Friday, January 23, 2009


Well so far so good with President Obama, damn it feels good typing that, Bush has always been the “Moron” to me but I respect Obama so I will use his proper title. It is nice to have dignity, intelligence and intellect returned back the White House. I fully accept that he will take a middle of the road stance on something’s and I will disagree with him now and then. His first actions have been simple but yet powerful reversals of some of the neo-con agenda, Roe v Wade is safe again for a while and maybe down the road once some of the more pressing problems get taken care of, President Obama and his team will start working on providing an alternative solution to abortions, incentives for having the baby and giving it up for adoption, doing something to increase birth control, wow how novel to have a president who actually understands there is more to birth control than just say no, who understands the needs of third world countries and will try to do what is necessary to assist them in getting some form of population control. Oh there is so much damage control to reverse but President Obama seems to be the man for the job and hopefully so are the people he picked to assist him. I am very optimistic about Hillary as Secretary of State, I didn’t support her for president but with her background I think she will make a very good Secretary of State. Enough about politics.

After almost 3 long years it seems that my daughter will finally no longer be a ward of the state. In the last year she has really put forth the effort to change some of her habits and ways, of course having a baby to look after helps but I have seen young women with babies who kept on messing with partying and the lot, dumping off the baby with someone or taking the baby with them. My daughter isn’t perfect but she seems to be moving in the right direction. She has some fairly concrete goals and I hope she achieves some of them. I know she is very dedicated to taking care of Angel. I have a feeling that part of the dedication is the fact that her mother wasn’t there for her and I wasn’t either for a few years.

My little Angel is growing by leaps and bounds. She is on the verge of crawling and can sure scoot herself towards any object she wants to examine closely. She continues to be a happy and content baby, fully of smiles or intense observations, taking things in like she is trying to figure them out.

I am continuing to recognize the areas that I need to work on and strive to change them. Seems like with insight I see more challenges all the time or maybe I am just thinking harder about how I treat some people and why. Still have a bit of problem with my attitude toward my sister, I am having a hard time not being harshly judgmental with her, this is just something I have to deal with when we attend meetings together, just because we are siblings doesn’t mean I have to approve of her current actions, I just have to treat her with loving kindness, which I do when we encounter each other face to face, it is just in listening to what she is saying that I analyze her, which is a big ME BAD and something to work on.

My new guys are doing well. The guy who just got out of treatment is going through the raw emotions mode, we had a good talk last night, don’t know if I was much help but man it really reinforced some things for me, relationship stuff that I have been going through myself, understanding that I am looking for long term and not quick feel good companionship and sex. The other guys are at different stages but all seem to be on solid recovery ground.

Coming to understand a bit about myself and living alone. Since I have had someone staying at my house I am more aware of how little I talk. I am not rude, I answer questions and engage in conversation if she starts it but rarely do I start it myself. I am sure if I met the right person someone I have more in common with than her maybe I would talk more, I know that I am not overly attracted to quiet women because of a fear of not having conversations. I need someone who will get me talking, open me up to what is on my mind, I am far better at listening and feedback than instigating. I don’t know if this is good or bad, probably neither, it just is. I do feel that from a spiritual point of view that by my being quiet I am not engaging in selfish blabber, not that everyone who talks a lot is selfish. When I speak I do my best to speak from my heart and not to impress others. For years I have wanted to have an intimate relationship with someone, but now when I stop and think about it with my eyes open wider maybe it really isn’t what I want. I will not close the door on having a relationship and trust that there might still be that magical soul mate out there but my craving has lessened, oh I still get the craving when I see attractive women who I connect with on a surface level or sometimes in the evening when I wish I had someone special to share a meal and movie with, maybe snuggle on the couch but overall I am realizing I am quite comfortable being alone.

Well I guess I will end this rambling for now.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pet Peeves

