, you know… a book. But who does that anymore, anyway? Just sayin’.  But I digress. Read the following piece. It’s so much about where we find ourselves.  And what we can do if we choose to.

Days come around when everything is a mess.  The bills can’t be paid.  My clothes are looking ratty and two sizes too small.  My kids seem to have lost their minds.  My wife seems to have lost her mind.  I have definitely lost my mind.

The lawn mower won’t start.  I can’t find a hammer.  I can’t remember where I put my keys.  My shoe strings are tied in knots.

A piece of siding has blown off the house and settled in “Who Knows Where, Missouri”.  There’s a wet spot on the ceiling and the garage door opener isn’t working.

I’m out of milk.  I’m out of coffee.  The microwave is on the fritz (people should say that more, fritz is hilarious), the oven doesn’t seem to ever get to the temperature I set it for and the fridge is about as cold as a summer day in St. Louis.

There are days like that and then, everything goes wrong!

By the time bedtime rolls around, my mind is full of solutions that are impossible, detours that are impassable and budgets that are improbable.

Yep, there are days like that.

I don’t like days like that. Continue reading

daily reflection: we pause . . . and ask

As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 87

Today I humbly ask my Higher Power for the grace to find the space between my impulse and my action; to let flow a cooling breeze when I would respond with heat; to interrupt fierceness with gentle peace; to accept the moment which allows judgment to become discernment; to defer to silence when my tongue would rush to attack or defend.

I promise to watch for every opportunity to turn toward my Higher Power for guidance. I know where this power is: it resides within me, as clear as a mountain brook, hidden in the hills—it is the unsuspected Inner Resource.

I thank my Higher Power for this world of light and truth I see when I allow it to direct my vision. I trust it today and hope it trusts me to make all effort to find the right thought or action today.

repost from don’t drink and don’t die: spiritual axiom (page 90 12 and 12)

From Lydia (whom I profoundly respect despite her impressive character defects) at Don’t Drink and Don’t Die comes a deeply reflective consideration: How our desire for serenity is a reflection of our intention for recovery.

I’m sure most of us are familiar with this, uh… bondage of self for which the 12 and 12 is setting a context: “It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us.”  Lydia starts off by simply putting everything on a very personal level:

When there’s something wrong with me, there’s something wrong with me.

This idea has been a linchpin of my sobriety, something absolutely vital.  The Twelve and Twelve goes on to explain that even when I’m all right, and the other person or circumstance is completely wrong, I still need to get over it and find serenity in order to practice the program and live well.

. . .

… This spiritual axiom (which means, by the way, something that is true) appears in Step 10 and is meant as part of the spot check inventory taken when daily events cause negative emotions.  

This is just  tempting bits and pieces. Please go read the whole excellent piece.

daily reflection: round-the-clock faith

Faith has to work twenty-four hours a day in and through us, or we perish.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 16

The essence of my spirituality, and my sobriety, rests on a round-the-clock faith in a Higher Power. I need to remember and rely on the God of my understanding as I pursue all of my daily activities. How comforting for me is the concept that God works in and through people. As I pause in my day, do I recall specific concrete examples of God’s presence? Am I amazed and uplifted by the number of times this power is evident? I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my God’s presence in my life of recovery. Without this omnipotent force in my every activity, I would again fall into the depths of my disease—and death.

rachael wurzman on how social isolation leads to relapse

What do Tourette syndrome, heroin addiction, and social media obsession all have in common? They converge in an area of the brain called the striatum, says neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman — and this critical discovery could reshape our understanding of the opioid crisis. Sharing insights from her research, Wurzman shows how social isolation contributes to relapse and overdose rates and reveals how meaningful human connection could offer a potentially powerful source of recovery.

watch this highly familiar, very excellent little flick: successful alcoholics

This 2011 Sundance film features rising stars T.J. Miller (“Get Him to the Greek“) and Lizzy Caplan (“True Blood“), reunited for the first time since “Cloverfield.” Miller and Caplan, who co-produced the 25-minute film, play a couple who have mostly managed to balance their alcohol intake and their professional lives, only for things to start to unravel. Until one day they don’t and they, mostly she, realize they have a, er… problem.

daily reflection: would a drink help

By going back in our own drinking histories, we could show that years before we realized it we were out of control, that our drinking even then was no mere habit, that it was indeed the beginning of a fatal progression.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 23

When I was still drinking, I couldn’t respond to any of life’s situations the way other, more healthy, people could. The smallest incident triggered a state of mind that believed I had to have a drink to numb my feelings. But the numbing did not improve the situation, so I sought further escape in the bottle. Today I must be aware of my alcoholism. I cannot afford to believe that I have gained control of my drinking — or again I will think I have gained control of my life. Such a feeling of control is fatal to my recovery.

daily reflection: happiness comes quietly

“The trouble with us alcoholics was this: We demanded that the world give us happiness and peace of mind in just the particular order we wanted to get it — by the alcohol route. And we weren’t successful. But when we take time to find out some of the spiritual laws, and familiarize ourselves with them, and put them into practice, then we do get happiness and peace of mind. . . . There seem to be some rules that we have to follow, but happiness and peace of mind are always here, open and free to anyone.”

— DR. BOB AND THE GOOD OLDTIMERS, p. 308

The simplicity of the A.A. program teaches me that happiness isn’t something I can “demand.” It comes upon me quietly, while I serve others. In offering my hand to the newcomer or to someone who has relapsed, I find that my own sobriety has been recharged with indescribable gratitude and happiness.