Pet Peeves and the practice of love and tolerance don’t go together ARGH!! I was driving to work this morning, 7:55am and noticed a few cars that didn’t have their headlights on; I thought to myself “that is a pet peeve of mine, too hazardous, others have a hard time seeing them” then the next thought that came to mind was, “pet peeves go against practicing Love and Tolerance towards all, freaking ARRGH” I could probably make a long list of pet peeves but if I really think about them they come down to 2 basics things, common courtesy and social etiquette. Don’t know about anyone else but the biggest share of my pet peeves either come while driving or in a store. Have we become such a fast track society that we no longer take the time to use basic courtesies behind the steering wheel (turn signals, head lights at dawn and dusk, no talking on the cell phone, letting someone out onto a busy street, etc) or in public in general (holding the door open for others especially the elderly, saying “excuse me” when moving around people, letting people go ahead of us in a check line if they only have 1 or 2 items again this applies more to elderly, kind smiles and pleasant comments etc) these are just a few. Manners/social etiquette is a another thing that seems to be decreasing in our society, my dad was raised a poor farm kid, he had no idea about social etiquette when he joined the Army he was around guys who did practice etiquette and proper manners and he tried to emulate them because he understood the valve of presenting yourself respectfully in public and mixed company, it was one of the valves he strongly instilled upon his children. I was raised to say, thank you, please, no thank you, greet people with a cordial greeting, to say yes and no instead of yah, yup, naw; the worst case I saw of this was a young man sitting in front of a county court judge, the judge would ask the young man a question and he would reply to the judge with a yah or naw, I am sure the judge is use to this but to me it was blatant disrespect to the judge. I have a problem with people who chatter when another person is speaking in a meeting or formal setting, this is flat out rude and disrespectful. Another problem of mine is childish behavior and I do call this a problem because it is more than a pet peeve or intolerance. When I was growing up childish behavior was looked down on and one could be punished for not controlling ones self, so as I matured I took on a more serious attitude towards certain things. Loud flatulence in a social setting is not funny it is rude, belching loudly is for 5 years and not grown men and women, the same goes for passing gas. Giggling over sexual innuendoes is for adolescent or teenage kids, stupid sexual innuendoes in general are for people under 20, sorry but dick, boob, and vagina jokes for the most part are just socially unacceptable, same goes with any form of vulgarity or excessive profanity. See this is my problem, most people can take this type of behavior in stride but it really gets under my skin, to others I come across as arrogant, humorless, and too serious, so the problem me and how I react and how it effects my serenity.
The things I have mentioned above do need to be worked on by the individuals who do the acts; it is their ignorance and theirs alone. I am powerless over these acts, yes I can suggest corrections to some people who are close to me but all I can give is suggestions. I am responsible for my own emotions, my own suffering. One of the ways to end suffering is to practice loving kindness all the time. When I get these moments where I become aware of something I am doing wrong it is like getting chocolate cake after getting a shot in the buttocks, it hurts like all get out but then there is a sweet reward, if I look at awareness in a positive light is really is a sweet reward. So now that I am aware that even though I will always have pet peeves I need to accept those that exhibit those peeves with loving kindness and tolerance, the pet peeves became an add on to a list of intolerances I need to work on or be more aware of. I need to keep working on not taking things to damn seriously, mainly “me”, this is something I have been gradually working on for some time. When people make a silly rude joke at an AA meeting I try really hard not to scowl; got a feeling this is one of those things that will take a good many years worth of work to become neutral on, if it ever does, hey it’s the journey that counts.

Just for laughs, I am finishing with the lyrics to a Little Feat song about those cars that have there stereos too damn loud, that cause my car to vibrate from 2 car lengths away and drown out my radio station. This is intolerant thinking at its best and the answer to another driving pet peeve; I sing the song to myself quite a bit when a Boom Box car comes close to me.

With all this rap dap 'o' lappin' and those bass drums a flappin
At a million and twenty dee bees
It's got my eyeballs bleadin' and my eardrums pleadin'
I'm beggin' mercy, please, please, please
But what has got me so mad is when you tell me oh dad
Ya 'bout as square as you can be
Would ya think I's neater if I blew out your tweeters
With this 12 guage across my knees
Give up the keys
You and your Boom Box Car

Friday, January 9, 2009

Season of the Newcomers

It is the season of newcomers for me, I am sponsoring 5 new guys in recovery and I have a newcomer staying in my spare room so I talk with her, give her what experience, strength and hope I can and for the things I can’t I give her the names of those who can be of more assistance. Dogen Zenji stated “ To study the Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things of the Universe.” Helping newcomers in recovery isn’t actually studying the Way but it is practicing the 8 Fold Path and I am not looking for enlightenment but it is probably a byproduct. When I sit and talk with these people going over how they are powerless over alcohol and drugs, how their use of alcohol and drugs has damaged their lives, physically, mentally, spiritually, financially; how they have caused harm to those closest to them, I have to go back to my own history of damage. Every time I go through what I went through it shines more light on my own way of living, each of these people is different so in talking to them I have to touch the part of me that they can relate to. I have to be aware of how parts of my history are similar to theirs, I have to really listen to what they are saying and think before I respond, I have to study self to give self. These people depend on me to help them to the best of my ability to assist them in staying and living a sober life, they are trusting me which is a big step for them and a big responsibility for me. I have to be aware of how I am living my life, that I am living a life based on the principles I try and bestow to them. When I tell them they are powerless over other people and other things and that if we allow other people and circumstances in life to effect us negatively then we are only adding to our own suffering, then I need showing them by example. They have witnessed that I live a relatively peaceful life, that I am positive and happy, I also share with them when I am struggling and the challenges I face and also that I have to go to my teacher for help too. I have to understand my own feelings, defects and strengths. I have to touch my fears so they can understand their fears better, same goes for breaking down anger, ego, pride, low self esteem, resentments, all of which stem from self and the want of the big I, the “I want”, “I need” “they aren’t”, “they don’t” the stuff that messes with our inter peace because life isn’t going the way I want it to go and the way “I” want it to go is my way, no hassles, no pain, no conflict, no confrontations and so on. Every time I have one of these discussion I grow a little bit myself. I awaken my mind a bit more too where I am falling short and work towards handling situations a bit better.
I take it really easy on the spiritual part of recovery. I am a strong believer in letting everyone find a concept of a Higher Power that they are comfortable with. Too many people in recovery get fouled up early on because they are trying too hard to get the “God thing” down pat, they are forcing themselves to believe as others believe and get discouraged, which in turns creates mental anguish. I explain to them my way of understanding a Divine Creator, a being that created the Universe and all that is natural. Unless they want to get into a deeper discussion I leave my thoughts on a Higher Power at that. I explain my Buddhism to them as a spiritual path that works for me. I talk about the first 3 Noble Truths but don’t go to far into the 8 Fold Path, this is the easiest and most comprehensive way for me to explain suffering, how to recognize the suffering and how to neutralize the suffering, once again this is done in the most basic form. My favorite thing to tell them is about inviting the feeling to sit down and have tea with us, to greet the emotion as a guess and by sitting down and having tea with the emotion we are taking the power away from the emotion and treating it as an equal, just the 2 of us sitting across from each other sipping tea neither one get anxious over the other one, that when we honestly honor the feelings as a path to growth we become at peace with the feelings; I explain this takes a lot of practice but with practice it gets easier to deal with uncomfortable emotions, I find that I have the hardest time going this when I am angry at someone or something. Once again by going over these things I am reminded that I need to make sure I am practicing what I am suggesting to others. I do share about the importance of prayer and basic breathing mediation. For me my morning pray is a way of saying thanks for being alive and sober, I set my mind on a positive path by reminding myself to practice the 8 Fold Path, compassion and loving kindness through out the day, lately I have been visualizing being a peaceful river flowing through the lives of others, I also do a short breathing exercise, all of these things assist me in meeting life on life’s terms, to counter the negative vibes at work or those that just come with the world we live in. There are times during the day when I have to repeat some of these actions over again because I am allowing others to effect me. I end each night by giving thanks for another day, reflect on the positive events and once again do a short breathing mediation. I explain the benefits of doing this for me and suggest it to them to try going the same in what ever form they feel comfortable with.
It would be great if there was a guarantee that all of us stay sober and clean for the rest of our time on earth but there isn’t. The best that we can do is live each day on a spiritual plain, have regular contact with others in recovery and remember what happened when we drank, meaning the destructive side, the feeling of being utterly alone, the darkness and misery. I am grateful that these people are in my life, they help me get out of self, they remind me of where I came from and where I can go again, they assist me in my recovery as much as I assist them.
As with Buddhism, part of being in recovery is the community of people on the same path, our meeting rooms are the gathering place for the recovery sangha, we need each other. Some times the teachers and the students change roles which is the invisible hand of growth moving us around. Like any community there is good and bad, being in recovery doesn’t mean we give up free will, I suggest based on my experience, perceptions and knowledge and you do the same for me, some times my ignorance comes out the same as yours, we are free to make mistakes, we are free to follow the teachers we choose, we are free to suffer, we are free to be joyful and serene. There are no must, no matter how much people talk about God, steps, slogans, catchphrases, passages from literature, none of this is mandatory. What I am trying to say is there is a bit of prejudice out there towards 12 step recovery a programs, I am not so blind that I can’t see some of the problems that exist but over all 12 step programs do and have saved the lives of a huge number of alcoholics and addicts.